Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bruce Collins Interviews Joe Ortiz About Pre-Tribulation Rapture

     I wish to apologize to those of you who have become regular followers of our blog. Due to increasing physical complications, and the relentless heat we have had in the southwest (average of 105 degrees in Redlands for three weeks in a row), sitting down and writing messages we feel are important has become (for me at least) an exhaustive experience.
     Sometimes we get the opportunity to share God's message on radio interviews like we did this morning. We almost cancelled the interview (which was recorded last week) because it was during the peak of pain and heat that made even talking on the radio and unbearable task.
     Bruce offered me the opportunity to re-schedule the interview until I felt better; however, I told him kidding to let us go on as scheduled because I may not be around much longer. Although we both laughed about this, the weakness and pain I was experiencing the evening we recorded the interview was excruciating.
     One thing both us discussed before the interview was what Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians12:9 where he confessed to Jesus that he was plagued by many afflictions. In that verse, we see where Jesus told Paul that My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in your weakness. Paul responded that he, most gladly, will rather boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in him.
    As I listened to the interview this morning, which I thought went real bad during the taping of the show, because I didn't feel I sounded as coherent and glib as I have been in the past, I was more concerned about a group of scripture that I quoted during the show, concerning a writer who had misused (or rather abused) those verses to enhance his Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven polemic. I knew the verses he used could be found in the book of Ephesians but, as I age, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
     Nevertheless, I pulled a group of scripture out of the thin air during the interview and used them as an example of what I was sharing with Bruce (hoping no one would notice nor remember) about how the writer had omitted several preceding verses while trying to make his point that the church was a mystery hidden from mankind throughout history. I remember mentioning Ephesians 3:6 through 11. I told Bruce that the writer had only quoted Ephesians 3:9-11 and had omitted three preceding verses, (6, 7 and 8) out of that group and I could not understand why He did this. I told Bruce that as I examined the verses he used, I found out that the ones he omitted not only destroyed his polemic, they completely changed the message the word of God was conveying. I told Bruce I could not understand how any Christian could do such a dastardly deed, knowing full well that to change one jot or one tittle in God's word carries a rather large price. Here's the group of scripture I shared with Bruce and his audience:
     6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Ephesians 3:6-11).
     The writer used only verses 9 through 11 and he stated they prove that the church was a mystery throughout history. However one of the verses (number 6) the writer omitted actually disputed the claim he was making and trying to prove. That one verse 6 actually states that the church is not the mystery but rather the mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
     I went on to tell Bruce that way too many so-called prophecy writers are guilty of skewing the word of God to justify a Pre-Tribulation to Heaven and Left Behind doctrine that does not exist in the Bible. The ones I shared with him on the air were not only glaring examples of such deviousness, they insult the intelligence of even novice Bible students. Yet, people fall for such nonsense on a daily basis.
     However, more than proving a point, for me, the perplexing thing about that portion of the interview was a feeling of guilt that I may also had misquoted scripture to make my point. I guess I could respond to whomever challenged me of misuse of scripture as well, that I misspoke and actually the verse I had intended to use was such and such.
     But lo and behold, after I came home later on after doing some chores, I went to the Bible to see exactly what Ephesians 3:6 through 11 contained, and it was exactly what I had shared with Bruce during the interview. I was stunned! Despite my weakness and pain, God brought to remembrance the scripture I wanted to share with Bruce as I made my case!
    The point being made here is that it is true what Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Which is, that God's power is much more effective when we get our own egos and Bible knowledge smugness out of the way and let Him use us as His vessels to carry forth His message. Obviously, when we are weak and cannot take credit for the work Christ performs through us, He receives the glory we too often heap upon ourselves. Obviously, we can pat ourselves on the back for thinking we are such gifted scholars and know more than the next person, when in reality, if it wasn't for God and the Holy Spirit at work in and through us, we would be nothing but a noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.

Bruce Collins can be heard every Sunday morning on Revolution Boston AM 1510, where he interviews national and international figures discussing a variety of topics. Collins, himself a born again Christian, often focuses on many subjects dealing with the increasing times of tribulation being experienced throughout the world, especially when he sees they are beginning to increase more so here in America. If you missed the interview, click on the Bruce Collins radio show's web site and download it from the archives.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

JOE ORTIZ: Author of The End Times Passover Reiterates His Allegiance is to Christ Before Nation or Nationality!

     Joe Ortiz, author of a two new books that challenge the Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven doctrine, is getting much heat from various entities, primarily in regards to his allegiance.
     His critics run the gamut from conservative right-wing evangelicals (who believe his advocacy for immigrant rights is un-American), to left wing Liberals (with whom he disagrees with on many of their anti-theological principles, such as pro-abortion rights) and, now, even from some Latino intellectuals and Chicano activist friends, with whom he disagrees with their culture and nationality first ideology, which in essence he feels is the same as the American nativist culture that has spawned racism and discrimination for over 200 years. It seems many of these varying entities simply can't pigeon hole him into any particular mold.

     The author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, Ortiz’ background is actually steeped in civil rights, politics and media, dating back to the early sixties when he worked for various Mexican American and social service groups and organizations, as well as over 35 years in media as a news reporter, newspaper columnist and radio and television talk show host. Those credentials have obviously placed Ortiz in what many conservatives believe is a Left Wing Liberal camp.
     Ortiz has the distinction of being the first Mexican American to host a talk show on and English-language commercial radio station, beginning in 1971 at KABC-AM radio in the highly competitive media market in Los Angeles. That podium offered him the opportunity to articulate the hopes, dreams and aspirations of not only Latinos but other minorities as well.
     However, Ortiz left his politicial activist and media involvement when he became a born again Christian in 1975. The fast-paced lane of community work, media and politics, made him re-examine his deep spiritual values and he chose instead to devote most of his time in Bible studies and then launching his own ministry, God’s Broadcaster Ministries, Inc. He spent most of his time preaching and lecturing from the Bible from 1979 through 1985. Although he considers himself an evangelical Christian, he is not necessarily beholding to “Right Wing” evangelical fanaticism nor does he align himself with the faction that supports conservative political causes nor its candidates. Ortiz claims he has no problem being called an evangelical Christian if that perception is in agreement with the Christian gospel. He most definitely believes in the emphasizing of salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching the word of God as contrasted with religious ritual and traditional ceremony. He doesn’t believe in the evangelical principles that require he has to belong to any political party or any denominational church.

     “I believe that being a Christian has nothing to do with being a conservative or a Republican, which is more an American cultural phenomenon than anything else. Those categories (and or belief codes) he feels stem more from a predominately white Anglo-Saxon culture than it is about proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.    
      "Being a Christian is not about claiming to have obtained a holy lifestyle, nor projecting a higher moralistic picture of ourselves to those around us,” adds Ortiz. “But, rather it’s recognizing that all of us humans have been dealt with the card of imperfection, that requires salvation and grace, that we need to acknowledge and confess this to one another, carry each other’s burdens, and allow God to work His own righteousness through us.”
     Ortiz is a rare breed among evangelicals. Seldom will you hear or read about Latino preachers in the United States, much less any who have written books on eschatological matters. While there are thousands of young Latino preachers and pastors now emerging throughout the mostly monolingual Spanish communities and low-income barrios in southwestern states, 99% of notable evangelical preachers and authors are basically white or African American. Ortiz, who was born and raised as a Catholic, however, is primarily a middle-class 3rd generation Mexican American who was born, raised and educated in this country, He became involved in public service after serving in the Air Force as a military policeman, and achieved much acclaim and notoriety in English-language media and within the Los Angeles and southern California political network. This is not the type of background one expects from an evangelical Christian. His career experiences prior to becomingan evangelical preacher/teacher/writer were all in the English language and he doesn’t make any excuses about not being able to articulate as well in Spanish.

     “I was born at a time that if you even spoke in Spanish during school time, you were either slapped or sent to the principal’s office,” said Ortiz. “Due to that mind set, I mastered the English-language at a very young age, which actually helped me succeed in mainstream broadcasting.”

     Although he was absent from media and politics from 1979 to 1985, it was during this period that he also worked as a free-lance public relations consultant for many community based groups, individual celebrities and major corporations. He was also in demand as a Master of Ceremonies for numerous special events. It was during this time that he began writing the original manuscript for The End Times Passover, which would take him about twenty years to complete.
     In the meantime, in 1986 he returned to broadcasting in the Christian radio market, co-hosting a show with his pastor, Michael O'Brien, which they called "Heart & Soul." After about one year with that show, he was coaxed by fellow broadcasters Tim Berends and Al Gross to return back to radio, which he did in 1988. He then hosted straight (secular) talk programs until 1992. Ortiz, still feeling a strong commitment to his faith, didn't abandon the Christian broadcasting arena; however, he felt it would be hypocritical to stay in the field solely to earn a living. He did, however, incorporate much of his religious views into his secular programs, which he always felt traditional talk shows shyed away from, and it worked!
     “I’m afraid I became disillusioned by Christian broadcasting,” Ortiz sighed, because he saw "the so-called electronic church broadcasters spent so little time on Bible study and about 85% of their time with sales pitches and entertainment tactics designed to solicit money for their respective ministries.” In the meantime, his’ journey back to secular radio with his Prime Time with Joe Ortiz show was a great success. The show became a big hit at KPZE-AM radio in Anaheim, California, where he also co-hosted a bigger hit with “Mornings with Joe & Cris” with Emmy-award winning writer and comedian Cris Franco as his co-host.
     “Those shows were lots of fun and it was very much a pioneering venture to see two Latinos, for the first time in history, hosting a daily drive time, 6 to 9 a.m. slot, and killing the competition.”
     But, yet, through all of the success of hosting two prime time shows, and operating a highly successful public relations consultancy, Joe experienced a burn out due to the fast-paced lifestyle media and politics required, an arena he had left fifteen years earlier to devote time to his new found faith. So he left Los Angeles back to his hometown seeking more meaningful work by directly helping the poor, aliens and the homeless. He went to work for Catholic Charities of San Bernardino/Riverside in June 2000 as its Director of Public Relations and Fund Raising, and also managed its homeless families shelter in Palm Spring until he injured himself in July 2003.
     “That period of times was the most spiritual and redeeming time I ever spent in my entire life,” said Ortiz, who resided at the shelter he managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for two and a half years, without a single day off nor any vacations. “Yes, it was hard work, but very gratifying, and it also afforded me the opportunity to finish writing The End Times Passover, which I completed in May 2004, which was subsequently published into two volumes in 2007.”
     Ortiz had certain apprehensions about publishing his books, because he knew they would be viewed as highly controversial and not consistent with mainstream American evangelicalism. However, encouraged greatly by his wife Martha, to get the book out there, he decided to get them published in 2007 and began promoting the books through the Internet. Not that the books aren’t based on profound Bible study and sound theological references, but because much of what he presents would go across the face of the traditions of many current Protestant doctrines, especially Premillennialists and Dispensationalists.
     Ortiz stated the adherents of these two doctrines he challenges in his books believe that the state of Israel is God’s time clock to Armageddon, and that all Christians should support the State of Israel in all cases, or they will be punished by God. They also believe they will be spared from persecution due to a miraculous event they call The Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven doctrine. This is perceived as a time in the near future they believe will see Jesus Christ secretly coming down from Heaven before Armageddon to secretly snatch only born again Christians back to Heaven while all hell breaks loose on earth.

     In his books, Ortiz not only challenges and shatters that Premillennial and Dispensational doctrine, he provides Biblical documentation that refute many of the notions held by traditional evangelicals and contemporary theologians, including proof that the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb, that there will be no 1000 year (millennial) reign of Christ, that the human soul does not go to Heaven upon death, that the church of God was formed thousands of years before The Day of Pentecost, and that Christians will not be “Raptured” to Heaven. He also presents sound Bible answers that challenge the erroneous notions by right wing evangelicals that the Jewish people of Israel are the chosen people of God, and that the region now known as Israel in the Middle East is the Promised Land.
     “The facts I present in my books have already upset many right wing evangelicals, who still believe that this nation has been chosen by God (through its belief in  Manifest Destiny), and that it must support the government of the State of Israel (regardless of its disobedience to God’s will) or else it will be punished as they believe the Bible proclaims in Genesis12:3. Most Bible scholars agree that verse has been taken out of context due to margins inserted by C.I. Scofield when he published his rendition of the Holy Bible. Ortiz adds that his continued staunch advocacy of immigrant rights, which God commands in over 250 Bible verses that state (including Ezekiel 47:21-24) aliens are to be treated as if they were native born, has a irked many American Christians!

     Ortiz, who adamantly claims he is not anti-Semitic, is a person (just like Jesus) who loves all ethnic groups, including Jews, Arabs, Asians, Hispanics, Anglos and all black nations, as well. “My book is a treatise that makes a clear distinction between people who actually have faith in Jesus Christ, as opposed to certain racial groups who believe they have been chosen by God, based on their (unfortunate) interpretation of scripture.”

Joe Ortiz and legendary Chicano community activist, Rosalio Munoz, stand on East Los Angeles street corner advocating for greater health services for Latino communities.

     Ortiz indeed is a rare breed among evangelicals. While he still has a passion for supporting members of the Mexican community, especially with problems related to the poor, such as immigration, education and health issues, he is driven more so by his theology.
Joe Ortiz interviews Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union, at Salazar Park on the 20th anniversary of Chicano Moratorium demonstration in East Los Angeles held initially on August 29, 1971. Renowned Latino journalist Ruben Salazar was killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy during that demonstration, which had erupted into chaos when the marchers were confronted by a huge throng of law enforcment officers who were monitoring the demonstration. Salazar Park (formerly Laguna Park) was renamed in memory of the Mexican American journalist.  

     “I more than paid my dues in support of my (Latino) community for over 45 years,” said Ortiz. “I also have served my country in the military, as a tax-payer, a law-abiding citizen and as a servant in many endeavors. But my priority is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
     “Just like the Apostle Paul, who was both a loyal Roman citizen and born from Jewish cultural roots, his allegiance was to Christ. I am also loyal to my American citizenship as well as to my Mexican culture roots. However, my primary allegiance is alway to Jesus Christ before nation or nationality.”
For more information about the author's books, please click on Joe Ortiz

Monday, August 09, 2010

Doctrinal Pride Is Dividing the Church More Than Ever Before!!

     The Internet is probably the greatest invention since television, which has transformed the communications industry as never before. Traditional forms of transmitting and obtaining news and information, such as newspapers, books (and even television) are experiencing a major impact (both negative and positive) on these once powerful institutions. The rapidity of the rise of the Internet’s power and influence has impacted all areas of social, political and economic concerns.
     Many in the church community praise the Internet for providing them not only access to information it could only obtain at their local Christian bookstore, they feel it now also provides them with pulpit power that was heretofore limited to their local home churches on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday night Bible study services. It most definitely has many positive attributes if used wisely.
     What many in the church do not realize is that the easily accessible progeny to the once dominate electronic church podium, has given rise to rampant doctrinal assaults by a myriad of ersatz prophets, who are preaching a different Gospel than the one the Apostle Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1. Many church folks do not realize that their ecclesiastic future could very well suffer an irretrievable state of existence it was once proud of, because the Internet pulpit has actually become both the assassin and the victim of varying doctrinal assaults. A myriad of web sites and Internet media channels are literally flooding the web like locust on an African desert. Sadly, the messages coming from many of these venues are eating the souls of the church rather than feeding it with the true word of God.
     Many of these folks actually believe their message is from God, especially those who preach the Zionism Gospel, if it could even be called such. Without going deeply into that debate, many conservative Christians, especially, believe that God has an unfulfilled agenda for the State of Israel, claiming that its salvation has already been granted regardless of its unbelief (Romans11:23, NIV), and that it will be blessed with a geopolitical Kingdom, headquartered right there in Old Jerusalem, when Jesus Christ returns. Suffice it to say, that politically created ideology is driving a wedge between the predominately conservative wing of evangelical Christianity and the true Disciples of Christ. The Apostle Paul spoke directly and quite adamantly about this division in the Church:

     10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."
     13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
     18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
     "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
     20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (1 Corinthians 1:10-25)
     The main nuance of this group of scripture is that in essence, Paul got right down to the main cause of the strife and contentions, Pride! Matthew Henry ever so eloquently comments:
     "He (Paul) hints at the origin of these contentions. Pride lay at the bottom, and this made them factious. Only of pride cometh contention, Prov. 13:10. They quarreled about their ministers. Paul and Apollos were both faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy: but those who were disposed to be contentious broke into parties, and set their ministers at the head of their several factions: some cried up Paul, perhaps as the most sublime and spiritual teacher; others cried up Apollos, perhaps as the most eloquent speaker; some Cephas, or Peter, perhaps for the authority of his age, or because he was the apostle of the circumcision; and some were for none of them, but Christ only. So liable are the best things in the world to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions, which are at perfect harmony with themselves and one another, to be made the engines of variance, discord, and contention. This is no reproach to our religion, but a very melancholy evidence of the corruption and depravity of human nature. Note, how far will pride carry Christians in opposition to one another! Even so far as to set Christ and his own apostles at variance, and make them rivals and competitors."
     Matthew Henry tells us that Paul was not about about baptizing or administering other church duties. His mission was to preach the Gospel of Christ, which its basic foundation is, THE CROSS!
    "He left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not so much to baptize as to preach. Note, ministers should consider themselves sent and set apart more especially to that service in which Christ will be most honored and the salvation of souls promoted, and for which they are best fitted, though no part of their duty is to be neglected. The principal business Paul did among them was to preach the gospel (v. 17), the cross (v. 18), Christ crucified, v. 23. Ministers are the soldiers of Christ, and are to erect and display the banner of the cross. He did not preach his own fancy, but the gospel-the glad tidings of peace, and reconciliation to God, through the mediation of a crucified Redeemer. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our joys. By his death we live. This is what Paul preached, what all ministers should preach, and what all the saints live upon." (Matthew Henry Commentary on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1)
     I guess I could be accused of failing to preach the cross as well, because my books focus more so on refuting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. I have been chided for this on many occasions by people who say the timing of the Rapture and of Christ’s return does not matter, which is truth to a certain degree. But more than the timing of Christ’s return, my polemic is aimed at those who are being duped to believe that God has a future (and different) plan of salvation for Jews, and who promote the myth that the state of Israel is God’s timepiece for ushering Armageddon. While those who believe in this premillennial, dispensational doctrine claim that all Christians have to support the State of Israel (regardless of its un-Christian like behavior), or else they will be punished by God, there is no geopolitical kingdom in store for the state of Israel, nor any esoteric salvation plan in store for its citizens, nor for any other nation other than the cross! There is no Jew nor any Israelite from any of the 12 tribes who currently possess a "Get Out of Jail Free" card they can redeem after Christ returns. It's either you believe now, or suffer the same consequences all non believers will experience. To believe (and promote) this predominating political ideology, is to go against anything and everything God’s word has revealed to us from the inception of salvation. Once again, Matthew Henry comments on this:

     "We have the different effects of this preaching: To those who perish it is foolishness, but to those who are saved it is the power of God, v. 18. It is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, v. 23, 24. 1. Christ crucified is a stumbling-block to the Jews. They could not get over it. They had a conceit that their expected Messiah was to be a great temporal prince, and therefore would never own one who made so mean an appearance in life, and died so accursed a death, for their deliverer and king. They despised him, and looked upon him as execrable, because he was hanged on a tree, and because he did not gratify them with a sign to their mind, though his divine power shone out in innumerable miracles.

     The Jews require a sign, v. 22. See Mt. 12:38. 2. He was to the Greeks foolishness. They laughed at the story of a crucified Saviour, and despised the apostles’ way of telling it. They sought for wisdom. They were men of wit and reading, men that had cultivated arts and sciences, and had, for some ages, been in a manner the very mint of knowledge and learning. There was nothing in the plain doctrine of the cross to suit their taste, nor humour their vanity, nor gratify a curious and wrangling temper: they entertained it therefore with scorn and contempt. What, hope to be saved by one that could not save himself! And trust in one who was condemned and crucified as a malefactor, a man of mean birth and poor condition in life, and cut off by so vile and opprobrious a death!
     This was what the pride of human reason and learning could not relish. The Greeks thought it little better than stupidity to receive such a doctrine, and pay this high regard to such a person: and thus were they justly left to perish in their pride and obstinacy. Note, it is just with God to leave those to themselves who pour such proud contempt on divine wisdom and grace. 3. To those who are called and saved he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Note, those who are saved are reconciled to the doctrine of the cross, and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified." (Matthew Henry Commentary, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1)
     No! My purpose for writing my two books was not to make money, nor gain any sort of fame in the Christian community as being some brilliant Bible expositor, but to reach those disciples of Christ who are convinced that citizens of present-day Israel are God’s Holy people, and that they are destined to get a free pass on salvation. There is nothing holy about any nation in the whole world (regardless of its perceived status of being God’s chosen people) who do not believe in nor accept Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. That is the Bible preaching Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, the cross and nothing but the cross!
     I will be chided by many among the Christian Zionism camp for believing that God views no nation as being special in Hs eyes; not the state of Israel, not the United States, nor Mexico, Japan, Britain, Iraq, Iran nor is any governing body in the entire world any more special than the other.

     At the beginning of my books, in an effort to establish great unity among my writing peers, I state emphatically that the books should not be viewed as the last word on the eschatological debate that has been raging among Christians for over 180 years. I also emphatically state that my search for truth did not end when my books were finished. Our search for God’s truth and His will for us is a never-ending quest. For us to stand upon our own perspective doctrinal precepts, as being truth and nothing but the truth is sheer folly, motivated (as Paul infers in 1 Corinthians) more so by pride rather than seeking unity among the church.

     We (Christian writers, bloggers, communicators, teachers, and pundits) like all disciples of Christ, need to continue seeking greater illumination of God’s word and never rest on the assumption that a perceived doctrine we have been taught in our Christian journey can pass canonical muster, other than Jesus, at the cross, and Him crucified. We must all continue our studies into these matters, constantly searching in Berean-like fashion any scriptural evidence that substantiates other scripture that confirms God’s truth.

     More importantly, as newer evidence concerning God’s overall redemption plan unfolds, we must all remember that gaining (and or teaching) this knowledge is nothing we can take credit for, as if it comes from our own cleverness and intellectual understanding. If anything, we should bow down before the throne of grace and give praise to the author of wisdom that He would even consider saving our wretched souls (like mine), and much less for using us in a communications ministry.

Hopefully, some day soon we will have unity among the brethren, because we know that no one will be saved unless they believe in the cross, and the cross alone. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ now, nothing else will save you, especially not a politically created philosphy that has no Bible support, whatsoever!
     It would be great to soon see a single-minded sense of unity among the Christian community, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath!

For more information about this blog and the author’s two books,
The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz

Monday, August 02, 2010

Read How Two Guys Tore A Jewish Wedding Ritual out of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory!

     The old saying that great minds think alike is an axiom that is loosely bandied about by folks who just happen to find themselves proclaiming the same truth. Both Dave MacPherson and I would never apply that saying to ourselves because there is only one entity that is truly great, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
     However, it is exciting for both of us to see many new writers on matters of eschatology who are now rising to the forefront as never before, which makes old “Anti-Pre-Trib” folks like Dave and myself feel that these new young, hard-working and dedicated researcher and writers of this subject are handling the word of God with a greater responsibility to truth as opposed to the mythology that has predominated Christendom written by the likes of John Darby, C.I. Scofield, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye et al for the last 150 years.
     One of those particular subjects being scrutinized more so concerns the many premillennial dispensationalists who use the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Revelations 19:1-9) as a Biblical proof that the church can be seen getting ready to return back to earth with Christ (at His Second Advent) after participating in a great wedding in heaven; the church being the Bride of the Lamb which supposedly was wedded to Christ. This, as they contend, happens after the church experienced the Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven seven years earlier to escape the so-called “Great Tribulation.”
     In truth, any Bible students worth their salt (if they dig deep enough) can discover Bible facts that refute the metaphoric nonsense Pre-Tribulation Rapture devotees promote, especially that one claim that the timing of the so-called “catching away” to Heaven theory is proven by having knowledge and or an acute understanding of the rituals and stages of a Jewish wedding.
     In today’s blog, we will first present an analytical perspective from my dear friend and colleague Dave MacPherson, followed by an excerpt from my book, The End Times Passover, which can be found in Chapter 11, “Jesus Possesses the Promised Land, Forever, When The Lord Marries The Bride.” While both Dave and I provide information based on our own researching endeavors, it is obvious that we both are on the same page concerning the need to once and for all put to bed the theories and conjecture that Jewish wedding rituals have anything to do with the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, which itself is becoming an even weaker theory than ever before.


     Can pretrib rapturists find support for their view in the stages of a Jewish wedding, as some assert?
     Every encyclopedia I checked (including the Jewish Encyclopedia) states that there are two stages in such a wedding: the "kiddushin" (betrothal) and the "nissuin" (marriage).
     Although some pretrib leaders find proof for their rapture view in Jewish wedding stages, there is widespread disagreement among them over how many stages there are.
     In his comprehensive book "The End Times Passover," media figure Joe Ortiz refers to John Walvoord's book "The Rapture Question" which accepts R. C. H. Lenski's view that a Hebrew marriage has three stages.
     Charles Monk sees 5 "customs" (stages).
     Arnold Fruchtenbaum has found 6 "steps" (stages) that Thomas Ice has appropriated.
     The site observes 12 "steps" (stages).
     Not to be outdone, Renald Showers actually sees 17 "customs" (stages).
     (Think of all the work to boil down 17 or even 5 stages into a two-stage second coming!)
     An internet blog titled For The Love of Truth is representative of not a few that reveal that it's dangerous as well as unscriptural to base a pretrib rapture outlook on Jewish traditions. In an article titled "Jewish Wedding and Rapture" the same blog has some startling information:
     It says: "Jewish Wedding traditions being discussed are the rabbinic teachings found within the Talmud and Kabbalah." (Not only are these sources occultic and anti-Biblical but the Talmud is filled with lies and blasphemy about Jesus that are as irrational as they are totally evil!)
     It reveals that certain pretrib leaders "have taken snippets of the various Jewish wedding traditions" and "rearranged and reinvented the content and events and then made the declaration that the Jewish wedding tradition is really the story of Christ and the rapture...."
     It also states that "the seven blessings [during the ceremony] obviously have nothing to do with Jesus Christ or His return," adding that "Nowhere does the Bible tell us to interpret scripture by looking to man's traditions."
     Incidentally, it's well-known that pretrib rapture defenders claim that certain Bible passages are on "church" ground while other passages are on "Jewish" ground and that we should always maintain the Darby-approved "church/Israel separation" principle. However, with impunity they can jettison that principle in the twinkling of an eye if they need support for their 180-year-old novelty from occultic Jewish traditions or from Lev. 23's Jewish feasts!
     Since far too many pretrib leaders seem to be "stage-struck," and since their strickenness has rubbed off on me, I hereby share a personal "revelation" I've had lately that I've titled "The Seven-Stage Coming (I Thess. 4)" which proves that pretribs should be looking for a seven-stage coming and not just a measly two-stage coming:
     1 - The Lord descends.
     2 - The shout.
     3 - The archangel's voice.
     4 - The trumpet of God.
     5 - The dead rise.
     6 - The caught up (rapture).
     7 - The meeting in the air.
     Yes, seven stages. And isn't 7 supposed to be a perfect number?
     Something else. Have you noticed the unnatural language pretribs like to use? If a friend visits me, goes away for a month, and then comes back and visits me again, he never says: "I'm back for the SECOND stage of my one visit." But pretribs use wording like this when they place SEVERAL YEARS between their two stages!
     During their short history pretrib promoters have disagreed on many things in addition to the number of stages in a Jewish wedding. They have also disagreed on which Jewish feast is symbolic of a pretrib rapture, and disagreed on which symbol in the book of Revelation is the best "pretrib" symbol. (For 30 years Darby's basis for a pretrib rapture was Rev. 12:5's "man child" that is caught up!)

     For 300 pages of the most accurate documentation anywhere on the long covered up but now revealed history of the pretrib rapture view, I invite you to obtain my book "The Rapture Plot" at Armageddon Books and other online stores. Google "Scholars Weigh My Research" to see how eminent scholars have evaluated my discoveries. Also Google "Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty."
     Finally, it's apparent that pretrib teachers are experts in arithmetic - the MULTIPLYING of stages which has caused a lot of DIVISION among Christians!

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     The following is an excerpt from The End Times Passover, Chapter 11, which provides biblical evidence that New Jerusalem (not Old Jerusalem located in the Middle East state of modern day Israel), is The Promised Land prophesied in the Old Testament, and that it is not the church, as many theorists claim. This excerpt is only part of the entire chapter titled Jesus Possess the Promised Land, when the Lord Marries the Bride, which addresses a major misconception that the “wedding” metaphor mentioned in Revelations 19:1-9 should be viewed in a literal fashion. Here, we will focus on the more in depth meaning of two key words in this group of scripture (marry and husband), which have been misinterpreted for centuries, and have been primarily responsible for misunderstanding the intended message God promised to remnant Israel, the faith believing ecclesia of God!

Jesus Possess the Promised Land, When the Lord Marries The Bride!
By Joe Ortiz

     Before we examine more closely the messages we are to understand concerning the above cited verses (Revelations 19:1-9), let us first focus on this marital aspect. Just what does it mean when it states in Isaiah 62:4 that your land will be married? As the author discussed this “New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God, also called the Bride of the Lamb, and not the church” issue with a colleague, his response was: “How can the Lord be seen marrying land? He added, “It doesn’t make sense.”
     The author recognizes how this marrying the land aspect could cause some confusion. However, if examined closer, what we see in Isaiah 62:4 (and fulfilled in Revelation 19:7) is not a picture of the Lamb of God marrying the Christian Church in the traditional matrimonial sense, as theorists contend; but, rather, this chapter is giving us greater insights about what the word marry truly means. This biblical wedding spoken of in Revelation 19:7 is not a wedding as we understand the institution of a marriage ceremony today; but, rather, these scriptural verses are describing Jesus finally possessing His (and our) eternal dwelling place, the Holy City of God, New Jerusalem!
     Most theorists use the Jewish cultural wedding rites as an example to support their belief that the Christian Church will be secretly caught up to heaven for seven years, participate as a bride in a wedding to Jesus Christ, and then see it returning with Him at The Second Advent. It is their contention that the Jewish wedding rites are allegorical of the three stages the Christian Church (as the Bride) will experience before the so-called Great Tribulation. John Walvoord (The Rapture Question), in his debate with George Eldon Ladd’s post-tribulation position, asserts thusly:
     "As a New Testament scholar, Ladd no doubt is acquainted with the facts relating to a Hebrew marriage that makes his position untenable. As Lenski and others have pointed out, -- Hebrew marriage has three states: (1) the legal marriage consummated by the parents of the bride and the groom; (2) the groom goes to take his bride from her parent’s home; (3) the wedding supper or feast. Most Greek scholars take the Greek word GAMOS, translated “wedding” in Revelation 19:7, to mean, “Wedding feast.” With the exception of Hebrews 13:4, this is the uniform meaning in the New Testament. Ladd himself alluded to this inferring to the event as “the marriage banquet” and “marriage supper.” It should be clear, then, that if the marriage supper is in view here, the wedding has already been legally consummated and the bridegroom has already come for his bride." (John Walvoord, The Rapture Question, page 163, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979)
     We don’t have any argument with Walvoord’s (and other theorists’) understanding of Jewish wedding rites; however, what we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 is not a picture of a marriage ceremony in the Jewish cultural (or even in the Western traditional) sense. To fully understand exactly what is transpiring here, one must examine the word “marry” and “husband” in the original Hebrew text to clearly understand what the words “husband” and “marry” precisely mean. Let’s examine these two words.
     In the NASB Concordance, the word for “marry” is rendered ba’al, a primary root that is translated in most Bibles “to marry” or “rule over.” Unger and White, the two Hebrew scholars we have referred to before, state that the word ba’al is rendered “master.” They state, “In Akkadian, the noun BELU (Lord) gave rise to the verb BELU (to rule). In other northwest Semitic languages, the noun BAAL differs somewhat in meaning, as other words have taken over the meaning of “sir” or “Lord.” (Cf. Heb.’ ADO.) The Hebrew word Ba’al seems to have been related to these homonyms.” (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 19)
     Unger and White go on to state that “the word BAAL (ba’al) occurs 84 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, 15 times with the meaning of “husband” and 50 times as a reference to deity. These two Hebrew scholars add, “The primary meaning of “ba’al” is “possessor.” They state that “Isaiah’s use of ba’al in parallel with QANAH clarifies this basic significance of ba’al: “The ox knoweth his owner (QANAH), and the ass his master’s (ba’al) crib, but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3) Man may be the owner (ba’al) of an animal (Exod. 22:10), a house (Exod. 22:7), a cistern (Exod. 21:34), or even a wife (Exod. 21:3),” (Unger and White, An Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page19). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
     Unger and White go on to state that ba’al’s secondary meaning; “husband” is clearly indicated by the phrase “ba’al ha-issha,” literally “owner of a woman.” They also state that “ba’al” may denote any deity other than the God of Israel, the ba’al or BAAL’s that modern Christianity has come to understand as the false gods that were worshipped by many Israelites throughout history.
     Having gained a much more clear definition of the words marry and husband, we can now examine the more succinct meaning of Isaiah 62. If you will notice very carefully, in verses 4 and 5 of Isaiah 62, it specifically states (in no plainer words) that, No longer will they call you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) Deserted, or name your land (Jerusalem) Desolate. But you (faith-believing Israel, the ecclesia) will be called Hephzibah (Hebrew: Chephtsiy bahh, my delight is in her) and your land Beulah (Hebrew: ba’al, married, possessed), “as a young man marries (Hebrew: ba’al, possesses) a maiden, so will your sons marry (Hebrew: ba’al, possess) you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over you.” [bold and parenthesis by the author, solely for emphasis]
     As we can clearly see, verse 12 of Isaiah 62 succinctly delineates between who they are (they will be called the Holy people, the redeemed of the Lord), and you (now speaking about the land) which will be called sought after, the City No Longer Deserted. Verse 12 speaks about two subjects: They (the redeemed) and you (the city no longer deserted). Therefore this verse cannot be saying that the redeemed Christian Church (or Israel) is the land (or the city of) New Jerusalem. This prophecy in Isaiah 62 is clearing making a distinction between God’s faith-believing Israel (the ecclesia) and the land (New Jerusalem), which is the soon to come Holy City of God! This prophecy is speaking about the final outcome of salvation. It speaks about the eternal rest of faith-believing Israel (which was purchased at the cross), and it also speaks (symbolically and metaphorically) about the glorification of the old (Holy City of) Jerusalem through the eventual (and final) realization and supernatural manifestation of God’s new Holy City, which descends to earth at The Second Advent. The prophecy of Isaiah 62:1-12 is fulfilled at the cross, and the great hallelujah of salvation’s completion that we witness in Revelation 19:1-10 is the resounding proclamation of the everlasting dominion of Christ. New Jerusalem is the Holy City of God that will house faith-believing Israel (the redeemed ecclesia). New Jerusalem is the true Promised Land. (See also Hebrews 11:10-16 and 13:14). And the eternal resting place for His redeemed, which Isaiah 62:7 states cannot be attained until till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Revelation 21:1 through 7 clearly shows this happening as the Bride of the Lamb, New Jerusalem, descends to earth:
     And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, it is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son, (Revelation 21:1-7, KJV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
     If Isaiah 62 doesn’t describe the true “wedding of the Lamb to His bride” more graphically than the hypotheses theorists conjure up from the passages referred to in Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:22-23 (which are used by theorists in their Christian Church-is-the-Bride scheme), then there is no hope for understanding the word of God! More importantly, as we see in Isaiah 62, verse 11, you will notice that this message is not intended for Jews or the national state of Israel, but for God’s people of promise, His ecclesia! We see this verified as Jesus uses the very same words in Revelation 22:12 that we see in Isaiah 62:11: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Does not Jesus speak those same words to the ecclesia in the Book of Revelation 22:12?
     The matrimonial metaphors we see in Isaiah 62:4 and Revelation 19:7 are not describing the scene of a man coming to be ceremoniously wedded to a woman, but rather, what we truly see here is Jesus Christ, the Almighty Lamb of God, getting ready to ba’al (possess, rule, marry or master) New Jerusalem, the Promised Land, and become its everlasting ruler and possessor as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
     As much as theorists would like us to believe, that Jesus in the future is planning to become one with the Christian Church through a wedding ceremony, after examining what is really represented in Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 19:7, it becomes clear to us that these two verses are not describing a wedding in the matrimonial sense we understand today. Besides, is not the ecclesia already the Body of Christ?
     But theorists would answer back and say that these prophecies (by Isaiah) refer solely to national Israel. We would respond by saying that these future events are for faith-believing Israel, God’s children, those who believe in the Messiah, which includes the engrafted Gentiles into God’s original ecclesia, the faith-believing Israel of God. The redeemed will include tribulation saints, holy ones, the remnant, the elect, the 144,000 (of which 12,000 are Jews and the rest from the other tribes of Israel) and all of the great cloud of witnesses (that we see in Hebrews 11) who believed in the Messiah… by faith!
     Whether God’s people experience a secret pre-tribulation escape to heaven (which we don’t believe will be the case); whether they become martyred during the so-called Great Tribulation, or remain alive when Christ returns (all of those names which are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life), one thing is certain, the Christian Church is not the Bride of the Lamb. New Jerusalem, God’s Holy City, His eternal dwelling place, is the true Bride of The Lamb! If theorists persist and continue to believe that the Bride of the Lamb is the Christian Church, then, pray tell, who are all of these people that are seen as the only ones who will be allowed entrance into that Holy City? Revelation 21:26 clearly states:
     The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, (Revelation 21:26, NIV). [Bold and underline is by the author, solely for emphasis]
     If the Christian Church is the Bride, and if the Bride of the Lamb is New Jerusalem, then who are these people whose names are written in this Lamb’s Book of Life, the only ones who will have access to this Holy City? They are God’s ecclesia, His called out ones! And if those people that are described in Isaiah 62:12 (They will be called the Holy people) also possess access to the city, then the only conclusion we can come to is that Isaiah’s prophecy is directed to faith-believing Israel, God’s ecclesia!
     Those of us who now call ourselves Christians have been grafted into God’s original ecclesia, by the atoning works of Messiah on Calvary, and by the grace and mercy of God. Therefore, those promises spoken of in Isaiah 62 – concerning Jerusalem becoming married - clearly speak about the same heavenly promises the Christian Church embraces for itself. However, whereas the Christian Church pictures itself in heaven for an eternity, as the Bride of the Lamb, soon to be wedded to Christ, the reality is that the Bride of the Lamb is the soon-to-descend Holy City of God, which Messiah Jesus possesses forever, right here on earth. Whereas faith-believing Israel, God’s chosen remnant, that great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 11 that were looking forward to a heavenly city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14), Isaiah tells us that Messiah will marry (possess) the Bride of the Lamb, which is New Jerusalem, the soon-to-come Holy City of God! What we see in Isaiah 62 speaks about the same thing we see in Revelation 21:2 and 3. The only difference the Christian Church (and theorists) fails to see is that the Bride of the Lamb is not the Christian Church, but rather, it’s the Holy City of God, which descends to earth to be ruled by the Messiah, forever.
     Therefore, the mythology of the Christian Church being seen as the Bride of the Lamb to be wedded to Christ has no scriptural foundation, whatsoever. However, the marrying (possession) of the promised land (New Jerusalem) by God has a tremendous amount of scripture to convey to us God’s true message, which is, that Jesus possesses the Promised Land, forever, when the Lord marries the Bride!

     To conclude this chapter, the author wants to state that whatever geopolitical fulfillments many theorists interpret regarding the Promised Land referred to in Old Testament prophecies have no biblical foundation. Theorists merely view these prophecies as claiming the restoration of a Jewish geopolitical Kingdom in present day Jerusalem, in the land now called the State of Israel. What we read in Isaiah 62:1-12 clearly reveals a prophetic fulfillment of that great land promise God made to faith-believing Israel, His ecclesia, in the manifestation of New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, mentioned in Revelation 21:2, 9-10. If they are the same, as all scriptural indications prophetically point to that fact, then there can be no doubt that the Lamb’s Bride is none other than New Jerusalem, the true Promised Land, and the soon-to-come Holy City of God, (Hebrews 13:14). This we believe is the perfect picture of faith-believing Israel’s true Promised Land, not a recaptured earthly territory, which theorists believe was fulfilled in the Middle East in 1948.
     The true Promised Land is New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, the soon-to-descend new headquarters for the Kingdom of God, where a positional status for each individual member of God’s ecclesia in that Kingdom is being prepared by Jesus Christ before its soon-to-come journey to earth.
     We realize that many theorists and dispensationalists will challenge us for doubting, questioning and providing correction to the current teachings and perception that the Christian Church is the Bride of The Lamb. Removing this myth from the Christian psyche, they feel, may be damaging to many Christian’s Blessed Hope. The author was taught and personally believed that concept for many years. However, after careful scrutiny of God’s word, it is absolutely clear that the Bride of Christ cannot be the Christian Church; but, rather, the Bride is the soon-to-come City of God, New Jerusalem, which will forever be the Lord’s headquarters on earth. It is there where the ecclesia, God’s called out ones, will be able to enter into it by virtue of their names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, those who will be called by a new name, who will rule and reign with Him, forever, after God’s sons and daughters (the ecclesia of God) will have participated (as His guests) in that great Wedding Banquet that is to come!

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     [To get a greater understanding of this entire matter (Israel vs. church, God’s promises to remnant Israel), please read a profound book I recently completed reading, The Israel of God in Prophecy by Hans LaRondelle (Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan). Had I read this book when it first came out in 1983, I probably would have never written The End Times Passover. It is indeed greatly satisfying for me to have recently read one of the most biblically accurate works I have ever read, which contains (almost word for word) material and biblical references that confirms the study I began in (oddly enough) 1983].

For more information about this blog and the authors two books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz' web sites and blogs