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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Could Someone's Dream Turn Out to be Someone Else's Nightmare Down The Road?

     Could the recent killing by the U.S. Senate of the Dream Act come back to haunt the USA down the road?
     The DREAM Act would have provided certain illegal and deportable alien students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors, and have been in the country continuously and illegally for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning. This unfortunate action by America reminds me of a great story in the Bible about Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Israel.
     As scripture in the Book of Genesis relates, Joseph shared a dream with his brothers that he would one day be a great leader and would not only save his 11 other brothers, but in fact would be their ruler. The brothers hated Joseph for sharing that dream with them, and had so much envy, that they threw him down a giant hole, in hopes he would die.
     As it turns out, Joseph was found by some Egyptians next door to the land of Canaan and taken to its King Pharaoh, who was impressed with Him and his knowledge and wisdom and decided to place him in charge of his entire kingdom.
     As it turns out, later on his brothers were suffering in the land of Canaan and went next door to Egypt seeking food. Pharaoh welcomed Joseph's brothers, but little did they know that their brother Joseph was now the head honcho of that country. They didnt recognize he was the brother they had cast out of the family, although Joseph knew.
     As it turns out, Joseph provided the family that had cast him out of their midst with food and sustenance, and they were henceforth not only grateful for him providing them with help, they had to admit not only how wrong they were by casting him off from the family, they also had to acknowledge he was now in charge of their future. It looks like Joseph's dream actually came true.
     More importantly, little did Joseph (nor his brothers) know at the time that he was thrown into the pit that God was actually working on a greater plan for all concerned!
             (Painting by Ignacio Gomez)     
     The moral of this story is that America has thrown in a dark pit its highly educated immigration youth (motivated by its envy and spite); however, these rejected students could very well become a tremendous asset that will enhance whatever country they return or are banished to. These hard-working and highly educated youth should not see this action by the U.S. Senate (and the American public) as a defeat, but simply a momentary setback in their quest for greatness.


     The way America is going right now (down the road of nationalistic hate and dishonor), it could very well be that these immigrant castoffs will turn out to be part of its societal and economic salvation down the road.
     What was a dream for a few resourceful immigrant youth, a dream of attaining a good education to contribute towards an economic prosperity that could have been shared by the entire nation, could very well turn out to be one of America's worst nightmares.
~
     For more information about the author's two books that refute a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz Associates

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Do We Demonize our Fellow Servants?

     We are pleased once again to welcome as a guest columnist on our blog, my dear friend, Dave MacPherson, a prolific author and research specialist concerning the origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It seems that brother Dave is becoming a victim of many scurrilous attacks concerning his research and the books he has written, with over 35 years of extensive study of this much debated topic. While this is probably the most contested doctrine in modern-day Christianity, it seems that rather than sharing each other’s research to enhance the church’s mission, many are resorting to the demonization of a person’s life’s work.
“PRETRIB RAPTURE & DEMONS”
by Dave MacPherson

     When I think about pretrib rapture books I often think about demons.
     Take John Darby, for example. No one has ever come close to matching his literary "spectrum." His favorite caustic phrases included "the absence of spiritual intelligence," "real blasphemies," "unmingled darkness," and "unbelief and Satan." (Darby threw these phrases at those who dared to keep clinging to the only "rapture" view found in all Christian theology books prior to Scottish lassie Margaret Macdonald's history-making claim in 1830 of finding a pretrib rapture in the Bible.)
     The biting language went both ways. Soon after the birth of pretrib, British lawyer Robert Baxter joined the Irvingites (followers of Rev. Edward Irving) and adopted that new prophetic view. He abandoned it in 1833 and concluded that it was "a deceit of Satan" which had "first appeared in Scotland."
     Throughout the following decades both Darby (the master "special effects" man) and his editor, William Kelly, continued to fling such corrosive terminology at their critics.

     During 1902 Canadian fundamentalist Robert Cameron, who had been influenced by Baxter, wrote a series of articles that continued to credit the Irvingites (whom Margaret had inspired) as the first public teachers of the new endtimes view. Cameron wrote that "Dr. Tregelles, B. W. Newton and others, say there is not a hint of this [pretrib] doctrine in any writing extant, from the days of Polycarp to the days of Irving." He asked: "Do you think it wise to exalt into 'a test of fellowship' a doctrine...supported by the testimony of demons....?"

     In 1973 R. A. Huebner, uber-defender of Darby, added Darby- and Kelly-like revisionism to "demon" lingo. He quoted several writers who supposedly made the "demonic" charge. This is how my book "The Rapture Plot" portrays Huebner's "straw man" deviousness:
     "In 1864 S. P. Tregelles wrote: 'It came...from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God.' (Huebner: 'In 1864, he said it came from a demon.')
     "In 1956 H. A. Baker said that pretrib came from a 'spirit.' (Huebner: Baker said it came from a 'demon.')
     "In 1957 Oswald J. Smith declared that pretrib came from 'a vision received by a woman' in Irving's church. (Huebner: Smith said it came from a 'demon.')
     "In 1962 J. Barton Payne traced pretrib to 'a woman...speaking in tongues.' (Huebner: Payne traced it to a 'demon.')"
     Huebner, in the same book, asserted that I'm another one who's been claiming that pretrib sprang from a "demonic source." For his so-called proof he reproduced a 1971 paper of mine entitled "Who Was Margaret MacDonald?"
     His conclusion was based on a statement in that paper in which I referred to "the vagaries of a Scottish lassie whose friends, according to A. L. Drummond's 'Edward Irving and His Circle' (pp. 141, 142, 146, 238, 279), included those who practised ecstatic speech, telepathy, and (shades of Satan) automatic writing!"
     Note that the occultic items had to do with Margaret's "friends" and not her! As I see it, pretrib is dangerous no matter how it's transmitted.
     For the record: I have never stated, and have never believed, that Margaret was ever, in any way, influenced by any demonic or Satanic source! Her revelation was merely her view of Scripture.
     Huebner (who is now deceased) was a retired electrical engineer who never attended college, seminary, or even a Bible school. Nevertheless Walvoord, Ryrie and some others have been taken in by Huebner's dishonest revisionism of my research and have repeated it far and wide - the evidence of which is constantly seen on the internet.
     For example, there's what I refer to as Wicked-pedia (a.k.a. Wikipedia) - a site which allows anyone in the public to edit its pages in any fashion! This has given Thomas Ice etc. a green light to constantly replace historical facts with lies including the oft-repeated lie that I have stated that pretrib (including Margaret's 1830 revelation) sprang from a "demonic" source!
     Finally, I'm thankful for my good friend Joe Ortiz whose must-read "End Times Passover" blog has allowed me to publicly expose the viciousness and venality that have long been embedded within the pretrib rapture view!

                                                              ~

     Dave MacPherson is the author of The Rapture Plot, The Incredible Cover Up, The Great Rapture Hoax, Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin, and Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture.

[Editorial comment by Joe Ortiz]

     The topic of demons has surfaced as never before in history. Movies like Angels and Demons (the sequel to the big hit movie The Davinci Code by author Dan Brown) have brought greater attention to demons, as have books by authors LA Marzulli, Paddy Herron, Stephen Quayles and Tom Horn (to name a few), whose research into fallen angels and the Nephilim phenomenon has captured a new audience which heretofore paid short shrift to Satan and his demonic forces. Those in the know recognize that Satan’s time is running short and he is now pumping the bellows to the raging furnace of the ominous paranormal evil looming in the horizon that will soon strike unparrelleled fear in the hearts of mankind. In the past, most of us viewed the devil as a cute little character with horns and a tail and a pitchfork that many of us even dressed up like on Halloween. Theologians who are keenly aware of the role demonic forces have played in the past, and who recognize that their fiery dart attacks are on the increase, know full well that any enmity or acrimony amongst fellow Christians lay in the truth of the scripture that states, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, (Ephesians 6:12)
     Yet, I’m sad to report that many Christians are irresponsibly labeling the works of other Christians solely to get an upper hand with their audience by tagging their material as being demonic. That is a very dangerous game they play, not recognizing they are actually falling into a satanic trap they will regret further down the road.
     Level-headed discussions about theology should ensue with an open heart and mind to hopefully increase knowledge for all of us who have chosen to participate in this worthwhile arena. A healthy discussion (which includes sharing information and scripture that affirms and confirms their polemic) is a good thing, as Proverbs 27:17 states: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
     It is a pity that so much contentiousness exists amongst theologians when they find themselves not necessarily agreeing with another’s point of view. Rather than calmly sharing their respective studies, way too many are too quick to condemn and dismiss the other person’s respective information, to at least read it before doing so. Just imagine how much more successful the church would be if members were to share their respective research, rather than dismissing (with self-centered pride) the new knowledge that is fast emerging as we get closer to the return of Jesus Christ. Do we not have the same agenda, which is to bring greater glory to God through our respective efforts and contributions?
     Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Proverb 27:17 offered us great advice about our conversation with fellow Christians, especially in regards to our theological discussions, one that would behoove us to follow, rather than to miss important messages God is revealing to various people from all walks of life, but intended for one body:
     “This intimates both the pleasure and the advantage of conversation. One man is nobody; nor will poring upon a book in a corner accomplish a man as the reading and studying of men will. Wise and profitable discourse sharpens men’s wits; and those that have ever so much knowledge may by conference have something added to them. It sharpens men’s looks, and, by cheering the spirits, puts a briskness and liveliness into the countenance, and gives a man such an air as shows he is pleased himself and makes him pleasing to those about him.
     Good men’s graces are sharpened by converse with those that are good, and bad men’s lusts and passions are sharpened by converse with those that are bad, as iron is sharpened by its like, especially by the file. Men are filed, made smooth, and bright, and fit for business (who were rough, and dull, and inactive), by conversation. This is designed, 1. To recommend to us this expedient for sharpening ourselves, but with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great either for the better or for the worse. 2. To direct us what we must have in our eye in conversation, namely to improve both others and ourselves, not to pass away time or banter one another, but to provoke one another to love and to good works and so to make one another wiser and better, (Matthew Henry, Commentary on Proverbs 27:17).”

~

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

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Is The Current State of Israel a Fulfillment of Prophecy?

     Many evangelical Christians believe the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies about the restoration of Israel to its homeland and that this in turn reveals the nearness of the rapture, the Tribulation, and the return of Christ. Hal Lindsey asserts that the political restoration of Israel in 1948 is “the most important prophetic sign to herald the era of Christ’s return.”
     Israel’s establishment as a nation is indeed a most remarkable event, and it is not surprising that many Christians and Jews see in it a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Let’s examine some of these prophecies to see what they say. Two in particular stand out.
     First is God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would inherit Palestine forever. “ ‘All the land that you see,’ ” God said, “ ‘I will give to you and your offspring forever,’ ” and “ ‘the whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God’ ” (Genesis 13:15, emphasis added; 17:8, emphasis added).
     Second is God’s promise to David: “ ‘ “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” ’ ” (2 Samuel 7:16). God repeated this promise to David’s son Solomon, who succeeded him as king, adding, “ ‘ “You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel” ’ ” (2 Chronicles 7:18; see also Jeremiah 33:17, 20–26).
     Promises are conditional
     There is no question that God wanted Israel to live in Palestine forever and that His plan was for David’s dynasty to continue unbroken forever. However, His promise was conditional on Israel’s obedience to His covenant requirements. The promise to Abraham and his descendants was not only that they would inherit the land forever but also that He would be their God. And later God said to Abraham, “ ‘As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come’ ” (Genesis 17:9).
     The conditional nature of God’s promises is perhaps best stated in Jeremiah 18:9, 10, where the Lord declares, “ ‘If . . . I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.’ ”
     God’s promise to David and Solomon that their dynasty would be established forever and that they would never lack one of their descendants to sit on the throne of Israel was clearly conditional on obedience. Israel was not a kingdom for most of the past two millennia, nor has it had a descendent of David as its king since the captivity by the Babylonians 600 years before Christ!
     The claim that modern Israel’s restoration as a nation is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy completely ignores the principle that God’s promises are conditioned upon obedience. From a Christian perspective, Israel’s primary disobedience has been its refusal to believe in Jesus as the Messiah for nearly two thousand years.
     Restoration in unbelief?
     Those who view modern Israel as a fulfillment of God’s restoration promises appeal to certain Old Testament passages, which they say teach that the Jews are to be gathered back to their land in a state of unbelief, and only after their restoration will they accept Christ as the Messiah. One of these texts is Ezekiel 22:17–22, in which God says that “ ‘ “I [will] gather you in my anger and my wrath.” ’ ”
     However, God’s “gathering” of the Jews in His anger and wrath refers not to a return to Palestine but to God’s judgment upon their disobedience, which took place at the time of the Babylonian invasion. The purpose of this gathering was for judgment, not restoration. Ezekiel 22:21 makes that clear. In that verse, God says, “ ‘ “I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst” ’ ” (NKJV).* There is nothing here about restoration to Palestine.
     Another text that is often cited to support the return-in-unbelief view is Ezekiel 36:24, 25, “ ‘ “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.” ’ ” The fact that the promise of territorial restoration precedes the spiritual cleansing of the people in this passage is taken to mean that the Jews will return to Palestine in unbelief first and then they will be cleansed and redeemed.
     A major problem with this interpretation is that it flies in the face of numerous other biblical statements in which God told the Israelites that He would restore them from their captivity by foreign nations when and if they repented (see, for example, Deuteronomy 30:1–5; Isaiah 1:27, 28; Ezekiel 20:39–42). Ezekiel’s words cannot contradict this basic premise.
     Ezekiel did not say that God would re-gather the Israelites first and then cleanse them. He simply said that God would do two things for His people: He would both re-gather and cleanse them. Ezekiel did not specify the sequence of these events, nor did he hint that an undetermined length of time would separate them.
     Historically, it was unbelief that prevented the Israelites from entering the land of Canaan shortly after their deliverance from Egypt (Numbers 14:23). If unbelief prevented the initial entrance into the land of Canaan, it can hardly be the condition for a return!
     A future fulfillment
     This is not to say that there can never be a future fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises to Abraham and His descendants. For one thing, it can hardly be disputed that the restoration prophecies were not completely fulfilled following the restoration of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Consequently, it is appropriate to look for a more complete fulfillment at a later time. However, in looking for a greater fulfillment, it is important to recognize that prophecies regarding Israel’s restoration can be fulfilled in two ways: literally and figuratively.
     God’s territorial promise to Abraham’s descendants was fulfilled literally when the Israelites took over the land of Canaan following their exodus from Egypt. Joshua declared, “The Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. . . . Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:43, 45).
     Also, the Old Testament prophecies predicting the restoration of the Jews to Palestine following their Babylonian captivity were literally fulfilled by the remnant of Jews who returned to Palestine under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
     However, both God’s promise to give Canaan to Abraham’s descendants and His promise to restore Israel following the captivity in Babylon have also been fulfilled figuratively. Paul explained that the promises God “made to Abraham and to his seed” have been fulfilled through Christ, because He is the epitome of the true Seed of Abraham (see Galatians 3:16, 29).
     This figurative fulfillment can be understood in two ways. First, it has been fulfilled for the past 2,000 years by the ingathering of Gentiles into the Christian church. This point is especially clear from a statement the apostle James made. James presided at a church council that met for the explicit purpose of deciding how to relate to the many Gentiles that Paul was bringing into the church on his missionary tours through Asia Minor (now Turkey) and Europe.
     When the council seemed to have reached an impasse, James said, “ ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simon [Peter] has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “ ‘After this I will return / and rebuild David’s fallen tent. / Its ruins I will rebuild, / and I will restore it, / that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, / and all the Gentiles who bear my name, / says the Lord, who does these things’ / that have been known for ages” ’ ” (Acts 15:13–18).
     James here quoted a prophecy by the Old Testament prophet Amos regarding the restoration of David’s kingdom (see Amos 9:11, 12), which would bring about the ingathering of the Gentiles. He declared that this prophecy was being fulfilled through the ingathering of the Gentiles—not into literal Israel but into the Christian church. This is a clear example of a figurative New Testament fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy regarding the restoration of Israel.
     The new earth
     We see another figurative fulfillment of God’s promise to restore Israel to the Promised Land in the New Testament’s promise of the ultimate possession of the new earth by all of God’s people. Hebrews, for instance, explains that Abraham and his believing descendants saw the final fulfillment of the promise of the land of Canaan, not in a return to that land, but rather in reaching “a better country—a heavenly one” (11:15, 16).  
     Consequently, Abraham, who had been promised the land of Canaan, “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (verse 10).
     This future city will be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he would possess the land of Canaan forever. For embedded within Revelation’s description of the New Jerusalem and the new earth are words that are reminiscent of God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants: “ ‘I will be their God’ ” (Genesis 17:8). Revelation says, “ ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’ ” (21:3, emphasis added). This promise will be fulfilled on the new earth for all the spiritual descendants of Abraham, both Jews and Gentiles.
     Every believer in Jesus is an heir to the promise God made to Abraham regarding the land of Canaan. Even those who are not blood descendants of Abraham, if they are in Christ, are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).