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” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34 NRSV)

Weeks ago my heart was grieved by a letter from someone who claimed to be my best friend. His message was harsh. In no uncertain tone, my friend said: “Stop talking about prophecy because it ‘bums’ me out.” Then the attack became personal when he involved my family. (“I hope you do not tell your children these things.”) This letter was an eye-opener since this man claims to love the Lord, yet has a disdain for prophets and prophecy.

His attitude toward God’s special messengers is nothing new. Prophets in Bible times faced similar challenges. Those with darkened hearts reject God’s warnings. Those open to the light will receive it. Many want to know the truth about the last days. Believers desiring accurate teaching await the Lord’s return yet they expect future trials.

Jeremiah confronted a “hater” of prophecy and prophets in Hananiah. Earlier Judah had gone into a partial captivity in Babylon. Hananiah foolishly spoke for God promising Judah’s exiles would return in two years (Jer. 28:3).

Wisely, the Lord’s servant stood up to this charlatan. Jeremiah said that past prophets foretold times of war, famine and pestilence against countries and kingdoms. They never spoke of peace without first warning of destruction.

Hananiah was exposed. Jeremiah said this pretender would be dead within the year. In Jeremiah 28:17, God’s word was fulfilled. Hananiah died in the 7th month (Tishri, the month of God’s judgment).

As we approach the end of this age, God is raising up prophets. How will we recognize them? They will remain true to God’s word by speaking of a coming day of disaster. “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10b).”

We must be wise to follow the prophets of God as well as their prophecy. If we do not, we will be vulnerable to false prophets. Awake, oh sleeper, so the Day does not sneak up on you! EJ

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“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…”
The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” (Exodus 19:4-6a, 8a
NIV)

Many possess land handed down through a line of ancestors. Property that has long been in the family is not uncommon. Ownership took place long ago. A deal was struck. A deed or title followed. All parties, descendants included, became bound to an agreement. So it is with God’s people, the Israelites.

With Moses as the go-between, the Lord met his people at Sinai. A conditional agreement was made. If the people obeyed God fully and kept his covenant, they would be favored above all others on the face of the earth. They would be the Lord’s treasured possession. Though everyone belonged to Him, Jacob’s offspring would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is the inheritance of Israel.

With the terms of God’s covenant clearly spelled out, the gathered children of Abraham voiced their agreement. The people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” (Exodus 19:6a) In what language did Moses communicate God’s terms? In what language did the descendants of the Patriarchs promise their faithfulness to the Lord’s covenant? They spoke in an ancient Hebrew tongue we know today as Paleo-Hebrew.

Did the Lord renege on his commitment? “Is God a man that he should lie or a son of man that he should change his mind?” (Numbers 23:19) The question is rhetorical. Of course, he has not–and never will. The Lord will have a people who keep their covenant of obedience. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Pentcost Redux) is all that’s necessary to reveal the chosen or elect of God. This anointing from on high will not fall upon individuals scattered here and there, but, as in Acts 2, on gathered saints (cf. Hebrews 10:25).

In the last days, the people Peter described in 1 Peter 2:9 will gather in fellowship communities by necessity. (Think of the animals that arrived two by two in ordered to be gathered into Noah’s ark.) One tongue, uttered by God’s people, will mark believers and fortify their unity. Because of language difficulties, the wicked from the nations will stumble in confusion, or–and this will be a false sign or wonder–a counterfeit Pentecost from Satan could occur.

Our brother Elijah commented on the “Pentecost Redux, Part 1” post. He pointed out that a major key to understanding tongues in prophecy is Genesis 11:1-9. Realizing that confusing language to scatter people was God’s judgment on covenant-breakers, we can easily see how reuniting the covenant keepers from among the nations will be a common tongue. Revelation 7:9-10 is evidence. Languages may not cease. Nations will be present in the Millennium, but God’s people won’t need translators. In the way Arabic and Mecca unites Muslims around the world, Paleo-Hebrew will be spoken by the saints who look to Zion as God’s Holy Hill.

In conclusion: The Israelites stood at Sinai and made a sacred vow. They spoke as one and promised God their obedience. They failed to keep their word, but their descendants who call on the Lord, will fulfill their covenant. As one people with one tongue, saints will gather around the Temple and our High Priest Jesus. There we will pledge our faithfulness to the God who saves. The difference between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion will be Pentecost Redux.

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” But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5 NKJV)

In the last post we differentiated between the rapture (a physical and forceful catching away of the saints) and the resurrection (the dead in Christ transformed with a glorified body). Those who are alive at the last trump will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We also learned this transformation occurs prior to death’s ultimate defeat.

Matthew 5:18 states that Heaven and Earth disappear before the smallest part of the law goes away.  The picture then becomes clearer: after our Heaven and Earth are gone, Death and Hades are sent to the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:4-6 answers the question: “When does the resurrection occur?” John sees thrones and people seated on them with authority to judge. These are the souls that had been beheaded for Christ (cf: Rev. 6:9-11). They refused to worship the beast or his image, neither had they taken his mark. It is repeated so we don’t miss it: This is the first resurrection!

It cannot be denied, the Bible says the martyred souls come back to life at the start of the Millennium; the general resurrection occurs after the thousand years is passed.

By comparing Scripture with Scripture, it becomes evident the Rapture is not described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. How can so many Bible prophecy experts get it wrong? “Taken or seized in an upward direction” is not ushered into glory in a new body. Are they so married to their doctrine of any moment rapture that they deny the obvious?

When are “alive” saints changed? Revelation 20:11 informs us. Believers are glorified when the last age, the Millennium, is no more. John sees a Great White Throne and on it The Judge. Heaven and Earth flee from His face. The Greek word is pheugo (fyoo’-go) and it means “to run away, vanish, escape, flee away” (pg. 75 of “The Greek Dictionary from Strong’s Concordance” a.k.a. Strongs).

The definition that fits the above context is “to vanish”. The present heavens and earth are preserved by fire for the Day of Judgment (2nd Peter 3:7). The heavens disappear with a great noise and the elements will melt with a fervent heat (2nd Peter 3:10). To survive, those alive must be changed. How could anyone live through an inferno?

Finally, the Heavenly Jerusalem will descend on a new earth (Rev. 21:1-2). Eternity begins. As believers, this is our glorious hope. To grasp this, God’s Spirit must be our teacher. Our part is studying, comparing and examining the Word of God within its proper context. We are certain readers will arrive at the same conclusion we have: Rapture is not Resurrection.

EJ

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” Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:17, NKJV)

The sun sets over the ocean as two lovers embrace. The waves gently roll onto the beach. The sky is clear blue and the world seems perfect for the couple. In an instant, as the man and woman peer deep into each other’s eyes, this moment of serenity turns into chaos. The woman literally vanishes and immediately, the bewildered gentleman hears screams from panicking mothers on the boardwalk. Children are gone and the sounds of a plane plummeting toward the ocean is heard. A moment of love turned into a scene of heartache, death and destruction. What caused this? Many in Christian circles would say that the Rapture of the Church had just taken place. Those adults who believed in Jesus and all children are in Glorified bodies in Heaven. Christian literature and movies have portrayed similar events. Is this Biblical?

Paul described what we call the Rapture as a catching away of believers to meet the Lord in the air (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Greek word for caught up is harpazo (har-pad’-zo). It means to seize: catch (away or up), pluck pull, take (by force). There is nothing in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that suggest believers are given glorified bodies and are in heaven. Paul says we will meet the Lord in the air. The Greek word indicates a physical gathering of the elect. When we compare this event with Matthew 24:31 we see that angels are the ones who are taking the elect of the Lord up (after the great sound of a trumpet). The saints are in physical bodies but in the air with Jesus. Now let’s look at other scriptures that use the term harpazo.

In Acts 8:26-39, we read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Angel of the Lord told Philip where to go and it was a divine appoinment to preach the Gospel of Salvation. The eunuch believed and was immediately baptized, then the Spirit caught Philip away (harpazo). He was bodily transported to another city, Azotus. (Acts 8:39-40). There was no resurrection into Heaven.

Paul himself says that he remembers a man 14 years earlier caught up into the 3rd Heaven (Paradise). He used the word harpazo again, yet he did not know if this was a physical or spiritual catching away. The fact is that Paul entered God’s throne but he did not have a glorified body. In fact, he is recounting this event 14 years later.

Finally, we see the term harpazo used in Revelation 12:5. The man child was caught up to God and His throne because the dragon (Satan) wanted to devour the child, who is God’s plan of salvation. This catching up is an example of rescue not resurrection. Conversely, Luke describes Jesus as being carried up into Heaven (Luke 24:51). Jesus has a resurrected body at this point and when He ascends into Heaven, the Greek word that Luke uses is anaphero (an-af-er’-o) which means to take up, bear, bring (carry, lead up, offer up). Jesus ascends with the Resurrected power He received from the Father. Harpazo, the term meaning rapture is not used.

When we follow the 5 Rules of Biblical interpretation (see definition section), truth will be realized. In the next post, I will show how 1Corinthians 15:51-52 (where believers are changed in the twinkling of an eye) is not the same event as the Rapture. It is a parallel event that follows rule 5 of Biblical Interpretation: Look for the Near/Far in Bible Prophecy. EJ

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” By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through” (2Kings 25:3-4a NKJV).

The prototypical baseball player is one who has speed, power, the ability to hit for average, is a good fielder and whose baseball instincts are pure. Scouts would call a player like this a ” 5 tool athlete”. With a strong work ethic, this prospect can become a perennial all star and a threat against all opponents. This is exactly who a Completed Christian is.

This type of born again believer in Yeshua has the best of both worlds: Salvation through the Messiah and an understanding of how the Judaic faith is fulfilled through God’s plan of redemption. The Holy Days of Israel found in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) pointed to Jesus during His first advent and have completion upon His return as a conquering king. This knowledge becomes a real threat to Satan’s dark kingdom. The Old Testament becomes a blueprint for understanding future prophecy and the wise will be able to anticipate what Satan does before it happens. Below is an example.

This evening just concluded a 3 week period of mourning among the Jewish people: known as “Between the Straits.” It is a remembrance of the time the city walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Babylonians in 586 BC ( 17th day of the 4th month of the Hebrew Calendar, Tammuz) and when the temple was burned and destroyed (9th day of the 5th month, Av). (2nd Kings 25:3-12, Jeremiah 52:12-16). These events happened again on the same dates when the Romans invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the 2nd Temple in 70 AD. Why is this important to know?

This year, these dates fell between July 4th-26th of the Gregorian calendar. On July 14th, the major world powers finally came to an agreement with Iran concerning her building nuclear weapons. Part of the agreement would allow for protection of Iran’s nuclear facility while allowing the country to have its economic sanctions removed. This is dangerous for Israel as her enemy already has weapons that can attack the major cities. Is it just a coincidence that such a major agreement, which poses a huge threat to Israel, fell almost directly in the middle of this 3 week period of mourning? This is a clear sign that we are at the edge of the abyss. Iran is poised to strike at Israel and the Temple Mount will become a major target in this conflict. We can be merely a few years away from the consequences of these future attacks resulting in the intervention of a false Messiah trying to create a pseudo peace with Israel and the world.

A 5 tool Christian, becomes a major player by warning family and friends and creating a fellowship of believers ready to resist. It is time to build our ark on the Word of GOD and on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. EJ

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Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born [to the Hebrews] you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:22 NIV)

A friend described a day he will never forget. While hunting for wild turkey, he noticed a hunter approach him, raise his shotgun to his shoulder, aim right at him and fire. Blown off a log by the blast, he had trouble processing what had happened. “That guy is trying to kill me,” he concluded.

My friend must have looked like a wild turkey, at least that is what the shooter said. It was a miracle his life was saved. It went into the books as a hunting accident.

Exodus 1 begins a story about God’s people leaving Egypt. After living in the land a few hundred years, the Hebrews woke one day to a different world. A new ruler was in charge, and, for some reason, they had become his enemy. Processing their new reality was hard. It was going to get rough.

But the more God’s people were oppressed the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread them (Exodus 1:12). Irrational fear of the Hebrews overtook the Egyptians. Treating them harshly as slaves compounded their fears. Pharaoh decided to take his hatred to another level. He ordered Hebrew midwives to kill the boy babies. It wasn’t enough to make their dads slaves, Pharaoh’s new plan was to destroy their sons as soon as they were born. It must have been hard for the Hebrews to accept, but their king was trying to kill them. Finally, Pharaoh ordered anyone who found a male Hebrew baby to throw him into the Nile River (above).

Adolph Hitler rose from obscurity to take leadership of the German Reich. Beginning in the 1920’s, der Fuehrer played on the Antisemitism in his country painting Jews as the chief scapegoat for the economic troubles. After he seized power, Hitler’s hatred for God’s people became more than rhetoric. It spilled over into the streets in early November 1938 during “the night of broken glass.” Thereafter, it became crystal clear Germany’s leader was trying to kill Jews as well as others who stood in his way.

Signs are everywhere that God’s people are in their government’s cross-hairs. America is a prime example. Domestic policies such as abortion, gay marriage, drug legalization, illegal immigration and euthanasia, force believers to take a stand against their government. Foreign policy decisions such as negotiating with the enemy, mistreating our friends and sending our troops to fight with no prospect of victory, all adds up to disaster. Our leaders are trying to kill us.

America has changed. Our grandparents and parents knew a different day. Authorities will deny it, but their actions show they despise God and reject his Word. They hate us without reason. Why in heaven’s name, would this be? Satan’s time is short. He is raging against the saints, is the answer.

God wants his people to cut our ties of affection and loyalty with this world. Prepare to leave Egypt. If the verbal abuse and ridicule is aimed our way, it won’t be long until the shotgun will be as well. Don’t question whether they will fire. The whole world will soon fall into the hands of the Antichrist. The Lord wants us out of our enemy’s cross-hairs and into the Promised Land.

Read prophecy for yourself. They will try to kill us. Process this. Accept the reality of what it means to live for Christ in the last days. Trust in the Lord to be our hiding place.

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bluebirds-nestbox
“…my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6 NIV)

One spring, inspired by a friend, I placed a bluebird box in our backyard. The reward came in a matter of days. Two bluebirds began to gather material for their nest. I was moved to tears. I was told if I built it, they would come–and they did!

Wednesday, June 17th evening services at the U.S. Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church, had been eagerly anticipated. Inside this civil rights landmark building, a dozen happy members of the Emanuel family settled in for their weekly Bible Study. A video camera captured the image of a 21-year old white male entering the church. For an hour, the stranger sat next to the senior pastor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, before he brandished his .45 caliber pistol and announced his intentions to shoot. His stated motive: He wanted to start a race war. All nine victims were African-American. The Charleston Church shooting was the worst mass murder at a religious site in the U.S. since 1991.

Another season of bluebird watching was underway when I noticed I had been missing my feathered friends. I thought they would have little mouths to feed and be flitting in and out of their box, but I saw nothing. Upon investigation, I saw it–bluebird feathers. Near the small front portal were scratch marks as if some claws had dug into the wood. My heart sank. It became obvious the cat ate the bluebirds.

When we took two young felines into our home then erected the box, I had no clue I was preparing a death trap, but that is what it was. Like the saints in the church in Charleston, the birds had no escape. The young intruder, Dylann Roof, saw an opportunity to do Satan’s bidding. That night, Emanuel A.M.E. became a slaughterhouse.

I refused to be a party to more bluebird deaths. The cats were staying around and they sure weren’t going to alter their appetite for birds. So a decision was made; no more box. End of story? No, the birds found a hide-out inside our grape arbor. That year they raised their young under the cover of grape leaves. Moral of the story: By removing the box, bluebirds will find a means to avoid “cat-astrophe” and multiply in the process.

In September 2013, seventy died in a Taliban shooting attack on worshipers at the Peshawar Church in Pakistan. Early April of this year 147 perished at morning prayer services as Islamic terrorists from Somalia fired on unarmed, defenseless students at Garissa University in Kenya.

I know we love our church boxes, but has it occurred to anyone they are no longer safe? Murderers have keyed in on an easy target. Wake up people! How much more elderly and child’s blood will stain the pews before we find cover outside the box? Maybe Jesus’ followers will begin again to multiply as they should.

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with God’s people than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” (Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV)

For much of my working life, I have been around prisoners. I thank God for the experience. It has helped me understand how to better live in the present. Today is an opportunity to work, to learn and to grow–or perhaps to endure. If there is a moment of enjoyment, I try to take it in. Prison and fun are contradictions. When an inmate does not want to leave life behind bars, something is wrong.

The prisoner who struggles most is the hedonistic and self-absorbed. Another miserable bunch are the men who feel entitled. (The food is terrible, the bed is not soft enough, my family should be sending me money, people don’t treat me well, etc.) Prisoners who manage to thrive have accepted their situation and resolved to make the most of it.

I encourage believers to see the balance of this age as more like a prison than a palace. 

I love to relate prophecy to the present. I encourage believers to see the balance of this age as more like a prison than a palace. Observing current events should bear this out. “Love not the world” is a command from heaven. Everything in this world is passing away. Instead of seeing our existence as a pleasure cruise, determine to endure hardship like a good soldier. Make the most out of the time between now and when Jesus returns. Don’t just think “survive”, think “thrive”.

(During the Vietnam Conflict, I remember wishing my army drill sergeant would be more sensitive about my feelings. Sgt. Butler made it clear; he wasn’t my mother. His job was to make me tougher.  In order to survive whatever I faced, he could not pamper me.)

“In this world you shall have tribulation” are words directly from Jesus, our Commander-in-Chief. It is not in the here-and-now that we are to pursue comforts. We would be wise to pursue service–even difficult, sacrificial service.

“…the endless quest for self-gratification or vain ambitions is a mere chasing after the wind…”

If we are enjoying this dying world, something is wrong that needs corrected. There are certainly things to delight in, but the endless quest for self-gratification or vain ambitions is a mere chasing after the wind–in short, it is meaningless.

Moses saw the opportunity to suffer along with God’s people and by faith he seized it. If we are enjoying this present time, we may be hitching our lives to the temporal. We need to look beyond our lives and show love to the hurting.  Promised “pleasures forevermore” implies God’s true rewards come later, not with retirement, but after our work is done.

“For I will give the command, and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, “Disaster will not overtake us.” (Amos 9:9-10 NIV)

If we are to understand each other, we need to define our terms the same way. I define Amillennialism as the end-times view that utilizes allegory or symbolism to explain Bible prophecy. (In the Greek, the “A” negates what follows, so A-millennial means “without” a millennium or “no” thousand years.) So, when Revelation 20:4-6 clearly states that in the next age Christ will rule for 1000 years, Amillennialists argue against Christ’s coming kingdom as a literal future event. To their esteemed scholars, I ask , “What if you are wrong?”

Who am I to ask such a question? I realize I am addressing some of the most brilliant theological minds on the planet. In the past, I studied under a few of them. They argue “transubstantiation vs. consubstantiation” and speak of “supralapsarianism” as if it were a common topic. Intellectually, these teachers of the Sovereignty of God are unsurpassed. Their roots are in the reformers of the 16th century who declared “Sola Scriptura” (only Scripture has authority).

Millions of Christians listen regularly to Amillennialist teachers and pastors that deny God will do what he said. They fervently reject God’s solemn promise to David that he will forever have a descendant enthroned over the house of Israel (2 Samuel 7:16, 2 Chronicles 6:10, 15, Acts 1:6). Do these promoters of the doctrine that God has “replaced” the house of Israel with the Church, dare charge the Sovereign Lord with speaking falsely? Do they think they can state with impunity that God lies or changes his mind? “Does he [the Lord] speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19NIV)

If the Lord Jesus declared “I am coming soon!” three times within the last fifteen verses of Scripture, will he not do what he said?

Teachers of prophecy should always ask themselves: “What if I’m wrong?” Those in the Amillennial camp–or Pre-tribulation Rapture (PTR) camp–contend that no disaster or great tribulation will overtake them.

Speaking through the prophet Amos (above), the Lord called the “disaster deniers” sinners. If they are wrong, according to Scripture, then the sword will devour them.

I say to believers everywhere: “Prepare for an imminent catastrophic turn of events, a time that will try the souls of men.” If I am wrong, it is because I take God at his word. I can live with the consequences of believing the Word of God. Some very smart people may have to die as a consequence for not believing their Bible.

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…–my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. (Hosea 4:6 NIV)

The above has something to say to the “Pan-Millennialists”. I used to think it was clever to remain uncommitted in the Pre-, Mid- or Post-Millennial debate. I used to jokingly say, “I’m Pan-Millennial, since it’ll all ‘pan out’ in the end.” Though I had been through seminary, I thought the “Pan-Millennial” term was witty. Really I was displaying my ignorance. When it comes to matters of great importance, stupidity is never laudable nor laughable. It’s a severe liability. The Word of God to Hosea describes the high price of ignorance“…my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. The Lord was not warning his enemies or a people belonging to someone else. He was speaking of the destruction of His own people (“my people”). Pastors who act dumb or uninformed priests are especially culpable. Children (PK’s) will pay the price for daddy’s ignorance (cf. Hos. 4:6b). The pastors/priests are no better off than those who prophesy falsely. At least false prophets are not lukewarm. Within the past year I heard a renowned evangelical, a man I highly respect, address a large Bible conference. In the midst of his message he discouraged what the Bible encourages. He told Christians they were not supposed to have certainty about the details of Jesus’ coming. Did he really mean to say that the Lord authors confusion? Amos 3:7, Isaiah 42:9, 43:19 and John 15:15 flies in the face of the “We aren’t supposed to know what’s coming” theory. How useful to God are those who should possess some knowledge about the end times, but, instead, plead ignorance? Perhaps someone ought to read them the prophets. Maybe they need frightened into a different attitude. Daniel was highly esteemed by heaven (Dan. 10:10, 19). What did Daniel do to merit this great honor? The answer is simple: He read the prophets, specifically, Jeremiah, for clearer understanding (Dan. 9:2-3). Those in God’s throne room will take note of a man who pursues knowledge. Daniel is an example. Heaven’s messenger said to him,

“Do not be afraid Daniel. Since the first day you set your mind to gain understanding, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Dan. 9:12 NIV)

The heavenly messenger had a few last words to God’s esteemed servant, Daniel, that we need to hear. At the end of the book that bears his name, we read:

He replied, “Go your way Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” (Dan. 12:9-10 NIV)

Regardless what anyone says, for God’s people who possess the Law and the Prophets, ignorance is punishable. The Lord has spoken in Genesis to Revelation. There is honor for the wise who understand and a high price for those who lack of knowledge.

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