Monthly Archives: February 2012
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
The world does not understand or like true Christians, but this should not surprise us, since it does not like or understand God. Because the world does not recognize the one true God for who He is, likewise it will not recognize His children. They will not see us for who we are when we love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and treat all others as better than ourselves. Rather they will choose to see us as hypocrites so that they do not have to confess their sins the way we have confessed ours.
We should not expect the world to be comfortable with us. If they are, then there is probably something wrong with us. Do not trust preachers who are capable of making the world happy, because the world will never accept good, loving preachers who expose their sin.
“We believe all the canonical books of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, to be the inspired and revealed Word of God. We further believe that all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, contained in the Book of Concord of the year 1580, are the correct presentation and true exposition of Christian doctrine drawn from the Holy Scriptures, namely:
- The Three Ecumenical Creeds: the Apostolic; the Nicene; the Athanasian
- The Unaltered Augsburg Confession
- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
- The Smalcald Articles
- Luther’s Large Catechism
- Luther’s Small Catechism
- The Formula of Concord” (Excerpt from a Local Lutheran Website)
The quotation above was taken from the website of a conservative Lutheran Church near my hometown. The viewpoint presented in it is wrong. There is no book besides the Bible that can truthfully be called “the correct presentation and true exposition of Christian doctrine.” All Christian writings beside the Bible were written by fallible humans who were not writing under the direct inspiration of God, and therefore we should assume that they contain theological error. No man-made book of doctrine should ever be accepted as inherently true, but should be constantly evaluated and re-evaluated against Scripture. Never accept a statement as true simply because it is in the book of Concord. The various parts of the book of Concord may have been written by great men, but they were great men with sin natures who labored under extreme political pressure. It is unlikely that they are correct on everything they wrote. Only the Bible is infallible.
ABOUT THE CHURCH OF GOD SHEBOYGAN
The Church of God in Sheboygan is located at 1314 North 8th Street. Their Minister is Jeff Moser. Their phone number is 920-627-2683.
MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH OF GOD IN SHEBOYGAN
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Risen Savior.
God loves the whole world which is why He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins. The Bible promises that those who believe in Him and repent of their sins will be saved.
Therefore, since there is no salvation outside of the blood of Christ, it is important that you and all other churches in the Sheboygan area continue to teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Those who believe on Him as commanded by Scripture will spend eternity with God in heaven, those who reject Him will spend eternity separated from God in torment in Hell.
In the meantime do not forsake fellowship with other Christians. There is only one universal church made up of all true believers. These true believers attend churches of many different denominations. But all of them are washed in the blood of them lamb and are given an anointing of truth from God (I John2:20,27). Therefore you should love and encourage other believers in true Christian faith, whether they are Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, or one of the many other groups that exist today. Do not treat true Christians as unbelievers, since it is God’s will for you to spend eternity with them in heaven, as your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Feel free to e-mail me with any questions at email@example.com
In Christ’s name,
Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I do not usually post articles about Bible prophecy. However, I have recently been thinking a lot about the prophecy in Isaiah 11:11-16, and I want to share my thoughts on it with my readership in order to “get it out of my head.” I do not claim to be an expert on Bible prophecy. Please feel free to comment about anything you think I may have overlooked or misinterpreted.
I THINK THIS PROPHECY DESCRIBES OUR CURRENT DAY
Isaiah 11:11-16 is a relatively detailed account of Israel’s second return to the promised land. I believe that these events occur before Christ’s millennial reign(11:1-10), even though they are mentioned after it. Verse 10 says that these events will happen “in that day” meaning the day of the Lord’s return to Israel. I do not think this is not a literal day, but general proximity. These verses cannot happen during the peaceful millennial reign because they describe warfare taking place in the Holy Land (verse 14). But rather these events lead up to and culminate in the millennial kingdom. I believe that the millennial kingdom begins at the end of verse 16.
The reason why I believe that this prophecy concerns our present day is because it specifically says it is talking about the 2nd return of the children of Israel (verse 11). The first return, of course, happened under Ezra and Nehemiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born. After Jesus ascended to heaven the Jewish people were once again scattered from their homeland after a series of disastrous rebellions. Only recently, since the late 1800s, have they started returning to their land en masse, and they are still coming. I believe that this return must be the 2nd return mentioned in Isaiah, because it is too big to be ignored. There are now more Jews living in the promised land than there have ever been at any previous point in its history.
MOST OF VERSE 11 WAS FULFILLED IN THE 1900S
Isaiah chapter 11 is a very long verse. It predicts the return of the Jewish people from specific regions of the Earth. They are: Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, the islands of the sea, the four corners of the Earth (verse 12).
The following statistics, based on data from Wikipedia, shows that much of this verse was fulfilled in the 1900s. Below is a brief analysis of how many Jewish people have left each of the lands mentioned above to return to Israel, and how many remain.
Assyria: Ancient Assyria was based in present-day Northern Iraq. There were 120,000 Jews in Iraq in 1948. Today there are about 100. This is a 99.91 % exodus.
Egypt. There were about 75,000 to 80,000 Jews in Egypt in 1922. There were under 100 left in 2004. This is a 99.87% exodus.
Pathros. Ancient Pathros was a part of Modern day Egypt known as upper Egypt. I have found internet sources claiming that there were hundreds of Jews living in the towns of Asyut and Aswan in the early 20th century. These towns seem to be part of the region which the Bible calls Pathros. I assume that they left with all the other Jews in Modern day Egypt in the 1900s. It is hard to come up with an exact percentage, but it is probably very high.
Cush. It is hard to say where ancient Cush was. It could be in Modern Day Sudan, or Ethiopia. There used to be a few hundred Sudanese Jews, all of which have left the country, most to Israel. There used to be many thousands of Jews in Ethiopia, the vast majority of which left the country and migrated to Israel in the 1970s and 1980s. There are about 120,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel today. It is hard to say for sure how many Jews have been left behind in Ethiopia, because the line between Jew and Gentile has been somewhat blurred over the years. Also, there are some Ethiopians that practice a mixture of Judaism and Christianity.
Elam. Ancient Elam was located in the southwestern part of Modern day Iran. There were about 150,000 Jews in Iran in 1948. Today there are under 40,000 left. This is about a 70% exodus.
Shinar. Shinar is located in modern-day Iraq, though a different part than ancient Assyria. Nevertheless, going by the same numbers, 99.91% of the Jews in Shinar left in the 20th century.
Hamath. Hamath is located in modern day Syria. There used to be many Jews in Syria, but most of them left in the 20th century. About 25 Jews remain in Syria. This is at least a 99.9% exodus.
Islands of the sea. This phrase probably refers to Islands in the Mediterranean such as Cyprus. The story of the Jewish residents of Cyprus is long and complicated. Most Jews were forced off of Cyprus by various governments in the first millennium AD. By 1900 there were under a hundred left. However, after World War II 50,000 Jews were interred on Cyprus by the British. Within a few years virtually all of them were living in Israel. There are other islands in the Mediteranean that have been home to significant numbers of Jews from time to time. I have not researched them all.
The four corners of the Earth. This phrase presumably refers to the entire world. There were about 13.4 million Jews in the world as of 2010. About 5.7 million of them live in Israel. This is a 42% return.
Conclusion: it is amazing how much of verse 11 has been fulfilled in the last 100 years! Many of the places mentioned in these verses have seen upwards of 99.9% emigration of Jews! However, this prophecy is not yet complete, because it predicts the eventual return of all Jews worldwide to Israel. Also, some of the Jews that left the Muslim countries mentioned above went west to the United States instead of Israel. Still, the amount that have returned to Israel give strong support to the fact that the 2nd return prophesied by Isaiah is taking place in our day.
WHAT ABOUT THE BANNER?
Verse 12 says that God will “raise a banner for the nations” when He “gathers the exiles of Israel.” I do not know for sure what this is referring to. I have not studied ancient Jewish culture and language in detail, therefore I do not know all the possible connotations of this phrase. However, maybe it is referring to the current flag of Israel. After all, the star of David may unwittingly be the emblem of Jesus’ future millennial kingdom.
ISAIAH PROPHECIES A SINGLE JEWISH NATION
Verse 13 of this prophecy says:
“Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish,
and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.”
This is a reference to the fact that ancient Israel existed as two countries–Israel and Judah–during the years that Isaiah penned this prophecy. The northern kingdom of Israel is sometimes referred to as Ephraim, since the tribe of Ephraim inhabited the central part of that kingdom. Isaiah predicted that when the Jews returned a second time they would be united as one nation. Such is the case today.
ISAIAH PREDICTED THE 6-DAY WAR
Perhaps the most interesting part of this prophecy is verse 14 which says:
“They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west;
together they will plunder the people to the east.
They will subdue Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites will be subject to them.”
I believe that the first half of this verse has already been fulfilled, but the second half is still future. Geographically speaking, the “slopes of Philistia to the west” obviously refers to the Gaza strip. More than that, the modern word “Palestine” is actually derived from “Philistia,” so one could say that the Gaza strip today is populated by self-declared “Philistines.” Therefore the first line is probably referring to the Israeli conquest of the Gaza strip on June 5th 1967. The second line might very well be describing the conquest of the West Bank that took place over the next few days. However, the conquest of Edom and Moab have not happened yet. All of Moab and part of Edom are located in territory that presently belongs to the country of Jordan.
WHAT ISAIAH DID NOT PREDICT
There are several familiar scenes from the Arab Israeli wars that Isaiah does not mention at all. One of these is the conquest of the Sinai Peninsula in 1967. Another is the October war of 1973. I think maybe the reason why these two events were not mentioned is because they had no long term effect on Israel’s borders (The Sinai was returned to Egypt in the early 1980s), and because they did not involve the capture of populated regions.
THE COMING WAR BETWEEN ISRAEL AND JORDAN
The second half of verse 14 predicts at least one future war between Israel and Jordan: “They will subdue Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites will be subject to them.”
This verse predicts that Israel will “subdue” i.e. occupy the southern and middle parts of Jordan, and at least exercise political control over the more populated region of Northern Jordan. The “Ammonites” being referred to here almost definitely include the population of Jordan’s capital “Amman.” Amman is not only named after Ammon, but it is located directly on top of the ancient Ammonite capital of Rabbah.
WHEN WILL THIS FUTURE WAR HAPPEN
There is no way of predicting exactly when this war will take place. One cannot attach a hard date to this war without ignoring the doctrine of the imminence of Christ’s return. This war is the next step in the chronology of this passage after the six-day war, which is already fulfilled. It could happen a day from now, or a hundred years from now. I believe that it will probably happen before the tribulation begins, but I cannot prove this. I am pretty certain, however, that it will take place before the mid-point of the tribulation, based on prophecies from Daniel and Revelation.
THE ESCHATOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE WAR BETWEEN ISRAEL AND JORDAN.
I am guessing that the reason God will give Jordan into the hands of the Israelis is to provide a haven for the Jewish people during the 2nd half of the tribulation. The Apostle John predicted in Revelation 12:14 that the Jewish people will take refuge in a location in the desert for three and a half years where God will allow them to be “nourished.”
I believe that the desert haven that John is talking about is the southern Jordanian wilderness. This is because the timing of the flight of the Jewish people corresponds directly with the coming of the Antichrist into Israel at the midpoint of the tribulation. The prophet Daniel clearly says that the land of Jordan will successfully escape conquest by the Antichrist at this time:
“He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.” (Daniel 11:40).
Therefore, based on these verses I suspect that Israel will conquer Jordan sometime between now and the abomination of desolation, and that millions of Jews will flee into the Jordanian wilderness during the midpoint of the tribulation (Matthew 24:16), where they will be divinely protected.
POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATION TO VERSE 14.
However, I could be wrong about this. It is conceivable that verse 14 is not referring to the six day war or the conquest of Jordan by Jews in a pre-tribulation/early tribulation war. One alternative meaning is that verse 14 is actually the Battle of Armageddon, which takes place at the end of the tribulation. I do not think this is the case, however, because the wars described here do not seem to perfectly fit the battle of Armageddon.
JESUS WILL GATHER THE PEOPLE
After the tribulation Jesus will gather all remaining Jews from all over the world to the holy land. I believe that this is what Isaiah is talking about in verses 15-16:
“The LORD will dry up
the gulf of the Egyptian sea;
with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand
over the Euphrates River.
He will break it up into seven streams
so that anyone can cross over in sandals.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria,
as there was for Israel
when they came up from Egypt.”
This passage refers to God supernaturally drying up bodies of water in order to make the return of the Israelites easier. John mentioned in Revelation 16:12 that the River Euphrates will be dried up near the end of the tribulation in order to gather the “kings of the east” to the great battle of Armeggedon. But apparently this will also serve to create a travel route for the last Jews left in Asia at that time to return to Palestine. Likewise, God will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea. This could be the Red Sea or the Nile. Verse 16 implies that this miracle will be separate but similar to what occurred in 1440 BC when Moses crossed the Red Sea.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRIBULATION?
There is no mention in this whole passage about the tribulation period. Why does this passage ignore, for instance, the fact that the Antichrist will temporarily conquer Judea? I think maybe the reason is because the Antichrist’s conquest will be temporary. This passage, coming on the heels of a millennial prophecy, is meant to highlight the ultimate victory of God’s people, and ignores their defeats, since they will overcome them any way. This passage was not written in order to explain every possible aspect of the tribulation period, but rather to explain how God will gather His people together in preparation for the Millenium.
I think that this passage is referring to the current gathering of the people of Israel, the 6 day war, the future conquest of Jordan, and ultimately the begin of the Millenium period.
Today marks the beginning of Lent when many Christians around the world will seek to honor Jesus by doing without some of their favorite foods for six weeks. The tradition of Lent has ancient origins and is celebrated by Christians from a variety of different denominations.
There is nothing wrong with fasting for Lent, as long as it is done in the right spirit. I believe that it is good for Christians to fast occassionally, in order to help them to put more of their attention on their Savior than on satisfying their fleshly desires. However, I think I am justified in giving a quick warning about Lent. Make sure that if you fast for Lent you are doing it for the right reasons. Make sure you are not trying to do it to purchase your salvation since salvation can only be purchased by the blood of Christ. Over the years Lent has actually become an obstacle to the gospel at times. In fact, the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland began when several brave Swiss men defied Roman rules byeating sausage during Lent. This is how one of the greatest spiritual revivals in European history began.
If you do decide to fast for Lent, try to keep your fasting secret. Do not make a big show out of it. In some cases it might actually be better to occasionally break fast rather than to make a scene. Jesus said:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18).
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1a)
God created the human race so that they could be His children. He offers you forgiveness of your sins if you will repent and believe in the power of Christ’s blood to save you from your sins.
“If you know that He is righteous you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” (I John 2:28).
Some people say that God will let atheists into heaven provided that they have lived good lives, selflessly helping other people. My response is that He would–if there were such a thing as a good atheist!
There is not such a thing as a good atheist. Goodness only comes with truth. All people, regardless of their culture or religion are born into this world filthy with sin. They can do good sometimes as show or to temporarily relieve their conscience, but only those who are washed in the blood of Christ can be cleansed from sin and do good when they derive no worldly benefit or comfort from it.
If you want to practice righteousness then repent of your sins and Believe in the power of Jesus’ blood to take away your sin.
If you are a genuine Christian, if you have really believed in the Truth, then you will PRACTICE righteousness. Not only will you BE righteous in the sight of God who has pardoned you for your sins, but you will LIVE righteously.
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed of Him at His coming.” (I John 2:28)
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus will come again. Of course we may meet Him individually before He comes for the living brethren if we die first. But either way we know that we will meet Him personally and that we will have to give an account to Him for how we have lived our lives after we came to know Him.
Therefore, abide in Him so that you will have no need to be ashamed. Stand strong every time you are tempted to sin, knowing full well that you will be ashamed if He comes for you before you have had time to repent. Access the annointing of truth that is made available to you as a child of God (I John 2:20, 29). Read your Bible and pray constantly, put much effort and serious thought into accessing the truth that He has given you. Live like Jesus lived (I John 2:6). ABIDE, ABIDE, ABIDE.
Zion United Methodist Church is located at N1667 on Highway 28. Their pastor is Gail J Mitchell. Their website can be found http://www.gbgm-umc.org/zion-batavia/index.html.
WHAT THEY BELIEVE
“At Zion we’re brought together as “new people” in Christ. May all feel welcomed here in his name” (Excerpt from their website).
A FRIENDLY THOUGHT
All human beings living in the world know that they should love and care for one another. And yet we are incapable of doing this the way that we should. Although we force ourselves to do a few good things, they are not enough to outweigh the many shameful horrible things that we all do to others. Therefore we have earned the everlasting judgment of our Righteous and Holy God.
But God also is also loving, which is why he provided a way of salvation for the entire world. He sent His son into the world for real to die and suffer on a cross for our sins. Afterwards He raised Him bodily from the dead. If you believe in the Jesus of the Bible and repent of your sins then you will be saved (I John 1:9, Romans 10:9).
Believing that Jesus was a good person who did some good deeds is not enough. He was not only human, but He was fully God, and was powerfully raised from the dead. Therefore He is not simply a good person who leaves an example of conduct for you to follow, but He is your substitute, having taken your penalty for you if you believe.
However, if you see Him only as a teacher of morality, then His death has no value to you and you are not a true Christian.
But God loves everyone and wants all people to repent of their sins (II Peter 3:9). It is time that you stopped hating your fellow human beings that God has made in His own image, ask God to forgive you, and find new life in Christ.
If you have any questions about anything that I have said or wish to join a local Bible study, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Christ’s name,
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (I John 2:27)
Like verse 20, this verse teaches that those who are true Christians are given special knowledge from God that many other more “intelligent” people lack. This includes, for instance, our knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, that God created the world, that we have an Advocate for us in heaven.
This verse means that heavenly knowledge is available for Christians to access, and that we do not need the services of teachers in order to know what is right (although they are helpful). We can accept the Truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit through the Bible to us individually, rather than having to accept the words of humanly appointed priests and popes without question. Truth is fully available to the individual Christian.
However, this does not mean that we cannot learn from others, or that we are not to put any effort into personal prayer and Bible Study. Neither does it mean that we can make up our own truth that contradicts the Bible and say that God gave it to us. God will not reveal any truth to us that contradicts that which has already been revealed in the Bible (see verse 21). This is why we must actively “test the spirits” (I John 4:1).