Oh, say, can you see

 

The Star Spangled Banner

In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem, Defense of Fort McHenry. The poem was later put to the tune of (John Stafford Smith’s song) The Anacreontic Song, modified somewhat, and retitled The Star Spangled Banner. Congress proclaimed The Star Spangled Banner the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.


Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

posted by Murphy James

666: the Mark of the Beast

What number is more intriguing than 666; 13? Perhaps, but for those who like miniJimmental puzzles 666 is one of the best and almost universally known. Standing in line at the check-out one time, the cashier handed me a receipt that totaled $6.66. She handed it to me and said, “Good luck today.” Yet, this is not a game. Neither is it a vain pursuit. The book of Revelation instructs us: “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast” (13:18).

Sadly, when it comes to wild ideas, it may be difficult to surpass the absurdities finagled into the public domain as are solutions to the enigma of 666. Popular ultra-modern views include concepts of a cashless society, the universal use of bar codes, the implantation of computer chips and biochips in each individual for identification and control, and the most recent “face imaging” via those hidden cameras throughout society. It is easy to see how the anti-Christ might control commerce, even private lives through technology. We have television sets that are voice activated and don’t ever totally shut off. They are capable of recognizing voices in the room or house.computerchip

At the other extreme, many commentaries on Revelation assert that it is useless, foolish, or even dangerous to attempt to discover a specific name with a fulfillment of 666. They treat 666 and most items in Revelation as if they were parables devoid of specific predictions with only historical significance. Many even write articles that are well worded and convincing to those who are not founded in bible study; that Revelation has already played out and we are now in some type of ozone territory.

It was no one less than the Holy Spirit, the real author of Revelation, who directed John to write: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (Rev. 13:18). We are instructed to “calculate” or “count,” as some translations translate it. We are dealing here with a mathematical computation. The Greek word means “count,” as illustrated in the only other text where it appears in the New Testament: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it”(Luke 14:28). This parable also has a spiritual application. It is talking about a man counting his money. This brings to mind the number of people who don’t count or budget what s/he has and then will have in disposable time, energy, or money before making a commitment or taking on a project. Seldom if ever do people when personal energies or ambition exceed what it will take to complete the race.kidcounting

Seldom does Revelation directly tell us to apply understanding to grasp the meaning of a particular symbol. It does not tell us to try to figure out who the lamb-like beast is. It does not tell us that if we have wisdom we can figure out the meaning of the third trumpet or many other symbolic representations. It only hints at the identities of the beasts from the sea and earth. However, when it mentions 666, it specifically tells us to calculate or count.
There is a view that Rev. 13:18 should not be translated “the number of a man,” but rather “the number of man” (without the indefinite article “a”). The reason given is that the indefinite article “a” is missing in the original. Of course, it is missing; Greek has no indefinite article. For this reason, one must examine the context to determine if the translation into English should include the indefinite article or not; “a” versus “he, she or it.” Better yet, use a proper name when identifying a person, place or thing. Revelation 13:18 says to calculate this name, but not everyone will be able to.

Some theologians and I use this term liberally, Give distant historical dates when this all happened. This leaves us in a bible void time today. If one thinks this all happened in the distant past, then where are we biblically referenced in the here and now?

The following tables are included so the reader of this blog can venture down this trail of “calculating the name” of this man. It has already been done dozens if not hundreds of times and to little absolute avail. In Bible times primary languages included Greek, Latin (in Rome) and Hebrew as concerns commerce and common communication. On the table to the right, find the equivalent numeric number for Greek letters and their number value. On the right find an example of doing this. Caution: English was NOT a primary language at this time when John wrote Revelation. English does not have a numeric equivalence.

 

greeknumber

latios

The above is but one example of the meaning and identity of 666; i.e. the Roman Catholic Church and its leadership. For those who are old enough to recall, the Catholic Church said mass in Latin for hundreds of years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to include all possibilities, we would need to include the Hebrew letter-to-number equivalence and include the use of Roman (Latin) numerals. We can only deduce that John means to use the Greek since Revelation and most of the New Testament was written in Greek. However, Revelation 13:18 is after the Rapture of the church so perhaps it is intended to be “calculated” in Hebrew… those chosen as God’s special people. Remember or know for the first time that a sign was posted over the cross of Jesus that said “He was the King of the Jews.” It was written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

Now What?

WashingtonThe zeal with which the Christians addressed the political atmosphere over the last year seems to have been unparalleled in past elections. Editorials and expressions of opinions, which were based on fact or fiction, were scattered throughout the populace. It was the hope of the expositors of personal belief that there would be a turning from confusion to a certainty of belief based upon their understanding of the Word of God. These agents of zeal should be commended for their efforts to try and stabilize this country of shifting moral and ethical standards.

The question is, was their motive one of self-interest or was it in the interest of the Body of Christ? Were they directed by God or was it a promotion of their agenda? How big a role did the Christian community play in the Presidential Election? Now that it is over, can the Body of Christ say in confidence that the reelection of our President was the will of God? Local churches throughout the land held prayer vigils to petition God to have the right man elected. Are we to assume that the prayers were heard and that the reelection of the President to another four years was the answer to the petitioning saints? If the Church believes the wrong man was elected, does that mean their prayers went unanswered?

To many Christians, there seems to be a glum and doom atmosphere; depression to some, and human prophesy of difficult days ahead by others. Some Believers are using carnal weapons of fiery darts to fly accusations toward the duly elected President. The pre-election zeal of Christians has become the post election standard of behavior. Instead of bringing healing to our land, the Believer continues to keep the wound of separation open.

Why are we surprised at the way this country is going? Are we so ignorant of Scripture that we fail to recognize the signs of the end of the age? The Church needs to recognize that we are in the last days and what is needed is not offensive behavior, but zeal to lead people to God through His Son Jesus Christ. If the Believer would spend as much energy on representing the Kingdom of God as he does in opposing political agendas, there might be enough Believers in this country to vote responsibly and thus give this land an extension of life expectancy.

Every Christian needs to understand that the powers that be are “ordained” of God. (Rom. 13:1) It is imperative we understand that God has everything under control. God loves this country [its people], but He will also chastise it. How He will do that is not to be a concern of ours. We are called to be a witness of His love, not a rod of judgment. We are called to be a peace maker, not a tool of division. We are not called to expose the obvious, but to present the hidden treasure of Jesus Christ. Abortion is wrong, new birth is right. Homosexuality is wrong, joined to Christ is right. Artificial highs are wrong, overdosed in Jesus is right.

Let this country hear that there is an answer to its problems. It is not by hearing what is wrong with it, but rather how right it can be when it returns to its Creator.

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

What’s In Your Church?

churchChurch services are meant to be about worship, ministry, instruction in the word, and the sacraments. They are not about foolish displays of human bravado and unnecessarily tempting or testing the Lord in experiences. How some who claim Christian standards can get their priorities so bent out of shape, wrong emphasis, and distraction of study is quite remarkable.

When the Apostle Paul was under guard and being transported to Rome to exercise his Roman citizen right of appeal to Caesar, he gathered wood for a camp fire. In this process he was bitten by a viper [Acts 28:1-6]. Even though he shook it off into the fire, those from the Malta population around him were startled that he did not dminiJimie. At first, in verse 4, they thought Paul “to be a murderer” and their superstitions considered the snake bite an omen and him a “dead man.”    However, he simply shakes the viper off into the fire and continues unaffected. The local natives who lived on the Island of Malta then thought him a god. Both of their assumptions were based upon weak knowledge, superstition, and past experience.

There is no later mention, message or proclamation by Paul that this is due to his faith and that this should now be a test of one’s belief in Jesus Christ. He did not seek to prove anything and had just saved his prison guards from a shipwreck. This happened while he was serving not seeking. As Bill Muehlenburg puts it, Paul was not “majoring in a minor principle” for living a life in Jesus.

The real danger in this passage is to think the successful practice of snake handling snake handlingis some form of proof of one’s faith. Some churches in the South do precisely this. Many good intending men (and women) have died, one might say, in his or her misunderstanding of a minor incident per scripture and attempting to major in it as a routine church-sanctioned practice; just like the Malta Islanders who witnessed this event by the campfire swung from one unproven expectation to another false conclusion. Miraculous yet minor incidents in scripture should never become major practices or theological planks.

This instance is only mentioned as one incident in the travels and life of Paul (Acts 16:18). It also may be based upon and incorrectly juxtaposing a supposition from Mark 16:18. Mark is the first New Testament book ever written. There is even strong theological thought that Mark 16:8 was actually the end of Mark’s passage in chapter 16. Mark 16: 9-20 seems out of place from the previous 8 verses since it is based upon a suddenly hurried shorthanded coverage of events. Some translations don’t even mention the verses in 16:9-18. The ESV, GNB, Wescott-Hort Greek New Testament, and the Lexham English Bible, to mention but a few, put these verses and passage in [brackets] to denote the possibility these were inserted by someone else at a later date. The Book of Mark is the ONLY synoptic gospel to record this account.

NOTE: Scripture is inerrant however, those who translate it can be in error. Some may even have an agenda for so doing. Study, Study, Study to show one’s self approved [2 Timothy 2:15]; begin with awareness, next step is to study for understanding, only then comes personal conviction of accept or reject what one was originally and only recently made aware. A jump from awareness or introduction to new information to conviction misses the critical step of study or understanding. Knowledge without understanding is very dangerous ground. Such is the original basis of ‘jumping to a conclusion.’

The reference in Mark 16:9-20, whether he actually wrote it, is often a situation of reading the text outside of its own context. In verse 14 we read that whomever, presumably Jesus, is addressing “the eleven and their unbelief” of it being Him who appeared to them. His statement per “the eleven” becomes what is ­­-called in grammar, an antecedent to the “believers” mentioned in verses 16 and 17. These men were not without fault. They were sitting at their tables not even remembering that Jesus promised his resurrection would be three days after his crucifixion. In verse 14 Jesus rebukes their unbelief. Yes, some of these guys were in unbelief. Then, in the following verses (16 and 17), talking to the same eleven and knowing the free will of man has not been removed, Jesus says “those who remain as unbelievers will not have this power that is mentioned in the following verses” (my paraphrase). But, those who with their free will decide to totally believe, to them will be given the powers to overcome the things mentioned in verses 17 and 18.

Once again to address a previous article about what some call grave-sucking. This was an Old Testament one-time occurrence that was NOT intended for anything but to fulfill a promise made to Elisha and to get this dead guy out of the way so the other Israelis could flee the scene. It was nothing other than an act of urgency. Just as with snake handling, and the rest of Mark 16: 17, 18 which is only discussed in the Book of Mark. The eleven were protected, but were not instructed to practice this to prove anything. There is real caution and danger of practicing “grave sucking” to supposedly absorb the spirit of the deceased. A person is opening one’s self up to be dwelt by a spirit or spirits. Who can control what type or kind of spirits may leverage this opportunity. As Christians we already have the indwelling of the most powerful Spirit; i.e. the Holy Spirit.

 Revelation 11 – Part 2 of the Two Witnesses

Watch For Wildlife. Large SUV in Front of a Deer in Deep Forest at Night. Road Danger at Night. Deer Crossing. Wildlife Photo Collection.

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 have as much identity speculation as does a deer that might dash across the road in front of someone’s car during the time of the year when bucks have lost their horns. We can speculate on size, possible weight of that particular deer, shade or color of its coat, how it loped across the street, or whether a couple of deer crossed prior to this particular deer as the buck tends to lead from behind. Whatever is one’s guess, we really don’t know the make and model of the daring deer that challenges the front end of one’s car, SUV, or truck.

The same is true as to the identities of the two witnesses who proclaim Christ in Jerusalem for 1260 days; up to the point where the beast from the abyss declares war on them. They are slain and their bodies remain in the heat of the Middle East sun for 3 ½ days as a witness to the power of the anti-Christ or the beast. We might insert here that this is during the Tribulation Period and most likely during the first half of this 7 year period of time. WHY? This is when the beast from the abyss makes his power insertion and entrance to the world scene declaring him-self to be god. It is an interesting puzzle to sequence and fit each event such as:

  1. The arrival of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse;
  2. The revealing of the man of evil;
  3. The false prophet;
  4. The false and acceptable one world church (council of Popes perhaps;
  5. The opening of the 7 Seals;
  6. The 7 trumpets and their messages;
  7. The 7 vials or bowls of plagues poured out on those who…
  8. …take the Mark of the Beast (when does this happed?);
  9. The church? Is it here or raptured?
  • The 2,000,000 man army that moves against Jerusalem;
  • The rebuilt Temple of Judaism;
  • The agreement of peace between the anti-Christ and Israel;
  • The return to Israel of the Lost ten Tribes (pending, already happened or a spiritualized symbolic event)
  • The beast that rises out of the sea with heads and horns… is this spiritualized? A combination of global or European uniting of nations?
  1. Existence of a one world government?
  • What about the question as to when the King of the North and the King of the South wage wars against each other? Who are they and when does this happened? What about the “rumor” of forces coming from the North and East?
  • Is Armageddon [Har Megeddo] the battle ground or simply a staging place for the massive armies preparing to attack Jerusalem?
  • Why might these forces from the south, north, and east unite? Against whom?

Beautiful view of Jerusalem city, Israel

It is easy to understand the confusion when these and many more mentioned factors such as the drying up of the Euphrates River, the armies from the East and the North need to FIT into this same period of *time. However, one may think it is beyond human minds to conceive of these this occurring within a 7 year period of time plus the return of Jesus Christ at the sounding of the 7th trumpet, Mount of Olives splitting north and south along recently discovered fault line that runs through the center of it. [I wonder if John of Revelation was also a gifted seismologist or if he simply wrote what the angel told him]?

*Daniel, Jude, Revelation, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi only to mention a few books of the Bible that address the above issues of End Time.

These questions and other Tribulation issues will all be answered during this series on End Time, but drinking from a fire hose is very difficult. Therefore we will reduce the water flow and sip at each item pulling them together as best as scripture will allow. This approach is the Learning Curve; i.e. awareness first, beginnings of understanding, comprehension of the puzzle pieces that match, building the framework around the entire puzzle first, the desiring to fill in the spaces with pieces that logically fit together.

The Two witnesses:

Some denominations and seminarians want to think it is not limited to two key prophets/witnesses. This is clearly mistaken as scripture identifies the masculine terms of “they, them and these.” They are men… there are two of them.

Many speculate that the identity of one of the witnesses is Elijah. Malachi 4:5 tells us… “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. The obvious question from this verse is what or when will be the “great and awesome day of the Lord?” This great and awesome day of the Lord piece of the puzzle fits well with the 7th trumpet. We can consider Joel 2:31, Leviticus 23:36-37, Revelation 11 and Jeremiah 16:14-16 just to mention a few passages pointing to this same event. What is that event? When Christ sets foot on the Mt. of Olives, it splits along natural east-west fault lines pushing massive mountains north and south [Zachariah 14:4]. This is when Christ and heavenly hosts declare earth as now his kingdom. This will stir up the leaders of other nations. They will put aside their warring differences and attempt to attack this “self-declaring king” in Jerusalem; i.e. Jesus Christ.

However, this does not explain the BEFORE in the great and awesome day of the Lord.” Since it is the slaying of these witnesses that reveals and establishes the evil one (dragon/beast) as a power who sets up his throne in the Jerusalem Temple, we are most likely looking at the termination of the two witnesses at the end of the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation and the beginning fo what the bible identifies as Jacob’s troubles; Matthew 24:15-22.

But, what about the identity of the two Tribulation Witnesses? The answer is similar to the deer that darts in front of our speeding car in the spring. It has no antlers so we can’t be sure. The Children of Israel were led out of 400 years of semi-captivity in Egypt. They were established in Goshen by the son of Jacob… Joseph. This is *lower Egypt along the forks in the Nile River that feed into the Mediterranean Sea. This second return to Jerusalem (Israel; Zion) is another exodus from where they were scattered then migrated back in the 700’s and 600’s B.C. by the Assyrians, Babylonian’s, Medes and Persians.

*Over the history of Egypt there were often an upper and lower Egypt ruled by two different Pharaohs. When united they were ruled by one Pharaoh.

Some religious sects identify these two witnesses as the 144,000 witnesses described earlier in Revelation {Revelation 7 & 14). Others try to persuade the bible student it is Elijah’s spirit in John the Baptist that returns to earth. Let’s think this through a bit more logically.

There are two men who never died according to scripture: Elijah who was taken up in a fiery chariot [II Kings 2:11] and Enoch [Genesis 5:22 & 24] who walked with the Lord and was no more.

Now turn to Hebrews 9:27. Some theologians try hard to convince themselves that this is not applicable to these two witnesses. They try to drive a wedge between Hebrews 9:27 and the two witnesses who are finally slain by the evil beast from the abyss. Why complicate understanding? Just as the judgement days, the pouring out of the vials, the blowing of the trumpets, and the Millennial Reign of Christ is fact. Why not consider the puzzle piece here as the two men of God who had never died. We actually don’t know for certain, but the pieces of our Tribulation time and two witnesses puzzle fits together nicely.

In all fairness we should acknowledge Luke 1:17 where it points out that John the Baptist will come in the spirit of Elijah. This timing is after the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist was a forerunner and contemporary of Christ. This being said, a good bible student must allow for this possibility when we add Matthew 11:11a to this mix of guesses and speculate.

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.

Then, it is just as possible that the two witnesses are or will be men of that day; known to the social media during this time of the Tribulation. We don’t know so anyone’s conclusion even if supposedly supported by scripture is still debatable. What is important is one’s personal relationship to Jesus Christ. Avoid the Tribulation period altogether and be a part of the Rapture.

Dr. jStark

Will History Repeat Itself?

It first ended in France. Might history repeat itself?

Sometime around 622 c.a. a political and fervent religious influence in the Middle East was spawned. It founder’s ideas were rejected by his home town. He moved then eventually brought his dedicated followers back to his home town; on horses and armed. Many battles ensued until he established himself as a regional leader and spiritual prognosticator. He dies shortly after conquering his former home town.

His successor is his father-in-law. Even though he leads this movement for only two years, his footprint in the sand is established by incredible military victories in The Battles of Uhud, Trench, Khaybar, Hunyan and Tubak. Wikipedia: “Though the period of his (conquests) was not long, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time….”

This political, military and religious establishment conquers the Middle East and northern Africa. Assassinations and the sword spread their influence out of Medina with Damascus, Syria then Baghdad eventually becoming its power center.

This political, military and religious force eventually marched on Europe. They would have marched clear through Europe had it not been for King Charles Martel of France. Historian-author Henri Pirene noted, “In less than 200 years (from its birth in Mecca) the Mediterranean was completely in the hands of Islam and its northern coast was what was left of the Roman Empire, ….” Eventually Turkey (Ottoman Empire) dominated Islam.

Battle : Christians vs. Arabians - 8th century

In the 8th century, Charles Martel of France stopped the 1st Islamist invasions of Europe. In 1683 the great Polish warrior, King Jonas (Jan) Sobieski, broke the siege of Vienna marking the end of the 2nd Islamic invasions of Europe. In view of current news from France, will it begin again with the French? Will there be a third invasion or has it already begun?

jStark3

 

Christianity: One’s Reality or Actuality

This is a tough article (blog) to write. It isn’t that I don’t know the answer to my own question, but that theory itself has been so entrenched with partial truth that “the truth, WHOLE TRUTH and nothing other than the truth” has been diluted to one’s reality and politically correct actuality. I fear many will someday stand before a judge and claim to have lived a politically correct social life, but by whose definition are they calling politically correct?

Perception Vs Reality Fact Fiction Proving Truth Versus MythThe hot topic today, but not the purpose of this blog is the bible and homosexuality. A reader recently wrote to me: “I threw out my bible.” I asked why? He stated, “It is full of lies and it doesn’t fit [my] reality.” Wow! Does he even have a clue? Reality is one’s perception; not necessarily actuality. There was a time when then modern science claimed the world was flat. That was their reality until some guy proved actuality… it is round. Let’s leave this paragraph with Adam and Eve (actuality); not Adam and Steve (perceived and preferred reality). You go figure.

The question is, “what is Christianity?” This is such a loosely used word it defies definition and is seen as religions that have multiple versions or guises of being Christian. Giving a single definition to or trying to lump one’s perception of what Christianity is into a finite statement is impossible; that is, as far as the world goes.

Let’s go back to some very basic precepts. In Islam there are two primary documents that define Islam and a Muslim’s way of life; the Koran (Quran) and the Hadith. The first is their written word of rules for life. The second is, as define by Wikipedia, “the collections of the reports purporting to quote what the Islamic prophet Muhammad said [and did in life] verbatim on any matter.” (emphasis mine)

Islam Explained in Layman’s Term

Here is a perspective by Dr. Peter Hammond, a former Muslim. Dr Hammond’s doctorate is in Theology.  He was born in Cape Town in 1960, grew up in Rhodesia and converted to Christianity in 1977.  Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam:  The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat:  Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life. Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

The synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Holy Word of God (bible) are somewhat similar to what a Muslim calls the Hadith. The Gospels show and record what Jesus did while on earth and what he said. The difference is that the Gospels were written over 600 years before Mohammad was even born. This makes the bible actuality and Islam someone’s new reality; just a perception of what is the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth. True Christianity, per living a life patterned after Jesus in the Gospels is the same thing… a way of life; not a religion or a cult. Anything less than a way of life is one’s preferred definition of a religion s/he wants to call Christianity.

This is why and where some confusion and modern day deception of end time comes in. The first Seal [beginning of End Time or end of time as we now understand it, described in Revelation is “a great deception” of mankind. If the world is allowed to (re) define what Christianity is or for all that matters, what so-called Christian religion is supposed to be is to ignore what Christ said and did as recorded in the Gospels. To ignore what Christ DID in life and what He taught is not an alternative option to actuality, but a position against Christ’s teachings. We are to live a life patterned after that of Christ. Islam claims that Muslims are to do the same thing but pattern it after Mohammed. That being true, he was as much a military man as a preacher of death to infidels (i.e. America in modern day terminology; anyone who is not a Muslim).

Many religions that identify, as often the world tries to re-identify as so-called Christian, (a very generic term in modern days) are anything but. True Christianity is a way of life, not a religion of on-again and off-again practice usually reserved for and limited to any given Sunday and being politically correct according to the rules of man. TV shows, as is in the news reports today are on the increase trying to point out the evils or misguided practices of “Christian churches and ministers; the extremist or inferred lunatic.” To the casual observer, this puts a brand on the Christian that is not actuality; it is their reality though. I taught a marketing principle in my college marketing classes that one’s perception is their reality even when that is not the facts of actuality. Therefore in the mind of someone with limited information, s/he takes it as actuality.” How wrong but s/he will then make a broad judgment based upon partial truth.

Bottom line: Is Christianity one’s perception of reality or one’s actuality in living? One’s answer to this is also the answer to his or her life in Christ and the promised eternity with God and Jesus Christ.

PS; Muslims practice their beliefs 7-days a week. This is precisely why they cannot and never will assimilate to any other way of living even at the cost of his or her life. It is their reality AND their actuality. The world and most religions simply don’t understand this. It is a way of, not an exception to one’s way of life. This is not negotiable. Neither is God’s actuality.

jStark3

Revelation Study

A studyRevelation Study: Chapter 4jStark3

Link to additional PowerPoint Notes                               Revelation 4 & beyond

Chapter 1 of Revelation is about the past; chapters 2 and 3 are about the present. (John’s Day) From Revelation chapter 4 through 22 it is all about the future; the Tribulation and the 2nd advent of Christ. Recall that the seven churches in chapter 2 and 3 are Messianic churches of John’s time. The guidance offered in each letter also is for one wanting to live a Christ-like life; one that is approved of God.

We have completed our in-depth study of the seven churches, now we see the door of heaven opened (4:1). Some believe and I can appreciate their view that this verse is also a parallel to the Rapture. If this is so, we will see or live through chapters 1 to 4:1 then taken up to meet Jesus in the clouds in the rapture.

When a Christian dies, his or her soul and spirit goes to be with Christ, that is, in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8; also see Revelation 21:3-4). Our body remains in the grave until the resurrection of those who died in Christ (rapture). Later, those who die(d) without Christ will stand judgment at the Great White Throne after the Millennial Reign of Jesus in Jerusalem. For the Christian, judgment is at the end of the Church/gentile age, just before the Tribulation… the *Bema Seat Judgment of rewards. This is one reason I suggest locating events like the Rapture at this spot in the book of Revelation (4:1-2). There are at least 4 or 5 reasons for identifying it here.

*Bema Seat Judgment is often referred to as Christ’s Judgment Seat of Christians. This is the judgment of “the good and the bad done in the body”. This includes our promised rewards (II Thessalonians 2:19-20; Revelation 22:12; II Corinthians 5:9-10)

  1. The location or timing of this event as recorded in Revelation 4 is right for the Rapture. Chapters 4 & 5 present a vision in Heaven. Chapter 6 introduces the Tribulation period. John, the last of the 12 disciple of Jesus who was still alive, is a fitting symbol of the Church being taken out of the world just before the Tribulation begins. “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth“. (Rev. 3 v.10)
  2. The absence of any mention of the Church in the rest of Revelation indicates that it is no longer on earth during the Tribulation. There are 16 references to the Church in Rev. 1-3, whereas chapters 6-18, which cover the Tribulation, do not mention the Church once. Chapters 4 and perhaps 5 are departure chapters.
  3. The extensive use of *Old Testament language and symbols in Chapters 4-18 is an indication of Israel issues, not Church concerns or issues. This is understandable since the Church Age is the time of the Gentiles and that ends with the rapture. The Great Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble also called the seventieth week of Daniel. Our Daniel bible study pointed this out. End Time is reserved by God for His final dealings with Israel. Some of these Old Testament symbols found in Revelation include the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, elders, censers, cherubim, seals, trumpets, and *plagues. *just as it was so of Israel in Egypt prior to their exodus from bondage and headed to their Promised Land so it will be at the rapture when Christians are taken to their Promised Land… Heaven.
  4. There is similarity between the events of Revelation 4 v.1-2 and other scriptural teaching on the Rapture, such as 1 Thess. 4 v.13-18.
  5. Perhaps another connection with the rapture is the fact that there are similarities with it and John’s many identities: A son of Thunder (God’s wrath poured out), John the beloved of Christ (as is His Church), and John was a part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples plus, his name in Greek means “Jehovah is gracious.” So will Jesus be gracious by the rapture of His church BEFORE the Great Tribulation.

* JIV, the church age ends in chapter 3 with the messages to the 7 churches. It is now all Jewish (ick) history yet to happen.

None of the above reasons is sufficient in and of their individual selves to suggest that Revelation 4 v.1-2 refers to the Rapture of the Church. When, however, all of them are considered together, I am inclined to believe that this inference is possible if not probable. The Rapture of the Church is not explicitly taught in Rev. 4 but definitely appears logically and chronologically correct being at the end of the Church Age and before the Tribulation.

The 7 churches were ALL Messianic-Christians; established by former Judaism followers via Paul and Peter. From chapter 4 forward, the intent of Revelation is to explain and inform God’s chosen of the Tribulation i.e. Jesus revealed. It is not far-fetched to accept that this is a Rapture passage for the church then comes a time when the Israelites will finally recognize their messiah.

John is the seer and is writing about future events even in his day. What better way to allude to the Rapture at this specific time, particularly since it is located right after the description of the Church Age and just prior to the revelation of the Antichrist. Remember that John is called to heaven to witness these things, just as the church rapture will call believers to heaven and ‘perhaps’ witness these things yet to come.

I find it both comforting and definitive doctrine when I read Matthew 24:31 that the Book of Revelation is in reference to the reunited Nation of Israel and not the church: And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect (Eklektos: by implication; his favorite, chosen, elect; Israel) from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (ESV). This may be the very same trumpet blast that calls Christians home to Heaven; rapture. Israelis will gather in Israel so that prophecy can be fulfilled when the nations of the world align themselves against *Jerusalem (*symbolic name for Israel and Israelis). To be fair, this verse could also mean the Christians from the four corners of the earth. I question this conclusion though because we are called to meet Christ in the clouds at the twinkling of an eye. No call goes out… just a meeting in the sky. (1 Thessalonians 4:16 & 17. Also see 1 Corinthians 15:52)

JIV: 4:17b states, “…and so ‘we will be with the Lord forever.’” If the Lord here is referring to Jesus Christ, this highly suggests we will return to earth with Him during His 1,000 year reign. We will be WITH HIM forever!

Also, look again at the opening words in verse 17. “After that, we who are still alive AND LEFT….” This specifically identifies those Christians who are left; i.e. those in Christ, not the entire world’s population. If it only read, “those who are still alive” it becomes a universal rapture of everyone. This just isn’t true. The Great White Throne judgment is their destiny.

On a third JIV (Jim’s Introspective View) note, the use of the word “behold” in Revelation 4:1 is an imperative. As a noun it would mean an essential or urgent thing. As an adjective it would be vitally important; crucial. This means Revelation 4:1 is a crucial turning point in what John sees. The Rapture???? The Tribulation!!!!! This is not a ‘behold’ that simply means to observe or look.

Might it also be feasible that the words “come up here for I have things to show you that are yet and must happen” will be true of the immediate 7 years after the rapture, things that are yet and must happen? Will we be able to see the rest of Revelation played out prior to the millennial reign but from the safety of heaven? This is something to think about, right? Don’t be too quick to conclude.

In Revelation 4:2 we read “in the spirit”. In the Greek this is πνεῦμα/pneuma. At first glance one might assume in the spirit means ‘apart from the body’. However, pneuma can also mean a mental disposition; a current of air. ONLY figuratively it means a spirit as one might conclude at first glance.

In Revelation 4:3 we once again see support for the Israel specificity of this book. It can easily be missed. John describes, in part, 4:3a “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone…”

 

Look at the two stones; jasper and sardine. What is their significance? They are the first and last stones in the breastplate of the High Priest. Why they are listed in reverse order, jasper (last stone) then sardine/odem/ruby (first stone), I do not quite grasp. Its significance may have something to do with ‘the last will be first and the first last’ (Matthew 19:30; 20:16). It may have something to do with reading Hebrew right to left. PS: Odem is also identified as sardine or ruby. Each name identifies the same stone. Also, Reuben (Sardine stone) was the first born and Benjamin (Jasper stone) the last born. Another symbolism: God is the alpha and the omega. Possibly in that the jasper is the last stone, this is significant in that this is also “the last straw” in God’s timetable for His created earth. The End of Time is then upon us? Remember that “time” itself is a creation of God (Trinity) back in Genesis 1:4.
breastplate stones

 

Read right to left, top to bottom:
Reuben or the sardine stone is 1st. Benjamin or the jasper stone is listed last.

 

 

It would be easy to get lost in discussing the meanings of the different parts of the High Priest’s garb, but I will fight the temptation and stay in Revelation… (for now:).

Per the rainbow identified in Rev 4:3 we should be reminded of the covenants between God and Israel (his elect and chosen people; O.T.) and the Church (New Testament time of the gentile). After the deluge of Genesis 6-9, God made a covenant with ALL MANKIND; the rainbow covenant/promise. We find God beneath the rainbow council of elders John sees is seated in a semi-circle around the Great Throne in Heaven.

I hasten to take us back to the study of Bible Codes in a previous study and the meaning of each name within the Tribes of Israel; Reuben to Benjamin in birth order:

J.I.V. Reuben: Behold, a son will be born; He will love me but he will be unloved. Simeon: He has looked upon my affliction; He has seen my sin. Listen and obey him. Levi: Be joined together; share the Word of God over a great distance. Judah: Give praise to Yhwh, give thanks and confess sin [or] Dan: be judged of God. Naphtali: To struggle within [brings] self-inflicted wounds. Be swift. Gad: As a troop HE will come and prevail. Asher: [Be] blessed, happy in your good fortune. Dan: Be discerning in judgment, Issachar: There is a reward from God; Zebulon: a gift (zebed) or position of honor from God; (yizbeleni), redemption. [You will] Be paid your wage, be exalted. Your sins will be forgotten; Joseph’s two sons… Manasseh: forgetting the past; Ephraim: double will be your fruitfulness in this land of affliction; Benjamin: you will be on the right side of the Most High.

WOW! How much more direct need God be in His Holy Word and the direction he gave to His chosen people (and the church) via their very names put together as HIS statement and how things on earth will eventually end up. Note that there are 13 tribes as Joseph’s two sons added to the 11 brothers of Joseph equals 13.

JIV HUH moment. Might I be venturing too far off the coast of reality and the safe haven of the beach to think about the 13 original colonies; the 13 stars and stripes on our original flag; the war of separation between the North and the South with a President in both territories; the dollar bill with a pyramid on the left and a faint Star of David with 13 stars within it on the right; the fact that the eagle holds 12 arrows in its left claw and an olive branch in its right claw; the fact that the original colonies were semi-independent with State powers (confederacy) just as were the tribal territories of Israel under the judges; the fact that manifest destiny; i.e. predestination was the undercurrent driving American policy and philosophy per settlement of this land; that America was founded upon Christian principles and has now drifted far away?

Again, after chapter 3, the Book of Revelation is a pronouncement and revelation for and warning to the Nation of Israel, not the church. Perhaps the above possible bible code using the definitions, meanings and expressions of the 13 Tribes of Israel nails it as Revelation being about and for Israel AND the church.

The New Egyptian Kingdom Era

conncect the dotsThe New Egyptian Kingdom Era (around 1500 B.C. to 1070 B.C.)

JIV: “He who only studies parts of history will fail to connect the dots of history revealing the larger picture and fuller truth.”jStark3

Those who are Middle East enthusiast like I are likely to also be Old Testament buffs. The Old Testament (O.T.) is about Israel of old: God’s covenants with them, their failure to stay in God’s will, the consequences for falling away and the critical parallel of O.T. Israel and New Testament (N.T.) church. The promises made to God’s chosen people are unique to them. Jesus had not yet paid the debt of Adam’s sin. This is the N.T. facts. God will keep His covenants, Old Testament and New Testament.

This may be a poor parallel, but when we make a promise to someone that in no way means this is also a promise to the guy or gal next door. This is the difference between the O.T. and the N.T.; God’s covenants with Israel and His covenants with the N.T. church/Christian. However, it is not beyond simple thought that we can learn from others including keeping promises; i.e. God keeps his covenants. Deuteronomy 7:9; II Peter 3:2.

PS: I will let the reader make his or her fingers do the walking here and examine the scriptures per what I just stated. I stand on His promises.

Back to the topic of today’s research:

What archeologists and historians identify as the New Kingdom Era of Egypt is also a parallel with the Exodus (book of) of Israelis in Egypt during a 400 year dwelling or slavery within this land. For a reasonably good brief on this history go to http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/306324/Joseph

The end of Jacob’s descendants Israel, dwelling in Egypt and the New Kingdom of Egypt beginning is almost harmonious in facts. A bit of knowledge is needed here. Egypt of old was often two different kingdoms on the Nile River. There was the upper and lower Egypt, two distinct kingdoms and just as often… an Egypt as we know it today; one country. For a fairly good secular fact sheet, I encourage the reader go to http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=aqi. This website is somewhat exclusive history rather than inclusive, but one can glean overlapping dates of the time within which Israelite dwelt in Egypt, the fall of the Egyptian pharaoh (Red Sea incident) and their departure (Exodus 19:1) toward God’s Promised Land (sometime around 1400 B.C.).

It is also critical for the serious minded Bible and/or history buff to know there are two very different Ramses eras. Establishing when Jacob/Israel moved his family to Egypt due to famine in the Middle East, we need to do some small math. The first king of Israel was Saul from the Tribe of Benjamin. This was around 1040 B.C. Now back up a bit. The judges ruled Israel approximately between 1450 B.C. and to around 1043 B.C. About 400 years. Acts 13:17-20 states it was 450 years. Again, let your fingers do some walking and study this for yourself. But, add 400 plus years to the beginning of King Saul’s reign as King over Israel, we get: 1040 + 400 = 1450ish. Now look back at the turmoil and problems in Egypt at this time when they flip-flopped between a northern kingdom, a southern kingdom and a united Egyptian Kingdom.

Abram’s birth: 2166 BC
Isaac’s birth (when Abram was 100): 2066 BC
Jacob birth (when Isaac was 60): 2006 BC
*Jacob’s Migration (when he was 130): 1886 BC (subtract 450 years living in Egypt as slaves to the Egyptians, we come to around 1430; a very close date to this discussion of overlapping histories of Egypt’s kingdom problems and the exodus of the Israelites.

Joseph’s age at the time: 37
(17 when sent to Egypt as a slave; 30 when raised to 2nd ruler in the land; 7 years of plenty + 2 years of famine = 37)

Check these scripture: Gen 21:2; 25:26; 27:28; 45:6; 47:9; 50:22

*About this same time, and probably due to the same famine issues in the Middle East, the Hyksos started a similar migration into Middle and Lower Egypt. Keep in mind that Egypt is below the equator so Lower Egypt is closest to the Mediterranean Sea and Upper Egypt is closer to Nubia, Ethiopia, or the origins of the Nile River. The *Hyksos are possibly a Hebrew people but NOT n the direct line of Jacob, rather from the blood lines of Peleg, Esau or Ishmael. Peleg is the 4th great-grandfather to Abraham. Esau (Arabs) and Ishmael (Arabs) are the cousins to the Israelites of today. All are a Hebrew people.

If I haven’t lost you in the tracing of these parallel histories, we see statistically that there is a very close fit with what the Bible records as history and what secular history records minus scripture. Yes, there will always be the doubters but it isn’t an honest rejection of history that is their platform for trying to alter history into his or her desired perception. It is their rejection of God and that He is the only judge of what was, is and is to come.

Wikipedia: Hyksos…

The Hyksos rulers of the fifteenth dynasty of Egypt were of non-Egyptian origin. Most archaeologists describe the Hyksos as a mix of Asiatic peoples, suggested by recorded names such as Khyan and Sakir-Har that resemble Asiatic names, and pottery finds that resemble pottery found in archaeological excavations in the area of modern Israel. The name Hyksos was used by the Egyptian historian Manetho (ca. 300 BC), who, according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (1st century AD), translated the word as “king-shepherds” or “captive shepherds”. Josephus himself identified the Hyksos with the Hebrews of decadency from any one of Abraham’s sons, but not Isaac of the Bible (See *Genesis 25:1-3). Hyksos was in fact probably an Egyptian term meaning “rulers of foreign lands” (heqa-khaset), and it almost certainly designated the foreign dynasts rather than a whole nation. The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile Delta and Middle Egypt and was limited in size, never extending south into Upper Egypt, which was under control by Theban-based rulers except for Thebes’s port city of Elim at modern Quasir. (emphasis mine)

This helps explain why a new king or Pharaoh in Egypt who did not know Joseph, suppressed the Israelites putting them in slavery to the State. (Italicized emphasis mine)

*Keturah bore Abraham 6 sons. Abraham told them to not mix with the offspring of Jacob and told them to go east. Keturah, possibly Egyptian, is thought by some Jewish scholars to be none other than Hagar. We know that Hagar was Egyptian. If by some chance these “invaders (Hyksos) from the east” (historian Menthos) were actually descendants from the six sons of Abraham and Keturah, they were simply returning to their ancient mother’s homeland; i.e. Egypt, but of mixed blood; part DNA would have been from Abraham.

Of course as I usually try to include in any fact based article I write, “Don’t take my word for it. Do some honest research of the truth, WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.”

 

 

Why Did Peter Take His Eyes Off of Jesus in Matthew 14?

Keep your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face;
and the things on earth will grow strangely dim;
in the light of His glory and grace.

This song has been around for quite some time. People like the Oakridge Boys, Amy Grant, Blackwood Brothers, Alan Jackson, Dorothy Moore, Michael W. Smith and a theater of other singers have recorded this song or a close version to it. The facts behind the above lyrics may not be so well known as are these professional artists. If one goes to the website:http://yhoo.it/1bNYED9, s/he will find over 40 professional singers echoing out his or her version of this famous song.

Jesus Walks on WaterToday I want to bring the reader to a less known, but critical consideration. It will help those of us who struggle to stay the course of our daily Christian walk. Yes, there are thousands who can point out that this song, actually it is the chorus, is based upon when Peter walked on the water, took his eyes off of Jesus Christ and sank into the rough waves of the Sea of Galilee. The chorus of this song reflects this event in recorded history; i.e. Matthew 14:22-33. PS: Don’t confuse this event of history with the one Matthew records in chapter 8:23-27. BUT, there is a parallel for which I do not recall ever hearing it preached and perhaps the reader hasn’t either.

A parallel: In Matthew 8 Jesus is along with his disciples but is asleep in the boat. The storm appears to threaten or “sink the ship’ as one might state it today. In chapter 14, there are rough waves but no indication that the ship needs to be bailed or is in serious jeopardy of sinking or capsizing. The insight into these two separate events is that Jesus each time questions their faith but He hadn’t left them on their own. He is also with them both times. So even when we are in a group of fellow believers or on one’s own (i.e. Peter’), things happen, in our course of life on this earth that threaten us. Sometimes we think we are going down for the third time. Other times we simply seem to be in a battle with circumstances. The question one should ask in either situation, “where is Christ in our life, not “what is going on?”

If suddenly we don’t feel as close to God as we did just a few minutes or seconds ago, guess which one of us moved?

Back to Peter and his ‘walk on the water’. Walk on the Water is a song my gospel quartet often sang while in concert. An aside: I love the song, liveliness of the tune, and the great harmony of voices, but I do have a concern about a small part of the lyric (chorus). It goes “sweet Jesus as you walk on the water won’t you walk on out to me.” Why should we not simply walk on out to him? Staying in the boat (church pew) shows no commitment whatsoever. Reaching out to Him is faith in action (Book of James).

Asking Jesus to walk on out to us while we stay safe boat/pew demonstrates *no faith on our part. Just as in many religions of today, we try to make God fit our wants and needs instead of us unconditionally going to Him. *For by grace we are saved through FAITH (in action; emphasis mine)

Peter did venture out in a sea that was a bit rough, but not described as a storm as in chapter 8 when Christ calmed both the winds and the waters. Peter stepped out in faith knowing what he was doing was impossible on his own merits, but trusting Jesus, he did as he was told to do. Here is the metaphor so often if not usually missed when this historical event is preached from the pulpit, discussed in home bible studies, or read during personal bible studies. We should not only understand that Peter stepped out in faith then took his eyes off Jesus, but WHY did he take his eyes off of the object of his demonstrated faith in action? The answer: he became distracted or concerned about the*rough waves and seas around him; is environment, the world woes around him.Rough blue ocean under dark sky

*rough sea in this passage is not equal to the capsizing sea recorded in Matthew 8.

This is what happens to so many of us as Christians/believers during our time on earth. We step out in faith trying to move closer to Jesus then some rough seas as is recorded in Matthew 8 surrounds us. They aren’t life threatening but we panic or lose our vision and purpose, then compromise our intent or commitment. Yes, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus Christ, but it was because he put his eyes on the issues around him; his focus became one of concern for his safety. Even if by chance it was only that he was dazzled by the fact he was walking on the water, yet alone during rough sea, his focus had changed.

Charles Spurgeon once noted: Let your intellect be excited concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read. Don’t stop at the surface; dive into the deep waters! Be like a fish that swims and explores the farthest depths!

Joshua 1:8, Matthew 4:4, and Psalm 1:2 are additional quick Bible references that basically say the same thing…i.e. commitment.

James 4:8 ESV – Draw near to God, [in other words, don’t sit in the safe haven of the boat or the church pew waiting for God to come to you] and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts… (ESV)

Conclusion? Peter stepped out of the safety of the boat in faith and walked on the rough sea water. Then he got distracted by his environment or circumstances. This made the distraction a trump card over keeping his eyes peeled on Jesus; i.e. scripture. When this happened it wasn’t like he didn’t believe, or that he changed his mind and no longer wished to follow Jesus. Satan had temporarily refocused Peter on something other than Christ. This is why we are instructed to PONDER the scripture and PRAY continuously. If we do that, our environment will not take us out of our game.

This blog could easily be a solid sermon from which many could be set free from the distractions of this world’s news, calamities, threats, wars, climatic events, etc. However, it is why Peter shifted his thoughts off of Christ and what it was that caused this shift to happen that is the lesson today. As the words of the opening song goes: ….

“…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim” (no longer a distraction)

Murphy James