Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 and the shadow of the Almighty

Revelation 9:11: They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon [destruction], and in Greek he is called Apollyon [destroyer]. (ESV)

Psalm 91:1: He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (KJV)

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, I heard a message by a visiting minister at our church, who contrasted these two verses at the end of his sermon. The minister said America saw the first “9-11” verse, that is, the destruction brought about by the Satan-inspired terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, killing about 3,000 people. The second “9-11” verse is America’s hope, that this country will commit itself to abide under the protective shadow of El Shaddai.

We need to pray for America to fully return to God’s shadow again. But then I have my doubts. The article I read here, which states that 80 percent of Christian youth have had sex before marriage, was very discouraging to me. Will even the Christians in America ever wake up and truly trust again in the shadow of the Almighty?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harold Camping's false prophecy: the deadly toll

With Harold Camping’s previous false prophecies about the end times, those calling themselves Christians should have known better than to fall for his May 21 Rapture prediction (and should SURELY by now see through his latest explanation for this failed prediction and his new October 21 false prophecy; read his original words here). And yet because they didn’t heed this warning from scripture, many in this country lost fortunes and relationships; Bible-believing churches—including many that opening condemned Camping’s false prophecy—were widely ridiculed; and the youth, even among believers, but especially among Camping’s Family Radio cult, have all the less reason to believe the Bible, which Camping falsely claims he relied on, but contradicted by making his prediction to start with (by the way, with his faithful followers selling all their possessions to "get the message out," while Camping stayed nice and cozy in HIS home).

I only wish this were extent of Camping’s damage. But a reading of a recent article in the orthodox Catholic publication New Oxford Review gives a more grim picture: violence attributed to the prediction, including a California mother who tried to kill her two daughters and herself, and a Russian teenager who committed suicide by hanging, because they didn’t want to be left behind in the Tribulation; and a Florida man who, when the time approached for the prediction to be "fulfilled," in a frenzy jumped to his death so he could "get to God."

Then there are the deaths of possibly hundreds of Hmong Christians in Vietnam, who gathered to celebrate the "approaching Rapture" on a mountain—which was to end of their persecution under the Communists—only to be massacred by government troops as the prediction failed (read the original story at WorldNetDaily here). Two of their pastors were beheaded, and others in the group of 7,000 were arrested; the ministry that reported the massacre said these believers, unlike those in the West, were poor, ignorant and heavily persecuted, making them more susceptible to relying on Camping’s rants via short-wave radio.

It’s very easy for Christians to laugh along with the mainstream media about this false prophecy, and dismiss it. But this sad lesson should challenge us to proclaim TRUE biblical prophecy, which heads off such deluded teachings as Camping’s “prophecies” (see my previous blog), and keeps us centered in the truth of Jesus and His Word.

When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deut. 18:22, HCSB)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preaching Prophecy: 10 Good Reasons

I remember several years ago when I was pastoring church, how I committed to teaching a midweek series on end times prophecy. A visitor came in with a church member (and a large spiritual chip on his shoulder), and during the teaching (in which I answered questions from the congregation) intoned that studying end time prophecy could "distract" from the "more important" teachings of the Bible. My answer--which was really more for the church member than the visitor--was that: A) Anyone who has been to the church on a regular basis knows it is not the ONLY thing I was teaching, and, B) Jesus Himself talked quite a bit about prophecy, so it must be important for us to know.

An article I read from gives 10 excellent reasons why we should preach about biblical prophecy (this is one of those articles I wish I had several years ago). You can read this great article here.