Monday, October 5, 2015

The Mystery of Babylon the Great

"The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornications. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (Revelation 17:4,5)

Many Bible prophecy interpretations suggest that Babylon from the book of Revelation will literally be the ancient Babylon rebuilt.  Many pointed to Saddam Hussein as the leader most likely to lead this rebuilding as he did make attempts to rebuild upon the former site of Babylon.  Obviously that didn't happen.  Isaiah 13 explicitly states that Babylon will never become a city again.  After it's destruction by the Medo-Persian Empire, it was laid in ruins and continues to be so to this day. Also, the Babylon from Revelation is clearly a city bordered by an ocean or sea as it's sea merchants look upon it's devastation in anguish.  Ancient Babylon is too far away from the nearest body of water (the Persian Gulf,  300 miles) and the Euphrates River is not large or deep enough for any significant commerce to occur.

Some students of Bible prophecy interpret Jerusalem as being Babylon. They credit the Biblical symbol of Israel being a prostitute.  This is where the similarities end.  Israel is a player in the world economy but can it be described as the city where the kings of the earth reign (vs. 18)?  Is it's economic importance vital to the world economy (18:11)?  Is Jerusalem home to people of many nationalities (vs.  15)?  Finally, if Jerusalem were the city that is destroyed in one hour by the ten kings from Revelation, then the battle that Jesus leads against the armies of Israel seems to be moot. Neither Ezekiel 38, Zechariah 11, nor Revelation 19 seem to point to a destroyed Jerusalem.  If anything Jesus will come to save Israel at its lowest point, just before it is about to be destroyed by the Antichrist and his cohorts.

Here's why I think the harlot Mystery, the great Babylon, could possibly exist on Earth today.  There are similarities between the two cities in current contest for the world's greatest city:  London and New York.  But I think you'll see valid reasons for naming New York as a likely candidate to be Babylon from Revelation.  I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart, and a few others have as well,  but I admit to inconsistencies and doubts which I also discuss.

1.  World's leading stock exchange. The New York Stock Exchange is the world's leading stock exchange followed by NASDAQ,  also American.  London ranks 3rd or 4th with Japan. (18:11, 17, 18 "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore... And every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?'"

2.  New York is one of the most racially diverse cities in the world.   Second behind Toronto for percentage of foreign born immigrants, it has the highest immigrant population, as well as the highest number of spoken languages (800) of any city worldwide.  (17:1,15Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters... And he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.“)

3.  The ten kings from Revelation 17 hate the harlot Mystery.  They join together to destroy the city of Babylon, are given power for one hour, and that's all it takes because Babylon is destroyed in one hour by fire (nuclear bomb?) (18:8-10).  If the ten kings listed here are the alliance between Russia, Iran and other former USSR and Islamic States listed in Ezekiel 38 to storm Israel and make war with the Lamb (17:14; 19: 19), then it is widely known that Russia's greatest enemy is the US, and Iran, and Islam in general, consider Israel and the US to be its greatest enemies.  In fact, the US perhaps even more so than Israel as it is referred to as Big Satan and Israel is called Little Satan.  (17:16 "And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.")  Once this hatred is unleashed on America,  it seems the next step (under control of the beast, the Anti-Christ) is to invade Israel and prepare to make war on the Lamb (17:13,  14 "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." 19:2, 19 He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her... And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.")

4.  New York City is home to the United Nations headquarters.  The UN could easily be described as the ruling power over the kings of the earth.  (17:18 "And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.")

5.  New York City has the largest Jewish population of any city outside of Israel. Indeed Israel just recently surpassed the US in Jewish population.  (18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.)

6.  It's already been tried and a next time will likely be worse!   9-11 is definitive proof that Jihadist Islamists has its mind to destroy New York City.  It could be said that the Revelation 18 prophecies have already been fulfilled when the Trade Towers went down, however the destruction described in Chapter 18 seems to be utterly catastrophic beyond the core of Ground Zero Manhattan. (18:22 "The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. And no craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore. And the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.")  Unaware of, or undeterred by the future medical issues (ie cancers, lung disease) that would occur from the fall of the Twin Towers, men rushed in to help recover survivors.  Revelation 18 clearly states that men will gaze after fallen city of Babylon from afar for fear of the fire and plagues; "at a distance" is used 3 times from verses 10-17.  If a nuclear bomb were to fall on New York City, or any city, there can be no immediate rescue plan in place at Ground Zero because if there were survivors of the explosion, exposure to radiation would result in their deaths within hours or days.  Rescue helpers would suffer the same fate from this immediate exposure to radiation,  thus rescue efforts would be concentrated at a minimum of 1-4 miles depending on the force of the explosion. (18:9, 10 "And the kings of the earth ... will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, at a distance for fear of her torment." 18:15 "The merchants of these things ... will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.").

As it stands, the idea that New York is Mystery, the Great Babylon, is a theory.  The reality is there will be a city like Babylon of old—the economical centre of the world—that will be destroyed by fire, likely as the result of alliance of 10 world leaders dropping a bomb on it.  The destruction is described as a judgement from the Lord but does not seem to come directly from His hand.

Perhaps my greatest doubt about New York being Babylon is whether the prideful, greedy, careless acts of the harlot Mystery can be attributed to New York City more than any other major city in the world.  Surely a country that up until now has been Israel's greatest ally, and greatest shelter for her people, does not deserve  the awful accusations attributed to Mystery and God's subsequent judgement?  Has or will the USA become so immoral and hostile to God's people  to warrant such judgment or is there another world city rising to mirror it's status as the world's greatest city (for example Dubai)?  What city is so evil to be accused of being "drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus"?

As I ponder this I begin to think about conspiracy theorists who claim that the United States had a vested interest in invading Iraq and Afghanistan after 9-11 (we've all heard the theory that the war was just about oil).  The aftermath of those wars are directly linked to the uprising of Islamic State and the current turmoil in Iraq and Syria.  Unless the US has some nefarious goals for the Middle East, how else can it be described as Revelation 18:23, 24 does "For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived and in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth."?  Have the US-led military maneuvers of the last 15 years and longer led up to the current mess in the Middle East, which will eventually usher in the Great Tribulation?  That seems crazy and too much the ramblings of conspiracy theorists.  I don't want to be viewed as a conspiracy theorist but I admit, I do feel a little crazy at times.

Once again all these ideas are simply theories but I hope I've provided enough evidence to give some credibility to it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Update to Previous Post

Over a month ago I spent a day researching and writing my blog post Where Are Lebanon, Iraq, and Saudia Arabia in Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11?  For some reason I didn't post it right away.  I posted it last week unaware that Russia had already deployed troops in Syria.  As I blogged last time,  I don't keep up on world news like I should.

I asked in this blog, "Is it possible that overwhelming growth of the Islamic State (or some similar terrorist group in Iraq and Syria) ... causes Iran to call on it’s ally Russia as well as other nations at threat to put an end once and for all to ISIL?"

Read this quote from Fox News:  "The defense official, briefed on the latest satellite photos of the Syrian coastline, said:  "This is the largest deployment of Russian forces outside the former Soviet Union since the collapse of the USSR."

Friends, it just occurred to me that "the beautiful land" described in Ezekiel 38, if it means the land God promised to Abraham, includes most of Syria and much of Iraq.

Is Putin,  President of Russia, the mysterious Prince of Rosh from Ezekiel 38?

Are we seeing Bible prophecy unfold before our very eyes?

Only time will tell.  I just pray and hope for us all to have eyes to see and "ears to hear. "

Map from https://teenalmyers.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/map-of-promised-land.jpg

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/09/14/russia-shipping-tanks-into-syria-in-first-clear-sign-offensive-weapons/

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Where are Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11?

DISCLAIMER:  I write this as if I assume that the campaign of Gog of Magog could begin any day now, which I believe it could, but I am making no claims as to the validity of these ideas.  They are simply that:  ideas, and observations and analysis, both of my own, and of others.  I make no assumption that I am right.


I haven’t really looked much into prophecy and/or current middle east news since writing a three part series last winter. 
I don’t have cable tv, and I don’t tend to read much internet news, so I get bits and pieces of information from my husband and parents.  I was interested in the recent Iranian nuclear deal and the effect of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the Middle East, so I decided to do a little reading before bed last night.  I don’t know how much of my dream time was taken up with this but I woke up early with some ideas I had formed in my dreams, and decided to do some more research.
As I previously posted, the 7 countries/areas of Ezekiel 38 that march on Israel in the campaign of Magog and Gog are most commonly described as Russia, possibly parts of Easter Europe, Turkey, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and the vicinity of Armenia and Georgia.  The 3 countries that oppose or acquiesce to the Anti-christ in Daniel 11 are Syria, Egypt and Jordan.
When I originally looked at the geography of the Middle East, it seemed obvious that Russia was indeed the country that is home to Gog of Magog, Prince of Rosh.  When you look at the ancient northern lands of Meschech and Tubal (Turkey), and Beth Togarmah (Georgia, Armenia),  Russia is directly above these ancient lands.  It makes sense that Russia would be pulled south bringing or aligning all these countries straight into Israel.  But what about Syria, Iraq and Lebanon?  These countries are right in the way.  And what about the big player of Saudi Arabia to the southeast?  The latter question was easily answered with a little research:  Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the ancient lands of Sheba and Dedan – passive onlookers in the campaign against Israel in Ezekiel 38:13.  The merchants and villages of Tarshish, modern-day southern Spain, are also mentioned as onlookers.  Tarshish may refer to not just Spain but the economies of Europe and North America.1 It is obvious from this that Saudi Arabia nor Western and/or European nations are directly involved in either the battles of Ezekiel 38 or Daniel 11.  With the at best, laissez-faire attitude towards Islamic State terrorism*, and at worse, direct opposition to Israel from western leaders like Barak Obama, this comes as no surprise.
Let’s get back to the countries in the map above that lay in the direct path from Russia to Israel.  In that dream-like place just between sleep and awake this morning, it occurred to me that perhaps Russia does not invade the Middle East with the seeming intent and purpose of invading Israel.  Maybe some other conflict draws Russia south.  What is the biggest threat to the peace of Northern Iraq and Syria, and potentially the entire Middle East right now?  That’s right?  ISIL (also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic State).
Iran, Lebanon and parts of southern Iraq are an anomaly with a majority of Shia Islamists, as opposed to their enemy sect Sunni Islamists, which composes not just ISIL but the majority of other Islamic countries.  Iraq has a Shia led government, which has been fighting against the Sunni ISIL.  Iran has provided support to the Shia Iraqi government and also considers ISIL an enemy.  This does not mean that Iran’s cooperation with American and Iraqi forces to fight against ISIL makes Iran a friend to the US.  Iran is still a very real and very dangerous threat to Israel and the US.
So how does Iran’s nuclear deal with the UN fit into all of this?  Less a fair-sided negotiation than a “Please take all my lunch money, just don’t beat me up” attempt to stay war with Iran at all costs, the deal allows Iran to receive what it needs most right now:  Money.  In return for the UN lifting economic sanctions, Iran promises to reduce aspects of it’s nuclear program like uranium storage and to allow inspections to verify the same for a 10 year period.  This deal allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium (but not weapons grade uranium, supposedly for peaceful energy producing purposes) and still recoup more than $100 billion in oil revenue they have been locked out of due to UN imposed sanctions.  Given the inspections are effective and Iran does keep it’s end of the deal, it simply allows for time to accrue money and for nuclear weapons to be built after the 15 year period.  It also allows Iran to put more money into it’s military:  bolstering anti-Israel terrorist forces in Lebanon and Iraq, and perhaps positively play a greater role in the fight against ISIL.
If Iran is expected to get a financial boost in the coming months from locked up oil revenue, Russia is experiencing the crunch of NATO restrictions because of it’s annexing of Crimea and military advancement into Ukraine.  In the past year, Russia has finally reached an end to a decade long negotiation over a gas line from Siberia to China, as well as shifting it’s oil exports from Europe to China.  Russia has further distanced itself from the West by forming the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with it’s neighbours to the East.  It seems Russia’s goal is to create a NATO or EU of the East.  Militarily, Russian president Vladmir Putin is the president of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which is an alliance with 5 north Asian states including China.  Just in these past few weeks, India and Pakistan have become the first added members of the SCO since it’s inception in 2001.  Currently, Iran and Afghanistan have observer status and Turkey has dialogue-partner status.  It’s been inferred that the lifting of sanctions off Iran has now sealed it’s spot with the SCO.  One of the two main bodies of the SCO is the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure which has a mandate of:
  • Maintaining working relations [to tackle] issues of fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism;
  • Assisting … the member states in preparation and staging of counter-terrorism exercises at the request of concerned member states, preparation and conduct of search operations and other activities in the field of fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism;
  • Joint formation of a system of effective response to global challenges and threats.
It’s been said that Putin has an objective to regain the ground Russia lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Is it possible that he has his eyes set on east-and-southern former Soviet States and Asian nations to realize his ultimate objective of once again becoming a world superpower?  It has been argued in the past that the fall of the Soviet Union left Russia incapable of mustering a military offensive like that of Ezekiel 38, but Russia has made significant grounds and is now rated #2  behind the US in global fire power, doubling their military budget in the past decade, trailing only the US and China.
Iran and Russia have a common enemy in the West and strong diplomatic, financial and nuclear ties.  Is it possible that overwhelming growth of the Islamic State (or some similar terrorist group in Iraq and Syria) spreading as far east as Lebanon and/or north to Turkey causes Iran to call on it’s ally Russia as well as other nations at threat to put an end once and for all to ISIL?  It would make sense that Sunni governed countries would align with even the Shia powerhouse Iran, if it meant an end to the threat of ISIL in their own unstable countries.
How far will the SCO go to “assist member states in the staging of counter-terrorism exercises?”  Some scholars insist that the ancient nations of Beth Togarmah consist not only of the nations of Georgia, and Armenia, as I found in my previous research, but all the “Turkic-speaking people of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.”  If this is a more accurate description then four out of these six nations are already a part of the SCO.
If the Ezekiel 38 invasion by Russia and its’ allies did occur in a circumstance similar to this one, would it come with the expectation that once the threat has been eliminated, a subsequent storm on Israel is to ensue?
Is Russia’s growing ally, China, the 2 million man army from Revelation 9 and/or the Kings of the East from Revelation 16?  (China currently has about 2.3 million active personnel in the military).
To summarize:
  • Along with Russia, the SCO and the EAEU are comprised or affiliated with at least  3 of the 7 ancient peoples allied with Russia in Ezekiel 38.
  • Stated goals of the SCO are to assist member states in the fight against terrorism, as well as forming a system of response to global threats and challenges.
  • Iran and Russia have strong ties that  may make Iran the next member state of SCO.
  • If some threat to Iran or it’s neighbouring SCO countries were to occur (such as ISIL), would the SCO swoop in to maintain order, essentially starting WW III (or the Ezekiel 38 campaign against Israel)?
As I’m reviewing all this I am thinking that maybe it won’t be ISIL or another terrorist group at all that draws Russia into the Middle East.  It’s been hinted that because UN sanctions have been lifted from Iran, Israel will consider  pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites, which even some Western allies are calling terrorist acts on behalf of Israel.  If this happens to be the case in a future of an Iran-membered SCO, then perhaps that will be the “global threat or challenge” it will need to enter the Middle East and invade Israel.  If this is the case, then the remaining Muslim countries of Ezekiel 38 will be more than ready to ally with Russia and the SCO to pounce on Israel.
But once again where are Egypt and Lebanon/Syria/Iraq in this conflict?  In my previous observations, I questioned whether Gog from Magog was the 11th king, the Anti-Christ, listed in Daniel 7?  Would he form an alliance with  the 10 ancient nations listed in Ezekiel 38, and Daniel 11? Are Egypt, Syria and Jordan from Daniel 11, the 3 kings who will be subdued by the 11th king from Daniel 7 with Egypt, and Syria reneging and opposing him by military force, and perhaps Jordan being spared because they do not strike with military force?  I still don’t have answers to these questions, and but perhaps in another few months, I’ll get the bug to dig deeper to find some of these answers.
1 Joel Rosenberg, Epicenter, page 130-131.  For a list of the numerous websites I consulted while writing this article, please email me at stailingblog@gmail.com
* This accusation comes with the understanding that ISIL’s uprising is due, in part, to the demise of the secular state of Iraq brought about by the American invasion of Iraq in the 2000s.  It’s a “you’re d****d if you do and d****d” if you don’t” situation.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Drive-in Divinity

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015_movie-1920x1080
So the fam and I went to the drive-in last night (yes there are still drive-ins).  It's always (at least) a two-show affair which started last night with Inside Out followed by Avengers Age of Ultron.

Inside Out was thoughtful (literally), funny and heart-warming.  It opened up opportunities to talk to the kids about not relying on emotions for decision-making but instead on what we know is right and wrong.  Once it was over the little girls were ready to bunker down in the back seat for a good sleep.

Avengers was, well, as usual - AWESOME!  Watching from the middle seat of a minivan with three other people in the front wasn't the most ideal situation but it's too squishy with all four of us up there.

SPOILER ALERT!The movie went along as would be expected until we get nearly to the end and we see the creation of Ultron's polar opposite, thereafter named Vision.  But that's not how the Vision first described himself.  When asked who he was, he hesitantly answered, "I am … I am."

WHOA, NOT COOL MARVEL!  Major blaspheme, right there!

That was my original, and still is kinda, feeling about that statement.  If you aren't from a Judeo-Christian background (and maybe not even then) you may have breezed by this statement without a second thought.  But if you've ever read the account of Moses and the burning bush, you will understand the significance of such a statement.
So, what's wrong with naming oneself I am.  Well, by having Vision make the statement, "I am … I am,"  Marvel was essentially equating him to God.  You see God's name is not God.  In Jewish tradition, God's name is so sacred they didn't even want to say or write it.  They used the word Elohim to describe God most of the time, and Adonai to say His true name.  The places where the word Lord is written in the Bible indicates God’s real name, Yahweh, is being used.  Have you guessed what Yahweh means?  That’s  right, I Am.

When Moses was speaking to the Lord in the burning bush, he asked Him, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you’… The Lord the God of … Abraham… has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13, 14).   Thus I Am has always been the true Living God of the Jews.  This explains why Jesus was so hated by His contemporaries.  Once He was disputing with some religious leaders about his divinity and in response to their exclamation of “You are not yet fifty years old … and you have seen Abraham!” he said, “Very truly, I tell you … before Abraham was, I Am!”  The leaders were enraged because of this perceived blasphemy and “at this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:57-59).  How did Jesus “slip away” from an angry mob picking up stones and ready to kill Him?  Truly, He is I Am!  I imagine Him becoming ever so invisible as He walked calmly through the crowd or on the topic of superheroes, maybe He used super-speed and zipped out of there.

The very idea of God’s name being I Am is remarkable.  Just think about that statement.  It encompasses all time.  Jesus was able to make Himself much more clear in His revelation to John than He was shirking away from a murderous mob.  He refers to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet when He calls Himself “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6).   In the first chapter of Revelation He says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega … who was, and who is, and who is to come, the Almighty” (vs. 8).  I visualize the Lord’s presence over eternity instead of in eternity.  Here’s a simple diagram to illustrate what I mean:yahweh
The Bible says that Yahweh is, He was and He will be, but I’ve taken some literary liberty and read it as “I am the beginning, I am the present, and I am the future.”  It just opens the meaning that Yahweh not so much Was, or Will be, but He simply is what His name says, He is.  Strong’s concordance defines Yahweh as self-existent, or eternal.  Yahweh simply is.

Why do I seem so fascinated by this description of God?  First of all, it simply blows my mind.  God, Yahweh, exists in and of Himself.  He has no creator, He did not begin, He just was (is).  Secondly, I feel this description of God holds the key to so many questions that us humble human beings have.  It seems that many people are seeking to union themselves (by way of chants, meditation, yoga, or other methods) with the eternal life force.  We’ve all seen, at least on TV, people sitting cross-legged chanting “Ommm.”  “The Mandukya Upanishad, which is entirely devoted to om, begins like this:  “Om is the imperishable word. Om is the universe, and this is the exposition of om. The past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is om.  Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is om." 1 Hmm?  Sounds familiar, yet the idea of om nor , Brahma, nor any of the hundreds of other Hindu gods, claim to be the personification of Eternity itself, in the person of Jesus Christ.

So, is it possible that a search for the Creator, or the universal life force, or the “infinite intelligence” is a search for the Living God, the Eternal Yahweh?  I believe it is.  But I also believe that search will be in vain if one does not accept Jesus Christ as Lord, to the exclusion of all other gods.

Thirdly, in a time when God is thrown around as the token deity for all religions, I like that my God has a name,  His name is I Am , and He is, and is of His Son Jesus, and His earthly Holy Spirit.

Originally I gasped in shock at the audacity of Marvel likening a super-hero to Yahweh, but perhaps others noticed it too and may contemplate the possibility of a thing or being simply existing.  And perhaps that contemplating will lead them to the only being that has, is and will forever exist, Yahweh, the Living God.
 1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kripalu/meaning-of-om_b_4177447.html

Friday, June 12, 2015

What He's saying...

Last night, my first born mused over his agony of having to miss a sleepover because I’d committed him to serve, “But God wants us to be happy… ” “No, my child, God does not want us to be happy just to please ourselves. He wants us to help the widows, and the fatherless. When we serve, we find true happiness we will never find by serving ourselves only. ” He left my presence, sowing a seed of anger to grow suffering to his soul that I cannot let come to fruition.
What have I been missing all these years to let my boy believe that sacrifice, and pain are un-Godlike?

Friday, June 5, 2015

The facebook status that turned into a blog post... On inequality.

I just read in the paper that a two girls were essentially forced to sit out of their unisex soccer tournament because they were playing against an Islamic team who is unable to play with girls because of religious reasons. The Islamic team offered to forfeit but this would mean the Catholic school would not be able to advance if they didn't have a certain number of goals. The rules of the tournament are clear that girls are eligible to be on the boys team, if there is no girls team at their school.

This is a classic example of the rights of one group infringing upon the rights of another. Does the Islamic school have a right to refuse to play with girls? Absolutely by a) not entering the tournament in the first place and b) forfeiting with no penalty against the opposing teams. Instead of honoring both the religious rights of the Islamic team and the rights of women to be free from discrimination, the Catholic school and tournament officials stomp all over the rights of the female players by putting those poor girls in the position to "take one for the team" - literally. No one should have to "take one for the team" by way of outright discrimination.

There is so much emphasis on equality and inclusiveness in our schools yet give a clear-cut case to school officials and they blow it. Anyone who knew me as a teen would have described me as a feminist. I do not generally agree with mainstream feminist ideals but I am for equality of the sexes, and more importantly for equality of all people. What I am against is the idea that minority rights on any grounds can trump the rights of the majority. This goes for the forcing and/or excessive influence of minority ideals upon the general population. Likewise the majority group should be never be allowed rampant bias against minorities because of the presumed upper hand.

Monday, May 11, 2015

All about my lawn... yawn.

So 3 years ago when we first moved in,  we cut out half the back deck which took up most of the yard and paid ALOT for sod.   Which proceeded to be annihilated by dog poop.  All that's left is the random bits of green you can see in the picture.  Now that we've learned better and the dogs are restricted to the side of the house, I decided to give a lawn another go.   We plan on putting stone down too (hence the pile of brick behind the play place) but instead of putting out the big bucks for sod again,  I opted to try the green, mulchy Patch Grass by CIL.  Luckily,  it was on for half price at $6 at Canadian Tire.  I did alot of raking,  loosening soil, and filling in holes with fresh fill (leftover from the hole my husband dug for a sandbox under the play place).  I soaked the ground as per instructions,  spread some regular grass seed over the whole area, then laid the Patch Grass thick with 4 bags. After only a week of daily watering it's growing already!   You can't see the little sprouts in this picture but I've been wanting to post a "before pic" so i figured I'd better before it gets too thick.  I'm hoping it will be a relatively inexpensive fix.  I figure once it grows in I will need to fill in patches with another bag but all in all I hope to have a new lawn for $30!

Oh btw,  the birch trees shed their little wormy seed things over the past couple days.   I won't rake that up until the grass is established.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rapture of the Church: Fact or False Hope? PART THREE

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way questioning the validity of the Second Coming of Christ.  Jesus is returning to Earth to set up His eternal kingdom.  I am just debating the timeline and details.

It’s been a good two full work days of reading and writing but I've finally completed the third installment of this blog series (to read parts one and two, click here, and here).  In the past Matthew 24 has been my go-to passage for Jesus’ account of the return of the Son of Man but this journey has opened my eyes to the rich account also recorded in Luke 21.  I had tears in my eyes as I read the description of the saints’ persecution.  This was before I heard about the beheadings of  21 Egyptian Christians in Libya this past week.  Tragedies like this should bring us Christians in the west to our knees in thanks for our freedom.

Many scholars attribute Jesus’ prophetic words in Matthew 24 to the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70 but there is one caveat to that theory that begins in verse 25:  “There will signs in the sun, moon and stars…At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  Historically, none of the catastrophic events described in Matthew 24 or Luke 21 occurred after the fall of Jerusalem.  We must assume Jesus is talking about future events similar to the destruction of the Jewish temple in BC 168 (as prophesied in Daniel 11:1-35) and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, but events that conclude with his glorious return!

Here’s a list of the Scripture I will be analyzing and as before you can click on each passage to read it on BibleGateway.com Matthew 24:4-34Luke 17:22-37 and 21:8-331 Corinthians 15:50-521 Thessalonians 4:13-5:52 Thessalonians 2:1-10; and of course
Revelation.  There are a few quotations from the Old Testament as well in Daniel 12, and Zechariah 14 for events that needed further clarification.

These tables are self-evident in and of themselves, but you may want to review the table from my last post to see what the Old Testament says about Jesus’ coming.  I’ll be the first to admit that these tables are lengthy and jam-packed but it was so important for me to tease out every detail and correspond them to the other passages written about Jesus’ coming.  For this reason, it’s completely understandable if you just want to skip ahead and read my analysis/timeline for these events.  I wrote the tables for me to sort the information and also serve as a basis for those of you who want to know why and how I developed the timeline.  I’ve numbered sections of the tables as they correspond to the timeline so you will find the Scripture in the corresponding column.  If there is something in the timeline that I didn't include in the table, I will reference it there.

The following timeline is available for PDF download here.  You'll need to have a PDF reader, available from Adobe for free.  
If you are signed into a Google account you should be able to read it from your Google Drive as well.

Timeline for Event’s Leading up to Jesus’ Return to Earth
  1. Many people making false claims  of being Christ, and false prophets.
  2. Many wars, and rumors of wars.
  3. Famines, earthquakes and pestilences, in many places; fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Note: Revelation deals extensively with the many plagues that will befall earth that seem to be summed up in that little phrase.  There will be untold death and destruction too numerous to recount here).
  4. The saints, Christians (and Jews too most likely), will be persecuted dreadfully for their faith.
  5. Many will fall away from the faith, betraying even family members.
  6. Many saints will be put to death (beheaded in many cases).
  7. At one point, the Anti-christ will receive a fatal wound to the head, and supposedly rise from the dead (Revelation 3,4).  People of the earth will be deceived and forced to worship the beast and his image and receive his mark on their right hands or foreheads by punishment of death.  Otherwise they will be unable to buy or sell.
  8. The saints are encouraged  and blessed to stand firm to the end.
  9. By this time, the Anti-christ has led his campaign against Israel and stationed himself there (see Timeline for End-time Battles).  He has somehow desecrated the Jewish Temple (if it has been rebuilt) or possibly just the Temple Mount.
  10. The whole world will hear the good news of Jesus,and of his returning for judgment.
  11. The Anti-christ will overcome and murder the Two Witnesses, but after 3 1/2 days of the “whole earth gazing on their bodies” and gloating over their deaths (tv/internet feed?) and not allowing them burial, they will arise from the dead and ascend into heaven “while their enemies look on” (Revelation 11:3-12).
  12. There will be a great distress in Israel (mass murders, kidnappings, rapes).  Jesus warns to get out of the city as fast as you can.
  13. Satan, the Anti-christ and the second-in-command will send out demons to deceive the leaders of the earth to gather and fight in Israel (Revelation 16:13).
  14. Make no doubt about it, when he comes, we will know, just as we can see lightning flash across the whole sky and hear thunder roar from miles away.
  15. In this obscure and seemingly out of place verse about vultures gathering where the dead lie, is Jesus alluding to the bodies that will fill the land when he returns in victory to defeat the enemies of Israel?
  16. Jesus shouts that he is coming! (YES!)
  17. The sun turns black.The moon turns to blood.  The sky is shaking.  Stars are falling.  The sea is roaring.  Men of the earth are shaking in their boots, fainting from fear.
  18. There is a massive earthquake, unlike any ever seen before on earth.  Islands and mountains are leveled.
  19. Hail the size of 100 pound boulders smash to the earth.
  20. GET READY PEOPLE OF GOD!  STAND UP!  LIFT YOUR HEADS!  HE’S HERE!
  21. Your brothers and sisters have risen from the ground—alive!  In the sky!
  22. AND SO HAVE YOU!
  23. The battle begins.
And that my friends, is my idea of  Rapture.  I wish I could say I'm done but I ain't done yet.  Please stay tuned for some further discussion about the Rapture, as well as a few details about Heaven, and what we should be doing while we're waiting for it all.
The following tables are available for download as PDF here and here to print and study more in depth if you like.  You'll need to have a PDF reader available from Adobe for free.  If you are signed into a Google account you should be able to read it from your Google Drive as well.

What to Expect Before Jesus Comes
Matthew 24 Luke 2 Thessalonians 2 Revelation Zechariah 14 and Daniel 12
1 Jesus warns us not to be deceived by many who will come declaring to be the Christ (vs 4,5).
Jesus warns us not to be deceived by many who will come declaring to be the Christ (21:8).
1 “If anyone says to you ‘Look, here is the Christ’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (vs 23). “Men will tell you, ‘There he is!” or ‘Here is he is!’. Do not go running off after them” (17:23). “The coming of the lawless one (the Anti-Christ) will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing" (vs 9, 10). The “beast from the earth”, the Anti-christ’s second-in-command, acts as a spiritual leader performing “great and miraculous signs” and deceiving people into worshipping the Anti-christ. (13:13-18).
2, 3
There will be “wars and rumors of wars… Nation will rise against nations” (vs 6, 7).
There will be “wars and revolutions” (21:9).  “Nation will rise against nation” (21:10).
The 4 horses of conquest, war, famine and death are sent out and given power to “take peace from the earth to make men slay each other”;
3
“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (vs 7).
“There will be great earthquakes,famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (21:10).
to grossly inflate the prices of wheat and barley;  “to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts” (6:1-8).
4, 5, 6, 7
“Then [the saints] will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me… Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (vs 9, 10).
“But before all this, they will…persecute (the saints).  They will deliver you to the synagogues and prisons…and all on account of my name.” (21:12).  “You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  All men will hate you because of me” (21:17).
The Anti-christ will “be given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life” (13:6-8).
His second-in-command will force everyone to worship the Anti-christ and his image and receive his mark on their forehead or right hand.  You will not be able to use currency to buy or sell if you do not have the mark (13:11-18).

“And [John] saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark” (20:4).
8
“He who stands firm to the end will be saved” (vs. 10).
“By standing firm you will gain life” (21:19).
“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints (13:10) who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus…Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (14:12, 13).
9
“When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ …” let everyone flee from Judea to the mountains (vs 15, 16).  Do not stop to grab anything.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.  Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out” (21:21).
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to him: …That day will not come until the rebellion occurs, and the man of lawlessness” (the anti-Christ) “is revealed [and] sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (vs 1, 3, 4).
The Anti-Christ was “given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven (13:5-7). 
“I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to fight against it…” (14:2).
10, 11
“This gospel will be preached in the whole world… and then the end will come” (vs 14).
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people” (14:6).

The Lord will “give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days” (11:3).
8, 12
“For then there
will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again”  (vs 15-21).
“There will be a great distress in the land and wrath against this people.  They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.  Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (21:24).
The Gentiles will be given the outer court of the temple.  “They will trample on the holy city for 42 months” (11:2). 
“…the city will be captured, the houses ransacked… half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city” (14:2).

“There will be a time of distress such has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (12:2).  “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.  Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days” (12:11, 12).
14 “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (vs 27). We will know Jesus is coming because “The Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other” (17:24).
15 “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather” (vs 28). Jesus’ disciples asked “Where, Lord?…He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather” (17:34-37).
An angel cried “in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat…the flesh of all people…” (19:17).


Jesus’ Return
Matthew 24
Luke 17 & 21
1 Thess. 4 and
1 Cor. 15
Zech. 14, Acts 1, and
2 Thess. 2
Revelation
16, 17, 18 “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun [and moon] will be darkened…the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (vs 29). “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world for the heavenly bodies will be shaken (21:25, 26) Jesus shouts “’Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed’”.  Then they gathered the kings together to the place…that is called Armageddon”  (16:15, 16).

“There was a great earthquake.  The sun turned black…the whole moon…” turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth.  The sky receded like a scroll rolling up and every mountain and island was removed from its place”...People of the earth called out:
19, 20 “At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (vs 30). At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”  (21:27, 28).














“We who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have [died]. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with
“Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations…On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…and [it] will be split in two…with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south…” (14:3, 4).

When Jesus first left earth and ascended into heaven over 2000 years ago, he ascended from the Mount of Olives.  Angels said to his disciples:  “This same Jesus…will come back in the same way you have seen him go…” (1:11).

“You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah…Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him” (14:5).
 “Hide us from the face of him whose sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.  For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?” (6:12-17).

The angels have indicated the end has come (15:1, 16:17). Lightning flashes, “rumblings, [and] peals of thunder” and an earthquake so severe that none like it has “ever occurred since man has been on the earth…Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.”  Huge hailstones about “a hundred pounds each fell upon the men” (16:18-21).




21, 22, 23 “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from one end of the heavens to the other” (vs 31). “On the day the Son of Man is revealed…on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.”  the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever (4:15-17).

“We will not all [die], but we will all bechanged—in a flash in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised…and we will be changed” (15:51, 52).
“The seventh and last trumpet is sounded and it is said in heaven “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord…The time has come for judging the dead and rewarding your servants…and for destroying those who destroy the earth’…and there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm”  (11:15-19).

Heaven is opened and there is “a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With Justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…The armies of heaven were following him riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out
23 Paul writes “concerning
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to him”: Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2:8).
of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” He is the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”
(19:11-16).
23
An angel cried “in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat…the flesh of all people’…Then I saw the beast [the Anti-Christ] and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.  But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet…The two of them were thrown alive in to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out the mouth of the rider on the horse and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (19:17:21).


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rapture of the Church: Fact or False Hope? PART TWO

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way questioning the validity of the Second Coming of Christ.  Jesus is returning to Earth to set up His eternal kingdom.  I am just debating the timeline and details.

I ended my last post stating my desire to read the Scripture, and analyze with my own understanding, the timeline of the battles of Gog and Magog, and Armageddon, and the Rapture.  I dove into it with such fervor that I burned myself out making me more confused than ever :).  Thankfully I’ve cooled off and decided to take each Scripture passage that I was intrigued by and break them down and compare them.  It has been a daunting task but incredibly exciting as well.

The passages I’m comparing first are Ezekiel 38:1-6, 18-22, 39:1-6, 17-20; Daniel 7:24, 25, 11:36-45; Zechariah 14 and Revelation 13:5-7, 16:15-21, 17:12-14, 19:11-21, 21:23-22:2. For the sake of time and space, I’m not going to type out (okay, click and paste) each passage so you’ll have to look up the verses yourself in a Bible or you can click each of these passages to read them on BibleGateway.com.  I’ve chosen these first because they detail the end time battles that will be fought and Jesus’ coming to rescue his people and set up his earthly kingdom.  This has given me a basis on which to decide if the Rapture is a separate event from the Second Coming of Jesus as King.  The Scriptures I’ve listed here serve as evidence for the timeline I’ve created at the bottom of the table.

Ezekiel
Daniel
Zechariah
Revelation
  10 leaders (kings) will arise.  Another leader (the Anti-christ) will arise and he will subdue 3 of those leaders (7:24).  The Anti-christ speaks blasphemes against God and will oppress the saints for 3 1/2 years (7:25).   The Anti-christ (the beast) arises and utters blasphemes against God.  He is given authority for 3 and 1/2 years over the whole earth and to make war against the saints (13:5-7).  With 10 leaders, he marches to make war on the Lord but Jesus will overcome with his faithful followers in tow (17:12-14).
Gog of Magog (leader from Russia) will attack Israel with “many nations”:  Meshech, and Tubal (vicinitiy of Turkey), Persia (Iran), Cush and Put (vicinity of Libya and Sudan), Gomer (vicinity of Eastern Europe), Togarmah (vicinity of Armenia, and Georgia) (38:1-6). The Anti-christ is attacked by the kings of the North and South (Syria and Egypt) who are threatened by his political (11:39) and military success of gaining control over many countries (vs 40-44).  Israel is also invaded.  Egypt is taken captive but Edom, Moab and Ammon (Jordan) will somehow evade capture (11:41, 42).  He stations himself in Jerusalem (11:45).  (Note that the allies of Gog are not listed among the nations in Daniel).
All nations gather to Jerusalem to fight against it (14:2). The kings of the earth gather together at the place called Armageddon (16:16) to make war with the Jesus and his army (19:19). 
The destruction of the armies of Gog will be characterized by a “great earthquake”; “the mountains will be overturned, cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground” (38:19, 20). The Lord himself will fight for Israel and set his feet on the “Mount of Olives and [it] will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley” with each half of the mountain moving north and south (14:4). “Out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne saying “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on the earth, so tremendous was the quake.  The great city spit into three parts and the cities of the nations collapsed.  Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found” (16:17-19).
“Every man’s sword will be against his brother” (38:21b). “Men will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other” (14:13).
Judgment of “plague and bloodshed” (38:22). A plague in which “their flesh will rot while they are standing,” and their eyes and tongues will rot in their orifices (14:12).  A similar plague will happen to the animals that are with them (14:15).  
Torrents of rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur” (38:18-22) “From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each (16:21)
    After Jesus has landed on Mount of Olives and the armies have been destroyed (14:5,12) “he will come and all his holy ones with him” (14:5b) “I saw heaven opened and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is is called Faithful and True” (19:11) and his name is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:16).  “The armies of heaven were following him …” (19:14).
The Lord “will summon a sword against Gog” (38:21a) (just him and/ or his armies too?) Jesus has a “sharp sword out of his mouth with which to strike down the nations” (19:15).  The Anti-christ will be thrown into the fiery lake but the  nations will be killed with the sword (Rev 19:21).
“The Sovereign Lord says:  I am against you Gog … On the mountains of Israel you will fall , you and all your troops and the nations with you.  I will you as food to all kinds of a carrion birds and to the wild animals” (39:1, 4).  “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel … You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth … At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind” (39:17-20). And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds …“Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.  Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” (Rev 19:17, 18).

“The Lord will be King over the whole earth” (14: 9), and set up his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.  There will be one day with no light, day or night, but then light will come in the evening.  Waters of life will flow out of Jerusalem (14:6-11).  The survivors (those who didn’t fight) from the nations who fought in the battle will come to Jerusalem every year to worship the Lord. (14:16, 17) “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life … flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb …” (22:1) which is in Jerusalem.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it for the glory of God gives it light … The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (21:23, 24)

Timeline for End-Time Battles and Jesus’ Return as King

  1. A leader from the North (most likely Russia) gathers armies to march on Israel.
  2. Anti-Christ is also gaining ground politically and militarily.
  3. Anti-Christ is challenged, possibly by Syria and Egypt, and he conquers them, and many other countries, except Jordan.  He invades Israel and sets up camp in Jerusalem.
  4. Nations gather in Israel for war.
  5. A great earthquake, unlike any ever known, destroys the geography of Israel, and beyond.  This earthquake is possibly caused by the Lord himself landing on the Mount of Olives, and splitting it in two causing a great valley to form.
  6. The Lord comes to fight for Israel, causing confusion upon which men fight each other, and are plagued with terrible sores causing their skin to rot; hail; and burning sulfur.
  7. Jesus is seen in heaven with angels and saints.
  8. He slaughters the nations with a sword from his mouth. 
  9. The Lord orders the birds and animals to devour the bodies of the dead armies.
  10. Jesus sets up his earthly kingdom and rules with the resurrected saints who were beheaded during the tribulation.

It’s widely taught that the campaign of Gog and Magog against Israel will happen at different time than the Armageddon.  As I was researching this, there were times when I thought ‘Yes, they must be different battles,’ but then others when it seems they are too closely linked.  The accounts from Ezekiel and Zechariah have striking similarities, and the feast prepared for the birds after the battle of Armageddon in Revelation, is nearly identical in description to the feast prepared of the armies of Gog.  Also, I can’t find anywhere in Revelation of an account of a second march on Israel.  I’m still not sure if both battles are separate or the same, but I do believe that if they are separate, then they are probably very close together in time and the battle of Magog will immediately precede the battle of Armageddon.  I also wonder if Gog, the leader from the North, is not in fact the Anti-christ.

The author of the book I was reading makes the point that the citizens of Israel clean up the bodies of the battle of Gog and Magog, not the birds and wild animals as described in Revelation.  Ezekiel goes into great description of the cleansing of the land after the battle of Gog and Magog, but before this description is made the Lord says of Gog “On the Mountains of Israel you will fall … I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals” (38:4).  It’s safe to assume that poetic call the Lord makes to the birds after the description of the clean-up is referring to the previous battle of Gog and Magog. The carnage is so immense that it takes Israel 7 months to clean up the bodies strewn across the landscape (39:12); it would be foolish to assume that no birds or animals will have scavenged in that length of time.  It is also safe to assume that the poetic call the Lord makes to the birds in Ezekiel, which is nearly identical to the call made in Revelation, is for the same battle described in Ezekiel.  It is easy to make the assumptoin that both the campaign of Gog and Magog cumulates at the battle of Armageddon.

I think it is also important to note that the nations listed in Ezekiel are not listed in Daniel.  It could be assumed that the nations with Gog are actually those that the Anti-christ has attacked and/or swayed over to his side in his campaign to invade Israel (Daniel 11:41 alludes to the Anti-christ making alliances with certain leaders and rewarding them).  The nations that go against the Anti-christ, Egypt and Syria, and in the case of Jordan are spared, are not listed among these allies.  As I’m writing this I’m wondering if the 10 kings from Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 are perhaps the 10 nations listed in Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11:
1) Meshech; 2) Tubal; 3) Persia; 4) Put; 5) Cush; 6) Gomer; 7) Togamorah; 8) Egypt (king of South); 9) Syria (King of North); 10) Jordan (Edom, Moab, and Ammon).
Is Gog from Magog, the 11th king listed in Daniel 7?  Does he form an alliance with the above 10 nations but Egypt, and Syria oppose him by military force, with perhaps Jordan being spared because they do not put military pressure on him?  Are Egypt, Syria and Jordan the 3 kings who will be subdued by the 11th king?  There is so much to speculate about, but so much that is clear.  One thing that is 100% clear is that Jesus is returning with his heavenly armies to destroy the nations of the earth that oppose Israel and he will set up his earthly kingdom in Jerusalem.  The next questions I have which I will leave for my next post are who will these heavenly armies comprise of and when in the end-time timeline will they be assembled?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rapture of the Church: Fact or False Hope?

DISCLAIMER:  I am in no way questioning the validity of the Second Coming of Christ.  Jesus is returning to Earth to set up His eternal kingdom.  I am just debating the timeline and details.

If you have ever been a church-goer, chances are you have learned about the Rapture of the Church, or Christ’s Return or the Second Coming of Jesus.  If you aren’t a church-goer, maybe you’ve heard about the Rapture and knew it was something to do with the belief Christian’s have about leaving earth before doomsday hits.  Maybe you’ve even watched Nicolas Cage’s recent movie Left Behind, based on events that are to occur after this said rapture.

In any event, you’ve probably been told that Jesus is returning to meet all Christians in the clouds in the not so distant future.  “The dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever”  (1 Thessalonians 4: 16b, 17). I was told this would happen before the Great Tribulation -- a 7-year time period when the Anti-Christ will rise and cause untold persecution of Christians (those who convert after the Rapture).  I was led to believe that Christians who are alive on earth during those last days will not endure The Great Tribulation but instead be whisked away to Heaven with Jesus in the sky. But Jesus will return again, and conquer the Anti-Christ, Satan, and all earthly enemies of Israel.  The Lord’s Wrath will finally be poured out on the world who has rejected Him as God and Savior.  The Bible verses describing these events were always so familiar to me and I never questioned the timing of the Lord’s coming. 

How wonderful the Rapture would be?  That’s why it’s called the Rapture of course because it will a carrying away of ecstatic joy.  I hope for all our sakes it’s true.  I certainly do not want to experience the horrors detailed in the book of Revelation but as I began to read and really study the Scripture myself, I just could not see how this lined up to be two separate events.  After all, it’s called Jesus’ Second Coming- the first being His coming to earth as a baby over 2 000 years ago- why would he come twice within a 7-year period?  Wouldn’t that be Jesus’ Third Coming?

Over the last 15 years or so I’ve vacillated between believing the carrying away of the Church to be in the pre-tribulation stage (pre-trib), to post-trib, then mid-trib and now maybe swinging back to post-trib.  I’ve recently been reading a book by a well-respected Christian author, teacher and pastor.  I’ve never disagreed with anything I’ve heard this preacher say, but when I began reading his book on end-time prophecy, I once again was intrigued by the discrepancies in what we’ve been categorically taught about the Rapture of the Church.  The author uses verses to explain how we will be raptured pre-trib but the rest of the verses in context (the entire passage or chapter) sure sound like the Second Coming of Christ.  Is it possible the Rapture, and Jesus’ glorious, victorious second coming to claim His Kingship over the Earth are one in the same?

Obviously, I’m not the first person to make this assertation, and I’m not saying my interpretations are exactly the way things will go down but I’ve never gone looking for other opinions of the post- or mid-trib theories of the Rapture (a quick Google search will reveal plenty of information about each theory).  I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% certain of a pre-, mid- or post-trib rapture; I just feel compelled to write about what I’ve learned from my own reading and understanding of the Scriptures.  Some people state:  “Well it doesn’t matter when we go, as long as we know we are going.”  This has some truth because we have a firm foundation that one day Christians will dwell and rule with Jesus in His new Kingdom.  However, isn’t it important to know just what, if any, process we will have to go through to get to that place?  Won’t it be easier to stand firm for Jesus if we know to expect intense persecution before we see His glorious return?  Or to instead have our hopes crushed when we realize that He is not returning for us at this time and we may have to give up our lives for Him before we join Him in His earthly rule? (Revelation 20:4, 5).

I guess this post is an introduction to my journey of analyzing, and interpreting a few key passages about the return of Jesus Christ, the battles of Gog and Magog and the dreaded Armageddon.  Won’t you please come with me as I try to sort these events out on paper or, you know, computer?  You’ll hear from me soon.