The Republican National Convention is being affected by a hurricane. They are having to delay the start of the convention - and there is a possibility that additional changes may happen as the hurricane develops.
What is truly strange - and I think beyond coincidence is that the day that Hurricane Issac formed as a tropical depression, that was the day that the Republican platform committee voted to put the "two-state" position concerning Israel's land for peace through the formal approval process at the convention. This all happened on Tuesday, August 21st. God has said that He would bless those who bless Israel - and that He would curse those who curse her.
The two-state land for peace lie that had permeated the entire peace process in the Middle East has long been promoted as a viable solution. The problem is that as Israel has ceded more and more land - less and less peace has been the result. Now the Republican party has decided that this will be their official position toward Israel - one that is anything but friendly to a long-time ally. The radical Islamic groups that fill the Middle East see this as nothing more than protracted weakness - and an opportunity to continue to drive a wedge between the United States and Israel. This is because Israel cannot abide by an agreement that only requires movement and compromise from one side alone.
God is not pleased with this - and to be honest - Hurricane Issac is only a harbinger of more things to come. This decision has far more to do with Islamic accomodation than it does any kind of biblical or political wisdom. We will NOT be blessed in the end for such decisions - and yet as Christ's coming draws nearer - we know that all nations will abandon Israel. It is just sad to watch our nation turn to be one of them in our generation.
Biometrics, Fingerprint Technology, and the Mark of the Beast
It seems that lately when anything is mentioned about either Biometrics or fingerprint technologies, there is a knee-jerk reaction among some Christians and conservatives. The truth is that not only do these two groups oppose such things, but also many liberal rights or human rights groups oppose these things as well. So where should Biblical Christians come down on an issue like this? Is there an inherent evil in these things? Could it be that a Christian could be taking the dreaded “mark of the beast” when they participate in technologies like this? These are things we should discuss in light of the technologies that are right on our doorstep.
Recently Apple bought the fingerprint technology company AthenTec. Many who watch the smartphone market are saying that it is possible that Apple will put this fingerprint technology in the iPhone 5 in order to protect uses from fraud – and to allow Apple iPhone users to use their phones to buy anything safely. Those using the Android operating system on their phones are quickly following suit in the use of such technology in their applications. Japanese officials are considering using such technology in speeding up the airline process at their international airports. Even our schools are getting in on the use of such technology to improve security and speed up transactions. Moss Bluff Elementary School wanted to use a Biometric system that measures the unique structure of blood vessels in a person’s hand to make cafeteria lines move quicker at their school. Florida schools are considering biometric scans prior to using library privileges or boarding school buses. Some Minnesota schools are already using fingerprint technology to verify parents who pick up their children from school. This technology is coming – and we need to be ready for it.
The problem is that some Christian groups are saying that any use of technology of this kind constitutes accepting the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation 13:15-18. Their stance is a flat-out rejection of anything that even remotely has to do with such things. But before we reject this technology, we probably ought to take a look at this passage and seek to understand it better.
And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. (Revelation 13:15-18)
There are several things we should be aware of in connection with the infamous mark of the beast. These are things that will keep us from the kind of “knee-jerk” reactions that make people think we are nuts for even mentioning such things. It will also help us to be taken seriously when things like this come up in conversation and we realize that people are hurting their testimony by saying ignorant things when commenting on such matters. I remember times when people were wigging-out over credit cards and the magnetic strip on the back side of them. I was warned by “prophecy kooks” numerous times that even having a card like this meant I had taken the mark of the beast. Thank God I had a mentor who taught me to look to the Scriptures themselves and not get caught up in the goofiness that often surrounds too much of what passes for serious discussions of biblical prophecy.
Let’s note several things that will help us identify the mark of the beast. First, we need to see the context of all this - Revelation 13:11-13 says, “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.” Before we freak out about biometrics or fingerprint technology, we might want to check the news. Because to my knowledge – nothing like what we see in these three verses has happened yet. I know of no character who has wielded worldwide authority – and who has received a fatal wound that has been healed. I know of no one who has afterward constructed an image (Greek “ikon” – meaning a physical representation of something – i.e. a statue of sorts – except this statue has some serious stuff it can do – that even Disney animatronics has yet to crack). This authority figure called the “Beast” is not currently forcing people to worship this “statue” doing “great signs” and even making fire fall from heaven. If that is the case – and I believe it is – then these current technologies do not involve receiving the mark of the beast. They may be precursors to technologies that will be used for this purpose – but honestly – we don’t even know that yet for sure.
Let’s look at more here. This shady character, the Beast, has yet to make a statue speak – or have it kill those who will not worship him. (Greek, “proskuneo” which means to bow or prostrate oneself before another, i.e. worship) I will note that this “mark” is forced upon people and that it is received on their right hand (which I find very hateful to left-handed people –methinks the Beast needs some sensitivity training toward the left-handed – at least that is what our current society might think) or on their forehead. I also am not aware of any move to restrict ALL buying and selling to this method. If these things are not happening – or more correctly – have not yet happened – then the “mark of the beast” in its biblical form is not yet among us.
Then what do we make of all these goings on among us? Well honestly, it is the march of technological progress. It also may be how technology is moving toward a time when the “mark of the beast” is going to be applied to those who worship Satan and his representatives – i.e. the Beast and his buddies in Scripture. Other than this – it is just technology on its ever progressive march on our world. Of course many of you non credit card holding people may reject this – since I am a current credit card holding dupe who is merely working for the man – or Satan – or the illuminati – or some other boogie-man that is popular at the current time. I mean, I do have a MasterCard – even though Jesus is my only Master and Lord. I do have a Visa – even though Jesus is my only true visa that will allow me to enter heaven’s gates. I don’t think I have a Discover card – even though I’ve discovered the glory of God in the gospel. I definitely don’t have an American Express – and I’m glad, because there are no corny ways to refer to that spiritually.
For those of you who seem to enjoy freaking out about these matters . . . I am sorry to have to say things that make it harder to blow a gasket about such things. I do encourage you to do more serious study on such things from a purely biblical perspective. It would help us shed some of the “crazy-people” labels that are put on us when we talk about anything concerning biblical prophecy. We do need to remember that it is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” not the Revelation of the most recent goofy theory used to scare the snot out of people and sell prophecy books and web sites. Oh, one last thing . . . I am truly sorry for those who are itching to make some serious money on their next “mark of the beast” book, but this is the biblical take on this subject. But I do hope to help a biblically minded person learn to reject anything that does not have the “mark of the Scriptures” on anyone’s supposed take on the “mark of the beast.”
That peaceful Muslim Brotherhood is at it again – this time they are crucifying their opponents in public – including Egyptian Coptic Christians. The supposed Arab Spring is turning more into a deep winter over the past several weeks. As the Muslim Brotherhood has gained power and instituted Sharia law – there are some pretty shocking things happening in the wake of this “peaceful” law as it takes root.
Newly elected president Mohammed Morsi’s supporters have taken to crucifying their opponents publically in front of the presidential palace. Middle Eastern media confirmed that during a recent rampage by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, several were crucified, being hung naked on trees before the home of their new president. While this was going on numerous others were abused on the ground. Reports are coming in saying that extra brutality is being reserved for Christians not just because of rage – but as one official put it, “Because it is demanded by the Quran.”
Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow Clare Lopez quoted from chapter and verse in the Quran to explain these actions. It was explained that this is not an aberration for Islam – it is demanded. “Crucifixion is a hadd punishment, stipulated in the Quran, Sura 5:33, and therefore an obligatory part of Shariah,” Lopez said. “It’s been a traditional punishment within Islam since the beginning. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood do not consider such activity an option – it is considered obligatory to obey Shariah Law. And Lopez added that is was for shock value to be sure.
Pamela Gellar, who wrote Atlas Shrugs, who is analyst of Middle Eastern policy and culture warned Christians in Egypt that to flee from what is coming. She said, ““The Christians are in serious trouble, because the Quran in Sura 9:29 commands Muslims to wage war against them and subjugate them, and they’re also identified with the hated West and the U.S.”
Geller also turned to Sura 5:33 and said the following, “These are Islamic hardliners who do everything by the Quran. The Quran says, ‘Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.”
This also does not bode well for Israel as President Morsi has abandoned any kind of thought of moderation – and as Egyptian forces continue to be completely ineffective in defensing the regions between Egypt and Israel. Israel has boosted their defenses in the south to protect against incursions by terrorists and in a show to Egypt that they intend on protecting their borders.
When all this began we were lulled to sleep by a media and an administration that promised a peaceful Arab Spring that would fundamentally transform the region. We watched as our government did nothing to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining ascendency in Egypt – indeed they fell over themselves to cover for this radical Muslim group as they took over, not only in Egypt – but also in Libya and now even possibly in Syria. Either our press and officials were ridiculously ignorant, or worse, complicit with handing over a large portion of the Middle East to a sworn enemy of our ally Israel. It should be no wonder that relations are strained between Israel and Washington. We’ve proven that we are not true friends to our long-time ally. What is truly shocking is the complete lack of comment by the Obama administration at the outrageous conduct of the Brotherhood by crucifying their enemies in this manner. Considering what we already know about the way Christians will be persecuted in the last days, we may need to buckle down and get ready for what will be coming as our Lord’s return draws near.
Just recently I've finished reading through the prophets in the Old Testament. I do this at least once a year as I read through the Bible. This year, however, their voice is reverberating in my mind and heart as I look at our nation and what God is currently doing. Let me share with you what I saw this year - and how it relates to our nation, our coming election, and the difficulties and disasters which I believe are in our future. Please also let me share why God, in His sovereign providence, is allowing them.
First, I need to comment on the state of the church leading up to this coming election. As the saints of God we are to get our marching orders from heaven. Those directives come to us through the Scriptures. I fear that too many in the conservative wing of the evangelical think that their marching orders are coming from the RNC or the Tea Party. There is an errant notion that by electing Governor Romney as president and a Republican majority in the House and Senate - our problems will be on the way to being solved in this nation. Even though I believe in voting in elections and seeking for political action toward things like abortion, homosexual marriage, racism, and matters of justice and righteousness - I do not see the United States government (even if it is the hands of conservatives) doing a whole lot to advance righteousness in America. They may use such things as election issues - but I've been burned to many times over 32 years of voting by their actual ruling looking little like their stump speeches. Also, I seem to notice in Matthew 28:18-19 that Jesus did not call us to go and make Republicans of all the nations. We are called to God's will in conduct, purpose, principle, and action. That won't fly in any political arena in present day politics. And I am not willing to cede the work of the gospel to those who are offended that the Bible presents truths that show that Muslims, Mormans, Hindus, Buddhists, and anyone else who does not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are lost and destined for God's judgment. Such things are not up for a vote.
As I've read the prophets this year I've been somewhat overwhelmed with the reality that God commands us to repent and return to Him. If we do not repent - if we continue to serve other gods - gods acceptable to our culture and acceptable to our flesh - God will begin bringing difficulties upon His people. The prophets thunder with God's unrelenting call to Himself. They do not apologize that God is sovereign. They do not apologize for His moral standards. They do not apologize that God authoritatively calls men to worship and serve Him only. And they certainly do not want to make adjustments so that the Baal worshippers, the Asherah-adherants, and the worshppers of other false gods can feel more comfortable and be a part of a "big-tent." The prophets say things very offensive to a multi-cultural world - not so much to the culture - but to anything driven by a culture's embrace of false deities. But God is not focused on the "lost" in the prophets. He is focused on His people - those who should know better. He is focused on calling His people to much needed repentance.
What happens in a society when its Christians refuse to return and to repent? According to the prophets, God begins to remove first His blessing and later His protection from them and from their nation. If you've ever read the prophets you know that over time this can get very rough. God will allow earthquakes, disasters, and military conquest to overtake His people. Israel and Judah experienced horrific consequences for their love of foreign gods and the lifestyles that came with them. Baal and Asherah embraced a lifestyle of sexual immorality. Marriage was denigrated as first men committed heterosexual immoralities - and eventually moved on to homosexuality as well. Those who think the 1960's ushered in free love, know little about how far Israel and Judah fell in their pursuit of these false deities. The worship of Molech led many to sacrifice their babies in a firey death. Those who see such a thing as disgusting should remember the modern day Molech - Planned Parenthood - who promote the sacrifice of babies for the sake of supposed greater sexual freedom. Actually what they are getting is greater sexual bondage in the guise of immorality without consequences. Then there is the immorality that disguises itself as free trade, or socialism, or communism, or any other "ism" that takes precedent over Scriptural principles of business or government. You see, our culture is not all that different from the days of the prophets. We have just named things with a more sophisticated name - hiding the hideousness of what they truly are. We've also got better at lying about the true nature of things while ignoring Scripture - and occasionally insulting God and the way that He needs to improve His own image by becoming far more "hip" and "culturally-sensitive."
The truth is, WE are Israel and Judah in the times of the prophets! WE have our modern day worship of Baal, Asherah, and Molech - along with calls for accepting the gods of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and a host of cults embraced even by political candidates of our day (oops, did I say that out loud - nope, just wrote it). But the church is different, some may assert! But my question to you is to take a long look at her and answer the question, "Is it?" Do you see a movement of repentance and return in the church today? Do you see scores of people in broken repentance and prayer meetings where they are crying out for revival? Do you see the church expanding its evangelsitic outreach the point of being persecuted by groups whose numbers are being decimated by the number of people being saved? Do you see complaints by wicked businesses Who sell porn and other ungodly products that the church and her efforts in evangelism is hurting their bottom line? God calls us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to "humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. Read of the revivals that took place in the 1700-1800's. Read of what took place on a far wider scale in our country. Imagine what they would look like in our day - a revival driven by repentance, brokenness, and prayer. A revival with the aisles filled with repentant church members - and others being radically saved from sin.
What then am I trying to say through all this? After reading the prophets . . . honestly - I'm concerned - no - I'm scared. We are about to be ushered into MORE discipline as a nation - and that discipline is meant to wake-up God's people to repentance, prayer, and brokenness. I don't want to say this - but sense the need to do so for the sake of the saints who read this. We are about to experience events that will make 9-11 look like a picnic in the park. God tried to wake us up by allowing that disaster to come upon us. We didn't wake up though. Therefore - more is coming. Far worse is coming. Do I know what that will be? No, because I am not a prophet. But I can tell you that things like a devastating earthquake come to mind. Military disasters that involve the destruction of entire armies have happened to God's people. Drought and famine are also options for God. He has soereignly allowed the destruction of entire cities - whch is terrifying in our day of bombs that can do that in a matter of moments. With our current arrogance toward money - a complete financial collapse unlike anything we've ever seen is very possible. All these things and a dozen others are possible - even probable considering our currrent lack of response to God's call to pray and seek His face. I read recently where the Mississippi river is at historic lows. If the drought we are in continues, it is possible to see the Mississippi so low that no boat traffic is allowed. That will cut off over 300 million dollars of commerce a day. That is a monthly total of 9 billion dollars of our economy stifled. The prognosticators said that would throw our natin into depression within 2 months. Kind of sobering isn't it?
I can hear the comment, "Why are you writing stuff like this, pastor John?" Do you get some kind of sick thrill scaring people to death? NO! A thousand times NO! That is not my intent. My intent is to help wake up Christians to what is looming in our future. Do you really think God is going to continue to bless our nation as it is currently going? Do you really think that the church is not going to be affected by what happens in our nation? Do you really think that by maintaining a positive confession in the midst of such spiritual squallor that we will be delivered? God is going to continue allowing greater and greater disasters and troubles to come upon us until we repent, drop to our knees, and begin to cry out in desperate prayer for revival in the church and spiritual awakening in our land! This is not going to magically get better - neither is it going to be averted by electing a Morman as president and a group of Tea Party conservatives to the Congress - who have NO INTENT on addressing the moral and spiritual rot of the church and our country. We are currently as blind as Israel and Judah during the times of the prophets. The same situations and the same false prophets of health, wealth, prosperity, and "nothing bad is going to happen to us" exist today. The political leaders (kings in those days) who made a difference made it by leading the nation to repentance and a whole-hearted return to God. Such a leader who would start doing this in our day - would most likely be impeached for such actions.
What is the Prophecy/News Update?
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