Leviticus? Oye!!

How many of you have set out with the admirable goal of reading the entire Bible? Genesis is good. It has a great bunch of stories in it. Certainly can’t complain about Exodus with all the suspense. Both are not only pretty easy to read, but actually rather enjoyable. But then there is Leviticus. Not much else can derail a Bible-reading plan faster than…*snore*…huh? What was I saying? Oh yah, Leviticus, the book of the law.

Not meaning to pat myself on the back or anything, but I am pleased to say I have now finished reading it for the 2nd time. Don’t be too quick to congratulate me, though. It took me several months to read those 27 chapters. With Paul’s words to Timothy floating in the back of my mind, the reminder that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, I asked God many times why Leviticus is even in the Bible.

I have read and re-read, with great fascination, the chapters about the  7 God-assigned feasts of Israel. But I have to admit, my eyes were pretty glassy through the rest of the book. I did find that there were so many commands in chapter 19, that I needed to read that one 2 or 3 times to unpack it all.

Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament, and written by Moses.  It is the record of the law given by God to the Israelite people after leaving Egypt.  It is not the 10 commandments.  Rather, it is the very extensive list of what sacrifices should be performed for what purpose, and the pretty detailed list of how to go about doing that.  It’s not a book for the squeamish as it talks quite a bit about the particular parts of the sacrificial animals that are to be used, and where to pour the blood, etc.  It contains quite a list of sins and what their punishments should be.  Also an extensive list of what makes a person, or thing, unclean and what to do to be considered clean again.  One can even learn how to deal with mold in a dwelling.  It is a book that was obviously meant as an instruction manual for the Israelites.

Leviticus is for a people who had not yet been redeemed by the Messiah, thus the necessity of the sacrificial system.  So what possible purpose could it have for Christians today?  Why even bother making the effort to try to read it?  And yet, the Apostle Paul did say in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We must bear in mind that when Paul wrote these words, there was no New Testament.  The Scripture he is referring to was the Books of the Law (including Leviticus), the Prophets, and the Writings, aka the Old Testament.  With this in mind, I can concede that even today it is important to recognize the behaviors listed in Leviticus as ones that God declares sinful.  Still, there must be something more for Paul to declare that ALL Scripture is profitable.  All means all after all.

As I continued reading through this book, pondering its usefulness, and praying for God to reveal that to me, the answer came while reading an unlikely passage.  In chapter 21, verses 16-24 God declared that no descendant of Aaron (the priestly line) who had a physical defect of any kind could go past the curtain of the Tabernacle to the alter and offer the sacrifices because he would profane God’s holy place.  As the daughter of parents who are both totally blind, and as a teacher for students who are blind and/or have other, sometimes quite severe, disabilities, this passage caused me to stop short.  As I paused to pray, I heard the Holy Spirit speak the answer to my first prayer.  Then I understood, not just why this command about the priests with physical defects, but the purpose of the book as well.

The following is the understanding the Spirit gave to me:  The Bible is not just a collection of stories, books, and letters.  It is, in fact, The Incomplete Works of God.  It is a partial biography, or perhaps autobiography of God.  His memoirs.  A record of His works and interaction with mankind.  Of course it is incomplete because no one can know the mind of God…there is so much more about Him that is not recorded in the Bible, but this is what we have.

Each page, chapter, and book is a gradual revealing of who God is.  And each book, as a whole document, has a theme that reveals something to the reader about the characteristics of God.  Genesis shows us that God is the creator.  He created the world, and everything in it.  He created animals and humans.  He created the family that He would send the Messiah through.

Exodus shows us that God is not only God of the Israelites, but God over everything and everyone.  No matter whether a person believes in Him or not.  No matter that person’s status in this world, peasant or king.  There is no one who does not fall under God’s jurisdiction.

Leviticus points to the complete holiness and righteousness of God.  By detailing what is required of His people in order to be holy in His sight, we see that there is no way humanly possible for any man to stand holy and righteous before Him.  Not only that, we see that God cannot, and will not, tolerate any sin, nor the effects of sin, in His presence.  That is what the whole thing about forbidding a priest with physical defects from carrying out a sacrifice was all about.  It was not because the defect was a result of any particular sin on the part of that person, or his parents.  It was because the defect is a result of sin entering God’s perfect creation and distorting all of it.  It was a physical apparition of sin; a living, breathing example of the curse of sin in the world.  This did not say that God did not, and does not love anyone with a disability, by the way.  We can see that He does by looking how mercifully Yeshua (Jesus) healed the many blind, deaf, and lame in the New Testament.  He was the extension of God’s love and mercy, and became the mediator between God and all men.

I wonder what Numbers will reveal?  I have already started reading, and praying for God to show me more of who He is in this book.  I have also begun to keep a record of these revelations in the front of my Bible.  I want a place I can go at any time to be reminded of all God is whenever I need to.  I can’t wait to finish Numbers and see the whole picture!!

 

Predestination: What the Bible Says

There is no doctrine taught that makes me want to jump out of my pew and yell “STOP” more than that of predestination.  How many people on the brink of accepting the salvation of Jesus have turned away because they heard a message that God picks and chooses.  “Obviously if God is going to hand-pick those He wants in Heaven with Him, He is going to choose the cream of the crop.  I can’t meet that standard, so He must not want me.”  And how many Christians do not share the good news of the Gospel because they have been taught, and believe, that God chooses the ones He wants, so therefore, He will make sure they get to Heaven one way or the other.  “Besides, how can I know who God has chosen?  If Bob or Julie aren’t chosen, then I am just wasting my breathe, and putting all of us in an unnecessarily uncomfortable position.”

So where does this idea of predestination come from, and what is meant by the doctrine?  Allow me to answer those questions in reverse.  The doctrine of predestination says that God has pre-determined who will be saved and go to Heaven, and who will not be saved, and will go to Hell.  Simply put, He decides.  The Bible passage often used to support this doctrine is Ephesians 1:4-5 which says:  “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.” (NKJV)

If we were to look at only this Scripture passage, the message would seem pretty clear cut.  However, we can’t do that.  No verse or passage in the Bible stands alone.  How can what Paul says here to the church at Ephesus stand against what Jesus Himself said in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  If God loves the world (and that would be all of it, every human, past, present and future); and if whoever believes (an open-ended invitation), then how can only part of the world receive God’s love, and only a select few be allowed to believe?

Let’s look at some other verses.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

These verses not only make it clear that God wants all men to be saved, but also that He is waiting patiently, holding back on His plans to establish His kingdom, so that as many people will come to Him as will choose to.

If God has pre-determined who will be saved, why not just pick the lot of us, establish His kingdom and be done with it?  The answer to that is free will.  That I know of, there is no particular place in the Bible that specifically says we have “free will”.  However, there are a number of passages that allude to the freedom that God gives mankind to choose whether to obey Him, whether to receive His salvation and serve Him, or not.  Adam and Eve, of course, are the very first example of that.  God commanded them to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But when it came down to it, He allowed them to make that choice.  Don’t fool yourself.  He knew it was coming.  He could have posted guards around it to prevent them from disobeying, but He didn’t.  He gave them the choice, but of course, also allowed them to suffer the consequences of that choice.  Some other verses that talk of mankind taking advantage of that free will are listed below.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (God to the people of Israel) – “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

Joshua 24:15 – And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Mark 8:34 – “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.'”

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Again I ask, if we have free will to choose, or not choose, God, how then could we be chosen by Him?  Either He presents salvation to us so that we can make the choice, or He picks us and says, “Here, take this.”  Either God so loved the whole world, and offers salvation to all who choose Him, or He designed a path to salvation for only those of the world that He truly loves.  It can’t be both ways.

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world preaching the gospel.  What would the point be?  Unless.  Unless the Gospel is for everyone.  

Romans 1:18-20 says the following:  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

Paul is saying here that God put in every human being the ability to recognize Him and know Him, so that they/we would have no excuse to not know Him.  Why would He do that when only a select handful would be chosen?  An excuse would not matter if the right to choose was not there.

Take a moment to scroll back up and re-read Ephesians 1:4-5.  Now read these words from John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

So here it is.  God has predestined all those who choose to receive Him and believe in Jesus to become His children.  The predestination is linked to the adoption as a result of salvation, not as the salvation itself.  From the beginning of time, God had a plan to offer salvation to all the world.  Abraham was told that through his seed, all the world would be blessed.  The knowledge of God, and the desire to have a relationship is built into each and every one of us.  The invitation to receive salvation through Jesus is extended to every single person in the whole wide world.  And the promise is that everyone who receives it is already guaranteed, pre-determined to be, adopted children of God Most High.

 

 

It’s Undeniable: The End Times are Here…NOW

Here is a 2-part series, published on another site first.

For two thousand years, Christians all over the world have been watching the signs of the times, with an eye on the clouds, always waiting and wondering when Yeshua (Jesus) would return.  

They have witnessed, lived through, and died at the hands of unspeakable evil.  The words of Yeshua in Matthew 24 have been forever on our lips. There have been earthquakes, famines, pestilences, false prophets, wars and rumors of wars.  And always we have wondered how much worse can things get?  Surely this present evil is the last straw, the one which will bring God to the point of judgment.  Yet Yeshua has lingered- God’s patience for mankind reaching far beyond what our own sinful hearts can.  So when leaders in the Christian world today speak of the soon return of the Messiah, many scoff. Perhaps they have been so hardened by the wait that they no longer believe.

There is a problem with what 2000 years’ worth of Christians have looked at to determine the signs of the times, however.  In my 3-part article “Who is Israel? And What Role, If Any, Does She Play in God’s Kingdom” I explain how the Gentile church’s anti-Semitic history has not only removed the Jewishness from Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible, but has also effectively eliminated the importance of the Old Testament.  This, then, is the problem.

What Yeshua said in Matthew 24 was not the be all, end all of end time prophecy.  To get the complete picture, one must study a great deal of the Old Testament.  In fact, sixteen of the OT books are books of prophecy.  Many of the prophecies written there have already been fulfilled in the first coming of Messiah, and the events that happened to the nation of Judah in the year 70 AD when the Jews were scattered throughout the world.  Many others have not.  The only way to truly understand end-time prophecy is to study the Old Testament.

This is the year 2016, and I am telling you that the time of Yeshua’s return is near, very near.  Not because of the evil of this present age, not because of the increase in natural disasters, not because there is unbelievable unrest all over the world.  I am telling you this because of what is happening to and around Israel.  

Israel is the key to understanding end-time prophecy.

The rapture, the 2nd coming of Messiah, the Tribulation, they all center on Israel, not the Church.  When Israel became a nation in her own land in 1948, the ball was set in motion because that was a prophecy that had remained unfulfilled until that time.

I want to address a couple of terms.  First, the House of Israel and the House of Ephraim are one and the same.  They are the 10 tribes of Israel which became the Northern Kingdom after the time of King Solomon.  They were eventually assimilated by Assyria, not to be heard from until this past decade in which the remnant God preserved has begun to awaken and return to the Promised Land.

Second, the House of Judah was the 2 remaining tribes, which became the Southern Kingdom of Israel, or just Judah.  They were taken captive by Babylon (where they were first called Jews), but allowed to return to Jerusalem 70 years later (a fulfilled OT prophecy).  These same Jews were the ones who centuries later bore Yeshua (Jesus), and later played a major role in crucifying Him.  As a consequence, another 70 years later, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and all the Jews were scattered throughout the world.  The land of Israel was gone, and the people were no longer a nation.  Finally, the Whole House of Israel is all 12 tribes of Israel, the House of Israel/Ephraim and the House of Judah, united as the original nation of Israel that God designed.

With this quick lesson in terminology under our belts, let’s start digging into what Ezekiel has to say about what is happening in our world today.

Ezekiel 36:7-12 (TLV)

Therefore thus says Adonai Elohim: ‘I have lifted My hand. Surely the nations that surround you will themselves suffer scorn.  “‘But you, mountains of Israel, you will shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit for My people Israel; for their return is near.  For behold, I am for you. I will turn to you. You will be tilled and sown.  I will settle a large population upon you—the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities will be inhabited. The desolate places will be built up.  I will multiply man and beast upon you. They will increase and be fruitful. I will cause you to be inhabited as you were before. I will do better for you than at your beginnings. You will know that I am Adonai.  I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance. You will no longer deprive them of children.’”

These verses are a promise from God that He would someday return the whole house of Israel to the land He promised them. This little bit of wording is so important in understanding what is being said here.  God said “the whole house of Israel, all of it.”  Israel has not been united since the civil war divided it after King Solomon died.

As I mentioned above, the House of Israel was assimilated by Assyria, and not heard from again.  That was during the time of the great prophets of Isaiah and Jeremiah, in 722 BC.  The House of Judah, which was captured by Babylon and returned to Jerusalem 70 years later, around 538 BC, was again evicted in 70 AD.  The two houses of Israel have not been the “whole house” since some time in the upper 800s BC.  And none of the nation of Israel, Judah or Israel/Ephraim, were in the land of Israel from the year 70 AD onward…until 1948.  

In that year, Israel was established as a nation again, and given at least a portion of the land that God had promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Even then, this was only the Jews…those of the House of Judah.  The House of Israel remained lost; lost to the world, but not to God.  God had promised to preserve a remnant of each of the tribes and return them to Israel.  This began in the late 1990s.

Small communities all over the world, who have maintained the Israeli Law of Moses for thousands of years began to awaken- a miracle of God.  They began to recognize themselves and their culture as being of Israel, and they began to seek to return to the land of Israel.  In 2005 Israel approved measures allowing these groups to begin returning home.  These groups are not Jewish, because they are not of the House of Judah (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), but they are Israelites, from the House of Israel, identifying with the 10 lost tribes who were assimilated 2700+ years ago.  God is bringing the whole house of Israel back to the land.

In Ezekiel 37:15-22 God told Ezekiel to take two sticks.  On one, he was to write the name of Judah, and the other, Israel, each stick representing one of the two houses.  He was to bind the sticks together to symbolize that they would become one stick/nation again.  In verse 24 we are told that “My servant David will be king over them.”  Obviously, this was not in reference to King David, for he had died long before.  This is a reference to the millennial reign of Yeshua when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth, His thousand year reign.

End-time point number one:  the two houses of Israel (Judah and Israel/Ephraim) will be united as one nation again, and be brought back to the land of Israel by the time that Yeshua begins His thousand year reign on earth.  Judah has been back in the land since 1948, and the remaining tribes of Israel have been making their way back gradually since 2005, becoming the whole house of Israel that God talked about.

Next, take a half step back in Scripture to Ezekiel 36:27.  Here God tells His people that He will put His Spirit within them, and that they will keep His laws, and obey His rules.  Israel has returned, but they do not keep God’s laws- the Law of Moses as described in Exodus and Leviticus.  Even the most orthodox Jew who desires to keep the Law is unable to do it completely, because there is no temple.  Certain parts of the Law must be done at the Temple and require animal sacrifice.

With a Muslim mosque standing on the Holy Hill where the Temple of God must stand, how can this be an indicator that the end times are here?

This is how- which brings me to End-Times Point Number Two:  A third Temple will be built at some point during the end times because the AntiChrist will desecrate it.  A group of Orthodox Jews have begun to raise money and build the artifacts for the third Temple, including the altar, which will allow them to resume complete obedience to God and His Law, and which God Himself foretold in Ezekiel 36.  In fact, recently, the altar was completed to the great excitement of many who are following the progress, including myself.

The original Temple that King Solomon built was destroyed when Jerusalem was taken captive by Babylon, and its artifacts were taken as booty.  A second temple was built when Judah returned from that captivity 70 years later, and the artifacts were returned.  This temple was destroyed 70 years after the crucifixion of Yeshua.  The book of Revelation talks about a third Temple, the one that will be rebuilt during the first 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation, and which will be desecrated by the Anti-Christ.

PART TWO

In part 1 of this article we examined two End-Time Points:  The first is that God promised to not only unite the divided Israel (the House of Judah, and the House of Israel, sometimes called the House of Ephraim), but also to return them to the land of Israel and rule them under one king, David (symbolic of Yeshua/Jesus).  In 1948, Judah was returned to the land of Israel, and as of 2005, the ten lost tribes of the House of Ephraim were beginning to return as well.  What remains is for that process to be completed and for Yeshua to return for His thousand year reign on earth.

The second point is that the book of Revelations speaks of a third Temple during the Great Tribulation, one that will be desecrated by the Anti-Christ.  God said, through Ezekiel, in chapter 36, that He would put His Spirit in the people of Israel and they would again obey His Laws (the Law of Moses).  This obedience to the Law is currently limited without a Temple because animal sacrifice, and certain other ordinances require the Temple and the altar.  In the past few years, a group of Orthodox Jews have been working to rebuild the Temple artifacts (which includes the recent completion of the altar) in preparation for the third Temple, as soon as they are able to do so.  Currently, a Muslim mosque stands on God’s Holy Hill, but rest assured, God will not allow this mockery forever, and with the building of the artifacts, that time appears to be nearing soon.

The world is currently setting the stage for the Gog/Magog war.  In Ezekiel 38:1-6, God gives a list of nations that He will turn toward Israel, and bring up against her.  It seems to be a general consensus that Gog/Magog is Russia.  Gog was a title for a prince, while Magog was the nation.  Also listed is Rosh (northern part of Russia that borders with Europe), Meshech (Moscow), and Tubal (Tobolsk of Siberia).  Verse 3 says, “Thus says the Lord God:  ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’”

In verses 5-6, God states that Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and Togarmah will join Magog in this attack on Israel. Until 1935, the present day nation of Iran was called by its ancient name of Persia.  Gomer is believed to be possibly Germany, or at the very least part of the land which is now Turkey.  Togarmah is known to be in what is now Turkey.

Ezekiel 38:8-12 – “After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.  You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”   ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:  You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

What does this passage tell us?  First of all, notice that the people of Israel will be brought out from the nations and will be living in the land of Israel.  We know from part 1 of this article, and the review above, that the whole house of Israel is now in the process of being united, and living in the land.

Second, these verses speak of the people of Israel dwelling in safety.  Israel today faces many threats, to be sure.  However, their determination to never again go through anything like the WWII holocaust has led them to build up one of the best, if not the best military defense systems in the world.  They recognize that they need to be able to completely and independently defend themselves because there is no guarantee that any other nation will come to their defense.  The recent vote by the United Nations to allow Iran a pathway to obtaining nuclear weapons is a case in point.  Israel has certainly become a nation secure in its own defense.

Finally, this coming battle is not the Battle of Armageddon.  That battle is when Messiah returns at His second coming and defeats all the armies of the world.  The battle talked about here in Ezekiel is commonly called the Battle of Gog and Magog. The Battle of Armageddon will begin when all the nations of the world, led by the Anti-Christ, surround Israel with the intent to destroy her, completely obliterate her.  The Battle of Gog has a completely different intent.  Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia, and probably Germany, will surround Israel in order to plunder her riches.

Is Israel really wealthy enough to care about plundering her?  In the fall of 2015, a huge supply of oil was discovered in Israel’s Golan Heights that is estimated to be billions of gallons.  What does Russia need most?  Oil.  Around the same time as the oil find, Russia began to test the waters militarily.  They moved into Syria under the pretense of fighting ISIS.  How would the rest of the free world respond to their military advancement?  Well, it gave the news outlets something to talk about for a while.

Let’s bundle some of this together.  Israel is now so secure in their ability to defend themselves that they have signed agreements with none other than Russia and Turkey.  The end of last month, Israel and Russia signed an agreement in an effort to stabilize relations in the area.  At the same time, they signed an agreement with Turkey that would allow Israel to build a pipeline through Turkey to enable the transportation of natural gas to Europe.  What better evidence of Israel’s sense of security than agreements with these two nations?  This most certainly could lead to the “unwalled villages” mentioned in the passage above.

Let’s move on to verse 13 – “Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you [Gog], ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”

Barely over a week after the Russian and Turkey deals, Israel revealed agreements with four African nations: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.  They have offered humanitarian assistance and military aid, as well as education and training in the areas of science and military for decades.  In an effort to make Israel known as an independent military superpower in the region, they have now made this information public.

When the Gog alliance comes against Israel, there will be nations who will openly question their actions, but none will come to her aid.  Israel will stand alone.  The merchants of Tarshish are nations of East Africa.  Sheba and Dedan are England and Spain.

What about the United States?  Last fall, I wrote an article called King of Kings…Lord of Presidents (published on http://www.madisonscpc.net), in which I stated that I believe God is going to place Donald Trump in the office of president.  God has a plan to use this pagan leader to fulfill His purposes for the US.  This was confirmed for me when a contributing writer for Madisons CPC, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, published a 3-part series entitled Trump: The Russian Connection in which she chronicles an amazing friendship between Donald Trump, a number of his campaign personnel, and highly influential Russians.

It will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out in the days, months, and years ahead now that Donald Trump is indeed President of the United States.

The world may turn their backs on Israel when the Battle of Gog begins, but God will not.  For the first time in centuries, God will make Himself known in a very obvious way.  Israel will know that God has not forgotten them.  And the rest of the world will know that Israel is still God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye.

As Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, and Germany come against Israel, God will show the fury of His wrath.  There will be an earthquake so great that Ezekiel 38:20 says, “the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence.”  The mountains will crumble.

God will confuse the Israel’s enemies so that they will destroy each other.  There will be pestilence, flooding rains, hailstones, fire, and brimstone from heaven.  The whole world will know that He is GOD!  At the same time, the homelands of these warring nations will come under God’s judgement, as well.  The death toll of Israel’s enemies will be so great that it will take Israel seven months to bury all the dead, and seven years to completely destroy all of the weapons left by them.

The stage is set.  The only questions remaining are when, and what about the Christians?  Don’t they say anything? Do anything?  Some religious scholars believe that the Rapture will come before this time.  With the disappearance of millions of Christians, the world will be in complete chaos, including the markets, and will create a tremendous need to have control of massive oil reserves.  It would also explain the lack of the voice of the church in defense of Israel.

However, other scholars say that there is no evidence pointing in either direction, and so we Christians could very well be here on earth to witness the Gog/Magog war.

Yeshua said no one knows the day or the hour, not even Him.  However, He didn’t want us to be clueless either.  If He had, He would not have given us all the prophecies and signs that point to the end.  Prophecies are undeniably being fulfilled.  We cannot know the day or hour, but we can recognize the season, and it is now.  Prepare the way of the Lord, for He cometh!!

Keep one eye on Israel, and one eye on the clouds.  Come quickly Lord Yeshua!

*Scripture passages taken from the Tree of Life Version and the New King James Version.

The Appropriate and Biblical Response to Homosexuality

What could be a more hot-button topic today than homosexuality and Christianity? 

Yet, it is one that continues to require ample supplies of wisdom, direction, patience and understanding.  Since all four of those things come from God, let’s take a look at what His word says.

Have you ever read the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament of the Bible?  You wouldn’t be alone if you said no.  In fact, much of the Old Testament is skimmed or skipped entirely by Christians.  However, if you are going to know God, His righteousness, His commands, His judgement, and His love, grace, and mercy, you must read the Old Testament.

Leviticus is admittedly difficult to read.  It is the law as given by God to Moses and the Israelites.  What one needs to understand about the law given in Leviticus, is that it is God’s law.  Since God is the God of the Universe, His law applies to all peoples, whether they accept that or not.  One can argue that until they are blue in the face, but it won’t change the reality of it.  God’s law is not outdated or meant only for the Israelites, while the Church is somehow relieved from its authority.

Christ came to fulfill the law, NOT abolish it (Matthew 5:17-18).  He also promised that not one bit of it will pass away until all of it is fulfilled…which won’t be until man once again lives in the presence of God as Adam and Eve did in the beginning.

Now what does God’s law say about homosexuality?  Leviticus 18:22-24* says the following:

“You are not to lie with a man, as with a woman—that is an abomination.  You are not to lie with any animal to defile yourself with it, nor is any woman to give herself to an animal, to lie down with it—that is a perversion.  Do not defile yourselves in any of these things, for in all of these ways the nations which I am casting out before you were defiled.  The land has become defiled, so I will punish its iniquity, and the land will vomit out its inhabitants.”

God clearly states here that homosexuality is an abomination.  In fact, He lists it as part of the reason the land of Canaan was defiled, and so the people living there were cast out and Israel given the land in their place.

Two chapters later, God says this:

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, and they shall surely be put to death.  Their blood shall be on them.  If a man takes a wife and her mother, it is wickedness.  They shall be burned with fire—both he and they, so that there may be no wickedness among you.  If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you are to kill the animal.”  Leviticus 20:13-15.

In these two examples, God has declared that homosexuality, (as well as bestiality,) is an abomination.  In one passage, He focuses on the sins and punishment of nations who allow the practice of homosexuality.  In the next, He focuses on the personal sin of it, and the punishment of death as a result.

Lest anyone consider this to be void after the coming of the Messiah, even after the earlier explanation, open your Bible to Romans chapter 1.  The Apostle Paul, author of over half of the New Testament, wrote the following in verses 18-32:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. In unrighteousness they suppress the truth, because what can be known about God is plain to them—for God has shown it to them. His invisible attributes—His eternal power and His divine nature—have been clearly seen ever since the creation of the world, being understood through the things that have been made. So people are without excuse—for even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. Instead, their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image in the form of mortal man and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature.  Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what is not fitting.  They became filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. They are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree—that those who practice such things deserve death—they not only do them but also approve of others who practice the same.”

Homosexuality is labeled as shameful, and deserving of penalty.  I included the entire passage, because I want you to see the first section which states that God put in man the sense of right and wrong, and has made Himself visible in the world He created, therefore there is no excuse for saying that one does not know that God has declared homosexuality as wrong.  Those who deny God, also harden their hearts to understanding the truth of right and wrong within us.  That is the choice we all make.  However, one must understand that with the choice to deny God and His truth, comes the consequences of doing so.  We are all still held accountable for our sins (wrongdoings.)  The only way to avoid the penalty of death for them is to believe that Yeshua (Jesus), God’s son died to take that death penalty for us, and accept His salvation.

With this Biblical base, what is the Christian to do about homosexuality?  We need to recognize it as sin, an abomination before God.  This makes living the homosexual lifestyle unacceptable…for the Christian.  For the unbeliever, the non-Christian, “God gave them over to the depraved mind.”

How, then, are we to respond to practicing homosexuals?  There are two answers for this.  Our response is dependent on whether or not the person is a believer or unbeliever.

Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60).  Also in Matthew 8:22 – But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

This is a topic that needs to be fleshed out thoroughly for a true understanding.

Homosexuality and Christianity.  Two life views that have butted heads for centuries.  What is the appropriate Biblical response of the Christian towards homosexuality?

 

As I prayed about writing this article, this phrase played repeatedly through my mind, “Let the dead bury their dead.”  I knew it was the Holy Spirit telling me that we need to leave the dead, the unbelieving, to their own ways.  It is not for us to change them, or require them to live by the commands of God that we adhere to.  It was as though God was saying to me, “Let them do what they will do.  You worry about what I have for you to do.”

This was confirmed in more of Paul’s writings.  In his first letter to the Corinthians he wrote:

“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”

Two things are in this passage.  First, we are not to judge the unbeliever, the outsider, who is living the immoral life.  That judgement is left to God.  Since there are numerous records of God’s judgement on those who defile His commands throughout the Bible, we can safely say that Paul’s words are true.  We are also not to avoid them or disassociate with them.  Paul was clear in this, as it would mean we would have to leave the earth.  It is impossible to completely seclude oneself from the unbelieving of this world.  On the other hand, we are to avoid company with those believers who are living the immoral lifestyle.  There are other passages of the Bible that speak of how to confront a believer who is living in sin.  Disconnecting yourself from them, and them from the church, is the last step when they have refused to repent and turn from their sinful ways.

It seems clear that the Christian is indeed instructed to judge our brethren when it comes to sinful living, which includes, but is not exclusive to, the life of homosexuality.  And if necessary, cut ties with them until the person repents of their ways.  However, it is also clear that we are not to judge the unbelieving homosexual for their immorality.  God will do that in His own time and in His own way.

In the meantime, we can certainly “go and preach the kingdom of God.”  We can, and should, share with unbelieving homosexuals the love that God has for them, and the salvation from sin (all sin) that is offered through the blood of Yeshua.  If and when, they accept that salvation, then let the Holy Spirit convict them and begin changing them.

As for our brothers who practice this lifestyle, we must confront them, and implore them to repent.  It is wrong to change the message of God’s word.  Galatians 1:9 says, “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

It is a dangerous path to change and distort God’s word to mean what one chooses it to mean.  God’s word is clear in its stance on homosexuality.  To say that being gay is okay because one believes that they are, or because one wants to support a friend or family member who says they are, is following a dangerous slippery slope.  Once one verse is changed or denied, there will be another, and another.  Soon the Word of the righteous God will be the word of sinful men, with no inherent worth.

Read the Scriptures.  Abide by them.  For in them is our salvation, as well as our judgement.

What then can we do about our brothers and sisters? Pray. Pray, pray, pray.  I firmly believe that people are not born gay. I also do not believe that it is a sickness or a crossed wire somewhere. I believe homosexuality is the cause of a great deception by the devil. Remember that he is the father of lies and the expert at mixing just enough lie with truth to make it all seem good. But just because you put a dash of hot sauce in your sugar cookie dough, does not mean your cookies will come out right. That little dash will ruin the whole batch. We must pray that God will help them to discern the truth from the lie, and seek to return to Him, for He is truth.

 

*All Bible passages taken from the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV).

God’s Dream Come True

Isaiah 46:9-10 (TLV) – “For I am God—there is no other.  I am God, and there is none like Me—declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.”

Have you ever wondered why if God knows everything—past, present, future—why did He create the earth in the first place?  He had to know that Satan would rebel, that Adam and Eve would fail the test, and He would have to take the form of His own creation in order to sacrifice Himself for our salvation.

When Cain killed Abel, why didn’t God stop there?  Why did He provide another son, Seth, through whom salvation would eventually come?

When the world had rejected Him so completely that every thought and intent of the heart was evil, why did He go through the trouble to destroy every living creature…except for Noah, his family, and enough animals to start over again?  Why didn’t He just wipe the whole thing out and just say, “Forget it!”

The painstaking care God took to create, and then ensure the continued existence of His creation insists that there is a purpose beyond plain sight.  He spent thousands of years preparing for, and then establishing a nation through whom He would send His salvation.  At the same time, He used that nation to demonstrate to the world, both then and now, how very much we need Him and just how far He was willing to go to for us.

Story after story in the Bible shows us the character of God.  He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He shared His plans with Abraham.  He called Moses friend.  He adopts anyone who chooses to receive His salvation and calls us His children, and the brothers of His Son, Yeshua (Jesus).

The answer to the “why” is in God’s character, and what He showed us about Himself in the Bible.  Why did He bother with this enormous, elaborate plan to create a world that would reject Him, and turn against Him?  Because He loves us, and He wants a relationship with us.  But not a forced relationship.  God wants a relationship that is based on truth, faith, trust, love, and choice.  God built a world that would hate Him for a time, so that He could have an eternity with those who chose to love Him.

Before God said, “Let there be light,” He saw the pain and death of sin.  Before he breathed life into the nostrils of man, He saw the hands that would drive the spikes into His wrists.  But when He closed the door of the Ark, with only eight people and a bunch of animals inside, He saw eternity with those who would faithfully choose Him over the world, and love Him with all their hearts, minds, and souls.

God didn’t give up.  He didn’t quit before He began, and He didn’t scrap the lot of us to start over from scratch…because He loves us that much.  Every single tiny detail of His plan must be fulfilled so that, in the end, we will be together with Him.  He planned for us, worked for us, and sacrificed for us.  We are God’s dream come true.  We are what He has worked and longed for from before the very beginning.  How profound, and how humbling is that?

Why does He love us that much?  That is beyond me, but it is enough to know that He does.  With a heart, overflowing with His love, I sing:

Oh, how He loves you and me, Oh how He loves you and me. He gave his life, what more could he give?
Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.

Copyright: 

1975 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 TLV)

Child Sacrifice in the United States

A startling epidemic has spread across the United States.  What once was a Christian nation has now turned a blind eye to the horrific sacrifice of children.  Brutal executions of children are happening in alarming numbers all across this once great nation, as they are offered up to unknown gods in ritual ceremonies.  Young children are taken from their mothers, cut open, organs removed, and left to die in these grisly acts of worship.  It is absolutely shocking and unthinkable that this type of cult behavior has been allowed to continue!  In the past three years, over a million children have suffered this terrible fate.

In a nation where organizations seek regularly to find support to feed and clothe hungry children in other parts of the world, I find it unbelievable that we are ignorant to the practice of ritual child sacrifice right here in our own backyards.  The only reasonable answer to this must be that people simply are not aware of what is going on.  What other possible explanation could there be?  It cannot possibly be that it is a known fact, and simply ignored. Ignorance is bliss is not for a time like this!!

I find this deplorable, and I know that you will, too.  Not only is this horrifying to my human mind and sensibilities, I know that it is something that defies God.  He warned time and again throughout the Old Testament to not follow in the ways of the pagan nations who sacrificed their children to false gods.

Deuteronomy 12:31 is an example.  In this verse, God says, “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.”  I am pretty sure it matters not by what method a child is sacrificed.  It is an abomination.

God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel to the Israelites who centuries later had been doing exactly what He had warned them not to do.  Chapter 20:31 says, “For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day.  So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.”  God would not hear their prayers as a result of their idol worship, which specifically included sacrificing their children.

Woe to the United States for allowing the same!  We must take a stand and put an end to this abomination lest we, too, lose the ear of GOD!!

Stand to end abortion today, the sacrifice of children on the altar of Self.

In the Bible it was common for pagans to sacrifice to Molech or Baal, gods made of wood and stone.  Gods who could not hear, speak, or act.  They certainly had no power over anyone or thing.  Today, the god to whom children are sacrificed is Self.  Self can hear and speak, because it is us.  We have come to lift up our own personal humanity to god-like status and sacrifice those to whom Yeshua said, “Let the little children come to me;” those who God finds precious in His sight.  Woe to Self, and those who worship her!!

May God have mercy on those of us who stand against her!!

Scripture from *NKJV – New King James Version

PEOPLE NEED A SAVIOR

Are you saved?  If you were to die today, how do you know you would go to Heaven? 

When I was a kid growing up as a Baptist in a large Midwestern city, these were probably the two questions I heard the most.  Baptists then were all about evangelism.  People needed to get saved.  Period.  I truly have fond memories of joining the adults from our church to go knocking door-to-door to witness, hand out tracts, and ask those two questions.  We were people on fire and determined to win as many souls as possible for the Lord!

I don’t know if the 1970’s were a time of worldwide revival, or if that was just how Christians were…or maybe just how Baptists were.  But there is something wrong today when there appears to be none of that, or at least precious little.  Of course, the world has become a much more dangerous place.  I recognize that, so I don’t think we really need to go banging on doors.  We are just as likely to get our heads banged on in return.  But I do think we have lost the fervor, the fire to seek the salvation of souls.

During my teen years, my family switched denominations.  At some point, I recall someone telling me that “we don’t use the word ‘saved,’ it makes people uncomfortable and confuses them.  Saved from what?  People don’t think they need to be saved.’”  I was an impressionable youth and went along…for a LOT of years.  I think about that little conversation today, and I wonder, “What in the world were you talking about???”  I realize now that it was just another way that Satan has watered down the effectiveness of the Church, and in truth, of the whole Gospel message.  The whole reason Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus) came to earth WAS TO SAVE!!!!  Every human being on the planet NEEDS TO BE SAVED!!!!  And the ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN IS SALVATION through Yeshua Messiah.  The Church was given one directive-  to go preach the Gospel…the message that brings the good news…a SAVIOR has come and died to SAVE the world.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says.  In Psalm 68:20, King David said that “God is the God of salvation.”

In Luke 2:11 the angel announces, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This was the good news, of course, that was for all people.

When the Apostle Peter gave his incredible speech in Acts chapter 5, he quoted the prophet Joel and said (vs. 21), “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Yeshua, Himself, said in John 3:17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

Acts 4:12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  [Side note:  This is the reason I call Jesus by His Hebrew name, Yeshua; His given name…given before the time of His birth by God, Himself.]

Hopefully, I have given enough samples to illustrate that the word “saved,” and its derivatives have a Biblical foundation when it comes to the Gospel message.  We are saved from the power of sin over us; the slavery to sin (Romans 6:6-7).  We are saved from the punishment of death as a result of our sins (Romans 6:23).  And we are saved from the wrath of God against the non-believing/in-saved sinner (Romans 5:8-11).

Why would we think that we can express the salvation message better than the authors of the Bible?

Here’s the bottom line-.  Yeshua commanded us to go into all the world preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations.  We need to tell people they need to be saved, and explain what they need to be saved from.   We need to introduce them to the Savior, and lead them into salvation.

Look at the people in this world.  They are seeking a savior!  You and I know that drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, over-eating, excessive shopping, material possessions, etc., etc., etc. will provide nothing more than temporary escapes from the troubles of this world.

PEOPLE NEED A SAVIOR, and we have the answer! 

We know the one and only Savior who can deliver them from this world of despair, and He is not meant to be kept secret.  We were not commanded to become complacent, and slowly and carefully develop a strong relationship with someone waiting for the perfect time to tell them about Jesus.  But that is exactly what we do.

How many people do you know who have died without ever having been told about what Yeshua did for them because you were waiting for the right time to speak up.  There are four people who immediately come to my mind.  How many came to yours?  Even if it is one, that is too many.  Salvation has become the best-kept secret the world has never known—while we secret-bearers sit back in our Lazy-boys and rest in the knowledge that we are safe.

Personally, I believe that we are living in the end times, and Yeshua is standing on the edge of Heaven just waiting for the word.  When He comes back, that’s it.  Game over.  But even if He doesn’t return next week, over the summer, or for another 150 years, every single day people die, and the majority of them die without having been saved.

Paul said, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

*All Scripture passages taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

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