Saturday, December 31, 2016

Where Is the Wilderness Where the Woman of Revelation 12 Runs?

There is much speculation about a couple of related verses in Matthew 24 and Revelation 12. It has to do with the woman fleeing to the wilderness for protection and where that wilderness is. For years many teachers have taught that it is the city of Petra. They base this on some oblique verses in the Old Testament. The woman is Israel, and we know that at least 144,000 of original Israel – the twelve tribes – will be protected, and beyond that the Scriptures indicate another remnant is saved, so the number should be more. But is it practical to think all those people could run to and survive in the city of Petra? Had they done their homework, they would have found the answer to that question is “no.” At its top population, it is estimated that Petra could hold 20,000 people. That is a great deal short of a couple hundred thousand people. And not all of the Jews (not to mention the unknown Ten Lost Tribes) are in Israel. A great part of the world's population live in America. Roughly a little more than a third live in Israel, and roughly an equal amount of that live in America. Less than a third live scattered throughout the rest of the world. The world's Jewish population is roughly 15 million. Even if God only brought a tenth through (which is one of the prophecies) that is 1.5 million which is far beyond the 20,000 that Petra could hold. There is another verse that mentions bringing one third through. If we took a third of 1.5 million, we end up with 500,000. That is still way over the limit and more than 3 times the 144,000. So obviously they are in some other wilderness. So what wilderness could handle that many refugee Jews and Israelites?

When Christ was giving the Olivet Discourse, He said that those in Judea should flee to the mountains when the abomination of desolation occurs. So where does Israel go when it happens? In Revelation 12:14 we read, “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a great proponent of taking Scripture at face value whenever possible. In this case clearly that cannot be done, so we have to find another explanation of what is meant here. The woman (Israel) is given two wings of a great eagle to fly away. Now I don't care how big eagles are, even if an eagle could carry a full grown human, it most certainly could not carry more than one. So we are not speaking literally here. We need then to look to what this might symbolically refer. Often the metaphor of an eagle is used to symbolize swiftness and in this case I think that probably is one of the meanings behind the use of the word, for Israel will be under siege of the beast's armies and as Christ said in Matthew, they are not to even take the time to go back in the house for anything. They are to run for their lives. So swiftness is definitely one of the indications from this word. Another meaning might be the symbol of the country which is the helper, who flies Israel out of the land. Scripture, especially in prophecy, does refer to nations in terms of animals at times. In Daniel chapter 8 we see the story of the ram with two horns (Medo-Persia) who was conquered by the goat (Greece) with a notable horn (Alexander the Great) which was then divided into four horns (the splitting of Alexander's kingdom into four sections after his death) followed by a notable horn that comes up among them (initially Antiochus Ephiphanes – ultimately a final fulfillment in the person of the antichrist). It is easy to see from history to whom these animals referred, Medo-Persia and Greece. In Daniel 7, I hypothesized that the animals in that prophecy were not the same nations as the statue in Daniel chapter 2, as traditional interpretation presents, but that due to certain phrases, it indicates that these animals represent nations who are currently part of our world system. As such, the lion is Britain and the eagle wings on its back represent America. The wings are plucked off the lion's back, which would seem to indicate a separation - the Revolutionary War - which allowed America to become its own nation. More explanation about this passage can be found at this post

Given that it would seem that the eagle's wings in this passage might well refer to America, it seems also possible that the wings of the eagle in Revelation also refer to America. And the fact that Israel flies on those wings might indicate American planes. The woman is flown to the wilderness. Now while America is not exactly a wilderness, she was at the time this was written, and as a country she is a vast area of open land from coast to coast. There are many cities and small communities, but overall, we are a great deal of open land. A wilderness so to speak. Israel is kept safe in this wilderness away from the reach of the beast for three and a half years.

Now, again, if one has followed my blogs, they will know that I believe America is Babylon. Reading the rest of my endtimes blog referenced above will show why I believe that. One should look in the archives to find the relevant passages in Revelation, as well as later posts that I wrote on Babylon, if one is interested in that information. If, as I believe, America is Babylon, and Israel is brought to Babylon for safety reasons, then it stands to reason that it should follow that we will find passages in the prophecies of Israel being in Babylon and having to “come out of her” as God tells His people to do in Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” And indeed, we can find some prophecies that point to this being the case.

In the book of Jeremiah we find a lot written about Babylon. However, there are some differences between some of the writings. Up to Chapter 50 we find that God is very specific in having particular kings and people mentioned by name, and the actions of those individuals. In this case, one has to understand that these prophecies were for those specific people and situations. When we get to Chapters 50-51 we find that the prophecy is no longer specified to particular people by name for most of the prophecy. It is more generalized, which allows it to be either one of the “two fulfillment” types of prophecies that we find in the Bible, where there is a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment, or one which is strictly a latter days fulfillment. In this case we can almost immediately see that this is an endtimes prophecy for the nation of Babylon during our time, for in verse 4 we find the following: “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.” Now the thing which stands out that makes this verse strictly an endtimes prophecy is the part about the children of Israel and the children of Judah going together to seek the Lord their God. Israel has not existed as a people since they were assimilated by Assyria. This occurred over 2700 years ago. So clearly this was not a prophecy that could have been fulfilled any time since then, as Israel, or the Ten Lost Tribes as they are known, will not exist again until the end of days. Also as Jeremiah prophesied roughly a hundred years after the captivity and assimilation of Israel, it clearly has to be a latter days prophecy as there was no Israel in his time.

The next verse also gives away the timing of this prophecy for verse 5 says, “They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” Israel will not be joined in a perpetual covenant again with the Lord until they look upon Him whom they pierced and recognize Him as their Savior. This will not occur until the end of Daniel's 70th week. There is more in the passage about their spiritual condition and then in verse 8 we read, “Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.” Both Israel and Judah are in the midst of Babylon. The Babylon of the end of days. If America is Babylon, then Judah (the woman who now lives in the land of Israel) and Israel (the Ten Lost Tribes which were assimilated and whose whereabouts are unknown) are in America. This would seem to confirm the passage in Revelation that the wings of the eagle might very well stand for the planes of America.

As we know God will have Babylon destroyed, naturally the prophecies go on to describe that. There is an interesting phrase used in verses 12 and 13 that again point to America being Babylon. “Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” Babylon has a mother. Most nations are not said to have a mother, but there are some present day ones who have. Canada, Australia, and America all were birthed by the nation of Britain. And this goes along with the prophecy in Daniel 7 of the lion (Britain) who has the wings of an eagle which are plucked off. Then Babylon is referred to as the hindermost of the nations. The Hebrew word “achariyth” or as it is translated “hindermost” means the last or the end one. This particular Babylon will be the last great nation on earth for this present world. This most certainly can be said of America, for we are the youngest or the last nation that has become a great or the greatest world power. This is followed by the verses outlining some of God's wrath, which is repeated in other places including Revelation, that befalls her. This further identifies that this section is an endtimes prophecy.

The verses then change slightly and specific reference is made to Nebuchadnezzar which would seem to indicate that verses 16-18 refer to the Babylon of that king. But verse 19 again picks up with God saying that He will bring Israel back to their land (which won't happen until the end) and verse 20 starts with the phrase “in those days, and in that time” which generally is an indicator that we are going back to end of days prophecies. The entire verse is “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” That the verse is indeed an endtimes verse is proven by the statement that the iniquity of Israel and the sins of Judah will be sought, but will not be found. Clearly that is not the case yet, nor has it ever been. They are in diaspora due to their sins. Only when Christ returns will their sins be purged. God says that He will pardon those whom He saves. God is planning on saving a remnant and that remnant will be forgiven and brought back into a covenant. Specifically we know the 144,000 and the woman in the wilderness are a remnant. Whether they are the same group or not, I do not know. Personally I do not think they are. As God does not pardon Israel's sins until the end, when they seek Him and repent and acknowledge whom their Savior is, we see this prophecy is again a future one.

In verse 28 we see something that is missed by most prophecy teachers. “The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.” Now this could be only the prophecy about the destruction of the first temple by Babylon, but possibly it is about the tribulation temple, and the president of the United States (I do not at this time think it is Trump, for those concerned about that) being guilty of doing something that causes the abomination of desolation by the antichrist. This verse is followed for a number of verses by the description of the wrath of God that matches His wrath at the end, so it is likely that this is also about the endtimes temple. The part that is pertinent to Israel taking refuge in America is that those who flee (God has already told Israel to get out of Babylon) are to go to Zion, or Jerusalem, and declare that God is going to avenge what has occurred. So again we see that an endtimes prophecy has Israel in Babylon.

In Jeremiah 51:6-13 we read, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God. Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple. Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.”

In this passage in Jeremiah 51 Israel is again told to flee out of Babylon. That Babylon is about to be punished for her iniquity. She was a a golden cup in God's hand, but has made the whole earth drunk on her wine of sin. People will hope to heal her, but she cannot be healed. Everyone must run for their lives back to their own countries. This would seem to imply a country that is a country of immigrants. What better description is there of America? We are a nation of immigrants from people all over the world. It is the mark of our country that we have a statue of Babylon in New York City harbor that welcomes the immigrants. Israel is told to declare the work of the Lord in Zion when they get there. Once more it is said that God is avenging His temple. He holds Babylon responsible for what the beast does. While the beast is the one who is the source of the abomination of desolation, clearly Babylon has done something which has caused this to happen.

In verse 50 it says, “Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.” There will be a time of affliction for God's people (Christians and possibly Jews) in Babylon at some point, for we know from Revelation that she is drunk on the blood of the saints, but there will be those who escape. Just as God earlier told them through Jeremiah to go to Zion, here they are told to let Jerusalem come to mind as they are fleeing. They are to make their way there.

Isaiah also has much to say about the endtimes. In Isaiah 47, the chapter deals with the destruction of Babylon, which again parallels the other passages that tell of God's wrath and the consequences of it upon Babylon. Chapter 48 deals with Israel and how God is going to refine them in the furnace of affliction. In verse 20 it says, “Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.” When the name Jacob is used, it refers to all twelve (or thirteen) tribes, so while they were to go to Zion and declare God's vengeance, now they are to leave Babylon and declare to the whole earth that God is redeeming Israel.

Now again when we read in Revelation 12 that the woman is to flee on the wings of an eagle to the wilderness, and in Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” we can see from knowing the prophecies in the Old Testament that God is not just speaking to Christians to get out of Babylon (America), but He is also telling the Jews and the people of the Ten Lost Tribes, who may not even realize that is who they are, to get out of Babylon. In Jeremiah 50:8 it told some to be as the he goats who go ahead of the flock. As the rapture does not occur until the seventh trumpet judgment at the end of Daniel's 70th week, it is quite likely that some Christians will survive the time of tribulation in Babylon, as they are the ones who will understand from the command in Chapter 18 that they are to leave before Babylon is destroyed. Revelation was written for Christians, but they should also know from Jeremiah that they are to be the he goats who lead Israel out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem, for Israel will not know exactly what is going on, given that they do not know the New Testament and Revelation. I believe it will be the mission of those Christians who escape, to gather Israel and lead her back to Zion or Jerusalem when the time is right. As to exactly when that will be, at this time I could not say. I believe God will make that clear to the people who need to know when they need to know it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Depart from Me, I Never Knew You

Lately I have been giving a great deal of thought to the verse in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The reason for my preoccupation with the verse being that I have had the belief of eternal security preached at me a number of times lately. Now I have written on eternal security here , so I do not see the need to go into the subject in detail when I have already written on it. What I would like to address here is, to whom is Christ speaking when He says that He doesn't 'know” them?

When Christians read this passage, they inevitably point the finger at someone else. They never even remotely consider that this passage might be speaking of them. And you will find this attitude pervades every Christian denomination or cult across the board. Well, the problem is, it applies to someone, so to whom does it apply? Obviously the people in question in the verse believe they are Christians. In fact they think they are good Christians. They believe in God, they believe in Christ, they even have power in using Christ's name. They have prophesied, cast out devils, and done wonderful works by the power of His name. The evidence of these actions would seem to fall under the category of fruits of the spirit, so when we are told that we can judge by looking at the fruits, we find that this is not always the plumb line that we can trust, for clearly people who seem to have had fruits still do not make it into heaven. In fact they are said to be workers of iniquity. This is about as frightening a passage in the Scriptures as one can find. In this passage Christ gives two more evidences that must be considered along with the evidence of works and gifts of the Spirit. The first is that we must do the will of the Father and the second is that we must “know” Christ.

When it comes to fruits and gifts in the name of Christ, one must look to see whether or not it is the Christ of the Bible or some other “christ” whose name is being used. New Age believers believe in a “christ” spirit which can give powers to some of them. The source of the powers though is not the Christ of the Bible, it is a demonic power impersonating Christ. Then there are actual Christian churches who have false prophets and teachers who use the name of Christ, and the people believe they are speaking of the Christ of the Bible, but in reality it is a different Christ. So we must be very careful to see what Christ is being referenced in the name of these works to see the source of the power behind the works. That requires having a thorough working knowledge of the Bible and its teachings, which so few seem to have these days.

The next criteria, that of doing the will of the Father can only be wholly determined by the individual in question. The outward actions of a person can only show so much about a person. We are told that if we love Jesus, we will obey His commandments. Living by the Ten Commandments (not nine, but ten) is a good indicator that a person is walking with God, but it is not a decisive factor, for many can conform in outward appearance (look at the Pharisees) while being inwardly rebellious. We also cannot know what God is asking of that person in which they may be resisting His will. We cannot look at someone else and decide whether or not they are doing the will of the Father, for we are not God and do not know His will for that person nor can we look at that person's heart. We can only look at them and see whether or not it looks as if their life is under His control. For ourselves we have to ask ourselves, are we living in accordance with God's commandments, and do we turn to God for every decision we have to make and try to find out what God's will is, or do we simply make decisions and expect God to go along with our decision? Often it seems hard to know what God wants from us when it comes to decisions in life that are not about sin vs. obedience but simply life choices, for the path may seem murky, or there is more than one path. Making decisions in these situations is most difficult, and often we find ourselves doubting that we have made the right choice. We can only pray and look for peace in our decision, for I have found that peace seems to be the one thing that we can count on to help us make the right choice. There are occasions when we are presented with opportunities which come out of the blue, and the natural reaction is to say that it must be from God, as we were not looking for this opportunity. In such cases we often will jump on that decision thinking we are doing God's will, but that is not always the case. Sometimes Satan will give us a temptation for an opportunity that will improve our lives materialistically and God is waiting to see if we will go for the gold, or take into consideration the cost of that decision in terms of spiritual well-being or the cost in other ways, such as family life. We must always weigh all the costs when determining God's will. There may be sacrifices that are necessary to follow God's will, but they will never be ones that will imperil our spiritual well-being by leading us away from Christ, and should not ruin our relationships with the godly members of our family. I specify “godly” members, as those who hate Christ will hate us if we follow Him, so we should not expect their approval.

The last criteria, and the one I want to dwell a little more on is whether or not Christ “knows” us. There are many ways that the word “know” is used in the Bible. Adam “knew” Eve and they had a son. In this case the “knowing” took the form of physical intimacy. Adam did not have to have intellectual knowledge of Eve to know her in this way. He did not have to know her desires or preferences or facts about her. He knew her carnally. This is the first type of “knowing” someone.

Another way to “know” someone is to have knowledge of the facts of their life - where they were born, grew up, went to school, etc. It is an intellectual knowledge of a person. We can get to know Christ in this way as we read about His life in the Bible. We gain a head or intellectual knowledge about Him and who He was and what He did. It does not necessitate that we love Him. This is a second type of “knowing” someone.

Even further we can “know” someone when we become friends and we spend time with them, getting to know their personalities, how they will react in situations, what their preferences are. This is a more personal knowledge that results from spending time with someone. We feel affection for our friends and we enjoy their companionship when we are with them, but when we aren't, they are not generally present in our minds. We don't dwell upon the thought of them, but when with them, we thoroughly enjoy their company and doing things together with them. We do love them with a brotherly kind of love, but it is not generally all encompassing to our lives. They are a pleasant and enjoyable companion for whom we feel affection and we like spending time with them. We learn to know Christ this way when we initially accept His gift of justification and forgiveness, and study God's Word and see into the heart and mind of Christ as He revealed Himself, and spend time in prayer talking to Him. He is in our hearts and we feel a love for Him, but our thoughts are not always turning to Him. He is a sometimes presence in our lives, when we go to church, when we do devotions, etc. This is a third way of”knowing” someone.

Finally we have the kind of knowledge which is the kind that marriage should result in, but so seldom does. It is the kind of knowledge that embraces the previous three, but goes a step further. It is the kind of knowledge that results when there is a combination of two elements, sacrificial unconditional love, and a constant intimate presence of two individuals together in spirit if not always in person. Their spirits and souls have become one in essence. This is how married people become “one.” They know each other intimately physically, they know each other's personal facts, they know each other's personalities and preferences and enjoy each other's companionship, but even more they have a deep abiding love for each other and know each other's deepest secrets, longings, and even when not physically in each other's presence, they have a constant awareness of the other individual in their mind and heart. They are always thinking of the other person and how what they do will affect that person, for that person's welfare and happiness is paramount to them. They are bonded in body, soul, and spirit, and start conforming to think alike and can even finish each other's sentences, because they have so joined their souls together that they almost think as one. This is what marriage is supposed to be, and hardly ever is. This is the fourth type of “knowing” and is why Christ calls us His Bride, for this is the kind of relationship He wants with us.

In this passage in Matthew the word “knew” is “ginosko” in Greek and can be said to mean “be aware of.” To be aware of something generally indicates that its presence is constantly within our perception. It is this constant awareness of the other person's presence in our minds and hearts that is defined in the type of relationship that one should find in marriage as described above. And to repeat, this is exactly why we are called the Bride of Christ. Our relationship with Christ is not supposed to be just a physical one where we have feelings that get all worked up when we are having an emotional outpouring at a rousing service, or the physical indwelling of the Spirit whom we can let guide us or quench if we do not want to listen to Him. It is not supposed to just be a head knowledge of Christ, who He was, what He did for us, or the facts of the Bible. It is not just supposed to be an affectionate relationship where we do love God to an extent and are familiar with the Bible and know the basics of what is expected of us, and spend Sundays (or Sabbaths) in worship, and may even read a devotional and pray every day to spend some time with God, but when not doing those things, it is "out of sight, out of mind" as far as He goes. Knowing Christ and God the Father has to go further.

Knowing Christ in such a way that He knows us has to be a relationship where you willingly submit and sacrifice self to His will. Christ should be constantly aware of your presence, because you should be constantly aware of His. Your thoughts must be conformed to His thoughts, your love must be as sacrificial and unconditional as His is. You should know God intimately in a physical way when you listen to the Holy Spirit and don't quench His teaching, guidance, chastisement, etc. Christ should be your best friend and you should have an intellectual knowledge of Him as well as enjoying His company as a friend whose companionship brings you joy. You must have all of the kinds of “knowledge” listed above for Christ to “know” you. He must be as aware of you in His life as you are of His in yours. If He is not, then this is probably the scariest passage for a Christian to read, for it does not offer blanket eternal security to all believers. There will be Christians who thought they have known Christ, because they have trusted in their church or a baptism to give them salvation and have thought that they lived their lives for Him (in their estimation) by demonstrating gifts of the Spirit and good works, and who yet have missed the mark. There will be those who have accepted salvation as a free gift as born again believers, who read their Bible, attended church, and have done good works and still they do not know Him, or rather He does not know them, for He has not been the Lord of their lives. They have walked with the world in a carnal Christianity and an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality instead of constant awareness, submission, and holiness. So having Christ “know” you is a serious business. One that more people should consider carefully to decide if they will be among the people He addresses, or if He will know them upon sight.

The question for the reader becomes not one of “Do you know Christ?” , but “Is Christ aware of your presence in His life? Does He know you?”