Archive Page 2

08
Feb
18

Seals and Trumpets and Bowls – oh my!

A lot of the teachings that influenced my early Christian life presented the book of Revelation as a mostly chronological account of future events, terrible judgements on the earth, that the church weren’t expected to experience personally because we would be removed from earth beforehand.

This removal occurred through an event known as “The Rapture”, a snatching up of believers from the earth to be with Jesus. While many Christians wouldn’t disagree about the expectation of some version of this future event, there is a deal of disagreement about when it will happen.

My introduction to “The Rapture” was through a pre-tribulation mindset, meaning as I said above, that believers would be taken from the earth prior to the terrible events described through much of the book of Revelation, a period defined as “The Tribulation”, or “the Great Tribulation”.

I don’t recall when or why I started to question that common belief, maybe it was a realisation that throughout Christian history, believers have already experienced extreme persecution and suffering, so why should my generation be different (the rapture was always expected to happen at any time, within my own lifetime)?

I decided to see what scripture said. It was the first time I’d actually undertaken a search of the scriptures for myself, to check what I’d been taught.

 

 

I found that some parts of Revelation are strictly chronological, but a lot of it isn’t. I also found it brought to light problems with what I’d been taught.

 

In this post I want to look very briefly at what I see as the most clearly chronological parts: the progression of God’s final judgements released from Heaven, onto the earth, depicted through the opening of 7 seals, the blowing of 7 trumpets and the emptying of 7 bowls.

I’m not going to look in specific detail at each judgement. I want to address the general issue of how those seals, trumpets and bowls relate to each other. I can only hope that readers will carefully consider what I say below, and check it with scripture (and let me know if I’ve overlooked or misunderstood something).

 

Those earlier teachings tended to draw a strict, straight line of 7 seals followed by 7 trumpets, followed by 7 bowls. Since then I’ve come across other ideas but could never see the validity or the logic of their arguments.

So what did my own study suggest to me?

 

When each of the first six seals are opened, it leads to some kind of event happening on earth, but at first reading, the seventh doesn’t seem to do anything like the previous six, there seems to be no effect on the earth:

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”…

However, as we read on it can be seen that the opening of that seal ushers in the Trumpet judgements, which DO result in judgements upon the earth.

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets… So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

I believe that the biblical text describes the opening of the seventh seal as releasing the following trumpet judgements.

 

Like the first six seals, the first six Trumpets result in various catastrophic judgements on the earth, and then (like the last seal) the seventh trumpet seems different. There appears to be no specific, separate judgement released by its sounding, instead  “there were loud voices in heaven” – (note the contrast between these loud voices in heaven with the silence in heaven after the seventh seal).

Those voices announce that: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

After a lengthy interlude the bowl judgements are described. Just as I suggested that the result of the seventh seal is the ushering in of the seven Trumpets, I’d suggest that the blowing of the seventh trumpet brings about the ensuing bowl judgments.

 

In very simplified terms, I see that the trumpet judgements are the result of the seventh seal being opened, and likewise, the bowl judgements are the result of the seventh trumpet being sounded (and by progressive association, the bowls are also linked with the opening of seventh seal).

The following chart is something I drew up over 30 years ago. At the time my ideas were still being shaped by some of the terminology I’d picked up through those popular teachings of the time; such as “The Great Tribulation”.  I’d now suggest that term, as well as the other label “The Wrath of God” be ignored on this illustration. I not only find them irrelevant, they potentially mislead. I include the diagram for it’s overview of the seals, trumpets and bowls, rather than the smaller details.

Following is a rough diagram I drew up more recently as a simplified illustration. What this diagram shows that isn’t evident in the above, is that the final completion of all of the seals, trumpets and bowls, coincide at the same point in time: at the return of Jesus, represented by the final vertical line.

 

I recall I once described aspects of these judgements as resembling those Russian dolls that stack within each other, with the Bowls being stacked within the last trumpet, and the seven trumpets being stacked within the last of the seals.
However that illustration was denounced by one reader, because (he said) the word doll comes from the word idol, and therefore my use of it bordered on the demonic.

 

Someone might ask what the point of this speculation may be – does it really matter?

Maybe not to you or to others, but it helped me make sense of something.

And here we come back to the topic of the previous post and its darkened sun, blood moon and falling stars.  That event is described in Revelation as the result of the opening of the sixth seal, clearly long before the majority of the expected “Great Tribulation” events promoted by those teachings I’d previously believed; and yet Jesus had stated that this would happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days“, soon to be FOLLOWED by the sending forth of His angels with a great trumpet “and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the sky to the other”.

 

Compare this to: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

And with this:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

 

[note: these possibly/probably coincide with that last vertical line in the second illustration above]

 

At the least, I think what I’ve written about above well and truly blows a lot of traditional teaching of the rapture and “The Great Tribulation” out of the water. The timing required for those teachings isn’t backed by what scripture says.

But more than that, it helps me make sense of the timing of the Lord’s return, and the gathering of His saints, revealed in those other parts of scripture quoted above.

 

In the traditional teachings I’d previously held, there seemed to be a significant gap between the events of the sixth seal (dark sun, blood moon, falling stars) and the blowing of the seventh trumpet (rising of the dead and the catching up of those still alive) – and what about the post-last trumpet bowl judgements? – but when I recognised the above described relationships between the seals, trumpets and bowls, the perceived disconnect seemed to be mostly resolved .

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01
Feb
18

Blood Moon?

Blood Moon?

Blue moon?

Super moon?

All of those terms were thrown around and joined together to describe the phenomenon in the skies last night.  A lunar eclipse affecting the second full moon in a single calendar month when the moon’s elliptical orbit had brought it to  its closest proximity to earth.

A spectacular lunar event – or not – depending on your location.

At my place it came too late in the night to be seen at its most impressive. The peak of the lunar eclipse occurred at half past midnight, when the moon was almost directly over head. Such things are always more spectacular when they occur at moonrise, as the full moon lifts above the eastern horizon, and the angle of viewing creates the illusion of a much larger moon than when it’s overhead.

We also had some hazy cloud cover – not enough to obscure the sight completely, but enough to blur it. To us the moon looked like a dirty rust coloured smudge, and we got a much better view by watching NASA’s live feed of the event – although the NASA image showed a northern hemisphere view that was “upside down” from our Southern Hemisphere perspective.

Along with the live video feed, I noticed “live chat” was also offered to viewers. However, that “chat” had become a blur of activity where  countless brief statements scrolled up the screen too fast to read. Although among the speeding comments I did catch a glimpse of an expected bible reference:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

“Blood Moons” became a popular fad in Christian circles a year or two ago, when great significance was made of the fact that four lunar eclipses would occur during that year, with some coinciding with the dates that God  had given to the children of Israel as feast days. The Christian publishing industry seemed to go into overdrive with a variety of authors writing to detail the alleged prophetic significance.

Many years ago I considered the repetition of biblical references to the darkening of the sun, the moon turning to blood, and stars falling from the sky (there are several spread throughout both old and new Testaments). I made the connection between the darkening sun and a solar eclipse. I made the connection between the moon turning to blood with a lunar eclipse. I made the connection with falling stars and a spectacular meteor shower. I wondered whether there was a time ahead when all three would coincide  (but recognised that the closest a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse could come together would be two weeks. A lunar eclipse happens at the time of a full moon, a solar eclipse at a new moon).

I also made the logical assumption that should those astronomical events be the way biblical prophecy would be fulfilled, then it is most likely they would be events viewed from Jerusalem and not general references to viewing events spread randomly around the world.

Will there be a time when Jerusalem will experience both eclipses and a significant meteor shower all within the two weeks required between solar and lunar eclipses? Or will the fulfilment of bible prophecy be entirely a supernatural event, where the sun goes dark, the moon turns red and stars do fall – for no natural reason at all? That God will shake the heavens and bring these things about when they are totally unexpected, and in the process confound the speculations of those who seek to exploit Him and His word for an agenda different to His.

 

 

27
Jan
18

One More Thing I’m Not Worried About: Google Home Doesn’t Know Jesus.

More wisdom from the “anti-itch meditation” blog.
Please take the time and effort to click on the link and read the whole article at Jeff’s site.

anti-itch meditation

I’m not even sure why this is an actual news story, but a Nashville TV station reports on a person who is troubled that Google Home does not know Jesus.

Seriously, this is a news story.

Google Home is Google’s version of Siri or Alexa. A box you ask questions to that gives you answers from the internet in a computerized voice.

Apparently, if you ask Google Home who Jesus is, it replies, “I’m not sure how to help you with that.”

The complaining citizen goes on:

“I even asked Google who is David Sams? Google knew who I was, but Google did not know who Jesus was, Google did not know who Jesus Christ was, and Google did not know who God was,” Sams said.

Sam later went on to say, “It’s kinda scary, it’s almost like Google has taken Jesus and God out of smart audio,” Sams…

View original post 343 more words

26
Jan
18

26 January. “Australia Day”…?

25
Jan
18

God Reaching Those Cut Off From the Gospel

Hawa* had travelled hours to meet us. She had grown up in a Muslim family. Her father was a Muslim leader who travelled to different Arab countries to teach about Islam. She felt loved by her family and was engaged to a Muslim man who lived in the US. Hawa’s future looked bright.

Everything changed when she contracted a serious lung disease. The doctors feared for her life and all her dreams and plans seemed to disappear. But Hawa was exactly where the Lord wanted her. “One night in hospital I had a dream.” Hawa said to me, “I saw a man who was smiling and crying at the same time. I somehow knew he was weeping for me. I bowed down before him and asked, ‘Please help me. Show me the way. How can I be free from this disease?’”

When Hawa woke up she told her family about the dream, but no one understood it. When she had recovered and returned home, she told the mosque leader about her vision. “What you saw was Jesus, the Messiah.” He said, “I can’t talk now. It is not safe. Come back another time.”

Weeks went by before Hawa had another opportunity to speak to the mosque leader. “The one who is weeping for sinners is the one and only Jesus.” He told her, then he handed her a Bible.

full article here:

https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/blog/vision-of-christ/

__________________

Several believers involved in Christian witness paint Oman as a deeply religious country. There is a lot of spiritual conflict and oppression in this country. Believers experience many barriers when sharing the Gospel; “People are very friendly and seem to be open to the Gospel, willing to listen and exchange ideas. But to actually take the step to commit to Christ is very difficult for many of them,” one worker said.

However, in the midst of that darkness, God is doing amazing miracles, “Eighty percent of the Omani believers come to Christ in a supernatural way, through dreams and visions,” shared a Christian living in Oman.

full article here:

https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/blog/christ-in-the-heart-of-islam/

___________________

“There is hunger to come closer to God! There is hunger for the prayer meetings for example. Now the whole congregation comes to these meetings. The church is full of people praying.”

This hunger is not just from Christians.

“It happens more with the Muslims and the Druze. God is speaking the language of each group. Muslims meet Jesus in dreams. A woman saw a man in a dream, he was dressed in white and his face was shining. She woke up and went to church, she was very afraid of being rejected. She was accepted with love.”

full article here:
https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/blog/syria-pastor-alim-on-the-frontline/

_______________

 

24
Jan
18

No excuse – always be ready

In the previous post I stated my view that no one who genuinely desires truth will be denied the opportunity to hear about Jesus. God has, does and will use a variety of methods to allow genuine truth-seekers to find the truth.

 

….everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

But the fact that God will honour the desire of the genuine seeker of truth does not diminish the responsibilities of those of us who already know Jesus.

It does not excuse us from going “into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”
It does not excuse us from praying “earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

In the cases I mentioned, God used gospel sharing believers to lead seekers like Cornelius and  the Ethiopian to Jesus. The same kind of thing seems to happen with Moslems who receive visions and dreams. In the testimonies I’ve come across those experiences have led them to seek further, eventually finding a believer to tell them about Jesus.

It would be helpful to consider what Paul wrote to Timothy:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

While there’s a lot covered in that short excerpt of Paul’s admonition to  Timothy, – maybe the part we can see as MOST applicable to us ALL is “be ready in season and out of season”. Be prepared at all times for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus.

In my previous post I addressed the view of some who insist that not hearing the gospel is no excuse; basically, as I put it, they are saying: “If you don’t get the opportunity to hear the gospel – tough!”

Here I’d like to put the boot on the other foot. While it’s easy to quote scripture out of context to insist that all unbelievers have no excuse (including the excuse of never hearing about Him) for rejecting Jesus.
Can we so easily excuse ourselves from what we SHOULD know, from what we are clearly told in scripture regarding our responsibility to make Jesus and His gospel known?

 

23
Jan
18

What if they don’t hear?

What about those who never hear about Jesus? Isn’t it unfair for them to be condemned if they don’t have the opportunity know?

In addressing that question I’ve come across those who say that no one is without excuse. Or in other words, there is no way out. If you don’t get the opportunity to hear the gospel – tough!

Not hearing is no excuse.

However, while that “without excuse” statement does come from scripture, it isn’t addressing our response to Jesus, it is addressing recognition of Creator God, that all of creation around us makes His existence clear to all.

(Rom 1), “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

So the question comes back to what happens with those who DO recognise the truth of Creator God and want to worship Him, but who live in a place where the gospel of Jesus isn’t freely available?

Are they denied access to the truth of Jesus, and the salvation he brings,  merely because of geographical or cultural barriers?

In 2 Thess 2 we can read about people “who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved”.

Regarding those who live in areas that are “closed” to the gospel, who may not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, isn’t it possible, or even likely that an alternative result based on the flip-side of that principle could apply?

Could there be people in those “closed” areas who actually have a desire and love for truth and diligently seek it? Would God leave those people without an adequate opportunity to find the Truth in Jesus and so be saved?

We get an indication in Acts 10.

Cornelius was a man who recognised God and worshipped Him to the best of his knowledge, but he was ignorant of the gospel. God met Cornelius’ need through a dream instructing him to seek out Peter, a man who could lead Cornelius to Jesus.

And while that may be a reasonably well-known bible story, it’s not merely an historical account. The same kind of thing is being reported today through countless testimonies of Moslems being led, through dreams and visions, to meet with people who can teach them the truth of Christ.

There is also the biblical example of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, a man with a desire to know and understand the truth. Philip, through the instruction of an angel and directed by the Holy Spirit was sent to him in a “desert place” to tell Him the good news about Jesus.

So the question addressed at the beginning of this post seems irrelevant. A question that is possibly posed not out of genuine concern for those who don’t hear about Jesus – but as a way to diminish the gospel by making it seem that God is being unfair to a large portion of the world’s population.

However, in reality God doesn’t leave anyone who desires the Truth without a means of finding Him (Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life).

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us




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