Thursday, April 17, 2014

Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation; Russia, Ukraine, and prophecy

This is a summary of what has been going on in the Crimea and Ukraine with Russia this past month. Russia and the Baltics have some prophetic significance in the upcoming Ezekiel 38/Gog Magog war and the Tribulation wars. I don't know much about that area of the world so I haven't been covering it from the geo-political angle. But something came to light today that must be addressed, because it is of high and clear prophetic significance.

[UPDATE: flier accepted as authentic now seen as a possible fake. But still, even that someone would think to do this as a prank, OR as a real incident, bespeaks prophecy. Like Putin joking he won't annex Alaska because it's too cold...]


First, the news,

April 15, 2014: First deaths in Ukraine; Putin admits Crimea invaded
A clash outside a military base ended with the first deaths so far in a Ukraine anti-militant operation as Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Thursday in a radio interview that Russian soldiers did secretly invade Crimea to help pro-Russian Ukrainians take over the province by force. Meanwhile, high-level talks aimed at calming soaring tensions over the crisis in Ukraine were being held in Geneva between representatives of the United States, European Union and Russia. Three pro-Russian militants were killed in a skirmish outside a Ukrainian National Guard base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol in an attack Ukraine’s interior ministry called the bloodiest to date by militants who want the entire East Ukraine to go the way of Crimea. Crimea was annexed by Putin after Ukraine militants took over the province with the help of mysterious well-armed squads of masked soldiers who sealed off the province to prevent Ukraine from bringing in troops. Ukraine said Putin is doing the same thing in East Ukraine, but he denied it.

April 15, 2014: The UK Telegraph reports that the Ukraine is “on the brink” of civil war as the government launched an “antiterrorist operation” against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.

The Washington Post editorialized about Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions. Keep in mind that by the time the antichrist comes to the fore and he is revealed, the world will have been divided into ten geo-political regions led by ten kings. (Dan 2:31-35, 40-45; 7:7-8, 19-24 ; Rev 13:1-2; 17:3, 7, 12-16.) These kings will be the most ambitious of the most ambitious, and the most ruthlessly successful, if they end up as one of only ten leaders of the entire globe. The Gog Magog war is sparked by a Russian leader who invades Israel under the influence of demonic Gog. The leaders of the last of the last days will have huge ambitions and will not be afraid to put their tanks where their mouths are.

Of geo-political realignments:
Al Arabiya.net has recently described the current standoff between the West and Moscow concerning Ukraine as potentially the gravest instance of tension in the post-Cold War era. The tensions between Russia and the West seem to be causing some significant geopolitical re-alignments following Russia’s recent political aggressions in relation to Ukraine and Crimea. (Source)

Of dictatorship ambitions:
The Obama administration is underestimating Putin’s ambitions
President Obama has dismissed Russia as a “regional” power that “leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.” But the Obama administration has consistently underestimated Vladimir Putin and continues to do so by asserting that Russia is isolated. Putin has laid the groundwork to assemble a powerful alternative to the transatlantic alliance.

Russia stands at the center of dozens of nations uncomfortable with or unsuited to the Western principles that President Obama described as “self-evident.” They chafe at Western control of global institutions and norms. Putin aims to offer them alternatives and is strengthening key relationships that will allow him to do so — with disgruntled mid-powers such as India, with regimes that have been kept at arm’s length for their behavior and with certain European political elites. t is wrong to think that Crimea is Moscow’s only strategic objective. As Putin’s stock at home soars, he is likely to methodically challenge the European Union and, especially, NATO. Russia’s willingness to use overwhelming force and the West’s inability to effectively respond give him two key advantages.

I believe those news excerpts bring us up to general speed on the Russian involvement in Ukraine and Crimea. Here is a map of Russia and the Baltics. The 'A' Pin is on Crimea with Ukraine just to the north. Click to enlarge.
There are two main reasons God will enact the Tribulation. The Tribulation is a hellish 7 years on earth that precede Jesus' bodily return. One reason is to deliver His long-promised stored-up wrath on an unbelieving world. The other main reason is to punish the Israelites, today's Jews. He never finished His punishment of them and paused His prophetic plan 7 years short of the decree. The Tribulation is the resumption of the prophetic clock of the Jews in God's timetable.

What has He been doing since the pause, you might ask? He has been building His church. (Matthew 16:18). When the Jews rejected Jesus, and refused to share Him with the world through the Good News, He founded His church and allowed the Gentile nations to be His light. (Acts 13:44-47; Romans 11:11-12).

When the church is complete in quota containing all the names He set down since before the beginning of time, (Revelation 13:8) He will rapture us and resume His plan with the Jews. (Romans 11:25). This link explains the prophetic clock and God's ever unfolding but differing plans for His different peoples (Jews, Church, unsaved).

One of the events prophesied to take place during this time is a Holocaust of Jews. The Tribulation holocaust will take 2/3 of Israel's Jews, demonic hatred of them will be so fervent and evil. (Revelation 12:13, Zechariah 13:8-9).

The German Holocaust of WWII began seemingly innocently enough. Jews were told to register. In 1937 and 1938, Jews in Germany were told to register all property. All Jews were obliged to carry identity cards that indicated their Jewish heritage, and, in the autumn of 1938, all Jewish passports were stamped with an identifying letter “J.” In January 1940, Polish Jews were ordered to register all property. The Holocaust Encyclopedia explains that of the order to register, it was "a prelude to the gradual expropriation of their material wealth by the state." 

Well, it's happening again.

Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation
Fear replaced communal atmosphere in Donetsk's Jewish community as armed men handed out a leaflet Passover eve calling on Jews register their religion and property with the interim pro-Russian government or face deportation and loss of citizenship. A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community's Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern. The leaflet demanded the city's Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated. Donetsk, a Ukraine province with 4.3 million people - 10 percent of Ukraine's population - and 17,000 Jews, is home to much of the country's heavy industry, and is thus the biggest prize of the eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists have captured government buildings in the past week." [HT to The Sovereign]

These events I've related to you may or may not have direct prophetic implications. In my opinion, they do. Jan Markell of Olive Tree Views listed 16 converging end of days signs, and my goodness, seeing them listed out like that does give one pause for thought of the times in which we are living.

Christian persecution is rising exponentially. This headline from the Christin Post mentions China, but it's emblematic of worldwide persecution of Christians. "Gov't Persecution of Christians in China Worsens Significantly: Persecution rose by 38.82 percent since 2012. It's the same in most places for Christians, and Jews are experiencing it too. Attacks on synagogues are up, and the Kansas City Jewish Center shootings this week are just one example of similar attacks and killings worldwide against Jews. And now the order for Jews to register their religion in the Ukraine city...is another highly significant sign of converging prophecy.

Tomorrow I'll write about the horrific rise in food prices. That is another sign.

Please understand the Good News. When Adam sinned, he separated humankind from intimate fellowship with God, and this barred our unholy selves from entering heaven. God had a plan though, and that was to send Jesus, His Son, to earth to preach reconciliation, repentance, and holiness to first the Jews and the world. He died as the sinless lamb upon the cross as bloody sacrifice for us with God unleashing His wrath upon Jesus' broken body. Jesus was sinless and thus lived the perfectly holy life God requires for entry to heaven. Satisfied, and with His wrath exhausted, He raised Jesus from the dead and brought Him to heaven and sat Him at His right hand.

Now, any person believing in Jesus as resurrected Messiah and having repented of their sins can enter heaven through Jesus as the door. Any person rejecting Jesus will have to endure God's wrath for their sins for all eternity.

Death seals the choice. If you die in your sins it is too late. Please don't leave resolving these questions until it is too late. As it is written in Dante Alighieri's famous medieval Italian literary masterpiece, The Inferno, here is hell's gate, and the plaque above it says, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Jesus is all hope. He is the only hope. Apart from Him, there is none.
Illustration by Gustave Dore, wikimedia commons
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15)

I pray your name be found in the Lamb's Book of Life, and then you have this hope to look forward to:

"But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:16)

Putin with dictator ambitions desires a better country, but he will find that his country won't last. Please be reconciled to Jesus and live in a better country, the eternal one. The city is New Jerusalem, and Jesus is there.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Heaven is for Real" is Unreal. What near death experiences tell us, and what they don't tell us

In 2010 a book was released called "Heaven is for Real". A wikipedia page describes the plot thus:
"The book documents the report of a near-death experience by Burpo's then-four-year-old son, Colton. The book tells how the boy began saying he had visited heaven."

And at the end of the page it says, "See Also":
23 Minutes in Hell
90 Minutes in Heaven
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven
Proof of Heaven

The book was immediately optioned to be made into a movie, which is being released this month, April 2014.

Heaven Is for Real
"A small-town father must find the courage and conviction to share his son's extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world."

I used the word 'immediately' because the book was a runaway bestseller. It spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 2011. It's been on the NY Times bestseller list for a total of 138 weeks.

This is incredible to me. That people in the first place would seek any information about God's dwelling apart from God's word is amazingly undiscerning. And to be attracted to such information from a four-year-old-boy is just beyond comprehension.

But I understand. I understand the attraction to wanting to see peeks of the other side. As Christians, we resist such thoughts and desires, because they aren't profitable. When I was an unsaved person, though, I was intrigued by near-death experiences (NDEs).

Besides near-death experiences, there are now post-death experiences. Science and medicine has advanced to the point currently where doctors can put a person to death for a long period of time in order to operate or repair a body, and then bring them back to life in controlled circumstances.

I wasn't saved until I was 43 years old. That is a lot of years as a teen and an adult to ponder the mysteries of the other side. And ponder I did. There is a certain logic to Christianity that the unsaved mind suppresses. (Romans 1:18). Intuitively it seemed that evolution would not have gone to all the trouble to evolve us bodily AND in addition, give us a mind, a conscience, and self-awareness. I wondered, what was the point of living 40, 50, 70 years and then...poof, nada? Obliteration? It didn't seem likely.

Secondly, it seemed that every culture in the world since recorded time and history began has celebrated or worshiped a deity or deities. I often wondered, why are we all wired to worship? And which deity is the right one? There must be something to religion, if every culture from north to south, east to west, has worshiped someone or something.

Third, I always wondered why so many people reported having a near death experience, and why those experiences seemed so similar.

It was more than reasonable that religion was real, the other side was real, that heaven was real.

Then I became a Christian by God's grace and the drawing of the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 2:8, John 6:44). I learned through the bible that heaven IS real. I read what it looks like. I read who will go there. I read about worship there. All about heaven, it's in the bible. How great and glorious God is to provide us this glimpse.

Four men went to heaven in visions and three came back authorized to tell about it. (Paul said he heard things he was forbidden to tell. 2 Corinthians 12:2. John also was told not to tell of one of the things he'd heard, the Seven Thunders, Revelation 10:1-7). Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John went to heaven in visions and were shown wonderful things. How glorious the Lord is to give us these peeks that are now recorded in His word! We can trust them.

And if you think about it, ONLY FOUR men were given visions of heaven. Job, who was called righteous by God, wasn't escorted around heaven on a personal tour. King David, a man after God's own heart, wasn't given an individual advance visit. John the Baptist, whom Jesus said no other man born of woman had risen greater than, wasn't given an opportunity to stroll around and take in the sights.

But four year old Colton Burpo was. He and his dad wrote "Heaven is for Real." In Colton's version, people had bodies. In the bible version, people haven't been given their glorified body yet. That won't happen until the rapture. And we're supposed to believe the boy?

Dr Eben Alexander was given a tour. He wrote "Proof of Heaven." Dr Alexander, a former surgeon, has been fired from multiple hospitals, is the subject of several malpractice suits, and is charged by doctors with lying in his book about the events leading up to his NDE, and others found discrepancies in his book on other matters. He is a Christ-rejecting pagan who believes in reincarnation. And HE was given a tour of heaven?

What near death experiences don't tell us is, what heaven is like, because NONE of the people who claim to have gone there, really went there. The details of their trip contradict not only the bible, but they contradict each other. Any detail, glimpse, peek, or curiosity you have about heaven will not be satisfied in these books or movies. Though they may indeed have had some sort of experience, the details related to heaven are all untrue imaginings.

What NDEs do tell us is what we already know from the bible: the conscious mind continues.

There is no doubt that near death experiences happen. They are consistently reported by millions of people. Eight million people in the US alone have reported having such an experience. And most of them have similar elements. The NDE FAQ page defines those elements this way:

No two NDEs are exactly identical, but within a number of experiences a pattern becomes evident. Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences. Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one's physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries. (source)

There is no doubt that in some of the NDEs, spiritual forces are at play. However, the fact of having a near death experience does not by default make the experience true. Here is the Stand to Reason blog explaining this very concept in their discussion of "Heaven is For Real".

"What we can't conclude from these experiences that appear to be real is that what they heard and learned during these experiences are necessarily true. An experience can be real without the conclusions of the experience being accurate. That happens to us all the time even in this life. We have an experience, but we're mistaken about what we think about it. It can happen in death, too. After all, once we have evidence for a non-physical world, we have reason to believe from the Bible, which tells us about this world, that there are beings there that deceive us. There are also beings who tell us the truth. But which do people encounter in their near death experiences? It's hard to tell."

Yes, it's hard to tell. And why would we even want to pursue such rabbit trails that lead only to the Valley of Humiliation and the Cliffs of Insanity? (apologies to John Bunyan and William Goldman)

All that NDEs can tell us is that the conscious mind continues (we already knew that) and people experience things after death (we already knew that too). Anything other than that are fanciful thoughts and images that have no place in biblical mind and a Jesus-loving heart.

As far as the movie Heaven is For Real goes, avoid it. Though 'Christian' movies that are made with Hollywood production values are rare these days, movies about the afterlife, the soul and angels are common. Interest in the topic of the afterlife among the unsaved (and unfortunately the saved) is what's real. Look at this small list I gathered in just a short time:

Heaven Can Wait/remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, Warren Beatty,
A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an over-anxious angel before he was supposed to die, comes back to life in the body of a recently-murdered millionaire. (God messes up, that wacky deity! Hijinks from heaven ensue)

All of Me, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin
A dying millionaire has her soul transferred into a younger, willing woman. But something goes wrong, and she finds herself in her lawyer's body - together with the lawyer. (This movie presents God as a mess-up and violates John 10:12).

What Dreams May Come, Robin Williams
After dying in a car crash a man searches the afterlife for his wife. Chris Robin Williams) dies and awakens in Heaven, and learns that his immediate surroundings can be controlled by his imagination. He meets a man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) he recognizes as Albert, his friend and mentor from his medical residency, and the presence from his time as a "ghost" on Earth. Albert will guide and help in this new afterlife. Albert teaches Chris about his existence in Heaven, and how to shape his little corner, and to travel to others' "dreams". Meanwhile, Annie is unable to cope with the loss of her husband and decides to commit suicide. Chris, who is initially relieved that her suffering is done, grows angry when he learns that those who commit suicide go to Hell; this is not the result of a judgment made against them, but rather their own tendency to create "nightmare" afterlife worlds based on their pain. Chris is adamant that he will rescue Annie from Hell, despite Albert's insistence that no one has ever succeeded in doing so. Albert agrees to find Chris a "tracker" to help search for Annie's soul. (This movie teaches we are little gods and we create heaven and hell ourselves AND that we can re-write the rules of heaven. Additionally there is no marriage in heaven and our focus will be on Jesus, not our earthly wife).

Defending Your Life, Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep
In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage. (A works related salvation, and one which defendants argue with God, no less. Presenting God as less than the Holy and Righteous Judge).

Wings of Desire, Peter Falk
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal. (Presented as a romantic, sensitive story, this one is right out of Genesis 6 with the unholy angels mating with women.)

It's A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (A person given visions of the future like John of Patmos was??)

Michael, John Travolta, Andie MacDowell
Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an 'angel expert', are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that she shares her house with a real, live archangel named Michael. Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true - but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colourful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe it were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. (This is obviously an unholy angel, presented as holy. What a blot on the name of Jesus and His heaven!)

In 2004 John Hagee Ministries put together a movie called "Escape From Hell." In it, a psychiatrist who counsels people who have had near death experiences becomes consumed with learning whether there is an afterlife for real or not. He induces a medical death for himself and calls a friend to come revive him before it is too late. With that, he passes out and begins his tour. The doctrinal errors in this film are too numerous to mention, but a movie reviewer called CBC Pastor wrote this:

When we seek to add error to increase the scare effect, we deny the power of God's Spirit to work through truth... Movies that stretch the truth to this level only hurt evangelism through those that will laugh themselves right out of our churches and ignore the truth of genuine warning.

That is exactly what these heaven tourism books and movies do. They deny the power of the Spirit to work through truth, and isn't that how the Spirit promised to work? Through truth? Not through lies.

Here are some credible reviews and essays on heaven tourism. I'll tell you ahead of time, they are all negative. I am purposely listing these in order to help you or to help you help a family member or friend who insists that these visions and trips to heaven are real. Heaven IS for real. I know this because Jesus told me so, not a little boy, or a disgraced doctor or a well-intentioned pastor or any man in the flesh. As Pastor Tim Challies succinctly said of Heaven is for Real,

"The point of it all is to encourage you that heaven is a real place. Colton went there and his experience now validates its existence".

Ridiculous in the extreme, isn't it?!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Heaven is For Real, book review by Tim Challies

Heaven Tourism, essay by Tim Challies

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine , essay by Phil Johnson

To Heaven and Back, review by Randy Alcorn

Justin Peters explains why trips to heaven don't line up with the biblevideo

The Berean Library, Heaven is for Real

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How satan twisted Moses' brazen serpent into the rod of Asclepius

In around 1400 BC, Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness. They had been released from slavery by powerful acts of God, including ten plagues and parting the Red Sea to aid their escape. (Exodus 1-15)

However, it wasn't long before the Israelites grumbled. They were sick of manna, they wanted an easier life, they wanted to get there. (Numbers 20:4). So they grumbled some more, against Moses and against God.

God heard their grumbles.

Wiki CC, Moses and the Brazen Serpent, Sebastien Bourdon
"Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live." (Numbers 21:6-9)

As with everything, God had a purpose. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15).

And as with everything, satan is busy, too.

By 700BC or so, satan had encouraged the Israelites to worship the brazen idol, rather than worship the God to whom it pointed. Worse, the Israelites had actually named the idol! They called it 'Neshutan.'

"He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).” 2 Kings 18:4

Hezekiah removed them, which pleased God, but it was too late. The idol worship had taken root. By ~460 BC Cult of Asclepius was well underway. To the Greeks, and then the Romans and finally Europe, Asclepius became a god, represented as a man holding a rod with a serpent twined around it. This is actually the pale memory of the actual brazen serpent curled around the rod Moses held, where the Israelites were to look at the serpent lifted high and be healed, but since the world hates the bible, the truth, and anything to do with Jesus, they easily fell into the myth that it was Asclepius. He became known as “Asclepius savior,” in a brazen attempt to remove the righteous place of Jesus in saving souls and bodies.
The serpentine cross sculpture (the Brazen Serpent Monument)
atop Mount Nebo was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni.
It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness
(Numbers 21:4–9) and the cross upon which
Jesus was crucified (John 3:14). Wiki CC photo
The Greek Island of Kos seems to be ground zero for the largest of the Asclepius cult followers, with a close second a HUGE cult temple at Pergamum. Remember the church at Pergamum? That Pergamum.

After 400BC or so, Asclepion complexes sprung up, monumental temples with a sanctuary, spas, baths, dormitories, patient intake, and a hall of records. (I.e., scrolls and marble carvings of patients who were served and who got healed)

Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an asclepieion on the isle of Kos. Prior to becoming the personal physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Galen treated and studied at the famed asclepieion at Pergamon. (source)

Asclepius was HUGE in the ancient world. Worship of Asclepius was such a part of Greek life that the false god remained on the Greek currency until 2001 when Greek money was replaced by the Euro.

The reverse side of the 10,000-drachma note, showing Asklepios,
the god of healing, with his symbol, the staff with a serpent coiled around it.
Beside him, a healing scene depicts a sacred snake licking or biting
the right shoulder of a sleeping patient. Source
Here is how the Asclepius worship went:

In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in healing rituals, and these snakes – the Aesculapian Snakes – crawled around freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. These snakes were introduced at the founding of each new temple of Asclepius throughout the classical world. From about 300 BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god (according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary – the abaton (or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a process of interpretation.

Satan sure can twist things, and make them seem complicated and spiritual at the same time. The Gospel is so simple. Moses' directions from God as to what to do to be saved was so simple. (Look at the lifted up serpent and be saved).

I mentioned Hippocrates a moment ago. You might know the Hippocratic Oath, an oath doctors swear by to this day. It first appeared around 400BC at the time the Asclepius worship got going. The Oath is one of the oldest binding documents in history. In its original version it read:

"I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:"

Today, the modified Hippocratic oath doesn't make the speaker swear allegiance to Asclepius but instead worships science.

"I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow."

I also said a moment ago that Pergamon is mentioned in the bible, and that the largest mainland Asclepion hospital-temple sanctuaries were located there. It is thought by bible scholars that one reason Jesus called the city of Pergamos in the book of Revelation, the place where satan's throne is located, could be because of the Asclepion there. Wikipedia describes the main feature of Pergamos:

Three kilometers south of the Acropolis at , down in the valley, there was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepium), the god of healing. The Ascelpium was approached along a 820 meter colonnaded sacred way. In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts, no doubt representing what had been healed. Galen, the most famous doctor in the ancient Roman Empire and personal physician of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, worked in the Ascelpium for many years. Notable extant structures in the Asclepium include:
  • the Roman theater
  • the North Stoa
  • the South Stoa
  • the Temple of Asclepius
  • a circular treatment center (sometimes known as the Temple of Telesphorus)
  • a healing spring
  • an underground passageway
  • a library
  • the Via Tecta (or the Sacred Way, which is a colonnaded street leading to the sanctuary) and
  • a propylon


Wikipedia Rod of Asclepius

"I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is..." (Revelation 2:13)

Rod of Asclepius is used by 62% of all medical professionals. As I drove home today, thinking about how to write this blog essay, I pass by my town's fire department and an emergency vehicle was parked in the lot. The side of the vehicle was emblazoned with this symbol.

We are grateful to know Jesus, the only deity one should look to in order to be saved. Asclepius might be everywhere today, but Jesus soon will return to erase all the false gods, AND worshiped rightly.

Charles Spurgeon preached about the rod of Moses in a sermon called "The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent". He said,

But the picture blackens; we must have deeper shades to paint it. Behold the people after they were bitten! Can you picture their writhings and contortions when the poison of the serpent had infected their veins? We are told by the old writers that these serpents when they bit caused vehement heat, so that there was a pain throughout the body, as if a hot iron had been sent along the veins. Those who had been bitten had a great thirst; they drank incessantly, and still cried for water to quench the burnings within. It was a hot fire which was lit in the fountain, and which ran through every nerve and every sinew of the man; they were racked in pain, and died in most fearful convulsions.

Now my brethren, we cannot say that sin instantly produces such an effect as this upon the men who are the subjects of it; but we do affirm, that, let sin alone, and it will develop itself in miseries far more extreme than ever the bite of the serpent could have caused. ...

And now comes THE REMEDY. The remedy of the bitten Israelites was a brazen serpent; and the remedy for sinners is Christ crucified. 

But remember, that much as those who heard of the brazen serpent might have despised it, yet there was no other means of cure. And, now hear me for one moment, while I tell the whole story of salvation. Men, brethren, and fathers, we are born of a sinful generation, and we have ourselves increased our guilt, for us there is no hope; do what we may, we cannot save ourselves.


"Could our zeal no respite know,
Could our tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone."

But brethren, Christ Jesus, God's eternal Son, came into this world, and was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a doleful life of misery, and at last he died a death accompanied by unutterable pangs—that was the punishment of the sins of those who, as penitents, come to Christ. If you this day so repent, and put your trust in Jesus, you have in your trust and repentance a sure proof that Christ was punished for you.


Monday, April 14, 2014

All your debunked blood moon information right here in one place

As the article below sums it up, "Clearly, the scriptures that Pastor Hagee says refer to red moons are not the result of lunar eclipses. Instead, these verses describe cosmic phenomena that tell of the moon turning red or being darkened because of comets falling and putting so much dust into the atmosphere that even the sun will be darkened. These verses tell of impact events that are to take place in the last stages of the Tribulation Period as described in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Trumpet, and the Seventh Vial of the Book of Revelation. (Also, see Isaiah 13:5-13 and Isaiah 34:4)."

Keep reading the link below to see exactly why the four blood moons may be astronomically interesting, but in no way are prophetically interesting, nor are they related to any prophecy of the bible. (Correctly interpreted prophecy of the bible, that is).

Four Blood Moons
"Bottom line: the four blood red moons caused by solar eclipse that are to occur in 2014-2015 do not constitute signs of important prophetic events that will soon take place."

Answers in Genesis, Astronomy section
Will Lunar Eclipses Cause Four Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015?

Christian News Network
Upcoming ‘Blood Moon’ Lunar Eclipses Spark Woes, Discussion About End Times Bible Prophecy

Video: Pirate Christian Radio
Debunking Hagee's 4 Blood Moons

GotQuestions
Question: "Is Jesus going to return during the blood-red moon of 2015?"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday praise

Jesus is worthy to be praised!




Saturday, April 12, 2014

"The way is narrow and few find it"

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:14)

Christianity is the world's largest religion, 31.59% of the world population - on the face of it. Broken down, Christianity comprises the following sects:

Roman Catholic 18.85%,
Protestant 8.15%,
Orthodox 4.96%,
Anglican 1.26%
Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Wiki CC

However, if you remove Catholicism and Orthodox, which aren't Christian and are false, all you've got left is Protestant and Anglican, or 10% of the world population.

The Anglicans have a mix of Catholic and Protestant Reformation theology and so one cannot say with assurance that likely most of the people in that sect have been fed pure doctrine. So say perhaps .26% of Anglicans of the reported 1.26% are saved. And with apostasy rising and the remaining 8% of Protestants representing Christianity left, one can say with assurance that likely at least half of those claiming Protestant roots are not saved (or more).

Remember, mixed in with Protestants are Charismatics, Word/Faith heretics, and Liberals. That brings the Christian denomination from a 31% of the world's population down to a likely 2-4% of the world population.

2-4 percent of 8 billion is 160-380 million saved. Alternately, that's seven billion eight hundred forty million people alive today on this planet right now who are going to hell when they die.

source
We know that there is only ONE way, ONE truth and ONE life, in Jesus. There are no near misses or almosts. Jesus said the way is narrow, and few find it. He really means few.

When the rapture comes, all those people listed as a number in the chart above will be left behind to face a terrible and horrific hell on earth. God's wrath will be unleashed. He has refrained from delivering His full cup for all these thousands of years, since the last global judgment, The Flood. But once again He will unleash it. It will be so terrible that unless He cut the days short, no flesh would survive. (Matthew 24:22)

In Revelation 6:8, it is often interpreted that to mean that in that Seal Judgment, a fourth of the earth's population will be killed.

"And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:8)
Narrow gate on The High Way Cotterdale, North Yorkshire, Great Britain.
This gateway, and another further east, is only 2ft 6in wide.
Photo by John Slater, Creative Commons

At the moment of this writing there are 7.2 billion people on the earth. That's 1.8 BILLION people dead in a matter of moments, or days, weeks at most. And you remember how the world reacted when 3000 were killed in the twin towers and the Pentagon and the planes of 9/11.

The above judgment leaves 5.4 billion alive. However, there will be fewer than that because of suicide, murder, starvation and disease. (Revelation 6:4-8, Revelation 8:11). So roughly let's say 5 billion.

Then, Revelation 9:15 says,

"So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind."

A third of 5 billion is 1.6, leaving 3.4 billion. More than half the earth's population has died off, or more, because we haven't counted additional deaths from secondary causes, or war. Three and a half years have passed, and the Great Tribulation hasn't even begun yet. You see how completely Jesus meant it when He said that unless the days were cut short no flesh would survive. For example, let's look at a series of cascading events.

In Revelation 8:7 & 11 it says,

"The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up." (Revelation 8:7)

The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. (Revelation 8:11)

Vision of John of Patmos from Revelation 4:4
four seraphim surround the throne of Christ,
twenty-four elders sit on thrones to either side
(Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry)
Hail ruins crops. Without crops, people can't eat. If people can't eat, they die. If all the grass burns up, then cattle can't eat. If cattle can't eat, they die, and there is no meat or dairy. Without meat or dairy, people die. In addition, millions of dead and bloated cattle laying around pollute the waters. Cholera breaks out. Disease runs rampant, and people die.

I hope you are getting a more specific idea of just how many people are deceived in a false religion and will be left behind to die in their sins. It has been like this throughout the ages, most don't believe in Jesus. The Great White Throne Judgment will have a very long line.

God's grace is very great. He is merciful. See a picture of this in Pastor Phil Johnson's sermon on "Raising Cain". Cain was the world's first born man. He was the world's first falsely worshiping man. And He was the first murderer. Pastor Johnson says in his exposition of Genesis 4:1-17,

Notice the gracious way God deals with Cain throughout this account. This is important. There are people who believe God loves the elect, but has nothing but hatred for everyone else. I don't believe that. Scripture teaches that "The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made." (Ps. 145:9). He has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezek. 33:11).

I'm committed to the doctrine of divine election. But let me say as clearly as possible that I also believe those who go to hell have no one to blame but themselves. The fact that Cain ultimately lived a life of self-will and sin was in no way God's fault. God constantly dealt graciously with Cain.

Over and over in Scripture we see God graciously and patiently appealing to those who ultimately spurn Him, and Cain is the first example of this. Notice that even God's judgments are tempered by grace. Even when it would be perfectly just for God to destroy Cain, the Lord shows him great mercy.

Cain deserved to die for his act of killing his brother.

Genesis 9:6 says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." In other words, capital punishment is a fit penalty for murder.

And Cain knew this. As soon as he knew he could not hide his act of murder, he feared that (verse 14) "I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." The Hebrew literally means, "All who find me will kill me." The King James Version translates it this way: "It shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me." (I think that's funny. Everyone who finds me shall slay me?

Actually, even if that were the whole world's ambition, only the first person who found him would get to kill him. After that, Cain wouldn't have to worry about it any more.)

But God was gracious, and He put a mark on Cain so that those who found Him would know that he was under divine protection. We don't know what sort of mark this was. Obviously, this was at a time when the earth's population was still very small. It would have been no big deal for word of this to spread throughout the whole human race, so that everyone knew Cain was under the protective hand of God. This mark was not the mark of a pariah. The mark itself was not God's judgment; it was an act of mercy.
 ...
But failing that, why didn't God strike Cain dead the moment he killed his own brother? Why did He guarantee him protection from avengers and mark him with a special mark and allow him to live a long life? There's only one reason: because God is a God of grace and mercy. He was extending to Cain the opportunity to repent. God's words to Cain in verse 7 are an explicit plea for repentance.

God is gracious and merciful! He is wonderful. Please be aware of the lateness of the hour. Please be aware that His long-suffering mercy will end and He will unleash His long-stored up wrath. Please be aware of the real people behind the numbers of just how many are going to die in their sins. Please be grateful you are one of the few who found Him.

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Further reading:

Here is a neat link to World Population statistics, live

Sermon, "A Jet Tour Through Revelation"

List: 21 Brief Observations concerning Revelation 6:9-11

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lightning strikes on the rise, quakes this week, ground shift in WY, Heaven tourism books, New Jerusalem

From a good science essay which discusses a comparison of DNA between apes and humans and shows why Christians don't have to worry about the theory of evolution. "How Similar are Humans & Apes?"

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Here's why Christians don't need to worry about the Jesus Wife papyrus fragment. Or listen to this 15 minute podcast on Issues, Etc, with Dr Craig Evans.

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I've often published essays reporting on the statistics which show increasing numbers of earthquakes, or storms, or strength of storms, or sinkholes, etc. But I've never been able to discover whether lightning strikes are more common now than before, until I read this article in an Israeli news outlet.

Lightning strikes a warming planet
They say lightning never strikes twice, and that getting struck by lightning is as rare as winning the lottery. But such folk wisdom may no longer be true, report scientists studying global lightning patterns. A cross-country research project published recently in the American Journal of Climate Change suggests that in developing countries especially, lightning strikes and death by lightning appear to be growing. Asked to comment on the story by the BBC, Price said: “The underdeveloped world is where you have the maximum frequency of lightning and thunderstorms — in places like the Central African Republic and DR Congo, the Amazon region of South America, the Indonesian islands and Borneo in South East Asia. “When you add the figures up, there may even be more people killed or injured by lightning than most of the other natural hazards we have on the earth today.” A rising world population also means that there are more people who have the potential to get hit by lightning.

According to Price, the increase in lightning activity will be seen especially in areas that become warmer and drier –– like the Mediterranean region and the southern United States. From 2012 research, he already concluded that the storms of the future will be more violent. For example, the Brazilian city of Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon, has witnessed a 50% increase in lightning strikes over the last three decades. The city now gets about 13.5 strikes per kilometer per year.

There have been several major earthquakes over the last day. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), there was a quake at

Nicaragua, 6.6
Papua New Guinea, 6.5
Papua New Guinea, 7.1
Chile, 6.0
Nicaragua, 6.1

In Chile there have been 61 quakes this week.

Of interest is the continuing quake swarm at Oklahoma. This week there have been 50 quakes, including a large (for the area) 4.1.

In France, a rare 5.0 earthquake occurred this week. Strong earthquakes are rare in France.

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Dozens evacuated in Wyoming as ground shifts
Dozens of Jackson residents who were evacuated after land began shifting on a hillside in this Wyoming resort town are waiting to find out if and when they can return home. Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson said today there is still no word on what is causing the East Gros Ventre Butte land to shift, but officials have taken steps to ensure there is no catastrophe. Geologists are on the scene, and other geologists are being brought in to get a better idea of what is happening. A road and parking lot of a Walgreens pharmacy have been distorted and buckled by ground movement, which was also the cause of breaks in nearby water pipes last weekend.

When you see these kinds of scenes out of Washington state and the landslides in the canyon, it’s not to be trifled with,” he said, so the officials are monitoring carefully, but despite many rumors as to the reason this is occurring, in the article "Worry Mounts as Butte Slips, he continued, “I don’t know if anybody knows exactly what the issue is,” Barron said.

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Understanding the times and knowing what the church should do. Seven things to keep in mind.


Pastor David Platt speaks with clarity and beautiful fervency and discernment of the demonic deception of the surge in heavenly tourism books. They're fanciful accounts, frivolous features and juvenile attractions. 4-minute video. Please watch



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In light of the two blog essays I've written recently about adopting a heavenly perspective and being of heavenly good, let's finish with Nathan Busenitz's essay on the physicality of the heavenly city of New Jerusalem. It is an essay titled The New Jerusalem.