Question #1: My request is As I speak to people or pray this star appears in front of my eye sight, it's brighter then the light in the house, or the sun outside. I know I see it, at times I see this somewhat like a cloud appear in front of my vision then close itself up and be gone. Sometimes I see like a small flame, its either a star, a small cloud, or a flame, do you have any messages in this.
I had many dreams of piles of smoke every where I looked. (I saw a vision me standing on a two story building, and in the same vision I saw my home.) before I had seen that vision I saw the first part a wall full of business cards, I take it as business accounts. much to say, I pray in agreement.
** in dreams I have seen tsunami's, not just on land, BUT a wall of water in the sky. passing over us as I see it. **
Response #1: Dear Friend, I am not adept at interpreting signs. This ministry, Ichthys, is entirely focused on studying and teaching what the Bible has to say. Generally speaking, what I tell people in such cases is "if your experience agrees with the Word of God, praise God first for His Word and then for your experience; if your experience seems to be contradicted by the Word of God, study the Word and follow the Word even if it should disagree with what your eyes see and your ears hear". For even if a person were to have a very detailed vision about certain aspects of prophecy or anything else, the only way to know if it were true or not would be to find out what the Bible has to say and see if it agrees. And since if we can find out the information from the Bible in the first place, the vision is really not independently necessary. So, at best, extra-biblical revelation or the like is a confirmation of what we already should know and believe. At worst, it may not be extra-biblical revelation at all. That is for the individual person to discern with the help of the Spirit, but the principle of "scripture first" continues to be the only safe and spiritually profitable path in any case.
Please see the link: What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions?
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
Hello, my question is about death. A friend shared with us recently what happened when her father died yrs. ago. She said at the foot of his bed stood Soul-takers and Jesus. All she could see of him was his arms, hands, and no face visible. I have never seen in scripture where people come to take a person to heaven (angel ) she said they also saw his soul come out of his body and head towards heaven. I look at the Bible for my truth. I guess I fall into Thomasís doubt. To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of God. In a twinkling of an eye. I could get out my words and search scripture to get all of the scriptures running through my head. Which I will do after I send this off to you. Have you ever heard of that before? thanks
When it comes to these sorts of matters, I follow the "trust but verify" method. I believe everything the Bible says; I believe everything people tell me that agrees completely with the Bible; when people tell me things that do not seem completely consonant with the Bible, or cannot be verified with scripture, I reserve judgment. God can do all sorts of miraculous things. However, I think it is fair to say when it comes to visions, for example, that at the very least the number of reported visions greatly exceeds the number of true visions. That is so for a variety of reasons we need not get into here (cf. 1Cor.13:8; see the link: "What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions?"). Thomas doubted a report that detailed Jesus having done exactly what He said He would do: rise from the dead in three days; Jesus told the twelve this over and over so that they might have faith and believe it, yet Thomas still had to see it (indeed, only Mary Magdalene seems to have believed it before it happened; see the link). Here, however, we have a case of a person reporting something that we have not been told to believe. Indeed, as you point out, there are serious questions about its consonance with scripture. My bottom line is that I would never build my understanding of what is true on anyone else's stories or reports (remember the old prophet who lied to man of God; see the link); I would also leave it to what scripture says in feeding my spirit. If what someone tells me agrees with scripture completely, then I can at least say, "Well, what you have told me certainly agrees with scripture, and I rejoice with you (assuming that it is true)". As Peter says:
(8) Yet we have the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) [as something] even more reliable [than what I saw with my own eyes]; You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns), pondering in your hearts this principle of prime importance: no single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:16-21
It is true that Jesus says while relating the story of Lazarus and the rich man:
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abrahamís side.
Luke 16:22 NIV
As far as I know, this is the only passage which gives us any inclination that angels carry our spirits to the next place (Paradise for OT believers; the third heaven today); from this scripture we cannot say that 1) Jesus accompanies them now (He, after all, has been told by the Father to "Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet -- something that will not happen until the second advent), or that 2) they are called "soultakers". Technically speaking, the soul is the heart, the inner-person in the combination of physical body and human spirit; only the spirit could possibly be "taken" (see the link: "The Human Spirit"), or that 3) they are ever visible to loved-ones left behind. This last caveat does beg the question: "I know lots of good Christians; why haven't they been given a similar experience?"
Then there is also this from the apostle Paul:
Let no one gain control over your life, desiring to [enslave you to himself] through a show of false humility and the adoration of angels, basing his approach on what he has [allegedly] seen while puffed up by his own fleshly thoughts, yet not embracing the Head [Christ].
While I would not wish to apply this verse to anyone unnecessarily, for me scripture is quite clear that the damage done by those who claim to have seen visions but have not (or to have worked miracles, experienced special gifts, had direct conversations with God, etc., etc.) is disproportionately worse than any possible benefit that might be derived from believing something like this that cannot be verified (especially when the odds are that, from whatever motivation, it is not exactly true). It is very common for good Christians to fall victim to such things, because 1) we want to believe the best in people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and 2) we would all like very much to see such miraculous things ourselves. Nevertheless, we have to stick with the truth and "go with what we know" for certain from the Bible; that is the only way to be safe, especially as the end times approach and all sorts of false-miraculous activities are prophesied to occur.
Don't feel bad about your skepticism: it is both godly and salutary.
You might want to check these related links:
Visions of Angels
What does the Bible say about Dreams and Visions?
Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Growth
The Gift of Tongues: Part 2
The False Beast's Prophet and the Worldwide Anti-Christian Religion
This is an important subject, and I may very well be posting on it in the near future.
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,
I was in the subway today and got into a heated debate with a woman who claimed to know God's Word and even be a "prophetess." There were some things that she said that were align with scripture such as man being in God's image (spiritual resemblance), but there were also other things said by her which were disturbing. It started after she had said that hatred in this world is caused by people over 60 and I thought that was harsh and judgmental since there was a woman who was clearly over 60 sitting adjacent to her. I had asked her where is your proof? and she replied ..."I meant those in leadership over 60." Then I told her to give me an example and it led to me starting to talk about scripture. She was right about who God is (Spirit), man being made in God's image, but not too much else. She called me a fake Christian and that I have bitterness in my heart because I was upset that she had made that comment those over 60. I was simply trying to defend those who were over 60 who heard her conversation. By the way, she was saying this to a young girl (probably her son) who could not have been more than 12, and I thought that was even more disturbing. She told me that I was deceived and that she was a prophetess and that I was not a Christian. She also said that she was saved and received the Holy Spirit in 1999. I don't know what to think. She may know the scriptures, but I don't see how she can judge my heart and call me a fake Christian like the accuser Satan and call herself a prophetess. I know I'm saved and I dislike it when people accuse me of being unsaved...especially those who call themselves Christians and have NEVER met me before. Should I believe that she's a prophet? Just yesterday I got into a discussion with an older woman who had said that she believes that all religion leads to God. It seems as if Satan is trying to make me defect from my faith but it won't happen. Should I take the things she said with a grain of salt? And how do I deal with these type of people? Thanks in advance!
In my understanding of these things, the gift of prophecy has been in abeyance since the end of the apostolic era:
Love never falls [into inactivity]. But whether [we are talking about gifts of] prophecy, they will cease, or about [gifts of] tongues, they will come to a stop, or [about the gift of] knowledge, it will be done away with. For when we exercise the gift of knowledge, its results are only partial. And when we exercise the gift of prophecy, its results are only partial. But when what is complete shall have come on the scene (i.e., the fully functioning Church with a complete Bible), all partial measures shall be done away with.
1st Corinthians 13:8-10
Even if I were inclined for whatever reason to believe that someone did have this gift, the statements you report undermines any such claim completely, and you were right to reject it. In any case, the gift of prophecy did not automatically carry with it such knowledge about others (i.e., who is a believer or similar personal information). Samuel, to be sure, who had both the office and the gift of prophecy, was an exceptional man and an exceptional prophet in the bargain. God did reveal this sort of intimate information to him, but none of us is a "Samuel". Furthermore, we see no instance even in the apostolic age of someone who was informed by God about everything and everyone with whom they came into contact as Samuel was (e.g., Paul, the greatest apostle, was apparently deceived by a number of false friends over the years). Rather, we see instances of God making particular revelations to believers about particular events and circumstances about which they had a need to know (e.g., the coming famine in Acts 11:28).
We are saved by grace through faith, and just as God knows who are truly His, so all of us who love Jesus and rely on His perfect Person and perfect work for us on the cross know full well that we are saved. It is the easiest thing in the world for someone out of spite or false motivation to say "You're not really a Christian!", but it is very rare for such a statement to be justified, even if it be true. As Christians, we desire what God desires: the salvation of all, since Christ died for all. We do not (or should not) wield our salvation or the supposition of the lack of it on the part of others like some sort of war-club. If we do, we are certainly not walking in love. The correct attitude towards those who are in truth not saved is to attempt to communicate the gospel to them if there is a chance that they will be receptive.
Your other observation proceeds along the same lines. There is only "one way", Jesus, who is "the Way, the truth and the life" (Jn.14:6a). Therefore, "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn.14:6b). People who try and rationalize compromising with other religions are only undermining their own faith (if they truly do have saving faith in Jesus Christ).
Keep on fighting that good fight of faith! You are most definitely in the right by standing up for the truth.
In Him who is the truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What do you think about this prophecy? Is it biblical and true. This person is insistent that his prophecy is genuine. He wrote:
"This is A prophetcy God spoke through me Earlier today in A chatroom. I was in today, as some where Blasphemeing and Mocking God and saying that Christians our Diying out on their hold am Impact On America and the World. well God got Very Angry and Vengful an said this. This is A prophetcy God spoke through me Earlier today in A chatroom I wanted to share with you all. it shock alot up in the chatroom I was hosting today. it came out of No where. Thus saith the Lord your God. Judgement and Punishment Wars from Heaven and on this Earth is Coming Down on You. Look for It America an the World you have Blasphemed Your God and his Prophets to Long and Your Cups of Abominations have Run Over. Even now I will Move Against all that reject My Words of Judgement an Wrath saith God Jehova. the Death and Judgement Angels our even now sent forth; an our there with you now, to Put Diseases, Affictions and Death upon you.
NO MORE WILL I YOUR GOD BE BLASPHEMED!!! I will not Spare you nore Pity You when you Cry out for Mercy and Grace. From My Judgement of Grate Earth Quakes and Hail and Lightning and Moon Explodtions and Planet Crashes, Meters and Astroids upon The U.S. and U.K. and Canada and the World. Saith Jehova, Jesus, Holy Ghost and The Holy Angels."
Is this bogus? and is this from a false prophet?
I would imagine that if God were going to re-constitute the office of the gift of prophet/prophecy at this time that He would find someone who had some idea of how to spell.
In my understanding of scripture, all of the miraculous gifts such as prophecy are in a state of suspension that will not be lifted until the end times begin. Until that happens, I would approach anyone who claims they have a miraculous gift of any kind with the utmost skepticism. This country -- and in fact all countries apart from Israel at very limited periods during her prior history -- are "godless" and "blasphemous" and "worthy of judgment". It's all a matter of degrees. The text you report seems to suggest that America and Britain are somehow "special nations" that are thus liable to a "special form of discipline". But there is no such thing as a special nation apart from the state of Israel as God constituted it in the past and will again in the future (the current secular state is not under God's sponsorship). Even if we were in a time of prophets and prophecy, the Lord's words on the subject would still apply:
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and [i.e., even if ] the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 NASB
Regarding your writings on the Tribulation events in the Coming Tribulation series: I am not positive at this point in time if the Assyrian is definitively a reference to the antichrist because I have only run across a few verses that make reference to the Assyrian. There was one set of verses that seemed to confirm more than the others that this is a reference the antichrist, but I can't find those verses as of now (I thought they were in the book of Micah, but maybe they weren't...I thought there were verses that spoke of the Assyrian desecrating the temple). However, my reason for believing that the antichrist is of Arabic origin (or is at least of the whole Muslim mindset that opposes Israel) are the references to the antichrist as being the King of Babylon and the King of the North. There again, we could go round and round in our argument and I find that very few people ever change their minds about their interpretation of scriptural matters that are left open to interpretation, but I believe that just as King Nebuchadnezzar was Babylonian, that the antichrist will be the king of the end time Mystery, Babylon which is clearly described as an actual location (not just a spiritual reality). Scripture is very clear that Israel will be under the rule (directly or indirectly) of Gentile empires until Christ returns as is prophesied by Daniel. So, a Jew rising up to rule over Israel during the time of Gentile rule seems inconsistent with the rest of scripture. I do think it is completely possible that the antichrist will not be literally Arabic by bloodline, but I believe firmly that he will be a ruler that rises out of the western portion of the Roman Empire (the United States and if not the U.S., then the European Union that follows the downfall of the U.S) and that this person will be of the same mindset as the portion of the Arabic Muslim world that opposes Israel. The Muslim faith denies that the descendants of Isaac are the rightful heirs to the land of Israel. In the Koran, it is Ishmael that is the rightful heir to this land. Therefore, the counterfeit Christ would logically be coming to deny the Messiahship of Christ (born from the line of Judah...Abraham and Sarah's great-grandson) and to deny the rightful heirs their the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham and Sarah.
I don't ever trust prophetic dreams/visions over scripture, but in matters where there is confusion about how to interpret scripture, when God shows me the meaning of something that is written in scripture, I take Him at his word and a couple of years ago, God clearly showed me that there was a great storm coming from the northwest (in regard to the location of Israel) and that this storm would have crushing effects upon the earth. God showed me a dream of a strong tornadic wind blowing out of the northwest that was much stronger than the storms in the eastern part of the world and that this whirlwind would shatter iron in to pieces and have it rain down on this nation. For me personally, this verified that it is the western world out of which the end time troubles will be birthed. While there is clear anti-Israel sentiment in the eastern portion of the world, the one who will betray Israel will come from the west and at first appear to be more of a western mindset, but be of the same mindset as those of the east. This all makes perfect sense because Israel would never sign a seven-year "peace" treaty with the leader of Iran or Iraq or any Arabic nation for that matter and if the antichrist were Jewish, then that would negate the Gentile rule that Israel is under until Christ's return to establish His kingdom on the earth. Right now, the United States is the Gentile rule that Israel is under (just as they were once under the rule of Great Britain)....Israel may not be a U.S. colony, but they are dependent upon us for their very existence, but just as all the other empires that ruled Israel were taken down by God, we will also be taken down by God for our sins against Israel and the principles under which we were founded.
I haven't studied enough about the Tribe of Dan to make a hard fast statement against the theory that the antichrist will be descended from that tribe. I just know that there are a lot of different theories floating around out there and each group has their own strong arguments based on scripture about why the antichrist will come from this or that location. Until I had that dream a little over a year ago showing me that the coming storm in this world is coming from the west, I was satisfied with the fact that this may be one of those things we aren't meant to know for sure. Even if we removed the factor of that prophetic dream I had, the antichrist being half Jewish would not be consistent with Israel being under the power of Gentile Rule until the very end.
I am very careful not to falsely prophesy anything and I do realize that even John probably wasn't certain of the meaning of everything he witnessed that is written in the book of Revelation, but the statements I make are based on the best of my understanding about matters that I was quite confused about while taking bible studies on this very topic and then God gave me a dream about all of this in the midst of my confusion.
I appreciate very much what you say about how to apply prophecy.
The points you make about antichrist arising from the west and about Babylon being a definite geographical location are entirely consistent with everything I have written.
Two things that have become clear to me in the research and writing of the Coming Tribulation series which 1) are usually not understood but which 2) explain a whole host of problem passages are as follows:
1) Babylon and revived Rome are not precisely the same.
2) Antichrist begins as a putative "friend" of Israel but in the end is revealed as her most implacable foe.
The Tribulation is a seven year period and scripture relates many events taking place during this not inconsiderable portion of time. It seems to me that many interpretations run afoul of this by failing to take into account that events develop during the Tribulation.
Biblically speaking, the earth has four quadrants with Israel as the central reference point. Europe is "the north". Antichrist's original base of power is "the west", but he comes from "the north" as the "king of the north" because through his original power base of the US/Babylon he is able to gain control of Europe (revived Rome) early on in the Tribulation.
The beast himself will seem to be Israel's "Savior", and his pseudo-resurrection at the beginning of the Great Tribulation will seem to all those who do not truly know God to confirm that he is the "Messiah".
This explains, for example, the treaty with Israel abrogated "in the middle of the week": antichrist "delivers" Israel from the clutches of the "king of the south" (i.e., the Islamic confederacy under the leadership of the would-be "Mahdi" whom the beast's propagandists will deem "antichrist"), but then takes up residence in Israel proper, seating himself in the temple "as if he were God", abrogating the temple worship which had been reestablished by Moses and Elijah, breaking the treaty with Israel in every conceivable way.
This explains, for example, the two legs upon which the great statue of Daniel's dream stands: antichrist's power base is two-fold, consisting both of Babylon and of revived Rome.
This explains, for example, how the beast can be at the same time "an eighth and one of the seven": antichrist is the next natural ruler of Rome revived in the manner of the original Julio-Claudian Caesars, a line which ended with number six, Nero (during whose reign John wrote Revelation); antichrist is also a king in his own right (i.e., "an eighth") outside of the college of the contemporary seven kings who rule the provinces of revised Rome which constitute "the north" (since he rules over them all and they are subordinate to him).
This explains, for example, how Babylon can be a place, not just a mystical "system" which is allowed to ride on the beast and yet is later physically destroyed by him as if it were an actual country (which it is): Babylon is his original base of power, the nation which "exercises great power over all the kingdoms of the world", but is unnecessary to him once the world is entirely under his thumb during the Tribulation's second half.
One could go on; however, I hope you are able to see from the above that the whole of this interpretation is much greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, no interpretation of one piece of the eschatological events scripture records can make much sense apart from all the rest. Like a single piece of a jig-saw puzzle where one may discern a part of a figure, that knowledge alone will not reveal the overall pattern -- not until all the pieces are correctly put together. I have researched, developed and tested this interpretation with great labor over many years, and I know that it has not been my intellect that has been guiding the process; I have always endeavored to follow where scripture and the Spirit have led. The "proof of the pudding" for me is the consistency of the whole rather than the individual details of interpretation alone. One can argue whether a piece of a puzzle "really goes there" or not when the puzzle is far from complete; but when the puzzle is complete (or nearly so) and the picture has become clear with lines square on all sides, such objections are less convincing. While I do not claim that the puzzle is 100% complete, I do believe that what I offer in the Spirit is a correct, biblical outline overall, with the majority of the pieces being indeed correctly fitted into place. I am always willing to defend my reasons for putting "this piece here" or "that piece there", but I always ask parties who are truly interested in getting to the bottom of God's truth in these matters to "have a look at the whole" before dismissing my "piece placement" entirely.
In the love of the word of God and of Him who is the Living Word, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have a couple of questions regarding the e-mail below because I am not clear about some things:
1. I have often heard people debate that "The North" in scripture could be a reference to the nations of Russia or China (or other nations that are northeast of Israel). Maybe this is an incorrect interpretation, but many believe that Gog (of Gog and Magog) is not actually a reference to The Antichrist, but will be the leader of a nation that comes in and attacks Israel from the North at the onset of the Tribulation period (the beginning of the end or a while before the beginning of that 7 year period of time). I am still not definitively clear who Gog is, but all I do know (based on what God has shown me) is that China will be a key player in developing an alliance against Israel at the beginning of the end. God continuously speaks to me about trouble coming from the nation of China and I can't fit China in to the end time picture because it isn't all that far north in reference to the nation of Israel (it is more east), but it has been explained to me by others who know more about the world order that is being established that the nations of China and Russia are in alliance with many Arabic nations to try to take America down economically and politically. What makes this all even more complex is that if it weren't for my dream about the stronger storms coming from the western region of the world, I would think that the antichrist was going to be the leader of a nation such as China or Russia (after America's economic system collapsed). Anyway, my question here is how the east plays in to all of this when you are fitting the pieces of the puzzle together because you only mentioned the north, south, and west? Also, is there any scriptural confirmation that the antichrist will rise to power in the west?
2. I have always heard the theory that the two legs on Daniel's statue represent the western and eastern sides of the revived Roman Empire (or the Roman Empire that never completely fell..however you want to look at it). Is there any scriptural basis that they represent the antichrist's seat of power and Revived Rome?
3. Where does it say in scripture that the antichrist will be the eighth and one of seven at the same time? I know that he is the little horn that rises out of ten leaders and then subdues three of those leaders, but I have never heard scripture describe him as the eighth leader and one of seven at the same time.
4. Are you saying that you believe that the King of Babylon will be an American leader (most likely an American President) that destroys Babylon and then becomes the chief leader of the European Union? I am in agreement with you completely there, but I am not clear if that is what you are truly saying.
I understand now that if the antichrist is literally Satan's seed how Mystery, Babylon could be both an actual location and a satanic system. There are lots of people, though, that speak of Mystery, Babylon as being an allegorical symbol of the Satan's reign on the earth in the end-times and some even say it a church system run by false prophets yet it seems clear to me that Mystery, Babylon is a place of great economic prosperity on which the whole earth depends economically and that when she falls, everyone falls apart economically with her.
5. This is just an aside question...I have wondered if the two resurrected witnesses could be Elijah and Enoch rather than Elijah and Moses. Have you ever heard any theories on that? The only reason I wonder is because they were both raptured in to heaven in the Old Testament times and their bodies never physically died (Moses has already physically died). I can see how Moses is more of a key player in the big picture, but I just wondered if some believe that the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation could be Elijah and Enoch. I think scripture does mention that there are others as well (besides these two) who were raptured in to heaven without dying because they pleased the Lord, but those are the only two I can think of that were called by name in the OT that were raptured in to heaven without dying.
I understand completely how frustrating it can be to research things for years and years and have so many pieces of the puzzle pieced together and then have someone disagree with what you believe to be close to the whole picture. You are not alone in this frustration, but I have come to a place where I realize that there are many great biblical scholars who disagree that have done the same as you have done because this stuff is really tough to piece altogether and none of us really knows how many pieces are still missing simply because there are truths that God has chosen not to reveal in scripture or that He has revealed very slowly in layers over a long stretch of time. For example, I think one strong indicator that we are close to the end is that Daniel is a book for our time. The book has been there canonized in scripture for nearly a couple thousand years and yet, there was a spiritual blindness to what it all meant until recent years when all the prophecies in the book were pretty much fulfilled and God began to open people's eyes to its meaning. That is what it means in Daniel when it says that Daniel should go his own way and seal up the book because what he was seeing and writing about was not for his time. Even when something is written right there in scripture, that doesn't necessarily mean that we can always discern it full meaning until the fullness of time to discern the meaning.
I am still not clear about how the antichrist will be Jewish in the context of all you shared below. Do you believe that there will be a Jewish American president or a Jewish leader that will arise out of the European Union? My reasoning for saying I believe the antichrist will be a Gentile is two-fold and is based on careful examination of scripture:
1. Scripture says that the world will worship the antichrist so this is not a figure that is going to be accepted on the basis of fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. It will be someone that is perceived as being able to save Israel (and in turn, the world) from physical destruction. I have never understood the antichrist to be viewed as a spiritual Savior by the nation of Israel in the end. As you have pointed out in the past, Israel is now primarily secular as are most Jews in the western world (and maybe all over the world). I was raised around many Jewish people in Chicago and Miami and I can verify that I know more about the Old Testament than most Jewish people do (they don't refer to it as the Old Testament, but you know what I mean...). This is why so many Jewish people are fine with Barack Obama's anti-Israel policies. Most Jews who don't live in the country of Israel are so secular and liberal that they don't even recognize a man that is strongly against the nation of Israel (is of the eastern mindset that will lead to the destruction of this nation). So, most of the people of end-time Israel will not be religious Jews. The whole world worshipping the antichrist means that the whole liberal end-time world will have bought in to a concept of the Messiah that isn't tied in to scripture at all (and many may not have believed in God at all until they see the signs and wonders performed this false christ). It is clear that there will be a time of conversion amongst many end-time Jews, but scripture doesn't ever say that these people will see mistake the antichrist as being their personal Savior. Scripture says that everyone will view this man as being God because of his super powers and their lack of spiritual discernment.
2. My understanding of the prophecies given to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel in the book of Daniel relate to the times leading right up to the end when Jesus comes to establish his kingdom on this earth. The "stone cut without human hands" is the only thing that can crush the Kingdom of Iron mixed with clay. I have always interpreted those 4 Kingdoms (or 5 kingdoms if you count the iron mixed with clay kingdom as a 5th kingdom) as being the kingdoms that rule during the times of the Gentiles. Even if the antichrist were a Jew (from the tribe of Dan) that came out of the coalition of 7 kings, he would still be a Jew. Would God allow a Jew that much power during the Time of the Gentiles before Christ's return?
Again, please understand that just because a person disagrees with you doesn't necessarily mean that they haven't carefully examined the big picture or consulted God for clarification (as much as God will allow an imperfect person to know in advance). There are people that just look at their own small piece of the puzzle with no regard for the bigger picture or the people who have taken time to examine the bigger picture, but that isn't the case for all believers. I may not agree with all believers, but I certainly understand that there are a lot of believers that have carefully examined scripture for years themselves before coming up with ideas that I don't agree with in the least. For example, I see loads of biblical basis for why the Reformed Church came up with Calvinist Theology, but when I examine the full counsel of God's word, the whole picture I see doesn't support this type of theology at all. I give Reformed Theologians credit for their doctrine that is based on their interpretation of scripture, but what appears to be very sound doctrine to them that focuses very much on the will of God being preeminent in all things (including who goes to heaven and who goes to hell)...to me, appears to be doctrine that is an over-reaction to some of the works-based things that go on in the Catholic Church. I don't view the ability to choose to believe or have faith in God as being "saved through works", but there are many Christians who do. The important thing is that we all agree on the more obvious things and enjoy contemplating the mysteries of God together even when we don't agree.
I thought about what you were saying earlier in the e-mail below and I am thinking that what you may have been saying is that even though theantichrist will be Jewish (the eighth leader...a leader of the Jews in his own right), he will also be the 7th leader of the revived Roman Empire which will make him a leader of a Gentile Empire as well. Is that what you were saying?
I am still confused about the two legs on the statue in the book of Daniel and the quote that the antichrist will be number eight and one of seven as well. Is that a quote from scripture (the part about the antichrist being one of seven and the eighth leader as well)? I have never heard before about the antichrist being both a leader of the Roman Empire (a Gentile Empire) and the leader of the Jewish people during the second half of the Tribulation.
Thank you for your email. My defense of this interpretation flows not from frustration but from Christian love. These are important matters, and in the very near future will be even more so. Getting them right is important now for a Christian's overall understanding of scripture; in the future our faith and survival may depend on it. You are certainly correct in pointing out the wide variety of alternative interpretations out there in the ether -- they multiply with every passing day it seems. But having an interpretation and correctly interpreting what the Bible actually says and means are often two different things (sadly, more often than not nowadays when it comes to eschatology). You are right to test the spirits, and it has always been the policy of this ministry to answer all reasonable questions, defending all points of interpretation by offering up pertinent scripture and biblically-consistent reasoning in doing so. My point about the whole being greater than the parts is not meant to stifle questions or debate, but rather to point out that a comprehensive and all-embracing interpretation that stands up to such testing is not only much more likely to be correct in its parts as well as its whole but also accomplishes precisely what we teachers are charged with accomplishing in providing that "whole" into which believers may more easily fit every part and so come to understand everything we have been blessed to be given about these issues in the Bible.
As to your specific points:
1) This is common mistake. In the biblical perspective, everything north of Israel is "the north", and that includes Europe. Any invading army coming overland from Europe would proximately have to come from due north into Israel because of the Mediterranean Sea.
China is no doubt the leader of the "kings of the east" who participate in Armageddon (Rev.16:12). The silence about the east before this time is a clear indication that the (for the most part) tyrannical regimes of that quadrant of the earth will cause little trouble for the beast, being more than happy to trade obeisance for continuing power. Link: "Probable Identification of Mystery Babylon"
The correct translation of the phrase in Ezekiel 38-39 is "Gog of Magog". Magog is Babylon/US. Along with being "of Magog", Gog is said to be "chief prince of Meshech and Tubhal" (note, not rosh = "head", as some have it). The two entities Meshech and Tubhal represent the two parts of revived Rome (i.e., the seven and the three horns respectively; that is, the northern confederacy and the southern alliance). Antichrist invades Israel three times during the Tribulation. The first two times as her defender to challenge and then to crush the southern alliance (the second invasion ends at the mid-point of the Tribulation and sees the beast enthrone himself in the temple); the final time to crush the Jewish rebellion at Armageddon. Ezekiel 38-39 is describing that final campaign. Link: "Gog of Magog"
As to the rise of antichrist from the west, this quadrant of the world was not really known in biblical times. It is described occasionally as "the islands" and "the coastlands" in prophetic scriptures. The main reason we know that the beast is from the west is through his identification with Babylon which is in my view unmistakably the future US (and we are in the west, biblically speaking). Link: "Probable Identification of Mystery Babylon". Additionally, there is considerable biblical evidence to separate revived Rome (which has to be the "north") from Babylon (so that the beast thus cannot be European); the south is the area of the second major power bloc that butts heads with the beast's coalition during the Tribulation's first half (Daniel 11, et al.); the east, as said above, is out of the fray until the end. That leaves only the west.
2) The legs. Well, there is no scriptural basis for assuming that the two legs are the east and the west of the Roman empire. That split occurred well after John's death, and is not considered anywhere else in scripture. In fact, with the single exception of the seven churches (which represent trends of the seven Church eras following the time of the apostles and down to the Tribulation), no scripture, no biblical prophecy applies to historical events in this intervening Church age (so that such an interpretation would be "unique"). The details of the toes and mixing of the iron and the clay, rightly translated, precisely describe the composition of the beast's composite kingdom at that future time, based upon two pillars (i.e., Babylon and Revived Rome), and composed of non-homogeneous yet distinct layers. On the other hand, the ten kingdoms are never split into two equal parts like legs (they are in fact decidedly un-equal as the south's defeat shows plainly enough: the three horns are "uprooted" before the little horn), nor indeed are the horns ever split up in such a clearly bifurcated geographical way as this (i.e., they are always "horns" and always similarly located on a head or heads -- never on two heads). Thus, the interpretation that the two legs are Babylon and Revived Rome, the beast's twin power-blocs, satisfies all the evidence as nothing else seems to do. For the interpretative details, see the link: Daniel's vision of the great statue.
3) 7th/8th: the reference is to Revelation 17:11. My translation: "And [as to] the beast which you saw, this is the eighth [king] and he is [also] one of the seven, and he is going to [his] destruction". [and see below]
4) The beast most likely will be a future American leader. Whether or not he will be a "president" is difficult to say. He will be a tyrant, and it may very well be that he comes to power through some sort of coup. See the link: "The Rise of antichrist". Babylon is not destroyed until the very end of the Great Tribulation. It is the last significant event prior to the Armageddon campaign and directly precedes it. Up until that time, Babylon will enjoy privileged status. This is one of the reasons that the ten European and southern kings will "hate the whore". I certainly agree that those who would allegorize Babylon are deeply deceived. See the link: "Babylon is a definite geographical place". It is certainly true that the beast will have his own highly developed system of deception, a "religion" wherein he is the object of worship as the putative "Messiah" (see the link: "The Beast's Anti-Christian Religion", and "Characteristics of the Beast's Religion"), but it is a huge mistake to conflate this with Babylon -- they are completely separate ideas and entities.
5) This is another common misconception. Enoch was not Jewish (and the two witnesses evangelize Israel and revive the Jewish temple rite et al.). Moses did not "die" in the precise sense we usually use that word but was "translated" in a similar manner to what was true of Enoch and Elijah (which explains, among other things, the struggle over his body which is not on this earth). God took him thus ending his life. Deuteronomy 34:6 in the Hebrew actually attributes the burial of Moses to God Himself. There is also a tremendous amount of other evidence to make it very clear that Moses is the other witness, e.g., at the transfiguration -- a preview of the Second Advent -- it is Moses and Elijah with whom Jesus communes (not Enoch). For all of the other points on this please see the link: "The Two Witnesses".
So I am not frustrated. I am only saddened. The argument that others couldn't/didn't "figure it out" is one that should be removed from every believer's "play book": it is our job to figure it out. Roman Catholics use this same argument to "prove" the infallibility of the Roman church and her leaders, to wit, "every Protestant leader/theologian says something different; therefore they must all have to be wrong; therefore Rome is right". The only question that should be asked about any system of interpretation is whether and to what degree it reflects the truth of scripture. Picking and choosing from various systems is a sure way to come to believe absolutely nothing. What I always tell my brothers and sisters about this is "find someone you trust for good biblical reasons, then learn what they have to tell you, giving them the benefit of the doubt as long as you feel comfortable sitting under their teaching authority". That is really the only way to achieve spiritual growth to any meaningful degree (and that goes for all aspects of biblical truth, not just eschatology). Everyone is free to disagree and also free to go elsewhere. I have complete confidence in the Lord's ability to lead to the truth and to lead those interested in the truth to a good and solid source of truth. The Bible has been the Bible for some two millennia. The fact that certain topics and books have been "closed" has entirely to do with lack of interest and lack of proper diligence in interpretive application. God's provision has been perfect; it is man's application that has been seriously flawed.
As to the Jewishness of antichrist, there are multiple scriptural indications of this. For example, Daniel 11:37-38 twice mentions "the God of his fathers" in relation to the beast, and the only way this proposition can be true is if he is Jewish since "the God" is God and "his fathers" must then clearly refer to Israel. Also, there are numerous indications that the antichrist arises from the tribe of Dan, which would of course make him Jewish. This and more is all written up at the following link: Antichrist's maternal origins. As to your objections,
1) I think the fact that the Bible calls him anti-Christ certainly points strongly in the direction of his Jewishness, for the only way for someone to have any claim to being the Messiah, false though it may be, is to be "Jewish". You don't have to be a theologian to understand that the Messiah is Jewish. The beast will actually claim to be the Messiah, and the first question that almost everyone will ask about him is "Is he Jewish?" The fact that there may be some small number of people, even perhaps some Jews, who will not think to ask this question immediately does not change the fact that in his initial claims of Messiahship almost everyone else will demand an answer to that question. If he can't answer that question satisfactorily, it is very difficult to see how the world would accept him as such.
2) I am not sure I understand how this would be a problem, but even if it is, it should be pointed out that the Tribulation is a common period of time; it is part of the Church Age, but it is also the final chapter of the Jewish Age (Daniel's seventieth week), so that a ruler who has one "leg" in each camp would seem to fit your parameters perfectly.
Finally, as I said above, you are certainly free to disagree. I do resist being compared to any and all of the examples you have so far advanced (named and unnamed). If you take the time to delve into these studies at length, reading the entire Satanic Rebellion and Coming Tribulation series (links), I would hope that you would agree that in many respects this ministry is unique -- for better or for worse! It is not associated with any denomination, group, or theological school. It does not ask for nor accept contributions. It is entirely independent and the conclusions have been based entirely upon the scripture and not theological constructs of the past. So, for example, when you use the example of Reformed Calvinism, you are comparing apples and beef jerky. All of the traditional theological schools see things through their own particular prism of principles, principles they have codified and accepted ahead of time as true. Such is not the case with this ministry. It is my purpose and desire to pursue the truth wherever that may lead, and whatever that may cost.
P.S. in regard to your last points, I think I have answered the part about the legs sufficiently above. As to the 7th/8th, rather the point Revelation 17:11 is making is that on the one hand the beast will be the natural heir of Rome at the height of her power (a new Caesar in the Julio-Claudian mold, the successor of Nero [who was still reigning at the time of writing]) -- in this sense he is "the seventh" in his capacity as the supreme ruler of revived Rome (if you are wondering about "the count", Julius Caesar was, properly speaking, the first Roman emperor, not his adopted son, Augustus: Caesar poured the foundation and Augustus would have been nothing without him). However, antichrist is not technically one of the seven sub-kings. Just as in Daniel 7 the "little horn" pops up in the middle of the ten and subdues three (i.e., the southern Islamic alliance), so antichrist is actually an outsider to this group or 7 (or 10), he is "an eighth" in that he is a king in his own right outside of the seven European "horns" or kings, he is the ruler of Babylon through which he comes to dominate Rome, and he is thus "an eighth" when viewed from the standpoint of contemporary events at the time of the Tribulation.
I do hope that this helps to clear up my positions. Feel free to write me back anytime.
In the name of the One who gave His life that we might have eternal life in Him, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks for clearing several things up below for me. There were some things I didn't understand because it had been a while since I read Revelation (which I read the whole book last night to refresh my memory) and I had always understood that Moses did die a natural death, but I don't have a strong recollection of the book of Deuteronomy.
I don't know if I would agree that all the books of scripture were always intended to be discerned as they are now. What does it mean that Daniel was supposed to seal up the book and go his own way because the book was not for his time? Obviously, this doesn't mean that the book wasn't to be read until the end times, but I do think it is an indicator that the Holy Spirit would give people whose time it was for an added layer of discernment about what the book means.
I also don't necessarily agree that every denomination that was formed was done so with a preconceived idea of what they wanted the truth in scripture to be. I believe that a lot of the theologians of the reformation truly did recognize that there were some seriously erroneous things going on within the Roman Catholic church that diminished the sovereignty of God, but as all imperfect humans do, they went too far to the other extreme. There is no human being alive who has it all figured out or whose biases don't ever bleed in to their interpretation of scripture from time to time.
My basis for what I believe to be true is not based on extensive study of scripture, but the fact that God has often showed me truths in scripture beforehand and then I found precisely what he showed me in a dream or vision (from His perspective) later in scripture. I didn't have a strong opinion about the origins of the antichrist one way or another a few years ago, but the word God used to describe this antichrist when he spoke to me in tongues was an Arabic male name and I have always seen this man as being a man that had power during the Gentile rule to convince Israel to sign a treaty of false peace (which would mostly likely be someone from a powerful, Gentile nation that Israel respected at the end...this man could, I suppose, be of Jewish origin, but I am pretty sure he will be the ruler or in a position of great power of a Gentile nation and it does confuse me what the point of Gentile rule is if the ruler is Jewish..especially if the Tribulation is an extension of the Church Age). Also, I have never gleaned from scripture that Israel or the world would view this man as being the Messiah, but I could be wrong about that. I could be wrong about a lot of things. My impression when I read the prophetic books (and as many times as I have read Revelation...each time I read it, God shows me how difficult it is for anyone to sort it all out...the book isn't even written in a perfectly chronological order and contains very difficult material to understand) of scripture is that the antichrist is worshipped, but it isn't on the basis of a deep knowledge of scripture, but there again, I believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is possible so I am looking at it all from the perspective that the people left on this earth will not be the ones that are the most Godly people and when it says the world worships the beast and the antichrist, it doesn't mean that every person will because there will be people with spiritual discernment in this world at the end even if the post-tribulation rapture is the true theory.
Truthfully, I am in a place where I am fine with being right or wrong. All I ask of God is to show me what I need to know to correctly discern things if I live through the end times. I do care very much about what the truth is and I am definitely one of those who has had no preconceived notions about what God has shown me because I was absolutely not a biblical scholar at the time God starting revealing things to me that are written in scripture (that I later found in there, but had not read yet or had read so long ago that I couldn't remember all the details). All in all, I am at peace with being right or wrong about any of this and there is no way that I will ever be right about everything. I just don't feel that you are open to the possibility that I could ever be right about something when we disagree because I am not as well researched as you are so that is my main concern about continuing a conversation with you about any topic where I disagree with you. There is a lot I agree with you about and there is a lot that you know that I can't begin to claim I know, but when I feel God has shown me something that you aren't in agreement with me about, I don't think it really does much good for us to debate the matter. It is always more important to not be argumentative than to be right much as I do enjoy conversation about my point of view vs. another person's point of view.
You are very welcome. On your first point, yes it is true that until Christ came in the flesh and until the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, much about the nature of the first advent, Messiah's suffering, eschatology, etc. could not be precisely known (as Peter also testifies: 1Pet.1:10-12). My comments were directed exclusively to the Church Age where we are in fact "in the time of the end" and have been since Pentecost (I would take the words in Daniel to have that meaning as well). I should have been more careful to specify that.
On your second point, this is not exactly what I said and not what I mean. Behind almost all of the major Protestant denomination lies an original idea or set of founding principles that were, as you correctly state, very good and even sometimes necessary at the time of founding. The problem comes in the next and in following generations when the writings, stated opinions, and theological principles of the founders are "canonized" and begin to be regarded as being as good as or even better, in practical application, than scripture. In many cases, these interpretations of the original interpretation are far more radical in their departure from truth than any of the mistakes or exaggerations of the original. For example, Calvinists are very little concerned with eschatology, originally because, as you note, in the struggle with the Roman church which was in the beginning literally trying to destroy them, other issues were more pressing. So it is understandable that Calvin and his circle didn't have time for this subject and that for them it was much easier just to say, "Oh well, Revelation is probably just allegorical". It is far less excusable for those of that tradition many generations later to say and with conviction, "Revelation is, categorically, only an allegory". We are all certainly grateful for many of the developments in Church history that came as a result of the courage of reformers. We should not for that reason deify their off-hand remarks or elevate their writings above the scripture, nor should we assume that their theological systems (and, really, the way those systems have been developed by their followers) contain "the answer". This is foolishness, and it is stifling to true spiritual growth.
On your third point, I guess the first thing I would ask you is "how do you know the name is Arabic as opposed to Hebrew?" Semitic languages are extremely close (even native speakers are sometimes tricked by low-volume conversations they can't quite make out), and it is especially true when it comes to names that there is often little to distinguish these particular two. For example, the current US president's name is "Barack". Besides being Arabic, this is also a perfectly good (though maybe not the best) transliteration of the Hebrew for "blessing", and "Ehud Barak" is the current Israeli Defense Minister. Both names mean "blessing", and the names can be pronounced without any clear distinction, one from the other. Secondly, by "Jewish" I mean "of Jewish origin", which means that for all intents and purposes a Jewish American would fit the scriptural bill. He would not even have to be "obviously Jewish" or even have a Jewish name (it is the mother that is important here for reasons that I hope by now are obvious given antichrist's paternal origin). So it seems to me that there is nothing in scripture or in the dream that you have shared which contradicts this interpretation in any substantive way.
Antichrist's claim to be Christ is a very important point. The beast will not merely be a political leader; he will also be a religious leader, and it is the combination of these two elements which will make his movement so potent. I do find Revelation to be essentially chronological. The idea that it is not is another common misconception. Both of these points are addressed at length in the Coming Tribulation series (see especially part 1).
As to the pre-tribulational rapture theory, in my view this is not a minor issue of interpretation (please see the link: "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory."). Rather, this is a case of a terrible heresy that is on the cusp of doing irremediable damage to many lukewarm Christians. People who have bought into this lie think they have nothing to fear from the coming storm, and so have no reason to prepare spiritually. It is as if they were on the Gulf Coast with the biggest hurricane in history approaching but not bothering to move inland because they believed some incorrect weather report to the effect that the storm was going to turn. The storm is not going to turn, and when it hits, the only spiritual support Christians are likely to have access to is the truth they have already stored in their hearts. If they wait until the Tribulation begins out of a false sense of security, they are going to find themselves completely unprepared and, as a result as we know from scripture, many of them will fall away from the faith (a full one third of true Christians; see the link: The Great Apostasy). It will be rough enough for the ones who make it through with their faith intact by the skin of their teeth -- because of prior lack of preparation. The pre-trib deception makes it seem "O.K." that one's Christian "growth" is confined to going to social hour on Sunday morning, listening to rock music that is labeled "Christian", and putting a fish bumper-sticker on one's car (and occasionally telling others to do the same and calling it "witnessing"). I have to believe that if more of my brothers and sisters understood that in a few scant years they would find themselves in the midst of the most difficult time of testing in human history, that they would at least begin to do something about it in terms of spiritual preparation. That is not at all what is happening in our Laodicean era (see the link), and the belief in the pre-trib rapture by some of the people and groups who ought be the least lukewarm is a large part of the reason for it.
I certainly have questions about the gift of prophecy and the relevance of dreams at the current time, but I have tried to be open about what you have shared with me. If indeed God has given you a measuring stick to discern right from wrong, to confirm the right and reject the wrong, that would be the most marvelous of gifts -- but only if it is utilized. Indeed, nothing you have shared with me in the content of your dreams has, as far as I can tell, contradicted a single thing I have taught. Rather, it seems to me more that where we have had differences of opinion has been instead in the area of "what seems likely/probable" to you based upon other factors. That is certainly your right as it is the right of every Christian. We are responsible to the Lord for whom we follow and whom we choose not to follow. I do understand what you are saying here in this last paragraph and would also understand completely if you wish to discontinue this conversation. Please do know that I am not offended in any way, and would be more than happy to have you continue to make use of the resources at Ichthys in any case.
In the love of our Savior Jesus Christ,
I will reply to the last part first in this e-mail first. My main concern is not that I am the least bit offended by your differing viewpoints, but that I could easily offend other people when I don't agree with someone on points that they feel they have researched extensively and are an authority on. It isn't that I am blowing you or your ministry off. It is that I have gone down this road with a few other people before and sometimes this road goes to a very uncomfortable place where I feel positively terrible for questioning someone who may know more than I do, but by no means is infallible. I just don't want to risk that happening when I don't agree with something because I am uncomfortable with being perceived as being argumentative just for the sake of being argumentative.
Now, I will answer the other things in order. It is possible that the book of Daniel was referring to the end times (the whole Church Age) rather than the very end time (the years approaching the Tribulation and the Tribulation Period itself). I do very much agree that the Holy Spirit indwelling at the time of Pentecost did differentiate how the Holy Spirit interacts with and guides each believer under the New Covenant, but I don't think there is any definitive proof in scripture that God doesn't reveal things in layers to believers based on the tenacity and maturity of the believer to search out the truth and also, based upon some things needing to not be revealed completely until the fullness of time. What is that Proverb? It goes something like, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search out a matter" and also, there is another reference in scripture to God's word being like hidden treasure. As I have made clear to other people, I do think that there are basic matters such as God's salvation plan that have been revealed completely to all man, but God makes it clear in His word that there are matters that we have to search out (hidden truths) that God will only reveal to us as we spiritually mature and I believe it isn't that we have to hide these truths from others so much as that the spiritually less mature won't even get what we are saying in most cases if they aren't in a place to see that same truth. God also says there are truths that haven't even been revealed in scripture. So, I believe it is also possible that there are truths that are specified to be better understood by one generation over another generation. Just as Esther was called to "such as time as this" in her day, I believe our generation has been called to such a time as to have a better understanding of eschatology. Again, it is possible that the book of Daniel is speaking of the book being sealed up until the Day of Pentecost, but it specifically says that the book is "not for Daniel's time" so I have always concluded that that meant that Daniel was being told that he would not live to see the days that he was prophesying about as our generation most likely will live to see those days and thus, he would not fully understand these matters in quite the same light that we would even though the words were given to him and the visions were given to him to record for all time.
I understand now what you were saying about denominational divides. I think the main problem with those that adhere to the Calvinist beliefs to this very day is that they are so sold out on what sets them apart as believers in reformed theology that it is hard for them to let go of that and trace back to the true roots of what started these belief systems. I actually had never truly understood that the reason that Calvinists view the whole book of Revelation as being allegorical is because they were distracted at the time they were forming their church. I could never see a link between not believing we have free will and not believing that the book of Revelation is a literal book. They seem like two completely different ideas. If I believed that the reformed church was a "feel good church" then I would believe the big picture of what they believe makes more sense because it would feel much better to believe that all the awful things in Revelation were "just symbolic", but I don't see what is so "feel good" about the reformed church saying that God doesn't even give us a choice in the matter about whether we go to heaven or hell. So, it does seem that there are inconsistencies in why they choose to believe what they believe. They are very comfortable with the idea that we don't have a choice about where we spend all of eternity, but they aren't comfortable with the thought that the Tribulation Period will actually happen as stated in scripture. Go figure....All I can say for sure is that I do know that people do tend to be very, very uncomfortable with discovering that what a particular denomination has taught them all these years isn't true. I have tried not to be too judgmental about this matter because I realize that God blessed me with such a diverse background denominationally that I have never been staunchly indoctrinated in to any one belief system. I have witnessed people so sold out on what their denomination teaches that they would not let go of that belief system no matter what the cost. What I have tried to tell myself is that it is possibly almost impossible for them to do because many of those people would have to admit their parents were wrong, their spouse is wrong, their pastor is wrong, their whole church is wrong...It is a tough thing to do. I am very comfortable with my church sometimes being wrong about things (or even myself being wrong), but my mom's family is Roman Catholic, my family has a Presbyterian/Lutheran background, I attended a Baptist church through all of my youth, I have worked in an Assembly of God church and we currently attend a Methodist church. So, as you can see, I don't get easily sold out on any one given doctrine because I have never been expected by my parents or even my spouse to one doctrinal belief and in some churches, there are people just like me. As a general rule, Methodists and Baptists don't focus much on tongues speaking (the Southern Baptist Convention actually speaks against tongues speaking), but my Methodist senior pastor has experienced tongues speaking himself and acknowledges it as a relevant gift for modern times, but isn't a focal point of the church we attend at all (and I have chosen not to be Pentecostal or Assembly of God for the very reason that I don't like how hung up they get on the tongues topic). There is one ministry there (at our Methodist church) that focuses on tongues speaking, prophecy, etc., but that is it and it is a small group of people. So, not everyone can be labeled by the denomination they attend. I find that even a lot of non-denominational churches often make statements that are very denominational and they don't even realize it. I just got a postcard in the mail the other day advertising a new Christian private school opening up in our area and they claim to be non-denominational, but in their statement of what they believe, they state that they believe in the "eternal security" of all believers which is a very Baptist (or Presbyterian/Reformed Church) statement (even though the Baptists and the Presbyterians believe that eternal security works in very different ways).
I guess I would have to look up the name to see if there is any possibility that the name that God called this person by could be a Jewish name. I do agree that there are a lot of similarities between Arabic and Hebrew in some cases. I was rethinking the complete context of what happened that morning the other day and there is one aspect to this that could be perceived as the antichrist being descended from the Tribe of Dan, but that wasn't my impression at all at the time it happened because I didn't think that God was speaking about Israel, but was speaking to the United States (a Gentile nation that supports the Jewish state of Israel). I will share completely what happened nearly four years ago and ask you to be open to what I am saying without any preconceived idea about trying to fit it in to what you have researched without giving the meaning a lot of thought and prayer. There was no dream/vision involved in this story:
Shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit the United States (which I believe was judgment from God on our nation for pressuring Israel once again to cede some of her settlements to the Palestinians), I started speaking in tongues (I have already shared this with you). As a matter of fact, the very day that I started speaking in tongues was the day that many Jews were being pushed out of their settlements. If you look that date up, I want to say it was Sunday, August 19th (but I may not have the number of the date correct...I just know it was a Sunday morning and it was in mid-August of 2005). Anyway, one of the words that I could not understand myself that God kept speaking to me was "Fashika" (pronounced Fa-shee-ka). I could actually understand so much of what I said due to my background in Spanish from high school and college which actually makes it easier for me to also sometimes understand some French, Italian, Latin, etc. It was as if God was intentionally picking words I could translate myself (I remember the Holy Spirit saying that I was speaking a new speech, a clean speech...nava diga, lava diga...I could understand it as clearly as if it were English). I am not actually fluent in any second language, but I know enough that I could understand most everything I said and what I couldn't get, I knew enough about the language's vowel patterns that I could google the words. Two other words I kept hearing were "Ari" and "Chi". Ari clearly means "Lion" in Hebrew and when I looked up "Chi", it was a reference in Greek to Christ (the actual Chi symbol is the symbol for Christ in Greek). So, God was speaking to me of the Lion Christ (I guess the coming Lion of the Tribe of Judah). Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't define "Fashika". I would look it up and get that it was an Arabic male name and that was it. Here again, I need to point out that I don't believe that people who are speaking in tongues are necessarily only given one language in the message nor are they always given an earthly language. The words I spoke that day (and in th days after were many languages sometimes side by side and I am not sure if the words I couldn't identify were of a heavenly language or just something I couldn't define). Just because the disciples at Pentecost were each speaking in one earthly language a piece for the purpose of being witnesses to the others there that spoke those languages doesn't mean that that is always how God works.
One morning several days after I started speaking in tongues, I was laying in bed and only one other time have I heard God's voice as clearly as I did that morning (He was speaking to me not in my heart, but in an audible, gentle voice that I could comprehend). I heard this voice say, "Anoint your house, Hannah, there is a betrayer in your midst...Fashika...bad betrayer". At first I was startled. It is human nature to perceive this message as being a personal message and as a personal message, it made no sense. It was clear that God was showing me that this betrayer was a Judas-type betrayer; He clearly using a female name to offer up the warning (knowing that he was speaking to a female). He was warning me that there was a Judas-like betrayer that would kiss someone on the cheek as if they were one of them, but would not really be one of them (would be selling his own people down the river). As I studied scripture more, I realized that "house" is usually a reference to one's nation (and sometimes one's lineage) in the Old Testament...I had never known that. So, the most biblical translation of this message was, "Anoint your nation, Hannah, there is a betrayer in your midst....Fashika...bad betrayer".
The next question was who Hannah is a reference to? I still haven't sorted that all out. If I could sort that out, I would have a lot more answers. I know in scripture that Hannah was the prophetess that actually prophesied the second coming of Christ who would set straight all wrongs in the world (after he filled her womb and blessed her with her son Samuel), but was God calling me Hannah or the nation of the United States Hannah (recognizing that we were once founded on Godly principles but that our government has now betrayed what we were founded on and thus, have set up a curse for us as a nation) or was God speaking to the nation of Israel? I believe God was speaking to the United States and/or Israel and offering up a warning that the highest order of betrayer now walks in our midst. God didn't refer to this as just a betrayer...he referred to this person as a "bad betrayer"...not your everyday person who sometimes betrays what they stand for most of the time...this was a person sold out to Satan. I also need to add here that God also showed me in a dream about a year and a half after this that our nation (through the state of Hawaii) would be dragged of a cliff in to "the sea" by the spirits that drive the Muslim faith. I am not making a bold statement that Barack Obama is "the Antichrist" with a capital "A", but when you start fitting the pieces together of what God has shown me the last nearly 4 years, it makes sense that God was warning me about the danger coming to our nation (the United States) through a leader that appeared to adhere to Judeo/Christian heritage, but was really of the Muslim mindset. At the time I had that Hawaii dream, I had no idea that Barack Obama would be president (no idea that he even qualified to run in the primaries) and now idea that his ties he is originally from Hawaii. I was dumbfounded when I woke up about what the state of Hawaii had to do with end time events and the Muslim religion until the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in to place.
Based on this experience and that other dream I had that showed strong toranadic winds blowing in from the northwest that shattered a black iron deck connected to my house (our nation) and caused iron to rain down on the house crushing everything, it has always been my strongest feeling that God is warning me about a Gentile leader (one who appears to be American, but is more of the Arabic Muslim mindset) was in the midst of our nation and would rise up in attempt to destroy both us and Israel. It is possible that "Hannah" has been Israel all along and that the black iron deck connected to my house on the western side (I don't have an actual deck like that connected to my house, but in this dream, there was a black iron deck on the west side of my house that was shattered by a northern wind) is actually connected to the "house of Israel" rather than the "house of the United States", but that has not been the way I have seen it at all. God views America as being both a spiritual Israel and Mystery, Babylon. If we carefully examine our heritage (one of the best books to read on this topic is "As America Has Done to Israel"), we were founded for the purpose of supporting and blessing Israel and all of our blessings flow from that fact, but over the course of time, all of our curses are starting to flow from the fact that our nation has betrayed Israel as Judas betrayed Christ (we are supposed to be adopted sons of the Jewish race, but we are really betrayers when all is said and done because of who we have put in power). We are of a strong Judeo/Christian heritage borne out of the nation of England (the only other nation that has allied with us in our support of Israel though not so much anymore) and yet, we have betrayed that heritage. Not all of us have, but I feel God was showing me that while there are still Godly people in the United States that adhere to what we were originally founded on (just as there were such people in OT Israel), that we are also (very sadly) the nation out of which the betrayer will arise that will seek to destroy Israel though appearing to be a friend rather than a foe.
It could be possibly that God was speaking to me about the betrayer being in Israel's midst (or being a Jew from the U.S. or the revived Roman Empire that would betray Israel), but if this is a Jew that will do this, then that means that someone Jewish will need to arise out of America or Israel in short order to do this. I have never been under the impression that the antichrist will be viewed as the Messiah in the Old Testament sense. I have always been under the impression that the world would simply believe that this man was "of God" based on no understanding of scripture at all. Just as Jews now are mostly secular or universalists or in to mysticism (and sadly, many Gentiles share those beliefs), I have always believed that people would view this man as both a political figure and in a mystical godlike way, but not godlike in the sense that they viewed him as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The antichrist is primarily a political figure who is worshipped because of the power he gets from Satan. The false prophet is primarily a religious figure and we don't really know what religion this man will adhere to (even if he claims to be a Christian, there are lots of people that claim to be Christian or even Jewish that say they believe in the God of the universe, but that you don't need Jesus or whoever they think the Messiah will be to be saved). I could be wrong, though, and I am interested to hear your take on all of this even if you don't agree with my take on all of this. I would hope, though, that you wouldn't automatically jump on the "Judas kiss means that the betrayer will come out of the Tribe of Dan' bandwagon without giving this a lot of thought and prayer.
I can share the dream about the black iron deck connected to the outside of my house (which was clarifying things for me from the Book of Daniel that I was studying at the time) at another time in its entirety. This e-mail is too long right now to include that in this e-mail. One thing that I do want to point out that makes either interpretation (the Jewish antichrist or the Gentile antichrist) quite interesting is that when we look back at the Book of Genesis, it is clear that the antichrist was most likely birthed out of disobedience and lack of faith in God. Whether he is a descendant of Ishmael or a descendant of Dan, in both cases, someone was seeking out the help of a handmaiden to birth their children rather than seeking out their own wife. I have heard people say that God condoned OT Israel birthing their children through their handmaidens in scripture, but that is a very wrong assumption. God may have tolerated it for the greater good in His plan, but I don't believe it was ever in God's perfect plan for men to bed their handmaidens. If this were so, he wouldn't have sanctioned the "one man/one women" marriage covenant between Adam and Eve. Anyway, my point is that Ishmael was the result of Abraham not trusting God to provide him an heir to God's promise through his wife Sarah and Dan was the firstborn of the 12 sons that led up the 12 tribes of Israel to be born to a handmaiden rather than Leah (or even Rachel..another messed up situation where there shouldn't have been two wives, but adding a couple of handmaidens to the mix messed it all up even more).
As far as the pre-trib rapture comments you wrote below, I certainly share in your viewpoint that it is the desire of many Christians to have a "feel good religion" and based on what God is showing me, it blows my mind that anyone with the guidance of the Holy Spirit at this point in history can't sense the troubles that are coming for this world. I believe there will be precursor troubles that all of us will live through even before the Tribulation Period starts and even if there weren't such troubles ahead of time, I still believe it is in the nature of God to call his royal priesthood to commune with Him in the sorrowful understanding of what is coming for this world and to pray prayers of intercession that everyone that possibly can will come to Jesus before that horrible time (and if not beforehand, then at some point in the midst of that time though I fear many hearts will be too hard by the time that time sets in). The only thing you and I differ on regarding this topic is that I don't think that I am being deceived by Satan to believe in a pre-trib rapture just because I don't want to live through the hard times or because I want a feel-good religion and Satan is glad to allow me to deceive myself. (I am not a strong believer in the pre-trib rapture...I just think it is possibility that the pre-trib rapture could be a correct theory). If someone like me can embrace the possibility of a pre-trib rapture after closely studying just about everything that scripture has to say on the topic, then I think there are many strong Christians who adhere to this theory. They may be wrong, but I don't believe every last one of them is wrong because they wish to have the deceiver deceive them (tell them sweet little lies so to speak). I can't prove it to you one way or another, but I live everyday with a large depth of sorrow in me for what is coming for this world and it feels positively awful. I am quite accustomed with what the "sorrow of the Lord" feels like regardless of whether I live through the Tribulation Period of not. I have studied just about every word that the New Testament has to say about the topic of eschatology over and over again and I don't see hard-core definitive proof in any rapture theory. I will be glad to read what you have written on the topic, but it will take some time and if my mind is changed and my eyes are opened to the fact that this is something the Holy Spirit has definitively revealed to the whole church and that those who don't know the truth probably don't want to know, I will be the first to let you know I was wrong about all of this.
Regarding Revelation not being a chronological book, I just read the whole book the other night and the material is so complex that I can't cite verbatim right now what I picked up on, but I saw some evidence that this book is not written in completely chronological order. There were references in one chapter to something that was happening several chapters earlier. I am not basing this on some commonly perceived perception that someone has given me. I am basing it on what I read and perceived myself just two nights ago.
Again, it takes a lot to offend me and I am truly not offended right now even if it may sound like I am. I am edified by many people's perspectives on things that I don't personally believe God has completely revealed to His church. I just don't want to go to the place where I offend you to the point of these e-mails being uncomfortable for either of us and I have some concern that one of the places where there are many divisions in the Body of Christ are in areas where one person sees a disputable matter and another person sees something as being very black and white.
Let me start with your dream and begin by saying that I realize that sharing things like this is not an easy matter, especially with someone like myself who has expressed skepticism. So I appreciate your boldness. As I believe I have said in the past, I am in no position to evaluate your spiritual experiences, whether of tongues or of prophetic dreams or of waking visions and communications. It is undeniable from scripture that God most certainly has communicated with His people in these forms in the past and will in the future. I do not wish to set myself up as the judge of what He is or is not doing now. My skepticism over such things in general is based upon much personal experience, much personal investigation, and a biblically based rationale which places the written Word of God in the place of primacy during the Church Age.
On revelation and the "biggest difference between you and me", none of us is perfect and I certainly include myself in that category of imperfection! One area of our general imperfection includes that of our insufficient level of desiring more of and being willing to believe God's truth. Of course, not everyone finds everything out. That is because not everyone desires to find everything out. God doesn't hand the truth over to us on a silver platter. We have to demonstrate our positiveness to receive it by the effort we put into it (study and teach for the pastor / seek, listen and believe for everyone). If we are not interested, we won't be led to a good source of truth. If we are, we will. It takes effort and perseverance at every stage just as everything does in the Christian life, but it's not a matter of God limiting us because of when or where we were born, e.g.; it's a matter of us limiting ourselves. This may just be a matter of perspective between you and I. For it is true that many things which were poorly understood in the past are better understood now, at least by some. But I would still maintain that the responsibility for less than total motivation to want the truth lies behind that, and that the responsibility for that lies with us rather than with God. God could easily have caused someone in the Middle Ages who really did want to know all the counsel of God to be born in our day instead of at that time; just as He can cause someone today who is not at all interested in the truth to be born in Nepal instead of Cleveland. That doesn't excuse those who don't receive the better part; they don't receive it because they don't want it.
Daniel. I don't find evidence of anything in Daniel (or any other scripture, except as I say for Revelation 1-2), for any events of the Church Age prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. Did you have something specific in mind? There is indeed much in the book "sealed" as non-knowable before the gift of the Spirit, but nothing in scripture has been sealed since. As I say above, it is a question of our failings, not God's.
On denominations. I entirely agree. Indeed, from my experience I would estimate that the vast majority of denominational Christians today either have very little clear idea of their church's doctrinal stances or don't really put much stock in them. In my experience, when such people virulently defend the same, the calculus really is "I am an X, and X's believe Y (or so I now read), so I will defend Y, because I am an X".
On choosing. Here I ask your patience and also to please understand that I don't mean any of this in a personal way: it is applicable to us all, myself included. As far as teachers go, I would never dream of lobbing myself up as the only alternative. Indeed, you or anyone else would be far better off learning from a teacher who is only half as correct but whom you are willing and able to believe (assuming the false teaching is kept to a minimum and no major heresies are committed, of course). Nor is any Christian required to believe everything the teacher they have chosen teaches. Rather, this is a practical matter of spiritual growth. Let us assume that a Christian who is truly interested in learning as much truth as he/she can finds a teacher he/she trusts based upon a thorough investigation of the teaching, and let's assume further that the Christian is correct that the teacher really is a man of God, a person well-prepared who has learned much about what the Bible really says and means. At this point (i.e., after careful vetting), the Christian has two options: 1) to believe what is taught, setting aside those "difficult things" that will always be present (of suspected error, whether the Christian is right or wrong about it); or 2) to pass judgment based upon personal likes and dislikes about everything that is taught. While option number one is the only real path to spiritual growth, without any question, if option number two is chosen, the Christian in question will never grow spiritually, because he/she will never trust enough to believe anything that he/she hasn't figured out for him/herself. In other words, if a person is committed to option two in any event, then seeking a teacher and listening to a teacher is an entirely pointless exercise, since the only one the person will believe is him/herself. That person would be much better off restricting him/herself to personal Bible study, and that includes staying away from the written as well the spoken materials of other teachers. Of course, this is not how the Body of Christ is designed, and spiritual growth will in that case be hampered at least and most likely impossible in truth -- unless that person both has the gift of teaching so as to be able to dig truth out of the Bible for him/herself by "laboring in the Word", and also has the leisure and luxury of gaining the training in Greek, Hebrew, theology, Church and secular history etc. necessary (along with many other things) for the proper function of that gift (in which case they should be teaching others). Not all are teachers, any more than all are administrators or givers or helpers or prayer-warriors or what have you. The Church today in general seems very willing to accept the help of all of its other gifts, but is very deficient when it comes to recognizing and also to responding appropriately to genuine teachers of the Word of God (although charlatans have a much better time of it). It is easier for me to say this than it is for some, because I don't receive any monetary support for this ministry (and money always seems to cloud the issue), because my reasons for what I teach are always carefully laid out, and because my qualifications are available online for perusal by any and all.
There are many antichrists out in the world, as you yourself have pointed out. I personally am not of the opinion that the antichrist has yet made his way onto the stage, but we shall certainly find out soon enough.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I am very sorry to say that I think we have reached a cross-road where I have nothing further to give you. This doesn't come as a huge surprise to me because I have felt broken-hearted for the last several hours. I don't believe it is just solely because very few people will ever believe in the credibility of my experiences (and sadly, that even includes people that are close to me that have had much experience with the correctness of what I say). I am also broken-hearted because I know the near coming days for our nation are going to be horrible, but that is another matter. There is really no point in going in to detail about all of that.
When I said that I don't think my interpretations are infallible, I don't mean that I don't believe I am hearing from God. I mean that I don't think it is as easy to interpret what God says all the time (and that includes what He says in scripture). I don't really have any issues with you disagreeing with what God has said to me. My issues at this point in time are that I don't believe you are truly open to the fact that God has spoken to me. One way to know if someone is falsely prophesying is to ask the Holy Spirit in you if that person is of God or not (or if they have the truth in them or not) and to actually be open to what the Holy Spirit has to say with nothing of your own prejudice tainting anything when you listen for an answer. You aren't going to get those answers from the pages of scripture because I didn't live in biblical times. I thought we were making some headway when I got your e-mail yesterday where you were at least open to the things that I have shared with you, but I realize now that you are very skeptical (more so than I realized) of anyone that makes the claims I am making.
I believe you are wrong about the Antichrist. I do agree that there are many antichrists that have been on the scene since the beginning of history, but I do believe that the Antichrist is in our midst. That doesn't mean that he is "on the scene" in terms of the fact that he hasn't taken the role over of the position he will have as described in Revelation. There again, only time will tell if I speak the truth (or if I am understanding God correctly). I am open to the fact that maybe I have misunderstood something, but I am not in a position where I can go on and on describing what God has shared to me with someone who isn't even open to the possibility that I am telling the truth or at all willing to contemplate what I have shared with him as if it might be true. Also, I am not in agreement with you in the least that people understand everything just because they want to if they have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the people of the Church Age do have access to understanding that they didn't have before the Church Age, but there are circumstances where God doesn't reveal all things on a given topic to someone just because they really want to know (sometimes He will wait until the fullness of time to reveal a matter..when the person is mature enough spiritually to handle the full truth or understand the full truth or just when it is time for people to know the truth...this doesn't include basic things that all believers should know in the Church Age such as God's salvation plan). In saying that you think that all people should know all things placed in scripture on all levels just because they desire to know, what you are saying is that if you are well enough researched and have the right heart condition that you will know all the secrets of God that are set forth in scripture on every level that possibly could be known and as a result of this belief, you will then conclude that anyone who comes along and disproves something that you believe to be an definitive fact or disagrees with something you know is not as willing to learn as you are or is possibly not even speaking the truth.
I wasn't necessarily using the book of Daniel as a reference point to speak of the things that would lead up to the time of the antichrist. I have heard some theorize that the battle involving Gog and Magog is a precursor to the tribulation period, but I haven't studied Ezekiel enough to say that I agree with that in the least. I just know that things won't turn from great to the worst over night. Just as John the Baptist made the way for Jesus, the ever-darkening coldness of the world will make the way for the anti-christ. The characteristics that describe the people of the end times in NT scripture (lovers of selves, etc.) is not something that is just going to happen overnight on day 1 of the Tribulation period. There are things that will have to take place first in men's hearts and in world events to set the stage for the end times and I believe that many of those things have already happened and some more will happen in the very near future and I certainly feel the coldness in men's hearts more and more with each passing day I wake up.
As far as your view of how people think in various denominations, I agree that there are many that are sitting in the pew of some church denomination and have no clue what the doctrine held in that church is or how that doctrine sets them apart from another denomination (they are just there based on family tradition, etc.). However, I don't think is right to presume you know how most people think in this light because I know a lot of people that are very sold out on the doctrine of their denomination and they will adhere to it at any cost no matter how wrong they are proven to be. There again, I leave them to God's judgement because I realize how hard it is to let go of something when you have to admit that the people that raised you or the person you married or the pastor who has mentored you is wrong.
I don't really understanding the last paragraph of your e-mail below much at all, but I will reread my e-mail and reread your e-mail at a later date to try to sort out what you were responding to in that paragraph. I am sorry it has come to this, but I am finding as time goes on that I will be more and more alone in what God is showing me and how it makes me feel. If there was any possible way that you could feel what I am feeling, you might be more open to what I am saying because every day, I feel more and more Godly sorrow for an end that is most likely much closer that people realize (for our nation and for the world). There is no way to convey that sorrow to other people. I would give anything for this to just be an intellectual knowing because the pain of communing with God in this grief feels like more than I can bear at some times, but I will make it through.
Please do realize that this is not about you disagreeing with me about my take on things. It is about my not being able to add anything to this conversation because the door in your mind is either completely closed or mostly closed. If there were a possible way for me to just read your site and ask you questions about what you believe about something, I would do that, but I don't think I can possibly do that without adding my own take on things.
Thanks for the time you took to listen to me...
If you would like to continue using the site, I would be very pleased, and if you would like to ask questions, I would be very happy to answer. If you want to put in your own "two cents", that is just fine too. But just as you feel compelled to do so, I generally likewise feel compelled to respond when I think the truth needs to be defended. It's not personal; it's about the truth.
My position of "knowing" is, I guess, fairly complicated. I apparently still have not explained it adequately. We all fall short, and I am fully conscious of my own limitations. I certainly don't "know everything", and anything I do know I only know because of the grace of God. It is also very true, and I certainly didn't mean to imply that it is not the case, that I stand on the shoulders of many great men of the past without whose efforts I would never have been able to produce these studies (whatever they are worth).
Anyway, my sole motive is for the truth of the Word of God, understanding it and communicating it.
If this site and this ministry has been or yet can be any help to you in that regard, then I would consider our conversation a success.
In the Name of the One who died that we might have eternal life, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My reaction was not so much to a lack of agreement on our parts. It was a reaction to your lack of even seeming to want to contemplate what I was sharing as possibly being the truth (you might believe it could be true, but you don't seem to want to go any deeper than that at this point in time). I could be wrong, but it seemed like we were making some progress in that area (that you wanted to be open to what I was claiming that God was showing me), but your tone in the next e-mail seemed much more closed. Please don't think I am really upset about any of this. In the future, if you are really interested in hearing my full story because you see more evidence in scripture or in world events that I am speaking the truth or if the Holy Spirit leads you to question me some more about the witness of what I have experienced, then I am always here to share.
I think your ministry has a great value just as I support the value of many other people's ministries, but unfortunately, it seems that what I have to add to the Body of Christ doesn't seem to be highly valued by most people at the current time. It is hard enough to realize at times that not only is it not valued, but that people (even those close to me) would actually prefer to believe that I might not even be hearing from God at all. I am not the first or the last that has had to deal with this type of knowledge pretty much alone (and by alone, I don't mean that nobody else knows, but that most Christians don't even think it is the business of the church to listen to the prophetic voice within the Body warning them that the time is close at hand). Most Christians I speak to feel as you do...that Jesus will come back one way or another at one time or another and that it isn't for us to sit around contemplating the things that we can't prove or disprove (though most do usually have a strong belief about how these things will happen, they don't want to go to the area of going much deeper than that or contemplating that someone with a different opinion or more information to shed light on things could be telling the truth). That may seem sensible on the surface, but if it is, then the value of many spirit-given gifts within the Body of Christ are devalued greatly.
I am sure if I went on and on and told my whole story to you for the last 4 years (and even some things that happened before then) that you wouldn't reject my right to send you e-mails that took me hours to write, but the point is that I would be making great efforts that ended up as fruitless efforts. What I was trying to explain in the last e-mail is that I have lost heart because I don't feel like anyone (other than maybe God and family) really is all that interested in or cares to hear my story or understand what I am trying to share. I would personally be fascinated if someone that I knew or trusted (I am not saying you know or trust me...I am speaking of people who have known me for years) were making the claims that I have made and they weren't contradictory to scripture. I would give anything for others in the Body of Christ that I had witnessed as being credible individuals for years to step up and share such things with me, but nobody around me seems to really care what time we live in or whether the antichrist is here or not, etc. What shocks me is that as more time goes on, I don't believe they think I am crazy or lying...I think they are truly apathetic about the whole issue. They are passionate about many other Christian matters such as having almost perfect church attendance or taking care of the poor, the widowed, and the orphans (which are also causes I support), but when it really comes down to the core of things, they could care less whether God's scriptural prophecies are being fulfilled in their midst. So that is just the way it goes. There are days when I hope I am wrong because life is so much easier just being "normal" and not believing any of this is true, but I pray that I don't lose heart to be passionate about these matters even though there are so few around me that are even truly interested in what I have experienced (whether they believe it is true or not, they should at least find it interesting to contemplate as possible truth).
There again, I am respectful of people that fear falling in to the grips of false prophesying just for entertainment's sake. God knows which people really don't care about what He has shown me and which people are afraid to contemplate what He has shown me and which people fear falling in to the hands of end-time false prophecy. It isn't my job to sort out the hearts of men, but being human, sometimes I get so disheartened with what seems to be the apathy of the Body of Christ on this topic.
Thanks for everything. I will consider if I can utilize your ministry without going down a path that is a waste of my time and your time (because we might always be going off two different directions) and if you do ever feel led to more deeply contemplate what I have to share, I am always here.
We are both entitled to our skepticism, and to a certain degree such hesitancy is salutary. But my concern is that if a person holds off accepting and taking advantage of a ministry that might illuminate things, the result is an unnecessary loss of opportunity for spiritual growth.
We seem to be at an impasse: you accept the possibility of the Bible being taught accurately; but there are many ministries, many claim to have the truth, and you seem unwilling as yet to be persuaded that this ministry is essentially on target. For my part, there are many who claim to hear from God, and I am unwilling as yet to suspend my skepticism in general, let alone in particular.
You are most welcome to make use of the materials at Ichthys, and to do so in complete anonymity if you so desire.
In our Lord Jesus, for whom nothing is impossible.
I don't think I was ever closed to anything regarding the value or your ministry or how hard you have worked to search for the truth (other than the fact that it may take me a lot of time to understand all of it because even though what I have to share could fill a short book, what you have to share could probably fill several volumes). The only thing that I am closed to is the reality that sometimes what your ministry teaches is in direct contradiction to something that I believe God has shown me. I can't make the claim that I am as well versed or degreed as you are. I just know what I know based on years of feeling like I have spiritually bled as the cost for knowing what I perceive to be the truth and what I have discovered on this journey is that I am pretty sure there are some things we just can't be sure of at this point in time. So, actually, I am not speaking against a lot of your beliefs because I don't claim to have as many definitive answers as you claim to have. I do believe that speaking in tongues is not a gift that has completely ceased (though I do think it mysteriously became a less common gift to receive over the course of church history, but that could just be that so many denominations chose to became blind to certain gifts), but I certainly don't claim to have the rapture theories all sorted out nor do I claim to know the definite truth about a lot of things.
Again, if you have perceived me as being closed to your ministry, I am not closed at all to how hard you have studied scripture in an attempt to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. I just don't know how to be completely open to everything because regarding most things, there can only be one truth so it might appear that I am dismissing the value of the whole ministry because I am stating that I don't agree with certain things that it teaches. If I believe that it probably isn't possible to even know which rapture theory is the truth at this point in time and your ministry teaches that anyone who doesn't believe in the post-tribulation rapture is wanting an "easy out" or is being lulled in to a false sense of security because of their spiritual immaturity (because they want Christianity to be an easy road), then it could come off like I am saying that I don't value your ministry when all I am saying is that I don't agree 100% with some of the teachings of the ministry. I am not actually completely closed to the possibility of a post-tribulation rapture being true, but sometimes I have felt that you have a lot of preconceived notions about what other people feel and believe. Not everyone who believes in the pre-tribulation rapture is wanting an easy out (heaven with no suffering). What about all the believers of previous generations that died without having to go through the tribulation (which is a fate much worse than most any natural death)? Those people weren't necessarily shallow believers that just wanted to listen to some Christian pop music and stick an fish magnet on their car and that is that. I do feel for your frustration and sadness because I also feel like the Body of Christ is really shallow at times about things, but I don't presume that almost all people of a certain denominational belief are just there because of family tradition (I have spent to much time listening to people defend their beliefs to think that..though I do think those beliefs are tainted by the fact that they don't want to question what they were taught to be the truth for years and years by people they greatly respect) or that almost all people that believe in the pre-tribulation rapture are just shallow Christians wanting an easy out before the troubles come. There have been days the last few years that I have felt like the tribulation would be a cake walk compared to being alone in so much of this understanding. I am sure if I were going through the tribulation I wouldn't really feel it was a cake walk, but at least that will be a time when the whole world will be hit square between the eyes with the truth and right now, I am living in a time when very few people get it and I just look sort of off balance and out of the "cool loop" that everyone else is in around me.
In saying all of this, I am not meaning to judge you because I agree that we won't be able to go on with all of this unless we come to a point where we each spend more time listening to the other and reserve judgement and listen openly to what each person has to share. The problem is that I will be sharing directly with you through e-mails and how do you plan to share what you believe with me? Am I supposed to read everything you have written in your ministry and then reply to that with what I have to say without even mentioning that what I have to share is sometimes in direct conflict to what you believe? I can certainly send you everything over the course of time and you can read it without making any comments of judgement about what I have shared, but I guess what I am asking is how you want me to handle taking in what you have to share. Should I read everything you have written and take it in with no comment? It isn't really necessary, I guess, for you to e-mail me about what you believe when you have already written up what you believe to be the truth based on your scriptural studies.
I feel like I am sort of rambling because some ideas are hard to express, but I think what I am trying to say in a nutshell is that the only thing that I have felt we have been closed to is belief that the other person could be speaking the truth. I don't think you personally are apathetic to what I am sharing and I am certainly not apathetic to what you are sharing (I feel most other Christians are apathetic about these topics and will be caught greatly off-guard). I don't feel the crux of our problem is apathy toward the other person's ministry. The crux of our problem is that, in some cases, one of us has to be wrong because there can't be multiple truths about the things we are discussing and we both feel that we have a lot of the answers, but they aren't the same answers. So, as a result, it can sometimes seem like we are devaluing what the other one has studied or experienced, but in reality, what we are devaluing is that the other person is not correctly understanding the truth because if we give ourselves over to the other person's beliefs, the only way to do that is to admit we are wrong in some cases. I believe that you are going to have a bigger struggle with being wrong because you claim to have a lot more of the answers than I do. You would probably be surprised how flexible I am about some things because it is my experiences that pressed me to study scripture deeply. I wasn't on a journey to prove or disprove anything when God started showing me all of these things. In my case, I am in an even more delicate position because as a general rule, people are much more likely to trust what is laid out in black and white in scripture than to trust that someone claims to have been given clarification by God through dreams and tongues speaking about what is laid out in scripture.
I have probably said these two things before, but let me say them again in the hopes of avoiding any confusion. First, when I state things as applications, interpretations of present circumstances, it goes without saying that I have to be describing general trends and not generalizing to the point of 100%. Of course there are Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists -- possibly even Roman catholics -- who are good Christians and who do not follow in the footsteps of the worst trends of their particular denominations. I like to think I used to fit into that category. And of course there are good Christians who believe erroneous things like the pre-Trib rapture who have not been completely undermined thereby and who will make it through the Tribulation in spite of that. I used to be one of them. My point is that in the case of these denominations they are for the most part doing more harm than good in many cases; and in the case of other groups who hold to false doctrines, these always do only harm (even in cases where they do not fatally compromise the good).
Secondly, I don't really see any place where what you have said is a direct and necessary contradiction of what I have taught. For example, when I teach that antichrist is from Babylon, that Babylon is the future U.S., that antichrist is half-Jewish (mother's side), will gain power in part by being a champion of Israel, and will portray himself (and be accepted by many) as "the Messiah", you certainly have expressed reservations with many is not all of these points; you certainly have said things like "that is not the way I envisioned it", etc., but I don't recall you relating anything specific that indicate that all this might not possibly be in fact be true.
I don't think we need to go any farther than that. You are welcome to read as little or as much of what I have posted at the site: it's certainly not mandatory. If I had that rule, no one would ever email me! Feel free to write back about any of this.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
I guess the reason that it is touchier for me to accept someone being skeptical about what I have received is because it has been such an emotional (rather than intellectual) journey. God works through different believers in different ways and because my journey has been so hard on me emotionally and has been so close up and personal (actually feeling the presence of the Lord coursing through me like electricity and hearing His voice in so many different audible ways and feeling His sorrow about things I don't even completely understand myself), it makes it really hard to have someone be skeptical about what I am sharing with them, but I do realize that even when someone has received information from God mainly through biblical study rather than other means that there is a lot of personal investment in what a person comes to believe because that person is being guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the process of discerning what scripture has to say.
I will be begin to read what you have written and will start sending you my stuff, but it may take a while.
I just wanted to explain to you that I am open to the post-tribulation rapture being a possible truth, but the reason I don't believe we are supposed to necessarily know how the rapture will happen is because of the way God has information about the rapture scattered all over the New Testament (and possible references to it in the OT) in no particular chronological order. One of my major concerns about discarding the pre-trib rapture as a possible truth is that Jesus says that nobody but God knows the hour of His return and scripture clearly spells out how many days will fall from the time the antichrist sets himself up as God in the temple until the end of the tribulation period. I may have also already mentioned this, but I also don't think that there is anything ordinary about the events that will take place during the tribulation and Jesus also clearly says that at the time of His return (meaning the time he raptures his saints to meet Him in the sky) that things will be going on here on earth in an everyday fashion. I don't think people will be eating, drinking and marrying in a blase, everyday manner as they witness the horrific events described in Revelation taking place. This doesn't mean that I think people will completely stop eating/drinking or never marry during the Tribulation Period, but I think Jesus' point was to say that life will seem normal and everyday when the rapture occurs and that this event will take people by complete surprise because nothing on the earth will seem all the different to them that it has since the beginning. The people that are alive to witness the events of the tribulation may not recognize or acknowledge them as being the fulfillment of prophetic scripture in the book of Revelation, but they will not be in "everyday as usual" mode either (at least I don't believe so). You don't need to go on defending your beliefs on this topic before I even read all that you have written on the topic because you may have an explanation already in place on your site for why you still believe in the post-trib rapture after considering all these points, but I did want to clarify before we leave this topic that I have considered the pre-trib rapture as being a possible truth on many levels other than just a personal desire for that the be the correct theory.
As far as the antichrist being half Jewish, it isn't a personal envisioning of the antichrist that led me to believe he will not be Jewish. It is that God always identifies him to me as being driven by the same spirit that drives radical Muslims. There again, though, I could be misunderstanding something so I am fine with us reserving all judgement for now. It could be that the antichrist is of Jewish blood, but is of the same belief system as the radical Muslims (just as Judas was obviously a betrayer of the Judeo/Christian faith even though he was a Jew).
Actually, the "day and the hour" passage is wildly misunderstood and consistently mistranslated. Here is what I have written about it elsewhere:
Acts 1:7 is often mistranslated in this regard, and should be rendered "It is not for you to decide the times and the seasons" (a common meaning of gignosko, especially when it is in the aorist as here), since it is immediately explained by "which the Father has ordained by His authority" (i.e., the Father has decided this; it is not to be decided by your wishes). Jesusí disciples were clearly expressing the wish through their question in verse six for Him to establish the Kingdom immediately [but that was not their decision to make]. We must also take into consideration the fact that this statement was given to the apostles prior to the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit is the agent of inspiration, chronology included, whom, as Jesus had already made clear, would be the One to relate to them "the things to come" (Jn.16:13; cf. 2Pet.1:16-21). Since they will later come to understand the "things to come", verse seven must understood in conjunction with verse eight: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you ...", a statement that clearly includes the previously promised further revelation of the Spirit (not excluding information about the end times). This is why, a few short years later, Paul can tell the Thessalonians the exact opposite of Acts 1:7: "concerning the times and the seasons, you have no need that anyone write you, for you know very well ..." (1Thes.5:1-2) - by this time the Spirit had revealed more information about future eschatology.
As to the "people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" issue, Matthew 24 actually applies this not to the population of the Tribulation but to those "in the days before the flood"; the people described in the Tribulation are "[working] in the field" or "grinding at the handmill" -- essential economic tasks that even the worst of circumstances will still require for survival. Of course all of these activities that may seem inconsistent with the Tribulation will have been going on at least in Babylon throughout that dark time (see Rev.18:22-23).
Finally, as to antichrist's Jewish mother, I am happy to over that ground again. I would like to emphasize that one of antichrist's trump cards will be his propagandistic identification of the leader of the southern alliance as "antichrist"; for, if people think the "Mahdi" is "really antichrist", that will leave them all the more susceptible to believing that antichrist, the one who is putatively "opposing antichrist" will instead be the true Messiah. Accepting anti-Christ as "Christ" will be the primary way that believers fall away into apostasy during the Tribulation. This is an important point to get right.
In our dear Lord Jesus, the One and only true Messiah.