Daily Archives: August 7, 2014

Questions about the End Times: Is Jesus Going to Return during the Blood-Red Moon of 2015?

 

Gaining in popularity today is the teaching that a series of blood-red moons in the next two years will be a portent of Jesus’ second coming and a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Astrological charts show four lunar eclipses will occur from 2014 to 2015. Because a full lunar eclipse often makes the moon look red or orange, it is sometimes referred to as a “blood moon” or “blood-red moon.” Some teachers of prophecy say that this tetrad of blood moons will fulfill end-times prophecies in Joel and Revelation.

What has interested prophecy teachers is not just the number of lunar eclipses in the next two years but the timing of the eclipses. In both 2014 and 2015, a full lunar eclipse will occur on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). In addition to the two lunar eclipses of 2015, two solar eclipses will also occur. Similar lunar eclipses in back-to-back years have happened seven times since the time of Christ. Some of those have occurred in years of significance for the Jewish people, such as 1948 (when Israel was granted statehood) and 1967 (when the Six-Day War was fought).

References to a moon like “blood” are found in two passages of the Bible. Joel 2:30–31 says, “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” In Revelation 6:12, John describes one of the seal judgments of the Tribulation: “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” Other passages refer to the moon being “darkened” (Matthew 24:29; Joel 2:10).

A tetrad of lunar eclipses—and the timing of those eclipses in the Jewish calendar—is fairly unusual, but not unprecedented. So the fact of the eclipses, while interesting, is no proof that Jesus will return by 2015. Furthermore, John’s and Joel’s descriptions of the signs of the Day of the Lord could refer to solar and lunar eclipses, but there are other possible explanations for those phenomena, such as changes in the atmosphere (mentioned in Revelation 6:12).

The blood-red moon theory is just that—a theory. Even as a theory, it comes close to doing what the Bible warns against: setting dates for the coming of the Lord. “About that day or hour no one knows” (Mark 13:32).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Are Christians Opposed to Marriage Equality?

 

“Marriage equality” is the latest catchphrase to be thrown into the gay marriage / same-sex marriage debate. The term “marriage equality” is an attempt to reframe the conversation and ascribe a certain level of irrationality to those who oppose same-sex marriage. To oppose the recognition of homosexual unions as marriages is one thing. But it is much more difficult to oppose “equality” in marriage rights. What American would deny equality? However, attaching a new label to the cause does not change the core issues in the debate. If “marriage equality” means “gay marriage,” Christians should be opposed to it.

Why are Christians opposed to marriage equality? The question itself is misleading. Not all Christians are opposed to marriage equality, gay marriage, or whatever else it is called. Many Christians support gay unions being legally recognized as marriages. Such Christians generally hold that sexual morality should not be legislated and that, in a free society, people should be able to marry whomever they want. Biblically speaking, this is a tragic mistake.

The Bible is abundantly clear that homosexuality is an unnatural sin (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). The Bible presents marriage as God’s invention, and God has defined it as a covenant between a man and a woman for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:2–16; Ephesians 5:23–33). Biblically speaking, a homosexual union is not a marriage. It does not matter if the government legislates a new definition of marriage. It does not matter if society is overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage. A homosexual union always has been, and always will be, a perversion of God’s creation.

In modern societies that are increasingly secular and non-Christian, the marriage equality debate is eventually going to be won by the gay rights movement. Barring national repentance and a revival of the Christian faith, gay unions are going to be officially recognized as valid marriages, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. But, whatever society does, it cannot change the fact that followers of Christ are to align with, and submit to, His Word. And His Word unequivocally declares that marriage is between one man and one woman. As Christians, we accept the fact that we live in a secular and ungodly nation, but we esteem the unchanging Word of God over society’s modulating mores. “Let God be true, and every human being a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Christians do not need to fight against homosexual couples being granted civil unions and the governmental benefits such unions provide. Tax breaks, inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, etc., are not addressed in the Bible. But, when it comes to the definition of marriage, Christians should stand firm. God created marriage. No human being has the right or authority to redefine it. No matter what governments and societies sanction, homosexual unions will never truly have equality with heterosexual marriages.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Eternity: Did God Create Hell?

 

Hell is a place of suffering originally prepared by God for the devil and his angels (Matthew 18:9; 25:41). The words Hades (Greek) and Sheol (Hebrew) are sometimes associated with hell. However, Hades/Sheol is simply the place or realm where the spirits of people go when they die (see Genesis 37:35). Hades/Sheol is not necessarily a place of torment because God’s people were said to go there as well as the wicked. In the New Testament, we find that Hades is somehow “compartmentalized.” That is, the realm of the dead is divided into a place of comfort and a place of torment (Luke 16:19–31).

There are other words associated with hell in the Bible such as Gehenna and lake of fire. It is clear that there is an actual place where the spirits of the unsaved go for eternity (Revelation 9:1; 20:15; Matthew 23:33).

Everything that ever was or is or will be is created by God, including hell (Colossians 1:16). John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” God alone has the power to cast someone into hell (Luke 12:5). Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).

Jesus said that hell was “prepared” for Satan and the demons (Matthew 25:41). It is a just punishment for the wicked one. Hell, or the lake of fire, will also be the destination for those who reject Christ (2 Peter 2:4–9). The good news is that people can avoid hell. God, in His infinite mercy and love, has made a way of salvation for everyone who trusts in God’s Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 36; 5:24).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World :: Ibrahim at Gatestone

by Raymond Ibrahim
The Gatestone Institute
August 6, 2014
http://www.meforum.org/4770/world-ignores-christian-exodus-from-islamic-world

While the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go virtually ignored.

One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

As Reuters reported:

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.

Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.

Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.

The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.” Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.

Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.

Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.

The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.

In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].

The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

One can go on and on:

In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”
In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.
In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.
In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.
In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.
Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.

On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.

It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, April, 2013) is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Jihadist rampage: Hamas threatens to relaunch war. ISIS beheading children & Christians in Iraq. 170,000 killed in Syria.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Jihadists are on a rampage. Jihadists are on a rampage.

UPDATED: (Denver, Colorado) — We are witnessing a jihadist rampage in the epicenter.

Hamas has fired 3,000-plus rockets at Israel and is now threatening to re-launch its war against Israel as early as Friday. ISIS is beheading children, raping women, and killing scores of Christians in Iraq. They are also warning Christians to convert or be massacred. At the same time, ISIS jihadists are crucifying Christians and others in Syria, and the bloody civil war in Syria has left 170,000 dead and created millions of refugees fleeing for safety.

Now here’s the latest headline:  Islamic State pulls down church crosses in northern Iraq as 200,000 flee — Islamic State, the jihadist group formerly known as Isis, have occupied churches in Iraq, removing crosses and destroying manuscripts, witnesses report, having overrun Kurdish troops forcing 200,000 to flee.” (London Telegraph)

The world is doing little…

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We Must Not Tolerate Spiritual Abuse

Steak and a Bible

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about abuse of power in churches this week. The headlines about everything that has gone on at Mars Hill with Mark Driscoll just keep coming (as they should). I also just read a book about a woman who grew up in essentially what was a “Christianized” cult (Girl at the End of the World). The reality of such abuses in the name of God is weighing heavily on me. 

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Answers KJV Onlyists are Afraid You will Provide [2]

hipandthigh

whatI have undertaken a response to the 33 Questions that modern Bible version advocates are afraid they will be asked. The author of those questions has deluded himself into believing they are debunkers designed to shut down anyone who dares to raise an objection against King James onlyism.

See Part 1 for a brief intro and my response to the first set of questions.

Moving along to the next set:

Number 11 is a long one that contains some sub-questions, so I will not cite it in its entirety.

11) Are you aware that if you reject the Greek Text which underlies the King James Version, that you are rejecting the Bible and the Validity [sic] of the Bibles, and undermining the credibility and witness not only of the historic christian [sic] martyrs who were English, but also those from Spain, and From [sic] Holland, and from France, and…

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Don Johnson: six reasons why people reject Christianity

WINTERY KNIGHT

Here’s a post on practical evangelism by Christian scholar Don Johnson.

His list of reasons why people often reject Christianity:

  1. Christians behaving badly
  2. Disappointment with God
  3. Weak or absent father
  4. Social pressure
  5. Cost of discipleship
  6. Immorality (especially sexual immorality)

And here’s the detail on #6:

Of all the motivations and reasons for skepticism that I encounter, immorality is easily the most common. In particular, sexual sin seems to be the largest single factor driving disbelief in our culture. Brant Hanson calls sex “The Big But” because he so often hears this from unbelievers: “’I like Jesus, BUT…’ and the ‘but’ is usually followed, one way or the other, with an objection about the Bible and… sex. People think something’s deeply messed-up with a belief system that says two consenting, unmarried adults should refrain from sex.” In other words, people simply do not want to follow the Christian teaching that sexual intercourse…

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Are amnesty supporters willing to house illegal immigrants?

WINTERY KNIGHT

From Freedom Outpost.

Excerpt:

Dan Joseph of MRC TV visited Oldtown Alexandria, Virgina, whose demographics are largely liberal, and asked residents to sign a petition supporting bringing illegal immigrant children to their city.

The ones who agreed were also asked to sign another petition agreeing to house an illegal immigrant child in their own home or apartment.

As you can imagine, their ideology did not go over well with their practice.

There were several people that were not interested in the first petition, though there were several who were.

When it came to the second petition, there didn’t seem to be anyone that wanted to take in illegal aliens.

One of the funnier spots was around the 1:20 mark where Dan said that the illegals didn’t eat that much, but “were members of gangs.” That was not convincing enough to house any of them according to the young woman…

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Did Jesus’ death on the cross not accomplish what God intended?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 ESV)

One of teachings of the Word-Faith movement from their leadership is that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross was insufficient to accomplish the salvation of His people. They teach that Jesus then had to go to Hell to suffer as a lost person by being tormented by Satan. If that were true then what did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? (John 19:30)

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