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)

 

“I have my doubts.”

I have my doubts flatYou hear folks say that sometimes, “I have my doubts.” And nobody says anything about it, it’s as normal as can be. But how about that? If you profess to believe in the God of three faiths, then you probably know that doubts, at least some kinds of doubts, are not just something to slough off as nothing, though mostly everyone does.

On the one hand, you’ve got “the father of faith”, the patriarch Abraham. What was the big deal about him? Well, for one, he kept hearing the voice of God telling him that he was going to have a big family when both he and his wife were like really getting up in years. And evidently the thing that pleased God about Abraham was his faith. Here are some especially poignant verses in the book of Romans that speak about the special faith of Abraham concerning this unusual promise God made to him which seemed to go unfulfilled for so long. Abraham for blog postHe (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in the faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:20-22)

Did Abraham have his doubts? I don’t remember reading about them, although his wife Sara did evidently laugh once when an angel was with them and told them about their future family. And let’s be honest, do you ever sort of secretly sympathize with them? After all, there are oodles of times in the Bible where God and/or His prophets have foretold some extremely outlandish, almost impossible-to-believe things. And you and I might feel that if we’d been there, we’d be pretty challenged indeed to believe what was said at the time.

In fact, do you ever feel that way about the book of Revelation? My gosh. “The stars fall from heaven” and “the heavens departed as a scroll” (Revelation 6:13 & 14). It says during the time of the trumpets, just before the return of Jesus that “hail and fire, mingled with blood” will be cast upon the earth. “And a third part of trees was burned up, and all green grass” (Revelation 8:7).  Whew. No wonder some of the big time preachers in the churches here are still telling the believers on Sunday morning that none of them will ever see any of the events spoken of in Revelation. According to the main line evangelical denominations of this day, they will all be wonderfully swept away at any moment and will experience nothing of the endtime tribulation that’s so spoken of in both Daniel and Revelation.

bundle of faith flatMaybe a thing to do with some of this is what I’ve heard before, to “wrap it up in a bundle of faith and put it away somewhere”. When the time comes, the Lord will take it, unwrap it and make it all clear and plain.

Some folks think they have to understand something to believe it. But that’s not true. It’s a real liberation to realize that even if you don’t understand something, that doesn’t have to mean you cave in to unbelief. You can still believe something, even if you don’t understand it.

But I’m going to confess that at times, when I just look at the prophecies of the future with my carnal mind and worldly reasoning, it does become easy to be tempted to doubt that the strange, mighty things of Revelation can actually happen. But that’s a precarious place to be, being tempted to doubt the stupendous things God has foretold us about the future.

Maybe it’s like the famous preacher from over 100 years ago said to the two ladies who asked him, “Dwight L. Moody, do you have dying faith?” To which he said, “No, I don’t.” When they gasped at his apparent unbelief, he went on to say, “I’m not dying yet.” That’s how things work.dying faith flatAs thy days, so shall thy strength be” . (Deuteronomy 33:25) I really don’t have to worry or even totally understand some of the most awesome, intriguing mysterious of the future that Revelation tells us about. I’m not there yet. God gives us what we need for today, not before.

I do study these things and even teach about it. But as I wrote about in “Daniel First”, I really believe it helps a lot to start with an understanding of the book of Daniel, which Jesus Himself pointed us to, before we try to comprehend the book of Revelation. But what do I do with the almost incredible things found in Revelation? One thing is to simply look back at the already fulfilled prophecies of the past, many of them just as seemingly incredible but nevertheless fulfilled by the Lord. So I have every reason to believe that the stupendous things of the future that we find in Revelation will be fulfilled just the same.

And as much as I enjoy the study of these things, I do feel that my most important calling is that of a disciple, soul winner and a feeder of sheep, a teacher of babes. It can end up just being a trip off if you get so lost in the intricacies of the prophetic future and you abrogate your calling of full time Christian discipleship. Maybe this is what King David meant when he said “Lord, my heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great things or matters too high for me.” (Psalm 131:1)

truth and humility flatI do strongly believe that more people need to have a much better understanding of the events that we’re told about in Daniel and Revelation which have not yet happened. But I think any teacher who seriously makes an attempt to teach the book of Revelation to others must have the honesty, humility and candor to say at some points, “I don’t really know what this means here or at least I don’t understand it enough to be certain about it.”

Sometimes it’s the Lord’s wisdom for us to just stay simple, to admit it when we don’t exactly know what some things are and to not get spooked out about some seemingly foreboding future event foretold in God’s Word. Maybe that’s the correct time and place to apply what Jesus said, “Take no thought for the morrow for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

“…and you are still?”

and you are still flatThis morning I found a verse that I’ve never noticed before but which really resonates for our times. It’s about “the promised land”. Specifically it refers to events from over 3000 years ago but its significance to us Christians today couldn’t be more important. No, this won’t be about Jewish settlements in the West Bank but about our own “Promised Land” of God’s will and destiny for His children which so many do not fully possess. From Judges 18:9 & 10. “Arise…for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good; and you are still? Be not slothful to go, and enter to possess the land: for God has given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.

What really shocked me when I read this was realizing that this isn’t from the time of Joshua, the battle of Jericho and those events surrounding the original entrance of the Israelites into the land they’d been called to take. This verse is from hundreds of years later! They’d already entered the  land but only partially before running out of steam and settling down to enjoy what they had.

Come on flatAll of this of course is exceedingly rich in symbolism and meaning. They entered the promised land “by faith”, just as we are to receive and believe for all that God has given us through the mighty saving grace of our dear Lord Jesus. We have entered into the true “Promised Land” of eternal life and blessings through Him. But, but… like God’s people of old, so very many of us have not fully possessed the land.

Davids-Mighty-Men3Did you know that over 300 years after the Jews conquered the land, that what we now call Jerusalem was still inhabited by the Canaanites? David and his men climbed the mountains surrounding the city and routed the inhabitants, establishing Jerusalem as the new center and capital of ancient Israel. But that was centuries after the time of Joshua and the original conquering of the land.

They had to go further. David and his followers had to take the original commandments of God to a new level of obedience, hundreds of years after God had first spoken His Word on the mater. Why? Because our evil human nature of sloth,  disobedience, of being satisfied with a little, rather than all God has promised got the best of the people back then. So there were still giants in the land.

They had entered the promised land but they had not scaled the heights.

Solomon thinkingAnd of course we know that David not only scaled the heights and took the capital city physically, he did this spiritually as well. David probably went further than any other man in the Old Testament in really loving the Lord and, even as the sinner he was, in doing all he could to obey the Lord. It was David’s love for the Lord and obedience that catapulted Israel into the richest era in its history, not only physically in the coming kingdom of Solomon but spiritually in the lifetime of David and the treasures of spiritual riches he shared with his generation and all generations after that in the Psalms.

But what about us? How many Christians today will say with Caleb of old, “I’ll take the mountain”? In his 80’s Caleb, Joshua’s brother, led his tribe up the mountain to take the promised land. The question remains for so much of Christianity today, “…and you are still?

The truth is that the unconquered parts of the promised land came back to haunt and attack God’s partially obedient children of old. And it’s certainly still the same today. Christians who’ve gone as far as they want to go, who’ve settled down in the valleys of God’s Spirit, unwilling to drive out the darkened mountainous areas of their lives where God’s Spirit would lead them to victory, often find themselves to be in a weakened, defeated condition, not able to resist when the enemy launches a new attack. Because they themselves stopped attacking long ago. They didn’t really fully enter the promised land of God’s Spirit. They quit too soon, before the battle was fully won.

lethargy flatThe Bible says that “…in whatsoever state we are in to be content.” (Philipians 4:11) Well, I can tell you, there are certainly times to not be content. If “contentment” is actually self-satisfaction and lethargy when God is commanding and urging us on to greater obedience and greater spiritual victories, then “contentment” is not called for. Someone has wisely said, “Be content enough to be happy and discontent enough to want progress”

It comes back to discipleship and obedience. The Early Church was one of the best examples in history of about as close as we can find to ones who were really trying to obey fully. They claimed the spiritual promised land and prospered mightily in the first few generations of Christianity.

But today? So very many believers are “sitting at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). Maybe that’s why we’ll need to go through the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) before the coming of the Lord. So often it takes suffering and tribulation to awaken His bride from her slumber. And we find this in His Word about the final days before His return, “…and some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them and to purge and to make them white, even unto the time of the end, for it is yet for a time appointed.” (Daniel 11:35)

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.

Christians, the endtime and witnessing

get out Gods truth flatIt’s always struck me, when reading about the prophecies of the future to come, that repeatedly the future believers are pictured as being witnessers and proclaimers of His truth and power. There are many examples of this. One of the best is found in Daniel 12:3, a verse specifically about the last years before the second coming of Jesus at the end of this age. It says, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”  This is a direct prophetic verse about the future times which speak of the people of the endtime who will “turn many to righteousness”. That’s witnessing, folks. That’s an active, fruit-bearing body of believers who evidently are having a real harvest in the final days.

But there’s more. Some of the verses that have inspired me the most about this are from Daniel 11. The context is that Jesus Himself specifically referred to Daniel 11:31 when teaching His disciples in Matthew 24 about the times immediately prior to His second coming. But what do the next two verses in Daniel 11 say? Daniel 11:32b says “but the people who do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. Strong. Doing exploits. Like the Early Church, witnessing miracles , “greater works shall they do”. (John 14:12)

please teach us flatThen the next verse in Daniel 11 says, “And they that understand amoung the people shall instruct many”  (Daniel 11:33) There it is again. Not only will some endtime Christians be strong and do exploits, it says that some will have understanding and that they will instruct many. Not only miracles and greater works but also fruitful witnessing and teaching, explaining to the people of the endtime what’s happening around them, because of their knowledge of prophetic events unfolding before their eyes that they recognize from their study of Bible prophecy.

The believers turning many to righteousness, doing exploits, being strong, understanding, instructing many in the final years prior to the return of Jesus . Sure sounds like an on-fire, fully-functioning, dropped-out multitude of believers, a bride “who has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). Inspiring, no?

But as we look around us in our present times, we see so many pundits of fear who want to tell us who the Antichrist is. They want to tell us who are enemies are, they want us to become fully armed with carnal weapons. But are those folks preparing us to be “strong in the Lord and the power of His might“? (Ephesians 6:10) Are they discipling Christians to be the light to the World that the Bible says some will be in those times? Or is it a constant cacophony of consuming fear and hatred of “our enemies”? Are we really going to go to war against the Antichrist forces with AK-47 assault rifles? Here’s the Bible’s answer to this as found in Revelation 12. “And they overcame him (the devil and the Antichrist) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the Word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11) Nothing about armed Christian militias there.

If the believers of the endtime are people who dependent on spiritual weapons rather than carnal, if they’re going to be strong enough to witness and do mighty works in those times, then so much of Christianity now will somehow need a huge, mighty turn around.died in faith The vast majority of Christians today are spectators, at best. They’ve left the arena and are watching from the grandstands. But Scripture says that the bride of Christ in the endtime will be in the arena again, literally or otherwise, like the believers of the Early Church.

Maybe it will take a continuing loss of Christians across the whole spectrum of the faith, a vast falling away that will be the shock that’s needed for the few that are left that they need to get down to business with God like few, if any, have done in the last few hundred years. At some point, somehow God is going to find those ones who will fulfill those verses given so long ago about the believers of the endtime. And, yes, I do hear of some here and there who are banding together in a new wave of witnessing and discipleship, like I wrote about in “German Awakening“.

endtime witness-flattenedBut overall and for the most part, right now things look bleak. So many want to tell us who our enemies are, those who we’re to fear and even prepare to kill. But where are the noble souls who are preparing His people to be the mighty witnessers and disciples of the endtime that we read about in Scripture? Oh, dear Lord, please raise up the believers You spoke of who will be those that will turn many to righteousness, do great exploits, and instruct many before You return.

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.

 

Twisted Scripture

[I wrote this two years ago but things are still the same]

peace in our times 2 flatSomething rather sad happened at my church last Sunday. I’ve enjoyed going to that church for over a year and I’ve met some very like-minded folks there.

But yesterday something was taught that I find disturbing. I was glad to know that there was going to be a series taught on the book of II Thessalonians. It contains one of the clearest places in the New Testament which speaks of the conditions immediately prior to the return of Jesus. In fact, this letter was written to the Thessalonians specifically to address this subject.

[Some may think that this is just getting into Biblical minutia. But what’s being talked about here is of exceptional importance to the foundation that’s laid for many millions of sincere Christians.If what’s taught from the pulpit is dangerously flawed, the result is that Christians who receive that teaching without question are denied key components of their Christian knowledge and have allowed themselves to be deluded about the future that God clearly spells out for us in His Word. And they are unprepared for the future God tells us will happen.]

In I Thessalonians 4:17, Paul gave perhaps the clearest explanation of the return of Jesus to this world. He said, armagdedon picFor the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The word “rapture” is not found in the Bible. But this verse is the one that’s the clearest in describing what we now call “the Rapture”.

But then somehow the Thessalonians got things mixed up or misunderstood what Paul said to some degree and some of them came to the conclusion that Paul was saying that “the day of Christ was at hand”, in other words, that Paul had told them that Jesus could return at any minute. So he wrote to clarify that, very specifically.

I’ll pick up in verse 2 of II Thessalonians chapter 2 where Paul addresses this. He said, “… don’t be shaken in mind … that the day of Christ is at hand. AC figure-2For that day will not come except there come a falling away first and the man of sin [the Biblical Antichrist of the last days] be revealed, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

It’s one of the clearest Scriptures in the Bible to show that before Jesus returns to the earth, the Antichrist of the endtime will be seen by the believers in Jesus.

But sadly it was taught from the pulpit in the church I go to that the believers in Jesus will not in fact see this happen, even though the Apostle Paul clearly told the Early Church that they would.

This is the essence of what’s called the “Pre tribulation Rapture” doctrine. I won’t go into the details of this here as I have already done so in other places. But it’s disheartening to hear a sincere and Godly preacher tell a congregation that I feel a part of that they’ll never see or experience what Paul has said because they’ll be whisked away before, when very clearly Paul told the Early Church the exact opposite.

But this dear pastor is just teaching what’s been taught from evangelical pulpits for decades so that this false teaching has become embedded in modern Christian thought, although it’s not based on Scripture. And that verse right there which they’re teaching from is one of the clearest places in the Bible which disproves this modern false doctrine!

But some would say,

“Mark! Why does this matter to you?! As a Christian, shouldn’t you be out feeding the poor and clothing the homeless instead of quibbling over Bible doctrine?!”  

Neville C

Neville Chamberlain

Have you ever heard of Neville Chamberlain? During the 1930’s in Europe, it was an exceedingly troubled time. Communism was seen as a rising tide of Godlessness and totalitarianism which was destined to take over Europe. Rising against Communism, at the other extreme, was Fascism.

But much of Europe was just exhausted by the severe years ofthe great depression the Great Depression and they just didn’t want to look war in the face. So Hitler methodically drove Germany to greater and greater military might and preparedness.

But the prevailing desire of public opinion, the majority view was summed up by Neville Chamberalin, the Prime Minster of Great Britain back then who declared there would be, “Peace in our time.” That’s a lot like what the preachers tell their congregations nowadays, that they’ll suddenly be raptured before “the great tribulation” comes that Jesus warned of. (Matthew 24:21)

There was no “peace in our times” for the people of Europe. The quasi-Antichrist of those days, Adolf Hitler, struck Europe and very nearly conquered ever inch of it for a time. But the unpreparedness of the rest of Europe was a key factor in Hitler’s rise.

It’s the same today. Millions of Christians are being taught, “Peace in our times.”You don’t need to be prepared! No need to strengthen your convictions or be prepared for the battles of the final days before the Lord’s return! Sleep on now and take your rest!

And so they do. The British and others were weak and unprepared in the days leading up to World War II and they were easy pickings for the forces of darkness of their day. And it’s exactly the same today, thanks in a large part to this horribly disarming false doctrine of PreTribulation rapture that means the body of Christ can leave church each Sunday and mostly do their own thing till next Sunday, instead of being strengthened and prepared for the endtime battles to come.

I’ll end this with another thing Paul told the Thessalonians which may have an eerie prophetic ring to it. In I Thessalonians 5:3, the Apostle Paul said, “For when they shall say “peace and safety”, then sudden destruction comes upon them as travail upon a women with child and they shall not escape.” May we all pray and do what we can to shake off this false doctrine of a PreTribulation rapture which is bringing such slumber and false peace on the believers in Christ in our times.

 

(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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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.

Days of Heaven

intimacy photo edited retouched sizedI heard someone say one time, “I couldn’t tell you about it when I didn’t have the victory.” So I don’t totally have the victory about this right now but I’ll give it a shot at telling you.

It says in the Bible, “Now we know in part, but then shall we know as we are known.” (I Corinthians 13:12) And this is not only true of knowing the Lord that way in heaven to come. Up there we’re going to know each other that way too. And that will be a big part of heaven, a closeness there that we almost never have here with each other on earth.

But sometimes we do. Sometimes God allows and engineers situations so we’re led down a path where we are in the right place at the right time with someone with whom we experience a closeness, I’ll even use the word “intimacy”, if you understand that the way I mean, which is on a scale so advanced that it approaches that of heaven. That’s happened to me recently.

“Good for your Mark, I’m so happy for you!”

Umm, yeah; thanks. But this is like two things I’ve written about before, “Sweet Potatoes with Butter” and “Pinnacle Experiences.” In my case, the Lord has allowed me to have some time of communication with someone I’ve vaguely known at various times for years. I’ve always been struck by this person. They’ve always seemed so unusually angelic that it’s been difficult for me to be around them the few times that I have been.

What do you think of when you think of an angel? Beauty? Wisdom? Humility? You can trust them. They have a stability and a “health”, for the lack of a better term, that kind of leaves you in awe. What if you talked to that angel?

He didn’t look like this. But this is what he was.

Some have had experiences with angels a few brief times in our lives. But real angels are not usually there for hours. They don’t talk to you for hours. They’re heavenly beings from that other realm who God allows to sometimes cross our path or even appear and speak to us.

But perhaps you’ve had some kind of experience with a human being who somehow has such grace, wisdom and beauty that it just doesn’t seem real. Sometimes you just almost stare at that person in awe at their beauty and words, their gentle soul and obvious grace.

As you and they talk, it’s almost like being pulled out of this world and into the realms of heaven. You don’t want to do anything wrong because it’s almost like a charmed time you are in. But a good time, given by God, where the essences of heaven pour into you and you’re lifted out of the humdrum dreariness that so often you are in, seemingly for so long.

This is the type of experience we think of that men and women have who get married. But maybe even married couples don’t always have this or they don’t have it any more. But it doesn’t have to be limited to that. And for Christians, it can be just something that God allows, like finding an oasis in a vast desert you’ve have traveled alone in for so long. The only way to describe it is heavenly. Somehow this person is almost like a window into heaven or at least God is using them this way.

Richard DreyfusIt sounds great, no? This happened to me recently. But then… but then. We have to come down from our mountain. We enjoy those “sweet potatoes with butter” but then it’s over. You’ve been on a shining mountain, a true “Close Encounter“. But you have to come down.

I don’t know how it is for you. But for me, my life for a number of years has been one of single-minded purpose in daily laying down my life for Him and others. But that has almost always been in a type of loneliness I’ve grown used to and accepted as how it has to be and how things are in this world for me.

The wonderful thing is that we each have the Lord, at least the ones of us who know and believe in Him. “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest”. (Exodus 33:14) We have the light of His Word in our hearts, which we have laid up there through faithfully memorizing and retaining it. We have the presence of His Holy Spirit. These are things that abide with us and help us to navigate and exist in what is frankly an often dark and lonely world, full of shadows and vanity.

masks off flatOur daily contact with other human beings is so often shallow in the extreme compared to the deep and intimate contact we will have with each other in the hereafter. Our main need is His salvation and presence and we have that constantly and daily as we pray and lean on His Word. But daily heartfelt intimacy with other human beings can often be rather rare, even if you’re surrounded with people during you day.

why crying flatSo, like  I said at the  beginning of this, I’m not sure I can tell you about all this when I don’t have the victory. We who are saved have a victory. We have the Savoir who’s “delivered us from every evil work“. (II Timothy 4:18) But still for some, even of the saved, we live with a heaviness and a loneliness that’s seldom lifted expect for those rare times of “days of heaven”, in some cases with virtual angels who walk the earth, splendid creatures who exude a beauty and grace, love and humility, and a knowledge of how to live life that’s virtually breath-taking and blinding. But it shines brilliantly in our hearts and is a glimpse into the future and heaven to come.

Tomorrow I will be back to “normal”. I hope I can do what I wrote about recently. I hope I can bring the pinnacle experience I’ve had with me back to my normal day-to-day world and share it with others. But right now I’m  a little afraid I’ll be remembering these days of heaven and, frankly, be missing them a lot. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) I’ll be holding onto his Word and to Him. But also I’ll really be looking forward even more than before to the true heaven to come and the intimacy and beauty there that I’ve experienced a touch of here.