God Reveals Himself

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets to ever walk the face of this earth. He changed the culture of his day (I Kings 18:36-46). He was raptured without dying (II Kings 2:11).

God ended the Old Testament with the promise that Elijah will come back (Malachi 4:5-6). He was so great that some thought Jesus was Elijah (Matt. 16:14). And many think that Elijah is one of the Two Witnesses that will come back to prophesy, cause a drought and lash out with fire during the Tribulation Period (Revelation 11:3-12).

Ahab and Jezebel, two of the most evil people to ever live, ruled Israel during Elijah’s lifetime. They were immoral idol worshippers. They killed many of the true prophets and established false prophets, false religions and false worship in Israel. During their reign, the tide of evil was so strong they almost wiped out true worship and probably would have—if God had not intervened.

The story of God’s intervention is one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament (I Kings 18). Ahab and Jezebel’s sin, and the impact they had on Israel, was so great that God sent Elijah before them to say:

“As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (I Kings 17:1).

Elijah told that evil couple God intends to send a devastating drought on Israel and it won’t end until I announce its end.

To make a long story short, Elijah left Israel for three and one-half years (Luke 4:25; James 5:17). During his absence, severe drought, accompanied by a terrible famine gripped the nation. Ahab and Jezebel’s false gods were helpless to stop it, and before it ended the children of Israel were ready for revival. It is a fascinating story, but I want to skip to the end.

God finally sent Elijah back to Israel to face Ahab and to announce an end to the drought (I Kings 18:1-2). Following an incredible encounter with Ahab and 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Elijah built an altar, placed a sacrifice on the altar and started to pray: “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again” (I Kings 18:17-35).

“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (I Kings 18:38-39).

God answered Elijah’s prayer. Fire fell from heaven, consumed the stones of the altar—including everything on and around them, and this great miracle left no doubt in the minds of the people that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is God. Then a little cloud formed, it grew and the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain (I Kings 18:41-45). The drought was over (see II Chronicles 7:13-14).

Let’s fast forward to the battle of Gog and Magog (Ezek. 38-39). There will be another mountain top revelation when God pulls Russia, Iran and others onto the mountains of Israel in the latter days and latter years (Ezekiel 38:1-6; 8, 16). At that time, it is clear that none of these nations, including the nation of Israel, will know that Israel’s God is God (Ezekiel 38:23; 39:7).

But God will send an overflowing rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone on Israel’s enemies. Five sixths of them will be destroyed (Ezekiel 38:23; 39:1-2). Then many nations, including Israel, will know that Israel’s God is God (Ezekiel 38:23; 39:7).

This is God’s creation, He is Israel’s God, and He intends for the nations, including Israel to know this. He used fire from heaven in the past to reveal Himself (Genesis 19:24; Leviticus 10:2; II Chronicles 7:1; I Kings 18:38). And He will use fire from heaven (and more) in the future to reveal Himself to Israel and multitudes of unbelievers.

If the battle of Gog and Magog is close, God’s revelation of Himself is close.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com

American Religion

In the book of Acts chapter 17 we find the apostle Paul in the city of Athens, in Roman occupied Greece near the middle of the first century. In verse 16 we read that Paul’s spirit was stirred in him when he saw that the city was “wholly given to idolatry.”

In a close examination of that statement we find that literally, the city was inundated with idols and the practice of idolatry. Petronius, a Greek satirist and a contemporary of the apostle Paul remarked that in Athens one could find a god easier than a man.

And Pausanias, another contemporary of the apostle, said that Athens had more idols and altars than the rest of Greece combined. Here Paul encountered two groups of philosophers:

The Epicureans who had given up the search for truth and instead focused their lives on seeking pleasure. And the Stoics who maintained that self-sufficiency and self-reliance could fulfill all of man’s desires, and that he had need of nothing outside of self.

Luke, in his description of the Athenians said they spent their time either telling or hearing some “new thing.” In other words their lives were completely occupied with an insatiable obsession for the latest gossip, discoveries, philosophies, technologies, entertainment, and other forms of pleasure.

On the whole then, the Athenians were a self-absorbed people whose gods existed to bring them pleasure, and in fact, they even had an altar to the “unknown” god, just in case they had left a god out. They certainly didn’t want to offend him.

Having been invited to speak by the philosophers so that they might examine his teaching, Paul spoke to the crowd from Mars Hill. The apostle Paul’s remarks to the Athenians were such that he perceived them to be very religious.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word religious as:

  1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  2. A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Buddhist religion; the Christian religion; the Muslim religion, the Jewish religion; etc…
  3. The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
  4. The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observances.

Understand, although they believed he was being complementary—Paul was not giving them a compliment. You see, the apostle at one point in time had been part of a religious sect of the Jews called the Pharisees. But after his conversion on the road to Damascus he no longer followed a religion, for he had a relationship with Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.

In fact, Paul was condemning them for their ritual observances which, devoid of faith, were no more than exercises in self-satisfaction. However, Paul used their religiosity to declare to them the identity of the “unknown” God to whom they had built an altar.

In Athens of the first century, I see a picture of the United States of America as it is today. This is a land filled with idols and altars to innumerable gods. America is a land filled with religiousness, yet devoid of faith. Like the Epicureans and Stoics, Americans are seekers of pleasure and are self-indulgent in their pursuit of materialism, success and self-glorification.

I believe the apostle Paul describes the condition of Americans today in Philippians 3:18-19:

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Many people worship in stadiums, arenas, ballparks, and every other type of sports venue with little gods in uniforms to whom they pay homage. Many others worship in concert halls, theaters, and nightclubs paying homage to musicians and vocalists—whose self-absorbed lives are idolized and aggrandized.

Still many others worship in theaters or in their own homes before altars which are screens showing digital images and stories, which for the most part are filled with fantasy or debauchery and filth—portrayed by actors devoid of morals and any sense of personal accountability.

In America, there are those who worship at the altar of money, some who worship at the altar of fame, some who worship at the altar of politics, some who worship at the altar of education, some who worship at the altar of environmentalism, some who worship at the altar of sex and pornography.

And some who worship at the altars of alcohol and drugs, some who worship at the altar of compromise and tolerance and inclusiveness, and there are some who worship at the altar of atheism and secular humanism. And, in many ways these are all worshiping at the altar of self.

In America today there are many forms of religion from every corner of the earth. There are deists, pantheists, monotheists, polytheists, panentheists, animists, agnostics and atheists. Some of which hope to pacify; others who hope to proselytize. Others who hope to marginalize, and still others who simply desire to enslave or eliminate anyone who does not adhere to their form of religion.

In America today, most churches are institutionalized memorials to religiosity, populated by people who either are seeking approval for their own actions and ideologies, blindly following the unscriptural tenants and teachings of false teachers and false prophets, or are simply going through the motions of ritualistic religion.

For all of the altars at which people worship in America today, unfortunately I have yet to find an altar to the “unknown” god such as the apostle Paul found in Athens. In fact, in America today people seem to be completely satisfied worshiping at the altars of their self-made idols and hedonistic gods.

However the infinite, eternal, God whom Paul declared to the Athenians, is still the immutable, incomparable, inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous, just, gracious, holy, and sovereign God today. He is the Creator God of the universe who made Man; rather than an idol or object made by Man, who is dependent on Man.

He is the righteous God, who in His sovereignty, yet, requires payment for Man’s sinful rebellion which began with Adam in the garden. He is the gracious God, who provided that payment when His own Son, Jesus Christ, paid the sin debt of all who will believe on Him, by His death on the cross, burial and resurrection.

He is a Holy God, who has provided the Holy Spirit of Christ to indwell everyone who has believed on Jesus, as their Comforter and Teacher. He is a just God, who has appointed a day when everyone in the world will stand in judgment by His Son, if they have not repented of their sinfulness and accepted His free gift of grace.

Today in America (and the world) there needs to be a spiritual revival which causes people to turn away from their self-centered idolatry and worldliness, and turn to the infinite, eternal, creator God of the Bible.

Time is growing short, God could at any time tell Jesus to call out His children, His church; and that my friends will set in motion a chain of events which will culminate with Christ’s return in power and great glory to judge the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Have you, like the apostle Paul, turned away from religion and embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ? If not, I invite you to read the following verses from the book of Romans in God’s Holy Bible.

Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:10: “As it is written: ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE.’”

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 10:9-10:  “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 10:13: “For ‘WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’”

Romans 8:1-2: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

These verses are commonly known as the Romans Road to salvation. It is a starting point for developing a true relationship with Jesus Christ. He really does desire a relationship with you, which through the study of and obedience to His word, will cause you to grow closer to Him and prepare you to really live.

If you understand these verses in Romans and believe them to be true, and if you desire to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, establishing that relationship with Him, it would be good for you to communicate this with Him through prayer. Understand, that your faith in Christ establishes your salvation, while your prayer begins your relationship in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah also left an important message for you:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:10-12).

Remember, reciting a prayer cannot save you! If your desire is to receive the salvation that is available through Jesus, you must simply place your faith in Him. Totally trust His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins. Absolutely rely on Him alone as your Savior. That is the true biblical way of salvation.

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, please, say a prayer to God. Pray in your own words acknowledging the verses in Romans above. Tell God how thankful you are for Jesus. Offer praise to God for His love and sacrifice. Thank Jesus for dying for your sins and providing salvation for you. That is the biblical connection between salvation and prayer.

If you have made a decision today to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, we would love to hear from you. Send me an email with a way to contact you and we will send you information on how to grow in your relationship in Christ. Like the gift of salvation, the information is free.

“Because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand!” (Romans 13:12a).

EvenSoCome

Dr. Tucker Whitaker

drwhitaker@ymail.com

Red Heifer

Recently, a friend asked, “What is a red heifer? What is the big deal? Does it have anything to do with Bible prophecy?”

For starters, that innocent looking young female animal: 1) could be the last thing that is needed for the Jews to rebuild the Temple, 2) it could trigger a major religious war between Israel and the Muslims, 3) it could be the first qualified red heifer since the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. and 4) it could be a unique sign that the Second Coming of Jesus is very close.

The Scriptures are found in Numbers 19:1-22. They refer to an ordinance of the law that was commanded by the Lord (vs. 2). They involve the cleansing of defiled people; especially those who had anything to do with the tabernacle (setting it up, taking it down, carrying it in the wilderness, carrying the furniture or vessels, serving there, etc.); and those who had anything to do with a deceased person (caring for them, being with them at the time of their death, preparing their body for burial, burying it, etc.; Num. 19:4, 11, & 14).

God told the Jews to slay a red heifer without spot and blemish and upon which never came a yoke (vs. 2), outside the camp (vs. 3), to sprinkle its blood before the tabernacle seven times (vs. 4), to totally burn its body (vs. 5), to burn cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet with it (vs. 7), to gather the ashes and place them in a clean place outside the camp (vs. 9), to save the ashes for making a water of separation (vs. 9), to take a portion of the ashes and mix it with running water (vs. 17), to sprinkle the mixture of ashes and water upon unclean people and the tabernacle, all who served there and everything in it (vs. 18), on the third day and on the seventh day and they will be clean (vs. 19).

Why God chose a heifer (young female cow) for this sacrifice is a mystery. The Bible doesn’t say, but according to some Jewish sages the heifer is a reminder that the Hebrews in the wilderness defiled themselves by making a golden calf (Ex. 32:4, 7). Moses took their golden calf, ground it into powder, put the powder in their water and made some of them drink it (Ex. 32:20).

The heifer had to be red (the color of sin): “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). Jesus was made sin for us and our sins were laid on Jesus (II Cor. 5:21a; Isa. 53:6).

The absence of blemishes and spots means the red heifer was required to be perfect (Num. 19:2). Just two hairs that were not red disqualified it. Jesus qualified as a sin sacrifice because He was without blemish and spot (I Pet. 1:19). He knew no sin, did no sin, and had no sin in Him (II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:22; I Jn. 3:5). He was perfect.

A yoke was put on work animals in Old Testament times to pull a plow, cart, etc. A red heifer that has never been yoked is an animal that has never worked (Num. 19:2). God was saying works have nothing to do with cleansing or salvation. We are saved by grace not by works (Eph. 2:8-9).

Slaying the red heifer outside the camp (Num. 19:3) pointed to Jesus who died outside the gate (Heb. 13:12).

The blood of the red heifer had to be sprinkled seven times in front of the Tabernacle to cleanse it (Num. 19:4). Sprinkling the blood seven times signifies complete cleansing. Blood symbolizes the blood of Jesus (I Jn. 1:7-9). We are cleansed by the blood (I Jn. 1:7); have access to God by the blood (Heb. 10:19-20); overcome Satan by the blood (Rev. 12:11); have been purchased with the blood (Acts 20:28); are justified through faith in the blood (Rom. 3:25); are redeemed through the blood (Eph. 1:7) and more. Since God required the sprinkling of the blood of a red heifer in front of the Tabernacle in the past, it is believed that He requires the sprinkling of the blood of a red heifer in front of any Temple is built in the future.

Completely burning the red heifer so that nothing remained but a pile of ashes signifies that the sacrifice was finished. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (Jn. 19:30).

Three things (Cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet) were burned with the red heifer. Cedar was considered an incorruptible wood. It was used by royalty in their palaces (II Sam. 5:11, 7:2) and in the Temple (I Kings 6:18; Ezra 3:7). Jesus was incorruptible royalty (Psa. 16:10; Luke 1:31-33; Matt. 27:38; Rev. 19:16) and He will be our Temple in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22). Hyssop was used to sprinkle the blood on the lintel and side posts of the houses in Egypt before the death angel passed over (Ex. 12:22). It was used to lift the vinegar-filled sponge to the mouth of Jesus when He died on the cross (Jn. 19:29). And following his sin David said, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (Psa. 51:7). For those who apply the blood, Jesus is our Passover and His death on the cross will make us clean (I Cor. 5:7). Scarlet symbolizes sin (Isa. 1:18) and Jesus was made sin for us (II Cor. 5:21).

The ashes were placed in a clean place outside the camp (Num. 19:9). There is a little debate about where Jesus was buried, but most say it was in a new tomb that had never been used outside the city (Luke 23:53).

According to some Jews (not the Bible), the ashes were ground up (like the golden calf in the wilderness), pulverized, beaten with rods and sifted. Jesus was severely beaten and His visage was marred more than any man (Mk. 15:15; Isa. 52:14). After the red heifer was burned and sifted some say the ashes were. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Isa. 1:18a).

The person who gathered the ashes saved them to use in the water of separation (Num. 19:9). This solution was prepared by mixing a small portion of the ashes with running water (a pinch of ashes with lots of clean water from a natural source such as a spring; Num. 19:17). Then, the water of separation was sprinkled upon the Tabernacle, everything in it (the vessels, music instruments, etc.), everyone there (the priests, musicians, etc.) and anyone who had anything to do with the dead (Num. 19:18).

The Jews say the heifer must be three years old before it is sacrificed. As far as I know, the Bible doesn’t say this, but I found three possible reasons in my studies: 1) Some suggest that God was revealing that Jesus would die after three years of ministry, 2) Others suggest that a three-year old animal is in the prime of his life and Jesus died in the prime of His life, and 3) Still others suggest that the Jews require it to be three years old because Abraham wanted a sign that God would give him the Promised Land and God told him to prepare a sacrifice with a heifer, she-goat and a ram that were three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon (Gen. 15:7-10). Sacrificing a three-year old heifer was part of God’s sign to Abraham.

Some say the ashes of the tenth red heifer must be mixed with the ashes of the previous nine sacrificed red heifers. That is tradition not what the Bible says. For whatever it is worth, I have read that some Jewish rabbis say the old ashes that have been hid for 2,000 years have probably been contaminated and are most likely unfit for use.

Some Jews say the tenth red heifer will be sacrificed by the Messiah. That comes from the Mishna not the Bible.

Some Jews say the tenth red heifer will be in use when the Messiah returns. They will probably use some ashes from the next red heifer in the first half of the Tribulation Period before the Second Coming of Jesus.

Anyway, the Temple will be rebuilt before the middle of the Tribulation Period (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-21; II Thess. 2:4 and Rev. 11:1). And the Temple, plus everyone who builds it, everyone who serves in it and everything that is used in it must be cleansed with the water of separation made with the ashes of a red heifer without spot and blemish (Num. 19:17-19).

A red heifer was born in January 2014 that may qualify if it remains perfect until January 2017. Not everyone agrees, but I am convinced that the Rapture is before the Tribulation Period. The existence of a red heifer without blemish and spot is significant, but it only points to Jesus. He is a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:13-14).

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymondduck@bellsouth.net