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The important stuff…

 

This page is about the “important stuff” of life.  It is dedicated to the Carpenter of Galilee, Jesus the Christ; the Man who walked on water, whose birthday defines our calendars, whose death and resurrection opened the way back to God for us all, and on whose teachings the Western democratic system is founded.

 

On this page I share some of the thoughts and insights that He has given me as I endeavour to daily walk closer with Him.  I welcome any comments that fellow pilgrims may wish to make; please use the email address in the navigation bar on the left.

 

Contents:

·         Annual Bible Reading Plan  (just below Jesus’ picture)

·         Articles:

o     by TH

o     Biblical Time Lines

o     by others

o     Christmas facts & fables

·         Bible Prophecy

o     Prophesies Jesus fulfilled in His Life

o     Is the Bible true?

o     Beware false prophets!A comparison of the cults with Christianity

o     And now to cases...!

o     The ultimate false prophet

o     ‘The Harbinger’

 

Text Box: This picture entitled, “The Prince of Peace”,
is a copy of the painting of Jesus by 6 year old Akiane Kramarik after having several visions of Heaven from the age of 4. The accuracy of the likeness was independently confirmed by 7 year old Colton Burpo, who, at the age of 4, died briefly while being operated on for a burst appendix - see pages 140 to 145 in the book ‘Heaven is for Real’ by his Dad, Todd Burpo   (ISBN: 978-0-8499-4615-8).

Interestingly, both children said, wistfully, “...He has such beautiful eyes...”

Google ‘Akiane Kramarik’ and ‘Colton Burpo’ for more.

Prince of Peace reduced.jpg   

 

Annual Bible Reading Plan:  One of the Didasko Files, booklets prepared and distributed by the 2010 Lausanne Evangelical Movement held in Cape Town, is called ‘More Precious than Gold’ and is an annual Bible reading plan.  It was developed by a young Scottish minister, Robert Murray McCheyne (1813 – 1843), to encourage Christians to grow in their faith through daily Scripture reading, and is recommended by leaders such as John Stott, the Honorary Chairman of the Lausanne Movement.  It begins with the four ‘great beginnings’ in Scripture and ‘in parallel’ takes the reader through them, starting each ‘path’ in:

 

Ø  Genesis - the birth of the universe and God’s implementation of the Old Covenant with Abraham;

Ø   Matthew - the birth of Christ and God’s implementation of the New Covenant;

Ø  Ezra – the re-birth of the Jewish Nation after the Babylonian captivity; and

Ø   Acts - the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ.

 

If you read four chapters a day, one from each 'path' above, you will read through the whole Bible in 12 months, once through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament and Psalms.  And in a way that 'conventional' Bible reading plans, which start at Genesis 1: 1 and end at Revelation 22: 21 do not, this reading plan opens one's eyes to how the whole of the Old Testament points forward to the glorious coming of Jesus, the Word, as described in the Gospels and expanded upon in the letters to the early Churches.  So often the New Testament passage you are reading 'today' will quote a passage from the Old Testament that you will have read in the last couple of days, which opens one's eyes to how incredibly loving and patient our Father God was with the Israelites (and is with us!).  You will see how He gave them warning after warning, getting progressively stronger over time, until He eventually lost patience with the Northern Kingdom, and in 722 BC used the Assyrians to punish them, totally destroying the Northern Kingdom, never to be restored.

 

Then in 612 BC God used the Babylonians to punish the Assyrians, who were apparently one of the most ruthless and godless nations ever to walk this earth.

 

The Southern Kingdom lasted longer than the Northern one, however, because unlike the Northern Kingdom which had a series of only bad, ungodly kings, they had a few godly kings in between the bad ones.  But eventually God's patience ran out with them too, and in 586 BC He used the Babylonians to punish the Southern Kingdom and take them into exile in Babylon.

 

But the Babylonians, like the Assyrians before them, lived an evil lifestyle in God's eyes, so in 539 BC He used the Medes and the Persians to punish the Babylonians for their evil behaviour.  And then a year later, in 538 BC, Cyrus the Great, King of Persia - as Isaiah had prophesied some 150 years before, specifically naming Cyrus by name! - Cyrus gave the Israelites permission to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  They managed the Temple but the walls remained in ruins.

 

Then in about 440 BC Ezra and Nehemiah came on the scene and led the rebuilding of the walls of the City of Jerusalem - rebuilding them in only 52 days!  But more important, Ezra led the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish nation, turning them back to the worship of the One True God, Yahweh.

 

Then ... silence from God for about 400 years, until ...

 

... in around 3 BC, Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, oldest ‘son’ of his humble and righteous earthly father, Joseph, came.  He grew up in Nazareth and doubtless became a carpenter like His Dad, until at the age of 30 – the age when rabbinical students became Rabbis – Jesus started His three year ministry.

 

Three years later, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey a week before His crucifixion, He wept over the city:

 

(Matt 23: 37 – 39): "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

 

Look, your house is left to you desolate.

 

For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" 

 

(Luke 21: 5 – 6): Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,"As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down." 

 

Which came to pass in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed both the magnificent Temple and Jerusalem to subdue a Jewish revolt. Yet while Jerusalem has been rebuilt, the Temple has not.  Because as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2: 9:

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

And as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

 

Although Paul wrote this latter quote in the context of avoiding sexual sin, I personally believe that the reason the Temple in Jerusalem has never been rebuilt is because you and I, believers and followers of Christ, are now His and Our Father’s Temple here on earth, where the Holy Spirit dwells once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.  For more on this, and for a suggestion on how to ask Jesus to become Lord of your life, please read my article below entitled, “How Can a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?”

 

The Bible is truly the most awesome book ever written!

 

You are welcome to download a copy of this Bible Reading Plan in pdf format by clicking on the link here, as well as two time lines, one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament, which list the books of the Bible in the order that they were actually written, with a number of key historical events in between to give an historical context to each book.

 

In my short walk with my Lord and Saviour – I invited Him into my life on 11th May, 1997 at the age of 52 – I have found that the more time I spend in the Word the more my relationship with Jesus grows.  And the more time I don’t spend in His Word, the more I don’t grow! 

 

So I scanned the booklet and created an Adobe pdf document of it (download link above) so I can print a copy each year and then tick off the readings on the copy as I complete them, so I don’t ‘use up’ the original.  And you can do the same each year once you have downloaded the document.  For the record, I now take about 15 months to read through the whole Bible at 4 chapters per day, ticking off the chapters I have read each day.  But I don’t stress over that, because to read the Word is far more important than the date/day on which it is read.

 

Articles:

Some have been written by me (TH) and some by other folks.  I hope you will find them interesting and/or helpful.  Your comments are most welcome.

 

TH articles:

Ø  A spreadsheet showing the Annual Jewish Holidays according to Leviticus 23 in my NIV Life Application Study Bible, a fantastic source of Biblical information and interpretation.

Ø  Biblical Time Lines: Here are two Time Lines listing key events in Israel’s history, from Creation and the Old Covenant with Abraham, to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, and then on to 100AD recording the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ, plus the approximate dates when the various books were written.  Click on the links to download these fascinating insights into the Old Testament and the New Testament, which will give you a bird’s eye view of the 4000-odd years from Creation to the birth of Jesus and the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ...

 

In addition, thanks to Dr Kent Hovind’s Creation Seminar DVD set, we have two additional time lines, one from Adam to Joseph, and another comparing the Creationist versus Evolutionist views of the origin of Earth. Download them by clicking on the relevant links (to buy this set of 10 DVDs containing 17 hours of fascinating facts substantiating this position, please email orders@bags4africa.com or fax +27 86 541 7948).

Ø  How the Apostles died – July 2018

Ø  A Psalm of Thanksgiving – July 2014

Ø  We have Two Choices – December, 2010, updated 28th March, 2019

Ø  Launch of a Prayer Group at the Ceres Police Station – November 2010

Ø  Protected by Prayer – June, 2010; the Joy! Magazine article marking the 10th anniversary of the Rondebosch Police Station Prayer Group

Ø  The Bible in 1100 Words – August, 2009, updated 6th April, 2011

Ø  Depression – July 2005 – how the Lord healed a 6 month bout of depression.

Ø  Love the Lord Your God… - June, 2000; after sailing a yacht back from Rio de Janiero.

Ø  What Compass to do you have for your life? – May, 2000; after returning from Rio, having sailed the yacht back to SA with the owner. Updated 16th August, 2012.

Ø  Of Shoes & Ships… - December, 1999; before sailing the Cape to Rio Race in January 2000

Ø  The Way to the Truth… - December, 1999

 

Other articles:

Ø  Muslim Jail Officer releases four Christian prisoners and accepts Christ after Jesus visits him in a dream – added 11th February, 2017

Ø  HEAVEN IS REAL!  Dead boy returns from afterlife to tell his Mum about Heaven - added 11th February, 2017

Ø  Communion on the Moon (20th July, 1969) – by Eric Metaxas

Ø  Covered by the Cloud – the power of intercessory prayer; a true story by US soldier Spencer January.  Added 6th July, 2014.

Ø  Why was the napkin in the empty tomb folded?  July 2013

Ø  Death – a wonderful explanation – July 2013 edition of Joy! Magazine.

Ø  Grief and Mourning – this is an excellent article by the Island Hospice in Zimbabwe.  It is a road map to the grieving and mourning process, which I found of great help when my late Dad died.

Ø  Chilean Miners give glory to God – October 2010: a newspaper article after the rescue of the 33 miners trapped for 69 days.

Ø  A teenager’s view of Heaven – written a few days before his tragic death in a motorcar accident; made available by his parents in honour of his memory.

Ø  LISTEN – and pedal!a must-read for keen cyclists!

Ø  The Power of Words – added 20th April, 2011

Ø  Lenten Fasting – added 7th March, 2012

 

Christmas facts & fables:

Ø  The Fourth Wise man – a powerful parable, added 27th March, 2012

Ø  The shepherds were special – interesting background information, added 27th March, 2012

Ø  The First Christmas Tree – whether fact or fable, it is a special story.  Added 27th March, 2012

Ø  Why Jesus is better than Santa - added 27th March, 2012

 

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Bible Prophecy

Prophesies Jesus fulfilled in His Life:

Ø  Prophesies Jesus fulfilled in His Life – Summary

Ø  Prophesies Jesus fulfilled – His Birth

Ø  Prophesies Jesus fulfilled – His Ancestry

But first – is the Bible TRUE?

What is often thrown in our faces by unbelievers is the statement, “How do you know the Bible is true?  I reckon it’s pure myth and legend!”  Here are five excellent articles that in my view refute this type of statement well:

Ø   Bible Prophecy – Convincing Proof that God Exists

Ø  How do we know that the Bible is true?”

Ø  Bible’s Cohesiveness Proves it is True”, by Rick Warren

Ø  The New Testament is Archaeologically Verifiable

Ø  Archaeology confirms the Bible’s account of the collapse of the Walls of Jericho”

Ø  Compelling Historical Evidence for the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ”

Another excellent resource is the ‘Answers in Genesis’ website at http://www.answersingenesis.org/

 

In other words the Bible is, without question, not only TRUE, it is the revealed Word of God.  ‘God’s love letter to mankind’, as someone once very appropriately put it.

 

Beware false prophets...

But before we look at true, Biblical prophecy, a quick word of warning about false prophets, which both the Old and the New Testaments warn us to watch out for:

 

(Isa 44:25)  who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense,

 

(Jer 14:14)  Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

 

(Jer 23:16)  This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

 

(Jer 50:36)  A sword against her false prophets! They will become fools. A sword against her warriors! They will be filled with terror.

 

(Lam 2:14)  The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.

 

(Eze 13:9)  My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.

 

(Eze 22:28)  Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says'—when the LORD has not spoken.

 

(Mat 7:15) [Jesus speaking]  "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

 

(Mat 24:11) [Jesus speaking]  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

 

(Mat 24:24)  [Jesus speaking]  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.

 

(Mar 13:22)  [Jesus speaking]  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible.

 

(Luk 6:26)  [Jesus speaking]  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

 

(2Pe 2:1)  But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

 

(1Jn 4:1)  Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

It is interesting to note that in the past 200 years there has been a proliferation of ‘Christian’ and other cults, the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses being two of the better known ones (a strong ‘end times’ sign, incidentally).  As the Apostle Paul warned his spiritual son Timothy – and all of us – in his second letter to Timothy:

 

(2Ti 4:3)  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

 

We need to test the teachings of everyone, including the pastors of our churches, against the Word of God (see the Bible reading plan above!).  You are welcome to download a comparison of the major cults with Christianity by clicking here.  If you are interested in more information, the book entitled ‘The Kingdom of the Cults’ by Walter Martin (ISBN 1-86823-127-5) is an excellent place to start.

 

And now to cases!

 

25% to 30% of the Bible – the Old and the New Testaments – consists of prophecy, much of which has already come to pass, and history bears this out.  For example, Jesus alone fulfilled over 300 prophecies during His life.  To me these and the many other examples of fulfilled prophecy in history confirm the veracity of the prophecies yet to be fulfilled. 

 

In stark contrast, none of the “sacred texts” of any other religion contains prophecy.  Jesus said that in the Last Days (which we are in), “…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matthew 24: 11).  Likewise, in his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim 4: 3).

 

Only the One True God can know the future.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Holy God of Jew and Christian.  The Bible is His inspired Word for all mankind, and is as relevant today as it was when it was first written down.

 

I find it fascinating that God seems to have been working in periods approximately 2000 years long:

 

Ø  Accepting the 6 day creation account as described in Genesis 1, which I do (go to  http://www.creationtoday.org/ for more on this; please also see Note 1 below), then it was about 1650 years from Creation to the Flood plus 400-odd years to the birth of Abraham – ie 2000 years from Creation to Abraham (who lived around 2000BC), or Creation took place in approximately 4000BC; so the Earth is today some 6000 years old.  You can download a timeline that graphically depicts this by clicking here - with thanks to Dr Kent Hovind’s Creation Seminar DVD set (to buy this set of 10 DVDs containing 17 hours of fascinating facts substantiating this position, please email orders@bags4africa.com or fax +27 86 541 7948).

 

Ø  Then in about 2000BC (and about 2000 years after Creation) God initiated the Old Covenant, the start of His great Redemptive Plan for mankind, through Abraham.  Thereafter, the whole of the Old Testament – historic, poetic and prophetic - points forward to the coming of Jesus.  For 1000 years God’s prophets were given insights into and spoke out about the coming of Messiah, as well as giving warnings about future events in the history of Israel.  Then there was silence for 400 years.

 

Ø  Finally, some 2000 years after Abraham, the Old Covenant came to a glorious climax in the life, death and triumphant resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus.  And Jesus, the perfect Pascal Lamb of which the Temple sacrificial system was for 14 centuries the precursor, ushered in the New Covenant.

 

Ø  As I write these words we are in 2011, some 2000 years after Jesus instituted the New Covenant.  Many of the things that Jesus, the Apostle John and Daniel prophesied of the end times, such as endless wars, earthquakes and floods, are happening.  Jesus likened the end times to a woman in labour; the contractions are at first far apart and fairly gentle, becoming progressively more frequent and stronger as the moment of birth approaches.  For centuries there have been earthquakes and floods, but I can’t help thinking that their frequency and violence seems to have increased dramatically over the past 100 years, especially the last 50, or even the last 10…

 

Jesus said that He doesn’t know the time of the end, only the Father does, but that we should watch for the signs and be ready for His second coming. He did say that His Gospel must first be preached to the ends of the earth, and then the end will come.  With modern communications technology we can’t be very far away from reaching that goal.  He told us to be ready for His return at any time.  I suggest that we would be wise to heed His advice and prepare ourselves spiritually so we are ready to greet Him with great joy (please see my article, “How can a loving God send good people to hell?” for more on this).

 

As I see it, the writing is on the wall (as in Babylon the night before it fell to the Medes and the Persians – see Daniel chapter 5, especially verse 5).  If God’s time frame to fulfill His Old Covenant was 2000 years (give or take 100 years or so), the fact that we are in 2011 together with the other ‘signs of the times’ says to me, loud and clear, “Get ready for the coming of the Lord!”

 

Below are a number of links to the websites of people who have made an in depth study of Biblical prophesy and whose writings I have found most thought provoking.  I will add others as I find them.

 

These writers are not trying to predict the ‘when’ of it, they are attempting to interpret the ‘signs of the times’ so that we can prepare ourselves.  God, through His prophets and His Word, has deliberately told us what will happen so that His true followers, like the five wise virgins (Matthew 25: 1 – 13), will be able to interpret events and be ready for His Son’s return.

 

And finally, there is absolutely no Biblical evidence for the ‘Seven Year Tribulation’ theory, popularised in such books as ‘The Left Behind’ series.  They are a great read – I thoroughly enjoyed them, all 12 of them! – but like Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ (also a great read), they are the stuff of fiction.  Click here to download an article entitled “An End Time Myth” by Ellis Skolfield which explains this and traces the origin of this myth – for myth it is!

 

My personal view is that it is a theory that the Enemy is pushing for all he is worth, because it suggests that we will have a chance to re-consider our decision regarding Jesus during the seven year tribulation period between the ‘Rapture’ and the ‘Final Trumpet’ - as in, “Oops, got that wrong, lets say ‘Yes’ to Him this time” – and so we’ll be able to slip into Heaven by the back door, as it were. 

 

The truth is that we will not have that opportunity. 

 

The Final Trumpet is, indeed, ‘The Final Trumpet’ (read “The False Prophet”, details below, for a detailed, Biblically based explanation).  As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews, chapter 9 vs 27-28, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  God honours the decisions we make in this life, so the decision we make regarding Jesus He will honour for the next ‘life’ (or eternity) – please see my article, How can a loving God send good people to hell? for more on this.

 

I believe we are in the Period of Tribulation right now, and have been for the past 2000 years – ie since the start of the Christian Era.  Not everyone is being tortured or killed for their faith (yet), but in the early days of the Church, and today in the 10/40 Window, this is the experience of many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, even as you read this page.  And in the so-called ‘Christian West’ the attitudes of many towards Christ, His followers and His teachings regarding ‘Absolute Truth’, are becoming increasingly hostile, especially in the so-called ‘liberal media’ (the irony is that that they are only able to make the anti-Christian statements that many do because the society in which they live (the West) is based upon the teachings of the One they vilify; and still operates to the standards He preached – for now…).

 

The ultimate false prophet…

Ellis Skolfield touches on the Seven Year Tribulation Theory early in his book ‘The False Prophet’, and covers it in detail in his article entitled “An end-time myth”. And he debunks the Antichrist myth in an article entitled (you guessed it!) “The Antichrist Myth”.  In fact, some 35 years ago Skolfield believed in the Seven Year Tribulation Theory, so he decided to study Scripture in detail to find the Biblical evidence for it.  But after several years he had no option but to conclude that it is the ‘stuff of myth and legend’. 

 

 

Enjoy.  And get ready for the return of our Lord Jesus!

 

Ø  Bible Prophecy by Ellis Skolfield:  His book, “The False Prophet” is a must-read for anyone interested in trying to understand the current times in the context of the end times. He doesn’t try to predict the “when” of it, but rather the “what” of it – interpreting Biblical prophecy in these end times…  I find the parallels with current world events (October, 2015) compelling. Click on the following links to download: chapters 1-9 (pages 1 to 98) and chapters 10-17 (pages 99 to 195).

Ø  He has also written an article entitled “An end-time myth” which covers and disproves the ‘Seven Year Tribulation’ theory in detail.  There are a number of other articles there, free to download, that are well worth reading.

Ø  The website Tomorrow’s World has a variety of interesting ‘End Time’ articles and booklets by a number of authors.  Please go to the website and then click on the link ‘Booklets’.  They are pdf documents which can be downloaded for free.

 

The Harbinger’ is a recently published book by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, which immediately became a New York Times best seller.  Written as a novel it is nonetheless solidly based on Scripture.  Cahn draws a parallel between ancient Israel in the years leading up to their destruction by the Assyrians in 722 BC, and the United States since 9/11 in 2001, and the correlation is scary.  Apart from being an excellent read – I could hardly put it down! – it gives serious pause for thought and to my mind slots neatly in with what Ellis Skolfield writes in his book, ‘The False Prophet’.

 

‘The Mystery of the Shemitah is Cahn’s sequel to ‘The Harbinger’ and is equally thought provoking.

 

 

Note 1:

Every single historical event in the Bible that it has been possible to confirm through historical records, secular and otherwise, and archaeology, has been proven to be accurate.  So why should the six day creation account be any different?  In my view the fossil records fit the Creation account far better than does Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. God inspired the writers of all the books in the Bible (see the article above, “The Bible’s Cohesiveness Proves it is True” by Rick Warren), and the available evidence all points strongly to the veracity of the Genesis account.  Jesus Himself referred to the Old Testament account of creation as if it were fact, and if He thinks it is, as far as I am concerned it is ‘case closed’!

 

 

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