Christianity, current events, prophecy

The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?

Iyar 1, 5775

Salutations and shalom,

We have just seen the appearance of the third of four blood moons in this tetrad which occurred on Passover, 4 Apr 2015. There remains one more blood moon for later this year. This is also a shemitah year, and as we speak wise virgins all over the world are going to the market place to stock up on oil. We don’t want to be counted as foolish virgins who were unprepared for the Bridegroom, so if you will give me a brief audience, I would like to say something about this.

What was the reason why the foolish virgins were not admitted to the wedding feast? Let’s look at the answer of the Bridegroom as they pounded on the door. He didn’t tell them they couldn’t come in just because they were late; But He answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you’ Matt 25:12 (ESV). Think about that for a moment. He didn’t admit them because they were running late, but because they didn’t have an intimate relationship with Him. He said He didn’t know them (also Matt 7: 21-23), which means that He didn’t abide in them, and they didn’t abide in Him. If they did, wouldn’t they have properly prepared for the Bridegroom by getting the oil they needed? They were too busy doing other things to be bothered with getting the oil they would need. And what exactly is this oil? Oil has been symbolic of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, and not having oil can be a picture of a Christian who has drifted away from a walk with God to becoming friends with the world. I believe in this case the oil represents our relationship with Yeshua; we either have it or we don’t. If we have a relationship with Yeshua, we hear His voice and do His will. His appearance is expected and we know what to do to be ready. In short: Getting your oil means making sure your relationship with the Lord is alive and well, not on life support. Cultivate your relationship with the Lord now while you have a season of peace because when it gets dark, no one can work. Draw as close to Him as you can get now, and make all other considerations secondary. The most important thing you can do to prepare for the coming Tribulation is to have a strong relationship with God; nothing else will sustain you through the times to come.

It’s important that we hear what God is saying in these times; four blood moons, a shemitah year, and turmoil in the Middle East about Israel are signs we need to get close to God. The good news is He will tell us what we need to know:

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

Amos 3:7-8 (ESV)

The persuasion that caused the foolish virgins to miss their appointment with the Bridegroom did not come from Yeshua, but from the world, the flesh, and the devil. They were drawn away by contrary desires that proved to be their undoing. Don’t underestimate the Adversary to distract you from seeking God; he can keep you so busy with the cares of the world you can miss the most important date in human history. I urge you beloved reader, do not get talked out of spending time with God. Fight for every second you can be with Him; you won’t regret it!

I have recently seen a video presentation I would like to share with you; it’s about the four blood moons, the shemitah year, and events in the Middle East. Let’s remember Amos’ words: God reveals what’s going to happen so people can prepare. This video features contributions from Johnathan Cahn, Mark Blitz, Bill Salas, and Perry Stone and is just over an hour in length. If you are unfamiliar with the shemitah and the blood moons, this is a great resource to get started.

https://vimeo.com/122882267

For your information, I have included some dates to keep in mind for the rest of the year. I am not saying what will happen on these dates, but given the times we live in, they may yield important events as prophecy unfolds. These dates also include astronomical events. All dates are for 2015:

May 3                          Second Passover

May 23                        Shavuot (Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. Israel receives the Torah)

July 4-25                     Three Weeks (Mourning the destruction of the Temple and exile)

July 25                         9th of Av (The spies give a bad report about the Promised Land)

July 31                        15th of Av (A festival of future redemption)

September 13              29th of Elul (Debt cancellation Deuteronomy 15: 1-18)

September 13-15         Rosh Hashanah (New Year)

September 14              Partial solar eclipse

September 22-23         Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement Leviticus 16: 30)

Sept 27-Oct 4              Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

September 28              Super blood moon visible over Jerusalem

December 6-14            Chanukah (Commemorates the rededication of the Temple)

I hope that this information is helpful. Be blessed and get your oil; in other words, draw close to the Lord!

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Deceptive cessation doctrine: A wise virgin’s guide to waiting for the Bridegroom 3.3

The book of Joel contains a prophecy about what the Lord would do in the last days. Once you see it, it should be instantly familiar:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Joel 2:28-32 (ESV)

Now let’s go to the book of Acts and the upper room. The disciples who obeyed Jesus’ command to go to Jerusalem and receive power from on high have been waiting in the upper room. Something happened that no one anticipated:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

No one knew what had happened. At this time, Jews from all over the world were present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. They were amazed to hear these Galileans speaking about God’s mighty works in the native language of their lands. When some accused the disciples of being drunk, Peter addressed the crowd. He told them that this was not drunkenness, but God pouring out His Spirit on the people as Joel had prophesied. The gifts of the Spirit are: Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning between spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12: 4-10). The Spirit administers these gifts and apportions them to us according to His will. It sounds good, so what exactly is the problem?

The problem is, some teachers have decided that these gifts were only intended for the days of the apostles. The gifts were intended to jump start the church and get it going, after which they would no longer be in effect. These people tell us that since the gifts are no longer in operation, we go to the doctor if we are sick, and we go to school if we need to learn a new language. I will call this doctrine which teaches that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer in effect today as Cessation Doctrine (CD). This doctrine has been around for a centuries, and it’s about time someone overturned this table. Let’s investigate these things: Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date? If so, when is it? If not, are they still in operation today? Why do we need these gifts? What does this mean for the wise virgin?

Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date?

Yes they do. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that these things will end one day: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” 1 Cor 13:8 (ESV). These gifts are to be in use during a specific time, after which they will cease.

When do the gifts of the Spirit cease?

To answer this question, we must think like Bereans (Acts 17:11) and use their strategy. CD tells us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased after the days of the Apostles, and Paul does tell us that they will end. The question remains when will they end? In the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us when the gifts of the Spirit will cease:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Cor 13:9-12 (ESV)

Paul does not tell us a specific date, but he tells us the season in which the gifts will cease. Does he say “after the days of the Apostles”? No! It does appear that Paul means a day after the ministry of the Apostles, but refers to a day far removed in time from the day of the Apostles, not immediately after the days of the Apostles as CD alleges. Paul calls the season of the gifts a partial impartation, when the time of perfection comes, then these gifts will cease. If CD is correct, then we must be living in the days of perfection because the gifts have ceased. I must disagree with CD and overturn this table. When you listen to the news and you hear about nation rising against nation, famines, natural disasters, signs in the heavens, false prophets, lawlessness, love growing cold, and persecution of believers, I can safely say we are not living in times of perfection. Paul was obviously speaking of a date in the distant future since these things have been happening since his day. Since we know that man cannot perfect this world on his own efforts, I believe that this time of perfection could be when the Lord returns after the Tribulation and established His rule. This leads to the next points.

Are the gifts of the Spirit still in operation today? Why do we need them?

Since it is obvious that we have not reached the time of perfection, it means that the gifts are still in operation. There two additional arguments that support the operation of the gifts of the Spirit today. During the last supper, Jesus told His disciples that “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” John 14:12 (ESV). You may be curious why I would point to this as an argument against CD, but let me explain. First, if Jesus said we would do the works He did, then what were the works Jesus did? According to the gospels, He performed miracles, raised the dead, cured lepers, healed all manner of sicknesses and infirmities, prophesied about the future, He knew what was in people’s hearts, and He distinguished what was truly good from what only appeared to be good. Let’s ask ourselves this question next: If we are supposed to do the same works that He did (and even more), how can we do them without the gifts of the Spirit? Can we raise the dead without faith? Can we perform miracles without the gift of miracles? Can we cure disease without the gift of healing? Going to the doctor is not the same thing as having the gift of healing, is it? The list goes on, and the obvious answer is no. We cannot do all the works of Jesus without the gifts of the Spirit. If CD is true, then why would Jesus tell us we would do the same works He did if the gifts of the Spirit (which makes the works possible) ended operation after the days of the Apostles? The truth is we need the gifts of the Spirit to do the works He did.

The final apology comes from Jesus’ example of life. Without exception, we can all agree that He showed us how to live a life that pleases the Father. We are to pay close attention to His works and do the same things. In Matthew we read some of His first actions:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matt 3:13-17 (ESV)

In this early picture of Jesus’ life, He was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. If we are to do the same things He did, we must follow His example, which includes receiving the Holy Spirit. If Jesus needed to receive the Holy Spirit, how much more do we? It is good that we still stress water baptism, but it does not follow that we should neglect the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If CD is true, then we only need to get a water baptism. But that does not seem correct because Jesus gave us an example that was meant to be followed by all generations, which included receiving the Holy Spirit. Has anything changed?

 What does this mean for a wise virgin?

As the times get closer to the end, we need every gift that God gives us to endure the darkness that is coming. The gifts of the Spirit are just as important to a fully equipped saint as the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-17). Neglecting these gifts and not seeking them puts a Christian at a serious disadvantage in the times to come. Although there are many more examples that could be given, I will close with this example of why we need the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus tells us that in the last days “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” Matt 24:24 (ESV).

What is Jesus saying here? He is telling His disciples that in the last days the lies that the enemy spins will be so convincing that even God’s own children would be deceived if it were possible. These deceivers will walk like us, talk like us, and in every way they will have the appearance of being authentic. Those virgins who are able to distinguish the authentic from the deceiver can do so because they have the gift of distinguishing spirits. Those virgins who do not have the gifts of the Spirit are much more at risk to be fall into the trap of the Adversary. Virgins who want to be wise take note! The Holy Spirit and oil go together in Scripture. God wants you to have enough oil for your lamp so that your light will shine brightly while waiting for the Bridegroom. What does that say about the virgins whose lamps were going out? Remember that Jesus did not face the devil until He had been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. We will also need the Spirit’s help to endure the coming darkness and Tribulation as we wait for the Bridegroom. Get your oil!!! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are available today for those who will ask for them. If you haven’t received them yet, it’s time to start praying.

Finally, I would like to end by recommending three DVDs that demonstrate the supernatural power of God in operation today. We need the power of God to do the works of Jesus, and these DVDs show actual examples of what God is doing in the world today. The DVD titles are “Finger of God,” “Furious Love,” and “Father of Lights.” I hope they provoke you to seek the Lord as never before. Be blessed, my beloved.

Finger of God DVDFurious Love DVDFather of Lights

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Do not be disqualified by foolishness: A wise virgin’s guide Part 2

There is a detail about the ten virgins’ parable that needs to be examined. The second verse tells us that “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise” Matt 25:2 (ESV). This verse reveals that there were two distinct groups; this is important even if it doesn’t get talked about a lot. Groups are important parts of all our lives. The most important group believers can belong to is the body of Christ. We are by nature social beings; it is part of our human nature to want to belong to a group. The desire to be part of a group can be very powerful, and there are two principle reasons for this.

A group creates an atmosphere of acceptance. This acceptance is based on some kind of common ground that the group members share. When we interact with these people, we can exchange thoughts and ideas without sounding out of place. We can open our hearts with someone who knows what it’s like to go through what we are experiencing, and who can say “I have been there.” If the shared experience is especially strong, one might even say “it’s like we have known each other our whole lives.” The saying that “birds of a feather flock together” is true. A group of people who share life’s trials have agreement and harmony; this creates an atmosphere of acceptance (especially if love is involved) that has a very powerful appeal.

A group can also create a sense of security. It is much easier for a person to weather a storm knowing others are there to help, and they are not alone in this. There really is strength in numbers, and Solomon tells us:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Eccl 4:9-12 (ESV)

We can even see this in nature itself. Animals that stay in the herd are safe from attack. It’s the stranglers and loners who are vulnerable to predators. Safety can be a compelling reason to be a part of a group as well; there is a great comfort in knowing that someone is watching your back. Now you may ask, what does all this have to do with the parable of the ten virgins?

Craving the acceptance of the wrong group (or person) can come at the expense of your eternal life. When I said that the desire to be in a group can be powerful, I meant that as a warning because it is powerful.  Wise virgins take note! I believe the strongest example of this can be found with Solomon, who was one of the wisest men ever to live. Solomon knew the Scriptures, and what they said would happen if he married foreign women. Solomon followed God, but he also loved foreign women who followed their own gods. Solomon could not have any common ground with his wives without compromise. Even though Solomon was very wise, he did not listen to wisdom when it came to marriage:

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love.

1 Kings 11:1-2 (ESV)

Notice that last line. Solomon craved love and acceptance from the foreign women he married, but people cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. He had a choice to make. Either he should follow God with all his heart, or he must compromise and turn away from God. Here is what happened:

For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

1 Kings 11:4-8 (ESV)

If a man as wise as Solomon can fall, we should not underestimate the power of love and acceptance to persuade us to turn us away from the Living God. It is always tragic to hear about people who have gotten into abusive relationships, lost money in a romantic scam, or joined cults because they thought these things would give them the love and acceptance they were looking for. We can avoid this trap by remembering the counsel of God: Examine everything under the light of God’s word. For those who will heed this, it will save them from many sorrows.

In this case, the first thing we need to do is define what love really is. If we know what true love is and what its qualities and characteristics are, we can spot the counterfeits. This is what Paul tells us about love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Cor 13:4-7 (ESV)

Let’s compare this with the deal Solomon got from his foreign wives. The price for their love was accepting their gods and rejecting the one true God. This cannot be true love because it insisted on its own way. Solomon’s wives never wanted to serve the Lord God (Cf. Ruth 1: 16-17); they insisted on having their own way and worshipping their own gods (Strike one). Worshipping other gods was also a direct violation of the first commandment. This is wrongdoing of the highest order, but the love his wives had rejoiced in this. Rejoicing in wrongdoing is not evidence of true love (strike two).  True love is enduring. It doesn’t present a list of conditions that must be met before it is bestowed. Solomon’s wives offered a conditional love; it would only be given in exchange for meeting its requirements (strike three). This cursory examination shows that Solomon was not being offered true love, but a counterfeit. This brings us back to the virgins.

As I mentioned at first, there were two groups. The foolish group was careless, compromising, and negligent, and given the case of Solomon, it follows that some of the foolish virgins were once in the wise camp. There was something about foolishness that persuaded these once wise virgins to embrace it. Foolishness can be very persuasive in areas we are vulnerable in. For example, if we have had a childhood in which the parents withheld love, or only showed love under certain conditions, we will want to find the love and acceptance we didn’t get somewhere else. If we have had a life where we never felt secure, then we will try to find that security somewhere. Foolishness offers deceptive imitations to satisfy our needs, but since these imitations do not originate from God, they do not have the divine power to affect a cure. They will never be the healing balm we need; they can only bring ruin.

Foolishness has a sweet and pleasant taste at first; it can even be like intoxication. This is deceptive because only later does the taste become bitter, but by that time a person has ingested large amounts of foolishness and the weeds that choke out the word have been sown. The heart becomes hard, and this makes a spiritual recovery doubtful. Foolishness truly has a season when it feels pleasant and enjoyable, but it lasts just long enough for the hook to be set. If Solomon perceived the bitterness immediately, would he have continued? Given Solomon’s case, there are two things we should watch out for: We should never underestimate the power of our need for love, acceptance, and security to draw away into foolishness, and we should never overestimate our power to resist. In other words, we should take the warnings of Scripture seriously:

The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Prov 9:13-18 (ESV)

We should always try to help people recover from the grip of foolishness, but if you are trying to help someone who has been persuaded that “stolen water is sweet,” remember this warning: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” Gal 6:1 (ESV). Watch out that your efforts to help don’t end up snaring you. Don’t become a casualty!

Wise virgins, stay in your group. What kind of people do you associate with? Do they rejoice in the truth? Do they insist on their own way? Are they telling you to stock up on oil while the markets are still open? Or are they saying there is no need to get all radical, there’s plenty of time and the wait for the Bridegroom won’t be that long anyway? The time is getting short, and the Lord will soon return for His people. Do not stop meeting together and encouraging one another while it is still called today. Build each other up and pray for one another. Do not turn away from wisdom:

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.  Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.  Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.

Prov 8:32-36 (ESV)

Take care, my beloved.

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There’s no harm in asking the Lord: A wise virgin’s guide part 1

Before beginning this study, it would good to review an incident that happened with Joshua as he was leading Israel into the Promised Land. As the Israelites entered the land, the fear and dread of the Israelites affected all the inhabitants of the land. The Gibeonites realized they would not survive a fight with Israel, so they devised a plan to get them out of harm’s way:

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”

Josh 9:3-6 (ESV)

Joshua and the elders of Israel were suspicious at first, and they were unwilling to make a covenant with them because they might be inhabitants of the land. The Gibeonites then told their story of distant origins and showed the evidence:

Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”

Josh 9:12-13 (ESV)

Joshua and the elders looked at the Gibeonites and believed what they saw:

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

Josh 9:14-15 (ESV)

Three days later Joshua found out that they really were inhabitants of the land, and that the Gibeonites had deceived them. Since they had sworn to let them live, they could not raise a hand against them. There is a principle here that we must not overlook. Appearances can be deceiving, and this is especially true in the last days. Jesus warned His disciples that: “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” Matt 24:24 (ESV). If God’s own people could be deceived if it were possible, what chance do people outside the church have of distinguishing what is true from what is false?

Since our eyes can deceive us, as the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites illustrates, we need is an objective and totally reliable source of information that can see through even the most well-crafted deceptions. The Lord knows all things, and He is the one who can help us distinguish the good from the bad; in order to do this, we must “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Prov 3:5-6 (ESV). This simple formula is very important; we cannot get our lives straightened out and expose deceptions unless we follow His rules.

Paul compared our lives to competing in a race. There are rules for running a race as well as in living for God, and if you don’t compete according to the rules, you will be disqualified. The foolish virgins neglected the rules, and they were disqualified when the Bridegroom came. We must take precautions against being disqualified. In order to do this, we must make sure our hearts are right before God.

The issues of life are in the heart, but “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jer 17:9 (ESV). Even though we are new creations in Christ, it does not mean that our old nature is dead and buried. The heart is sick and afflicted with our old nature; this old nature constantly wants to reassert itself in our lives. We still have to fight against its influence every day, and if unchecked, the old nature will reassert itself. If you have any doubts about this, consider these examples: The Corinthian church had to deal with jealousy, strife, division, and sexual sin. When Paul met Cephas in Antioch, he condemned Cephas for hypocrisy when he and the Jewish believers separated themselves from the Gentile believers (Gal 2: 11-14). Demas was once a coworker with Paul (Col 4: 14), but he loved the world and returned to it (2 Tim 4: 10). Paul had such a sharp disagreement with Barnabas about bringing Mark with them that they separated from each other (Acts 15: 36-41). These examples should be sufficient to show that we must always be on guard against the old nature reasserting itself. The problem is that there is a real danger that it may be asserting itself and we may not be aware of it. Consider the case of two churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.

The Lord addresses the church of Ephesus:

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.’

Rev 2:1-3 (ESV)

This sounds very encouraging. The Ephesians are working hard, and they won’t put up with evil. Any deceivers who wanted to masquerade as apostles avoided this church. They held up under trials and endured patiently, and they didn’t grow weary. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to hear this from the Lord? The problem is, this isn’t the whole story, and one word changes the course of the report:

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Rev 2:4-5 (ESV)

One has to ask, how can it be that a church is laboring for the Lord and persevering under trials and yet they were in danger of missing the mark? How can they know when a false apostle is in their midst, but by the same token they didn’t know their own condition? It’s because they were unaware of their true condition. They really were doing some things right, but they mistook that to mean that nothing was amiss, and because of this they didn’t realize that they had drifted away from the straight path. They had abandoned the love they had at first, and because of this they were in danger of having their lampstand removed! They looked alright and they may have felt alright, but they needed serious repentance. Unfortunately, when everything looks alright, no one thinks to ask the Lord if everything really is alright.

The address to the church of the Laodiceans makes the point very clear:

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.   For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.’

Rev 3:14-17 (ESV)

The Laodiceans also thought everything was fine; they didn’t realize that they were really “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” The common thread that runs through these cases are people who mistakenly believed everything was in order which negated a need for self-examination: “Aren’t we are doing Lord’s work? Since this is so, what could be wrong? There is no need to ask counsel from the Lord” Those who depend on their own understanding (e.g. Joshua and the Gibeonites, the Ephesians and Laodiceans), or who don’t think they need anything are already drifting into the camp of the foolish virgins. Looks can be deceiving. If we have faith to move mountains, and if we have endured under trials, and even if we have cast out devils and have done many wonderful things, it still doesn’t mean that everything is acceptable to the Lord (Cf. Matt 7: 21-23).

The foolish virgins thought they were ready. They were also waiting for the Lord, but the fact is they were not ready, and they didn’t realize the error until it was too late. Remember this: there is no harm in asking the Lord to verify our true condition, but there could be eternal loss for not asking the Lord to help us understand our true condition. If He says we are blameless, then we really are. But if He reveals hidden faults, we must make the necessary corrections while there is still time. Don’t be a foolish virgin and put things off.

It is the Lord’s will for us that we walk before Him and be blameless, but as we have seen, it is possible to think we are alright when we really aren’t. I don’t want any of my brothers and sisters to be disqualified from the race; I want everyone to receive a full reward and hear the Lord say “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Oh Lord, I am not aware of faults that I may have, but this doesn’t mean that I am blameless. There is no darkness in You, and since I am created in Your image, I ask You to examine me for any hidden faults and show me anything about me that may be offensive to You. I want to please You and be free of any faults. I confess that I can be fooled, but You are good, and You know all things. You know what’s really going on. Help me to understand my true condition. I ask You to forgive me if I have grieved You in any way, and I ask You to create in me a pure heart and a steadfast spirit. I put my trust in You, and I will not lean on my own understanding. Make my path straight, according to Your word.

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Come out to meet Him: A wise virgin’s guide to waiting for the Bridegroom

 

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matt 25:1-13 (ESV)

The parable of the ten virgins is very important for all of us who are waiting for the bridegroom today because it speaks to the terminal generation. These are the people who will be alive when the Lord returns to the Earth. We need to pay close attention to its message because it warns us that just being a member of the body of Christ does not guarantee a place at the marriage supper of the lamb; it clearly tells us that some people will be disqualified. This parable raises some obvious questions that deserve answers such as: Why didn’t all the virgins prepare the same way? Why didn’t the foolish virgins take extra oil? How did the wise virgins know that they might need extra oil? Why weren’t the foolish virgins admitted after their return? The purpose of this series is to closely examine this parable and related topics in order to glean from it what went wrong and what went right. These gleanings are intended to be a resource for the body of Christ who want to be ready when the Lord returns; it will be a wise virgin’s guide (WVG) to waiting for the Bridegroom.

Many people have tried to establish a date of Jesus’ return, and every one of these efforts has ended in failure. This has also made many unbelievers skeptical of the claims of Christianity; they doubt if we know what we are talking about. Those in the church who subscribed to a date set for the Lord’s return have also been discouraged; some may have even suffered shipwreck in their faith from this. This guide will not attempt to set a date for the Lord’s return, but it will only point to signs of the times we are to look for before the Lord’s return and what we need to do to be ready. Scripture tells us that:

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Matt 24:32-35 (ESV)

This is a clear indication that certain events must happen before the end comes, and that there will be a generation of people who will witness these events. I believe that we are that generation. Now that I have said this, it would be logical for my readers to ask “why do you say that?” Let’s look at what is happening in the heavens even now.

The word of God tells us about signs in the heavens in the first book of the Bible “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’” Gen 1:14 (ESV). Signs in the heavens will precede the most important event prophesied in Scripture, which is the return of Jesus to this world. We are obviously witnessing signs in the heavens today. This year (2014) there will be two blood moons; one will occur on Passover and one on Feast of Tabernacles, and next year (2015) there will be two blood moons on the same Jewish feast dates again. These four blood moons are known as a tetrad, and they have also occurred on other important dates of Jewish history, such as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the rebirth of Israel as an independent nation, and the Israeli capture of all Jerusalem during the Six Day War. Since the blood moons appear on Jewish festivals, it negates the argument that this is just some random natural event; God is using these signs in the heavens to tell people important events are about to take place and to make necessary preparations. Jesus also mentioned signs in the heavens when He described the end times to His disciples:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matt 24:29-31 (ESV)

Other New Testament writers also mention signs in the heavens. Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem mentions: “the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day” Acts 2:20 (ESV).

John tells us “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood” Rev 6:12 (ESV).

There is obviously more evidence to present than just these signs, but I offer them as a starting point. God gave us the Scriptures in which He declared the end from the beginning. Since He is omniscient and does not lie, we ought to pay close attention to what the Bible tells us. I wish more people would do this, but reality paints a different picture.

The Bible is consistently the best seller year after year, but don’t expect the New York Times to publicize that fact. There are Bibles, or at least portions of Scripture, in homes and hotels across America. One would think that since the Bible sells so many copies every year it must be the most widely read book in America; unfortunately that is not the case. In spite of its sales and widespread availability, the Bible is not seriously studied and mined for its spiritual wealth by most people. Often times it is largely ignored and disregarded, even among those who are professing Christians. It occupies a place on the shelf when it should occupy a place in the heart. This ought not to be. It is this indifference to the word of God that will lead to a future tragedy:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matt 24:37-39 (ESV)

Noah faithfully warned the people for years about the coming flood, yet people were indifferent to God’s warning and just went about their daily business. They only realized Noah was right when the floods came, but by then it was too late. Among those who will be lost are the foolish virgins.

Time is short, and it is a commodity we are running out of. Therefore we ought to redeem every day for the Lord and His Kingdom. The time to prepare is now (as in stock up on your oil). The wise virgins looked ahead for the coming of the bridegroom, planned accordingly and followed through. Go and do ye likewise! Later installments of the wise virgin’s guide (WVG) will give more detailed material on what to do while waiting for the Lord’s return.

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