Saturday, March 12, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--Engraved Invitations

"Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel."
Zephaniah 1:7-8

Have you ever given a back-yard barbecue? Maybe you have hosted some sort of banquet or dinner party?  Then I am sure that you have noticed that there are two classes of people in relation to your meal.  There are those who are invited and then there are those who are not.  Would it be any different with the Lord?  Zephaniah houses much of his work in the context of a sacrifice feast.  Strange!

Nearly all of the commentaries and study helps referenced through the years make light of this allusion to a feast.  However, nearly all of them have God as inviting guests and then "sacrificing" them.  That doesn't seem too hospitable.  Possibly, there is another thought here.  The word for "hath bid", qadash, has the following meaning: to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate.  Again, many commentaries see God as sanctifying the world for a sacrifice.  If his guests are the sanctified offering who then is enjoying what the Lord has prepared?  It seems that there may be two groups involved in the LORD's sacrifice also--the invited and the uninvited.

Remember Zephaniah 2:3?  It was a part of the text that this whole series started on.  It says, "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger."  Surely those hidden in Christ are those who are separated (sanctified) for the dinner feast.   Maybe God is saying that there are those uninvited who feel they deserve a place at the table of the Lord?  Yet, God chose to invite the meek, humble, and righteous clothed in the imputed righteousness of YHWH Tsidkenue--the LORD our Righteousness.  

Let's get straight to the point.  Zephaniah seems to explain a sudden hiding--a rapture. Those hidden are separated from the world which is being prepared as the sacrifice.  While God's wrath is poured out His hidden ones are gathered together feasting in the presence of the LORD.  Their invitations to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb were given with engraved invitations.  They were engraved in the bloody, nail scarred hands of Jesus Christ.  Are you ready?  God's day of sacrifice is quickly approaching.

The signs of the Marriage Feast and a trumpet blast are all around us.  John McTernan (whose blog is linked to the right) pointed out many of the disasters we have recently faced.  These are news events that I have been following as well.  China is facing its worst drought in history with major crop loss. New Zealand just had a major city destroyed by a series of earthquakes since September. The Arab nations are spinning in chaos. Australia has had the worst flooding in its recorded history with huge crop loss. Gas prices are skyrocketing giving ominous warnings of a possible deepening economic crisis. Many Middle Eastern countries are on the verge of war. The streets of the US are in an uproar over unions. Russian fields are ablaze with thirty percent of their crops lost. Now Japan has been hit by a cataclysmic earthquake that threatens to destroy their economy that is in worse shape than ours. Finally, we have just entered a solar maximum period that some experts feel could devastate our electrical grid with one massive flare and ensuing solar wave. This has all has happened in the last few months. Are you looking up?

Earthquakes in Diverse Places
I mentioned that I was not going to post Thursday.  If you remember, I wrote on impending disaster as God tries to wake us up and get our attention.  This was one of several statements from that post made hours before the destruction of Japan, "I was not going to post today, but world news and God's prompting is leading me to share some thoughts about the nations of the world being judged......Truly the nations of the world have aligned themselves against the LORD and His Christ.  We will soon see many more judgments against the world as the rebellion intensifies." When I wrote that I did not know that the nation of Japan was to be hit with a historic and devastating earthquake just hours later.  

 Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet; shifted Earth's axis -

Rescuers scramble to save lives as aftershocks jolt Japan -

YouTube - Incredible HD Footage of Japan Tsunami

Explosion Occurs at Japanese Nuclear Plant While Quake, Tsunami Death Toll Rises -

Godlessness and Apostasy in the Last Days

Maryland Gay Marriage Bill Dies With No Final Vote -

Gay Male Secretary for the White House -

Megan Quinn: Visiting minister separates Jesus from Christ - Boulder Daily Camera

Hollywood's War On America Eurasia Review

Indiana Church Behind Provocative Sex Billboard -  How about a strong focus on winning the lost?  ???????

AFA Threatens Boycott if ABC Airs 'Good Christian B*tches', Christian News, The Christian Post

Israel and the Middle East

MK Danon to Netanyahu: Do Not Cede Land to Arabs - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Jean-Jacques Jihad - Andrew C. McCarthy - National Review Online

Syria Wants Libya's UNHRC seat

Sen. Graham Wants Intel Chief Gone After He Claims Russia, China Pose 'Mortal' Threat -

Netanyahu blames Palestinian incitement for Itamar attack

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--Globalization

The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
Zephaniah 3:15

I was not going to post today, but world news and God's prompting is leading me to share some thoughts about the nations of the world being judged.

Zephaniah's vision of the Day of the Lord tells of God sending strong judgment on all of the world.  "I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant" (3:6).  I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD."  (1:2-3)  The world is seen as joining together in rebellion against Him and God begins to send judgment after judgment in hopes of redeeming many.  Eventually, the judgments will turn to wrath as the wicked heart of man rebels against its Maker.  Therefore, we can look for more universal troubles as we await the coming of Christ for His bride.  

Why would such strong judgment be sent on all of the earth?  Could it be that we are seeing a previous scenario playing out as found elsewhere in scripture?  There is a definite move towards globalization.  Think of the recent news.  Here are a few articles to consider on the topic.  

In each of these articles, and many others like them, the world is seen joining together to solve a problem.  It may be starvation, war, oil, science, or any other topic, but there is a real trend in the popular secular news to view every crisis from the vantage point of a united world and not as independent sovereign nations.  We are subtly being sent the message that men need to unite worldwide to solve all of their ills.  In the process, God is left out.  Let me be more specific.  A god in general is not left out.  The God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who revealed redemption solely on the merit of the cross of Jesus Christ, He is the God being left out.  Without God, the world weighs in on every calamity.  It used to be that a country could fight a civil war and the world waited to see who came to power.  (Aren't you glad the world did not intervene in the rebellion against the British we call the Revolutionary War or mess with us during the American Civil War?)  Today, it becomes a world concern and coalitions are formed to solve the world's newest dilemma. 

As a result, the world is becoming increasingly hostile towards "stubborn Christians" who see Jesus as the only means of salvation.  Since the true believer sees himself/herself as a citizen of another Kingdom, they need to be ostracized.  Jesus said this would happen! Consider this article.  

On another post below there is a story about Christians being barred from being foster parents for their stance on homosexuality.  We also have seen believers in colleges who are being banned from law and psychology degrees for their faith. 

Israel also reminds a godless world of the God of the Bible.  Therefore, the world is turning against Israel and standing behind blood soaked, murderous terrorists.  God has not forgotten Israel, however.  He has promised that they will one day all receive their Messiah.  There will  be a revival in Israel and the name of Y'shua Mashiyach (Messiah Jesus transliterated in Hebrew) will be on the lips of all.  That is what the above text verse is referring to.  Jesus will come down!  This is the central message of the Bible--God comes down.  Jesus returns and the nations and peoples who proudly joined in rebellion against Him will be crushed.  

Here is the first Biblical shadow of what will soon happen found in Genesis:
  Genesis 11:1-9  A Sovereign God
a.  Introduction-all the earth has one language(11:1) Men United against God
     b.  People settle in Shinar (11:2)
          c.  Resolution of the people  (11:3-4)  “come let us”
               d.  Center :  God comes down  (11:5)
          c.  Resolution of God (11:6-7)  “come let us”
     b.  People dispersed from Shinar  (11:8)
a.  Conclusion:  All of the earth now has many languages (11:9) We are the reverse of this pattern in a way.  Men are starting with many languages.  Zephaniah saw all the nations with one language again and unified under Christ's rule.  (Zephaniah 3:9 "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent."

Truly the nations of the world have aligned themselves against the LORD and His Christ.  We will soon see many more judgments against the world as the rebellion intensifies.  What they do not realize is that the are following the strategic plans of the god of this world--Satan.  Don't worry dear Christian!  He is a loser and he can't even harm you without begging your LORD for permission to test you.  Remember, OUR GOD REIGNS!

Those who choose to follow the world: however, are in for the judgments that a Holy God will send.  As they align themselves against God's final prophetic plans for Israel or rail against his Blessed Church, they are going to face catastrophe after catastrophe until they fulfill Zephaniah 1:2-3!   Jesus will shield Israel and take away their reproach.  God will also protect His church and soon call His ambassadors home as He declares all out war on an errant world. We will talk about the recall of the ambassadors and the feast they share in His presence another day.  God Bless!

Israel and the Middle East

US split on if Islam is more violent than other religions  When your head is split open maybe you won't be split in your assessment of this "religion of peace".    Islam: Making a True Difference in the World - One Body at a Time

U.S. official: Iran moving to brink of nuclear weapons capability - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News  The LORD will not allow nukes there.  He will act mightily to prevent this!

Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars/Earthquakes in Diverse Places

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--The Deceitfulness of Riches

"Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly." 
Zephaniah 1:13-14

Quite by chance I found a small book on the bookshelf in my office that I had never read before about a week ago.  I am not even sure where the book came from to be honest.  It was a little prayer book published in 1955 called Teenagers Pray*.  When I found it, I opened and read a  paragraph from the first page and put it down.  (I have never been much for these type of books filled with scripted prayers.)  This morning I passed by that book, picked it up again, and read one of the prayers entitled "For A Thankful Heart".  A part of the first paragraph--one entire sentence--said, "Dear Father in heaven, every time I open my eyes I see the things that you have given me--home and clothes, friends and school, a free country, luxuries from science and industry..."  It was thought provoking and I did find myself blessing the Lord for all He has done for me.  Yet, the "luxuries" statement, while true, also caused me to begin a cautious prayer for protection.  "Lord keep me from any snare that this world has to offer.  While your blessings are many, let me not be so captivated by the gifts of your gracious hand that I forget to seek the greater blessing of seeing your face in a personal relationship." 

Zephaniah addresses many things in this short letter.  In chapter one he addresses business leaders, political leaders, and religious leaders.  Chapter 1:10-13 was geared towards the business sector.  It appears that he spoke of the fish gate since it was to the north of Jerusalem.  It is feasible that he is mentioning this area because a future invasion on the city would likely come from the north.  However, this was also a market district.  So were the other areas mentioned.  Verse 11 agrees with this assessment, "Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off."  He may very well be pointing to an economic collapse near the coming of the Lord's Day.  It makes sense.  Were it true and a political leader joined the world together to combat poverty and stabilize the new one world government.....I think you know where this is going.  The anti-Christ may very well rise to power on the heels of such an event.    

Jesus addressed a church that said, "...I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17)  This church (Laodicea--which means the peoples justice or the peoples church) was so captivated by their wealth that they assumed temporal resources were a sign of divine blessing, sanction, and authority.  Jesus, who is longing to get in to this godless organization bearing His name, is seen outside knocking on the door.  The Faithful and True witness then says that He will spit them out for their worldliness.  

Do you know that it is estimated that the church just in America spent 500 billion dollars in the last fifteen years on buildings and programs?  How many were saved with such a great expenditure?  The church has flat lined and it is actually losing members.  Several denominations which were once filled with evangelistic fire could be out of existence in a decade without renewal. Yet, they have vast holdings of land and possessions.  In countries where prayer is their main source of power, the church is blossoming.  Such is the vanity and deception of wealth.  What we need is to let Jesus in.  He needs to be the Lord of the church.  The Holy Ghost needs to baptize us afresh with power to be a witness.  God must be God!  If all we seek Him for each Sunday is His blessings, who is being served?  If all we are doing is shouting His praises in a half hearted, placating attempt to get Him to pour more of this world on us--who is being served?      

Could God be warning the church that there might come some sort of economic collapse that will dislodge our faith in the things of a decaying world that are fleeting at best and focus us on eternal purposes?  Could God allow us to see that His power and witness are the greatest blessings?  Would He send an economic tsunami so that we focus on the mission of winning the lost without the might and power of this world but by the power of His Holy Spirit?  The message of Zephaniah is clear.  God would strip anything from Judah that they attached their affections to.  He was sending judgement with mercy and redemption attached.  He is trying to get them--and maybe His modern church too, soon--to see the He is all we really need. 

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. 
Zephaniah 1:18

*William Kramer, Editor;  Teenagers Pray
St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House
1955  Page 4

An Economic Tsunami

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--Trouble for Syria

"God's messenger!  Lord, you must be kidding!  Is this some sort of divine joke?  Who wants to preach forgiveness to an enemy that has been a thorn in your side your entire life?  Who wants to preach a message of repentance to a nation that is filled with wickedness?  Revival!  Revival? 'I want to see them destroyed'", thought Jonah.  It was somewhere between 785 to 770 BC and the prophet is being sent as an ambassador of reconciliation to a nation that Jonah wishes to see destroyed.  He is being sent to call the chief city of Nineveh to repent and turn to YHWH.  He runs.  He pouts.  He questions.  After some "fishy" circumstances he finally obeys and preaches one of history's greatest revivals while throwing a hissy fit the whole time.

Two other prophets around 150 years later get the assignment that Jonah longed for.  He wished to pronounce judgement, but God extended mercy and spared the nation of Assyria for another 150 years or so.  Nahum and Zephaniah portent what Jonah only wished he could speak.  Zephaniah says, "And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness (2:13)."  Nahum seems to remind us that the Lord always seeks repentance before He sends justice.  The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet (1:3).  The time of mercy has passed for Nineveh and Assyria. Now justice must come.  "She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth...(2:10a).

Zephaniah prophesied of this devastation some two decades before Nineveh's demise and Nahum delivered his message up to fifty years before.  Their prophecies were fulfilled with utterly amazing accuracy as you would expect coming from the LORD who knows all!  In 612 BC Nineveh was totally destroyed and left abandoned just as God had said.  Nineveh was left a barren waste covered with desert sand and forgotten until it was rediscovered in the mid 1800s.  Other than being a great archaeological site, it is still empty.  Yet, a nation bearing the name of Syria is located in the same region as ancient Assyria and there are still some prophecies related to this land that have yet to be fulfilled.  God is never wrong and Zephaniah seems to point again to another dual fulfillment.  

Notice that Damascus is a part of this map of the Assyrian Empire.  Damascus is currently the capital city of the contemporary nation of Syria as the map below shows.

Zephaniah is one of many books that seem to point to a total destruction of this land at some point just before or at the beginning of the Tribulation.  An article below speaks of another text dealing with this region that has yet to find a total fulfillment.  "The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.  The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts"  (Isaiah 17:1-3).  

Present day Syria is also mentioned as part of a confederation of nations that are consumed by the Lord.  This prophecy from Psalm 83 is also yet to be fulfilled.  This coalition has the goal of destroying Israel forever.  "They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance" (Psalm 83:4).  "Assur {The land of Assyria named for Shem's second son, Asshur} also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah" (Psalm 83:8)  Listen to what Zechariah says of this land near the time of that latter rain, "And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away"  (Zechariah 10:11)

Things are not looking too good for Assyria--present day Syria!  Egypt is not looking much better.  Egypt is also listed in Psalm 83 as the Hagarenes--descendants of Hagar.  Since we see this entire region in turmoil, it might be wise to keep an ear ready for a shout from above.  Prepare yourselves!  Truly, the Day of the Lord is near.

The Nations of Psalm 83

I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.
Zephaniah 3:6

Israel and the Middle East

Wow!  I could not have asked for better timing for this news article.  Syrian Pilots Flying Libyan Warplanes, Rebels Charge - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News ***

End Time Technology

Alien Life in Meteorites: 'Remarkable Achievement' or 'Garbage'? -  I do not have much space to comment here.  The scientific community is desperately trying to find life in space to bolster the ailing theory of evolution.  They know that there has not been enough on earth to spontaneously generate life for sometime so they are looking for life elsewhere in hopes of providing the prop to hold up this lie.  The man that claimed to find micro fossils has made this same unsubstantiated claim before.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Get Your Thoughts In Order--Confusion in the Camp

What is one of the main signs that the coming of the Lord is soon?  It is very clear that moral confusion, sin, and deception will be at an all time high just before the return of the Lord.  This idea is also very clear in Zephaniah's description of the time just before the Day of the Lord.  It is also clear throughout all of the Bible!  "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:11).  "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come"  (2 Timothy 3:1).  "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4).  

Manasseh was a godless, wicked king.  He took Judah to terrible depths in the practice of idolatry.  He was so wicked that he had the prophet Isaiah killed. His blending of pagan religion with Judaism left the nation with terrible moral confusion.  By the time of the rule of his grandson, Josiah, and the ministry of Zephaniah, the truth had been so mixed with error that only those rightly discerning could separate the truth from the error.  Zephaniah's description of Judah during this time (probably between 635 to 630 BC) is similar to the type of chaos that exists in our day!  It is another clear sign that the Tribulation is very near and even at the door.  If we are going to become effective for Christ we will have to wade through the error, hear God's truth, pray for wisdom and insight, and get our thoughts in order--God's order.  

The prophet reveals to us that their insight had degenerated to the place that the holy nature of God was misunderstood by the majority of Judah.  Not only did they have a wrong view of God, but they also felt that God loved them so much he would not judge sin.  Does this sound familiar?  With attitudes like this, those who are God's voice for truth often are seen as judgmental prudes who are filled with hate. Look at what Zephaniah says in 1:12.  God is searching for those who, "say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil."  In other words, they thought that nothing they could do could diminish His care for them.  He would do no harm nor rebuke them for their lifestyle.   

Who is doing the searching? God!  He is looking for those who have created a fanciful god likened after their own thoughts and those who do not understand the true nature of God as revealed in scripture.  Like those Israelites who crafted the golden calf and called it YHWH and Elohim, these contemporary Israelites have crafted a Jesus that is not found in the scriptures. Those God finds, however, changing His nature are marked for judgment.  You don't do this sort of searching among those who do not claim to have a relationship with God but among those who do claim to know Him.  We know the truth.  We know that God did what he said He would do.  He judged their sin at the hands of Babylon.  What makes us think that God will not judge sin in the same way today?

We live in an age where men and women tailor make their religion.  God is who or what they think he/"she" is or what they feel he/"she" ought to be (many are now saying that god could be a female--gender inclusive).  My friend, you cannot change the unchangeable God and make him to be anything contrary to what He is.  To do so is to invite a dose of His wrath upon yourself.  Since even in judgment God thinks of redemption, He will judge you with a type of love you may not even understand. God is God and He changes not.  Yes, this is a day of grace but heed Paul's words, "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid"  (Romans 6:15).    He is love, but He is also holy and just.  He will make every available opportunity for you to repent and return, but He will not change who He is and what He is about for any no matter how much He loves you! 

I wanted to tell of the different types of pagan ideas that Judah blended into their daily life.  It reads like a modern day expose' of the same issues we face.  From child sacrifice (abortion) to prostituting themselves to fertility gods (adultery, pornography, and sexual sin in the church) Israel was so mixed up that God had to act.  I guess we will have to save that and look at the other nations who are about to be destroyed another day.  In closing, If God acted to correct sin in Judah then, will He not correct sin in His church in this day of grace?  

"And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things...Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out." (Acts 5:5&9)  Oops!  Sorry!  I could not resist answering that question.  

Moral Confusion--Good is Evil and Evil is Good

Bishops Urge Homosexuals Not to be Afraid | Vox Bikol

Church members protest Planned Parenthood funding

Support for ordaining gays grows among Presbyterian governing bodies | The Courier-Journal |

'Despicable': website blames Christchurch quake on gay community

Irish Holy Well, pagan origins - christian cures.... | IrishCentral

Judge Forces Hysterectomy on God-Loving Woman | The Stir

State Supreme Court halts surgery to allow appeal in hysterectomy ruling

TNIV Bible Braves Gender-Inclusive World

Corrected: Catholic university hosts ‘queer week’ to promote equality of sexual ‘expressions’ |

Israel and the Middle East

Palestinian Leader: No State With Temporary Border -

Congressman: US must keep Muslim Brothers from Egypt gov't

Palin Says 'No!' on Cutting US Aid to Israel - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Gaza Protesters Demand PA Unity - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Egypt's New Foreign Minister Would Open Border with Gaza - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama: NATO considering military action in Libya