Sunday, November 28, 2021

Watch Ye Therefore - Ye Whom? Watch What?

Luk 21:36  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

 


YE? Who is Christ speaking to? I chose the King James (KJV) translation specifically, because it says “YE”. We don’t use YE in modern English, and some don’t know exactly what it means. The short answer is that it is the plural of YOU, or in KJV, the plural of THOU.



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Where I grew up, people did not say y’all. One only heard “y’all” on TV or in movies. I used to think that y’all meant “you all”, plural you, logical right?  When I actually met people who say y’all in normal conversation, I was addressed as y’all. Wait, what? I was surprised to learn y’all is singular. Apparently one has to say “all y’all to indicate plural you. It twisted my ears to hear a waitress say “all y’alls’s drinks” – a simple “your drinks” would have worked just fine.

Modern English translations of the Bible do not use y’all either. They can only use “you”. The KJV translates plural you with the word YE. So when Jesus said “watch ye”, He was speaking to everyone in the audience (and all of us by extension). The 10 Commandments on the other hand are addressed as singular. Again, the KJV has a word for that – THOU, as in “Thou shall not kill”.

Modern English has only one form of "you", both singular and plural. KJV English still only has two forms of you – THOU and YE. Hebrew has four forms because it distinguishes male and female as well. That is, Hebrew has different pronouns for singular male, singular female, plural male, and plural female. The 10 Commandments are addressed as singular male. No, women aren’t exempt. Greek is even worse, having six forms, adding two more for neuter. Greek M,F,N x S,P - Langintro [1].

Now we know who Jesus is talking to – everyone who hears these words. So let’s dig into WHAT are we supposed to watch?

What Watch?



The traditional view is that we need to be watching world events. I have heard speakers talk about the newspapers and magazines they followed - daily papers, including international versions, WSJ, and you HAD to subscribe to “US News and World Report” which has ceased print publication. Newspapers were once considered THE source for getting news, but they are dying, traditional journalism is dying with them because it is the newspapers who paid their salaries - The New American [2]. Nowadays we would talk about what news sites we follow on the Internet. You can tailor your news consumption to include traditional and non-traditional sources. Some follow mainstream media, like the nightly news. Some follow news commentators on Youtube. Some get all their news from Facebook. Some follow Twitter, some follow Telegram. Some, like me, use a news aggregator to track all the sites they follow.

What kind of news should one follow? The context of Luke 21 is prophecy, in particular prophecies about the end times. I think we can agree we are in the end time. So news on any of the following topics fits the context of Luke 21, aka the Olivet Prophecy. One could find headlines to fit these. I don’t have space to quote the dozens of headlines I've collected just in a few months, so I’ll give scriptures hoping all y’all are familiar with the news stories.

        Weather, Droughts and Floods, Famines, Locusts


I often see this verse quoted.

2Ch 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

But seldom do I see the verse before it, which gives important context.

2Ch 7:13  If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land,
or if I send pestilence among my people;

 

US Drought Map, Nov 2021
    

 Corona Virus Pandemic

The modern Hebrew word for virus is the same as the Bible word for plague (negef).

Dt 28:21 The LORD will make the plague cling to you until He has eliminated you from the land where you are entering to take possession of it.

Maybe this refers to a future plague, but it's starting to look like the Corona Virus is clinging to us. 

        Mark of the Beast

This could include Vaccine passports, Lockdowns, Economy, even Cryptocurrency. I’ve read speculation over the years about what the Mark of the Beast might be, what technology it might use, microchips under the skin or tattoos visible to ultraviolet light for examples. And I’ve wondered what crisis would cause people to take the Mark, it looks like economics will drive acceptance. Some have said the vaccine mandate is a test run for the Mark of the Beast  (no jab, no job) - Richard's Watch [3]. Just to be clear, I’m talking about the mandate, not the vaccine itself.

Rev 13:16  And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Rev 13:17  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

 

<tangent>
100 Trillion Z$ Note 
Speaking of economics, let me share my plan to become a millionaire – I’m going to buy a 2x4. Hear me out. Inflation is at levels not seen in decades. Can hyperinflation be far behind? - CNBC(Jack Dorsey) [4] This is what happened in Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2009. It reached the point where they were printing 100 Trillion Z$ notes - Wiki(
Zimbabwean_dollar) [5], which you can still buy on Ebay(Zimbabwe) [6] as collector’s items, and they are worth more now than when they were actual currency. At the end of this hyperinflation, the exchange rate was US$1 to 35 quadrillion Z$. Think of that 2x4, if hyperinflation like that hits the US dollar, it could be worth $100 quadrillion.  I fear that “The Great Reset” or switching to Digital currencies like Bitcoin will foil my plans.
</tangent>

        Moral slide

In 1996 Robert Bork lamented the decline of America in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah [7]. Things have gotten much worse in the 25 years since then.

“We have sinned by kicking God from the public square, by killing the unborn, and by crossing the line into the divine order of creation by claiming the rights of same sex marriage and other matters that deny and defy the eternal, immutable Word and Law of God. America will reap the consequences of all of this. There will be a ruinous conclusion.” - Darris McNeely, Jan 2020, UCG(Slouching Towards Gomorrah) [8]

2Ti 3:1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,


        Lawlessness AKA Remove Peace

Peace has been removed from Minneapolis, Portland, South Africa, Kenosha, and other places.

Rev 6:4  And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.



        Persecution of Christians

The history of the Christian church shows that persecution of Christians has been a constant. It has never let up in the world. Even today in many nations Christians are suffering and even dying for their faith - Cultural Legacy [9].

"The real target is Christians", Steve Bannon - Frank Speech [10].

2Ti 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Luke 21:12“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you



Other Prophetic News Categories

Maybe you follow news sources that specialize in less common prophecies, like one of these.

Middle East/Israel. Wars and rumors of wars.

Third temple. Will it be built? Will they find a red heifer and begin sacrifices?

The Rise of Europe. The final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire?

The Rise of Russia and China. What about the war of Gog and Magog?

Man of sin AKA the Antichrist. Is he alive now? Who is he?

Enough examples. Are you following enough news sources? Are you following too many?

At the same time, we must avoid the mistake of going to the other extreme—studying world affairs, history and even conspiracy theories more than the Bible. Without a sound understanding of God's Word and a dedication to live by it, little else matters. UCG(Jesus_Warning) [11].


Is anyone surprised by my list? And this is not a complete list of prophetic news to watch. But does anyone not know about the Rona? Or lockdowns? Or droughts? Or lawlessness? … Can you imagine anyone unaware of these things?

How about the Amish? “Few official statistics are available on COVID-19’s prevalence in the Amish community. However, one Amish man, who asked that his name not be used out of respect for his traditions, said the pandemic has profoundly impacted his friends and neighbors.” - Penn Medicine [12].


How about Pitcairn Island? Remember Mutiny On the Bounty? The
mutineers descendants still live there, 1300 miles from Tahiti. They are all vaccinated, all 47 of them – meaning they know what’s going on in the world - Metro.co.uk(Tiny_Island) [13].




It’s good to be informed on current events, but is this all we are told to watch?


What Else To Watch?

We started in Luke 21:36, let’s go up 2 verses and get some context. Four times, the Olivet Prophecy warns us to take heed. Verse 34 is one of those.

Luk 21:34  NKJV “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
Luk 21:35  for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth.

This is from the NKJV. The Old KJV says “your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting”. I think “carousing” is clearer. Other translations have dissipation, debauchery, gluttony, self-indulgence.

Looking at the parallel account in Matthew 24, we read this.

Mt 24:48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and he eats and drinks with those habitually drunk; 50 then the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect, and at an hour that he does not know, 51 and he will cut him in two and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I see these passages as an admonition to look within, at our own behavior. “Are we more concerned with ordinary, self-centered, secular pursuits than with the work of God?” - BibleTools(Watch-Pray-Always) [14]. "But part of the point of prophecy is to get YOUR spiritual life in order. That is more important than knowing the date" - COGwriter(end_begins_in_2026) [15].

So, did Christ switch from talking about personal behavior to talking about watching world events?

Vs 34 Take heed to yourselves
Vs 36 Watch ye therefore

Again I ask. Does anyone not know about the events taking place in the world? I don’t think we have to choose one meaning over the other. I think it means both things, “watch yourself” AND “watch world events”. There are times where if you can take a scripture two ways, do it.



When the Lord is separating the sheep from the goats, no one gets a reward for how well they understood prophecy. Their reward or punishment is based on how well they treated "the least of these, My brethren" - Mt 25:32-46.


We can’t out think world events. We should prepare, but we also can’t hide till Christ returns. Hide in the Lord, yes, otherwise it sounds like putting our light under a bushel. We are to do a great work.

Matthew 24:48 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

References

1. https://langintro.com/greek/grammar/plural.html
2. https://thenewamerican.com/newspapers-are-dying/
3. https://richards-watch.org/2021/04/22/end-times-update-mark-of-the-beast-moves-into-next-phase-time-to-wake-up
4. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/23/twitter-and-square-ceo-jack-dorsey-says-hyperinflation-will-happen-soon-in-the-us-and-the-world.html
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwean_dollar
6. https://www.ebay.com/b/Zimbabwe-Z-100-Trillion-Paper-Money/162228/bn_60793574
7. https://www.amazon.com/Slouching-Towards-Gomorrah-Liberalism-American/dp/0060573112
8. https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/slouching-toward-gomorrah
9. https://culturallegacy.org/christian-persecution-in-america/
10. https://home.frankspeech.com/article/steve-bannon-says-real-target-christians
11.  https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/jesus-warning-to-watch-just-what-did-he-mean
12. https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2020/september/how-amish-communities-are-staying-safer-from-the-covid
13. https://metro.co.uk/2021/05/28/all-47-residents-of-tiny-island-in-middle-of-pacific-get-covid-vaccines-14669678/
14. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/3143/Watch-Pray-Always.htm
15. https://www.cogwriter.com/news/prophecy/why-im-convinced-the-end-begins-in-2026-and-what-you-can-do-about-it-3/

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Gospel of the Firstfruits


Whenever I thought of the New Testament Pentecost, I would immediately jump to Acts 2:1

 Act 2:1  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 


But in reading Acts recently, I was struck by  Acts 1:8, where Jesus talked to His disciples and set the stage for the Pentecost to come in a few days.

Act 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

I had always focused on the miraculous part of the day – tongues of fire and receiving the Holy Spirit. But 1:8 says two things, receive power AND witness. And that witness is to flow out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

Let’s look at the first chapters of Acts to see how Acts 1:8 was fulfilled.         



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[Summarizing 2:1-13, familiar verses, full text below]

In Acts 2, those disciples keeping Pentecost received the Holy Spirit in miraculous fashion. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” - Berean Study Bible. The KJV says cloven or divided tongues, but commentaries agree that it was the fire was divided among the people, not the tongues that were divided. What did they do? They apparently left the house where they were meeting and started talking to people, because a crowd had gathered. They gathered because they had heard the “sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” vs 2. Then they heard the disciples speaking in their own language. 

Tangent

  • One translation said the tongues rested on their heads. Artist depictions all render it that way.
  • Commentaries agree that all 120 (see 1:15) received a tongue.
  • How long did the tongues of fire last? The crowd wouldn’t accuse them of being drunk if they had a flaming tongue on the top of their heads.
  • How long did the ability to speak other languages last? Was it only that day, a while, or a lifetime?
  • I would like to know what they said at this point- “declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues”. How does THAT conversation start?

/Tangent


Jerusalem and Judea

Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria

Peter takes charge and preaches to the crowd.


Act 2:14
 But Peter, taking his stand with the other eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this, and pay attention to my words. 

 

This is how the church started. Notice how Peter’s first words echoed Jesus’ words days earlier.

1:8 ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea 

2:14 Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem  

Peter’s discourse ends with the familiar words “repent and be baptized” - Acts 2:38. And the fruits of this sermon? 3,000 were baptized. [Logistical question – how do you baptize 3000 people in Jerusalem? If only the twelve apostles laid on hands on them all, that's 250 per apostle.]

Which reminds me of the beginning of Jesus’ own ministry recorded in the book of Mark.

Mar 1:14  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 
Mar 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 

Jesus began his ministry by preaching the gospel. The church began its ministry by preaching the gospel, a continuation of what Jesus started.

Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren (Rom 8:29), or you could say “First of the firstfruits”. The Jewish tradition is to call the Wave Sheaf Day Firstfruits – that is the day that Jesus was “waved” before God the Father. In our tradition, Pentecost is sometimes called Firstfruits. Both days are associated with Firstfruits in Lev 23:9,17 - The Omer - Make Mine A Double [1], so it is natural that the NT church would be doing the same thing that Jesus did, preaching the gospel.

Continuing in the book of Acts, cherry picking verses to show the progression out from Jerusalem.

Act 2:22  Ye men of Israel
Act 2:36  Therefore let all the house of Israel know
Act 3:12  And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel
Act 4:10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel
Act 5:16  There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem
Act 5:42  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. 
Act 6:7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. 

 

Samaria 


Samaria, north of Judea

In chapter 8, we see the word spread to Samaria.

Act 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 

Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word

Act 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 

Act 8:25  And they [Peter and John], when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans

 

Ethiopia 


Ancient Ethiopia

Then, the gospel goes out of Israel altogether when Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch.

Act 8:26  But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)

Act 8:27  So he got ready and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,
Act 8:28  and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading Isaiah the prophet.

According to church tradition, this man was to become an evangelist among his own people. From the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches article on the Ethiopian church:

Ethiopia embraced Christianity and has maintained its doctrines from the era of the apostles to the present day. Acts 8:26-39 recounts the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized by St. Philip. This eunuch was a minister of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia. This story is the beginning of Ethiopian Church history. Eusebius speaks of this eunuch as the first fruits of the faith in the whole world. Irenaeus writes that he preached the Gospel to the Ethiopians. Tradition further records that the apostle Matthew preached the gospel to the Ethiopians and won a few converts to the new doctrine before leaving the country.   SCOOCH.org(Ethiopian_Church) [2]

Irenaeus gives his name as Simeon Bachos the Eunuch. In Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo tradition he was referred to as Bachos and in Eastern Orthodox tradition he is known as an Ethiopian Jew with the name Simeon also called the Black, the same name he is given in Acts 13:1.  Wikipedia(Ethiopian_eunuch) [3]

The only pre-colonial Christian church of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Church has a membership of between 40 and 45 million.  Wikipedia(Christianity in Ethiopia) [4]


To The World 

Journeys of Paul


 

In Acts 9, we read of the conversion of Paul. Here is what Jesus said about Paul.

Act 9:15  But the Lord said unto him,Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 

As the final example from Acts, Peter has a vision, which culminates in the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit just like the original 120 disciples.

Act 10: 37 you yourselves know the thing that happened throughout Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.

Act 10:42  And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 

Act 10: 43 All the prophets testify of Him, that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.
Acts 10:45 All the Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had also been poured out on the Gentiles.
Acts 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.

I think we have all had the experience of reading a scripture many times, then one day seeing something new in it. This was one of those moments for me, realizing how Pentecost was also about spreading the gospel, not just receiving the Holy Spirit.


Summary

In Acts chapters 2-7, we see the church growing in Jerusalem, with people coming from the rest of Judea to Jerusalem just to hear the word.

In chapter 8, due to persecution, the church scatters to Judea and Samaria, preaching the word as they went.

In chapters 8-10, the gospel goes outside Judea, by the Ethiopian eunuch, by the apostle Paul, and after Peter’s vision, the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit like those keeping that first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection.


What About Us?

What about today? We also know from

Mat 24:14  And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 

A gospel has been preached in (nearly) all the world, a gospel about Christ. But we believe it is not THE gospel OF Christ, that is, not the gospel He preached. People don’t want to hear the gospel OF Christ because it begins with the word repent. Which leads to the question, “repent of what?” Which leads to the 10 Commandments. And people don't want to hear a message about the 10 Commandments that starts with the word REPENT.

We also know that in the end of days, God will call a great multitude. It seems that every generation since Christ has thought that it was the final one before His return, but I certainly believe we are in the end time, that we ARE that generation.

Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

Note this is right before the opening of the seventh seal Rev 8:1

Perhaps it is presumptuous  to think that we in the Churches of God will preach that witness to the world AND a great multitude will respond. Personally, I’ve had almost no success persuading  family and friends during my 40 years in the church. [I might have more success if I had a tongue of fire on my head.] But someone WILL preach the gospel of Christ. Maybe we will just pass the baton to those will preach the final warning, but I believe we are that generation. We shall see.

You may be thinking “How? What can I do?” Tell your story. Remember what happened when the early church suffered persecution.

Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word

Also remember, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem.

The early church received the Holy Spirit on that Pentecost to equip them to do the job of preaching the gospel. Jesus told them they were going to receive power from on high. In their case, it was “signs and wonders”. Maybe on some future Pentecost, we will receive special power to tell the mighty works of God like they did; and people will listen.

That is just speculation on my part. What is not speculation is that the Firstfruits (the church) will preach the same gospel as the First of the Firstfruits (Jesus).

 References

1. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-omer-make-mine-double.html
2. http://www.scooch.org/member-churches/the-ethiopian-church/
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_eunuch
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Ethiopia

Acts 2:1-13  New American Standard Bible 

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a noise like a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.

 5 Now there were Jews residing in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together and they were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty deeds of God.” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were jeering and saying, “They are full of sweet wine!”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

Some have said that the COVID-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. Is there any truth to that? Is that what the Bible says? The Mark of the Beast is mentioned in a few verses in the Book of Revelation. Among other things, it refers to preventing commerce to people without the Mark. Multiple sources are now discussing restricting travel and other activities without a "vaccine passport". So, does it follow that the COVID-19 then is the Mark of the Beast?

The assertion is based on this verse.

Rev 13:16 -17 It (the Beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark,



If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.


 

Kanye West [5]
I have been searching the Internet to find out who exactly is saying the COVID-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast. Many see it as a well known fact that Evangelical Christian leaders are saying it - Washington Post [1], but I only found a couple names, the most familiar being Kanye West, "It all started with Kanye West."- CrossTalk [2], ChristianPost [3]. However, I don't think Kanye came up with that by himself. A less familiar name is Louisiana Pastor Ronnie Hampton of New Vision Community Church  - Christianity Today [4]. Or pastor Guillermo Maldonado of Miami megachurch King Jesus International Ministry. Some blame a Youtube video (unavailable) by Lackey (no first name). Or Gab founder Andrew Torba - Washington Post [1].

It is difficult to search the Internet for things that happen on social media. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instgram all have policies against misinformation. They can remove content they find offensive, leaving the trail of evidence impossible to follow. It's called Ephemeral Content [6]. The Washington Post [1]  article quoted above penetrates the social media fog better than I can.


But What Does The Bible Say?

Let's look more closely at what Revelation actually says about the Mark of the Beast

Revelation 13:15-18 11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who live on it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of the sky to the earth in the presence of people. 14 And he deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

Mark on hand or forehead

Verse 16 says the mark, whatever it is, will be on a person's right hand or on their forehead. Vaccinations are given by injection in the upper arm. It just isn't given in the hand or the forehead.

Worship the First Beast

The Beast that  causes everyone to get said Mark is the second Beast. The first 10 verses of Revelation 13 describe this first Beast as being worshiped, having a deadly wound which healed, gets his power from the dragon, speaks blasphemies, has power 42 months, and makes war with the saints. The second Beast causes everyone to worship the first Beast, calls fire down from heaven, and is known by his number, 666. Many teach that the second Beast is a religious figure, probably the Pope. It is clear that these two Beasts are not in power now. I do believe we are in the end times, so they may be alive today, but until someone brings fire down from heaven, those Beasts are not on the scene yet.

Note that the first Beast is worshiped. This is reminiscent of emperor worship in the first century AD. Christians who would not give the sign of worship were thrown to the lions. I see emperor worship as a type of the Mark of the Beast.

Bust of Domitian

Under Domitian (81-96 AD) in the time of this letter, emperor worship was compulsory for every Roman citizen. The burning of the pinch of incense was rewarded by a certificate which had to be renewed annually. Failure to produce a certificate meant being branded as Christian and this opened the way, if the magistrates so decided, for the death penalty on the ground of treason. - attributed to James Allen “What the Bible Teaches – Revelation” - That Pinch Of Incense [7]




The Timing 

Many events must take place before the Beasts show up. God's judgment of man is pictured as seven seals, beginning in Revelation 6. The seventh seal is made up of seven trumpets. And the seventh trumpet is made up of seven bowls or vials of wrath. The pattern for the seals, trumpets, and bowls is that the first six are described without a break, then a pause, then the seventh. This is shown graphically in the chart below from Chuck Missler [8]. The Mark of the Beast occurs during a five chapter pause (Rev 10-14) between trumpet #6 and trumpet #7. The first four seals are also known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, during which one quarter of mankind is killed. The fifth seal is large scale martyrdom, the sixth seal is signs in the heavens. The seventh seal is opened in Revelation 8, and the seven trumpets begin. After the sixth trumpet there is a pause, it is then that the Beasts rise to power.

The Book of Revelation [9]


Immunity Passport
While researching who said the vaccine was the Mark of the Beast, I found many who recognize the vaccine is not the Mark of the Beast, but who described it as conditioning for the Mark, a trial run to normalize it. Certainly many people have concerns about the vaccine itself, but also fear another trending development - the vaccination passport aka immunity passport, which reminds me of the emperor's certificate of loyalty. And with high tech manipulation, the immunity passport could indeed morph into the Mark of the Beast.

Jack Hibbs, a pastor, said in a sermon that he believes the COVID-19 vaccine is a social control tactic that is conditioning people to accept the mark of the beast. Belief Net [10]

Right-wing pastor Curt Landry posted a video on YouTube on Tuesday in which he told viewers never to accept any vaccine that is created to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus because the vaccine will be a precursor to the biblical Mark of the Beast. Right Wing Watch [11]

The global society has to be conditioned in such a way as to submit to the mark, the beast, and the false prophet, in person or in proxy for the MARK to be effected. Duncan Mango [12]

The objective of such rules is nothing to do with public health; they are intended to exasperate us all to the point where we yield to the indignity of vaccine passports when they are rolled out, just so we can live our lives and be left in peace. Out Of Mind [13]

Digital-format immunity passports would eventually likely normalize digital-format proof-of-status documents. 
Advocates of COVID passports visualize a world where we can’t pass through a door to a plane, workplace, school, or restaurant until the gatekeeper scans our credentials. In no time the public would be conditioned to submit to these demands. 
This digital system could easily be expanded to check not just a person’s immunity status, but any other bit of personal information a gatekeeper might deem relevant, such as banking information, age, pregnancy, HIV status, or criminal history; and all data – your data – could be accumulated into one database.  Clarion [14]
 
Without debate or democratic scrutiny, vaccine passports are quickly heading from unthinkable to unstoppable.
Vaccine identity cards could be demanded ‘in hospitality settings’ — in other words, in pubs.
As ever, in our new Orwellian world, the reverse language is used — restrictions will be lifted for those who comply. Spectator.co.uk [15]
 
No one knows exactly what the Mark of the Beast will be. But it seems likely to me to be a high tech version of the emperor's certificate because that certificate involved worship and commerce. I think China is leading the way on controlling commerce with its Social Credit System [16], a national reward and punishment system; plus China's efforts to create a digital currency - Wall Street Journal [17]. A Social Credit System and a digital currency would give China the power to control all its citizens buying or selling. 

The Mark Of The Lamb


Let's take the focus off the Beasts and put it on Jesus Christ where it belongs. God gave the Revelation to Jesus who gave it to John. Twice, Revelation refers to believers who have a seal on their foreheads, and this seal is the name of the Lamb's Father, that is God Himself. Decide for yourself if these two passages refer to the same 144,000.

Rev 7:3  “Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

Rev 14 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.

Ephesians 1:13 having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise

In the end of days, everyone chooses who to worship, everyone receives a mark. Will it be the Mark of the Lamb or the Mark of the Beast?

References

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/16/covid-vaccine-misinformation-evangelical-mark-beast
2. https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/ask-roger/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast.html
3. https://www.christianpost.com/news/kanye-west-says-covid-19-vaccine-is-mark-of-the-beast-hank-hanegraaff-responds.html
4. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/pastor-dies-coronavirus-days-after-saying-my-faith-has-never-wavered/134595.htm
5. https://www.nme.com/news/music/kanye-west-says-he-had-covid-19-speaks-against-vaccines-2703611
6. https://items.ssrc.org/covid-19-and-the-social-sciences/mediated-crisis/when-video-vanishes-how-ephemeral-social-media-platforms-disappear-protest-journalism/
7. http://youngadults.ccphilly.org/4767-2
8. https://store.khouse.org/products/revelation-an-expositional-commentary
9. https://beyondthefundamentals.com/Document_Files/Revelation_Notes.pdf
10. https://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast.aspx
11. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/curt-landry-says-any-coronavirus-vaccine-is-from-the-pit-of-hell
12. https://duncanmango.wordpress.com/2021/02/26/is-the-covid-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast
13. https://www.oom2.com/t74778-why-we-all-must-reject-vaccine-passports
14. https://clarion.causeaction.com/2021/02/24/coming-covid-19-passports-mark-of-the-beast
15. https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/johnson-is-in-trouble-over-vaccine-passports-and-it-s-showing
16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System
17. https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-creates-its-own-digital-currency-a-first-for-major-economy-11617634118

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Other Kinsman Redeemer

Goel of Ruth
In the book of Ruth, we see an example of the kinsman redeemer, in this case Boaz redeemed Ruth, her mother in law Naomi, and their land. It is a love story complete with drama and a happy ending. And this short story also provides us with a picture (a type or foreshadowing) of Jesus Christ and the church. The phrase "kinsman redeemer" is translated from the Hebrew word "goel", but there is another use of the word goel which is obscured in English. Let's explore this other goel, and see what we can learn about it. 

First, let's review the more familiar goel, the kinsman redeemer that usually come to mind for Bible students. It is based on this verse from Leviticus.

Lev 25:23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. 24 Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. 25 'If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman (goel) is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

In this scheme of things, a person could never lose their land permanently. But a kinsman had to redeem the land if a man had to sell. Not just anyone could redeem the person in distress, it had to be family. This is a type of Jesus coming in the flesh to be a family member to all mankind. He is our Redeemer, AND a kinsman. See The Kinman Redeemer [1] for a deeper discussion.



If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.



However, the kinsman redeemer, the goel, had another job but English translations don't show it. The goel is also known as the avenger. Same word, possibly the same person, two functions. In the verse above,  goel is translated redeemer. In this verse, goel is translated avenger.


Num 35:12 The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger (goel), so that the one who commits manslaughter does not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.

The role of the avenger is explained in later verses of Num 35, adding the qualifier "blood" which  is in the Hebrew.

Num 35:19 The blood avenger (goel ha'dam) himself shall put the murderer to death; he himself shall put him to death when he meets him.

To understand the goel ha'dam, we need to consider the justice system of the time. Unlike our world, there was no police force. For protection, men made blood oaths to protect and defend each other. Such a "blood brother" had your back no matter what. He would fight along side you, and avenge your death - The Life Is InThe Blood [2]. Having no police force meant there was no one to investigate crimes. However there were judges who did hear criminal and civil cases.

Justice for murder and accidental killing is spelled out in Numbers 35 (listed below). One who was responsible for an accidental killing had to flee to a city of refuge before the goel ha'dam found him. The goel ha'dam could avenge a death even if it was accidental. If the slayer made it to the city of refuge, the city elders would protect him from the avenger until trial. If the slayer was found guilty of murder, the city elders handed him over to the goel, who became his executioner. If the slayer left the city of refuge, and the avenger caught him, he could kill him. And the accidental slayer had to live in the city of refuge till the current High Priest died. If he left the city after that, the avenger couldn't touch him.

The hunting down of a murderer is no longer the business of the avenger, but of the state; accordingly, whether there is any relative or not, whether the relative lodges complaint or not, the state must prosecute the murderer - Jewish Encyclopedia [3].

Notice that intent was a big factor in determining accidental killing versus murder, just as it is today. We use the term manslaughter for an accidental death. Notice also how seriously God treats killing. 

Num 35:33 So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

This warning is not just for ancient Israel. God, who changes not, is still in charge, and His rules are still in effect. Ancient Israel sacrificed babies to the false god Molech. America has murdered 60 million unborn babies in the last 50 years, which has defiled the land. The estimate of abortions worldwide is 1.6 BILLION - Number of Abortions [4]. The whole earth is greatly defiled. He will not restrain His wrath forever, a reckoning is coming, and probably soon.

 

Typology


We have the book of Ruth as an example of the kinsman redeemer, but we do not have such a story about the avenger, but remember the two are probably the same person (next of kin). In spite of not having a story about the avenger, we can learn more by 
examining the typology of the goel ha'dam, the slayer, and the victim.




It is widely recognized that Boaz, the kinsman redeemer of the book of Ruth is a type of Jesus Christ, and Ruth is the church. Since goel can be redeemer or avenger, the goel ha'dam then also pictures Jesus Christ. The typology doesn't fit with His first coming as the Lamb of God, but it is more fitting for His second coming as King of Kings, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. 


The city of refuge also pictures Jesus Christ, where the accidental slayer can go for safety. Where better to hide than in Jesus Himself?  "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word", Psalm 119:114. And the High Priest also pictures Jesus. Only He is a High Priest that never dies.




That leaves the slayer and victim. In a sense, they picture us as humans. It is perhaps easier to see ourselves as innocent victims, and indeed at some level we are; we need a rescuer. But sadly, we are also the slayers. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Rom 6:23. We need to flee to Jesus, the city of refuge, and hide ourselves in Him. We are responsible for killing Him, yet from the cross, He said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". And we are like the audience of Peter's first sermon, where he said "And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did" - Act 3:17. Because mankind has acted in ignorance, we are guilty of manslaughter, not murder. We can flee to the city of refuge, and abide forever, because our High Priest will never die.

Redeemer AND Avenger


We are more comfortable thinking of Jesus Christ as a loving, forgiving figure. It's much easier to think of the story of Boaz and Ruth picturing Christ and the church than it is to think of Christ as THE Avenger. But many verses speak of the role of Avenger. The most familiar verse would be "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay" - Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19. It is not just an Old Testament thing. 

The Jewish view of the Avenger is that he is God's representative, not just of the victim's family, but to the whole community Jewish Encyclopedia [3]. This is in part to execute justice. Remember the land is defiled by the blood of the innocent, and can only be set right by the blood of the slayer. 

When Jesus Christ returns, He will combine the two roles of the goel. He has been redeeming His people, the church, for 2000 years, and views them as innocent. When He returns, He will avenge them. Look at the blood spilled by Christian martyrs. In my lifetime, in America, Christianity in its many forms has been the dominant religion in the country. But in the rest of the world, and throughout history, Christians have been targets of persecution. One estimate is that since the time Christ walked the earth, 70 million Christians have been murdered simply because they were Christians - Christianity Today [5]. 

Of the millions of Christians martyred in the 2000 years of the church’s history over half were killed in the twentieth century, and 80 percent of the cases of religious persecution in the world today are against Christians—and it’s getting worse - Crisis Magazine [6].

However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence - Global War On Christians [7]. 

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, 1883, oil on canvas.
Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme


The number of martyrs will only increase at the end time. After the ride of the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are the first of seven seals opened by Jesus Christ, the Fifth Seal warns of more martyrdom.

Rev 6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and AVENGING our blood on those who live on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.

 

Summary 

The Hebrew word goel is translated as redeemer or avenger, depending on context. Yet both of these roles of the goel picture roles of Jesus Christ - first as Redeemer of His church, and second as Avenger of those Redeemed, that is the innocent ones. Mankind is also pictured by the slayer, as one who has done manslaughter. As slayers, we must flee to the city of refuge to hide from vengeance. The whole earth is defiled with innocent blood. Jesus Christ the Goel has much redeeming and avenging to do. 

LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth! - Psalm 94:1



References

1. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-kinsman-redeemer.html
2. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-life-is-inthe-blood.html
3. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2162-avenger-of-blood
4. http://www.numberofabortions.com/
5. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/70-million-christians-martyred-faith-since-jesus-walked-earth/38403.htm
6. https://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-global-war-on-christians
7. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/221008/the-global-war-on-christians-by-john-l-allen-jr/


The Law Of Manslaughter


Num 35:9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
10 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
11 then you shall select for yourselves cities to be your cities of refuge, so that the one who commits manslaughter by killing a person unintentionally may flee there.
12 The cities shall serve you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the one who commits manslaughter does not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.
13 So the cities which you are to provide shall be six cities of refuge for you.
14 You shall provide three cities across the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge.
15 These six cities shall be a refuge for the sons of Israel, for the stranger, and for the foreign resident among them; so that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.
16 ‘But if he struck him with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
17 And if he struck him with a stone in the hand, by which he would die, and as a result he did die, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
18 Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he would die, and as a result he did die, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death.
19 The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he himself shall put him to death when he meets him.
20 Now if he pushed him in hatred, or he threw something at him with malicious intent, and as a result he died,
21 or if he struck him with his hand with hostility, and as a result he died, the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer. The blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
22 ‘But if he pushed him suddenly, without hostility, or threw any object at him without malicious intent,
23 or had any deadly stone, and without looking he dropped it on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor was he seeking to harm him,
24 then the congregation shall judge between the one who fatally struck the victim and the blood avenger in accordance with these ordinances.
25 And the congregation shall save the one who committed manslaughter from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall return him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.
26 But if at any time he goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he flees
27 and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills him, he will not be guilty of bloodshed,
28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the one who committed manslaughter may return to the land of his property.
29 ‘These things shall be a statutory ordinance for you throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
30 ‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
31 Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is condemned to death, but he must be put to death.
32 And you shall not accept a ransom for one who has fled to his city of refuge, so that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest.
33 So you shall not defile the land in which you live; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.
34 So you shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the Lord am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’”