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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
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    Sun, Nov 30th - 8:38PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    Recalling our study crossing through the book of Daniel, we can go back to chapter nine and see in this verse that a time will come upon this world of ours when a man shall have garnered to himself enough power and leverage to be able to offer to Israel a treaty, a covenant, of peace. This key event is to usher in a period of prosperity worldwide for the space of 3.5 years, or half of one prophetic week of years.

    Dan 11:21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

    Dan 11:23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.

    In these verses we encounter what could very well be a double prophecy. The first has been fulfilled in history when the two kings, north and south, came up and fought each other several centuries ago. The second prophecy is yet to be fulfilled in the future. At that time this man, this anti-Christ, will have entered into his treaty of peace and prosperity with Israel and will at the end of the 3.5 years betray the Israelis. This evil man will take over their entire country and set himself up in Jerusalem as the world ruler.

    Dan 11:30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

    Dan 11:27 And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.

    Dan 11:28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.

    Dan 11:29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.

    These verses introduce us to the concept that in our future there will come a time when that “king of the north” shall return to the Holy Land seeking to be victorious over the “king of the south” and all in between them. Will this “king” be the “beast” and anti-Christ? We see reference in these verses to a holy covenant and to them that forsake said covenant.

    Dan 11:45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

    Dan 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

    Dan 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

    Dan 11:33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.

    Dan 11:34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

    Dan 11:35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.

    Dan 11:36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

    Dan 11:37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

    Dan 11:38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

    Dan 11:39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

    Dan 11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

    Dan 11:41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

    Dan 11:42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

    Dan 11:43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.

    Dan 11:44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

    Within this passage we find reference to those who stand strong in the Lord and do exploits. These are the remnant of true believers who will not deny Christ Jesus even though tortured and murdered.

    In verses 36-39 we read about how this king will not be interested in the God of his fathers, will not desire the presence of women, nor be worshipping any god. He will desire to magnify himself above all other names on earth. He will command that everyone worship him, and worship an image. Just like the Babylonian king of old wanted everyone to worship and pray to an image made of himself, so to will this ruler in our future. Verse 45 tells us where he will establish his seat of power to rule over the entire world: Israel, and more specifically, Jerusalem. Surprised? You shouldn’t be if you have been following along the twisting pathways of this current study.

    That is all for today, my friends. Next time I will attempt to tie up all of the loose ends and draw this study to a conclusion. Until then, love Christ, love the brethren, live peaceably with all if at all possible.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 25th - 6:59PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    In Revelation chapter 8 we find the details of what is to happen to our fair planet, and the people on it, during the final 3.5 years of history. If no one has been capable of “seeing” the signs of the times during the previous three years of unbelievable prosperity and peace, then the events that will occur during this period of time will rivet everyones’ attention to the reality of God’s existence.

    Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

    Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

    Rev 8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

    We clearly read here in this passage that one angel will take a golden censer and fill it with fire of God’s altar in heaven and hurl it down into the earth. This will cause thunder, lightening, and an earthquake. You might say that these things all happen now anyway, so what’s the big deal? Well, first of all, this censer probably will be seen plummeting to earth from heaven with smoke and fire streaming behind it. It’s impact probably will be felt around the world as well.

    Rev 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

    Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

    As up in heaven an angel sounds the first trumpet, down here on earth we will experience hail that is full of fire and mingled with blood. These hailstones shall ignite and burn up one third of the world’s trees, and all of the green grass will be burnt up. Gone. Do you think people will notice this as an unusual event? If it happens during your lifetime, will you recall this posting and know that the last days are quickly approaching? That the time for repenting of your sins is quickly dwindling away like grains of sand in an hourglass?

    Rev 8:8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

    Rev 8:9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

    Another angel sounds a trumpet and a huge solid mass, like a mountain, burning with fire was thrown into the ocean. One third of the ships there will be destroyed and one third of all marine life will die. Understand the magnitude of this? And the ocean by one third becomes blood. One third of the ocean will be uninhabitable by any living thing. Can you imagine something like that happening in your mind’s eye? I cannot.

    Rev 8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

    Rev 8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

    This angel announces the falling of a great star from out of the heavens above us. The description accurately depicts its descent through our atmosphere. This affects the quality of water in one third of the world’s rivers, and the “fountains of waters.” This refers to the groundwater. Do not become lost in attempting to determine what the name of the star refers to in this world of ours. What we are being told here is that the waters will become bitter, they will poison people that drink them. Sound like a pretty picture of life at this time? If you are there, will this convince you that the end of time is upon you?

    Rev 8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

    The next event to occur globally will be that one third of the sun, moon, and stars will be affected so that they will be darkened. I don’t think that this will be a pick and choose which star to darken event. One third of the day will not have daylight, and one third of the night will not “shine,” which I guess means to not have any light whatsoever. Total darkness for one third of the night and apparently for one third of the day. Each day is what is implied by what is said here. This is not a one day event, but it is ongoing. If we were to go into chapter 9 we would see three more trumpet events that impact people all around the planet. The terror of the locusts is heightened when one considers that these things will be hunting people down while the world is in total darkness twice each day. The challenge will be to actually see these things coming for you, and how to actually get enough sleep each night to stay alert enough to evade these diabolical creatures.

    The question here is this: Will these events be enough for you to repent of your sinful ways and turn back to Christ Jesus for salvation? Or will you remain unrepentant, and curse God for afflicting you in this fashion? The signs of the times will be very concrete, and they will give you enough time to decide your eternal fate in between each distinct event. The choice will be ours, my friends, if we are alive when these things begin to happen.

    So, what should we be doing now? Worrying about the stock market, or financial markets? Worrying about whether or not we will be able to afford to buy a new car this coming year to replace our three year old car? I think not.

    Looking back into the book of Luke we can find some answers to what we ought to be doing during these days of unrest, and to prepare ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren, for the Last Days.

    Luk 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them

    First, we are not to allow ourselves to be deceived by those who claim that they are Jesus Christ. We are not to follow after them, we are to wait to see Jesus coming in the clouds just as He said His return would be(Luke 21:27). How do we prevent ourselves from getting “faked out” by these con artists? By studying God’s Word ourselves and knowing what it says, and what it doesn’t say. For example: There is a website that claims that Jesus has already returned the second time for each true believer in Him. It has happened over and over thousands upon thousands of times already. There is no future physical return of Christ for He is already here inside of us. Is that what the bible really says, or is this a twisting of scripture into what they wish it to say? If one believes and follows after them, you must then discard the entire book of Revelation, the majority of Daniel, and large sections of Ezekiel. Parts of the Psalms will no longer make any sense whatsoever. The words of Jesus Himself in the Gospels will no longer make any sense. You see, they wish you to cast away the truth of God for the “wisdom of man.”

    Or perhaps you have attended a church where there is a preacher who really attracts people with the way he brings the bible to life whenever he preaches. But as soon as he leaves to preach elsewhere many of those who came to hear him up and leave also. You see, they were deceived into following the “man” instead of following Christ. We all are told to walk by faith and not by sight. Our senses, our emotions, will deceive us from time to time and thus we are not to overly rely upon them in our Christian walk.

    Luk 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

    Luk 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 

    Luk 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

    In these last three verses is seen the warning given to each of us by Our Lord. Do not let your heart get overfilled with anything of this world, for if you do you will be blinded to the arrival of the Last Day. Do not get all caught up in the hustle and bustle of this world. Satan accelerates our lifestyles day by day, pushing us to the limits of our endurance and stamina. People in so much hurry that they cannot say hello to anyone that they may pass by, nor to apologize for bumping into others while they go about their business.

    We are also told to be watchful, be alert, and be on guard! Jesus wants us to not be asleep when Satan comes to devour us. He wishes that we be awake, alert, and on guard. We are to be clothed in the armor of God, just as we are told in Ephesians 6:10-20. In this fashion we will be afforded protection from spiritual attack. Will we avoid physical death? Perhaps not, since we are also told that during the final days the saints of Christ will be attacked unceasingly and all of them would perish in death if Jesus did not return Himself. But if we die physically in Christ then we shall also be raised up in newness of eternal life by Him also. He has given us His word, and He is trustworthy and faithful.

    Next time, beloved, I will turn to a study of the events to look for that will signal the beginning of the three and a half years of unprecedented prosperity on this planet of ours. This period of time will be very deceptive since just about everyone will be living better than they ever have, fortunes will be amassed, poverty will disappear. And at the same time the seeds of destruction will begin to be planted. The new world leader, the anti-Christ, shall be elevated to “savior” status by the people everywhere. Only he will have a hidden agenda of his own that he will set in motion. But that is for next time. Until then, love one another as Christ loves His church and was willing to die for it. Be your brother and sister’s keeper, watchful for their souls.

    ~Eric

       

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    Sun, Nov 23rd - 8:37PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

     

    Luk 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    Luk 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

    Luk 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

    Luk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

    Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

    Luk 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

    Luk 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

    Luk 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

    Luk 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

    Luk 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

    Luk 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

    Luk 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

    Luk 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

    Now this passage has been quoted previously but right now I wish to point out that in verse 24 we are told that there shall be a period of time in which Jerusalem will be under the control of non-Jewish people. We are living in that period of time. Israel did not have control over Jerusalem and even if they might have control right now they probably will not keep it very long since the Arab nations along with the Palestinians demand to have a voice in what goes on inside of Jerusalem.

    Verse 25 informs us that no matter what has happened in past history to make us think that this passage has already been fulfilled, this prophecy has not yet happened. Celestial events will occur that will never have happened before in mankind’s history. Things that every person on the planet will witness as they happen before their eyes. The internet and satellite stations will be fairly humming intensely as long as they are able to remain on the “air.”

    Rev 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

    Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

    Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

    Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

    Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

    Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

    Now we must look in the book of Revelation in chapter six. Here we find details of things that will be happening during the seven year Tribulation Period at the end of history. First, four great horses are shown to represent broad events that shall be happening in rapid succession at this time. One horseman shall be given the power and authority to conquer nations upon earth for a time, another shall take peace away from the entire earth, another shall bring famine, and the last horseman carried death and hell which will remove one fourth of all of the people living on earth at that time. I guess that we are talking about over one billion souls to be gone during this period of time.

    Here in verse 12 we see that there will be a great earthquake and that the celestial events happen: the sun becomes black, the moon turns blood-red, and stars fall to earth and not as “falling stars” like we think of them today. This world is to be severely impacted by environmental changes initiated by God.

    Next time I will show you in Revelation 8 some more “things” that are to happen that will make it absolutely certain that we are in the “Last Days.” Until then, may the peace of our mighty God and of our Lord Christ Jesus be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Nov 21st - 10:03PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    I think that I will delay going back to a discussion about Gog, it would be jumping back and forth too much. So, let’s continue on from where we left off last time.

    At the time the book of Revelation was written, the eastern borderlands of the Roman Empire was the Euphrates River, which begins in Turkey and bisects Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf. The countries referred to in the last few verses of Daniel 11 are all far to the west of this river. Yet in the end-time events prophesied in Revelation this river is a significant geographic marker.

    Please note Revelation 9:13-16:

    And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

    Rev 9:14

    Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

    Rev 9:15

    And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

    Rev 9:16

    And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

    Here is an army that is huge in number. The Euphates River is specifically mentioned. Four angels are released from bondage within the river. They are there even as we speak today about them. Undetectable by science for they are supernatural beings, spiritual in nature and therefore science cannot observe nor detect them with its instruments. One third of mankind will be killed during this event in the future. Understand the immense numbers that will die globally at this time and the vast impact it will have on those who survive. Two hundred million men compose this army. Obviously we are talking about some major military clashes between the Western world and a massive army from the areas to the east of the Euphrates River.

    The army of the “king of the North”, the revived Roman Empire, will respond to this threat with equal amounts of deadly force. What nations could possibly come together to form such a vast army?

    The presence of non-Islamic forces on Islamic ground has been a source of contention in the Middle East since the times of the Crusades almost 1,000 years ago. The presence in this region of forces of the revived Roman Empire will no doubt inflame Islamic feelings even more than today.

    Wouldn’t it be quite possible that this massive army is a multinational Islamic force formed from some or all of the Islamic nations along or to the north and east of the Eurphrates River? This would include Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and perhaps even Indonesia.

    There are also some new Islamic states such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Most of today’s Muslim population of 1.3 billion is located in these nations. Two hundred million for an army is not farfetched at all.

    Still another possibility for who composes these forces includes Russia and China along with their allies from the Far East. A threat to the OPEC producing nations of the Middle East, real or imagined, could provoke action by these nations to protect their interests. China alone can field such a massive army if it so desired to do so.

    These forces may decide to make common cause since the European power of the revived Roman Empire will be such a huge threat to them. Even later in this prophecy the river is dried up, made crossable for armies approaching from the east once again. As can be seen by reading Revelation events continue to escalate, to be ramped up, until it reaches the point of Armaggedon. The entire world gathers in the Middle East, brought by the purposes of God to fulfill prophecy and usher in the kingdom of God.

    That is all for now, my friends. Next I wish to write about some of the real signposts, events, that shall reveal to anyone living at that time that the Last Days have begun. Please know that I mean the final seven years of history as we shall know it when I say the Last Days. Until then, Father God, I’m watching for Your Son’s return, setting my mind on things above in preference to things here below. Help me to decipher the signs of the times so I will be an effective watchman. Make me a bold witness of Your coming judgment, knowing that everyone will give account to You. I pray this in Jesus’ Precious name, Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Nov 20th - 8:56PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Returning to Daniel 11:40, beloved, we can see that the forces of these two end-time leaders, the kings of the North and South, will clash: “At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”

    That word “push” is translated from the Hebrew word nagach, which can mean either “to push” or “to attack.” It is used of a bull or ram attacking with its horns. Figuratively it means to “war against.” What the exact form this takes is not given to us in scripture.

    What is known is that this end-time leader from the south will attack the north in such a way as to warrant a major military invasion of the Middle East which lies between them. Considering their past ways, Islamic extremists have attacked the Western powers in recent years, something like a series of major terrorist attacks against European targets could easily be the trigger event referred to here. From this point on the king of the south is not mentioned in scripture.

    This same chapter of Daniel shows that the king of the North, the European-based Beast power, will be the victor, as he invades the Holy Land and takes control over “many countries.”

    But in verse 44 this leader is diverted from the Middle East by news coming from the east and the north that troubles him. These actions appear to be connected with the fifth trumpet of Revelation 9:1-11.

    At this juncture I need to jump back and write some more about what God expects from each and every saint of Christ at this time. If you saw a friend heading straight into disastr, would you warn him/her or just say to yourself, “Well, what can I do stop them?” or “I don’t want to impose myself upon them.” My friends, God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me” (Ezekiel 3:17). You see, just like Ezekiel, today we are God’s watchmen; we are His spokespersons. If we see enemies coming, God calls you and me to sound the trumpet with a very clear sound. Let’s study and discover what it means to be God’s watchman.

    Eze 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

    Eze 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

    Eze 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

    Eze 3:20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

    As we can clearly see in this passage, once we see that someone is headed for trouble and we decide to not speak up and warn them, God will require their blood from us. But if we will stand up and speak words of warning before them, then we will have delivered our own souls from condemnation. The warnings we utter must be biblical ones, beloved. They cannot be derived from mans’ traditions. People must hear the truth, the factual reality stated clearly so that they can make a decision to change their behavior, their attitudes; or they can decide to continue along the same broad path to their eventual destruction. Either way, once we warn them, we have fulfilled our obligation to God. These verses convey to us part of what it means to live a Christian life in this God-forsaken world of ours.

    Eze 33:1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

    Eze 33:2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:

    Eze 33:3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

    Eze 33:4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

    Eze 33:5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning;

    Eze 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

    Eze 33:7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

    Eze 33:8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

    Eze 33:9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul, his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

    Here again, we clearly can see that God fully expects us to be watchful over our brothers and sisters in Christ, and all of those people around us, so that when we see danger coming we can give voice to warning  them. That being done, it is up to them to pay heed to what we are warning them of, or not. Verse 9 absolves us of any worry of wrongdoing on our part as long as we are alert and warn others of the consequences of their sinful living.

     .

    Mat 16:2

     He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 

    Mat 16:3

     And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

    Here our Lord and Master rebuked the religionists of His day for their failure to understand what was happening all around them. They were “blind” to the signs that were all around them, to the significance of prophecies being fulfilled before their very eyes.

    Mat 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

    Mat 24:2 And Jesus said unto them,

    See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 

    Mat 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them,

    Take heed that no man deceive you. 

    Mat 24:5

     For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 

    Mat 24:6

     And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 

    Mat 24:7

     For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 

    Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 

    Here Christ Jesus told His disciples what would happen fairly soon, and what would happen much later in time. They asked Him multiple questions in verse 3, and He gave them multiple answers in return. His responses apply to us very much today, beloved. We ought to be sure that no one deceives us. There are very many who claim to be Christians in name but are not in truth. I think each of us could think of someone within the last 30 years alone who has claimed to be Christ and then proceeded to murder their followers. In my short lifetime of 54 years I have heard of wars and the rumors of more wars. I have lived through wars, and probably will, God willing, through even more wars. I am no longer bothered by these things for I understand that they must happen according to God’s purpose and His timetable. He controls history on this planet, I will not struggle against Him any longer. Are these things then the signal of the end? No, they all must come to pass before we can ever approach the end times. The famines, pestilence, and natural disasters are all things that must happen and they shall cause much sorrow around the globe.

    Luk 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

    Luk 21:8 And he said,

    Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. 

    Luk 21:9

     But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. 

    Luk 21:10

    Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 

    Luk 21:11

     And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 

    Luk 21:12

     But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 

    Luk 21:13

     And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 

    Luk 21:14

     Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 

    Luk 21:15

     For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 

    Luk 21:16

     And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 

    Luk 21:17

     And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. 

    Luk 21:18

     But there shall not an hair of your head perish. 

    Luk 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls. 

    Here in Luke we are given another account of what we found in Matthew. Here Christ tells us to be prepared for the time when we will be taken and brought before religious leaders and governments for persecution because we have stood up for God. Christ says we are to already have it settled in our hearts beforehand, and not to concern ourselves with what we shall say when questioned. God says He will provide the words for us to utter, He will give us the thoughts. Verse 19 begins to speak to us about how we are to act in all of this tribulation: be patient and you will possess your soul. Do not lose your cool, do not strike out in anger or revenge against those who betray you, or gainsay you, or spread falsehoods about you. Do not return hate for hate, but rather, return love for hate. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. It will be a very hard time, my friends.

    I will stop there for tonight. Next time I will write about Gog some more. We will study what will happen during that conflict. Until then, peace and grace be yours.

    ~Eric

     

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    Tue, Nov 18th - 8:58PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    So, we have discovered that Jerusalem was caught between two kings in ancient times, a king of the north and a king of the south. These two forces strove with each other over a prolonged period of time. But is this a scenario that is to recur in our future? Surely Syria and Egypt will not be the ones at each others’ throats since neither has the military capacity to do so. Also, both are Islamic nations, brother Arab countrys. Clearly at the time of the last days, we will be witnessing another round of great turmoil engulfing the Middle East. This time though, it will be worse than anything ever seen before in history.

    But we also know today that Rome swallowed up Syria and became the kingdom of the North afterwards. Rome then fell, right? Well, let’s doublecheck and make sure. Rome never really was conquered by anyone, rather, it simply fell apart through its own decadence and immorality. We can trace the history of the Catholic Church of Rome and see that some of the religion of the Empire survived through this institution even to our day.

    It would have been impossible for Daniel, living in the 6th century B.C., to understand the astounding changes that would lead up to today’s complex Middle East situation. It is why the angel of the Lord told him, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9)

    Just as the nations of Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Syria did not exist 100 years ago, so today the final kings of the North and South have not emerged yet. So to the Anti-Christ and his ten kingdoms have not emerged yet either, but it is only a matter of time before they will and so will he. We can read in the books of Daniel and Revelation that another global super power will arise at the end of the age. We can find more details of this end-time power in Revelation 17. Just as Daniel saw various beasts representing dominant powers to come, so to apostle John saw a vision of another beast that would dominate the world at the very time of the end (verse 3).

    The ten horns referred to here, as an angel explained to John, represent 10 rulers who receive power “for one hour” which is symbolic of a short time frame; with a single ruler who is also called “the beast” (Revelation 17:12-13). Notice the time setting of these events: “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them…”(verse 14). This prophecy is for the future when Jesus Christ returns.

    But before these particular events unfold there are other significant end-time players. A religious leader symbolized as having “two horns like a lamb” but who speaks “like a dragon”(Revelation 13:11) will play a big role in the end-time union of the nations. Jesus is the true Lamb of God (John 1:29), so this religious leader will claim to be Christ, or at least a Christian. But he will, in reality, be of Satan, “the dragon who deceives the whole world”(Revelation 12:9).

    The “beast” in Revelation 17 is a continuation of the four beasts of Daniel 7. These beasts represented Gentile empires that would rule great areas of the world. There have been attempts throughout history to resurrect the Roman Empire, and all have failed miserably. But once we reach a certain point in time one person is going to dramatically be successful in reviving the Roman Empire. European unity will be established once again, something not seen for over 2,000 years. This empire will directly lead us into Christ’s second advent and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth(verses 9-14).

    Since the 4th beast in Daniel 7 exists at the time of Christ’s return, and the same is true of the beast John saw in Revelation 17, both prophecies speak of an end-time revival of the Roman Empire. Just as the original empire was centered in Europe, this final resurrection will be centered there as well. Today we see the formation of the European Union and perhaps this is the early form of what is to come. Those nations that choose to participate will combine to form a powerful military force that will involve itself in the Middle East.

    Thus we will see the “king of the North” form before our very eyes. But what about the king of the South? Remember back to my postings about Islam.

    In Islamic thinking, the world is divided up into two realms, or spheres, dar al-Islam, meaning “the land of Islam,” and dar al-harb, meaning “the land of the the unbeliever, or land of struggle.” The fundamental aspect of Islam is that Islam must eventually become the dominant religion of the entire world.

    Remember also that the dream of the Arab peoples is for unity under one government. For 750 years the sons of Ishmael have not been united and only in the last 50 years have they even been independent of foreign control. Their dream is still there, unfulfilled.

    For awhile Egyptian president Nasser was thought to be the one who would bring Arab unity. Then it was Saddam Hussein in Iraq. More recently Osama bin Laden became the spiritual successor of the Sudanese Mahdi and found much success in uniting Muslims against the Western nations of the world. We also need to not forget that many Muslims believe that another Mahdi is prophesied to appear in a tumultuous time to restore the Islamic faith and ensure its final victory over all other religions. So they believe that peaceful times globally are actually going to work against the return of fulfillment of their dream of Arab unity and the return of the final Caliph to rule over them.

    So just as Muhammad’s followers brought about the defeat of the two great superpowers of their day, so to do the followers of bin Laden desire to bring down both superpowers of today: the Soviet Union and the United States. They have accomplished half of their mission. Americans celebrated when the Soviet Union dissolved. We should have been less joyful and more alert to our own safety. September 11, 2001 ought to have jolted all of us awake to the reality of our situation: we had been at war for many years and had not even realized it! The war continues even today. Do not be fooled by what you hear in the media today, they report what they know will sell or what they know will catch your attention and make you watch their program.

    This end-time king of the South will rise up to defy the West, striking out against the king of the North. This king of the South may be some figure similar to bin Laden, or like Saddam Hussein, or perhaps an Ayatollah from Iran. This person will engage in this final conflict against the West, striving to usher in the long sought after Arab and Islamic Union, or Caliphate. He will unwittingly set in motion a cascade of events that will lead to unimaginable carnage before Christ Jesus intervenes to put a stop to it before we exterminate ourselves.

    I sill stop here for today, my friends. Next time I will continue with this line of reasoning from the scriptures. Until then, peace and grace be with you all.

    ~Eric



    Comment (1)

    Sun, Nov 16th - 11:17AM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    In continuing to study the “Last days” we have to consider what is found in Zechariah 14:

    Zec 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

    Zec 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

    Here in this fourteenth chapter of Zechariah we are informed of what shall happen on THAT day of the Lord in the future. Jerusalem’s inhabitants will experience war from all the nations of the earth. The city will be ransacked, and there will be loss of life. But, there will be a remnant that remains.

    Consider the next verses:

    Zec 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

    Zec 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

    Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

    Here we are given a few more details concerning “what” will happen when the nations all arise and attack Jerusalem. This is the “Day of the Lord” when Christ Jesus returns physically to the earth. This is the day when all those who picked up arms to fight against Jerusalem are destroyed, but those who stayed at home were not destroyed, yet. We read on:

    Zec 14:6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:

    Zec 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

    Zec 14:8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

    Zec 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

    These verses speak about the actual time that Christ will have established His absolute rule here on earth. The living waters will not flow from out of Jerusalem until God has come and established His kingdom here. These waters would appear to make the city no longer landlocked as there will be a “river” of water connecting the city to the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It probably also refers to the “spiritual waters” that will flow from out of this city as well. This day will be identifiable by the fact that the light of day will be filtered, neither dark nor bright. I suspect it will be similar to what people experience up at the poles during summertime, where it never gets dark at night.

    Zec 14:10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.

    Zec 14:11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

    Here we are told about how the area of Jerusalem shall be lived in. It also appears to get some geographical alterations: the area south of the city proper will become flat as a plain. It will be dwelled in by men, which puts to rest the thoughts of some that there will be no living people on earth after Christ Jesus returns again. Once achieving this point in history, Jerusalem will not experience anymore destruction or loss of life.

    Zec 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

    Verse 12 brings us into a realm that is not covered in detail in Revelation. In that book of the Bible we are given the broad brush strokes of what will happen. But here, in Zecariah, we see what becomes of those peoples who have physically come to battle against Jerusalem and God. Their flesh will slough off of their bones and their eyes will melt out of the sockets along with their tongues in their mouths. Not a very pretty picture of the results of standing up in opposition to God.

    Zec 14:13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.

    This either refers to those who waste away where they stand, or it means that there will be civil strife amongst the inhabitants of the city.

    Zec 14:14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.

    Zec 14:15 And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.

    What seems to happen at this time will be that much precious metals will be recovered from the ground all around Jerusalem shall be recovered. Perhaps it also means that the wealth of the nations immediately around Jerusalem shall be gathered into the city. It could mean that Jerusalem is to become the commercial center of the world. This would make perfect sense since Christ would be ruling from the city.

    Zec 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

    Zec 14:17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.

    Zec 14:18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

    Zec 14:19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

    Some commentators claim that these verses point out that the remnant of believers from each nation shall travel to Jerusalem on a regular basis to worship the King, Christ Jesus. But I do not believe that is what God’s Word is telling us here. These are the peoples of each nation that were not destroyed along with the Beast and the Prophet and their armies. Whereas at one time people had to go to Jerusalem to worship God, and then believers were commanded after Pentecost to go out to the nations of the world to spread the gospel, now the peoples of the world must come once more to Jerusalem to worship God in the person of Christ Jesus. If they refuse, the punishment will be in the form of no rain falling on their lands and subsequent plague.

    Zec 14:20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.

    Zec 14:21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.

    These verses are a bit cryptic. The pots being the same as the bowls refers to their composition. One must look at the scriptures that tell us all about how the tabernacle was to be constructed in order to find what these items were to made out of. I leave that to you, the reader.

    Verse 21 tells us that in this day every utensil is to be for the service of God. Everything shall be dedicated to God within the city. The very last phrase in this verse informs us that in this day there will no longer be any hypocrites within the limits of Jerusalem. Every unbeliever will have been removed from living within Jerusalem. Does this mean that there will be no unbelievers on earth? No, there will be plenty of them being ruled by Christ Jesus from Jerusalem for the next thousand years. They simply will not be allowed to take up residence within the city. Every person who serves Christ at this time will truly be born-again with no fakers allowed to participate and mislead the masses. What a glorious time to look forward too, beloved!

    That is all for today, my friends. My apologies for the delay in getting this message posted but I was attending a district conference of the Church of the Brethren. It was extremely educational as it was my very first attendance at such a gathering. I look forward to such gatherings in the future. Until next time when I shall look into the formation of the Anti-Christ’s power base of nations, peace and grace adorn your footsteps. Be at peace with all of those around you, your spouse, your family, your neighbors, and everyone else.

    ~Eric



    Comment (2)

    Thu, Nov 13th - 7:47PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    So, as Christians, how should we react when people mock the return of Christ Jesus? Or they mock God’s coming judgment of all mankind? Let’s look at some scriptures and see what our reaction ought to be:

    Luk 21:34

     And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 

    Luk 21:35

     For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 

    Luk 21:36

     Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

    This shows up as red-letter for these are the words of Christ Jesus. Surfeiting means an overabundant supply or excess; disgust caused by excess. We are told here to be aware of ourselves not becoming filled to excess in our appetites nor in becoming drunk or getting excessively caught up in all of the cares of this life. The direct implication is that if we allow ourselves to give into these things then we shall not be aware of the day of Christ’s return, we will be immensely surprised by it’s happening for we would not be looking for it. Verse 36 tells us to look for it, to be praying continually for Christ to help us mature as His children so that we will be worthy and escape all of the horrible things that shall happen during the Last Days.

    2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

    2Pe 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

    2Pe 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

    2Pe 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

    Here in II Peter we discover that God is longsuffering towards all of mankind, He does not wish that any would perish in the lake of fire. But this phrase “one day is with the Lord as one thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” that we find here is not to be paired up with the Creation account for there is no connection here. Its use here is to show that God is not being slack in bringing His judgment to mankind simply due to centuries having gone by since the resurrection of His Son. Rather it is used to show that time is of no consequence with God.

    In verse 10 we again see that we need to be vigilant as to what is happening all around us for the day of the Lord will come as the thief does in the middle of the night. It will be sudden, unexpected.

    Once we get to verse 11 we are then told to stop and consider what sort of person we should be in light of the fact that everything physical in this world is to be burned up as in a furnace. Ought we to be placing the majority of our energies into obtaining the latest technology for our children, or even our homes? Should we be getting all worked up over who is, or isn’t elected to the White House in America? Or in any other country? Yes, by all means, we ought to remain aware of what is going on around the globe, but I do not think that Christ desires us to caught up in the emotion of these things. Jesus desires us to be following Him, looking forward to His return, preparing our souls for that magnificent day! I think that we need to be yearning for that time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, for then there will not be any sin anymore.

    1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

    1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

    1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

    1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

    1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

    1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

    1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

    1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

    1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

    1Th 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

    1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

    Here we see that when world leaders claim peace and safety, that is when calamity will commence. We are told plainly that as believers in Christ we are not to be caught unaware of Christ’s return. In verse 5-6 we are told that since we are no longer children of darkness, unbelief, that we are to be alert, watchful, and sober. We are not to become drunkards and pass out. We are to different from those around us. In the ensuing verses we are then told again to be sober, and protect ourselves by grasping our faith and love in Christ to us tightly; we are to protect our minds through the hope of our salvation through Christ Jesus. In these things we are to comfort each other and to teach each other what we know spiritually from God. Thus we must be reading, studying, and discussing God’s Word with other believers, in this way we remain alert and sharp minded.

    1Jn 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

    1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

    1Jn 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

    Here in I John we see that the world does not understand us for the world does not understand Christ Jesus. It also informs us that even though we do not understand exactly what it is we are to become yet we shall be just like Christ Jesus when He appears for at that point in time we shall see Christ Jesus as He is. And every individual who has this hope in them purifies themselves just as Christ Jesus is pure Himself. It is a blessing to know this in our hearts for we can then understand that we are to become spiritual beings, having glorified bodies just like God’s body.

    Until next time, I offer this prayer to all:

    Father God, sometimes I am tempted to get discouraged by people who think that prophecy is just a cop out, a waste of valuable time. But then I see nations striving with nations, and alliances growing against Your people. Help me Father God, help me to interpret global events through Your Word so that I may confidently convince people all around me. Help me to patiently speak Your Word of salvation to them, knowing they’re lost and without hope in this world apart from Your Gospel. Strengthen me to live modestly and watchfully as Your Day of Judgment approaches. In Christ Jesus’ mighty Name I pray this, Amen.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 11th - 9:41AM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    People ask who is Gog and Magog? These names arise whenever there is serious talk around the end times. To discover information about these two names we must go and read in the Book of Ezekiel. Turn to chapter 38:

    Eze 38:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 

    Eze 38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

    Eze 38:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:

    Eze 38:4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:

    Eze 38:5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:

    Eze 38:6 Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.

    Eze 38:7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.

    Eze 38:8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.

    Eze 38:9 Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.

    So here we find that Gog is an individual ruler of the land of Magog. He is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Meshech and Tubal correspond in today’s world with Turkey. Magog rests along the southern shores of the Black Sea.

    Gog’s army is to contain the names of six of Noah’s grandsons and one of great-grandson; these are from Japheth and Ham. None of Shem’s descendants are present in this list of people. One reason could be that Shem’s lineage is godly, including Abraham, David, and Jesus. I take some information from Josephus, 1st century Jewish historian, who compiled the identity of peoples of his day with Noah’s descendants. The sons of Japheth: Gomer (Genesis 10:2) founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, or Galls but then were called Gomerites; Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians; Thobel, or Tubal, founded the Thobelites, who are now called Iberes; the Mosocheni were founded b y Mosoch, or Meshech, but now are known as Cappadocians.

    Thrugramma, or Togarmah, founded the Thrugrammeans who as the Greeks resolved, were named Phrygians. The sons of Ham, Cush who ruled over the Ethiopians who were known as Cushites; Phut also was the founder of Lybia, and called the inhabitants Phutites from himself.

    In verse 2 can be found an interesting Hebrew word. It is resh, meaning “chief” and when combined with the other word next to it we read “chief prince.” But some scholars believe that the letter that follows in that first word is different and thus names a third country. From Rs in Hebrew we eventually get to Ras-ia from which Russia is derived. Generally speaking, this latter derivation is not found in common Masoretic (Hebrew) and Greek manuscripts and so it has been omitted from most bible versions today. It would seem to be prudent to believe them to be correct in their assessment and not waste time chasing down that bunny hole.

    What can be seen from looking at a map of the Middle East is that Noah’s descendants scattered in many directions from their starting point at Mount Ararat in Turkey. His three sons populated the entire earth so there are plenty of peoples to fill Gog’s army. Gog and Magog are identified in Revelation 20:8 once again.

    Gomer was located in Northeastern Turkey, Tiras in western Turkey, Togarmah in southeastern Turkey. We see Persia listed which means Iran. There is Ninevah, Calah, and Canaan. Akkad and Shinar take in the area of Iraq. Cush settled down in southern Egypt creating the Ethiopians. As can be seen, these peoples totally surround present day Israel.

    What we can see beginning in verse 8 is that God intends to forceably bring all of these people into one massive army in “the latter years.” Normally in the Bible such an expression refers to the end times, or the last days of history. First we see the expression “after many days” and then “in the latter years.” This is to give the impression of much time passing before this specific prophecy would come to pass.

     Eze 38:10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:

    Eze 38:11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,

    Eze 38:12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.

    Eze 38:13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?

    Eze 38:14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?

    Eze 38:15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:

    Eze 38:16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.

    Here we can see in verse 12 reference to what was to happen concerning the return of the dispersed Jewish people to Israel. They were to come from all corners of the world. “In that day” points to a time when Israel is at peace with its neighboring Arab nations and Gog shall be moved by God to attack Israel. In verse 16 we see again the phrase “in the latter days,” pointing us toward the end times, and then we find out why God is going to do this thing: That the heathen may know Me. The purpose is to show the entire lost world that God exists, and God will be sanctified in Gog right before everyone’s eyes. God intends to use this vast army to glorify Himself, to make Himself known to the world. This event will be a signpost.

    Eze 38:17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?

    Eze 38:18 And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.

    Eze 38:19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;

    Eze 38:20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

    Eze 38:21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.

    Eze 38:22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

    Eze 38:23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.

    Within these verses can be found links to what is described to us in Revelation about how the coming of Christ Jesus will proceed as the various judgments of God’s wrath are poured out upon our planet. What is described here is something that has not happened yet, it is a future event. Everyone on this planet shall know when this event occurs. And it is meant to magnify and sanctify God Almighty and to make Him known in all of the earth’s nations. There will be no mistaking who is doing these things.

    That is all for today, my friends. I hope this was not too long for you. Please reread this entire chapter more than once if necessary and refer to my other study on the book of Revelation which talks about the various judgments God will be handing down during the last days. Next time I will be looking at the other scriptures that I mentioned the other day. They will give us perspective as to how we ought to react to people who mock the return of Christ Jesus. Until then, peace and grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, be with you and your loved ones.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Nov 9th - 9:22PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Fast forward to the year 1979. The United States was the target as their most powerful ally in the region was overthrown by fundamentalist forces. The shah of Iran had been heavily pro-Western and, with the help of the United States, had built up his forces to become the strongest military power in the Persian Gulf, the oil-rich area of vital economic and strategic interest to all of the Western world, not just the United States.

    The shah was overthrown by followers of the Shiite Ayatollah Khomeini. Militant students took over the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of embassy employees hostage for 444days. The West feared that Islamic extremism would spread to other nations in the immediate region.

    This was also the same year that the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. There the king had been overthrown in 1973 and eventually a pro-communist government took control. When this government was also overthrown, Moscow decided to intervene. Their intervention and a costly, drawn out, demoralizing war led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in a little over ten more years.

    The Americans, concerned about Soviet expansion, helped the Afghan rebels against the Soviets. They supplied weapons through Muslim Pakistan to the mujahadin, the guerillas who were led by Osama bin Laden. Eventually the Soviets were beaten back out of Afghanistan, the country totally collapsed and then came under the control of Sunni fundamentalists called the Taliban (“students”). These Sunnis were the ones who taught in Islamic seminaries, or madrasas. With the collapse of the Soviet Union large areas in Central Asia broke away and became independent Islamic republics.

    Islamic fundamentalists were quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with throughout the Islamic world. They appealed to poor people whose leaders too often lived a lavish lifestyle while everyone else suffered in poverty and oppression. Similarly, in Western nations, Islamic fundamentalists preached among the poor and in prisons where they have gained many recruits. Thoughout the Arab world people grew tired of their dictatorial regimes that had replaced the corrupt kings before them. The new leaders had surprisingly turned to be no better than those who had preceded them.

    The Muslim fundamentalists soon learned that change cannot always be obtained through the democratic process. In Algeria they won the election in 1992, replacing the Arab nationalist government that had led Algeria to independence from France 30 years earlier. Economic conditions of the people had only gotten worse with many having to leave for France just to survive.

    To the people the fundamentalists seemed to be better organized and were more honest. But the Algerian military stepped in and stopped fundamentalist rule. Since then, Algeria has been plagued by frequent terrorist attacks and more than 100,000 have died. French support for the military action only served to aggravate resentment and distrust of the West.

    The 1990s witnessed rising bitterness directed at the United States, now the dominant Western nation and the sole remaining “superpower.” The U.S. led Persian Gulf War in 1991 received a great deal of support from other Arab nations. Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, had sent his military into Kuwait and annexed the small country. He justified this action by going back to the days of the Ottoman Empire when what is now Kuwait was part of an administrative zone of the empire that included a large part of Iraq.

    Iraq was defeated but Hussein remained in power. The Western nations still feared him for they knew that he had had weapons of mass destruction in the past and had used them on the Kurds and the Iranians. By the time the second Gulf War commenced in 2003 the United States discovered that many allies of the first war were no longer supportive. The world had changed during the past ten years.

    The great turning point was September 11, 2001. As with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand this was to change everything once again. Who among us would try to argue that our world has not changed since that event?

    At first America had world sympathy, but within a year after they responded with their war on terror, in the eyes of many their role had subtly changed from victim to villain.

    Suppressed resentment against the last world “superpower” and fear of isolation and possible terrorism over being too friendly with the United States contributed to international rejection of America’s role as the global policeman. Even some Americans began blaming their government for September 11th, claiming it was a justified response to American foreign policy.

    In the eyes of many Muslims, America was setting the precedent to removing any leader in a nation that opposed them. All of the leaders of the region felt they could likewise be removed by U.S. military force. Public anger at the suffering of the Palestinians had also risen with access to satellite television.

    September 11th 2001 was not the first act of terrorism against the Americans. There was terrorism against American marines in Lebanon, against one of their ships in Yemen, and an earlier attempt against the World Trade Centers via a car bomb.

    That brings us up to the current times, and it gives us some perspective as to how we have arrived at this point in history. Christians and Muslims have not just started fighting each other in the last 30 years. This is a conflict that has ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries since Christ Jesus was crucified on Golgotha.

    Next time I will resume our study of the scriptures; we shall delve into Ezekiel 38 and see who this “Gog” character is and where he shall come from. This is a “signpost” event of the Last Days, something that we shall be able to use to know that we are in the Tribulation Period of history. In this next section of our study we shall look at passages in Genesis 10, Luke 21, II Peter 1 & 3, I Thessalonians 5, and I John 3. All have some bearing upon what shall happen, or else they tell us what we ought to be doing when these events begin to unfold before our very eyes. Until then, beloved, peace and grace be yours.

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Nov 8th - 9:16PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Arabs call the Crusades al-Salibiyyah. This term is very emotional to them, reminding them of European atrocities perpetrated during the 200-year-long campaign to bring the Holy Land under Catholic control.

    But to them those weren’t the only crusades for in their minds, two more crusades have followed. The next crusade was the colonial period when the Arab world was under the control of Britain, France and other European nations. Frustration built over these years as they were incapable of overthrowing their occupiers.

    The current crusade is the one that, in the eyes of fundamentalists, most threatens their way of life. It is what is often called American imperialism. Unlike the previous colonial period, the Americans have made no attempt to annex Arab territory as a colony of the United States. As Americans themselves were originally under colonial rule and fought a revolutionary war to become free, so Americans are not inclined to colonize as did the European nations of the 19th century.

    But inadvertently, American culture threatens the traditional way of life of all the Islamic peoples. This is a major cause of resentment if not outright hatred toward the United States.

    Part of this is the result of technological advancements providing radio and television coverage to the entire globe. This has allowed Western culture to enter peoples’ homes globally. American movies are universal: wherever you go they seem to be available. The message they send is not a good one, in many cases it is not an accurate one either. These movies depict an immoral and very violent country, far from the reality of many American families. But foreign audiences do not know that fact. They also depict liberated and scantily clad women and children who show contempt for their parents---both of which are highly offensive to Islamic values.

    Western culture has pervaded the world and has only worsened in recent years with satellite television and the internet. Also, people throughout the Arab world can now see nightly news footage of Palestinian suffering, for which they blame the United States. The logic is simple---Israel kills Palestinians, America supports Israel, therefore blame America.

    Because America is already perceived through its movies as a violent nation, it is then considered responsible for the violence done by Israel. Ramping up these feelings even further has been any American military action against Muslims, seen as an anti-Islam stance on the part of the United States.

    The fact that the United States and its allies supported Muslims against the Serbs and Croats in the Balkan wars of the 1990s is totally overlooked. From their perspective, the American liberation of the Afghans from the Taliban and the Iraq war to remove Saddam Hussein were simply attacks on fellow Muslims. It needs to be remembered that many nations do not allow freedom of the press or the airwaves, and news there is usually controlled and heavily slanted.

    So such factors have contributed to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. But this is not a new phenomenon. Fundamentalists come and go in almost every religion, including Christianity.

    In the 18th century, Ibn Abdul Wahhab was born in what is now Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. His followers, who are of the Sunni sect, are known as Wahhabis. They are the most extreme of all the branches of Islam; violent, intolerant and fanatical. Their rise to prominence was due to the decadence of the Ottoman Sultans. Wahhab established a state in the Arabian Peninsula modeled after the ummah of the 7th century, an Islamic community that would live by the sharia, Islamic law.

    Wahhabism is still the dominant religion of Saudi Arabia, and it has many followers in the Persian Gulf states. It is from this area that the terrorists came who staged the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. It is true that most of the mosques in Western nations are financed by the Saudis, with the imams teaching their adherents the Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. As early as 1801 the Wahhabis were killing all who opposed them, they hit Karbala that year and killed 2,000 innocent civilians.

    Fundamentalism was not confined to Arabia. Later in the same century the British fought a man claiming to be the Mahdi in Sudan, another fundamentalist who wanted to unite all Arabs in a holy war against the infidels invading from the West.

    That is all for tonight, my friends. Next time I shall write about events much closer to today. Until then, peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Nov 7th - 8:51PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    For hundreds of years the Arabs did not have a government of their own. From the time of the Ottoman Turks in the early 16th century they were not an independent people. Until World War I most of the Arab world was under the authority of the Turks. Some had become colonial territories of European nations during the 19th century.

    Needless to say, the Arabs yearned for a free and independent nation of their own. In the 20th century they were to become not one, but more than 20 nations. But the one frustration that remains is that there is little unity among them.

    While under the Ottomans the Arab world was at peace, but that would not last very long into the 20th century. The catalyst that rearranged the regional map was World War I. The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, was the event that triggered the war. Within a matter of a few weeks all of the major powers of Europe were involved. Problems that had been developing in the Balkans came to a head as nationalist sentiment among the different ethnic groups clashed with foreign imperial rule.

    It took some time before the Ottomans decided whose side they would be on. They finally opted to support Germany and Austria against the alliance of Britain, France and Russia. This proved to be a fatal error in judgment. Ultimately it lead to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and an end of Turkish dominance of the Arab world.

    A century of never-ending violence has resulted from that “shot heard around the world.” Before the Archduke’s assassination, ethnic aspirations were surfacing throughout Europe and the Middle East. For many years it had been accepted that one superior nation could rule over several other nations.

    Many of these empires were benign, but the desire for national homelands kept building over time resulting in a sense of national identity. This trend for each ethnic group to seek independence was one that would play a large role in the last century, fulfilling the words of Christ Jesus in Matthew 24. The Greek word translated “nation” is ethnos---from which the English word ethnic is derived.

    In some nations ethnic groups achieved representation within the governments and pressed their cases for autonomy. Others wanted total independence and this tension contributed to World War I and was a major player at the peace conference in Paris that followed.

    From out of Paris came the 1919 Treaty of Mersailles, which led to the creation of new countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. The old empires were gone. At the beginning of World War I the British were a major power in the Middle East. They had been involved at first to protect their interests in India. Benjamin Disraeli, the British prime minister, arranged the building of the Suez Canal, a vital artery of their empire. The British controlled Egypt but had not made it an official part of their empire.

    When war broke out the British were in perfect position to sponsor an Arab revolt against the Turks who sided with Germany. This Arab revolt began in Hejaz, the coastal region of Arabia along the Red Sea where Mecca and Medina sit, on June 10, 1916, two years into the war. This revolt was led by the grand sharif of Mecca and leader of the Hashemite clan, Hussein ibn Ali (1852-1931), a descendant of Muhammad through the prophet’s grandson Hasan. Hussein was an ancestor of the present Jordanian monarch, also a Hashemite.

    Ironically, the Arabs sided with Christian British forces against Muslim Turks, but this desire for independence was paramount. The Arab forces were assisted by the famous British soldier T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).

    This arrangement came about through some correspondence between the British high commissioner in Egypt and Sharif Hussein between July 1915 and March 1916. Hussein offered to help by revolting against the Turks in exchange for promises from the British of Arab independence after the victory. The British agreed to the terms.

    Needless to say, the uprising was successful. In October 1917 Allied forces under the British Gen. Allenby invaded Palestine, capturing Jerusalem on December 9th. After 400 years of peace under the Ottomans, a century of conflict had begun.

    Earlier the British had taken Baghdad, the following year Damascus fell. Following the defeat of the Axis powers, the empires of Germany, Austria and the Ottomans all collapsed. The Russian empire had already fallen to communism. The old world order had ended, the world would never be the same again.

    Anxious to win the war, the British had given contradictory promises to the Arabs and Jews and also to their allies, the French and Russians. With the fall of Russia to the Bolsheviks, the revolutionaries found themselves possessing secret papers showing the czarist regime had made a deal with the French and British to carve up the Ottoman Empire between themselves without giving any territory to the Arabs.

    During the same time period, just five days before the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, the British issued the famous Balfour Declaration, named after their foreign secretary. This declaration pledged support for a national Jewish homeland in Palestine. These conflicting promises were to cause endless problems in the years, and decades, to come.

    The Arabs expected full control of all Arab lands, other than those already under European colonial rule such as Egypt, Aden and Algeria. They fully expected Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Palestine to be directly and exclusively contolled by Arabs.

    Palestine, the modern name for the ancient biblical territories of Israel and Judah, had been under Islamic control since the seventh century. Jews could live in Palestine but any attempt to create a Jewish homeland would be resisted.

    At the peace conference in Paris the Arabs were betrayed by the British as the Ottoman Empire was divided up into British and French spheres of influence. The newly formed League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to rule over Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq. The French got a similar mandate to rule over Syria and Lebanon. Neither the Arabs nor the Jews got what they had been promised at this time.

    For awhile the British allowed unrestricted Jewish immigration but this led to Arab unrest. Fearing a Jewish takeover, the Arabs demanded the British end Jewish immigration. This was done but on the eve of World War Ii in which 6 million Jews would be murdered by the Nazis. Their escape route to Palestine had been effectively cut off exactly when it was needed the most.

    In the thirty years of British rule, the political landscape continued to change. Egypt regained its sovereignty in 1922 and Iraq in 1932. Lebanon became independent in 1941 from France and Syria followed five years later. Jordan became a nation the same year leaving British rule.

    Following the end of World War II in 1945, Britain informed the newly formed United Nations that it would be leaving Palestine in six months time. Having already freed India and Pakistan this effectively ended the British Empire.

    The United Nations voted to divide Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews, with Jerusalem to become an international city. The Israelis accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it out of hand. As the British left and the Jews proclaimed the birth of Israel on the evening of May 14-15, 1948 the Arabs planned their attack. Within hours, armies from five neighboring Arab nations attacked Israel, attempting to destroy the newly formed nation of some 500,000 people.

    The war lasted until early the next year with Israel gaining territory. The Arabs who elected to leave those areas now under Jewish control have basically lived in other Arab nations as refugees ever since. That is a question that needs scrutiny later. Those Arabs who remained were granted citizenship and, ironically, today enjoy considerably more personal freedoms than their fellow Arabs in Arab-controlled nations.

    More wars followed. In 1956, in an attempt to reclaim the Suez Canal, the British were thwarted by the Americans and by 1971 they were totally out of the region, being replaced by the Americans and Russia.

    Today there are 57 Islamic nations which includes 22 Arab countries which hold the majority of the world’s oil reserves---the lifeblood of the global economy. Is it any wonder that this region, and Islam, have suddenly come to the forefront of world affairs?

    That is all for today, my friends. Next time I shall write about the resurgence of fundamentalist Islam. Until then, live peaceably with all men, if at possible.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Nov 6th - 9:44PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    The majority Sunnis make up about 85 percent of all Muslims, and the Shiites constitute the remainder. They all agree on the fundamentals of Islam, but political, theological and philosophical differences have widened the gap between the two. Further complicating their relationship is the fact that the Shiites have tended to break up into various sects.

    Today, the Shiites are the dominant force in Iran and the biggest single religious community in Lebanon and Iraq. Recalling the fervency of the Iranian Revolution back in 1979 tends to make one think that Shiites are inclined towards terrorism. But most anti-Western terrorists come from the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which originated in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century.

    One of the appeals of Islam is the emphasis on Ummah or community. There may be many sects in Islam but all followers are bound by a common faith and a sense of belonging to a single community. This sense of community has only gotten stronger over the past 200 years during the period of Western superiority. To achieve Arab/Islamic unity is very much a desirous thing in today’s world.

    Let’s go back in time once more. After Ali’s death the Umayyads turned the caliphate into a hereditary office, ruling from Damascus for almost a century until 750. Most of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered along with the rest of North Africa. Islamic armies conquered to the east through Central Asia into India and China. Before the end of their period of rule, the Muslims built an empire that was larger than Rome’s.

    The Umayyads were replaced by the Abbasid dynasty, whose 37 caliphs ruled from Baghdad for five centuries (750-1258). Europe was mostly in the Dark Ages during this period of time and the Islamic world was the segment of the world that preserved literature and learning from the ancient world.

    As had been promised by God to Abraham and Hagar concerning their son, Ishmael, so many centuries earlier, he did become a “great nation” (Genesis 17:20; 21:18). However, like all civilizations the Abbasid dynasty came to an end after falling into a slow decay and decline. Central authority waned, the unity of Islam was shattered, and this problem has dogged Muslims to this very day. The Mongol hordes delivered the deathblow at Baghdad in 1258, killing the last caliph and slaughtering the city’s inhabitants and effectively ending the empire.

    Before the Abbasids fell apart though, a major clash happened between them and Catholic Europe. When the Muslims tried to conquer Europe there had already been open conflict in France up to the gates of Paris. But when the crusaders from Europe wrenched Jerusalem from control of the Islamic forces on July 15, 1099 it was to usher in a long period of rivalry between the two religious forces.

    The European Crusaders were not kind conquerors, nor were they exhibitors of Christian compassion as they ought to have been. They pillaged, raped, murdered and enslaved the peoples of Jerusalem in a fashion that is still remembered to this day in that region. The Dome of the Rock was taken and turned into a church, with the Christian cross replacing the Islamic crescent. Muslims vowed to retake the city from the infidels.

    It was not until October 2, 1187 that Islamic forces were able to regain control of Jerusalem under the leadership of Saladin (Salah ad-Din, meaning “Righteousness of the Faith”), the sultan of Egypt and Syria. Saladin proclaimed jihad (holy war) to retake Palestine from the enemies of Islam.

    The cross came down from the Dome of the Rock and the crescent replace it. But Saladin did not invoke revenge upon his opponents. He treated all of the people with mercy and kindness, which was in stark contrast to the Europeans.

    There were more Crusades for another century, with brief exchanges of ownership of Jerusalem. In 1244 the Catholic Crusader forces had to leave the Holy Land to the Muslims. Not until 1917, during World War I, were Western Christians again able to retake Jerusalem, and then it would only last for three decades.

    The next great power in this region was that of the Ottoman Turks, who seized control of Constantinople in 1453 and finalized the collapse of the Byzantine Empire founded by Rome more than a thousand years earlier. The Turks, Islamic but non-Arab people, took control of Jerusalem in 1517 and dominated the Middle East for the next four centuries.

    The Ottomans expanded into southeastern Europe and on to the gates of Vienna before being pushed back toward the end of the 17th century. A period of decline ensued in the 19th century with individual nations breaking away throughout the Balkans and North Africa.

    That is all for this post, beloved. Next time I will cover the creation of the modern landscape of the Middle East. It will be interesting and intriguing to see how the various nations came into existence. Until then, peace and grace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 5th - 8:33PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Continuing our study of the rise of Islam and its expansion, we discover that before he died Abu Bakr appointed Omar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. Caliph Omar was the first caliph to assume the illustrious title Amir al-Muminin, meaning “Commander of the Faithful.” It was during his 10-year reign that the first great wave of Islamic territorial expansion happened.

    Omar was an able commander and proved to be a formidable foe to the Byzantines and Persians. The Byzantines were what was left over from the Roman Empire after its transfer of power from Rome to Constantinople, renamed Byzantium after the transfer of power, and today is known as Istanbul, Turkey. To the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula lay the Sassanid, or Persian, Empire. These two powers were constantly fighting each other, weakening themselves in the process which enabled the Islamic Empire to defeat them. The Sassanids fell first, the Byzantines remaining until falling to the Muslim Turks in 1453.

    Not since Alexander the Great had there been such a force, conquering all so quickly. A century of conquest lay before the Muslims, Syria and the Holy Land fell in 635-6; Iraq in 637; Egypt and Persia in 641. Jerusalem was the greatest prize, captured in 638. Called Al-Kuds in Arabic, meaning “the Holy,” Jerusalem remains the third-holiest city of Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven on his winged horse Burak from the rock that is visible inside the Dome of the Rock, built in the late seventh century and one of the most architecturally magnificent buildings on earth.

    Mulims also believe that this is where Abraham came to sacrifice his son, the son however being Ishmael rather than Isaac. The Dome of the Rock site is the most bitterly contested piece of real estate on earth these days.

    Within 100 years after Muhammad’s death the Arab Empire stretched from the Middle East across North Africa to Spain and then across Central Asia to India. The Muslims even made it as far as the gates of Paris before being halted by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732.

    The expansion stopped until the 12th century, when another great expansion took place under the Sufis (Muslim mystics) who spread Islam throughout India, Central Asia, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa. Muslim traders helped spread Islam even further , to Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and China.

    Islam’s egalitarianism within the community of the faithful and its discrimination against the followers of other religions won it rapid converts. Although Jews and Christians, as “people of the Book” were tolerated, they had to pay a special tax called jizyah. However, pagans were required to accept Islam or die.

    Following the assassination of Caliph Omar in 644, a body of electors once again bypassed Ali when choosing a successor. The caliphate was given to Othman ibn Affan who had been an early convert to Islam and a close companion to Muhammad.

    During his rule the Koran was completed by a team of men authorized to put the sacred writings together, under the leadership of the Islamic scholar Zayd ibn Thabit.

    Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal word of God (Khalimat Allah), not the words of Muhammad. The first words of the Koran are Bism’illah ir-Rahim, meaning “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”

    Othman ruled 12 years before being assassinated in Medina. This began a period of open religious and political conflicts within the Islamic community that continue to our time today. After Othman’s death leadership fell to Ali finally. To his followers he was the first and only lawful caliph. Most Muslims accepted him as the fourth caliph.

    The Islamic kingdom suffered continual political and religious strife until five years later Ali too was assassinated. Othman’s nephew who was head of the Umayyad (or Omayyad) branch of the Koreish tribe assumed control, bringing the dispute between factions to a head.

    Ali’s followers believed all caliphs must be descended from Ali as Muhammad’s closest blood relative. They were called the “party of Ali” or Shiat Ali, or Shiites. The majority believed anybody could be appointed caliph, regardless of lineage. This group was called the Sunni Muslims, sunna being the “path” or the “way” of the Prophet. The Sunnis have generally accepted the rule of the caliphs.

    Violence erupted in 680 when Ali’s son Hussein, a grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with 72 of his relatives and companions at Karbala in what is now Iraq. He became a martyr to the Shiites and became a rallying point for them. They grew in numbers and resolve and were increasingly embittered at the dominance of the Sunni Muslims. This hostility has remained down through the centuries to our time.

    That is enough for today, my friends. Next time I will continue with the history of this religion and try to bring it up to our current time. Until then, ponder the first words of the Koran: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” Where did Islam go wrong after reading such inspiring words? Why require people to either accept Allah, or die? Food for thought.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 4th - 9:05PM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    In continuing our study along the lines of Daniel chapter 11, both liberal and conservative scholars seem to agree that all of this chapter up to this point has strikingly accurate predictions of the whole sweep of events from the reign of Cyrus to the unsuccessful effort of Antiochus Epiphanes to stamp out the Jewish faith.

    But from this point on a little more than a century would pass before the Roman general Pompey would conquer Jerusalem. Much of the Middle East came under the control of the Roman Empire, and much of its power in turn passed to its eastern half, the Byzantine Empire, in the following centuries.

    Then, a remarkable new power and religion arose in the Middle East. The descendants of Ishmael lived in relative obscurity throughout the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. They had kept themselves primarily in the Arabian Peninsula frequently fighting among themselves. But this changed early in the seventh century, less than 600 years after the time of Christ Jesus.

    Up until this time the Arabs were idol worshippers. The temple in Mecca had 365 idols and was a source of much income for local merchants who relied on pilgrims visiting the site for their income. But the religious landscape changed dramatically with the arrival of the prophet Muhammad and the religion that he founded, Islam.

    Muhammad was of the Hashemite family of the powerful Quraish tribe which controlled the pagan temple in Mecca. According to Islamic belief, it was at Mount Hira, near Mecca, that the archangel Gabriel first appeared to Muhammad in A.D. 610, revealing wisdom from God. This and other revelations form the Koran, or Quran, the holy scriptures of Islam. It is about the length of the New Testament of the Bible.

    This man became a courageous and determined preacher of monotheism, the belief in one God, something which threatened the commercial prosperity of the other members of his tribe. They tried to kill him unsuccessfully, and he succeeded in ending their polytheistic idolatry. He replaced their idolatry with Islam (literally means “surrender” or “submission” to the one true God, Allah).

    Muhammad’s efforts achieved something that Ishmael’s descendants had had elude them from their beginning---unity---and allowed them to become a great nation that could spread out and influence other nations.

    From these beginnings Islam has spread worldwide. Today 57 nations are in the Islamic Conference, more than one quarter of all nations on earth. Twenty-two nations are Arab, descendants of Ishmael, but another 35 nations are either exclusively or significantly Islamic. These nations stretch from North Africa across the center of the world to Indonesia. In addition, millions of Muslims live in North America and Western Europe. The religion continues to spread quickly due to high birthrate and aggressive proselytizing.

    Today Islam claims around 1.3 billion followers worldwide. They all worship Allah and Friday is their chosen day of worship. They have a basic one sentence creed, called the shaladah (“testimony”) which means “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet.” If one solemnly and sincerely recites these words they have met the only requirement for becoming a Muslim. Muslim means “one who submits to Allah.”

    Muhammad ruled his kingdom and died on June 8, 632, leaving behind no male heir and no designated successor. There resulted in chaos and confusion throughout the Islamic Empire which after only one decade had already grown to one third the size of the present lower 48 states of America.

    One child by his beloved first wife, Khadija, survived him, Fatima. She matured and had children. It is through Fatima that all Muhammad’s present descendants, called sharifs and sayyids, trace their ancestry. Her husband, Ali ibn Talib, was also Muhammad’s first convert after Khadija. Ali and Fatima had two young sons at the time of Muhammad’s death.

    Many thought that since Ali was the nearest blood relative (first cousin and adopted son) he ought to be the successor. After much argument Ali was rejected in favor of a wealthy Meccan cloth merchant who had been an early convert and companion to Muhammad on his famous camel-back flight 10 years earlier. His name was Abu Bakr. He was also the father of Muhammad’s favorite wife, Ayesha, and had been appointed to take the place of the prophet leading public prayers at the time of Muhammad’s last illness.

    The revelations had been given to Muhammad, so Abu Bakr was not fully succeeding Muhammad. But he was given authority over the secular political and administrative functions of the entire empire, with the title “Khalifah rasul Allah” meaning “Successor to the Messenger of God.” In English the title is usually shortened to “caliph” and is given to the head of state in Muslim-governed nations. The office of Islamic Caliphate remained an Islamic institution right down to the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1924.

    I will stop there, beloved. Next I will write some about the expansion of the Islamic Empire from 610 until the Crusades. Until then, pray for our nation, our national leaders, and for our local leaders, that they will exercise wisdom, caution, and common sense in deciding how to correct the mistakes of the past 10-12 years. Pray that they will all remain honest in their dealings while in our governments. Peace and grace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Nov 2nd - 8:11AM



    UNDERSTANDING THE LAST DAYS

    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Daniel 11:21-35: This passage speaks of the infamous ruler Antiochus IV, brother of Seleucus IV, who had earlier been taken hostage to Rome. He was a tyrannical oppressor who did his best to destroy the Jewish religion altogether.

    This man passed laws that forbade the practice of the Jewish religion, under the penalty of death. He was incredibly cruel. He ordered “an aged Scribe, Eleazar, to be flogged to death for refusing to eat pig meat. A mother and her seven children were successively butchered, in the presence of the governor, for refusing to pay homage to an image. Two mothers who had circumcised their new born sons were driven through the city and cast headlong from the wall” (Charles Pfeiffer, Between the Testaments, 1974, pp. 81-82).

    Verse 31 refers to the events of Dec. 16, 168 B.C., when a crazed Antiochus entered Jerusalem and killed 80,000 men, women, and children. He then desecrated the temple by offering a sacrifice to the chief Greek god, Zeus. This was a forerunner of a comparable event that Christ Jesus said would happen in the last days:

    Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

    We will come back to this entire passage in Matthew 24 later in this study. Please read the entirety of it, for we will be studying it verse by verse. Verses 32-35 seem to describe, on one level, the indomitable will and courage of the Maccabees, a family of priests who resisted Antiochus and his successors. Their revolt against the Syrian king was triggered when the leading priest in the city of Modein killed an officer of the king sent to enforce a new edict concerning idolatrous worship and he thereafter led a guerilla band that fled to the hills.

    The priest’s name was Mattathias and he was assisted by his five sons, most notably Judah or Judas, nicknamed Aqua (Aramaic for hammer, from which derives the name Maccabees). Many of them died in this cause, but their heroics ultimately drove the Syrian forces from the country.

    On another level, these same verses also speak to the New Testament Church, with reference to mighty works, persecution and apostasy. Indeed, at this point Daniel’s prophecy takes on a different tone, referring specifically to “the time of the end” near the end of verse 35. What we seem to have then is predictive material that no longer applies to the Hellenistic empires and the contest between the Seleucids and the Jewish patriots. Verses 36-39 contains features that hardly apply to Antiochus IV, though most of the details could apply to him as well as to his latterday antitype, “the beast.”

    I will stop right there, beloved, in the interests of keeping these posts shorter rather than too long. If anyone desires them to be longer, please message me and let me know. Until next time when I will write a bit more about this passage before covering the rise of Islam, peace and grace be with you all on this fine first day of the new week that our Lord has given to us.

    ~Eric



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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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