If you’ve ever attended a Christian Sunday school class perhaps you sang about “Father Abraham”. The song goes like this:
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord……..
Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:16-29; Rom. 4:11) and “the friend of God” (Jas. 2:23). He is an example to us in many ways, therefore, it is always good to study him and learn from that which the Bible reveals to us about him. The Biblical account of Abraham starts with God making the following promises to him:
- I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
- I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
- I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
- And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3)
Genesis 12:2-3(KJV) – “And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curesth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Genesis chapter 12 is often referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant.
A friend from India recently shared with me that he and his family were “Saint Thomas Christians”. At the time I had not known that Saint Thomas had evangelized the nation of India. I had assumed (wrongfully) that all Indians followed the Hindu religion or were perhaps Muslims. The Saint Thomas Christians refer to themselves in this way because their tradition holds that their ancestors, who all came from the high castes of Hindu society, were converted by the Saint Thomas (the Apostle), who landed in India around 52 AD. History tells us that Saint Thomas died a martyr’s death in India. Pilgrimages to his tomb have always been an important element in the religious life of the St Thomas Christian community. So in the first century A.D., from its’ origin in Jerusalem, the gospel had reached the people living in far away India! Saint Thomas was doing his part to spread the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world of his day.
The Gap Theory
I’m sure most Christians are familiar with the debate about whether Jesus Christ will return for His church before, during or after the seven years of tribulation. These three interpretations are referred to as the “pre-trib”, “mid-trib” and the “post-trib” views. For years, yours truly got caught up in this debate. During this entire period I never once asked the question “does the Bible teach that Daniel chapter 27 refers to a future seven-year period of tribulation” in the first place?
Well, guess what I found? Or should I say what I didn’t find? What I haven’t found is any specific Bible text that predicts a future seven-year tribulation period. Whether we are speaking of a “pre,” “mid” or “post” return of Christ for His church, the entire “theory” is based on an interpretation of one primary scripture, Daniel 9:27.
Many Christians have been taught that the Battle of Armageddon will be the greatest military conflict in history. In this conflict, the armies of the world will gather to wage war against Christ in the Valley of Armageddon. As the teaching goes, Christ will return to earth with His saints. Christ will destroy the armies of “the Antichrist” with violent judgments and will set up a new world order at Jerusalem. Reference to Armageddon is made in only one place in our Bibles – Revelation 16:16:
Revelation 16:16 (KJV) – And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Sell Books – Write About “Armageddon”!
I did a quick search on the Amazon.com website for books and videos containing the word Armageddon. The search yielded 293 hits! The subject of Armageddon certainly is popular today. You can be sure that any book or movie containing the word Armageddon will certainly grab the attention of an unsuspecting public.
Is the United States of America found in prophecy? Many prophecy teachers claim that the United States, Great Britain, Russian and other modern nations are mentioned in the Bible. Most of these prophecy teachers place great importance on the “Beasts” found in Daniel 7:1-28. Let’s look at a portion of these scriptures:
Daniel 7:3-7 (KJV) – And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
Have you ever heard the term “newspaper exegesis”? What exactly is “newspaper exegesis”? Well, it’s reading the news headlines into the Bible in an attempt to understand a prophetic scripture instead of letting the Bible speak for itself. Quite honestly in years past I have been guilty of using “newspaper exegesis” in an attempt to interpret the prophetic word of God.
A starting place for anyone studying prophecy is the Lord’s Olivet Discourse found in Matthew chapter 24. A favorite past time of many Christians is to take verses in Matthew 24 out of context and then run over to newspapers (or the internet) to see which prophecy is being fulfilled that day. A favorite topic is the “abomination of desolation.”. This subject, along with the “Antichrist” and “The Mark of the Beast” is the subject of books that are selling by the millions. So what should we think of all this?
I ran across this poem this morning. It really touched my heart and really hit home with me.
“Man” -a poem by Pentecostal Pioneer John Baptist Thomas, former missionary to Iraq and founder of the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans.
If every day a man should labor
From childhood till he’s old,
What would it profit tho he gained the world,
If at last he lost his soul?
Man is like a little flower
With glory for a time,
Then he sees the shining sickle
And hears the death bells chime.
The doors are closed, the windows dark,
The sound of grinding is low.
It matters not how strong he is,
His time has come to go.
And ere the silver card is loosed,
Oh mortal fading fame,
The dust to earth, The spirit returns
To God from where it came.
John Baptist Thomas
July 12, 1930
The Nature of the Book
One of the most misunderstood scriptures in our Bible centers around Revelation 21:21. This is the “pearly gates”, “street of gold” scripture. Should we take this scripture literally? Let’s explore what the scriptures reveal.
Revelation is undoubtedly a unique book. While considered part of the New Testament, it is different from other books of the New Testament. More importantly, it is different from styles of writing used today. Revelation is apocalyptic. The word ‘revelation’ in Greek is “apokalupsis”, which means ‘an uncovering’ or ‘unveiling.’ Thus, Revelation is a book that was intended to reveal, not conceal! The book is an example of apocalyptic literature.
Apocalyptic literature is a literary style popular from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. It is a style known for highly symbolic or figurative language written during times of persecution. It usually depicts the conflict between good and evil while encouraging the righteous to persevere.
One of the most difficult passages in the Bible is found in Matthew chapter 24. Referred to as the Olivet Discourse, this part of the Bible is the main jumping off point for a lot of the prophecy teachings regarding a period called “the end time” or “the last days.” Matthew 24 is a frightening scripture that mentions earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and pestilences, among the few calamities in store for planet earth. As the teaching goes, all of these horrible things will be a sign that the “end of the world” is right around the corner.
Over the years, I began to realize that there is an entire industry that has grown up focusing on the “end time.” There are books, movies, conferences and seminars that support this area of Bible study. The basic pitch is that terrible stuff is coming! And why is that? Because they believe that the Bible tells them so. The pitchmen declare that they know best how to interpret all this apocalyptic imagery and symbolism.
Over thirty years ago I got off track! How so you might ask. Well as a newly minted Christian I had a fascination with the “last days” and anything that had to do with the “end times”. One of the first books that I purchased, besides the Bible, was Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. That book had a profound effect on the way that I interpreted Bible passages that I assumed dealt with the “end time”. The book was published in 1970 by Zondervan Publishing House. I picked up my copy in 1983, thirteen years after its original publication date. 28 million copies had sold by 1990. Did I bother to check the claims made in this book against the scriptures? Nope! Sure didn’t. That is until a few short years ago!
Although Lindsey did not claim to know the dates of future events with any certainty, he suggested that Matthew 24:32-34 indicated that Jesus’ return might be within “one generation” of the rebirth of the state of Israel, and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.