Prophecy Update #669 – More Than Life

We reserve a few minutes to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret all unfulfilled prophetic passages as future events that will occur in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are some of the trends we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

Most of our recent talks have involved the global pandemic.

COVID19 is not prophetic. However, the methods and mandates that are being utilized globally to combat it are predictive of the future socio-economic system that will play a major role in the government of the antichrist.

Citizens in the future Great Tribulation will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

The same thing could be said today as governments continue to struggle with the virus and things like vaccines passports.

Now that we are into the pandemic’s second year, we are starting to get data on the unforeseen consequences of the methods and mandates governments are using.

The following are all quotes from reputable sources:

✏ Nearly one million people in England became addicted to alcohol as a result of Covid lockdowns, official data suggests. Dr. Tony Rao, a world-renowned expert on alcohol misuse in older people at King’s College London, warned the impact of lockdowns had been “devastating.” Deaths directly caused by alcohol soared by 20% during the first year of the Covid pandemic. 


✏ More than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to preliminary federal data, eclipsing the toll from any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s. The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis, one that has drawn less attention and fewer resources while the nation has battled the coronavirus pandemic.

✏ The United Nations entity UN Women said domestic violence reports in France have increased 30% since they initiated a March 17 lockdown. Domestic Violence calls in Argentina have increased 25% since their March 20 lockdown. The organization also reports a 30% increase in helpline calls in Cyprus, and 33% increase in Singapore.

✏ Terri Poore, Policy Director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, says close to 40% of the rape crisis centers surveyed had seen increased demand for services since the outbreak.

✏ A World Health Organization report on global child abuse noted that schools were closed to 1.5 billion children worldwide because of the pandemic, and their parents face heightened stress and anxiety from lost income, social isolation, and potential crowding in the home. Additionally, more time online may expose children to an increased risk of online sexual exploitation or bullying. Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, said in a statement about the report, “Lockdowns, school closures and movement restrictions have left far too many children stuck with their abusers, without the safe space that school would normally offer. It is urgent to scale up efforts to protect children during these times and beyond.”

✏ A new study by McKinsey & Company “not only showed huge learning losses among American children due to the pandemic, but also shocking estimates of the long-term economic impacts these learning losses would have on the US. New data on learning loss and student mental health issues is incredibly disturbing. Children have been damaged academically, mentally, and economically, far more than COVID has hurt them.”

✏ Overall, 41% of respondents surveyed reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, symptoms of a trauma-and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic, and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID19. The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey was significantly higher among respondents aged 18-24 years, minority groups, self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults, and essential workers.

✏ An August 2020 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine reported, “Uncertain prognoses, looming severe shortages of resources for testing and treatment and for protecting responders and healthcare providers from infection, imposition of unfamiliar public health measures that infringe on personal freedoms, large and growing financial losses, and conflicting messages from authorities are among the major stressors that undoubtedly will contribute to widespread emotional distress and increased risk for psychiatric illness associated with COVID19.”

✏ Across the US, there were 25% more murders recorded in 2020 than the previous year.

✏ Homicides in California jumped 31% last year, making it the deadliest year since 2007 as the nation’s most populous state struggled with the COVID19 pandemic.

✏ Emergency room visits for adolescent suicide attempts soared this past summer and winter, especially among girls, perhaps in connection to America’s struggle with COVID19, new CDC data revealed.

✏ A report by The Well Being Trust found that 75,000 additional people could die from what they called “deaths of despair,” which include suicide and substance use, because of COVID19.

✏ A Yale professional journal article concluded, “Excess mortality during the four months [of the study] was more than two times greater than the number of COVID19 deaths confirmed by PCR testing. Countermeasures against COVID19 should be chosen carefully in light of suicide effects.”

✏ JAMA Psychiatry Journal concluded, “The combination of physical distancing, economic stress, barriers to mental health treatment, and pervasive national anxiety, are creating a perfect storm for suicide mortality.”

These studies and articles are talking about people we know who are without hope. They need Jesus. Remember that when they want to shutter churches.

People need more than life; they need eternal life.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Back In The Saddle Again (Revelation 19:11-21)

Nothing Will Ever Top the Independence Day White House Explosion.

One movie critic described it as, “Six spectacular seconds of cutting-edge annihilation. The ice-blue laser stabbing through the top of the building like a straw through a plastic soft-drink lid, the portico flying apart in every direction, the inferno blooming out and swallowing the escape helicopter whole… It’s the most iconic moment in action-movie history.”

We win in the end. We probably wouldn’t if it was real. Dr. Stephen Hawking pointed out the obvious. The aliens leading the invasion would be so advanced that they would obliterate mankind before we knew what hit us.

Nevertheless, two of our president’s held out hope that we could prevail if humanity united together against the common enemy:

In 2014, as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, former president Bill Clinton talked about the possible existence of aliens. “It may be the only way to unite this increasingly divided world of ours,” he said. And by “it,” he meant an alien invasion from outer space.
Thirty years earlier, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world.”

Clinton and Reagan were right. In the Valley of Megiddo, the world’s combined military might will unite to face their common threat. The danger will come from the sky and descend to Earth.

Stephen Hawking was also correct. The invaders win. Easily.

The Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, Prince of the kings of the Earth, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the beginning and the end, the Lord God omnipotent, will come in the clouds to claim Earth.

It isn’t an invasion, however. It is a triumphant return, a liberation.

One more thing that ought to thrill you. We are coming with Him as liberators.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 You Will Be Astonished At His Appearance When You Return With Jesus, and #2 You Will Be Awestruck At His Power When You Return With Jesus.

#1 – You Will Be Astonished At His Appearance When You Return With Jesus (v11-14)

Jesus promised that His coming for us would precede the seven-year Great Tribulation.

That day cannot overtake us as a thief. He will “keep [us] from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the Earth” (Revelation 3:10).

The first three chapters of the Revelation described the current Church Age.
Chapters four and five brought us to Heaven to witness Jesus opening the seven-sealed scroll.
Chapters six through eighteen chronicled the seven-year Great Tribulation. There is no mention of the church on Earth in those chapters.

In chapter nineteen, Heaven opens and we accompany the Return of the King.

Rev 19:11 Now I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

There’s a scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where Shadowfax appears for the first time. He is the magnificent lord of all horses. I crack up at it, but something like that is going to happen at the Lord’s return.

Jesus is “called Faithful and True.” These words describe His character, but here they seem to be shout-outs as the Lord appears.

At His first coming, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. The crowds took up a shout, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!” Shouting “Faithful and True” reminds us that Jesus completed His mission by offering Himself the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

It is “right” for Him to “judge” the nations and “make war” with them. By the end of the Great Tribulation, these men and women have determined their fate by their decisions to reject God’s free offer of salvation.

This dramatic display of judgment comes only at the end of a long time of grace, patience, and mercy. There is no rush to judgment.

Rev 19:12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.

“Flame of fire” are His eyes fixed upon the wicked for judgment.
I don’t want to diminish Jesus in any way but think of the various superheroes who have a gaze that can kill.

To be “crowned with many crowns” indicates victory after victory. Think of all that Jesus has triumphed over: Sin, death, the grave, and the devil.

We can’t help but be curious about the “name written that no one knew except Himself.” It isn’t very smart to suggest names when the text plainly says we can’t know it.

It is weird to think that the omniscient Father and Holy Spirit don’t know this name. I conclude that It is an endearing name between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Albert Barnes said,

This cannot mean that no one could read the name… It involved a depth of meaning, a degree of sacredness, and a relation to the Father, which He alone could apprehend.

Commentators generally agree Jesus has more than two hundred names. One site I discovered has an alphabetical list of 900 names, complete with the Scripture references (christiananswers.net)

It’s a great exercise to discover His names. Each of them describes some aspect of His nature or character or mission or methods.

Thousands of names could never fully describe our Lord.

Rev 19:13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

The blood isn’t His. Look at this forensically, and it is the blood spatter of His enemies. The writing employs a prophetic tense to show that something is so sure to happen you can portray it as having happened. Jesus is about to destroy them.

The first direct reference to this rider is that He is “called the Word of God.” It’s Jesus.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Only Jesus can be called “the Word.” Jesus is God come in human flesh to show us God.

Revelation 19:14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

Don’t be thrown off by the word “armies.” It is describing us in our return with the Lord at His coming. In the opening verses of chapter nineteen we were the bride accompanying the Bridegroom. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” The metaphor changes to that of a Commander-in-Chief returning with His armies. We are His bride; we are His armies.

You’ve heard the old joke, “I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out!” At the Second Coming of Jesus, we are coming back with Him “clothed” in “fine linen” wedding garments to our marriage supper, but a fight breaks out.

The first rule of this fight club is that we don’t do any fighting.

Revelation 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

It makes for interesting art, but there is no sword coming out of the mouth of Jesus. Tazerface said to Rocket Raccoon, “It’s metaphorical.” The spiritual power of His words “strike[s] the nations.”

The verb to rule is “to shepherd.” The Lord rules the nations as a Shepherd-King who protects His people and destroys His enemies with His rod.

The rod of the shepherd has three uses:

First, it is used for protection. The shepherd spends hours practicing with this club, learning how to throw it with incredible speed and accuracy. It is a weapon of defense for both himself and his sheep.
Second, it is used to discipline the sheep. If the shepherd saw a sheep wandering away, or approaching poisonous weeds, or getting too close to danger of one sort or another, the club would go whistling through the air to send the wayward animal scurrying back to the bunch.
Third, the rod is used to examine and count the sheep. In the terminology of the Old Testament, this was referred to as passing “under the rod.”Ezekiel 20:37 says, “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”

The “winepress” is a terrifying image of judgment. Isaiah described it:

Isaiah 63:2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.”

Like grapes being crushed in a vat, so will the armies of men be defeated by the Lord. The apostle John introduced these hostile forces earlier in the Revelation. The location of this confrontation is the Valley of Megiddo, and we call it Armageddon.

Revelation 19:16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

As He sits on His white horse, the part of the cloak covering the “thigh” is the most conspicuous and is visible to all. The title is written upon the cloak.

Jesus was not all that recognizable in His first coming. He didn’t glow in the dark or have a halo. He was an average Jew. There will be no doubt at His Second Coming He is the Lord God – but not because He has a name tag.

The title on His cloak announces that never ever will there be any other king or lord over mankind.

No one has seen Jesus as He will appear at His Second Coming.

We will see Him first, or at least before those who dwell on Earth.

“Astonished” is one of many words to describe our reaction to Jesus at His return. We will be filled with overwhelming surprise and wonder; amazed.
I offer something to consider. The apostle Paul wrote, “When He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed” (Second Thessalonians 1:10).

Albert Barnes wrote,

The redeemed in that day will be the means of promoting His glory; the universe will see His glory manifested in their redemption. His chief glory as seen in that day will be connected with the fact that He has redeemed His people. He will be “glorified” by the numbers that shall have been redeemed; by their patience in the trials through which they have passed; by the triumphs which religion shall have made on the earth; by their praises and songs.

William McDonald adds, “[When we return with Jesus] amazed onlookers will gasp as they see what He has been able to do with such unpromising human beings.”

It’s all about Jesus, not us. Nevertheless, His glorified bride will elicit a gasp from all creatures when they see us completed in Him.

Astonishing.

#2 – You Will Be Awestruck At His Power When You Return With Jesus (v17-21)

One of the greatest knockouts in UFC history also happens to be the fastest. Jorge Masvidal KO’d Ben Askren in five seconds.

There are too many “I want my money back” fights in the UFC, the MMA, and pro boxing.

The Battle of Armageddon might take longer to say than it lasts.

Revelation 19:17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,

An angel blocks out the sun on account of his brilliance. He commands scavenger birds to gather in the Valley of Megiddo. It communicates to the hostiles that their defeat is a foregone conclusion.

Revelation 19:18 “that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

There is no description of actual fighting. Jesus instantaneously overcomes the united military power of Earth. We will see Him do the same to the supernatural powers of Earth.

All those gathered against Jesus decided to take the Mark of the Beast. They were warned that there would be no opportunity or ability to repent. They will suffer the earthly and eternal consequences.

Revelation 19:19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

The “Beast” is the superman we commonly call the antichrist. Previously, we learned that God would draw he and his armies, and all the armies on Earth, to this battle to be destroyed.

In any good action movie, there is a showdown between the hero and the villain. They go at it hard. For dramatic effect, the villain nearly defeats the hero, but with some fantastic maneuver, the bruised and bloodied hero prevails. Nothing like that will happen at Armageddon.

Revelation 19:20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

The Beast and his previously introduced sidekick False Prophet will be the first two inhabitants of the Lake of Fire.

The Lake of Fire is the final eternal destination for all those who ultimately reject Jesus Christ. We usually refer to it as Hell, but that is inaccurate. Let’s look at a few terms to describe the afterlife destinations of the dead.

Before Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the souls of the dead, saved and unsaved, went to Hades. (“Sheol” is Hebrew for Hades). It is translated grave thirty-one times, Hell another thirty-one times, and pit three times in King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

Hades has two compartments separated by an impassable gulf:

One side was and remains the holding cell for the unsaved after they die.
The other side, called “Abraham’s Bosom” in Luke 16:22, was for the comfort of the saved after they died while awaiting their entrance into Heaven.

I said was about believers because the resurrection of Jesus changed everything. When Jesus died, He descended into Hades. When He was resurrected, He led the saved out of Hades to Heaven. Since then, the souls and spirits of the saved go directly to Heaven when they die. Abraham’s Bosom is vacant. A believer is absent from their body and immediately present with the Lord.

The unsaved still go to Hades. All nonbelievers from creation forward wait there for their final judgment.

Then there is “Gehenna.” It is translated as “Hell” all twelve times in the KJV. It is used to refer to the permanent place for the torment of the “… soul and body …” (Matthew 10:28). It is a place of “… fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:45).

Gehenna is the Lake of Fire described in Revelation nineteen and twenty. It is presently uninhabited. The Beast and his False Prophet will be the first to be cast into it at the end of the Great Tribulation.

No mere human being, in a regular body, can exist in the Lake of Fire. Those confined there for eternity are first raised in a supernatural body that is not consumed by the fire.

Since the Beast and the False Prophet are confined there at the Second Coming, we conclude they already have supernatural bodies:

Around mid-Trib, the Beast will be assassinated and come back to life. He probably will do so in a more-than-human body.
We are not told anything about how the False Prophet might receive a superhuman body.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:41 that God made the Lake of Fire for the devil and the fallen angels. We honestly say that God never sends any man to the Lake of Fire. They go there of their own free will, having rejected Christ.

Revelation 19:21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

The “rest” are those on this battlefield. It is a quick knockout. The sick experience of them having their flesh torn off and devoured is an illustration of the rottenness of our unredeemed flesh.

Shock & Awe is a military term to describe achieving rapid dominance on the battlefield.

The Lord is the master of Shock & Awe. Not just in the end, at Armageddon, but throughout the Bible, on many fields of battle. Joshua, David, Gideon, and many others were involved in Shock & Awe.

King David was awestruck. In Psalm 65, he praises the Lord’s military victories then says of Him, “O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!” (v35).

For all that, the most awe-striking thing of all is God’s salvation. In my most spiritual moments, I am awestruck that He saved a wretch like me; and wretches like you.

Psalms 66:5 invites us to “Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”

You & I are “the works of God.” We are works in progress, true. Since God saved you, there is enough about you that a person can “Come and see” Jesus.

Prophecy Update #668 – Mandate Or Manslaughter

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of the Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are some of the trends we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

I’ve been talking about COVID19 vaccine mandates.

I’m not talking about whether you ought to be vaccinated or not.

I’m not talking about whether vaccination should be mandated or not.

I’m not suggesting anything that is partisan towards any political party or position.

I’m talking about how the mandates resemble what the Bible predicts in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation.

During the future seven year Great Tribulation, “All, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, [must] receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

Citizens in the future Great Tribulation will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

What is happening today? Globally, citizens are being mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

Our leaders at all levels of government – Federal, State, and local – are starting to sound authoritarian.

President Biden, the leader of the free world, citing the unvaccinated, said “They’re killing people. I mean, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.”

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/16/1017002907/u-s-covid-deaths-are-rising-again-experts-call-it-a-pandemic-of-the-unvaccinated

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said that Americans who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus are “propagating” the latest outbreak of cases of the highly contagious Delta variant. “We’ve really got to get those people to change their minds, make it easy for them, convince them, do something to get them to be vaccinated because they are the ones that are propagating this outbreak.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/anthony-fauci-covid-19-unvaccinated-americans-delta-variant-face-the-nation/

Pam Keith, a former nominee for a Florida congressional seat, thinks the government should suspend benefits to unvaccinated people.

The Department of Homeland Security released an advisory summarizing the current terrorism threat, and mentioned “grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions” as potential [domestic terror] threats.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sent US attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies a memo informing Department of Justice officials that they should consider prosecuting certain “purposeful exposure or infection of others with COVID19” under federal terrorism-related statutes.

The memo followed warnings from the FBI that white supremacist groups were encouraging members who become sick to spread the virus to Jewish people, minorities and police officers – suggesting that members could use spray bottles, leave bodily fluids on door handles or even spit on elevator buttons.

The Governor of Alabama said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/23/kay-ivey-republican-blame-unvaccinated-covid-cases

Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey turned on hecklers saying, “You are the ultimate knuckleheads! And because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said last week, “There is no reason on this green Earth why people who are vaccinated should lose the right to go to a restaurant, or go to school, or go to work because some folks won’t get vaccinated. That’s just not right. It’s not fair.”

Governor Newsom said, “An individual’s choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way.”

Hawaii Lt. Governor Josh Green said, “It’s a small minority that is otherwise condemning society to a lockdown and potentially large-scale death.”

https://apnews.com/article/health-coronavirus-pandemic-hawaii-c87f3f14ba91a55a84b927a7a2af72f7

LA City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell was quoted, “We’re not going to deny anyone the ability to access essentials, food, medicine, etc., regardless of vaccination… but what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated.”

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer endorsed the idea he calls “No shots, no admission.” He said

“Those who reject that responsibility should temporarily lose some of society’s privileges until their reckless behavior no longer endangers the rest of us.”

https://deadline.com/2021/08/los-angeles-city-requires-vaccination-vaccine-indoors-1234813086/

People were surveyed as to who they blame for the resurgence of COVID19 infections. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of vaccinated Americans blame unvaccinated Americans.

https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/medical-advances/566300-mario-tama-getty-images

More-and-more COVID19 is described as “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The labeling is intensifying the rhetoric of “killing,” “terrorism,” and social consequences for the unvaccinated.

Step back and look at the big picture. The entire planet is on the verge of a system of social credit based on government mandates in which “good” citizens are rewarded and “bad” ones are punished.

It is Revelation 13ish.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Take A Walk (Genesis 5)

One of the longest walks ever taken was by Jean Béliveau, who spent 11 years walking 46,600 miles across 64 countries. The Canada native did so in an effort to “raise awareness for children who suffer from violence.” He called it a walk for peace.

I can’t imagine walking for a decade. But imagine walking for several hundred years! That’s the image we’re given of two of Adam’s Godly descendants, who (we’re told) “walked with God.” Of course, as we’ll see, their lives were full of a lot more than just walking around.

We’re in a section of Genesis where God is contrasting two lineages. Last time we saw the line of Cain, full of rebellion and murder. But also full of great worldly feats. Tonight the Lord puts Seth’s line on display – the line from which the Deliverer would finally come. In this list there are two standouts: Enoch and Noah. Enoch walked with God for 365 years. Noah would for 950. They didn’t do so perfectly, but we find that their walks were potent and consequential, producing a great testimony that has lasted for thousands of years. They remind us that we are called to walk with God.

This analogy of walking with the Lord seems to be a favorite of His. He uses it here in the beginning. In one of His most significant post-resurrection appearances He goes on a walk with two believers on the road to Emmaus. During the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, they were always appraised by whether they “walked in the ways of David” or in the wicked ways of Jeroboam.

What does it mean to “walk with God?” Bruce Waltke writes, “[to walk with God] denotes to enjoy supernatural, intimate fellowship with God, not merely to live a pious life.” It makes sense if we think about the analogy. Walking with someone isn’t the same as busting out your cardio on a treadmill.

To walk with someone requires that you have a common goal. As the prophet Amos said, “Can two walk together without agreeing on the direction?” Of course, in this life, we can’t see beyond the here and now, so we have to trust God who does know the way. And therefore, to walk with Him means that we agree with His route.

To walk with someone requires closeness. If you go on a walk with a friend or your spouse, you walk in close proximity. If you’re 100 yards apart, you’re not walking together.

To walk with someone means that you’ll keep a similar pace. Though, on the spiritual level we often follow slowly and hike with a limp, the Lord does not leave us in the dust. He knows our weaknesses and is a High Priest who sympathizes with us.

When you walk with someone, you’re going to find yourself in personal conversation with them. As one source pointed out, it wouldn’t do for you to bring a kazoo along and blow it the whole time.

The Bible explains walking with God as being an ongoing, personal progression of faith and growth in our understanding of the Lord and our obedience to His will. Colossians chapter 3 is a very practical passage for how we are to walk with God, giving both positive instructions of what to do, like setting our minds on heavenly things and putting on compassion and putting to death what belongs to our earthly nature. And it also gives us negative instructions – things not to do. Like, don’t lie to one another, put away anger, filthy language and these other things that you used to walk in.

All told, walking with God is about an active and personal relationship with God Who desires to lead us, guide us, be known by us and shape our lives according to His glorious standard. It’s not just about conduct, but also communion with Him. That was the failure of the Pharisees. All conduct, no communion. They honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.

So, with these ideas in our minds, let’s take a look at a couple of these faithful long walkers.

Genesis 5:1-2 – This is the document containing the family records of Adam. On the day that God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; 2 he created them male and female. When they were created, he blessed them and called them mankind.

Your version may something like, “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam.” The book of Genesis is actually broken up into 11 sections, each marked out by this term. We’ve already seen it once, back in chapter 2 where we saw the “history of the heavens and the earth.” Like this book of Adam, the rest will surround individuals. And they alternate between genealogy and narrative each time.

Notice here in verse 1 where it says, “On the day that God created man.” The book makes itself clear that we are to accept it as literal and historical. In fact, the genealogy we’re reading this evening is repeated in both 1 Chronicles and the Gospel of Luke. And so, if Adam isn’t literal, we have no reason to think David is literal or Jesus for that matter.

We’re reminded not only that these were real people, but as people, they were specially blessed by God. Mankind is a unique creation in God’s universe. We have a capacity to know and love Him that no other creature has. Even after the fall, when so much has been ruined, God allowed human beings to still have a capacity to love Him. And that is a great blessing.

Genesis 5:3-5 – 3 Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 Adam lived 800 years after he fathered Seth, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 5 So Adam’s life lasted 930 years; then he died.

Using this verse as a basis, I’ve heard it said that human beings aren’t really created in the image of God anymore. “Look, it says right there that Seth was in the image of Adam!” I’m not sure what the point is, but Seth was in the image of Adam, who was made in the image of God, so I see no reason to downgrade humanity’s worth.

This does remind us that, after Adam, there was a serious alteration stamped into humanity: And that’s sin. Sin was now spreading throughout creation. It was passed down from father to child. And it had a very significant, very real consequence: Death.

Adam’s death was not the first on the earth, but it would’ve been a profound moment when he breathed his last and returned to the ground from which he was made.

I imagine Adam and Eve must’ve struggled with incredible guilt as they walked the earth, watching humans die, animals die, and sorrow multiply. And yet, we see Eve’s enduring hope in the coming deliverer. We see Adam training up his descendants in the ways of God. Yes, they were responsible for what had happened, but they were not crushed. God’s mercy overflowed and they were able to continue walking in faith and in the hope that God Himself would make all things right again.

If you are feeling guilt this evening, if you feel the weight of your sin, on one hand that’s a good thing. Sin is serious. But don’t carry that weight any longer. Lay it down at the cross where all the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us were nailed there with the Deliverer.

Adam lived 930 years. That means he lived long enough to see Noah’s dad turn 56. He didn’t get to meet Noah, but it’s remarkable to think about what sort of access and influence Adam and Eve would’ve had with these generations of people.

Through those long centuries, he must’ve wondered at some point, “What’s God waiting for?” We may wonder that today. In answer to Adam’s wondering, we could say God was waiting for you and me! And His long-suffering still waits today, because God’s desire is to populate eternity with people.

Long section now:

Genesis 5:6-20 – 6 Seth was 105 years old when he fathered Enosh. 7 Seth lived 807 years after he fathered Enosh, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 8 So Seth’s life lasted 912 years; then he died. 9 Enosh was 90 years old when he fathered Kenan. 10 Enosh lived 815 years after he fathered Kenan, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 11 So Enosh’s life lasted 905 years; then he died. 12 Kenan was 70 years old when he fathered Mahalalel. 13 Kenan lived 840 years after he fathered Mahalalel, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 14 So Kenan’s life lasted 910 years; then he died. 15 Mahalalel was 65 years old when he fathered Jared. 16 Mahalalel lived 830 years after he fathered Jared, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 17 So Mahalalel’s life lasted 895 years; then he died. 18 Jared was 162 years old when he fathered Enoch. 19 Jared lived 800 years after he fathered Enoch, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 20 So Jared’s life lasted 962 years; then he died.

I do find it interesting that we still have Seths and Jareds today but no Mahalelels or Enoshes.

This section is feels repetitive, like a record of routine things, but we can see that what is routine – living a life, having a family – is actually a significant part of the miraculous, providential work of God. Remember: This is the road that leads to Jesus. In your life and mine, God is still accomplishing His providence, even in our routine experiences. Your family life is not insignificant to Him or to history. In two of his letters, Paul celebrates what he calls a “quiet” life. A regular life, full of grace and the Holy Spirit, pleases God and is used by God to bring others to deliverance in Jesus.

Genesis 5:21-22 – 21 Enoch was 65 years old when he fathered Methuselah. 22 And after he fathered Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and fathered other sons and daughters.

There is a sudden change in the format. We’re told that this man walked with God. That doesn’t mean the others didn’t. We know almost nothing about them, but remember that the context is a comparison between the God-rejecting line of Cain and the God-believing line of Seth. We’ll also be told in Genesis 6 that Noah, too, “walked with God.” Along the way they had regular lives. But they were also preachers to the world around them. In fact, the book of Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied about the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. How did he know about these things? We don’t know. But they were, on some level, in some way, revealed to him.

His message could be summarized this way: “If you live according to your own desires, you will be judged.” That message is as true today as it was four thousand years ago. Solomon said that if we “walk in the ways of your heart and in the desire of your eyes…know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment.” Because all of us have gone astray from the Lord. To be saved we must turn to Him, believe on Him, walk with Him who leads to life instead of death.

By the way, there are three apocryphal books said to have been written by Enoch. One of them is quoted by Jude. That doesn’t mean that the rest of what we have was actually written by Enoch or that they should be treated as Scripture, but that particular quote found in Jude 14 and 15 is genuine and was included by God the Holy Spirit in the Canon.

Genesis 5:23-24 – 23 So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him.

We would say that Enoch was “raptured” – taken up bodily to be with the Lord without experiencing physical death. The same happened to Elijah and the same will happen to believers who are alive at the end of the Church age. The word there means that God snatched him. And it is the same term used in Psalm 73 where we read:

Psalm 73:24 – 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me up in glory.

The question is: If you have this Godly man, this prophet-preacher, why cut his life on the earth short? God knew judgment was coming. But He took Enoch home 669 years before the flood. Wouldn’t it have been better to leave him to preach?

First, there were other preachers – Noah would become one. But second, God really likes to set up what we call types in history and in the Scripture. Meaning, He accomplishes things that can be looked back upon to teach us truth about what is yet to come. For example, Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah. That was a type of God the Father sacrificing His own Son on our behalf. Or the bronze snake that Moses made and set up in the wilderness. That anyone who was bitten by a serpent could look to that pole in faith and be healed. That was, of course, a type of Jesus lifted up on the cross, who anyone can simply look to, in faith, and be saved.

Enoch is part of a type. Judgment was coming. Enoch was warning people. There would only be one way of escape – God’s way. Then what happened? One of God’s people (Enoch) was suddenly snatched away. Another of God’s people (Noah) would be saved through the judgment on the ark.

We have now a powerful type of God’s plan for the end times. The Church, represented by Enoch, will be caught away suddenly. Then there will be an interval of time and God’s people, the Jews, will be saved through the Tribulation and coming judgment.

One other note about Enoch: One source points out that the phrasing of the Hebrew suggests that, “Enoch and God ‘got along.’” I think that’s a wonderful sentiment to consider. Do we get along with God? If not, it’s probably because we’re harboring some resentment toward Him or assuming that we know better than He does. We don’t. He is altogether right, altogether loving, altogether caring. If we’re having trouble ‘getting along’ with His leading, the defect is in us and we should invite Him to search us and see if there be any wicked way in us so that He might lead us in the way everlasting.

Genesis 5:25-27 – 25 Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech. 26 Methuselah lived 782 years after he fathered Lamech, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 27 So Methuselah’s life lasted 969 years; then he died.

God had pronounced judgment through His servant Enoch. But before judgment came God waited and waited and waited, through the lifespan of the oldest man to ever live. God’s long-suffering is great. He really does want to save. He’s not willing that any should perish. This gives us context to why God waits today, why He allows so much wrong to continue, it’s so that a few more people might be brought into His family and be bought back from their sin, rescued from death.

Genesis 5:28-29 – 28 Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. 29 And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”

Clearly, Lamech had hope in God and communion with Him. He knew that God was going to do something significant through Noah’s life. He was focused on that promised deliverance. We should be too. Now, the deliverance that God would work through Noah was almost assuredly not what Lamech had in mind. He was hoping things would be restored and rolled back. But, as we know, that’s not the plan for Noah’s life. Instead, God would bring deliverance through Noah, but it was in the form of a choice. Noah preached to the wicked world and gave them a choice. Peter compared it to baptism, which is – of course – a choice whether a person will surrender and believe God and walk with Him or whether they will go their own way.

The deliverance worked through Noah would also be a choice. Would they join him on the ark? I’m sure the wicked of the world were sick and tired of the agonizing labor of their hands, too, but would they turn from their wickedness? That was the question. That was the requirement for deliverance.

Genesis 5:30-32 – 30 Lamech lived 595 years after he fathered Noah, and he fathered other sons and daughters. 31 So Lamech’s life lasted 777 years; then he died. 32 Noah was 500 years old, and he fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Lamech died 5 years before the flood, Methuselah died the year it happened. This has led some to speculate that he was one of the wicked, but it’s only that – speculation. What we do know is that Methuselah’s father was a faithful follower of God and so was his son. Why trash his memory?

The genealogy leading to Jesus will take a pause here so we can focus on Noah and his family in the coming chapters. Here’s something to think about: The story we know of Noah’s walk with the Lord started halfway into his life. He’d live a total of 950 years. Of course, we can assume he was walking with God long before his fifth century. But it’s a good reminder that God’s work is not only for the young or only for the old. He works and moves in each of our lives, accomplishing His purposes as we walk with Him.

Jean Béliveau is celebrated by some people for his “walk for peace.” Dig a little deeper and you find some sad realities surrounding it: First of all, he admits he made the plan to take his walk because he was in a mid-life crisis. He hid his plan from his wife and children until a month before he left. When asked if he would periodically return home to be with them, he said “I’ll be back in 10 years.” He took his trip and relished meeting Nobel laureates like Nelson Mandela along the way, but meanwhile he missed the birth of his grandchildren, the passing of his father. What did he accomplish? Has he won peace for the world? Has he ended violence against children? He made a name for himself, but abandoned his own children in the process.

In a photo op on his walk, President Mandela said, “The world needs people like you.” No, the world needs people like Enoch and Noah. People who love the Lord and walk with Him. People who honor their families and seek the Lord in them. People who are faithful to the word of God and the callings of God. Let’s be those people. Let’s take a walk with our Lord. “So follow the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”

The Four Hallelujahs Of The Apocalypse (Revelation 19:1-10)

‘Coca-Cola’ is the second most widely understood term in the world. The first is ‘OK.’

Coke in 1993 launched a soft drink named ‘OK Soda’ so that it could own both the most recognized words. Coke discontinued it in 1995.

‘Hallelujah’ is a universal word understood all over the world.

In the 1980s, we took trips to Beijing to smuggle Bibles. The missionaries told us that if we got separated from our group, or otherwise found ourselves lost, to walk around in public calmly saying “Hallelujah,” and a Christian would hear and help us.

“Hallelujah” resounds twenty-four times in the Bible where you’d expect it to, in the Psalms.
It is proclaimed in only one other place, in chapter nineteen of the Revelation.

The Bible version you are reading might, like my NKJV, use the word “Alleluia” instead of “Hallelujah.” Not to worry:

“Hallelujah” is Hebrew.
“Alleluia” is Latin derived from the Greek transliteration of “Hallelujah.”

They both mean, Praise the Lord.

Why are we “hallelujah-ing” in chapter nineteen? I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Praise The Lord You Are Parted From The Brothel, and #2 Praise The Lord You Are Prepared As His Bride.

#1 – Praise The Lord You Are Parted From The Brothel (v1-5)

The Revelation describes Tribulation Babylon as a harlot:

• Chapter seventeen identifies her as a religious system that is “a great harlot” (v1) and “the mother of harlots” (v5).

• In chapter eighteen, the city of Babylon is where “the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” (v3).

• Chapter nineteen labels her “the great harlot” (v2).

The Old Testament portrays the nation of Israel as the wife of Jehovah, and exhorts the Israelites to remain faithful to the marriage. The writers of the New Testament consider the church the betrothed bride of Jesus Christ. We are exhorted to remain chaste virgins to Him as we await His coming for us.

Throughout the Bible, being unfaithful to God is illustrated graphically by comparing it to “fornication.” It is the spiritual equivalent of infidelity and sexual sin by a spouse – like someone married or betrothed being with a harlot.
Babylon will be a literal city during the Great Tribulation. It is true, nevertheless, that the world is a harlot and Satan the pimp. Believers in Jesus are bombarded with seductive solicitations to material and spiritual fornication.

Rev 19:1  After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in Heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!

We rejoice that there will be a “great multitude” in Heaven:

• All the saints of the Church Age will be there, from the Day of Pentecost until the resurrection and rapture of the church.

• Multitudes of believers who were justified by faith in the Old Testament will be there.
• The Tribulation martyrs will be there.
• Angels, cherubim, seraphim, and other supernaturals will be there.
• Animals, too. Horses, at the very least.

“Salvation” belongs to the Lord. It is His to offer freely by grace to all, and He can because Jesus is “the Savior of all men, especially those who believe” (First Timothy 4:10).

He is coming in “glory.” The Second Coming will be quite an unveiling. Jesus will break through the clouds, clothed to conquer, riding His great steed.

He will establish His kingdom, be honored by all, with “power” to rule Earth.

Rev 19:2  For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”

We discussed the destruction of both mystery Babylon and municipal Babylon in chapters seventeen and eighteen, respectively. She is “the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication,” making the entire world a brothel.

God has the undeserved reputation of being haphazard in His judgments. The things that happen to people don’t seem to make sense. Good people, young people, suffer tragedies while the wicked prosper.

Those sufferings are not God’s “judgments.”

We live in a fallen world. Sin is responsible for the seeming haphazardness we witness. God is busy providentially forwarding His plan to redeem sinful men and restore ruined creation.

Bad things happen to good people and God‘s people while God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all would repent and come to salvation.

When God does judge, He is always “true” to His holy and loving nature. His judgments are always just right.

Nonbelievers scoff at the Second Coming. There are something like eight times as many references to the Second Coming in the Bible then there are to the first coming. Ready or not, Jesus is coming.

Rev 19:3  Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”

The atmosphere on Earth isn’t going to be smokey “forever.” This is a way of saying the destruction is final.

The world is quite seductive. Perhaps more so than ever, now that technology has advanced, just as morality is hitting rock bottom.

Rev 19:4  And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”

We’ve previously encountered this combo of “twenty-four elders” and “four living creatures.”

Nowhere in the Bible are we told the identity of the twenty-four elders. Nowhere. Any theory is just that. Our take is that it is not some secret way of referring to the church, but rather a divine council of supernaturals that appear several times in the Bible assisting God.

“Amen” is a statement of agreement. The creatures and elders agree with God’s judgment, praising Him for it.

Rev 19:5  Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”

The “voice,” probably of an angel, gives instructions for worship.

It is time for “His servants and those who fear Him” to sing. What an honor and joy to be identified as servants who fear the Lord. Think of it as a job description, and it will help you discover the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.

“Small and great” reminds us God is no respecter of persons. He saves those who seem “great,” and He saves those who seem “small.” There might be more “small” in Heaven because the “great” have difficulty appearing foolish and humbling themselves.

Allow me a short rabbit trail. Whenever we see worship in Heaven around God’s throne in this book, it is carried out orderly. It is not spontaneous in the sense of humans or angels going off-script shouting or running around or being slain in the Spirit. Yes, there are times when worshippers fall. They do it together, on cue, when appropriate, as part of a very precise liturgy. Think about it the next time someone tells you that God the Holy Spirit came upon them and they could no longer control themselves.

You are constantly being seduced. The devil has the world set up in such a way that it appeals to your fleshly lusts.

He entices you with material things that you covet. He entices you mentally, e.g., by the world’s false religions, psychologies, and philosophies.

The bride has no place in a brothel.

Jesus brought you out from the brothel. Set your affections on things above, bringing your every thought captive to Jesus.

#2 – Praise The Lord You Are Prepared As His Bride (v6-10)

There has been a great deal of singing in the Revelation. One commentator points out, “This [is] the last song of praise in the Apocalypse, [and it] is a divine epith-ala-mium.” Huh? It means a song celebrating a marriage.

Rev 19:6  And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

“Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” This sequence is the Bible’s Hallelujah Chorus. It involves falling more than standing.

Our God is “the Lord God Omnipotent.” It is a title that ends all discussion. Who is like Him? No one.

God “reigns” now and forever. In the Revelation, we read about Him establishing His reign on Earth.

Rev 19:7  Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

“The Lamb” is the Revelation’s favorite title for the risen Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

He offered Himself on the Cross as the sacrifice for sin, as our Substitute.
Jesus crucifixion occurred exactly when the lambs for the annual Passover were being slain and offered in the Temple.
He let us know that He was the last Lamb, the last sacrifice, crying out with a loud voice, “It is finished!”
In the Temple, the thick veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom, signifying the way into God’s presence was open to all through a relationship with Jesus.

Out of seemingly nowhere, there is a ‘Save the Date’ for a wedding. “The marriage of the Lamb has come.” The word “marriage” is the same one translated as “marriage supper” in verse nine. The supper is the celebration following the wedding – what we might call the reception.

There is a great deal of Bible teaching on the Jewish wedding customs in the first century. In my opinion, some of it is far too rigid and detailed. I consulted an organization of Messianic Jews. If anyone is going to get it right, it’s completed Jews who minister to Jews.

The barebones of the first century Jewish wedding were as follows:

• The father of the bridegroom either selected or approved a bride for his son.

• In the betrothal that followed, the bridegroom gave the bride money or a valuable object such as a ring, and a cup of wine was customarily shared to seal their covenant vows. They were legally married, but they did not live together or engage in sexual relations for at least nine months.

• The groom busied himself preparing a place for his bride. The bride focused on her preparations.

• Although the bride knew to expect her groom anytime after about nine months, she did not know the exact day or time.  He could come earlier or later.  The father of the groom gave final approval for his son to return for his bride.

• The bridegroom came to take his bride home, where a joyous marriage supper ensued.

The parallels to the relationship between Jesus as the heavenly Bridegroom and the church as His bride are wonderfully obvious:

“God so loved the world that He [the Father] gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Jesus is gone to prepare a place for us.
He gave us the Holy Spirit as our engagement guarantee.
We prepare for His coming for us by patiently waiting.
Jesus is coming to resurrect and rapture the church, His bride. His coming is imminent.

Later in chapter nineteen, when Jesus returns with us to Earth, we – His bride – will already be clothed in wedding apparel. The marriage must therefore be in Heaven between the rapture and the Second Coming.

Both the one-thousand-year Kingdom of God on Earth and Eternity constitute the marriage supper.

The words, “His wife has made herself ready,” are amplified in verse eight:

Rev 19:8  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Illustrating God’s gift of salvation using clothing is my absolute favorite. Anyone can understand it.

Let’s start by explaining how we are dressed without this garment. A passage in the Old Testament book Book of Zechariah will explain what I mean.

The High Priest of Israel, at the time, Joshua, was on Earth in the Jewish Temple performing his duties. God was looking down upon Joshua.

Zec 3:1  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD…

Joshua would have been wearing the garments of the High Priest. They were beautiful and costly – covered with precious gems. You’ve probably seen a version of these garments. At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Nazis open the Ark, Belloq, the Nazi archaeologist, is dressed like Joshua the High Priest.

Listen carefully to how the Bible describes the High Priest:

Zec 3:3  Now Joshua [the High Priest] was clothed with filthy garments…

No matter how costly and beautiful Joshua looked on Earth, in Heaven he looked as though he was wearing “filthy garments.”

The Bible describes every human being that way. “All of our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”

In Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, the Kevin Costner version, there’s a scene in involving filthy rags. A master of disguise, Robin Hood robed himself with the torn and tattered outer garment of a beggar to avoid detection while visiting Maid Marian in the church. To make it even more believable, he picked up dung from the road and rubbed it all over his robe. He was filthy.

This filthiness is how every human being is robed. None of us are righteous. We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all sinners.

The Lord didn’t leave Joshua in his filthy rags.

“Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”

The exchange was a free gift. It illustrates God’s grace in salvation. It is made possible by the death of Jesus on the Cross. He takes your filthy garments upon Himself and exchanges them for a robe of righteousness. Thus you are prepared by Him for Heaven.

Rev 19:7  Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
Rev 19:8  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Something that Isaiah said about our clothing is insightful. Isaiah 61:10 reads, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

The wedding garment is “granted” to us. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus. It is a gift. There are zero works of righteousness involved.
Simultaneously, we “[make ourselves] ready” by the “righteous acts” we perform serving Jesus on Earth.

You don‘t earn or add to your salvation; you earn rewards that will adorn your robe. You want to adorn your robe to look beautiful for your Bridegroom.

Rev 19:9  Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

The church is the bride; the guests are the rest of the saved from all of time – the Old Testament saints, as well as Tribulation martyrs, along with believers alive in earthly bodies at the Second Coming. Those who get saved in the Millennium will be fashionably late-arriving guests.

Rev 19:10  And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Seeing an angel is terrifying. Think, too, of everything John had seen to this point.

The angel quickly corrected John for his wrong reaction. At least he did react. I’m not suggesting wrong enthusiasm and zeal without knowledge is OK – only that it wouldn’t hurt us to be more excited about Jesus.

Angels consider themselves our “fellow servants.” That’s pretty amazing. From our perspective, they are glorious, but they consider themselves with proper humility.

“Of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus” is better translated, “I am [only] another servant with you and your brethren who have [accepted and hold] the testimony borne by Jesus” (AV).

“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” It is popular today to read the Revelation as what scholars call “Apocalyptic Literature.” It is a type of writing that isn’t meant to be taken literally.

The Revelation is not Apocalyptic Literature.

The angel speaking to John calls it “prophecy.” In chapter twenty-two, the Revelation is categorized as “prophecy” four more times.

From chapter four through the end the Revelation is future prophecy.

All this talk about bridegrooms and brides and betrothals should suggest a romantic mood.

Sadly, the Lord’s coming in the clouds for His bride is sometimes used as a rebuke. You’re sternly warned that you don’t want to be caught doing certain questionable things when He comes and be scolded.

That approach turns a believer into a bridezilla.

Jesus’ attitude toward you is more like that of the beloved in the Song of Solomon. I’m going to read a passage from it. For our purposes today, Jesus is the Bridegroom and you, His betrothed bride.

Song 2:8  The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills.
Song 2:9  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice.
Song 2:10  My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.
Song 2:11  For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.
Song 2:12  The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land.
Song 2:13  The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!
Song 2:14  “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”

The more you understand that Jesus is your Bridegroom, and you His beloved bride, the better prepared and ready you’ll choose to be.

Prophecy Update #667 – Prove It

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of the Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are some of the trends we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time suggesting that vaccine passports are a trend you’d expect. I’m not talking about the vaccines, or whether they should be mandatory or not. These updates are not medical or political.

I’m talking about how the mandates sound ominously like what the Bible predicts in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation.

During the future seven year Great Tribulation, “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, [must] receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

Citizens will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

Citizens are – today – being mandated to participate in a system by which they must produce proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles are being restricted.

Let’s first see how serious government is regarding proof of vaccination.

The LA City Council voted 13-0 to create vaccine requirement for indoor public spaces. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell was quoted, “This is not a vaccine mandate… we’re not going to deny anyone the ability to access essentials, food, medicine, etc., regardless of vaccination… but what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated, choosing to listen to some delusional rant on Twitter.”

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer has already endorsed the idea he calls “No shots, no admission.” He said

“Those who reject that responsibility should temporarily lose some of society’s privileges until their reckless behavior no longer endangers the rest of us.”

https://deadline.com/2021/08/los-angeles-city-requires-vaccination-vaccine-indoors-1234813086/

Arthur L. Caplan, professor of bioethics and the founding head of New York University School of Medicine’s Division of Medical Ethics, and Dorit R. Reiss, a professor of law at UC Hastings College of Law, suggested, “Either the HHS secretary or the FDA commissioner should edit the emergency use authorizations to say that refusing the vaccine may lead to one or more of the following consequences: loss of employment, limits on access to education, or limits on access to businesses and private enterprises.”

https://www.statnews.com/2021/07/27/rewriting-eua-pave-way-covid-19-vaccine-mandates/

California Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said,

“At first, people will have to bring their vaccination card with them. But we anticipate that in the future that the solution will be digital,” meaning people could potentially show proof of vaccination on their mobile phones. As of right now, US citizens only have a vaccination card that they either get stamped, or receive a sticker once they get their dose, or doses. But fraudulent copies of vaccination cards are popping up everywhere.

Ramesh Raskar, a professor at MIT Media Lab, has been leading an effort to develop a solution that includes both a paper certificate that anyone can easily carry as well as a free digital pass that works even without cell service. We are going to emerge from the pandemic with a new “currency for health,” he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/travel/vaccine-passport-cards-apps.html

Here are two random quotes:

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown plans to start deploying up to 1,500 National Guard troops next week to hospitals across the state to support health care workers dealing with spiraling cases driven by the spread of the more transmissible delta variant.
President Joe Biden has urged cities to adopt proof-of-vaccination requirements for restaurants and other businesses.

A universal vaccine passport is not the Mark of the Beast. However, the way the leaders of the world are talking, they will establish a system like what the Revelation predicts will be in place in the Great Tribulation.

I think we can all see that once such a digital passport is in place for COVID19, its use could be expanded for all kinds of things.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent.
It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

The Not-So-Great Society (Genesis 4:17-25)

How do you make a “great” society? Of course, in the last few years the idea of making America great again has been discussed at length. Some may be surprised to learn that “Make America great again” was not a new idea. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan was, “Let’s make America great again.” He just didn’t think to put it on hats. We can go back before the Reagan era to Lyndon Johnson who had his ambitious plan for the “Great Society.” In his now famous commencement speech at the University Of Michigan in 1964, Johnson said, “…we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society…It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”

Human beings want greatness for themselves and for their societies. There have been many approaches and yet so many fall short or create terrible unintended consequences in their pursuit of greatness. In that same speech President Johnson lamented: “It is harder and harder to live the good life in American cities today.”

Why is that? That’s been true of almost every place in every generation, including our own. Well, as we’ve seen in the opening chapters of Genesis, God had set up mankind for great things, but we stumbled out of the gate. The Lord got us back up on our feet, but now we were hobbled by sin. Fast forward a few years and we see Cain murdering his brother. As a society, we were not off to a great start. And yet, God was gracious and long-suffering. As always, He offered a way that people might have access to Him and find fulfillment. But, as is true today, He would not force anyone to go His way. Human beings had and still have a true free will to either believe God or reject Him.

As Genesis chapter 4 closes, we see the people of earth building cities, inventing things, designing systems. They’re spreading into different careers and writing and creating art. (This record is an affront, by the way, to the idea that early man was some sort of grunting cave dweller. Far from it – these first inhabitants of earth had marvelous intelligence, ingenuity and resourcefulness.)

As the population grows and busies itself, God not only keeps a record of it, but He also shows a very clear distinction to us. Once sin was in the picture we find that there are only two types of people in the world: Those who have faith in God and those who don’t. These two distinct groups were epitomized by Cain and Abel. Though there was a lot of different activity and opportunity and all sorts of new horizons humans were discovering, all of that could be stripped away and there was one thing left: Did a person believe God? That difference was profound, not only in how a person thought and behaved but the outcomes that arrived as a result.

Interestingly, God did not let those who had faith in Him back into the Garden of Eden. Instead, these two groups would all live alongside one another in the world. But, all along, from the time of Abel all the way through to our own day and age, there would exist what some have called “two humanities.” In some ways they appear very similar. After all, they mingle together and use many of the same tools, but look a bit closer and you find the foundations, the progress and the end results are very different. These two humanities are on exhibit in the second half of Genesis 4.

Genesis 4:17a – 17 Cain was intimate with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old question: Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is simple: She was his sister. Our modern ears cringe at that for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t do relative marriage anymore in our society. But, marrying a family member was a common occurrence up until the second half of the 20th century. Albert Einstein’s wife, Elsa, was his cousin on both sides of his family. Rudy Giuliani was married to his second cousin for 14 years. Then there’s Philip II of Spain. He was married 4 times – to three cousins and a niece.

Of course today we recognize the genetic danger of marrying someone you’re related to. So how could our ancient forefathers have done so without great damage to their offspring? Well, we see the long lifespans and recognize that the corruption of sin wasn’t as profound as it became after the flood and into later millennia. As one commentator put it, you wouldn’t want to drink water from the Hudson River in New York City, but if you travelled all the way back to the source in the Adirondacks to the shimmering Lake Tear Of The Clouds which feeds it, you’d find pristine water.

Genesis 4:17b – Then Cain became the builder of a city, and he named the city Enoch after his son.

How could there be enough people to build a city? It’s impossible to know what the population of the world was leading up to the flood, but the number was almost certainly more than we’d expect. We’re thinking of two people with their two boys. But Adam and Eve had more than Cain and Abel. They had other sons and daughters. And the people at this time lived for 700, 800, 900 years. The diseases and wars that cut down so many humans after the flood and into our own era weren’t an issue then. Women could have children not for 30 or 40 years, but more than ten times that length! Think about this: When Jacob’s family came to Egypt they were 70 persons. 400 years later, after enduring genocide, they left Egypt with a minimum of 600,000. It was probably more like 1 or 2 million.

Since the year 1800 we have added 6 billion people to the earth’s population. The BBC wrote about how NASA and others are discussing population growth since we’re talking about colonizing other planets like Mars. Their assessment after speaking with experts was that a planet’s population could grow from one couple to 7 billion in 557 years. That’s not even 60% of Adam’s lifespan! The folks at Answers In Genesis calculate that, if the population growth rate was the same as it was in the year 2,000, the earth would’ve been home to 750,000,000 at the time of the flood.

So, here we see Cain has a son named Enoch. No, it’s not the Enoch we know and love. He will be a descendant of Cain’s brother, Seth.

Now, last time we saw that God had pronounced that Cain would be a wanderer over the earth, finding no rest and no home. What do we see now? He’s wandered a bit, but he’s building a city. We don’t need to think in large scale – linguists indicate it might have just been a fortified encampment with multiple buildings – but in this action we see more of Cain’s hardheartedness toward God. He’s attempting to defy God again. “God said I’d wander, well I’m gonna plant myself right here.” In fact, in a way he’s putting himself in the place of God. He names his boy Enoch and makes this city, names it after him, effectively saying, “I’m God. I’m the decider. I’m making my own ‘garden’ for you, my creation, to dwell in.” This is the mindset and the culture that Cain is establishing for his society.

Genesis 4:18 – 18 Irad was born to Enoch, Irad fathered Mehujael, Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

These weren’t all the kids each of these families had. God is zooming in on a particular line so that it can compare to the particular line from Adam through Seth which will ultimately lead to the Messiah, the Promised Seed who will save us from the power of sin and restore creation once and for all.

Each of these fellows had the same responsibility toward God and the same opportunity to discover Him and believe in Him. Adam was still alive. In fact, Adam lived long enough to see nine generations down, all the way to Noah’s father! Any son of Cain could’ve gone to their great grandfather and heard him speak about the Lord. We’ll find that the origin of the mark of Cain was known at least to the seventh generation. And so, all of these guys were without excuse.

Genesis 4:19 – 19 Lamech took two wives for himself, one named Adah and the other named Zillah.

The first “poster child” of American marketing was Donald Eugene Anderson, whose picture was put on a March of Dimes campaign in their fight against Polio. “According to the original meaning of the term, a [poster] child [is one who is] afflicted by some disease or deformity,” put on display in an attempt to raise awareness or funds for the fight against the disease.

Here, the text zooms in on a particular poster child afflicted with sin, Lamech. Of course, he wasn’t a boy, he was a grown man. And he was a bad man who not only gave into sin, but reveled in it and allowed it to rule him.

Sin ruled his family. He’s the first recorded polygamist. Though many criticize the Bible and suggest it approves of polygamy, that isn’t true. The facts are stated but not endorsed. From the beginning God established marriage as one biological male and one biological female living in a dedicated, monogamous relationship as long as both lived. Polygamy is not presented in a positive light in the Scriptures, much to the contrary.

We’re told that Lamech “took” his wives. Based off of the meanings of his wives’ names, we infer that he did so because of superficial reasons, not substantive ones.

But think about this: Lamech took his wives, but God brought Eve to Adam. She was a gift, specially designed to pair with him in just the right way. You who are single people of God, don’t just take a spouse. God has one in mind for you. And, in the Bible, when God’s people try to do Him a favor and find a spouse of their own, the result is disaster.

Think about it this way: The Bible says that God establishes our steps, that He has allotted the number of our days, that He has marked out our time and boundaries, that He has custom made a path of life, full of good works for us to discover and walk in. Do you not think that He has a particular person in mind to give you in that most significant relationship of your life? He does. Wait on the Lord and allow Him to bring you together with your spouse.

Before learning more about Lamech we get to meet his kids.

Genesis 4:20-22 – 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the first of the nomadic herdsmen. 21 His brother was named Jubal; he was the first of all who play the lyre and the flute. 22 Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah.

None of these are recorded as believers, and yet they were significant contributors to earth’s culture and industry. We still follow in their footsteps today. On one level, their accomplishments are remarkable. But ultimately their individual lives lacked eternal weight.

That doesn’t mean all of earth’s culture or commodities are evil. I play guitar because Jubal invented a lyre. But when a life isn’t founded and fed by faith in God, by His directing Word, then that life is ultimately wasted. And, when a culture doesn’t find its source and motivation in the grace of God, it will inevitably allow selfishness and corruption to flood in and contaminate it. That spiritual principle is demonstrated for us by Lamech.

Genesis 4:23-24 – 23 Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is to be avenged seven times over, then for Lamech it will be seventy-seven times!

One of my all-time favorite Bible study insights comes from right here from our own Pastor Jake. He once pointed out that Lamech was the first gangster rapper. It’s true! The boasting, the ladies, the violence, the using of your own name – it’s all there!

So it seems that lust had perverted his family life. Now we see that pride had driven him to bloodshed. His ancestor Cain had killed in secret, but Lamech did it in the open. He’s so full of himself that he boasts in what he did. “What a great man I am! What a big man I am! I butchered a lad because he offended me!” It’s worth noting that some scholars actually see two murders here, not just one. But this was no simple chest thumping. This was an intricate, carefully constructed poem. Compare it to the simple poem that had been offered by Adam when he first saw Eve, full of thanks and recognition of God’s goodness and excitement for the life that would result.

Lamech, here, has become his own moral compass. We see in his song that he’s saying, “I’m God now. I do what I want, when I want, to who I want. I take what I want. I’ll terrorize my wives and my neighborhood. I decide what is just.” The result was violence and death.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Genesis 4:25 – 25 Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has given me another offspring in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

In contrast to the individualism and selfishness of Cain’s line we see God’s people thinking very differently. They see the Lord as being involved with each part of their lives, a God mindful of their hurts, a God who will still carry out the promises He made, even when it seems like they had been derailed. Remember – Eve thought that Cain was going to be the deliverer and then that all came crashing down. And yet, her faith did not fail. It continued and even grew. She was sorrowful over the loss of her precious Abel, but she was not defeated. Neither should we be when trial or suffering or loss comes our way. God is still God, He is still faithful, He will still do what He has promised.

Genesis 4:26 – 26 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

There’s no descriptor of their jobs. That will be the case all the way down to Noah. As God compares these two humanities, the difference was not in how great their production was, but who their hearts were devoted to. This was the difference: Some began to call on the name of the Lord. In future passages we will see the believers, “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” or that they “walked with God.” That was the difference.

What does it mean that they began to call on the name of the Lord? Some scholars think that they claimed God’s name for themselves, like how we call ourselves Christians. This also indicates that they were proclaimers of God’s word. The Bible explains that Seth’s descendant Enoch was a preacher, as was Noah. It also indicates that they established a regular, corporate time of worship.

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord today? To walk with God like these faithful forefathers did?

First and foremost, it means we believe. We put our faith in God and His revealed word. That we trust that His way is the way that leads to life and then orient our lives accordingly. It means that we devote ourselves to worship personally and corporately. Recognizing that when we come together we don’t do so just out of tradition or to give lip service to some religion, but so that we might come before the majesty of God with an offering of praise and surrender and obedience to Him. To walk with God means that we do obey Him in our hearts and our family lives and our pursuits. It means that we focus our minds on what He has said and being different from the world we find ourselves in. Different in some profound ways. Like, when the world wants 77x revenge, we’re to choose forgiveness seventy times seven.

Meanwhile, when I suffer, when I’m attacked, when I’m in a time of struggle or loss, I can follow the example of Eve and Seth and these others and choose to believe God and trust God, the living God, who will deliver me home to our enduring city. This mindset, this walking with God is what makes life worth it. It’s what makes a life great and will make a society great. Because it is righteousness that exalts a nation. The great society is the one full of faith.

Come Out, Come Out, In Babylon You Are (Revelation 18)

Disaster movies always feature a chaotic evacuation sequence.

Whether it is a sudden zombie apocalypse or an impending asteroid strike, the roads gridlock, leading to fistfights and shootings.

God will call for an evacuation of the Great Tribulation city of Babylon.

Look at verse four. “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

Believers living in that wicked city will be forewarned of the pouring out of the wrath of God against it, and they will flee.

We are living in the Church Age that precedes the Great Tribulation. Jesus has firmly promised us that He will keep us out of the entirety of the Great Tribulation. He will accomplish it by coming in the clouds, resurrecting the dead in Christ, and instantaneously transforming living believers. We call this entire sequence the Rapture of the Church. It is an evacuation that will cause global chaos for nonbelievers left behind.

We patiently wait for the coming of the Lord to take us to the place He has been preparing for us. While waiting, we are under a kind of spiritual general evacuation order. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,

2Co 6:14  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2Co 6:15  … Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?…
2Co 6:17  Therefore “COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU.”

Before you act on that directive, Paul also said, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” (First Corinthians 5:9-10).

We are to “come out from among” nonbelievers while simultaneously living among them.

We are talking about the biblical Doctrine of Separation.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Separation From The World Is Something You Laud, and #2 Separation From The World Is Not Something You Lament.

#1 – Separation From The World Is Something You Laud (v1-8)

You can apply the Doctrine of Separation in nine words: “Be in the world, but not of the world.”

A theological definition: “Biblical separation is the recognition that God has called believers out of the world and into a personal and corporate purity amid sinful cultures.”

The apostle Paul put it like this to the church he founded in Thessalonica: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (First Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Three things ought to immediately amaze us:

First, you are saved and set apart to serve God. We are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [God’s] own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (First Peter 2:9-10).

Second, you are on the path of purity, enabled to resist sin and Satan. You can “be holy as He is holy.”

And third, you have the assurance that we are safe from the coming wrath of God that is the Great Tribulation.

Wowza! The separated life is no burden; it is a blessing. It is liberating. The apostle Peter went on to point out, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (2:11).

In the short time we have on Earth, we can overcome things that would otherwise enslave us and instead live a Spirit-led life of purpose, discovering the good works God has before prepared for us.

Ours is not a purpose-driven life, but rather a Spirit-led life that has purpose.

Rev 18:1  After these things I saw another angel coming down from Heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.
Thus far in the Revelation:

Jesus took a scroll from His Father and opened its seven seals.

When Jesus opened the seventh seal, seven angels having trumpets to blow were revealed.

When the seventh trumpet was blown, seven angels having seven bowls full of the wrath of God to pour out upon Earth came forward.

“When the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ ”(16:7). The next event will be the glorious Second Coming of Jesus to Earth with His saints.

The seals, trumpets, and bowls take you chronologically through the seven-year Great Tribulation. They are the sequential points on the timeline.

The apostle John often pauses during the sequence of seals, trumpets, and bowls, providing details about certain intervening events.

Chapters seventeen and eighteen are a pause; in them, we discover two Babylons operating during the Great Tribulation.

Chapter seventeen revealed Babylon in its mystery form as a global religious system.

Chapter eighteen describes Babylon in its municipal form as a global political and commercial system embodied in a city, the literal city of Babylon on the River Euphrates.

If you are interested in angels, the Revelation is a goldmine of information. Start there. Angels are prominent, mentioned over seventy times. Don Stewart writes, “From preaching the everlasting Gospel, to the binding Satan into the Abyss, angels are in the midst of the program of God at the end times.

“Having great authority” reminds us that God delegates tasks, and gives us the authority to carry them out. To have the treasure of the Gospel in our frail, fleshly vessels is not a plan we would sign off on. It should humble us. Think of it: You can confidently tell a person that believing in Jesus is salvation, and they will have the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life.

This angel “illuminates” Earth with his glory. Much is veiled to our perception.
We walk by faith and not by sight. In the future, we will behold things as they are, with unveiled senses.

Rev 18:2  And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!

Yes, this is future Babylon in Iraq, thriving as a world capital city. It isn’t a code name for Rome, or New York, or Dubai, or Riverdale.

Author Joel Rosenberg recently wrote, “Ancient biblical prophecies in both the Old and the New Testaments indicate Iraq will become the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world in the End of Days. And the most evil.”

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said that in the Day of the Lord, the city of Babylon would be destroyed and then never again be inhabited (chapters 13-14).
Jeremiah expressed this same scenario for Tribulation Babylon (50-51).

Here is the opinion of a scholar who takes the allegorical approach to the Revelation: “I do not believe that the city of Babylon in the Book of the Revelation should be seen as representing some single city or nation, but rather for New Testament people it symbolizes the hideous wickedness seen everywhere in the world.”

Preterists are those who teach that the Revelation was mostly fulfilled in the first century. They say, (quote) “Babylon represents first-century Jerusalem and is not a symbol for Rome, New York City, or any city anywhere.”

Amillennialists believe that Jesus is currently sitting on the throne of David and that this present Church Age is the kingdom over which Christ reigns. Donald Guthrie suggests that (quote),“the symbol of Babylon stood for the oppressors of God’s people.”

If you abandon the literal, futurist interpretation, Babylon can mean anything you propose. If it can mean anything, then it means nothing.

The so-called Golden Rule of Biblical Interpretation is, “If the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.”

The futurist position we hold is the only one that obeys the Golden Rule, the only one that considers Babylon throughout biblical history.

The Tower of Babel was mankind’s first attempt to build in defiance of God.
Tribulation Babylon will be mankind’s final attempt to build in defiance of God.

The angel announces what the rest of the chapter will describe – the burning of Tribulation Babylon by God just before Jesus Christ returns to Earth.

The repetition of “is fallen” may reflect that religious Babylon falls first, mid-Trib, then the city falls as the Tribulation nears its end.

Afterward, Babylon will be a prison to incarcerate demons during the one thousand-year reign of the Lord. God has an extensive prison system for evil supernatural creatures:

Earlier in the Revelation, we read about a place called the Abyss.

God incarcerates wicked supernaturals near the Euphrates River; we saw that in chapter nine.

Both Peter and Jude say that a place called Tartarus is a supernatural prison.

After its destruction, Babylon will be overrun by scavenger birds. There is something disturbing about vultures picking away at human carcasses.

Rev 18:3  For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

Think Pleasure Island in Pinocchio. The boys can drink and cuss and smoke and vandalize and fight all they want. Afterward they are enslaved as beasts of burden.

Rev 18:4  And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
Rev 18:5  For her sins have reached to Heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

Believers will live and work in Babylon. Undoubtedly some will be like Daniel, and others will be like Lot was in Sodom.

“Share in her sins” doesn’t mean they participate in sins. God calls them out so they won’t “share” in God’s punishment for Babylon’s sins.

Rev 18:6  Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.
Rev 18:7  In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’
Rev 18:8  Therefore her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

We get discouraged in the world that nonbelievers seem to prosper, having this world’s good and goods. In this life, but especially in the next, sin pays its awful wages: death and eternal conscious torment.

Nonbelievers in every dispensation scoff at the predictions of God’s judgment. They misunderstand that “His longsuffering waits” for men to repent.
In the end, nonbelievers will get what they deserve by having rejected belief in Jesus.

Jesus prayed for us, saying to God the Father, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

We are in the world, on assignment from God. Hanford is my posting as a pastor. I’m here unless I receive orders somewhere else.

And so are you. Do you want to get out of Hanford? Out of California? He needs to fill in the blank. You need to be able to say, “Jesus is calling me out of here to (fill in the blank).” He sends you; you don’t bring Him along with you.

One of the brothers here says it homespun: “Was you sent? Or did you just went?”

#2 – Separation From The World Is Not Something You Lament (v9-24)

The Notre-Dame Cathedral fire broke out on April 15, 2019. By the time it was extinguished, the building’s spire had collapsed, and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls were severely damaged. Many works of art and religious relics suffered smoke damage, and some of the exterior art was damaged or destroyed.

The French president went to Notre Dame and gave a brief address there. Numerous world religious and government leaders extended condolences. Through the night of the fire and into the next day, people gathered along the River Seine to hold vigils, sing and pray. I recall seeing people weeping as if a loved one had died.

Rev 18:9  “The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,
Rev 18:10  standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’

“Fornication” is an all-inclusive term for sexual sin.

“Fornication” describes how God views idolatry. It is spiritual fornication against Him.

Rev 18:11  “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:
Rev 18:12  merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble;
Rev 18:13  and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.

We don’t need to look at all the MineCraft materials listed. We do need to highlight, however briefly, the “bodies and souls of men.” This is slavery and human trafficking on a scale hitherto undreamt of.

The reign of the Beast (the antichrist) and the rebuilding of Babylon are the apexes of what Satan can achieve. His attempt to “be like God” is a miserable failure.

Rev 18:14  The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all.
Rev 18:15  The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
Rev 18:16  and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!
Rev 18:17  For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance
Rev 18:18  and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’
Rev 18:19  “They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’

I have probably attended more funerals and graveside services than anyone here. (If you are a funeral crasher… You’ve got a problem).

These verses read like a eulogy for a nonbeliever. All sorrow, no hope, unless it is false hope. The things mentioned are all material, nothing spiritual.

Let’s skip verse twenty for a moment.

Rev 18:21  Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea…

The only thing I miss from Late Night with David Letterman is the segment, “Will it float?”

Great millstones don’t float. The angel will throw one into the sea, and it will disappear to visually dramatize the total, complete, final disappearance of Babylon.

Rev 18:21  Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.
Rev 18:22  The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.
Rev 18:23  The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.
Rev 18:24  And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”

A person’s reaction to something says a lot about them. Lamenting Babylon’s destruction says that the world’s final rulers will all be wicked, immoral, malevolent men.

Do you have reactions to things going on in the world that are not quite Christ-like? Probably do. Think about it; talk to the Lord about it.

Tribulation saints in Babylon will flee, but some assigned to Babylon will already have been martyred. Your assignment may not be without danger or hardship.

Let’s look back to verse twenty.

Rev 18:20  “Rejoice over her, O Heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”

I found it difficult to cry when Norte Dame was burning. When things like that happen, I tend to remember the words of the apostle Peter:
2Pe 3:10  … the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2Pe 3:11  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
2Pe 3:12  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
2Pe 3:13  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Peter gives us a ‘burn notice.’ It’s all going to burn.

Back in the sixth century BC, when Babylon was big, Daniel and his three friends – all teenagers – were assigned there by God.

They didn’t just survive; they thrived spiritually.

In-between the Babylons of Daniel and the Great Tribulation, we can survive and thrive in the world.

We do it by maintaining a healthy spiritual separation. By being in the world, but not of it. By turning to God from idols.

An easy example is not to marry a nonbeliever.
Another easy example is not to partner in business with nonbelievers.

Beyond those, you’ll need to ask the Lord.

With Jesus leading, you will discover along life’s journey things that are Do’s & Don’ts for you. Jesus isn’t trying to burden you or keep you from enjoying life. Quite the contrary.

Instead of being unequally yoked with nonbelievers, His yoke is easy.

Prophecy Update #666 – No App, No Access

We reserve a few minutes each Sunday to discuss current world trends that you’d expect from reading Bible prophecy.

We are futurists. We interpret the unfulfilled prophetic portions of the Book of Daniel and the Book of the Revelation, and all other unfulfilled Bible prophecies, as future events occurring in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Biometrics, Artificial Intelligence, cashless commerce, the manipulation of human DNA, global government, the exponential growth of human knowledge, and the rebirth of Israel as a nation are all areas we see corroborating the End Times prophecies of the Bible.

Our update last Sunday highlighted the push for COVID19 vaccine passports. As is our habit, we gave no medical advice. Nevertheless we joined the list of those who have had postings removed by YouTube for violating its “medical misinformation policy.” When I posted a screenshot of the YouTube notice on Instagram and Facebook, both of those sites added a link to the “COVID19 Information Center for Vaccine Resources.”

Things have gotten weird.

During the future Great Tribulation, “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, [must] receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

In other words, citizens will be mandated to participate in a system by which they must show proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles will be restricted.

Citizens are – today – being mandated to participate in a system by which they must show proof of compliance in order to be allowed to work or shop or dine or attend entertainment. Without proof, their livelihood and lifestyles are being restricted.

Across the pond, in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister encouraged nightclubs and other large venues to insist on vaccine certification “as a matter of social responsibility.”   

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/07/12/boris-johnson-urges-use-covid-vaccine-passports/

Ross Clark writes for The Telegraph in the UK. Here are excerpts from two articles he recently posted:

Like COVID19 itself, the idea of vaccine passports just won’t seem to go away.  It subsides for a while, suppressed by the realization of what it would mean: that a small proportion of the population, concentrated in some ethnic groups, would be constantly discriminated against. But then it creeps back. 

Ministers have been discussing making vaccine passports a legal requirement at certain venues.  And once they have become established at nightclubs and concert halls, just wait until they become legally required at all hospitality venues: pubs, restaurants, hotels – just as it seems they will such establishments in France and Ireland.      

Vaccine passports are only a temporary measure, we will be told – just to protect us during the pandemic. But you can bet that they will soon morph into a smartphone-based ID card which we are expected to carry wherever we go – at least if we want access to any commercial premises or public building.  There are too many vested interests to allow the idea to die a death with the pandemic. There are huge fortunes to be made for the tech industry if it can persuade governments and commercial organizations to force on us electronic ID cards which can then be used to collect, store and access our personal data. 

There is a model for what will be coming our way:  China’s social credit system, which blacklists people for numerous antisocial offenses, from crossing the street on a red light to failing to sort their recycling, and uses the information to deny them the right, for example, to buy rail and airline tickets. 

It was reported that the government is planning to introduce a health app in January which will monitor our shopping, our exercise levels, or intake of fruit and vegetables – and reward us with virtue points which we can exchange for discounts, free tickets, and other goodies.

There will be no end to this kind of thing if we agree to use this app.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/07/13/anyone-thinks-covid-certification-would-temporary-measure-fooling/

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/we-need-to-act-now-to-block-britain-s-social-credit-system

The COVID19 mandates, whether necessary or not, have accelerated global acceptance of invasive social credit by which governments can control all behavior.

It sounds very Revelation 13ish.

We believe the resurrection and rapture of the church is imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it. It will happen before the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will return in the clouds.
He will raise the dead in Christ.
He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies.
We will all join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

How To Get Away From Murder (Genesis 4:1-16)

In the classic Twilight Zone episode, Button, Button, Arthur and Norma Lewis are offered a box with a single button. They’re told that if they press that button two things will happen: They will receive $200,000 and someone they don’t know will die. After a lot of deliberation and bad acting, Norma presses the button. The couple goes to bed only to be greeted the next morning by the keeper of the Box who gives them the cash, and then assures them that the button will be reprogrammed and offered to someone whom they don’t know.

In the hours following the button press, it seemed like very little happened. But, by the end of the story we discover that all sorts of consequences immediately started unfolding which would have lethal and tragic results near and far.

The last time we were in Genesis, Adam and Eve had made the choice to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had been promised that, if they did so, they would die. But then, what happened? They didn’t die. Not physically at least, not yet. But just because it didn’t happen immediately didn’t mean that death wasn’t on its way. As James explains to us:

James 1:15 – After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Is sin really that big of a deal? We know theologically the answer is yes. But, if we’re honest, we’re a lot more casual about pushing the sin button. And, why not? God is a God of grace after all and not every sin leads immediately to death. But nonchalance toward sin and the warnings God has given to us about it is the same mistake that Adam and Eve made. And not only does it bring terrible consequences into our lives and the world, it also drives us away from God.

If we come to terms with just how gruesome sin is, the next question is: What can be done? If this plague is so deadly and so pervasive, passed to us from our parents and infecting our hearts, minds and souls, what hope do we have to escape its terrible effects? God gives us an answer here in Genesis 4. One we must still take to heart thousands of years later.

As we begin, one reminder might be helpful. This has come up before and will come up again. The book of Genesis is a historical account of things that really happened, but that doesn’t mean we’re given all the information about each situation. We have a lot of questions about this period of time before the Flood and we aren’t given all the detail we would like. Some of our questions will go unanswered or we’ll have to make an educated guesses about things. That’s ok. The key is to remember two things: Just because I have an idea that makes sense to me doesn’t mean that’s how it was and we are given what we need to know. God is focusing in on specific instances for specific reasons. So, while we speculate or imagine answers to questions that arise, don’t forget to focus in on what has been delivered that you might be complete and equipped for every good work.

Genesis 4:1 – The man was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the Lord’s help.”

Adam and Eve had been driven from the Garden, but they still had as much relationship with the Lord as they could, considering their fallen state.

Notice Eve’s perspective: She assumed God’s prophecy about her Seed to be literal and imminent. It seems she had some expectation that, perhaps, Cain would be the deliverer God spoke about in Genesis 3:15. She felt that God was actually involved in human affairs, including the family life.

This is how we want to approach Biblical prophecy. God has made specific promises. We have no reason to think that He isn’t being literal about them. In fact, He has a long track record of fulfilling His promises literally.

Now, let me say this: we are not specifically told that Cain was Eve’s first son. It seems like he was, but there is some ambiguity. I’ve heard people say that Adam and Eve had a bunch of kids before the fall who were not corrupted by sin. That is an unbiblical idea. But we don’t know how many total kids Adam and Eve had, nor when they started having kids. It’s kind of a mind blower, but Eve could’ve had a child at age 1! We know from Genesis 5 that they had Cain and Abel before Adam was 130 years old and we know that they had other sons and daughters than the 3 boys that are named in Genesis. But we have no reason to believe that they didn’t have, essentially, a kid a year.

We see that, despite the pain and difficulty now associated with child birth, Eve was not resentful against God, but was thankful for how He was involving Himself in their daily life.

Genesis 4:2 – 2 She also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of flocks, but Cain worked the ground.

The boys grew up and took up different vocations. Some suggest that Abel did the better thing of being a shepherd than Cain being a farmer, since shepherding is such an important concept in the Bible. But the fact of the matter is that both of these jobs were part of the commission God had given mankind. To have dominion over the animals and to be gardeners, tending the earth.

There’s an encouragement for us here if we bring it up to our day and age: There’s a lot of different work God wants to accomplish through His people. Every Christian shouldn’t be doing the same thing when it comes to ministry or your life’s work. Every Church shouldn’t be doing the same thing. God is a God of variety and complexity. He calls out missionaries and medical workers, commentators and correctional officers. Peter said that each believer has received a gift to serve others as good stewards of the varied grace of God. As Christians and as a local fellowship we’re not supposed to look around and just be a duplicate of some other person or church. We’re supposed to be designated to specific works by God the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 4:3-5 – 3 In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also presented an offering—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but he did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he looked despondent.

There’s a lot of speculation here as to why God was unhappy with Cain’s offering. Many say the problem was that Cain brought a bloodless sacrifice. The shortcoming with this view is that the word used for offering is the same word that will be used for a grain sacrifice later in the Levitical law (both were written by Moses). We also have to remember that, while it’s true without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, two things are also true: First, we’re not told this was an atonement offering and God is on record as saying, “Hey, it’s not the blood I want from you as much as I want your heart.” It wasn’t the bloodlessness that God was upset about, but the state of Cain’s heart.

The New Testament gives us some comment on this scene. In Hebrews 11 we read:

Hebrews 11:4a – 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts…

The problem was with the man, not the material. It’s possible that Cain had, at the last minute, grabbed a few raw sheaves of grain to throw at the Lord. Or it’s possible that he had meticulously prepared a very fine basket of fruit. The problem was the heart. Hebrews tells us that Abel was full of faith. Jesus says that he was the first prophet. Meanwhile, Cain did not have faith and, more than that, we’re told in 1 John that his deeds were evil and he was “of the evil one.”

So, why would Cain show up to bring this offering at all? Scholars point out that the terms used for “presenting an offering” is used for a subordinate bringing tribute to a ruler. Based on the language used, it seems that this was a regular meeting that God had scheduled with these two men. And, even though we find that, from the beginning, Cain had nothing but disdain for the Lord, he still presented himself, probably each week on the seventh day.

Why would he do that if he hated God and had no faith? Well, God had announced the cosmic struggle between His Seed and the seed of the serpent (the Devil). And for all of human history Satan has been trying to sabotage and stop the plan of God. He’s been a killer from the beginning and in Cain he had a willing operative who was full of resentment and jealousy toward God and those who loved God. And so, I think the Devil had Cain stay very close to his brothers, waiting for a chance to spring an attack.

Now, in some way they were made aware that God did not approve of Cain’s heart or his offering. We don’t know if it was fire coming down on the altar or the Lord speaking directly to them. But something in Cain snapped. He was lit up with anger and it showed right there on his face.

Again, we don’t know in what specific way his offering was inferior, but it’s clear that it was the result of his purposeful refusal to do what God had asked of them. Abel brought an animal from the flock. Not just any animal, the finest specimen from the firstborn of his stock. Cain had brought “some produce.” It was willful and defiant. A bare minimum attempt to payoff the Sovereign.

In that moment of hard-hearted rebellion, as Cain seethed with anger, the Lord held him back and called him to the side and spoke tenderly to him.

Genesis 4:6-7 – 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

God invites Cain to think through his life and his choices. He warns Cain about the path he’s on and what it’s going to lead to. Cain’s anger is directed at God and at his brother, but his failure was not either of their fault. It was Cain’s. What God had asked was not too hard to accomplish. And, as Albert Barnes points out, God had not given up on Cain yet! Despite knowing how much hate was in his mind and how hard his heart was, God was still trying to guide and instruct him.

The Lord said, “Do what is right so you can escape the trap of sin. Sin wants to dominate your life, but you must rule over it.” This is the same command God has given to us. In fact, the basic relationship God had with Abel is the one we are meant to enjoy today. The circumstances are different, but the nature is the same. God reveals His word which is the foundation of our faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We freely choose to believe what God has said. Then, as Paul discusses in Romans 6, we do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies but instead we present and offer ourselves to God and allow His grace to fill us that we might be made righteous. We believe God that if we live according to the flesh we will die. Instead, we choose to be led by God’s Spirit and are empowered to overcome our sinful nature as God leads us in righteousness. As we go, we continue to have hope in God, which purifies us and we are able to put God’s righteousness into practice more and more.

God had told Cain, “Listen, if you will believe Me and do what I have revealed clearly to you, I will lift you up.” That’s what t he term “accepted” means. God does all He can to give us victory over sin and lift us up as He accomplishes His redeeming work in us. But we have to be willing participants. The alternative is to be savaged and dominated by sin. God gives all we need to be victorious over it. But He will not force us to believe Him and do what is right.

Sadly, Cain has no response to God. Instead, we read:

Genesis 4:8 – 8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

This was a vicious, premeditated murder. One commentator pointed out that here we not only have the first murder, but the first martyr.

Now, clearly Cain knew what he was doing was morally wrong. He did it out where no one else would see. And in a moment he’s going to fully expect that he will be executed for this atrocity. He had slaughtered Abel on the altar of sin. In fact, one Bible dictionary points out that the term used for killing here is often used for the sacrificing of animals. And so we see a dramatic contrast. Both the brothers were killers: Abel had killed his pride and killed a lamb in submission to the God of mercy that he might receive righteousness. Cain killed his own brother because of the jealous hatred he had. The Lord had said to Adam and Eve that their sin would bring forth death and not we see Cain becoming sin, he is the bringer of death. Because sin does not only affect us, but those around us as well.

Genesis 4:9 – 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

The callousness of Cain’s response is shocking. There’s no fear, no remorse. In fact, he mocks God with his answer, maybe even taunting him with the suggestion that even He, God Almighty, wasn’t able to protect his servant.

The question is: Why didn’t God stop Cain? He could have. Clearly He was able to drive Adam and Eve from the Garden. He had regular meetings with human beings. He had warrior angels at His disposal. So why allow this terrible thing to happen? Because though He is a God who is intricately involved in the course of history He is also a God who has given human beings a genuine free will.

God repeats His pattern here of compassionately confronting the sinner. He did so with Adam and Eve. He would do so again, famously, with Saul of Tarsus. There are other examples. And so, again, we see just how immense is God’s compassion. He has love and mercy for murderers. Even a man like Cain, who disdained God so much, was not beyond the extent of God’s grace.

Genesis 4:10-12 – 10 Then he said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 So now you are cursed, alienated from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed. 12 If you work the ground, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

This scene establishes a few truths. First, that the killing of a person is a particularly heinous crime, one that demands justice. Second, that there is no such thing as hidden sin when it comes to the eyes of God. He sees all and knows all. Third, God sometimes does bring temporal judgment as a consequence to sin. Of course, Cain would be judged eternally after he died, but he’d face this curse on this side of the grave as well.

Genesis 4:13-14 – 13 But Cain answered the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14 Since you are banishing me today from the face of the earth, and I must hide from your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, whoever finds me will kill me.”

He’s not upset about how he butchered his brother. Cain is upset that he’ll have a tougher life from here on out. It is amazing to see just how poisonous sin is. This is what it does to a human heart. Maybe not leading to the same result in every case, but this is what sin does if we let it rule in our hearts. This is what God is trying to save us from and from the results of our sin. In Isaiah 57 we’re told there is no peace for the wicked. Ironically, the murderer wants someone to protect him from being murdered!

Genesis 4:15-16 – 15 Then the Lord replied to him, “In that case, whoever kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” And he placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him. 16 Then Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

God’s grace really is confounding. It almost feels like Cain got away with murder! Of course, stepping back we know that’s not true. He was judged then and eternally. Meanwhile, God still offered him grace. He gave Cain assistance. He put this sign on him so that he wouldn’t be executed for his crime.

What was the mark? No one knows. Of course, some despicable men in history suggested it was black skin and used that completely unbiblical delusion to defend slavery. You may be interested to learn that a variety of Bible commentators don’t think there was an actual mark on Cain at all, that it was some sort of sign he had, rather than what we might think of as a tattoo. Whatever it was, it must’ve somehow conveyed information, otherwise what use would it have been?

Once more, the sinner goes east. Adam and Eve had gone to the east. Cain moved to the east. When men migrate toward Babylon in a later passage of Genesis they go to the east. We see men moving further away from the presence of God and the place He had established. And now God draws all men back to Himself. We want to be like Abel, who – by faith – believe and present ourselves to the Lord in loving devotion.

Along the way there’s sin to contend with. We may not be murderers, but, remember, if you’re angry in your heart, you’ve committed murder there. Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Sin is a serious danger. It wants to destroy you. It crouches at the flap our tent, trying to claim our lives. But, if you’re a Christian, you need not fear. God has given you victory over temptation, over sin and over the Devil. But neither should we take sin lightly. Instead, we remember this story and remind ourselves that we have a responsibility to put God’s righteousness into action in our lives. Bringing ourselves as living sacrifices, putting to death what belongs to our earthly nature and instead putting on the new self as we are renewed in knowledge according to the image of our Creator. Living a life of devoted worship and thankfulness and spiritual richness because of what He has done on our behalf.