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.

The real “Supreme Court”

Jesus on ThroneMost people, at least here in the States, have heard about the Supreme Court ruling clarifying that homosexual and lesbian marriage is legal under United States law. Needless to say, it’s a very big news item and a very big issue in these times, almost everywhere.

As a Christian and someone who has aspired to Christian discipleship and service for all my adult life, this subject is one I have strong feelings about. Almost all born again Christians here in America see this as a shocking, ominous day for their nation. I can certainly see how they feel that way and in some ways I do too. But also I feel some good things can come out of this for the cause of Christ and humanity.

First, to be clear, I’m not a homosexual. Also, as provocative and incendiary as some may find this, I will say that there’s no place in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, where homosexuality is condoned or tolerated at all. So for those whose faith is in the Bible, Old or New Testament or both, this issue comes down to whether we hold on to the Word of God or not.

I think that’s one of the reasons why, for me, I somewhat renounced my earthly citizenship some 45 years ago at the time I received Jesus as my Savior and took up the call of a missionary. Paul told the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) And that’s the way I’ve had to look at things in order to have the freedom and peace in my heart to “forsake …lands” (Matthew 19:29), as Jesus said we should do in order to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

my kingdom is not flatAs I’m sure you know, in these days that’s a rather unusual, even “extreme” form of faith and Christianity. Some surely would call it fanatical. But one of the many advantages I’ve gained from this is that the to and fro of political events and tussles have lost the impact they once had on me. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36)

But sadly and very significantly for most American Christians, their ties to this world and this nation are totally wrapped up together with their Christianity. They talk of “bringing the nation to repentance” when I’m personally almost sure that just isn’t going to happen. “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Timothy 3:13) God on ThroneSo if the Supreme Court of this worldly, physical nation declares that homosexuality is accepted, I’m all the more confident that there’s a higher court than that: the court of heaven that now is and is to come, “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (II Corinthians 5:10) and “the Great White Throne Judgment”  (Revelation 20:11)

Christians and believers for millennia have struggled with this but often they pretty much saw the eternal truth in it all. Solomon said, “I council you to keep the king’s commandment and that in regard to the oath of God.” (Ecclesiastes 8:2) Yes, keep the laws of the land. But keep the laws of God before that. ought to obey flatThe apostle Peter had to stand up to the Jewish rulers of his day when he told them, “We ought to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

But here’s what I see as some real good in all this. So very many Christians have tried to rock along in what’s mostly a compromised limbo relationship between themselves and God and the Godless world we live in. That’s getting harder to do. This Supreme Court ruling is going to cause more Christians to be forced to a decision. Will I allow my children to go to school where “gender choice” is taught to little children and where basically homosexual teaching is presented to children as a requirement in public schools? Will you go against your conscience as homosexual activists force you into business decisions that to you are clearly a sin?

As the darkness deepens in these times, the lines in the sand have become much more distinct and many millions are finding they have to come down more clearly and strongly for the Lord. Or just declare their allegiance to the morals, ethics and gods of this present evil world and abandon their Christian convictions, their relationship with the Lord and faith in His Word.

ca. 1850 --- An illustration from a mid-19th century copy of Grand Catechisme des Familles (Christian Doctrine for Families). --- Image by © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

Lot & family flee Sodom

This recent Supreme Court ruling is just another road marker, howbeit a very clear one, that we are now where Jesus said things would be shortly before His return, “As the days of Lot…” (who the angels pulled out of Sodom and Gomorrah shortly before its destruction) “…so shall also the days of the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Luke 17:28-30)

As Joshua of old told his people and followers, “Chose you this day whom you shall serve”, meaning the gods of the Egyptians they’d been delivered from or the God of Abraham. And then he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Straddling the fence with our heads in the sand is becoming less of an option.

 

How “the End” may begin (Part 1)

the-endtimeSome of my friends feel it’s ludicrous and in very poor taste to talk about anything having to do with “the end”. They feel is smacks of religious insanity. I have other friends who are ardent students of Bible prophecy and followers of current events. Some of them are preparing for a breakdown of society on perhaps a worldwide level. They feel I’m not alarmed enough at the signs they see that the very Last Days are now upon us.  I’ll try to address this subject of how “the end” may begin without probably satisfying either edge of that spectrum of my friends’ views.

Pres ObamaAt a Bible study recently I was asked what I saw happening in the world on the short term and how it all fits into the final endtime picture that we see in Scripture. This is a huge subject. There are oodles of people writing their opinions on how we’re already utterly within the very words of the book of Revelation. They say the Antichrist of Scriptures is President Obama. Or that the current Pope is the embodiment of Lucifer. Or that the President of Turkey is. And it goes on. What could I add to any of this?

While I believe in the return of Jesus and I believe we’re already in “the last days” in many ways, I don’t feel I can identify the Antichrist of Daniel and Revelation in the headlines we read today. But perhaps a look at earlier figures in history who were strong forerunners of the ultimate Antichrist could give us some idea of how the final one will arise.

HitlerIn trying to answer my friends at the Bible study about how “the end” could begin, I told them how two forerunner, prototypes of the final Antichrist came to power in their day. Perhaps the greatest antichrist in modern history was Adolf Hitler. Another was Napoleon Bonaparte. Joseph Stalin could be added to the list. (And hopefully my German, French and Russian friends will find no reason to be offended in any of this.)

What conditions preceded the rise of those 3 men who came to dominate so utterly their people and even the world of their times in many ways? One common condition these earlier antichrists arose in was the extreme instability of their times. Their countries had already been in a period of prolonged chaos, leaderless and rudderless. There was a vast vacuum, an emptiness of certainty and direction; people were starving literally, desperate to find a way out of the morass their nations had fallen into. When things are generally sailing along and all’s well for many if not most, you don’t usually see Antichrist-like figures taking over.

the great depressionSo I told my friends at the Bible study that I personally feel we won’t really see the final events of the endtime as long as the overall stability of the national and world order is intact. Some will say that things are very bad now, lots of folks say that. But a background of history will show that the way things are at the moment is not nearly as bad as how things have been at times, even in the last 100 years. The Great Depression of the 1930’s was virtually world-wide and was very serious stuff; what we have today is not to be compared to that. The Ukrainian famine, the “Holodomor” of the 1930’s was so bad, with 1 to 3 million people starving to death, that many Ukrainians at that time welcomed in the Nazis, believing that they would be saved that way. World War I, World War II and other such events make our times today look like the Easter Parade.

But what could begin the end? Societal collapse, internationally. Economic collapse, worldwide. Prolonged martial law, virtually everywhere. Vast international financial ruin. I believe that for a real “New World Order” to arise, it will not happen by evolution, osmosis or from the major international leaders we see on the scene at the moment.

I expect that a time of social disorder, most likely on an international scale, will make it so that the peoples of the world will willingly accept some form of dictatorship, just to stop the anarchy and chaos that the world will have descended into. This has happened many times before.

big brother2So many here complain about the government. But times will come when there will be a cry out for some form of strong government to protect the masses from roving bands, gangs and the loss of ever vestige of civilization that we now enjoy. This is the atmosphere in which ones like Hitler and Napoleon arose in. And I feel that it will take something like that to set the stage and provide the atmosphere within which the final Antichrist will be able to seem to be the savior of the world, bringing back civilization from the chaos it will have descended to.

(More on this in Part 2 of “How ‘the End’ May Begin”)

When prophecy dawns on you

Prophecy fulfilled flatI had so many amazing experiences on my recent trip to southeastern Europe. One night the ones I was staying with had a Bible study for their close friends at their house. The idea was that since I was there and I’ve made a series of videos on the book of Daniel, that we could watch one of those with the visitors who often come there.

Most of the people in the room were a generation younger than me and the majority were not brought up in a Christian family. Several of them were brought up Muslims. Another was a young woman from Western Europe, from a traditional Catholic background, who’d come to do volunteer work in the country I was in. She’s been working with my friends who minister to needy people and she’s gradually gotten to know the things of the Lord and the Lord Himself in a stronger way over the last months.

Prophecy dawnsA-fixedWe watched what’s perhaps the simplest introduction to prophecy in the Bible: Daniel chapter 2. For many years and in many lands I’ve seen how Daniel 2 is the most understandable starting point for anyone who’s never had any idea about the phenomenon of Bible prophecy.

For me it was something of a reward in itself to just be there and watch the ones who were watching the video I’ve done on Daniel chapter 2. I therefore watched the viewers more than the video itself to try to gauge their reaction and interest in it all. The best part for me was at the end.

The young West European woman from the Catholic background was (… how shall I describe this…) well, she was trying to find what she wanted to say after the video. But for several of us, we could tell she’d been surprised and almost stunned by what she’d seen.

It certainly seemed that she’d perhaps become aware for the first time of the phenomenon of Bible prophecy, that God has in history used His prophets to give us definite signposts that will occur “up the road” of history. And for those of us who are now “in the future”, so to speak, we can look back and see that some key points in history were clearly foretold before they happened.

Stunned_Surprised-fixedWhen I personally first found out about this, I was in my early 20’s. And I too had the same experience of amazement, wonder, and almost unbelief that there was something like this that I’d never been told of before. For me back then, I was also mad because I’d gone many years to good schools and to university but nowhere had anyone ever told me anything about the truth of Bible prophecy. And in her words and expressions after the video that night, this young woman was evidently having the same experience of joy, mixed with amazement, and at the same time many questions. It’s just hard to believe that something like this exists.

It was noticeable to most of us that this dear young woman had just had a very strong experience, “the eyes of her understanding being opened” (Ephesians 1:18), that she’d seen something she’d never seen before. She had questions but she almost didn’t know how to ask them. She thought she was understanding what she’d seen but she wanted to be sure she did. Perhaps for the rest of us, the best part was that we could tell that she’d just had a real experience with the light of God’s Word, kind of like when it says about the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection, “they believed not for joy” (Luke 24:41).

It’s experiences like this that turn us from everyday, bored, dull, worldly people into His turned-on, inspired, joy-filled Christians and even disciples. Sometimes it has very little to do with others. It’s just those moments when the Lord Himself somehow personally shines into our innermost heart and mind, revealing Himself to be the Savoir and King that He is.

For some of us, we’ve had experiences like that off and on for many years. We know the thrills and joys of that heavenly realm and the world to come. But for me that night it was especially encouraging. This young woman is still new to the things of the Lord, someone who’s still growing into the fullness of a Christian disciple. And that night she got a strong jolt from the Lord through His Word to see the world as He sees it and as He’s made it.

Bible studies flatAs the Bible says, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Or as King David prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Word.” (Psalm 119:18) It was a joy that night to see this young woman beholding wonderful things from His Word.

O încadrare a profeției în istorie (Romanian video)

Romanian

Această înregistrare prezintă fenomenul profeţiei biblice, dar şi istoria Israelului. Este prima înregistrare dintr-o serie de materiale pe tema profeţiilor lui Daniel. Mulţi oameni nu ştiu ce este profeţia biblică. Şi eu sunt unul dintre cei care nu avea habar până când nu a survenit o schimbare majoră în viaţa mea, când am aflat că Dumnezeu este real şi că există o lume spirituală. Mai târziu am devenit creştin şi am fost intrigat când am citit Biblia şi mai ales când am aflat despre descoperirile minunate din profeţiile biblice.

Acest material video în limba engleză se numeşte “An Introduction to Prophecy in History”. Poate fi accesat în limba engleză aici. Următoarea înregistrare în limba română va fi Daniel capitolul 2. Va fi şi aceea gata în curând. Sper ca acest material să fie o binecuvântare; sper să fie o încântare şi o sursă de hrană spirituală pentru fiecare dintre voi, datorită minunăţiei care este Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu.

English

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

Many people don’t know what Bible prophecy is. I certainly 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 disclosures 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 ancient history and 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 Romanian video will be Daniel chapter 2. My hope is that this video and perhaps others in Romanian will be ready this year. Meanwhile, I’m working on several other foreign language videos on Bible prophecy and I hope to have those out in the next months. God bless you.

Hearing from God, like your life depended on it

danger is near flatLast month I was in a situation where it was desperately important that I heard from God right then. My friend and I were driving the next morning to visit a school in Reyhanli, Turkey, about 200 meters from the border with Syria. I wrote about this visit in my blog post “Visiting Syria part 1”.

But we were realistic enough to know that real danger was possible. We’d phoned ahead to several ones who knew the situation and were involved and they all said that it was safe to make the trip. But in the final analysis, as believers in God and in Jesus, the most important guidance and green light, or red, needed to come from Him.

So we really prayed. And for both of us we just kept getting the witness of the Spirit in our hearts and Bible verses that it was His Will that we go, verses like “When He puts forth His sheep, He goes before them”. (John 10:4) And “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Reyhanli mapWe took these from the Lord and we made the trip. Of course we were aware that the radical religionists right across the border in Syria would gladly pay a very large bounty for someone to kidnap us and turn us over to them. So we were keeping a good watch out on our way there for any funny business. But it all went really well and there was miraculous protection and blessing.

It reminds me of another situation, almost exactly 10 years earlier, when I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, immediately after one of the worst natural disasters of the last hundred years when the Asia Tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean.

The city that suffered the worst was Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra. The friends who I was working with at the time in Jakarta knew immediately that some of us would have to go there to help. And I knew strongly in my heart that one of the first ones who needed to go was me.

me&AcehKids-2 cropped

Teaching kids at a refugee camp in Aceh, 2005

But this was again a place where very serious, life and death prayer was a necessity. Probably there was more danger in this recent trip to the Syrian border. But in going to Banda Aceh, we were going to be faced with over 150,000 dead who were still left to be found, bagged up and carried off to mass burial grounds.

The infrastructure of the city of 450,000 was virtually gone. The fact that it was one of the strictest Muslim parts of Indonesia didn’t seem to be as big a deal as just the overall danger of aftershocks, extreme living conditions and would we be able to live with the shock to our emotions that all the devastation had wrought? It was a time when we needed to be certain we were in the will of God; otherwise it would be extremely unwise to go there.

But also in that situation the Lord came through clearly and blessed our time there immensely. Here’s a newsletter I sent to friends while I was in Banda Aceh 10 years ago, called  “With Muslims in Tragedy“. God hears all our prayers, including the simple little ones that we often pray throughout the day. But at times we must be desperate and get answers from Him, sometimes as a matter of life and death.

which way-aI’m thinking about this a lot currently as I’m at something of a personal crossroads. I’m facing some decisions involved with possibly pulling up roots and going to a new country I’ve very seldom ever been in before, more or less starting out from scratch in what would be a major change of direction and a completely new chapter in my life.

common sense flatI really need to know what God’s will is. Like Paul said, “Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesian 5:17) Common sense doesn’t help a lot in these situations. Common sense would not have agreed with the trip to Reyhanli, Turkey or the time spent in Banda Aceh. But the life of faith and following the directions from God almost always goes contrary to common sense. “By faith Moses forsook Egypt”. (Hebrews 11:27) “Abraham went out not knowing whether he went”. (Hebrews 11:8)

For me it’s a time I need to know  that I’m on the right track, moving with the flow of His Spirit, having no will of my own and that my thoughts and leadings are of Him. Otherwise it could be a real disaster. Thanks for your prayers for me in these decisions at this time.

Why study the book of Daniel?

Daniel Night for blog post With the way the world is in these times, more and more people have at least some curiosity about Bible prophecy and the future it tells us of. But once you start searching around, you can really find some different, even opposing ideas about it all. So much of it can even engender fear or confusion.

Often folks just give up trying to grasp any constants or absolutes that can be found about the subject of Bible prophecy. Some have even said, “Hasn’t the book of Daniel already been fulfilled? Isn’t it only written for Jewish people?” That’s what some say.

Recently I was meeting with a group of people who are studying the subject of prophecy in the Bible. The main thing we were reading was from the book of Ezekiel. It’s  being taught in this group that Ezekiel chapter 38 is in the  process of being fulfilled right now in currents events playing out in the Middle East, as a precursor to the final events leading up to the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Then I have other friends talk to me about verses in Isaiah which they say predict a soon coming atomic annihilation the city of Damascus, Syria. Others in recent times have come to see Psalm 83 (written by King David as a prayer against the nations he was battling with in 900 BC) as being a specific endtime prophecy which is about to be fulfilled in current events in the Middle East

Before I read Daniel flatSo, why am I doing a series on the book of Daniel? Shouldn’t we be studying Ezekiel or Isaiah? Or Psalm 83? Here’s why. If you’re looking for authority in the Bible, there’s no greater than Jesus Himself. Did He talk about the future, the time before His return and His coming Kingdom?  Absolutely. The two main chapters where He talked about this were Matthew 24 and Mark 13. He’s quoted as saying this in both chapters but I’ll quote from Matthew 24:15. “When you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand).”

Matthew 24 15-d for blog post

Matthew 24:15

When asked about the future, Jesus didn’t refer to Ezekiel, or Isaiah, or any other book in the Bible. But He did refer specifically to the book of Daniel and even to a specific passage of Scripture in that book. Then He went on to say, Whoever reads, let him understand.” Jesus both emphases that book and made it unusually clear, highlighting the importance of understanding that particular passage.

Admittedly, that verse, Matthew 24:15, is not very easy to understand at first glance. That’s one of the reasons why, in my series on Daniel, I start with the first prophetic chapter in Daniel and then build on it. The series begins with Daniel chapter 2, then goes on to chapters 7 and 8, before we are really ready to look at this emphasized statement that Jesus made about certain passages in what turns out to be Daniel 9 and 11.

Then, if we look at what is considered the most specifically prophetic book in the New Testament, Revelation, it is full of material that refers back to characters and events  first introduced in Daniel’s visions and prophecies some 600 or more years earlier than the date of Revelation.

Daniel foundation flat-1It reminds me of what Paul said, “I as a wise master builder have laid the foundation and another builds thereupon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid.” (I Corinthians 3:10) Paul was not speaking here about Bible prophecy and the book of Daniel. But what he said can very much apply to the foundation of endtime prophecy that the Lord revealed to Daniel and which Jesus pointed us toward. It just seems like so many today are busy building edifices of endtime prophetic interpretation on little, if any, solid foundation. Simply finding some passage in the Old Testament that seems conveniently to match some aspect of today’s world and then proclaiming that as our major insight into current events and the future is a pretty shaky way to portray the events of the future according to prophetic Scripture.

With so much being wondered about nowadays having to do with fulfilled prophecy and possible events to come, I’m convinced that an understanding of Daniel’s prophecies offers the best hope of establishing a foundation for understanding future certainties. And no, definitely it’s not all been fulfilled. Numerous things that are first clearly spoken of in Daniel, and further clarified in Revelation, just haven’t happened yet. And it seems Jesus Himself pointed us to this beginning point when He referred to specifics in Daniel yet to be fulfilled and said, “Whoever reads, let him understand.”

“Fleeing into the wilderness”… in Bulgaria

Bulgarian town scene-aDuring my recent trip, an intriguing verse came to mind about where I was in Bulgaria and it’s possible place in the future, especially related to the events prophesied to come before the return of Jesus. A few of you know this verse well but probably most will have little or no idea what it means. It’s Revelation 12:6 “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there one thousand, two hundred and sixty days.

You may ask, “How in the world could that verse have anything to do with southern Bulgaria where you were?”

Let’s see if I can simplify this to where most everyone can get the idea. According to Scripture and His Own words, Jesus will return to earth at some future time to establish His rule in our world. But, again according to Scripture, there are a number of things we’re told will happen in the time very near to this return of the Lord. And things get particularly specific about the last 3½ years, leading up to His return.

Some of you know all this like the back of your hand but the vast majority of folks don’t. So, speaking to that vast majority, I can tell you that Jesus called that last 3½ years before His return a time of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world”. (Matthew 24:21) Not good news at all, it seems. But at least we’ve been informed about it and can prepare in the ways we can, as He leads.

And that verse which came to my mind in Bulgaria, Revelation 12:6, is actually talking about that last 3½ year period. The “1260 days”, spoken of in Revelation 12:6, when divided by 360 days (the length a year was considered to be in ancient times) comes out to 3½ years. So who is “the woman” who is “fleeing into the wilderness” during that final 3½ years before the return of Jesus?

can we stay- flatA large group of people who study these things feel that “the woman in the wilderness” is the Christian “body of Christ”, the believers and receivers of Him and His love who will be persecuted like never before during that last 3½ years. The Bible calls God’s people His Bride, both in the Old and New Testaments. (Isiah 62:5, Revelation 19:7) This woman fleeing into the wilderness represents what we could call the collective church and overall congregation of believers throughout the earth.

“Mark, why would the Christians be ‘fleeing into the wilderness’ during that last 3½ years?”

One major reason will be that, by that time, a world-wide economic system will be in place, according to Revelation 13, where each participating citizen will be required to have some kind of “mark in their hand or forehead.Mark of the Beast(Revelation 13:16 & 17) This is what I was talking about the with the Kurdish women on my trip that I wrote about in “Tea and Endtime with the Kurds.” In my visit with them, they were telling me that they could see how they would have to flee out to their villages in order to escape the bestial totalitarian Anti-God, Anti-Christ government and its Satanic leader. So even those Muslim women could see a time where “the woman fled into the wilderness” would be the best path for them in this time to come.

“But Mark, it says, that the womanhas a place prepared of God that they should feed her there 1260 days from the face of the serpent.’ God has some place prepared and ‘they’ shall feed her there?”

time to flee- flat-1That was what I was seeing and feeling in those towns in rural Bulgaria [Here’s a link to a blog post that tells more about the details of my recent trip to there.] They were already almost totally self-sustained and self-sufficient economically. From where I was, it was close to a three hour drive through the mountains to even get to a city of 100,000. In the final endtime, the Antichrist world government will aim to control every nation and every city they can.

But they won’t be omnipotent. The eleventh chapter of Daniel speaks of a number of wars the Antichrist and his forces will be having, even during the last 3½ years. I believe God will lead multitudes of Christians to flee into the wildernesses of their nations where they’ll be helped by the simple, Godly people who so often live in places like that. “They” shall “feed her there” during this last horrific time in the history of mankind before the return of the Lord when “the cities of the nations fell” (Revelation 16:19) and then His Millennial rule will begin. It’s like the verse “the people that were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness.” (Jeremiah 31:2)

Bulgarian town scene-2God always cares for His own. Even during this future time of great tribulation, when so many Christians will be uprooted from the comfortable surroundings they live in now. They still will be helped, through God’s pre-vision, by the simple, Godly rural peoples around the world to whom we will flee for help and shelter during that time.

 

God Needs You

Tell them I need them flatOne morning while I was in Bulgaria, I was in a room above the little church where they were hosting me. I’d been speaking  to around 70 people for the first two nights who’d braved the late winter snow to come and hear what the foreigner had to say. I’d shared my life story of how I came to believe in the God of Abraham and then in Jesus. Another night I’d shared some basic classes on the importance of Jesus, the subject of Salvation, the significance of the Holy Spirit, the need for the Bible in our lives.

church crowd 3But I somehow felt that the last night’s time with these folks lacked the full power that an opportunity like this requires. So the next morning I felt desperate that things go better. I’ve already written about this some in “Work? Or Prayer…in Bulgaria” There I mentioned how that I felt the Lord answered my desperate prayer by laying something on my heart which I wrote down after my prayer. Here’s an edited version of that and what has come to be one of the main things I’ve shared with these ones since then.

God Needs You

In Ezekiel there’s an obscure but extremely significant passage. God is speaking and He says, “I sought for a man among them to stand in the gap and make up the hedge, that I should not destroy the land. But I found him not.” (Ezekiel 22:30) The picture is of a broken wall. We can think of it as the city of our fellowship and heritage of the people of God. There was a gap through which the Enemy could attack and God needed a person to rally the forces of God to stand up for Him in the battles of the Lord. But the Scripture says, “He found him not.” God found no one to take up the mission of His will and service.

who shall I send flat-2In another place, God is speaking in Isaiah, “Who shall I send, who shall go for us?” Then Isaiah answers “Here am I Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) That’s what is needed, but there are so very few. Jesus said the same thing. “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion. For they fainted and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers into His harvest.’” (Matthew 9:36-38)

And it’s certainly still the same today. God needs and wants fighters, not just believers. There is a raging war going on. Souls are dying without the Word of the Lord. In the endtime, we are destined to be winners in the battles. Where are the victors of God? Where are the heroes? Where are the “mighty men”, like David had, who knew there was a battle and that they were on the side of the God of light and love and truth?

come out flatThat’s what is needed. Not spectators, but players on the field of battle. God has a destiny prepared for those who will claim it in their lives. God has victorious battles to be won, souls to be set free, lights to be lifted up, and multitudes to turn to Him. But He doesn’t want to do it alone. He wants us to work with Him; He wants to work with flesh and blood us.

Who can He use in your community, in your family? Who does He chose? “The foolish things to confound the wise.” (I Corinthians 1:26). “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) That’s really all that’s needed. Not theology school, a university degree, the right skin color and the backing of a large denomination. What’s needed is that “they had been with Jesus”. And so, so many have been with Jesus and are with Jesus. But their lights remain “under a basket” (Matthew 5:15), rather than really on a candlestick. The church of our times has left the arena and now sits in the grandstands.

How can we rule with Him in the Millennium if we are not working, fighting and winning with Him right now? “Now is the day of salvation“. (II Corinthians 6:2) Today is the day that souls are fainting in the land, dying and giving up hope. Today is the day that God needs you to step out of your circle of normalcy and to go a little further. It says of Jesus, “He went a little further, and fell on His face.” (Matthew 26:39) That’s what each of us should be doing each day: going a little further and falling on our face in desperate prayer that we can be all that He wants us to be and needs us to be.

harvest is plenteous flatMay God help all of us to not be complacent, not satisfied with the normal hum-drum tediousness of our lives. May we obey what the Lord said, to “Lift up our eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35) The Lord needs laborers, the Lord needs soldiers, the Lord needs simple people like you and me to take the mantel of His mighty men of old in these desperate end times, to have the vision of fighters, winners, overcomers, harvesters, soul winners, sheep-feeders, comforters of the weak, whatever the call or need is, that His people will have the vision of the service He has called us to and which is so very needed in these desperate times.

It’s just a very basic principle of God for centuries, “If you draw out our soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light will rise in obscurity and your darkness will be as the noonday.” (Isiah 58:10) Even in your own life, if you “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things will be added to you”. (Matthew 6:33)

It all comes back to love, to love God and your neighbor. But that love is a compassionate, active, stirred up love, love that doesn’t get stopped by barriers, love that ends up being something that isn’t really often seen to the degree it needs to be. It was love that sent the shepherd boy David to the front lines to see and confront the enemies of God. “Is there not a cause?”, young David said. It was love that cause Philip to run to meet the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), “The love of Christ constrains us”, Paul said. (II Corinthians 5:14)

This is what I have come to share here with these precious ones. I felt the Lord would challenge them to go further in their lives, to look outward to the circle of friends and acquaintances they come in contact with daily, to witness and share the Love of God with the unsaved, those who’ve never heard the message of salvation, so many of whom will willingly come to Him, if someone will just reach them with His love.

Tea & Endtime with the Kurds

My friend and I were sitting in the office of a Kurdish business woman. We were over in her neck of the woods, not in the West. And my friend had told me that in his conversations with her at other times, quite often the subject had turned to the events of the endtime, predicted in prophecy. By the way, the picture here is one I found on line of Kurdish women, not of the ones we met.

“So, Mark, the Kurdish woman was an evangelical Christian?”

No, she wasn’t. In fact when we first got there, we had to wait for her as she was having prayer, something many Muslims do 5 times a day.

“Were she and her friends covered from head to toe in black and all you could see of her was where there was a slit for her eyes?”

No, actually they were all dressed completely casually and looked like everyday folks from northern Italy.

“Mark, that doesn’t make sense! How could she be someone that carries on a conversation about the endtime if she was a Muslim?!”

My friend who took me to her office said that all she knows about the prophetic endtime is what she’s learned about it from the Koran and what my friend has shared with her. Yes, there’s plenty about the future to come in the Koran that has some definite parallels to the same narrative we find in the Old and New Testament, and quite a few Muslims know about this.

I spoke about this in my video on Daniel chapter 7, how that Muslims know specifically about “the dejjal”, the name in the Koran for the Antichrist, spoken of as a demonic world leader who will arise in the final years before the return of Jesus. AC figure-2This is also explained in the Koran. That may be surprising news to some who read this. Here’s the text and illustrations to the Daniel 7 class if you’re interested in knowing more about this.

So while drinking tea with her and her friends, one of the things we talked about was “the mark of the beast”, predicted in Revelation 13:16 & 17 as being a part of the world economic system of the final days. We talked about how this type of thing was not really possible for 2000 years. But now in our times virtually every product has a bar code. And we shared with our friend how that it would be just as easy to implant some kind of chip in each individual so that he could be scanned for each economic transaction and kept up with electronically in an almost complete way. We told her that this was prophesied many centuries ago as a sign of the final years at the time of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), before the return of Jesus.Mark of the Beast

This was not the first time my friend had talked with this Kurdish business woman and her friends about this. But it was a way to share with her the vision of the future from the Bible which she already knew a good deal about, from her study of the Koran. She said, as we discussed the overall endtime picture of possibly needing to draw back from the large cities if a world government took over, that she felt she could be safe in some of the smaller villages she knows where Kurds are the majority. And that’s a similar conclusion to what many in the West have come see as a way to survive if an Antichrist world rule comes in our lifetime. Some may need to “flee into the wilderness” (Revelation 12:14), as the Bible says some will.

Another of my friends later told me that this is one of the easiest ways to enter into conversations with Islamic people, by talking about the vision of the future to come and what the prophets and writers of the Old and New Testament were shown by the God of Abraham about that time. So it was a wonderful day, sharing faith and truth that I’ve learned with someone hungry and receptive to the same truth.

By the way, you might wonder why I’m not being more specific and detailed about the name of the woman, her city and things like that. The reason is that in some parts of the world, a “Christian” way of looking at God, Jesus and the Bible is pretty controversial and even outright dangerous.

In some countries you can be thrown out of them if you’re known to be sharing your faith in that way. In other countries, it can get much worse, not always from the governments but just from local people who “take the law into their own hands” or who are motivated by ancient animosities to see you as an enemy of their society. In those circumstances you learn quickly to be a good deal less specific when sharing news of what the Lord has done, both for your own sake but also for the sake of your friends.

But it’s a wonderful life. It’s a wonderful and thrilling to have a conversation with people like my friend and I spoke with today, ones who have such a genuine hunger for the things of the Lord and such believing hearts to grasp and retain what we shared with them.

So I’d encourage you to not be afraid to step out and share your faith and what you know with your friends who might have an Islamic background. You might find it a very interesting and rewarding conversation, just like we did, even if you have to wait till they finish praying.