Category Archives: Finding the End of the World

Blogging about stuff related to my book, “Finding the End of the World”

Weed Patrol – Christian Style!

A lot is expected of pastors. I taught and shepherded but also patched sheetrock and fixed toilets. And I embarked on regular weed patrol from March to November. Why? Because the parking lot was full of cracks that offered freedom to the little critters that resembled green welcome things but weren’t. They would overtake the parking area if I didn’t identify and kill them.

On the other hand, my wife patrols for weeds in our yard. Not so easy! It’s all green, albeit different shades of the stuff. Separating weeds from flowers and grass takes skill and determination. I can tell the difference between green and asphalt, but Joanne can segregate harmful green from good green and irradicate the unwanted (thankfully!). What does effective weed patrol have to do with Christianity? Plenty!

Anyone who practices rebellion against God’s ways invites destruction. You might think that person is easy to spot, but a weed can’t spot a weed, and there are plenty in the Church! Here’s what Jesus said about the subject: . . . “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. . . . So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30, ESV).

The weeds are there and destructive. Let me give you an example. Decades ago, a weed named James invaded our church. He said the right things and impressed church leadership but ruined marriages, stole money, and poisoned people. Thankfully, faithful Christ-followers recognized the bad from the good, asked questions, and tested James and his motives. The challenges brought out incredible weediness. He was busted and ousted . . . but not before leaving a path of destruction and pain.

So, true God-fearing Christ-followers must exist with the sinful (even inside the church) until the end of time. But they’re always on weed patrol. They’re in tune with God by the Spirit and know His ways—so much so that they know when something doesn’t belong. They’re so focused on bearing His image and pleasing Him that the weeds become obvious. Be that wary person! Learn your weeds! Learn your wheat—the good stuff of God. Learn to tell the two apart.

In summary, recognize a weed to keep from becoming one. We all know what happens to weeds! In the following article, we’ll go ‘further into the weeds’ as we discuss what to do with churchy weeds.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.

No Affirmation or Couch Potatoes!

Many Christians live at one spiritual extreme or another that could rob God of the partners He seeks. One supposes that Christians don’t have to do anything but admit Jesus is their Savior and that they are sinners. This dangerous position where most Western Evangelical Christians live produces spiritual “couch potatoes” and flies in the face of Father and Son’s commandments to honor, grow, love, and obey. How did THAT happen? Well, it’s been coming for many decades through gross misapplications of foundational principles such as salvation by grace, a lack of discipleship, bad teaching, and plain self-centeredness. Father and Son know who they are and what They’ve done—They don’t need our affirmation but DO want our partnership!

God seeks partners for reconciling His creation in this age and rulership in the next:

  • “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, . . . Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2Corinthians 5:18-20)
  • “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS” (Revelation 2:26; see also Revelation 3:21 and 1Corinthians 6:2-3).

The partnership role requires training and transformation through discipleship, which should be each Christian’s highest priority as a disciple and disciple-maker. All else flows from it, from worship to spiritual growth. But statistically, fewer than 20% of churchgoers regularly engage in discipleship or related activities like small groups, Bible study, fellowship, prayer, and accountability (https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/). Additionally, only 14% of today’s Christians appear to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found consistent with those of Jesus (https://www.barna.com/research/christians-more-like-jesus-or-pharisees). The statistics suggest that little discipleship is taking place, and imitation of the One we claim as Savior is even rarer. No spiritually-lazy people are allowed in God’s Kingdom, though!

  • “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away . . . If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:2-16)
  • “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’” (Matthew 25:41-43)

In summary, God doesn’t need our affirmation, nor will He tolerate Christian laziness! In my next article, we’ll have fun going on weed patrol, Christian-style!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.

The Future: Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about God’s rescue and rest—the heart of His ordained fall festivals. Trumpets and Atonement deal with His rescue. The final festival, Tabernacles/Booths (Hebrew Sukkoth), celebrates the rest God gave Israel when He rescued her from Egypt about 3,500 years ago. Importantly, it looks forward to the rest God will give His people in the new age. Before exploring the feast’s significance, let’s look at some details and its background.

God implemented the feast so that Israel would remember His provision and shelter during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. It begins five days after Atonement on 15 Tishri, is eight days long, and identifies a completion of the harvest and, therefore, the agricultural year. In the ‘feast context,’ Trumpets happens on 1 Tishri, Atonement happens ten days later on 10 Tishri after the ‘ten days of awe’ for repentance, and Tabernacles occurs five days later.

Today, Tabernacles is Israel’s Thanksgiving for the fall harvest. It’s a party, as people are invited to come and eat and drink and enjoy God’s harvest provision and view creation at night. How do they do that? Well, per God’s instructions, they sleep in a three-sided booth. A relatively open roof made of sticks and leaves allows the inhabitants to see God’s handiwork. This reminds me of Psalm 19:1-2:

“. . . The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.”

The feast celebrates God’s rest for His Old Covenant people, Israel. It also looks forward to fulfillment when God returns His creation to perfection and once again dwells with His people:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” (Revelations 21:1-4)

To summarize the fall feasts of God, terrible times happen, and worse are coming, but God will insert Himself into human history when He’s ready and bring rescue and rest for everyone who is His. Where will we go next week? I mentioned the word ‘perfection’ in this article, so let’s learn what the word means in the original language and explore character traits that can keep our fellowship with God perfect.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Future: Jesus in the Feast of Atonement

The fall feasts of God celebrate and look forward to rescue and rest. They occur in September or October, depending on the near-total darkness of the sun and moon over Israel and begin with the Feast of Trumpets, which marks the new year and is called the ‘in-gathering.’ In the future, it will announce the rescue of God’s people before His judgment, which will fulfill the Feast of Atonement.

Atonement happens ten days after Trumpets. The time between the two is called the ‘ten days of awe’ used for repentance. On the annual Day of Atonement, the priest entered the innermost part of the Temple to atone for Israel’s sins (temporarily cover the debt to God, so to speak, with the blood of animal sacrifices). Significantly, the Jews believed that God’s final judgment would happen on the Day of Atonement in the future. It makes sense considering that all the other intentional feast days by God were, or will be, fulfilled.

Indeed, Jesus told His disciples in about 26AD and showed the apostle John in a vision in roughly 90AD about this judgment following the future ingathering and subsequent resurrection of all humans:

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32)

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:11-12)

So, how did or does Jesus fulfill this feast? By willingly dying on a horrible instrument of Roman torture and death 2,000 years ago. It’s important to understand that atonement means ‘reparation’ or to make right. In a sense, it’s to repay a debt or settle the books. Jesus began this atoning work by being the one perfect sacrifice to satisfy humanity’s debt to the Creator, who will complete it through His judgment preceding the new age. More on that next week when we dive into the final God-ordained feast and the one we genuinely look forward to, Tabernacles.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Future, Jesus in the Feast of Trumpets

Rescue. Rest. God has, does, and will save people who are His and renew them. The spring feast of Passover celebrates God’s power to do just that, beginning with rescuing His people from Egypt nearly 3,500 years ago. Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, also in the springtime, remind us to be set apart for God’s purpose: partnership with Him in returning creation to the perfection it once enjoyed before we messed everything up. If we do this, we too will find rescue and rest at the end of this world to which the fall feasts of God look forward.

There are three God-ordained fall feasts: Feast of Trumpets (often called Rosh Hashanah because it heads up the new year), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth). And just like “Passover” comprises Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, “Tabernacles” comprises Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

The fall feasts beginning with Trumpets happen within 28 days in September or October, depending on the lunar calendar. Trumpets begins on the first of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, and is the only holiday on the first day of the month at the new moon. This time of near-total darkness will be significant to Christ’s future fulfillment of the fall feasts upon His return.

Anyway, this time called the “in-gathering” celebrates the harvest of the earth and is a shadow (forerunner) of the harvest of humans at the end of this age—some for destruction (by their choices) and some for eternal life with God. Again, the three fall feasts together celebrate rescue and rest in the past and to come. The feast and future fulfillment begin with a blasting of the trumpets.

“Ron, why trumpets??” Trumpets in the Old Covenant represented God’s voice and power in warfare (e.g., Numbers 10). Blowing them was a warning that something extraordinary was about to take place. In the beginning, it was the ingathering of God’s people at Sinai to be in His presence (Exodus 19). It will announce the gathering of God’s people at the end of this age (e.g., Matthew 24:31; 1Thessalonians 4:16).

For more information about Christ’s return and God’s coming rescue and rest, please consider studying Finding the End of The World—the result of decades of research, writing, and teaching on the subject. Next week, we’ll continue our fall festival discussion with Atonement (Yom Kippur).

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Here Comes the Bride!

We’ve made it through four of seven feasts or festivals ordained by God. Well done! Let’s pause before going to the final three feasts in the fall. Why? Because Jesus’ consummation of the springtime feasts and His departure and impending return fulfill something else: the Jewish wedding process, beginning with betrothal. In other words, He and we are fulfilling a dress rehearsal for our relationship with Him and entrance into the age to come. Please allow me to share this unfolding love story with you.

God called Israel His ‘bride.’ We are Christ’s bride because He and we have fulfilled the marriage covenant since Jesus’ time on earth. No other relationship between humans should be as close as husband and wife, so it makes sense. Here are but a few parts of the ancient ceremony that have, and will be, completed:

  • The father of a potential groom would search for a wife for his son. When a suitable bride had been found, the two families would meet to discuss the possible union. If the young man and woman agreed, they would essentially say, “I will be yours if you will be mine!” This is akin to what God said to His bride, Israel. Our selection for the groom can be seen in 2Corinthians 11:2.
  • To cement the deal, the couple would drink from a cup of wine called the “cup of the covenant” (Matthew 26:27-28). This was the Cup of Redemption, the third of four cups of the Passover Jesus took with His disciples, and it is the foundation of today’s Communion cup. What about the fourth cup? We’ll enjoy that at the marriage ceremony at the transition of the ages (Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:6-9).
  • After vows, gifts, and ceremonial bathing (like baptism), the couple separated. The boy and his father would build a home for the couple (John 14:2-3 for fulfillment). This separation would typically last a year; however, we continue to wait. Why? Because God’s timing is His timing, He’ll delay until those who’ll accept His mercy have had the opportunity (2Peter 3:7-9).
  • Then, at a time known only to him, the groom’s father summoned the groomsmen to announce the wedding ceremony with shouts and trumpets. We see this in the future in Matthew 24:31. The father started the process; he’ll finish it when he’s ready. So, Jesus’ comment, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32) made sense to the disciples.

I realize that some people use Jesus’ statement to support an anytime, imminent return and judgment. However, there will be a sequence and signs, as we’ll see in the fall feast articles. Next week, we’ll move to the fall feasts, likely related to Christ’s eventual return and the transition of the ages, including the marriage feast I mentioned above.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Jesus in the Pentecost

Last week, we learned that First Fruits celebrates what God has provided (Leviticus 23:9-14). It represents resurrection like Passover represents redemption, and Unleavened Bread speaks of being set apart for God. The final spring festival, and the second of three that required visiting the Temple in Jerusalem, is Pentecost, meaning ‘fiftieth.’ The Hebrew name is Shavuot. It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15), and it occurs fifty days after the Saturday before the First Fruits gathering. Like First Fruits, priests wave the first of the new crop (wheat this time) to thank God for the harvest. It is about much more than thanksgiving, though—it’s about the power and authority of God passed, and passes, to His own.

The first Pentecost brought God’s power through His instructions via the Law. By the way: the original language presents the ‘Law’ as an ‘instruction,’ not debilitating rules and regulations! Anyway, the post-resurrection Pentecost brought God’s power not only through the Law (still valid for civility and morality) but by His Spirit, who began to dwell within anyone who belongs to Him through Jesus. The Spirit enables right living and God’s power and authority. I’ll give you a cool Pentecost tidbit since I’ve still got some room in this week’s article.

After rescuing the Israelites from Egypt, God gave the people ten basic commandments in stone and by proxy through Moses at the first Pentecost. Following them would help keep God’s people from falling prey to the rebellious ways of the non-God-fearing residents of the land that would eventually be theirs. At that Pentecost in about 1445 BCE, 3,000 people lost their lives because they disobeyed God’s standard (Exodus 32:26-28). However, 3,000 people gained their lives by embracing the instructions ‘written on their hearts’ by the Spirit during the post-resurrection Pentecost celebration (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 2:36-41). God always puts things right—even after 1,500 years!

How did Jesus fulfill the feast? By giving us the power of God through Spirit and instruction (e.g., Acts 1:4-8), which had become His right to do so after His sacrifice and resurrection. Jesus’ gift at the post-resurrection Pentecost also put right the deficit of 3,000 souls suffered at the first Pentecost.

What about us? Choose to devote yourself to God through Jesus, receive His Spirit with all guidance and power He brings, and stay there!

Next week? Before we move to the fall feasts, likely related to Christ’s eventual return and the transition of the ages, I’ll share a love story and take the mystery out of some end-times stuff in Here Comes the Bride!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Jesus in the Passover

Last week, I introduced the feasts and festivals God ordained about 3,500 years ago. Four happen in the springtime and three in the fall. The spring feasts/festivals are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. The fall festivals are Trumpets, Atonement, and Booths (Sukkot). The feasts and festivals were types (dress rehearsals) to be fulfilled by Jesus: the spring feasts at His first coming and the fall feasts upon His return. In this column, we’ll take a deeper look at how He fulfilled the feast of Passover about 2,000 years ago.

First, the original Passover in about 1445 BCE was part of the final plague in God’s plan to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. In the 10th plague, God took the life of every firstborn male, both human and animal. That is unless a God-fearing person such as the Israelite put the blood of a blemish-free lamb above the door and on the doorposts as a sign that death should ‘pass over.’

Second, Jews were (and are) to remember what God did for them through the annual Passover feast. The priests would select blemish-free lambs from a holding pen at the appropriate time in March or April (depending on the lunar calendar). They would then inspect them for four days before sacrificing the animals to be cooked and eaten during an evening meal to remember the original Passover. Jesus became the blemish-free lamb (sacrificially speaking) inspected for four days by the religious leaders and slaughtered to spill His blood to free God-fearing Christ-followers from sin and death. His sacrifice has released them from the bondage of sin just as God freed the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptians.

Third, the bread had to be cooked in a hurry without yeast. There was no time to let it rise before the Israelites had to ‘beat feet’ in a hurry to escape the wrath of the Egyptian Pharoah. This flatbread, still cooked and eaten during the annual Passover feast, has tiny holes in it and the stripes made by cooking over a fire and grating. Some believe that these represent the piercings and stripes Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:5) and Jesus fulfilled.

Finally, the Passover feast incorporates four cups of wine. The third is called the ‘Cup of Redemption’ and is likely the one Jesus presented to His disciples as the cup of the new covenant (Matthew 26:27-28). Just afterward, He explained that He would not drink with them again until they are together in heaven in the future (verse 29). Indeed, we see in Revelation that God-fearing Christ-followers will celebrate the marriage feast in heaven together when all will be fulfilled (Revelation 19:6-9), and we will enjoy this fourth cup of wine, aptly named the Cup of Praise.  Next week, let’s dive head-first into the next feast/festival ordained by God in the spring feasts: Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley (www.ronbraley.com)

The Feasts of God, an Introduction

God appointed certain times for specific things (Leviticus 23:4) and put stars, planets, and constellations in a particular order and position to mark them. (Genesis 1:14). For instance, some seasons and feasts were, and are, dress rehearsals for fulfilling God’s words. Jesus’ first coming in the 1st century AD and his second coming to occur at the end of our current age/world (Colossians 2:16-17) have fulfilled (and will fulfill) them. What about the feasts?

God ordained seven of them. Four occur in springtime: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost. Three more happen in the fall:  Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement, and Tabernacles (Sukkot). The Jews were required to visit the Temple in Jerusalem for three feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Let’s take a brief peek at each of the seven events.

Spring Feasts of the Lord (fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming): Roughly March to May)

Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread: These first two spring feasts commemorate the salvation of the Hebrews from God’s judgment against Pharaoh and their exodus from Egypt in about 1445 BC. Passover commences on the 14th day of the first month at twilight. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days, beginning the day after Passover.

Feast of Firstfruits: This marks the beginning of the harvest period and allows Israel to present the first fruits of that harvest to God in thanksgiving. It occurs 50 days before the Feast of Weeks.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): This feast happens 50 days after the feast of Firstfruits to signal the end of the grain harvest and give thanks to God for His provision.

Fall Feasts of the Lord (will be fulfilled by Jesus’ return to earth): September or October

The Feast of Trumpets: This ‘memorial of blowing of trumpets’ happens on the first day of the seventh month (usually September).

The Day of Atonement: The event is meant to be a time of atonement for the Jews and will most likely mark the manifestation of salvation and reconciliation between God and Israel at the end of the ‘time of the gentiles’ (cf. Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25-27).

The Feast of Tabernacles: Finally, this feast commemorates the Israelites’ time in the desert just before entering the land of Canaan. During the festival, which lasts seven days, Jews are compelled to live in structures (booths) made of branches, twigs, and leaves. The event will most likely be fulfilled when God makes all things new and once again resides with people in combined heaven and earth.

Where will we go next week? Let’s kick off our deep dive into God’s ordained feasts by learning of Jesus in the Passover!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Living Water: Refreshing & Transformative

Have you ever heard of the ‘woman at the well’—the Samaritan woman who believed in Jesus and ran throughout the town telling the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven to anyone who would listen? I thought so! But what do you know about the ‘living water’ God offered her (and still does through Jesus)?

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10) “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The ‘living water’ is the life that comes only through God. The Old Testament folks knew this through their prophets, and they looked forward to the day when the Living Water (the manifestation of God’s promise through Jesus) would come. The Samaritan woman, not knowing of the Old Testament references, believed that Jesus was talking about fresh, running water like the spring that fed the well. So, why didn’t the Samaritan woman understand what Jesus said?

The Samaritans honored only the first five books of the Bible. So, they didn’t know about the Living Water promise through the prophets. For instance, through Jeremiah’s prophecies, we learn that God was, and is, the fountain of Living Waters (Jeremiah 2:13 & 17:13). And from Isaiah, we learn of the Living Water as springs of salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3). According to the Apostle John, Jesus is the One who can give Living Water that comes from the Father above, and our faith in Him and the resulting faithfulness bring the rivers of Living Water by the Spirit. (Joh 4:10, 7:38, & 3:5).

Also, consider Jesus’ glimpse into the future when all who are God’s in the age to come will be continually refreshed by this Living Water: “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb … The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:1 & 17)

So, the Living Water is the refreshing God gives. How do we receive it? By answering God’s call with complete devotion to Him. He will then provide you with His Spirit (hence, the regeneration from above and the Spirit from John 3:5). Where will we go next week? Well, Passover is coming. So, I thought I’d introduce the feasts and festivals ordained by God and then dive into each one in the following weeks.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley