Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It Is A Sad Day For America Today.

The Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied benefits to legally married gay couples.

The Supreme Court announced disturbing decisions today on two important cases dealing with marriage law. The Court refused, however, to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

By a vote of 5-4, married gay couples will now be able to receive the same tax, health and retirement benefits that are available to married heterosexual couples.

While most U.S. states uphold the traditional definition of marriage, same-sex couples are now allowed to get married in 12 U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C.

What we are seeing is another example of Obama promising to change the landscape of America. A number of prominent political leaders have called for DOMA to be struck down, including President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA back in 1996.  Obama has said that if he could, he'd strike down all bans on same-sex marriage. Clinton, on the other hand, explained that circumstances of the time led him to sign DOMA. In March, the former president said that now times have changed, and he described the law as "unconstitutional." 

Most Christians, however, oppose the redefinition of marriage, insisting that it is a union solely between a man and a woman.

Regardless of the Supreme Court's decision, conservative Christians need to continue fighting for the culture of marriage and family. But keep in mind that the groundwork for marriage equality has already been laid with DOMA's fall.

But God has not changed His mind, and do you really think that if He judged Sodom and Gomorrah for the same “sin,” that He is going to let America slide...think again my friend.

To see why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, follow this link.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Seal Judgements of Revelation

From where I set, it seems that people are really getting impatient for the end times to begin in earnest. In my readings over the past few week, many seem to think that the seal judgments have already begun.

Several article I was reading this week seem to be comparing the Seal judgments  to the “birth pangs” of Matt. 24:4-8, and they are saying that the real end times judgments won’t begin until after the great multitude of Rev. 7:9 arrives in Heaven. They say these saints are the church, and claim that we’ll be raptured between the seal judgments and the trumpet judgments that begin in Rev. 8:6. There are several reasons why this cannot be correct, but perhaps the most obvious is that the destiny of these believers is not the same as that of the Church. According to Rev. 7:15 they will serve God day and night in His temple, but there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem where the Church will be (Rev. 21:22) and the Rev. 7 multitude is neither called kings nor priests.

My personal feelings are that this impatience is prompted by the dissatisfaction people feel about the current condition of our world. In the US, a recent poll shows that only 32% of the population thinks our leaders are taking us in the right direction. People are beginning to realize that the lowest unemployment rate in 5 years doesn’t mean that more people are finding jobs. They know that the labor force participation rate, having been at or above 66% for most of the time between 2003-2008 has been dropping since 2009 and is now at 63.3%. Where is the rest of the workforce? Most have either accepted low paying and/or part time work or have simply given up on trying to find a job. Either way they’re no longer looking for work, so the government doesn’t consider them to be unemployed. People also understand from their own experience that the middle class is steadily losing economic ground, and that the dollars we have don’t buy as much as they used to.

Many are also saying that the time for praying the US out of our problems has ended. God has given us fair warning and we didn’t pay attention. Since Obama was first elected, I have wondered if God was not beginning to bring judgement to America for the sin's of this nation. Judging from passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel where God told the prophets to stop praying for Israel because He had stopped listening, I believe that our judgment has also been irrevocably determined and prayer will no longer help. Based on these and other circumstances it’s no wonder that many people who read about the Seal judgments in Revelation 6 see indications that they’re already here.

But I do not believe we’re already in the Seal judgments. The circumstances we’re currently experiencing are certainly similar to the Seal judgments, although much milder, but certain specific conditions have not been met for them to have actually begun.

Many today do not believe that the Bible teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, and if you don’t believe that Israel and the Church have separate destinies, you may not see some of this the way I do. But based on my understanding of Bible prophecy, the events of the Book of Revelation will begin unfolding this way.

In Rev. 1:19 the Lord gave John instructions to, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.” Many scholars believe these instructions effectively divide the book into three parts. The things John had seen are contained in chapter 1. The things that were in John’s present are described in chapters 2-3 and the things that will take place later begin in chapter 4 and fill the rest of the book.

Strictly speaking the seven churches of Rev. 2-3 were the only addressees of the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:11). Each one was an actual congregation that deserved both the commendations and the criticisms Jesus gave them,  all of  them having disappeared long ago.

I believed that when these churches are viewed in the order in which they’re mentioned, they are not just a handful of long gone 1st century churches but are representative of the entire Church Age. I believe the reason the Lord chose them was to provide this concise look at the Church’s past, present and future.

The problems He identified there are still with us. It’s also consistent with the structure of the book, which is to render things in signs. In the Greek language of Rev. 1:1 John used the word “semaino”, which means “to give a sign, or signify”, to describe how he was commanded to write. It means that through out the book certain words and phrases are meant to signify something else. The dragon, the beast, and the woman who rides the beast are three obvious examples.

In his gospel, John used this same word on three occasions to explain that a particular phrase was intended to refer to something else. In John 12:33 Jesus used the phrase “lifted up” to signify his crucifixion. John 18:32 explains that one of the reasons the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate is so he would be crucified, to fulfill the words He had spoken, signifying the kind of death He would die. (The Jewish method of execution was stoning.) And in John 21:19 Jesus told Peter he would stretch out his hands and someone would lead him where he did not want to go. According to John this was meant to signify Peter’s crucifixion.

Rev. 4-5 contain a number of indications that these two chapters describe events that take place right after the rapture of the Church. 
  • First, the 24 elders of Rev. 4:4 don’t appear in any earlier description of the throne of God, so they’re new arrivals. 
  • In addition they’re sitting on thrones (meaning they’re rulers) wearing white (meaning they’re righteous) with crowns of gold on their heads. The word for crown John used is stephanos. It refers to a victory crown and is the crown of an overcomer.

In Rev. 3:11 Jesus cautioned us to hold on so that no one will take our crown, and in Rev. 3:21 He said, “To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Crowns and thrones.

Singing to God in Rev. 5:9-10 (NKJV) they declare, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” This is a song only the church can sing.

I agree it would be a bit of a stretch to base our pre-trib conviction on such circumstantial evidence alone, but by putting other clear verses like Isaiah 26:19-20, 1 Thes. 1:10, and Rev. 3:10 with it, the evidence becomes much more concrete, and makes the pre-trib position more consistent with a literal interpretation of Scripture than any other rapture view.

Also, in Romans 11:25-26 Paul made it clear that Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. Once that happens, Israel will have one final chance to receive the Lord’s salvation. We can also see this in Acts 15:13-18, where James explained that Israel was being set aside while the Lord took from the Gentiles a people for himself. After this He will turn His attention toward Israel again, their Temple will be rebuilt, and they’ll have a final chance to seek the Lord.

This final opportunity is known to us from Daniel 9:24-27 as Daniel’s 70th Week, the last half of which is called the Great Tribulation. Both Romans 11:25-26 and Acts 15:13-18 indicate that Daniel’s 70th Week will take place after the Lord has completed His plan to take for Himself a people from the Gentiles. There will be a certain number of Gentiles taken and when that number has been met we will be carried away to our ultimate destiny in the Lord’s house (John 14:2-3) After that, Daniel’s 70th week will begin. I believe Rev. 6-18 is a description of the events that take place during Daniel’s 70th Week.

So the first thing we see is that the rapture of the Church has to precede the Seal judgments. Since the Church is still here, the Seal judgments can’t have begun yet.

Rev. 6:1 tells us a rider on a white horse will appear after the events of Rev. 4-5 (the rapture). This rider is thought by most to be an early appearance of the anti-Christ. The world won’t recognize him as such, but will think of him as a great peacemaker. Daniel 8:25 says he will deceive many this way, and in 1 Thes. 5:3 Paul said the world will believe peace has arrived, but then destruction will come upon them suddenly. So at the beginning of the Seal judgments, there will be a short period of peace that the whole world will notice. That is not the case today and it hasn’t been the case for a number of years. I believe this peace will come right after Ezekiel 38-39, a war that God will use to draw Israel back into their covenant with Him. If so, then the Seal judgments can’t begin until after Ezekiel 38-39.

Suddenly peace will be taken from the world again, as Paul indicated, and people will be dying in large numbers (Rev. 6:4). Inflation and food shortages will become so acute that it will take everything an average person can earn in a day to buy one day’s worth of food (Rev. 6:6). One fourth of the world’s populated areas will suffer the effects of war, famine, and pestilence. Even wild animals will take part in the carnage (Rev. 6:8).

People will die for the Christian faith in large numbers. Their spirits will cry out to the Lord for vengeance but the death and destruction will get much worse before it’s over (Rev. 6:9). Finally there will be a great earthquake that sends the people of Earth running for cover. The Sun will turn black and the Moon will turn dark red (Rev. 6:12-14). Everyone from the world’s leaders to the humblest of men will look for a place to hide from God’s judgment (Rev. 6:15-17).
This doesn’t mean the coming wrath will begin at the end of the Seal judgments. The Greek words of Rev. 6:17 describe continuous and ongoing action. It means the post-rapture world will finally realize that what has been happening through out the seal judgments is that the great day of God’s wrath has already begun.

So, while many of the conditions affecting the world today appear quite similar to those described in the Seal judgments of Rev. 6, they are in fact much milder previews of what lies ahead. The full impact of this first cycle of judgments won’t be felt until after the Lord has made good on His promise to rescue us from the time and place of their occurrence, and Israel has returned from their long estrangement from God to once again be a covenant keeping nation.

Titus 2:13-15 (KJV)
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. [Titus 2:13-15 (KJV)] 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Communist Takeover Of America - 45 Declared Goals

From the book, "The Naked Communists" by Cleon Skousen-written in 1958

You are about to read a list of 45 goals that found their way down the halls of our great Capitol back in 1963. As you read this, you should be shocked by the events that have played themselves out. 

January 10, 1963 Current Communist Goals EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, January 10, 1963 . Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America. At Mrs. Nordman's request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following "Current Communist Goals," which she identifies as an excerpt from "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen: [From "The Naked Communist," by Cleon Skousen] 

The following is the "original" list by which they intended to use to take over this country.
  • 1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war. 
  • 2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war. 
  • 3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength. 
  • 4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war. 
  • 5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites. 
  • 6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination. 
  • 7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N. 
  • 8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N. 
  • 9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress. 
  • 10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N. 
  • 11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.) 
  • 12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party. 
  • 13. Do away with all loyalty oaths. 
  • 14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office. 
  • 15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States. 
  • 16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights. 
  • 17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks. 18. Gain control of all student newspapers. 
  • 19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack. 
  • 20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions. 
  • 21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures. 
  • 22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms." 
  • 23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art." 
  • 24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press. 
  • 25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. 
  • 26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy." 
  • 27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a "religious crutch." 
  • 28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state." 
  • 29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis. 
  • 30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man." 
  • 31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the "big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over. 
  • 32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc. 
  • 33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus. 
  • 34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 
  • 35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI. 
  • 36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions. 
  • 37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business. 
  • 38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat]. 
  • 39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  •  40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce. 
  • 41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents. 
  • 42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use ["]united force["] to solve economic, political or social problems. 
  • 43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government. 44. Internationalize the Panama Canal. 
  • 45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike. 
Since the "baby-boomer" generation, society and its culture have become noticeably different than the way it was 50 years before 1963. From the late 50's to the 70's a series of events took place contributing to the way we are currently living. However, like anything else, there has to be a starting point at which the wheels are put into motion. Sometimes it can be a single event, such as war, but more often, it is a series of events, some intentional, some planned, others unpredictable. There is always a pivotal point when things begin to change. I believe that time was 1963. For my generation, some of the following will certainly stir old memories. 

If you were born later, this may serve as a brief history lesson into the times your parents traveled through. 
  • By 1963 television was the leading sources of entertainment. 
  • The public enjoyed a different type of programming back then. 
  • Lessons on life could be viewed weekly on "Leave it to Beaver" or "My Three Sons." 
  • There were hero's back then that never drew blood, "The Lone Ranger" and "The Adventures of Superman." 
  • Cartoon series evolved, such as, "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" without messages of empowering the children, using vulgarities or demeaning parental guidance. 
  • Family's could spend a weekend evening watching "Ed Sullivan," "Bonanza" or "Gunsmoke." 
  • For those who enjoyed thrill and suspense, we were blessed with "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and the "Twilight Zone." 'My Favorite Martian," "Ozzie and Harriet," "Donna Reed" and "Sea Hunt" also kept viewers entertained weekly. 
  • Movie theaters were not multiplex units with 15 screens, rather, one single, giant big screen with adequate sound and hard seats without springs. 
  • "Tom Jones" had won the Academy award for best picture. 
  • "How The West Was Won," "Cleopatra," "Lily of the Fields," "The Great Escape," "The Birds," and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" were all box office hits. 
  • By years end, "The Beatles" had played for the British Royal Family and were laying the groundwork to conquer the U.S. the following year. 
  • Eric Clapton began his journey to fame with Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jim McCarty and their band, "The Yardbirds." 
  • Out on the west coast the surf was beginning to rock'n'roll with "The Beach Boys" and their first song to reach the top ten list, "Surfin' U.S.A." 
  • "Joys of Jell-O" recipes for quivering florescent foodstuff hit the stores. 
  • U.S. Postal rates went up to five cents for the first ounce. 
  • AT&T introduced touch-tone telephones. 
  • The Yankees played in the World Series again; but lost to the Dodgers in four straight. 
  • The government and NASA began the Apollo program. 
This is just a brief snapshot of some things that were going on back in 1963. Do You Remember? 

While some of these events played an important role in the direction of change that affect us today, many of them were lost to much greater, more political events, that I believe put everything into motion.

On January 10, 1963, the House of Representative and later the Senate began reviewing the document and these following, looking back in hindsight is quite shocking to see how many of them are currently being done today. Here, in part, are some key points listed in that document:
  • 4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war. 
  • 5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites. 
  • 8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states. 
  • 11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. 
  • 13. Do away with all loyalty oaths. 
  • 16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights. 
  • 23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art." 
  • 24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press. 
  • 25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. 
  • 26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy." 
  • 27. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a "religious crutch." 
  • 28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state." 
  • 40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce. 
  • 44. Internationalize the Panama Canal. 

You can see the entire list on this web page - 

As you can see, we have been under some kind of Communist takeover the past few years, but what I do find frightening, is of the 45 issues listed, nearly all of them have come to pass. Remember this was in January 1963. 
  • In 1963 the news media showed women burning their bras as the women's liberation movement took off with the publishing of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan. 
  • Martin Luther King was jailed in April and civil unrest was being brought to the forefront. 
  • On August 28th the media brought us live coverage of the march on Washington and Dr. Kings famous "I had a dream" speech. 
  • The Cuban missile crisis found its way in to our homes and our nation was gearing up for conflict. 
By September of 1963 we had lost some very influential people, 
  • Pope John XXIII, 
  • Robert Frost, 
  • and country legend Patsy Cline, to name a few. 
  • In the early hours of November 22nd we learned of the quiet passing of C.S. Lewis 
  • Hours later we were brought to our knees when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and our nation mourned. 
So you see, while long since forgotten, 1963 could very well have been, one of the most important years since our founding fathers provided us with the Constitution of the United States. Which brings me to one final and extremely important decision that was made during this most provocative year. 

On June 17, 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that any Bible reciting or prayer, in public schools, was deemed unconstitutional. While American's have endured great prosperity over the 40 years before. we now also had lost our moral compass and direction. In reviewing the research, data supports 1963 as a focal point, demonstrating a downward slope in our moral and social decline through 2001. 

If there is one specific event that has demonstrated the demoralization of our country, it would have to be the decision of the U.S Supreme Court in June of 1963, along with the court decision of "Roe verses Wade" and the abortion issue, which started in 1969 and culminated in 1973. Those ten years could very well be called the "sin" that will bring about the "Judgement of God" on this nation!

But there is always "hope." 

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Singing The Lord's Song In A Strange Land!

I was talking with a friend this morning, and in our conversation, out of the blue, this thought came to my mind about “singing the Lord’s song in a strange land.” Often, and more than not, we find ourselves in circumstances that we have no control over, and we will “beat” ourselves up over the fact that “we couldn’t do anything” about the situation. In the midst of the difficulty, we tend to stop “singing.”

Psalm 137:1-4 (AMP)
1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we [captives] sat down, yes, we wept when we [earnestly] remembered Zion [the city of our God imprinted on our hearts].
2 On the willow trees in the midst of [Babylon] we hung our harps.
3 For there they who led us captive required of us a song with words, and our tormentors and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

Reading through the Book of Psalms is like driving on a divided highway through some lovely section of the countryside. We pass through new and beautiful scenery with a spectacular landscape on each side.

The beginning of each psalm is like coming to an intersection. We casually observe the highway marker, but we proceed at the same speed, and we have the feeling of sameness. On each side of the highway marker the view is very much the same. That is true especially after we leave Psalm 119. As we are traveling along the highway, all of a sudden we come to Psalm 137. When we come to this psalm we begin to slow down because we see down the highway that three flares have been thrown down. In fact, these three flares are telling us to Stop -- Look -- Listen. Psalm 137 is a “judgement Psalm!

So, why were the Israelites there by the rivers of Babylon? They had sinned, grievously, against a Holy God. Sin will keep us from singing “a song to the Lord.”

They have no heart for singing. They have quit singing now. They will not have a choir there. There won't be any song service there. They are wailing instead of singing. They have put their harps upon the willows; they won't be needing them anymore. They couldn't sing the songs of Zion by the rivers of Babylon! It was yonder at the temple in Jerusalem where they went to sing praises to God. Now by the rivers of Babylon they hanged up their harps. These instruments of praise they put up on the willow trees -- weeping willows.

Today there are multitudes of Christians who have put their harps on the weeping willow trees. They have lost their song. They have no harp, but they are harping just the same about this and that.

Have you lost your song? Maybe you can remember the joy you had when you first came to Christ. Have you lost your song today?

Now there are reasons for people losing their song.

First of all, there is the natural tendency; that is, the psychological factor. Psychologists tell us that some folk are sanguine in their nature. That is, they are smiling, joyful all the time regardless of the circumstances. Other people are the opposite. They are filled with melancholy. As you look around, many people today don't look joyful. Some of us don't feel like smiling all the time. We're not made that way. 

The second factor is that discouragement and disappointment come to a great many Christians. Life buffets some people more than it buffets others. You know some Christians that seem to have more trouble than anyone else. Shakespeare calls it "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." Some people seem to get more of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The discouragements of life sometimes beat in upon even children of God, and they lose their song.

Then there is the third reason. Sometimes folk lose their song because of sin. You remember that David in his great confession, recorded in Psalm 51:12, cried, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." David never did lose his salvation, but he certainly lost the joy of it. That is what he asked God to restore. And in Psalm 32 he spoke of that awful, oppressive period when his sin was unconfessed. He said that his bones ached and he could not sleep. What a picture!

It was said of the Lord Jesus Christ that He was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. But before you make Him out a sad person -- for He was not -- note that Isaiah makes it very clear that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isa. 53:4). When all the sorrow and all the grief of your sin and my sin was put upon Him, He was a Man of Sorrows. But He had none of His own, for He had no sin of His own. He was made sin for us, and He was made our sin offering, completely identified with your sin and mine.

Why are these people by the rivers of Babylon? I can answer it now. They have sinned. Why have they lost their song? They sinned, and sin will rob you of your song.

I believe many times, we loose our “song” because we have “quit” trusting in God’s provisions. We have taken our eyes off of the master and are looking at the circumstances that surround us. This is “sin.” No question about it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What's Happening In Damascus?

The city of Damascus is mentioned 60 times in the Bible from Genesis 14:15 to Acts 22:10. Abraham's chief servant, Eliazer, was from Damascus and Paul spent his first days as a Christian there. According to Flavius Josephus, Damascus was founded by Uz, the son of Aram who was the patriarch of the Aramean people. Aram was the 5th son of Shem, and Uz was the first son of Aram. (According to Job 1:1, Job was from the land of Uz.)

Throughout its history Damascus has been conquered many times. Most notably by the Israelites (1000 BC), the Assyrians (732 BC), the Babylonians (606 BC), the Persians (530 BC), the Greeks (330 BC), the Nabateans (85 BC), the Romans (63 BC), the Byzantines (634 AD), the Mamelukes (1250 AD) and the Ottoman Turks (1516 AD). But the city itself has always survived and is now claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

Several of these conquests are referred to in the Bible. 2 Samuel 8:6-7 describes David and the Israelites. Parts of Isaiah 17 involve the Assyrians, Jeremiah 49:23-27 is about the Babylonian conquest and Zechariah 9:1-2 was fulfilled by Alexander the Great.

An Oracle Against Damascus
Probably the best known prophecy about Damascus is Isaiah 17, called An Oracle Against Damascus. Its 14 verses go back and forth between the Assyrian conquest in the 8th Century BC and a battle that hasn't taken place yet. One reason we know this is because Isaiah 17:1 says, "See Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins." It speaks of a battle that will mark the end of Damascus, something scholars agree has not happened yet.

Other verses in Isaiah 17 confirm a future fulfillment of this destruction. Specifically, verse 7 tells us that after the destruction of Damascus men will look to their maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. And verse 9 tells of their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, becoming like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation. In the 8th century BC no one turned back to God and it was the Israelites who were forced to leave.

Currently there are three wars going on in Syria, any one of which could lead to the fulfillment of Isaiah 17. The obvious one is the civil war that's been going on for the last two years. As many as 80,000 have died in this war to oust current President Assad from power and end his family's control over the country.

But there's also a secondary war that's becoming more critical, and that's an effort underway by Iran and Hizbollah to widen the Syrian conflict into Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. All parties involved believe this effort could explode into a regional war at any time. If so it could be the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 as well as Psalm 83, which many see as the prophecy of a war that pits all of Israel's next door neighbors against Israel, and from which Israel will emerge victorious. Just this week, Hizbollah officials confirmed that Syria is serious about expanding the war onto the Golan Heights, territory Israel regained from Syria in 1973.

The War No One's Watching
The third war is a little known one that could very well be the single deciding factor as to whether the civil war will escalate into the fulfillment of prophecy. This war is between two men, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. According to informed Middle East sources, each man has a vision for how the Syrian civil war should end.

Obama wants Assad gone and Putin wants him to stay. They not only can't agree on how to proceed, but each one is also trying to torpedo the other one's chances of succeeding. These sources say it's the inability of these two men to agree that is standing in the way of a resolution to the crisis and as long as their disagreement continues, the probability of the war spilling over the borders into neighboring countries becomes ever more likely to happen.

Most of the news sources I read have concluded that Obama is outclassed in this disagreement and that sooner or later Putin will have his way. He's already won a couple of big battles. Refusing to keep Iran in check and refusing to withhold the sale of advanced anti-aircraft batteries to Syria are two of the most obvious. The first has given Assad powerful assistance on the ground and the second will give him protection from aerial attack by Israel. In both cases, Obama stood by and let this happen.

Bible prophecy might favor Putin in this case. According to Ezekiel 38-39 Russia will be a major participant in that battle, and having a strong position in the Middle East would be an important advantage. Remember, when the Moslem coalition attacks, it will be from the North (Ezekiel 38:15). That could mean they'll come from Syria over the Golan Heights. I'm not saying we're seeing a run up to Ezekiel 38, but we all know it's coming and if Russia already has a presence in Syria, they would have an advantage in mounting what scholars believe will be a surprise attack.

In the mean time, the Russian / Iranian support has strengthened and emboldened Assad. So much so that he was willing to risk using chemical weapons against the rebel forces. Obama had previously said this would not be tolerated, but so far, even after being confronted with clear evidence, he denied it has happened. In Syria this has been interpreted to mean that limited use of chemical weapons will be tolerated.

Israeli leaders have been more resolute. After all, it's their country that's being directly threatened by this. When they detected the movement of prohibited weaponry into Lebanon for Hizbollah's use against them, they attacked and destroyed it. Again, Obama stood by while Putin authorized the delivery of advanced anti-aircraft defenses to Syria. Its purpose is to prevent further preemptive attacks from Israel by denying them air superiority.

Informed sources are beginning to see the hand writing on the wall. As Israel is progressively denied the use of small steps to preempt the threat from their sworn enemies, their only recourse will be to take big ones. When that happens, one leading Israeli correspondent has said Obama will stand right behind Assad in the line of people to blame.

Are We There Yet?
We've come close to the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 before. Each time cooler heads have prevailed and the destruction of Damascus has been postponed. I say postponed because Isaiah's prophecy will be fulfilled. We have God's promise on that. He said,

"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. What I have said, that will I bring about. What I have planned, that will I do" (Isaiah 46:10-11).

Various reports confirm a conviction among Israel's military and political leaders that war with Syria is coming. (Some say it could be a long one, while others hint that it will more likely be very short.) There also appears to be a consensus among the Jewish people that they must win and win decisively.

If it's God's timing, this will be the fulfillment of Isaiah 17, and perhaps Psalm 83 as well. If it's not, we'll be drawn back from the brink once again to catch our breath and wait for the next run-up. Chances are it won't be long in coming.

You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
The sad part is that the victims no one talks about in Syria are her Christians. They represent many denominations and many are tortured and killed for their faith.

[Copied from Olive Tree Ministry]