Monday, May 25, 2015


Happy birthday, Church! May 25, 2015 is the second day of the two-day Feast of Weeks or Shavuot in Hebrew and also called Pentecost, a Greek reference to 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is one of the seven feasts that God gave Israel to observe and is the only one that is associated with the Church since it was the day the Holy Spirit began indwelling believers (Acts 2:1-41).

It is important to study the Jewish feasts God gave Israel in Leviticus 23 because they reveal the heart of God... "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV). The more we learn about why these days were special to God, the more we learn about Him. Applying this in the here and now enables us to better please Him which we should seek to do out of gratitude for all he has done for us.

The first three Hebrew feasts clustered in the Spring are Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits commemorating God delivering Israel from Egypt and settling them in the Promised Land. The details of these feasts point to their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus was crucified at the very time the people of Israel prepared their Passover lambs! Jesus Himself was the Unleavened Bread because He was without sin and He also was the Firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23).

The last three feasts of the Hebrews are clustered in the Fall and are yet to be fulfilled in history. They consist of the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year; the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur; and the Feast of Tabernacles, or Succoth. While a detailed look at these days are merited, this article is focused on Pentecost.

Firstfruits was a Spring festival celebrating Israel's first harvest in the Promised Land. Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks is also a harvest festival commemorating a second harvest of Israel in the Promised Land. The reason there are two harvest festivals is that there were different crops brought in at different times. Barley was associated with Firstfruits and wheat with Shavuot. Just as there will be a harvest of Jews and Gentiles, there will be two harvests. The wheat of Shavuot is associated with the Church as seen in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43).

The Feast of Weeks occurred fifty days after Firstfruits. It has been traditionally celebrated over two days on Silvan 6 and 7 because the exact time could not be accurately determined. Leviticus 23:15 says the countdown to Shavuot begins on "the day after the Sabbath" but it is unclear if this is referring to the weekly Sabbath or the High Sabbath of Passover. When Scripture is vague there is a reason for this and in this case it became apparent that the best way to address it was to have a two-day observance. Matthew 24:36 comes to mind here where no one know the day or hour when Christ comes for His Church.

The Feast of Weeks is celebrated by making an offering of two loaves of leavened bread as one offering. Again there is symbolism that must be interpreted. The fact that the bread is leavened is a clue; the presence of leaven, or yeast which is an active fungus, usually represents sin in Scripture. So these loaves must represent members of the Church who are not without sin. The fact that there are two of them probably represent both Jews and Gentiles making up the New Testament Church.

The most significant fulfillment of Sahvuot in history is certainly the beginning of the Church, when the Holy Spirit began indwelling believers at Pentecost. But the Jews remember Shavuot as the day God gave Israel the Law on Mount Sinai. The Talmud considers the Torah to represent the marriage contract between God and Israel and thus the giving of the Ten Commandments represents the espousal of Israel to God. Leviticus 23:15 instructs Israel to count the days to celebrating Shavuot... Just as a bride eagerly counts the days between her engagement and her wedding, so Israel counts the days between Passover and Shauvot when they were united with God trough acceptance of the Torah.

It is also interesting to note that God makes an unconditional Covenant with Noah on what would become Silvan 6 (Genesis 8:20-9:17). Tradition also says Silvan 6 was the day Ruth became married to Boaz; the Kinsman-Redeemer who took a Gentile wife. Ruth is one of only three women listed in the in the genealogy of Jesus. The events recounted in the book of Ruth took place during the time of the Spring harvest so Ruth is read as part of the Hebrew celebration of Shavuot. The oral tradition of the Jews also holds that Enoch was both born and taken to heaven on the same day of the year, what would become Silvan 6. This is interesting because Enoch was a prophetic type of the Church who was removed from the earth prior to God pouring out His wrath in the flood of Noah's day.

There are some amazing parallels between the events related to the Mosaic Covenant and Pentecost. Comparing Exodus 19:16-19 to Acts 2:2-15 indicates that both happened at the same time of day, similar sounds were heard, the people reacted similarly, fire represented God in both cases, and the location was the central point for the Jewish people.

Pentecost or Shavuot is certainly significant to the Church because it marks the beginning and is associated with the Church being betrothed to Christ. "We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:30-32). God established marriage to be a critical institution for human society which also models the intimate relationship we may have with our Creator in eternity. Man's efforts to redefine what marriage is all about must surely be a serious affront to our Creator-God.

On Pentecost, the Apostle Peter explained the supernatural indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit when he quoted the Prophet Joel (Acts 2:14-21). God poured out His Spirit on the Church at Pentecost. From Joel 2:21-23 we know that Pentecost represented the former rain of God's Spirit. There will also be a latter rain of God's Spirit preceding the end of the Church Age. The Church had a supernatural beginning at Pentecost and will have a supernatural conclusion at the Rapture.

Since the Rapture of the Church is a significant spectacular event, many have expected it to occur on a Jewish feast day. If the Rapture had to happen on a Jewish feast day, Shavuot is the most likely one of the seven because it is associated with marriage and the Church is the Bride of Christ. But there are many who say that Rosh Hashanah is also a possibility for a feast-day Rapture of the Church since it is the next feast that has not yet been fulfilled by the Messiah. But to tie the Rapture to a Jewish feast day comes dangerously close to date setting and defies the doctrine of imminence for this event. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36).

It is more correct to think of the Rapture as being tied to a number rather than a date. The Apostle Paul told us, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25, NIV). There is a set number of people God has in mind for the completion of His Church and the Rapture will not occur until that number has been reached. This means that our efforts to build the body of Christ can have some bearing on when the Lord returns for His Church. While it is God who saves people, He uses His Church to represent Him and our activities can make an eternal difference in the lives of our associates. The Apostle Peter reinforced the idea that the activities of the Church can influence when Jesus returns when he said we should, "look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:12). The only way we could possibly speed the day of God would be to let Him use us to complete the Church sooner rather than later.

As we consider the birth of the Church during Pentecost, this helps us look forward to the day Christ completes it. "We wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). All indications are that we will not have long to wait. Meanwhile we should be actively watching for Him and help others also anticipate His coming. The more friends we can take with us, the more wonderful this glorious event will be.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Foreign Policy Failure

In the midst of all our domestic distractions it is easy to miss the mess the U.S. government is making in the world. President Obama's efforts to avoid a war with Iran over their nuclear weapon ambitions is destabilizing the region. When godless people try to accomplish even good things in their own power apart from God, the very consequences they seek to avoid usually happens anyway.

Appeasing terrorists does not have a very good track record in history. All it does is embolden those who seek attention for their cause by murdering innocent non-combatants. Sure we should do everything we can to avoid a terrible thing like war but the idea that we can eliminate it entirely during this age is dangerously naive. "For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

The problem with the liberal mind-set that trips them up every time is that they do not have a realistic view of mankind's nature. Liberals overlook the fact that all people have a sin nature, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). People who will murder innocents to further their cause will also be deceptive and not honor their commitments. No amount of talking with Iran about stopping their quest for nuclear weapons will convince them to yield to our will. Our talks with Iran will no-doubt result in some agreement that removes sanctions but will have no value in curbing their nuclear ambitions.

While the Obama administration has been very secretive about what is being given up to secure whatever Iranian concessions they are getting, one thing is clear: Iran is being given the green light to develop nuclear weapons. And this has caused Saudi Arabia to be convinced they now also need nuclear weapons to counter this new security threat. Likewise, Israel has concluded that a nuclear-armed Iran is a fait accompli and are trying to get what they can from the U.S. as a concession.

Saudi Arabia has already acquired DF-3 missiles from China that only have value in delivering nuclear weapons. It was the Saudis who funded Pakistan's nuclear weapon program so they likely have some leverage to get their help catching up to Iran in this new arms race. Pakistan will likely welcome another nuclear-armed Sunni nation to help counter the emerging nuclear-armed Shiite threat to their West. There is also the rouge, cash-starved North Koreans who would love to sell their nuclear technology to the cash-rich Saudis.

Some will think, what's the big deal? It will be ten-plus years before Iran is allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Few people except Obama administration sycophants believe that. Everyone knows there now exists a narrowing window of opportunity where conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) war may accomplish some geopolitical goals before a nuclear-armed Iran changes the dynamics. It appears as though the radical Sunnis of the Islamic State are taking full advantage of the times to take as much territory as they can (both real estate and mind-share) in their quest to re-establish a Caliphate.

Meanwhile, the struggle between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is continuing to boil. It is just a matter of time before one or more of Israel's enemies initiate a new conflict in order to unite other Islamic entities to their cause. The Psalm 83 conventional war involving the nations immediately surrounding Israel will be the result. And this war will set the stage for the Ezekiel 38 war which involves Iran and will go nuclear.

It is hard to imagine people not recognizing the value of Bible prophecy in explaining all the developments we are seeing among the nations of the world. The U.S. strategy of appeasement in seeking after peace is making the potential for war more likely and the nations are becoming aligned just as the Bible says they would be before Jesus returns. It would behoove us all to be more like the "sons of Issachar" who "understood the times" (1 Chronicles 12:32) and thus took action accordingly...

While the window is closing in the Mideast for conventional warfare, our window for helping others trust in Jesus is also about to close. We all need to take every opportunity the Lord gives us to help others embrace the good news about Him while we still can.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Jade Helm

By now, everyone who has been looking for signs of the Lord's return have heard about Jade Helm. This unprecedented military training exercise has really brought out the conspiracy theorists. It is highly likely that some of the reports about Jade Helm have used unsubstantiated information to make this training exercise sound more sensational than it is. But there is enough about it that is known from credible sources that should still merit the attention of all who are watching for Christ to return. And we should all be watching as Jesus told us to do in Matthew 24:42.

The purpose of Jade Helm is to train special forces in a realistic environment. It will take place for 8 weeks this Summer in seven Southwestern states including Texas. Jade Helm reflects the Army's changing mission to be better prepared for "asymmetric warfare" which is the type of combat we have been most engaged in recently. Asymmetric warfare is defined as war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. As an old soldier whose Army experience was in an armored division during the Cold War, we used to call this type of warfare a "low-intensity conflict." Any combat involving tanks and field artillery is hardly low intensity. Urban fighting against an enemy using guerrilla tactics will likely be a bigger part of the Army's mission going forward.

Such a change in mission preparation for the U.S. Army actually reinforces Bible prophecy. If the world is going to unite as one, no more can we have the traditional, "symmetric warfare." Instead, the enemies of the community of nations will be relatively smaller groups of "radicals" who are not on-board with the conventional globalist vision. There is however at least one future battle described in Scripture that would caution against thinking all warfare to come will be asymmetric, Ezekiel 38-39.

Jade Helm briefings have been made in communities were there will be significant Jade Helm activities. For the most part these communities have embraced the exercise expecting their businesses to benefit with a military presence where soldiers will be "living off the land" so to speak. There have however been concerns that this exercise is practice and even staging to enforce a sinister plan by the federal government to impose martial law. 

Now why would people think there is something sinister about Jade Helm? This training exercise is unprecedented in a number of ways. The fact that it is being conducted outside military facilities raises eyebrows. All branches of the military already have numerous training sites for asymmetric warfare on their installations. Of course training in an environment closer to where you expect to fight does make for better, more realistic training. That was why we practiced deployment and trained off-post in Germany as part of the Reforger exercises during the Cold War. The fact that our military is doing the same thing on U.S. soil does send signals that someone high up in the government expects asymmetric warfare may be necessary at some point here in North America.

The scope of the exercise is another aspect of the unprecedented nature of Jade Helm. Seven states in the Southwest U.S. is a big area. About 60,000 active-duty troops are reportedly involved and range from National Guard soldiers to sailors and marines. That is pretty big for what is usually necessary to train special forces even with collaboration between service branches. This raises eyebrows because special forces are always small units operating mostly independently so such numbers will not be needed for effective training. Most of the troops involved in Jade Helm are likely the "opfor" (opposing forces) and "partisans" to the special forces units. (I can't help myself; as an old Army guy this does sound like a fun training exercise.)

And then there are the mysterious Walmart closings that appear to be connected with Jade Helm transforming them into indigenous logistic centers. The official reason given to the closures has been to fix plumbing issues but six months is a bit excessive for that and in no cases were there any building permits requested that would be necessary for such an activity. You can't blame the Walmart closures on the economy or there couldn't be a promise to open in six-months and they couldn't use that story anyway because no one would believe it. I have shopped at the Walmart that was closed in Odessa, Texas and it had so many customers in the middle of the day during the week that we had to park almost in the next county. While the Permian Basin is no longer booming like it was, most Odessa retail businesses are still doing better than the rest of the country.

Also, the scenario they are using for the exercise where Texas and Utah are considered enemy territory is another aspect that raises eyebrows. There are no-doubt legitimate reasons why Texas and Utah were chosen to be the enemy but few think this was just arbitrary. It appears to be a recognition that our conservative politics are seen as a realistic scenario to cause us to be the enemy of the government. Couple that with the government's use of the IRS to target conservative Tea Party groups and the FBI not even mentioning Islamic terrorism among their list of threats to domestic security and you have a lot of people who believe the most secretive government ever does have sinister hidden motives.

It is also well known that President Obama does not care for those he sees as bitterly clinging to their guns and religion seeing them as more of an enemy than the Islamists who want to bring an end to Western Civilization. And he has already done a lot to force social justice on the middle class which is effectively what Obama Care does. The conservatives among us who have a biblical worldview are also aware that the spirit of Antichrist is stronger with President Obama than any world leader we have seen in our lifetime. This does not mean BHO is the Antichrist but that it looks like he would totally agree with whoever the Antichrist turns out to be (see Revelation 17:13).

Training for asymmetric warfare develops a lot of the same skills that will be needed to enforce martial law over a civilian population. However, we do have the Posse Comitatus Act which makes it illegal for U.S. military personnel to be used for domestic law enforcement. This may be cold comfort as we see the Rule of Law giving way to the Rule of Man on so many fronts in this country. It seems as though government lawyers spend most of their time coming up with creative ways to get around the law.

Another concern about Jade Helm is that it is going on while race riots are being instigated. Some form of martial law is usually necessary to bring order to a riot. Many on the political left are calling on the federal government to do something about the local police forces that are apparently oppressing black people. President Obama has not done anything to calm these issues; instead he appears to be encouraging the anarchists who are calling on the federal government to nationalize local police forces. This must certainly please President Obama because he has not hid his desire to have a national police force. What better way to implement even more share-the-wealth social justice than with a national Gestapo?

Our Community Agitator in Chief and his minions seem intent to stir up ugly race relations every chance they get. Jesus told us the rise of racial conflict would be one of the signs of His soon return (Matthew 24:7, "nations" = "ethnos" in Greek). Some may think that stirring up bad race relations is a self-fulfilling prophecy but that would make Obama complicit in wanting to see Bible prophecy fulfilled. This is hardly what someone would do who so identifies with Islam that he has said, "the Muslim call to prayer was the prettiest sound on earth" and "the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

President Obama is seeking to divide this country along racial lines, how else can you explain race relations getting worse under his watch? It is likely that some will think our growing racism was President Bush's fault since they like to blame him for whatever happens under Obama's reign that is not good. Or more to the point, they will agree with President Obama that the American system is so fundamentally flawed that degenerating race relations are inevitable. But, as a wise man once said, "shit doesn't stink unless you stir it." 

The Bible says that eventually there will effectively be martial law worldwide. We can hope that such a "state of emergency" will not happen here in the USA until after the Rapture of the Church. But if it does, it would be better to live in a rural area that may be off the radar of the race-bating anarchists. Watching the stupid handling of the Baltimore developments is amazing. Real justice is taking a back seat to social justice and it wouldn't take much to expand that craziness nation-wide especially with a central government and media that are cheering it on.

All Christians should be praying for those we know who need to embrace Jesus. This is especially important now as things get even more obvious that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled. It is truly a blessing to know Jesus as our Savior; our relationship with Him helps us deal with all the craziness that is going on in the world today. We know there will be an end to it. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)

Monday, May 4, 2015

War on Churches

Hillary Clinton believes that "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed." She said that in the context of wanting to expand the practice of killing unborn babies but this mentality also applies to gay marriage, another top priority progressive issue. The Supreme Court is currently deliberating on a case which could result in gay marriage becoming the law of the land.

Apparently the Supreme Court decision could come down to what Justice Kennedy will decide because his is the swing vote with the other eight justices being divided along conservative and progressive lines. It is amazing that the Supreme Court is even considering this case because marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution. However, the fact that this has become a Supreme Court issue does make sense from a biblical perspective because the rule of law is being eclipsed by the rule of man as we get closer to the Lord's return; "the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 'Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles'" (Psalm 2:2-3, NIV).

Justice Samuel Alito cautioned the Court about embracing gay marriage saying, “until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex.” But it is clear in this postmodern age that progressive humanists believe they are smarter than all who have gone before them. Indeed, it is an evolutionary worldview that embraces change as generally being good because things appear to have improved over time. And add to that the unshakable faith humanists have in their own ability to make things better. They rationalize it was human efforts that have resulted in the glories of Western Civilization without acknowledging the blessings of God.

The Supreme Court does appear to be considering the ramifications of a gay marriage decision in setting a precedent for other combinations such as two couples marrying or polygamy. The not-politically-correct scientific evidence showing that children do best when they have a mother and a father was reluctantly considered by the Court. They also briefly discussed the implications for religious freedom which used to be an important constitutional issue. So the decision could go either way except for the fact that courts in general have ruled in favor of gay marriage even when this was clearly contrary to the will of the people. The ruling elite always know better than those being subjected to their uninspired whims.

While we will probably not know about the Supreme Court's decision until July, it is likely they will make a historic decision that gay marriage should be the law of the land. Progressive humanists love to make history by their decrees which is one of the characteristics of the Antichrist: "he will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws" (Daniel 7:25). There are many other indications that we are very close to the Lord's return so this Supreme Court decision will probably be consistent with the current pattern of growth in the spirit of Antichrist as God removes His restraint of evil.

So what will it mean when the Supreme Court blesses gay marriage? Multiple Christian leaders are on record declaring that they will engage in civil disobedience by refusing to comply with the government mandate to perform homosexual wedding ceremonies. But when churches refuse to comply with the law of the land, the government will revoke their non-profit, tax exempt status and they will also be subject to civil lawsuits. Progressives who have already been targeting Christian businesses that provide services to weddings are no-doubt salivating over the opportunity to go after churches.

When gay marriage is the law of the land, it will not be long before the only churches left operating as we now know them will be those willing to compromise with the world by performing gay weddings. Many people will be surprised at the number of churches that will continue to operate as if nothing is different. But we are in the final, Laodicean phase of the Church Age which means the culture has successfully infiltrated the public church. Eventually, the true church in the United States will have to be underground as it is in China, the Middle East and many other places around the world.

The good news for Christians is that we don't have long to persevere in the growing North American persecution. New developments foreshadowing the return of Christ are occurring at a pace making them hard to keep up with; this should give us an urgency to get on with what God has called us to do, "understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11).