Thursday, December 22, 2011

Was Jesus born on December 25

One question that you may have asked yourself, or maybe someone has asked you before is, “Was Jesus really born on December 25?” Most of us just assume that this is the day that Christ was born because that is what we have always been told. The truth is that Jesus was probably not born in December. The bible does not tell us the exact date in which Christ was born, but we can determine from clues his approximate birthday.

The fact that Jesus was born in a manger should give us some sort of a clue. The winter months in that part of the world are notoriously terrible. It would have been almost impossible for a young woman to sleep and give birth in a stable during this time of the year.

We are also told in Luke 2 that after the birth of Christ angels appeared to a group of shepherds who were “keeping watch over their flock by night.” Again because of the cold winter nights it was customary for shepherds to keep their sheep located in pens or coralls during these months. The nights were so cold that they would not stay out all night with their sheep in the field during the winter months. It seems highly unlikely that a group of angels would find shepherds in the field at night near the end of December.

So when was Jesus born?

Well as I have already said we are not given the exact date of His birth. We are however given a clue. According to Luke chapter one the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, the priest, while he was ministering in the temple and told him that his wife Elisabeth was going to have a child. Of course this child was going to become a great man we know as “John the Baptist.” Zacharias did not believe the report from Gabriel and because of his unbelief was stricken dumb and could not talk.

According to verses 23 & 24 when Zacharias’ time of temple service was over he returned home and Elisabeth conceived a child. In verse 5 we are told that Zacharias served as a priest “of the course of Abia.” When a priest served in the temple it was not an ever day, every week job. According to I Chronicles 24 the priesthood was divided among the sons of Aaron. The temple service was divided into 24 courses and the priest would rotate through the year the temple service. The course of Abijah was the 8th shift. It was this course that Zacharias served. The course of Abia or Abijah ran from around June 3 through June 17. Therefore Elisabeth conceived sometime around the end of June or the first of July.

You may ask what this has to do with the birth of Jesus. Well looking back in Luke we learn that in the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named Mary and told her that she would also be giving birth to a child. Doing some simple math tells us that Elisabeth gave birth sometime in late April or early May. If she was six months further along than Mary that means that Mary must have given birth in late September.

Why then December 25?

The truth is that December 25 was celebrated by the heathen Babylonians as the birth of the sun god. In fact many of our present-day Christmas traditions find their way to Babylon. The Yule log, candles and the Christmas tree are just a couple examples. Babylonian celebrations grew in popularity through the years, and the Catholic church feeling the pressure to celebrate holidays, or lose part of their following, established a group of Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas. For Christmas they chose the day the heathen celebrated, December 25.

What does this mean to you and me?

Considering the information above should we continue to celebrate Christmas? I am going to, and I encourage you to as well. The fact that there is a day set aside to remember the birth of our Lord is a wonderful thing. No, maybe Jesus was not born on December 25, but He was born. John 1:14 emphatically states that God wrapped Himself in flesh and dwelt among us. That is something worth celebrating!

I hope each of you will take the time to teach your children and grandchildren the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them about a God that loved them so much that He sent His only Son into this world. Teach them about how this God-man grew to a man, laid down His life for the sins of the world on a cross, and three days later arose from the grave victorious over death, hell and the grave. That is the story of Christmas the world needs to hear.

Let me finish by wishing you a Merry Christmas. I hope your holiday is filled with fun, family, friends and food.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Rise of Antichrist & His False Prophet

Revelation Chapter 13

In our previous blog we discussed John’s vision of two wonders in heaven. After these visions John is now upon the seashore. While standing there John watches as a beast comes from the sea. As the beast begins to arise out of the sea John describes him to us.

Let me first say this about the sea in this chapter; the sea in this verse, like many other times in the bible refers to people. This beast will arise from the masses. It is also a symbol of the abyss in which the beast comes from.

The beast had seven heads and ten horns, and upon each horn was a crown. John tells us that the beast had the body of a leopard, feet like a bear; the mouth of a lion and the dragon is the one giving him his power. This does not mean that the dragon has given him his own throne, but he did give him the power and a throne and great authority.

The description of this beast brings us back to the book of Daniel. In the book of Daniel we saw each of these beasts represented a kingdom that would rule upon the earth. The book of Daniel is broken down into four main visions by Daniel and a dream by Nebuchadnezzar. All of these deal with the “times of the Gentiles” in relationship to the latter days.

In chapter two Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which God revealed that there was to be four world wide empires leading up until the time in which a “Stone Kingdom” or the millennial kingdom of Christ is set up. In this same chapter we are told that Babylon was the first of these four kingdoms. As the book progresses we are told who the second and third empires will be and we are given a clue revealing who the fourth will be.

Forty-eight years after this dream Daniel has a vision. In this vision Daniel is standing upon the sea shore and watches as four beasts come forth from the water. I believe if you study these beasts you will see the similarity to John’s vision. Remember that John saw a wild beast which had the body of a leopard, feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion.

So that is:
  1. wild beast
  2. leopard
  3. bear
  4. lion

Now turning back to Daniel’s vision let us notice what he saw. Daniel describes the four beasts in the following order.

  1. Lion with wings of an eagle (Babylon Empire)
  2. Bear (Medio Persian Empire)
  3. Leopard with wings of a fowl (Grecian Empire)
  4. A wild beast (Roman Empire / Revived Roman Empire under Antichrist)

I think that it is obvious that these two men were seeing the same thing. Daniel looking from the present toward the future saw the kingdoms of the world leading up until the end time in which Antichrist would rule. John saw from the future in which Antichrist ruled backward through history. This man, Antichrist, will be a terrible man. He will be composed of men ago: Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Alexander the Great and Caesar Augustus. He will be a great humanitarian, the friend of men (especially the Jew) and he will persuade all that he is there to usher in the kingdom pictured by the prophets. He will intoxicate men with strong delusion, he will be slain and arise from the dead having lost none of his power, and the world will accept him.

Now as we turn back to John’s vision of this man we see that the beast has seven heads and ten horns, and the horns are crowned. When we see the crowns upon the head of the beast it speaks of the height of his power. John actually had two visions of this beast. One is in this chapter and one in chapter 17.

John also sees this beast in chapter 17 coming up out of the abyss, but at that time the heads of the beast are not crowned. This means that the beast we see in chapter 17 represents the Antichrist before he receives his power and kingdoms, or the Antichrist at the beginning of the week, and the crowned beast we see in chapter 13 is the Antichrist in the middle of the week.

We also notice that the beast in chapter 17 is being ridden by a woman, who represents the papal, one world; church that comes into power after the true church is removed from this world. As the judgment of God begins to fall upon the world and wars begin to break forth there will be ten kingdoms that will unite for mutual protection, and no doubt the fake church will play a large part in this merger.

Because of her help she will be rewarded with political power, thus we see the woman riding the beast or dominating it. But when the beast receives its power or crowns we see that the beast becomes angry with the woman or “whore” as she is called and will hate her, make her desolate, eat her flesh and burn her with fire according to Revelation 17:16.

While we know that the seven heads of the beast represent seven mountains, which represent the Roman Empire, we are also told that they represent seven kings.

Revelation 17:9-10

This tells us that in John’s day five kings had already fallen, the sixth was in power and ruling in John’s day, and one was yet to come. The last or seventh king no doubt will be the Antichrist. In this verse John tells us that one of the heads of the beast had received a deadly wound.

Revelation 17:11

The only clear explanation is that the seventh head, or the Antichrist is the one who receives the deadly wound, probably at the hand of an assassin. The body of the Antichrist will lay dead.  Before the burial, his body will come back to life and he will therefore become the eighth king as well as the seventh. From Eden until the end time Satan has always counterfeited the works of God. This is no different. It would not surprise me if the Antichrist does not lay dead for three days, and at the end of three days come back to life.

This will make the world wonder after him and they will proclaim, “Who is able to make war with the beast?” This will take place at the middle of the week, the time in which the dragon is cast out of heaven, and it will account for the drastic transformation in the attitude of the Antichrist. It will be at this time he will break his covenant with the Jew, desecrate the temple and calling himself God according to Daniel chapter 9.

Also consider the following verses.

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change the times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”  Daniel 7:25

“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”   Daniel 8:25

“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.”   Daniel 11:36

After John sees and describes the first beast that he saw which came up out of the sea, he then sees a second beast coming up out of the earth. Again John begins to describe what he sees.

As John begins to describe this beast he describes him as being like a lamb. John does not say that this beast was a lamb but that he was like one in that he had two horns. Because of this resemblance to a lamb many try to claim that this beast is actually the antichrist and imitating Christ. While Christ is called a lamb many times throughout this book we do notice a difference between this beast and the description given to Christ. Christ is said on multiple occasions to be a lamb with seven horns while this beast only has two.

This second beast is actually given a name, the “False Prophet.” This name is used for him three times in the scriptures begin in chapter 16. Christ spoke of him when He said the following.

“There shall arise false Christ’s’ and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders: insomuch if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect.”   Matthew 24:24

So in this chapter we see three main characters: the dragon, the antichrist and the false prophet. These three will make up the “satanic trinity.” The dragon will imitate God the father, the antichrist will imitate God the son and the false prophet will be an imitation of God the Holy Spirit.

The false prophet will cause an image to be erected of the first beast. He will give power to the image so that it can speak, and will demand that all people worship the image. I can imagine that replica images will be sold, people will have them in their homes, they will be at government buildings and no doubt at all “mark” application facilities.

As the followers of Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption, so shall the followers of antichrist be sealed. They will be sealed with what we call the mark of the beast, which is the name, or number of the name of the antichrist, 666. All both will be forced to receive the mark of the beast under the penalty of death.

This mark will either be a tattoo or a brand in the fore head or right hand. It seems likely that this will be accompanied with a micro chip. This chip will contain information such as your banking information, maybe your social security number, maybe even the kingdom in which you live. We are not far from this today. With technologies such as debit cards, smart phones, and the internet. Consider technologies such as “Google wallet” which allows you to pay for purchases by waving your cell phone over the cash register. We are not far from just waving our hand over the register. It would be harder to steal a hand than it would be a cell phone.

This number, 666, is the number of man. This is the number, which stops short of perfection, which is the number 7. Man was created on the sixth day. Goliath, the opposer of God’s people, a type of Satan, was 6 cubits in height, he had 6 pieces of armor and his spearhead weighed 600 shekels. The image of Nebuchadnezzar was 60 cubits in height, 6 cubits wide and 6 musical instruments played when people fell down and worshipped it.

In this day no one can shop without the mark under the penalty of death. If men cannot buy or sell without the mark then they must be forced to beg, or starve. The names of those killed will no doubt be published to place fear in the hearts of all the undecided.

Imagine the local news containing footage of some “rouge fanatic” that would not accept the mark of Antichrist. No doubt they will show them lead to the guillotine and maybe even show them having their head removed.

This all will continue until the Lord returns and cast the dragon into the bottomless pit for 1,000 years and cast the antichrist and the false prophet into the lake fire.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Two Wonders in Heaven

Revelation Chapter 12

It has been a few days since my last post on the book of Revelation. I would like to pick that up and continue where we last left off. Beginning in chapter ten we are given seven parenthetical chapters. These chapters explain to us things that are taking place during the last half of the tribulation period. In chapter ten we are told of a mighty angel with a little book. In chapter eleven we see the work of God’s two witnesses.

In chapter twelve are now in the middle of the week. At this time John witnesses to wonders in heaven. He sees a wonder of a sun clothed woman, and a wonder of a great dragon.

The Sun Clothed Woman

There is a lot of speculation about who this woman represents. Some would have us believe that the woman is the church. They claim that the church is pictured in this woman by saying that the woman is the visible church or the outward church, and the man-child is the real church. And that the man-child or real church is to be called out at the middle of the week. If this be true then you must believe that the church will go though the first half of the tribulation period. We know this is not true, as we have seen in chapter 4:1.

Others claim that this woman is the Virgin Mary. This is not true for the Virgin Mary has never been described as this woman is described.

This woman is Israel. The word “wonder” in this verse is the same word used in the Greek for sign. Therefore this woman is a sign. I believe this woman is a sign of Israel. When you compare the description of this woman, with some Old Testament descriptions of Israel you can see the similarity. For example look back to the dream of Joseph in the book of Genesis.

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.”  Genesis 37:9

The woman in this chapter is seen to be with child. This condition has never been said of the church. The church in the scriptures is called a virgin and an espoused virgin at that. In fact if the condition of this woman were the condition of the church, then it would make the church unfit to be the bride of Christ.

The church is never a mother, but being a mother was prophesied of Israel.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6

The Great Red Dragon

The second wonder in heaven that appears is a red dragon. There is no doubt who this dragon is. He is identified for us in verse 9. In this verse the dragon is named “that old serpent, the devil, and Satan.”

Notice the description of this dragon. First notice the color of this dragon. He is red in color which is the color of blood. This is a fitting description for Satan because we are told in John 8:44 that Satan is a murderer, and has been from the beginning. Second I would like for you to notice that this dragon wears a crown. This tells of his earthly dominion. Some people have a hard time accepting the earthly dominion of Satan, but the fact that Satan has a kingdom is something that is clear in the scriptures. In fact in Luke 4 Satan offers Christ the kingdoms of the world, and Jesus did not dispute with Satan over his claim to kingdoms.

“And the devil taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me: and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”   Luke 4:5-7

His seven heads, ten horns and crowns associate him with the beast that comes out of the sea in chapter 13. The beast from the sea is the Antichrist. These two have some relation. The dragon will embody the Antichrist and at that point he will become the beast, break his covenant with the Jew, and set up himself as God.

John then tells us that the dragon awaits the birth of the man-child, or Jesus Christ, so that he can devour Him as soon as He is born. It is interesting to trace the story of the fight between  Satan and God to bring forth the man-child. From the Garden of Eden until the cross, Satan has tried to destroy the man-child. Satan however was unsuccessful.

As a result of the travel, the woman brings forth a man-child who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron. There is no question who this man-child is. He is the Christ.

The man-child is not the church, because the man-child is caught up to the father's throne where he is now seated. The church is not caught up to the Father's throne but to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.

Now we come to a source of confusion for many. They read these verses and assume that the woman flees into the wilderness immediately after the birth of her child. Since the time of her departure is in the middle of the week, they are very confused.

What these people fail to see is how her child can be Christ, for he was born and caught up to his father's throne thousands of years ago. But what we are overlooking is the fact that between the 5th and 6th verses is found the church period. This is the same as the gap between Daniel's sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks.

In verse 5 John described the birth of Christ and His ascension. Then John jumps the gap and describes the flight of the woman in verse 6. The reason for this jump over the gap is due to the fact that John is simply dealing with God's dealings with Israel. The flight of the woman in this verse does not take place until after the war in heaven, in the middle of the week.

A War in Heaven

The war in heaven begins by the attempt to expel Satan or the dragon from the heavenly. These verses are not describing the fall of Satan at the time of his rebellion. This is clearly taught in the scriptures, for Satan up to this point has liberty to go to and fro on the earth and even into heaven. We know that he came into the Garden of Eden in the days of Adam and we even see him approach God in heaven in the days to Job.

Since this war, and casting out of Satan, is not the casting out that took place many years ago. It is safe to assume that there must have been something new that started this war. Many, as well as myself, believe that this war could very well be started by the rapture of the church. When the church leaves this world we will go directly through the domain of Satan in the heavens. As the church is raptured, Michael will withhold Satan and his forces, and prevent them from disrupting the departure of the saints. As a result, war will begin to brew in the air.

This has happened before, therefore why could it not happen again. You ask, when did this happen before? In the book of Daniel chapter 10 we are told that God sent a message to Daniel by his messenger Gabriel. Gabriel was not able to deliver the message however because he was hindered by Satan. Therefore Michael came and fought with Satan allowing the message to be delivered to Daniel.

Michael overcomes Satan and cast him to the earth. As the dragon is cast down there will be great rejoicing in heaven, but it brings woe to those on the earth.  The dragon is filled with wrath because he knows that he has but a short time to vent his anger on the inhabitants of the earth. It will not be long until he is chained and placed in the bottomless pit.

When Satan realizes that he has been cast to the earth he immediately begins to persecute the woman (Israel). It is through Israel that Christ came. Notice that Satan will pursue after Israel, but God does not allow him success. God hides His people in the wilderness for the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation.