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EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 3)

In the first century AD, the Israelites continued to be obsessed with the restoration of their kingdom. Other than brief independence under the Hasmonean Dynasty (c142-37 BC), they had been ruled by foreign powers since the Babylonian Captivity six centuries before.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2

LESSON 3

ACTS 1:6-8

6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [Acts 1:6-8]

The Lord continued attempting to patiently explain to his disciples that His was a spiritual kingdom. In His Olivet Prophecy, as recorded in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, He warned them that great tribulation was coming and what was left of the nation of Israel would cease to exist within a generation.

Then He shifted His answer to the immediate future when they would be endowed with a power giving them greater ability to understand. He told them they would become dynamic witnesses of the Gospel message. The Greek word is dunamis and is defined as “strength, ability, inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” This would be an entirely different ballgame. The powerful OT prophets and John the Baptist had the spiritual power of God upon them, but they were not indwelt by the Spirit of the Lord. In fact, the Lord said:

11 “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Matthew 11:11]

How is this possible? John was obviously a great and fearless preacher, the forerunner of the Lord. He had what would otherwise be an impossible objective—to prepare the collective heart of the nation for a soon arriving future. For many, if not most, it would be a future of growing tribulation and destruction. The independence and freedom sought by the Jews would continually diminish just as John had prophesied:

7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Luke 3:7-9] [1]

smaller percentage of the people did repent, though not enough to save the nation, and it was the Community of this repentant Remnant composed entirely of Israelites that the Lord initially gathered as a spiritual people for a spiritual kingdom. For this, they would have to be like Him and receive His power. They must each be filled with the Holy Spirit.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020: CROSSING THE JORDAN (Part 2)   

4/3/2020: According to the official Hebrew calendar, Nisan 10 begins tonight at sunset, meaning the anniversary of the Jordan River Crossing is tomorrow, April 4. In reality, however, according to the lunar cycle, it is today. See the above link for historical content.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 3]

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It is called The Olivet Prophecy. In response to the questions of His disciples about the End of the Age, the Lord Jesus clearly revealed the signs to watch for that some of them would live to see.

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DAYS OF VENGEANCE

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.” [Luke 21:20-22]

A likely majority of Christians have been subjected to false interpretations of Bible prophecy. There is much confusion and misunderstanding. Most believers get lost in all the detail. But in reality, it is not the Word of God that is to blame, especially in regard to the Last Days prophecies made by the Lord Jesus. Many of His teachings have been taken out of context. Many have been misapplied. Thus, it is not His prophetic content or manner of teaching that is causing the lack of comprehension. It is dealing with the inaccurate interpretations that conflict with the truth.

Truth and error do not mix. Error does not add up. The light of truth exposes dark things and reveals inaccuracies. When one is able to identify error, as tares in a wheat field or masquerading goats at a sheep party, and thus eliminate it from the equation, the truth stands out. It comes out of hiding, so to speak. The truth suddenly becomes visible right there in front of us. And we think, it was always there but for some reason I couldn’t see it. We don’t know such truth exists. We are thus blinded by error because we do not perceive it as such. Sometimes we think error is truth.

How can this happen to Christians who otherwise dwell in the light of the Lord? Where does the obfuscation come from? Many Christians spend their lives in states of cognitive dissonance trying to make sense of the competing doctrinal factoids in their heads in an impossible effort at connecting dots and joining contrary puzzle pieces together. We take it for granted that we have the truth on any given subject but rarely or never subject it to the proper testing as the Lord said we must. Much of this arises from whatever Christian cultural arrangement we belong to. The following is an example:

When I wrote my series on Mary Highly Favored this past December, I included her genealogy from the Gospel of Luke. I noted that her father’s name was Eli or Heli, depending on the translation (See Luke 3:23). In talking to someone about this I was taken somewhat to task over it because the person insisted that Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. 

I said that was only tradition. And the New Testament does not actually mention Mary’s mother.

It did not matter what I said from that point forward because this person would not consider the truth. The scary thing about it was that the truth in the Word of God was rejected and a mere apocryphal traditional error which is strongly ensconced in that Christian denomination was accepted. If this attitude is applied to the entire Word of God such people could be hopelessly indoctrinated against various truths in favor of the erroneous teachings of their denominational beliefs regarding anything the Scriptures teach.

It is the same with Bible prophecy. Once a person has chosen to believe a particular interpretation and puts stock in it the odds of seeing it differently greatly diminish. But becoming convinced of something we believe to be true does not make it so. It is in part why the Lord has blessed us with His Word. There must be a final appeal to authority and that authority is the Lord Jesus and the written record we have of His teachings. His Word must be the final arbiter.

And His Word always dovetails together. The same way it works with Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, all the prophetic content in the New Testament about the Last Days comes together into a single comprehensible whole. Of course, since we are dealing with several different books of the Bible which were originally not written by their respective authors as chapters in a single publication (though the Lord meant it exactly that way through His inspiration), it is up to us to do the research and also receive His revelation.

THE OLIVET PROPHECY

In this light, therefore, for those who want the truth of the matter, the Lord’s Olivet Prophecy exists in all three synoptic gospels. These accounts are easily accessible, relatively short, and quite clear. What the Lord prophesies is not all that difficult to understand especially in light of later history, which records exactly what happened up to the final conflagration in 70 AD. You can find the Lord’s prophecies of The End of the Age in the following passages:

         The Gospel of Matthew: Chapters 24 and Chapter 25

         The Gospel of Mark: Chapter 13

         The Gospel of Luke: Chapter 21

Keep in mind that there are no New Testament accounts of what eventually happened regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. But there certainly are NT accounts written in the 60s AD immediately prior to that time. There are other accounts also, such as those in Paul’s letters written within one to two decades of the end that also clearly point to it as a fast approaching future of prophetic fulfillment.

The Lord left no one unaware. He warned His disciples of what was coming and also gave the specific time frame. He said it would come to pass in their generation and some of them would live to see it. Why would He otherwise warn them? Why did He tell them the specific signs to look for unless He knew some of them would be there and must know when to head for the hills? They were also responsible for telling their children and relations so they too would be prepared. Also, they must not only prepare at the time of the end but gear up for it over the duration of the final forty years from the Lord’s time until it happened. They would have to persevere.

It was not an easy thing to know your entire nation, capital city, and beloved temple would one day soon cease to exist through a horrendous conflagration in which millions of one’s fellow citizens would perish. This is how they did it:

“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” [Luke 21:19] [1]   

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 2]

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The early Christians of the New Testament era believed they were living in the Last Days. They believed the prophetic events thereof were being fulfilled in their generation.

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They learned this initially from the Lord, of course. He made it clear in the following passage:

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Matthew 24:32-34]

He referred to this generation in many passages. He was consistent in describing it as the most evil generation in the history of national Israel. He also said it was the last one:

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. [Matthew 23:33-36]   

THE TIME FRAME OF THE FINAL GENERATION

It began with the birth of the Lord. It lasted approximately 70 years. According to Scripture, an average human lifespan was 70 (Psalm 90:10). An average generation in general terms was 40 years. The Lord began His ministry at 30 years of age. Jerusalem was overrun and the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The final generation officially began with the Lord’s ministry.

This approximate 40 year period included both the first generation of the Lord’s expanding worldwide spiritual Community and the final generation of collapsing national Israel.

These two overlapped. The principle participants on both sides were descendants of Abraham. At first, Christianity was seen by the world as a Jewish sect. This was because there were no Gentiles in the Lord’s Community for at least about seven years. It was composed strictly of Israelites. One might thus refer to the spiritual battle of that time as family oriented internecine warfare.

The spiritual war broke out first. The unbelieving Jews were the chief persecutors of the early Church. They were essentially the only persecutors until ten years into the time of Nero the Roman emperor. Nero came to power in 54 AD. He replaced Claudius who was emperor from 41-54. The early believers flourished during the time of Claudius who believed all peoples in the empire should be allowed to practice their religion. Things changed somewhat with Nero in the early going, persecution grew steadily worse due to anti-Christian influence in his court, and then went into overdrive in 64 AD when he falsely blamed the Christians for the great fire of Rome that summer. Many believed he was covering up his own crimes and the Christians were easy targets and scapegoats.

Meanwhile, things in Jerusalem grew progressively worse. The Zealot uprising eventually overtook all voices of relative reason. The great revolt began in the summer of 66. Jews were fighting Jews. The instability and increasing infighting centered on Jerusalem grew so great Rome had no choice but to eventually intervene in an effort to keep the peace and stem the outbreak of greater war. It was all beginning to happen at that time just as the Lord had prophesied and as the apostles had taught in the intervening 40 year period. Great numbers of believers had faced ongoing intense persecution from their unbelieving brethren who were bound and determined to use every weapon in their arsenal to stomp out the Christian upstarts who, in their darkened view, were making a mockery of their religion and heritage. Their hate was intense and continued growing exponentially. 

DESCRIPTIONS AND JUDGMENT OF THE FINAL GENERATION

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [Matthew 12:38-40]       

“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Matthew 12:41]        

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42]       

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came;’ and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” [Matthew 12:43-45][1]

In the approximate 70 year period beginning with the Lord’s birth, a time when all was in relatively good order, the demonic presence within the religious and political controllers began manifesting steadily and eventually increased eightfold, in a violent hate-filled massive counter response to a loving God bringing abundant life to His hurting people.

The chosen chose Him.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 1]

Destruction of Jerusalem by Ercole de' Roberti

        

The prophet Daniel pointed to it. John the Immerser said it was approaching quickly. The Lord Jesus gave the final warning.

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In 70 AD the end came. Jerusalem was decimated. The Second Temple was destroyed. This was exactly as the Lord prophesied forty years before:

“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]

Many still do not recognize that time of visitation. The Lord warned repeatedly that destruction was nigh, that the people must repent and turn back to Him or lose everything. But not only did they not recognize the times, they refused to honor their Messiah who came to save them. Everything would have been different if they did, but it was not to be. They had reached the point of no return. Though their national sin had not yet reached its complete fullness during the Lord’s time, it was almost there. The nation itself was essentially lost but many who were part of the nation heard the Word. They got the big idea. These were ones who comprised the last days Remnant of the Hebrew people who remained true to God. They recognized God when He arrived. They honored their Messiah. They understood the times. They knew it was the final generation.

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Mark 13:28-30]

THE ANCIENT PRECEDENT

During the time of Abraham, roughly nineteen centuries before the time of the Lord’s ministry, there was a Canaanite tribe known as the Amorites. These were an iniquitous people. They were direct descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham, the son of Noah. God told Abraham (Abram), right after his legendary meeting with Melchizedek, in the immediate vicinity of the city of Salem which would later become Jerusalem, that his descendents would be “strangers in a strange land” but would eventually return after four centuries to this land of promise. In the meantime the Canaanite tribes would become increasingly more evil. The Amorites were especially identified as such:

“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” [Genesis 15:16]

God was invoking a spiritual principle. Sin is progressive. The Amorites were wicked and would continue growing more depraved over time. There was no check on this process. Degeneration had already begun and nothing would stop it. It was the will of the people. There may be some who escape but the nation itself was doomed. It was only a matter of time until the iniquity of the Amorite was complete.

Centuries later, after the Exodus from Egypt, we discover their fate. As noted in the Book of Numbers, the nation of Israel was traveling back to their date with destiny but the journey came to a standstill, having been blocked by the land of the Amorites. Israel sent messengers and asked Sihon, the Amorite king, for permission to pass through his land. He refused. He later decided to gather his forces, seek out Israel, and go on the attack.

Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon was Jazer. [Numbers 21:24]

This was the end of the Amorite kingdom. Yet, the influence of the Amorites remained. Regarding their destruction and the later final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, there is the undying voice of the prophet speaking forth a connection and a clue:

“Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.”’ [Ezekiel 16:2-3]    

 THE END OF THE ISRAELITE KINGDOM

Of course, the Israelites had no official kingdom since the destruction of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, in 586 BC when the Judaic line of kings ceased. They were ruled over by others after their return from Babylon—Persians, Greeks, and Romans—with a brief time of independence under the Maccabees. The Northern Kingdom of Israel, comprised of ten of the twelve tribes, had ceased to exist 750 years before the time of the Lord. What was left of the nation was the Roman province of Judaea which had already been absorbed into the larger province of Syria. It was a far cry from what had once been. Looking at it from an overall historical perspective, Israel had been degenerating ever since the death of King David in 970 BC. If you want to know why, read the Old Testament. It’s all there: An ongoing succession of rebelliousness and disobedience toward God, the very One who saved them from certain destruction through miraculous means and then ongoing saving and assisting after countless screw-ups and betrayals.

But again, during all this there remained a holy Remnant dedicated to the Lord that remained true to Him and faithful. God was never left without a witness. The genealogical line of the Lord Jesus always remained intact. The ongoing experiment of having a people for His own namesake in a world of evil, treacherous nations that hated Him must prevail. There were times when the percentage of good was almost tapped out. The prophet Elijah pretty much thought it was all over in his time until hearing from the Lord that it wasn’t quite as bad as he thought (though still exceptionally sordid), in that a relatively decent-sized Remant remained:

And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way… I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” [1Kings 19:13-15, 18][1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

IMPRECISE PROPHETS AND ILL-DEFINED PROPHECIES: WHAT ABOUT THE NEW COVENANT MODEL?

 

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        They rarely get specific. Their forecasts are open-ended. An uttered word here or there or a noteworthy phrase may qualify as fulfillment and might be used for that purpose. Sound familiar?     

MAKING THE GRADE

        Have you ever wondered why certain prophetic ministers have such high credibility ratings regardless of dubious track records? One may think it’s because they are right often enough or were right when it mattered, in that they made an impact at a key time or key event. One may think it’s a matter of perception, in that they have the mere appearance of being right. Or it could be that they reported the future before it happened but something intervened afterwards and changed the outcome. Sometimes some of these ministers actually do get it right but not without explanations of how and why or why certain words and phrases actually denoted this or that. “See? Don’t you understand?” But when perusing the “prophecy” again one notices that some of the things claimed as prophecy were quite a stretch. Oh, so THAT’S what you meant. Okay…

         The main reason these ministers are accepted as such and honored appropriately is largely for the same reason most ministers gain credibility: (1) They have managed to successfully establish a brand in that they have convinced enough people that they are what they say they are and also have the backing of other ministers or ministerial groups to enforce that supposition. (2) They are perceived as perfectly genuine due to the outer trappings of “legitimate ministry” such as utilizing a church building or “ministry center” from which they minister, belonging to a certified minister group, preacher union, or denominational hierarchy, and also have an ongoing ministry income (oftentimes quite large) which supposedly proves God’s blessing and endorsement. (3) Few people ever bother to grade their pronouncements or keep track of them to see if what they said actually came to pass.

         Regardless, once a prophetic minister establishes perceived credibility, it’s just a matter of staying in the public eye and continue doing whatever one may be doing and put forth as good an appearance as possible. The followers they capture become convinced such ministers are for real but most often for other reasons. They may like their outward appearance and “ministerial manner” but fail to recognize the impact of the surface level of such. They may notice an upscale wardrobe but have no idea how much money and work went into it. They like what appears to be a genial quality but do not understand that some of it is a mere put-on utilized for the sake of connecting with an audience. Remember, image is everything. And besides, how can so many followers be wrong?

HOW TO TELL THE REAL FROM THE UNREAL

         Though it has been overly used and has lost much of its effectiveness, the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” remains an effective question in sorting out legitimacy because it puts the spotlight on Him where it should be. It forces a comparison between His manner of doing things and those of Christian ministers who claim to be sent by Him. Are they teaching what the Lord Jesus taught? Are they doing what He did? Do their prophecies actually dovetail with the Word of God? Since most people who identify as Christians have never read the New Testament (much less studied it), it will be difficult to apply the preceding questions. This means they have no frame of reference when attempting to discover legitimacy. Due to their ignorance they are easily fooled. Due to personal pride they hate being told they lack the means for making correct identifications or properly differentiating the real from the counterfeit.

        But know this: Those ministers who depend on outward adornments to prove legitimacy are deceptive. Some use fairly innocuous means that go beyond simply being well-groomed, which, concerning the latter, everyone should engage in or strive for within one’s means. But as ministers they must appear as somehow better, you see? Other ministers go beyond this, however, and dress themselves up in clergy clothing to the degree that everyone knows they are clergy. They must have the whole lot because their lack of spiritual credentials is such that looking the part must override actually doing the part. They are much better at appearing to function spiritually than actually functioning spiritually. And then, beyond these people, you have those ultra-clergyites who wrap themselves up in the most ostentatious and ridiculous sheep’s clothing imaginable. They transition from clergy clothing to a clergy costume. They traipse around like the religious actors they are, largely letting their masquerading outfits and all-encompassing symbology do the talking for them. (What Would Jesus Do?) Well, for starters, He wouldn’t dress like THAT.

         We can see then, that the more one puts on the act, the more one has something to hide. The more one tries to convince others of one’s legitimacy, the more one is most likely illegitimate.

        Regarding actual New Covenant ministerial credentials, here’s what the apostle Paul wrote:

         And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. [1Corinthians 2:1-5] [1]

         Returning to our subject then, do prophetic ministers ever admit it when they’re wrong? Do they ever admit that the overall context of their messages, often filled with unspecific renderings or assertions which could be applied somewhat universally, actually proves they don’t really get it very clear very often, or that “what they see” is largely inapplicable regarding meaningful particulars? Are their messages so open-ended that timing does not apply?

         As I wrote in a previous post, the entire overall “last days” prophecy theme of the 1960s and 70s prophecy teachers and book authors was WRONG. See if you can find a record of any single one of them ever admitting it. Some of them continued with the same spiel beyond that time and even into the present, but have been forced to change major aspects of their content because what they had originally prophesied failed and could never happen. They had to keep making a living, you see. They had to keep donations coming in and sell books. They had to keep up appearances. For that they needed their fake exterior and faux content. And by the way, where are the real prophets exposing the fake ones? What happened to them?

THEY WERE REAL BECAUSE THEY WERE RIGHT

         Again, the Lord Jesus is our perfect example. Most Christians do not understand that He was also a prophet. He was and remains the greatest Prophet. Read His prophecies and see what happened later on. You can also look to John the Immerser. He was also a great prophet. He told it exactly as he was shown and got it perfectly correct. There were also prophets in the early Community of the Lord throughout the New Testament period. 

         For example, there was a prophet named Agabus who is mentioned twice in the Book of Acts. The historical record states that he made two brief, direct, and unambiguous prophecies on separate occasions about specific future events, both of which came to pass just as he said:

          Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. [Acts 11:27-28]

       As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” [Acts 21:10-11]

         Beyond these, there were the powerfully anointed OT prophets whose dedication and accuracy was legendary. You will notice by their lifestyle and outward appearance that they were all essentially the same. They had to make it on their own. They could not get by through simply gaining the endorsement of a ministry school or preacher group, or possessing a denominational stamp of approval. The enemy was a constant threat and often included their own rulers and fellow citizens. To the world at large their name was mud. They suffered. They did without. They were REJECTED and often hated. The Word of God burned within their hearts and they had to prophesy no matter the cost. They never gave up or gave in.

         And rather than cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance, the real prophets would have otherwise required actual surgery to repair their appearance. Thus, it was never carefully crafted outer images or ill-defined prophecies that exemplified their authenticity.

          It was battle scars and truth.

          © 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: HIDDEN PROPHECY AND THE SIGN OF JONAH

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Dear Readers: Due to several cataclysmic events of “Biblical Proportions” taking place throughout the world at present, and the UK’s recent Brexit from the EU, many Christians are of a mind that we are in the last of the “last days.” The evidence is unconvincing, however, and by itself is nothing more than an oft-repeated narrative.

For those of you who are old enough to have been taken in by the false pronouncements of so many prophecy teachers back in the 1970s and 80s, the following article I wrote two years ago will clear up a few things and expose the overall sham for what it was. Those people were relentless in their incessant insistence that the Rapture and the Great Tribulation and the End of the World were just around the corner and essentially imminent. They were wrong.

But not just wrong. They were absolutely positively wrong and ended up with egg all over their faces and leisure suits. Yet they learned to wear the egg very well. This is what happens when you become convinced of a false narrative or buy into it with much cash and careers and your entire reputation rests upon it. It works great for a while as long as there are enough willing dupes but then crashes and burns spectacularly in the end.

Whoever continues to push this false narrative upon yet another unsuspecting generation truly does not have a correct grasp of actual New Testament prophetic content. It is up to every believer in the Lord Jesus to do as He taught, therefore, and:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15]   

I highly encourage you to read the following article. It contains historic content regarding the founding of the original European Common Market and how it was utilized by prophecy teachers. Also, please read the comments. You will be blessed and likely enlightened. Some of you contributed, as did my friend Richard in the UK who also reblogged it. Anyone interested in Biblical prophecy or the current prophetic movement should add this post to their understanding of the present. They will gain greater insight toward the truth and a better understanding of both disinformation and incorrect interpretations so that what happened in the past may at last be seen for the trickery it was.

Remember, the Lord Jesus said deception would be so thick even the very elect would be fooled without His direct intervention.  

Blessings to you. Here’s the link:

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: HIDDEN PROPHECY AND THE SIGN OF JONAH

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

 

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        Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

        While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

        In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

        When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. [Luke 2:1-20][1]

        © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

 

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: HIDDEN PROPHECY AND THE SIGN OF JONAH

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      There are Christians in America old enough to remember all the prophecy teacher hype from decades past, and the incredible influence of a single book: The Late, Great Planet Earth.

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         As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. [Daniel 7:24]

         The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. [Revelation 17:12]   

         The European Common Market, now known as the European Union, started in 1957. It was created by the Treaty of Rome and was known officially as the European Economic Community (EEC), and initially included six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.

       The Union continued to add members. Denmark, Ireland, and the UK were officially added in 1973 which brought the total to nine members. By this time the prophecy teachers began getting all excited because it was their contention that the “ten kings” mentioned in the books of Daniel and Revelation were these exact countries minus one, and that the next country admitted to the Common Market would be the tenth, which would mean we were just about to the very end of days and the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

         This also meant the Rapture was about to happen! Any day now! You better get right with God! You could be left behind! Run for your lives! (And while you’re at it please invite us all to speak at your churches and community centers and buy our books!)

         Well, now that Armageddon was almost upon us way back in the early to mid 1970s, it became a very scary proposition for many uninformed and misinformed Christians. When would the next country be admitted to the Common Market in Europe and what country would that be? Prophecy was coming to pass right before our eyes! Reading the Bible was like reading the daily newspaper!

        As it turned out, the magical tenth member country that tipped us over the edge applied for membership on June 12, 1975. It was Greece! How cool! Greece would be the one! The very country where so much early church activity took place! The cash registers in Christian book stores all over America were suddenly going into hyper drive and books were flying off the shelves. Non-authors became authors. Preachers had long since begun getting in on the act. They were scaring the hell out of the members with ongoing scythe-swinging sermonettes about the Last Days and the Tribulation and the Rapture. If you missed the Rapture you were going to suffer here and then go to hell! Don’t miss the Rapture! The ten kings! The ten kings! The ten kings!

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         I got saved in the midst of all this cacophony. Three years before that, however, in 1973, I bought a copy of Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth. The book was incredibly popular, not only among Christians, but among many young people in general. It was a semi-hit on college campuses and had very wide national distribution, selling millions of copies. I was duly impressed and actually prayed the prayer of salvation listed at the end of the book but nothing substantial happened to me at that time, although the book did play a role in my salvation later on.

         Young people of today probably don’t know this, but many post high school college-aged people back then were really bright and comparatively very well informed. You had to work very hard for your information and this made for serious study and a more adult-oriented intellectual attitude, though well-rounded and practical. This contrasts with today’s incessant biased sound bites and 1984-type “news” and disinformation. There was a lot of book-reading and study going on back then unrelated to school courses and required reading.

         The times were continuing to be a-Changin’, as Bob Dylan sang several years before, and the times were really changing in American Christianity.

         The prophecy guys took full advantage of all this and did their part to keep things buzzing with constant updates and scare tactics and ongoing rock solid “proof” that everything they taught was true.

         In 1977 I had a conversation with a guy in my church. He was a nice guy but had a strange stubborn streak (while smiling) in that it seemed like he wanted to fight when someone questioned anything, especially about his beliefs. It was kind of funny because the guy was otherwise quite wimpy. I had been doing a lot of study by that time and had come to the conclusion that the prophecy guys were completely wrong about the European Common Market. Remember, Greece had only applied for membership in 1975. Until their application was accepted everyone was getting Rapture-ready because as soon as their membership was granted and Greece became the tenth member we would have the “ten kings” and all hell would break loose. Oh my! Run for your lives! Get right with God! Don’t miss the Rapture! And don’t forget to pay your tithes!

         So I was having a conversation with this guy. He was anti-cool and a real nerd, and he knew it, and was insecure about it, and he didn’t like me too much. He was there before me so he had tenure. So I was careful to try to obey all the silly protocol. He was insistent that the Common Market countries represented the “ten kings.” In other words, he bought the full teaching of the prophecy boys, who pretty much all ran in lockstep. I was, apparently, the only one there who decided on trying to lift the veil and actually do the math instead of accepting everything as if fallen directly upon us from heaven. By the way, much of the stuff taught and believed in churches has not fallen directly from heaven. I learned that early on, though I remained very respectful, and continued to learn it as time went on.

         So, in that light, I told the nerdy church guy that I didn’t believe the Common Market represented the “ten kings” of Daniel and Revelation. I said that Scripture clearly revealed (to the non-brainwashed) that there would be a move to a worldwide one-world government phenomena taking place and that the Common Market only involved Western Europe. Thus (I didn’t say this), the prophecy boys were wrong. He was not happy. He was doing everything he could to continue with his fake happy exterior though I knew there was a mini-volcano simmering underneath. The conversation did not last long. He rejected the very little I said right off the bat and had no interest in seeing a different point of view.

        Of course, I was right. Maybe it was because I was still relatively new in church and had not become brainwashed yet (I never did, and it caused problems). Maybe it was because I was always reading the Word and doing research. Maybe it was because I had no monetary agenda. Greece continued to dangle above everybody’s heads awaiting membership when all hell would then break loose. The prophecy boys continued to make great hay about it in the meantime and their influence and money grew to astounding proportions. Everyone just seemed to accept that everything they said was right. They found a gold mine.

         Greece finally did join the European Economic Community (the Common Market), but not until January 1, 1981. The Rapture didn’t happen. The Tribulation didn’t start. The ten member nations were not the “ten kings” though the prophecy teachers continued on with their silly spiel. The whole thing started blowing up in their faces when other countries began joining the Common Market. Spain and Portugal joined in 1986. That made twelve. Uh Oh.

         In 1993 the current European Union absorbed the former EEC. Many other countries began to join up. Today, the EU membership list stands at 28 countries. The last time I checked there was nothing in the Bible about 28 kings.

         The prophecy boys adjusted. As always, in order to stay with their timeline agenda and false predictions (and maintain their influence and keep the money coming in), they explained that they were not really wrong but that blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Christians who actually think have said all along that the same deception that happened in the first century was happening in our time as well, in that all the official organized Jewish religionists of that time, including the major denominations, WERE DEAD WRONG ABOUT THE MESSIAH.

         They were also dead wrong about the times. They had completely missed the mark on prophetic events and had totally misinterpreted OT prophecy. Some, like the Qumran Covenanters (of Dead Sea Scroll fame, probably Essenes) got the timing kind of right but probably missed the Messiah. Almost every other group—Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots—rejected their Messiah and the majority of Jews still reject Him to this day.

         The only ones who got it right at all back then in the beginning were the disconnected nobodies in what was left of the nation of Israel—the Remnant—those with a yearning in their hearts for truth and spiritual reality. They would know love when they saw it and when they saw the Lord they saw love. When the Lord Jesus arrived these people knew almost immediately who He was. But all the money-grubbing, power-grabbing big boys missed Him completely. The Lord put it this way:

         The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. [Matthew 16:1-4] [1]

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

CHANGES OF A LIFETIME

         The world is going to hell. And even though any Biblically-literate Christian knows this, based on any number of many prophecies and references in the Holy Word of God, there is still a giant disconnect in actual application to our present.

         We say it. We hear it. We read it. But it sounds so strange when somebody actually MEANS it. It sounds scary as Hades when we actually hook up the wires and smell the ozone and see the flash and it all hits us at once.

         THE LORD MEANS IT. HE IS SERIOUS. THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

         It is no dream, but a nightmare, one of yooge proportions.

         The world is going to hell.

         In my lifetime I have seen the greatest changes in the moral sphere that America has ever seen. I used to think about my grandfather who was in his late teens when the Wright Brothers took off and left the earth for a few seconds on a windswept beach, having put their bicycle-building and repairing expertise toward flying in the sky instead of riding streets. Their impossible act led to a jet engine a few decades later which my grandfather saw at about fifty, and then, in his mid-eighties he actually saw men go to the moon. In one lifetime my grandfather, a range-rider and cowboy, saw all of this.

         And what have I seen? I have seen a time when there used to be loving moral families with fathers and mothers and children who took care of one another and stayed together and loved first and sacrificed and had happy times though not much money because they understood love and respected it and were blessed. And now innocent little children are being taught that there is no such thing as mommies or daddies or boys or girls and there are no gender standards whatsoever and the only thing this will do is further screw everyone up to the point that confusion reaches an apex of undefinable proportions. “What am I?” “That’s for you to decide.” “But I don’t know!” “That’s your problem.”

         The world is going to hell. Because it keeps listening to so-called experts who specialize in channeling the devil and all the devil wants to do is the opposite of the Lord, and the Lord is GOOD and HOLY and PURE and GREAT and LOVING and KIND and PERFECT and all He wants for us is the best. But we live in a world going to hell…

         People of the present think things have just recently taken a turn for the worse but our own Supreme Court went totally reprobate OVER 43 YEARS AGO.

         In 1971 the blues rock band Ten Years After had a song called “I’d Love To Change the World.” I can guarantee you they weren’t conservative Republicans or church-goers. The opening lyrics to the song said it all:

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         Everywhere is freaks and hairies

         Dykes and fairies

         Tell me where is sanity…

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         I’d love to change the world

         But I don’t know what to do

         So I’ll leave it up to you… [1]

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         The world had certainly gone nuts by that time which means the world in our time has gone stark raving mad. And the inmates running the asylum are convinced of their own morality which is the actual opposite of real morality and with every new wave of unbelievable demonic dogma foisted upon us there is heard the distant strains of ancient words echoing forth to those who still have ears to hear:

         Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

         Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

         Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

         Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!

         Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

         Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!

         Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble and dry grass collapses into the flame, so their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust;

         For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. [Isaiah 5:20-24]

         WHY DID GOD SEND PROPHETS? What else could He do when both the civil AND religious authorities joined up with the devil? What else could He do when He could find so few to stand up for Truth and Love and the Lord’s Holy Way?

         The prophets knew their ultimate fates and their deaths proved exactly what they were speaking out about—that the authorities who used to be good a lifetime ago have now gone bad and have sold themselves out like cheap prostitutes to the highest bidder.

         The only chance left is the same chance there always was, though He used to be honored much more than today.

         My grandfather grew up with horses and buckboards and lived to see a moonshot in a single lifetime.

         I, on the other hand, have lived to see the world shot.

         But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [2 Timothy 3:13]

         My advice is stand with the Lord Jesus. Be bold. Preach the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Be a light in the darkness. Answer hate with love. Don’t back down.

         Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. [Ephesians 6:10] [1]

         The Lord’s kingdom is forever.

         But the world is going to hell.

         © 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

         Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[1] © 1971 Alvin Lee 

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

BLOWOUT! (Part 2)

         We are presently living in a time when societal pressure is rapidly increasing the world over. The pressure must be allowed to vent, but the venting must be done in such a way that society remains generally intact. As the pressure continues increasing, however, the venting must also be increased. Otherwise, a massive blowout could take place.

         There is currently a relatively minor blowout happening in the Middle East. The so-called Arab Spring that dashed onto the scene in the spring of 2011 actually began in December of 2010 in Tunisia. It quickly spread to Egypt and Libya. The leaders of these countries have been deposed or murdered. And there is more to come.

         But this is not the big blowout many are expecting. It is merely a way to vent the growing pressure while keeping the area intact. New governments are forming.

         In America, the pressure is being very well contained through several means. Politicians and unethical economists are lying about the vast extent of our national problems. The major media continues to dumb-down millions of Americans by giving them a place to vent and keep them satisfied that all is well. People watch much television and burn up talk radio phone lines with an endless succession of gripes. We all complain to one another.

         But nothing actually changes. It is only venting. The pressure is being slowly bled-off.

         Americans are also being drugged into submission. The use of legal drugs, such as several different forms of anti-depressants, far exceed the use of illegal drugs, which makes the “war on drugs” entirely disingenuous. There are many people who are properly diagnosed. Many others are drugged for the wrong reasons. An entire generation of school-aged boys, for example, were administered such drugs as Ritalin just to keep them from being boys so they would fit better into an artificial school system.

         But societal pressure continues to rise and expand rapidly. People know there is something terribly wrong.

         Something bad this way comes…

         Biblical prophecy clearly speaks of a time at the end when the entire construct of mankind’s sinful society or kosmos will explode. It will be the great end time blowout. There is nothing to be done about this. It is a massive volcano in the making.

         Societal masters have therefore learned how to contain and control societal pressure through inauspicious though temporarily “safe” venting: Create a fantasy world and drug ‘em. Create a fantasy world and drug ‘em. Create a fantasy world and drug ‘em. The best and most far-reaching drug is alcohol.

         America has therefore become in many respects, it seems, a fake and shiny amusement-shopping park with ubiquitous television screens and communication gadgets, which also serve as forms of addictive drugs.   

         Many of our older citizens in nursing homes live out their remaining days tucked neatly in bed. They are often drugged because it is totally unnatural to imprison a human spirit in that way, and the inhabitants would otherwise fight against the restraints.  

         As population densities increase, more laws against behavior must be created to keep the machine running smoothly, but pressure is all the while increasing to an inevitable breaking point. This is why measures have long since been taken to contain American society when it blows. So far, the venting process has been a huge success.

         There is only one problem for the devil and his minions, however: The Spirit of God cannot be contained, controlled, dumbed-down, or drugged.

         “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]   

         “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8] [1]  

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.