Isaiah 9:6

Posted November 22, 2015 by John
Categories: Bible Study

Isaiah 9:6–
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.

There’s no way I can publish this post without leading my readers to think I’m rushing Christmas. It’s not quite Thanksgiving Day yet as I write.

But rushing Christmas is far from my mind. I don’t celebrate Christmas, for reasons I won’t get into here.

Why we wait until the Christmas season to talk about Isaiah 9:6 is beyond me. The truth of it is so significant and astounding.

This verse has only partially been fulfilled. Christ was indeed born, but He is yet to come to establish His kingdom on the earth. The latter part of the verse will be fulfilled then.

The reason I share this post now is to let you know that “Moments for You” for the fourth quarter of 2015 is available online, and I invite you to read it here. The theme is Isaiah 9:6,.

Read each article. You’ll be blessed, and you’ll have all the more reason to worship our great and wonderful Lord.


Revisiting the Thwarting of Prophetic Events

Posted October 11, 2015 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

A few months ago I wrote a piece called How to Keep Prophecy from Coming True, featuring a fictionalized letter supposedly from a high ranking leader of a secret society describing its control of world affairs. Recently I shared the link with the pastor of our church. He read the post but wasn’t altogether clear on what I was trying to say. We had a good discussion about it.

No one has commented on that piece, so perhaps others felt confused as well. I admit, I did throw a lot of things out there. Apparently my attempt to put forth big ideas in a clever manner fell flat.

What I’d like to do in this piece is summarize and hopefully clarify the main points I was trying to make. But I’d also like to raise a few serious questions I have, particularly about Israel–always a point of controversy.

At the risk of sounding paranoid, if this blog ceases to exist, it will have been taken down bby someone other than me because of this post.

I begin with two premises. The first is that Zionism exerts a far greater influence than most Americans–especially Christians–realize or admit. Another premise is that nations have come together, knowingly or otherwise, to thwart prophetic events from coming to pass as outlined in Scripture.

Here’s how I see that unfolding.

America has gone the extra mile to support Israel, so much so that our foreign policy has been taken captive by those who seek to build a Greater Israel at any cost. Other nations, such as those in the EU, have been brought along to aid in this quest.

Forget any rhetoric or behavior from our current president regarding Israel. He’s a bit player. It’s our country’s actions which continue to indicate ongoing support for Israel.

I’ll address Christians and support of Israel below because it deserves attention. But permit more background for now.

Regarding my first premise about Zionism’s influence, The U.S. is in the Middle East and that general region of the world for two reasons–Israel and oil. Granted, that’s an oversimplification.

But it appears we’ve been working behind the scenes to destabilize countries Israel perceives as a threat. It’s part of the preemptive strike mentality exhibited since 9/11/’01.

Many Americans have been conditioned in recent years to fear radical Islam. Admittedly this isn’t something we should ignore. But are we over reacting?

There’s so much misinformation and disinformation in our land. Have we been persuaded by those with a proIsrael mindset that Islam is a greater threat than it is? Could it be that we face a still greater threat?

Is it wise to go merrily on our way as if Zionism didn’t exist or had no influence on our country, both in its internal and external doings?

Let’s look at the problem with ISIS, for example. The U.S. and a handful of other countries created them, or at least fostered their development, in part to oppose the government in Syria.

Destabilizing Syria is perhaps thought by some to be beneficial to Israel. It may be that the idea is to create chaos to stimy the enemy.

It should be clear we have not wanted to stop ISIS. If this were untrue, months ago we could have done what Russia has done (as I write this) to strangle ISIS in a matter of weeks.

Additionally, the so-called color revolutions of the Arab spring and beyond weren’t grassroots efforts. According to many reports I’ve read, the U.S. and some of its allies had a hand in fomenting unrest. Again, is there benefit to Israel? Is the objective once again to create chaos to squelch a perceived threat?

Whatever the case, in reality, the path has been cleared for the rise of radical Islam. That flies in the face of the so-called war on terrorism, doesn’t it?

One of the consequences of this engineered rise of radical Islam is the growing persecution of Christians. If indeed America has had a hand in this, I believe she stands to be judged for this as much, if not more so, than whether or not she supports Israel.

Why would anyone want to set up such a sinister scenario?

Let’s not be blind to the fact that some Jews hate Christ and Christianity. There are those who would love to see America–a once great Christian nation–fall from within.

I hasten to add, the ills of America–and the world as a whole–cannot be blamed entirely on Jews. All I’m saying is we shouldn’t assume Zionist Jews don’t exist or have no role as movers and shakers.

But back to my main points.

If the U.S. can be used in some way, directly or otherwise, to facilitate the killing of Christians, so much the better.

Perverse, isn’t it?

Take note that Israel is not defenseless. It’s reported they have between 100 and 300 nuclear weapons. They have not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, as has Iran, one of their alleged enemies. Does Israel really need all the money and military aid we’re giving them?

It appears to me Israel is operating out of fear. And they’re spreading it to those who would do their bidding.

Keep Americans afraid of Islam, and they’ll gladly give up freedoms for the promise of safety.

In fact, as some suggest, we should follow Israel’s example of keeping secure such places as schools and airports. After all, the thought is, nobody can face down threats like Israel.

Do I make too much of what motivates the nations shaping world events today? Perhaps my pastor is right to suggest their motivation doesn’t matter, since the root cause is ultimately Satanic influence.

But let me go on to my notion that nations are attempting to thwart prophetic events. Two items come to mind.

In Gulf War I in the early 1990’s, and with the sanctions on Iraq that followed, the U.S. and its allies stopped Saddam Hussein’s efforts to rebuild Babylon.

Why is that significant?

Somehow, sometime, literal Babylon will be rebuilt. We see it in Revelation 17-18. Remember, no one thought in times past there would be a nation state called Israel again. So why shouldn’t there be Babylon in the future?

I suggest it’s believed that if there’s no physical, literal Babylon, how can Babylon fall, as predicted? Babylon is a geographic place, not just a political, economic or religious system.

Next, consider the destruction of ancient sites. It happened in Iraq in what some call Gulf War II. It has happened most recently in Syria and other places with the advent of ISIS.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The destruction of ancient sites and the preventing of Babylon’s rebuilding fits that pattern.

To bring my two main premises together, nations, largely influenzed by Zionism, have joined together to keep prophecy from happening as predicted in Scripture. Those who want a Greater Israel want it apart from God and without a Messiah.

After the discussion with our pastor, I came away feeling that my theory about nations working to keep prophetic events from happening isn’t as earth shattering as I had thought. But it does seem more evident to me in these times, and I don’t think people see it..

My pastor reminded me that Satan did what he could through Biblical history to prevent prophetic events, particularly the birth of Christ. King Herod’s slaughter of baby boys as described in Matthew 2 is but one example of that.

Did Herod know he was fulfilling prophecy, rather than stopping it by trying to scuttle the first advent of Christ? Not likely.

Do nations today know they’re fulfilling prophecy by trying to scuttle the second advent of Christ, rather than preventing it? Not likely.

The fact is, the nations who are deliberately fostering chaos aren’t thwarting prophecy, as I believe many in power behind the scenes wish to do. Instead, they are setting the stage for the AntiChrist. He is the one who will bring order out of chaos and peace–at least at first.

Looking at the big picture–as if we weren’t already–God is sovereign. Though Satan has a great deal of free reign in this world, God overrules. His Word is true, and His will will be accomplished, regardless of who or what tries to stand in the way.

Israel will go through many trials but will not be destroyed.

Now let’s come back to the subject of America, and Christians, supporting Israel.

As I expected, our pastor takes the standard view of most Christians and insists our country should support Israel, or America will fall. I have held this view in the past, but I have reservations and questions about it now. It’s not a matter of whether, but how we should uphold Israel.

There are enough reasons for God to bring the U.S. down already, regardless of her position on Israel. America is not in Bible prophecy, but it’s hard to say what will take her out. Could it be due to something other than whether we support Israel?

The principle of support for Israel is drawn from Genesis 12:1-3 which says:

1.Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2.And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3.And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Many books have been written which have sought to unpack the truths in these verses. I can’t begin to do the subject justice here. Obviously, Christ is the greatest blessing to come from Abraham, and He has brought salvation to people throughout the world.

But how would God truly have us support Israel today? Does Genesis 12 mean America should unconditionally give money and missiles to the present nation-state of Israel? Right now they’re a secular nation which, whether they know it or not, is being used as an instrument of Satan.

Are those words too harsh?

Let me put this another way. If you’ve raised children, did you give them candy and soda pop every time they asked for it? Did you let them stay up until all hours of the night and do anything they wanted? Would that have been the way to bless them? Wouldn’t you in a sense be cursing them by letting them have their way?

With that illustration in mind, shouldn’t America be more reserved in its support of Israel? Or shouldn’t we take a different approach? Why should that be considered as cursing Abraham’s descendants?

Some will say I’m overlooking the threats Israel has faced since its modern day creation in 1948. Nothing in that part of the world is clear cut or black and white. And Israel isn’t as innocent and pure as the driven snow.

One of the key reasons Christians believe in supporting Israel is because of the teaching that Israel’s presence today is the fulfillment of prophecy. Others say it is not because it is a U.N. construct–of man and not of God.

But what of the idea God uses such instruments as the U.N. to do His will? I can’t rule that out.

On the other hand, what if the establishment of modern day Israel is comparable to the birth of Ishmael? In other words, did Zionists and others get ahead of God’s plan?

My late friend Gerald Franz thought Isaiah 11:10-14 indicated Israel will be dispersed again at a time in the future before God accomplishes His final plan for the nation. Even if this somehow does happen, God is not done with Israel and will not allow her to be destroyed. The Bible makes that clear.

God’s plan will come to pass as He wills. Thankfully the Zionists will be dealt with. Israel will be judged during the time of the seven year Tribulation. But ultimately the Lord will finish what He started with Israel and raise the nation to prominence in His own way.

From a human standpoint, it’s hard to see that in the midst of so much darkness.

With all of that said, here’s my message to Christians and churches, regardless of what America does or doesn’t do pertaining to Israel. If you get nothing else from this post, please take note here.

Our response to the Genesis 12 passage should be that we each show lovingkindness toward Jewish individuals. Give them the gospel whenever possible and let God’s Holy Spirit win them to Christ, the Messiah.

Churches should do more to support the spread of the gospel to Jews, including in Israel, as difficult as that may be.

Wouldn’t that be the better way to bless the physical seed of Abraham?

They Don’t Really Hate Us…Do They?

Posted September 27, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

John 15:18-27–
18. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

The verses quoted above are the words of Jesus to His disciples the night before His crucifiction. I don’t think we who are believers in Christ give them enough traction in our lives.

We’ve got it too easy in America. We’re fat and prosperous. We do our best to get along with everybody, overlooking faults and pretending they don’t exist. Christians rush to cozy up to the world, supposedly to be relevant and win some to Christ.

By the way, how’s that working out?

As my late friend Gerald Franz observed, when you stick a white glove in the mud, you get a muddy glove, not glovey mud.

Don’t get me wrong. We do need to get out the Gospel.

Nonetheless, we’re lulled to sleep and don’t see the hate the world has for Christians. Or we’re prone to overlook it.

Why? Consider a phrase in verse 20 of the passage above. It says, “If they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

Yes, sometimes the world quotes Scripture. Or at least they say the right things and do many good deeds.

Oh, sure, we hear about persecution now and then, such as the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for not granting marriage licenses to homosexuals. But for the most part, we’ve got it pretty good.

We know we’re at variance with the world on many things, but they don’t really hate us, do they? If they do, they’re being nice about it, aren’t they?

Maybe. So far. At least in America.

But you can’t turn on the radio or TV without being bombarded by the world’s views. It’s easy to see what’s in their hearts. And it’s not friendly toward Christians.

How many TV shows are prohomosexual and ram it down our throats. This is supposed to be great entertainment, after all, and we’re supposed to lap it up.

How many discussions on science have you heard or read that take a totally proevolutionary stance? Nearly always Christians are portrayed as narrow minded and stupid. After all, science knows the truth.

I enjoy reading science fiction stories. Yes, I admit, they can be quite antiGod. And that makes them less enjoyable. I may read less of it in the future, because the antiChristian attitude becomes more blatant all the time.

I was going to give you an example and summarize one such story I read the other day, but I’ve decided not to dignify it. I think you get my point.

We’re immersed in what the world has to offer. That seems natural I suppose because we do live here. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the world doesn’t hate our Savior and Lord. And it extends that loathing toward us, too.

Right now we coexist relatively peacefully. It may not always be so. Therefore, as the Scriptures admonish in a number of places, let’s encourage and edify one another as believers as we see the last days and their perils rolling toward us.

Resurrection and reunion in the Rapture

Posted September 20, 2015 by John
Categories: Bible Study

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18–
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16.For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17.Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18.Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I listened to a famous radio preacher speak on the Rapture, or being caught up, from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He did a good job of it, but I take issue with him on one matter. It’s his handling of verse 14. His view is commonly held, so mentioning his name would serve no purpose.

He muddled through his explanation of this verse, but his commentary was contradictory and unclear. I wondered how many of his listeners were like me and found themselves unsatisfied.

You may be asking whether I think I can give a better explanation than a world famous, seminary-trained preacher. The answer is yes, or I wouldn’t write this. All I ask is that you follow me to the end of this piece and draw whatever conclusion God leads you to.

The concept expressed by the preacher is a familiar one. We’ve all heard it. It says that the dead in Christ are now in heaven, but somehow need to be brought back from there at the Rapture to be reunited with their bodies in resurrection.

But, I must ask, if dead believers are in heaven in some glorified form, as most believe, why bother with the retrieval of decayed bodies?

This brings up the question of what death really means. Allow a brief digression, which some may find upsetting; but I need to lay ground work for what follows.

Death is the cessation of life. For the believer, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will be resurrected to eternal life. That eternal life can’t begin at death, or death isn’t really death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s focus is on resurrection. No mention is made of the dead being in some kind of soulish, intermediate state.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 4:14. In the King James Bible the verse says, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

When we look at the first part of that sentence, the focus is on resurrection. The thought is that, if Christ was resurrected, shouldn’t we expect the dead to be resurrected, too? Indeed, those who have died as believers will be resurrected at the great catching away. They’re not gone forever.

Paul reassures his readers in these latter verses of 1 Thessalonians 4that, at the Rapture, we who are alive will be reunited with those believers who have died before us.

But let’s hone in a bit more on 1 Thessalonians 4:14. I believe resurrection, not reunion of the body with the soul, is how we must see this verse.

I owe a debt of grattitude to my late friend Gerald Franz for helping to clarify the meaning of this verse. He wrote a piece called Who Does the Bringing? In it he quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, which helps shed light here. It says…

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

In the Rapture Jesus will come in the clouds as promised in Acts 1:9-11. It is He who resurrects the dead in Christ first and takes them with Him. Immediately following is the catching up of those of us who are believers and still alive at the time of the event.

In other words, Christ doesn’t bring believers from heaven to be reunited with their dead bodies in resurrection, only to take them back up. He endows the dead bodies of believers with life, and brings them to heaven.

Those who will ascend to heaven are the resurrected dead in Christ as well as those of us believers who are alive at the time of the event. We will all meet Him in the clouds.

But where does God fit into the picture? After all, He’s the one who’s mentioned in the KJV translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It is He who empowers Christ and brings all of us together–along with Jesus–to be with Him in heaven.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26, which says…

25.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26.And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Let’s not overlook the obvious. We have to be dead to be resurrected. Once resurrected, we shall never die because we’ll have eternal life.

And it’s all because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Those of us who die as believers–we’re in Christ–can put our full confidence in Him for raising us from the dead.

John 14:2-3 makes sense when seen in this light. It says…

2.In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

If we’re already in heaven when we die, why does He have to come back for us?

Because we’re not in heaven immediately after death. Neither are we in hell or some other place of limbo. But that’s another matter I won’t get into here.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 points out. It’s just that simple.

Of course, the good news for those of us who are alive at the time of the Rapture, or catching away, means we won’t have to be concerned with being resurrected.

As Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, we should comfort one another with these wonderful truths.

Better Than a Stripper

Posted September 13, 2015 by John
Categories: Helping Others, Thoughts from John

I heard the account of a disabled man in a wheelchair who visited strip clubs occasionally and was acquainted with amateur porn stars. He said the women at strip clubs treated him better than anyone else. They dealt with him like a human being and weren’t patronizing or condescending.

What an odd thing. Yet there are those times when it seems the world behaves more uprightly than those of us who claim to know Christ as savior. I find a lesson in this. Shouldn’t we show compassion–not pity or avoidance–to those who are disabled or different from us? Shouldn’t we behave better than a stripper?

Romans 12, selected verses–
3.For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…
9.Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10.Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;…
15.Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16.Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Galatians 6, selected verses–
2.Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3.For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself…
10.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

God Married to the Backslider?

Posted September 6, 2015 by John
Categories: Bible Study

A friend asked me a while back about the idea she’d heard about God being married to the backslider. What did it mean? Does it apply to today?

Here’s what I told her. It’s not a thorough study, but it gets the main point across.

Jeremiah 3:14 makes a reference to God being married to the backslider. Below I’ve copied verses 6-15 so you can see the context it fits in. Then I’ll add a couple of comments.

Jeremiah 3:6-15–
6. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
11. And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
12. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

The passage goes on from there to prophecy about the future time when God will regather all of Israel in a time when there will be peace. Obviously, that’s not something that’s happening now. At any rate, verse 14 speaks about the nation of Israel, both northern and southern parts, as does the whole chapter. They had practiced idolatry and were not following the Lord.

The book of Hosea sets forth a picture of this idea because Hosea married a harlot who went astray, and he bought her back. It, too, is all about Israel.

There’s nothing like this stated in the New Testament, so I’m persuaded that this doesn’t apply to the church today. Christians today are not spiritual Israel.


Posted August 30, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life

“Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2015 is out, and the theme is Remember. I encourage you to read it here. (A new window will open when you click the link.)

Encouraging articles talk about God’s faithfulness, the hope we have in the salvation He offers, and how we should remember to trust Him.

One article handles the old saying “Forgive and forget” better than I’ve ever heard anyone else explain it. It’s likely not possible we can forget what someone has done to us, especially if the act is grievous. But with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, we can forgive and deal with the person as if he or she had not committed any wrong against us.

That’s good advice.