Category Archives: Finding the End of the World

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

Jesus Said What??

We love to read or hear that Jesus loves us. We love to read or hear that Jesus forgives us. Forgiveness by others, including God, can be music to our soul. But Jesus and others like Peter, James, and Paul also told us stuff we may not be so eager to receive. However, heeding them is a matter of life and death. Here are but a few of the lifesaving tips:

  • Honor God and be charitable to others (Matthew 22:36-40). We are to honor God with our bodies and by good works born of faith (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; 1Timothy 6:18) … period.
  • Introduce God’s Kingdom everywhere by word and deed (Matthew 5:13-16). If the Spirit of God is within us, we will have no choice but behave that way (produce fruit). Godly behavior presents God’s Kingdom to people; arrogant, ungodly, self-centered, or self-righteous behavior makes the Kingdom unattractive and often unattainable.
  • Be and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 5:11-14; 2Timothy 3:14-17). As with honoring God and loving people, this is non-negotiable!
  • Count the cost of being a disciple, which anticipates appropriate responses to God and provides consequences, both good and bad, like any other relationship (Luke 14:25-33).
  • Forgive to be forgiven (Matthew 6:12-15; Colossians 3:12-13). We must give back what we’ve been freely given.
  • There will be trouble in life (John 16:33; 1Peter 4:12-19; Psalm 34:19; James 1:2-4 & 12; Romans 5:3-5 and 12:9-21).
  • But stand firm through that trouble to grow stronger and wiser and be saved from coming judgment (Matthew 10:22 and 24:13; Romans 5:3-4; Hebrews 3:14; 2Timothy 2:12).
  • Be productive in the Kingdom of God . . . or else. (Matthew 25:41-46; John 15:1-8).
  • Choose to stay (abide) in the relationship with God (John chapter 15). He seeks active, fruitful partners in a reciprocal relationship. Persevere and live!

So, according to Jesus and others, we’re to enter a relationship with God through Jesus and stay. And as we remain, we are disciples who make them as well. Finally, we must be productive by honoring God with all we have and are and love other people. Otherwise, we’re of no use to God. The good news is that He gives His Spirit to help us do all the things I just mentioned and be successful in our spiritual growth and obedience. What do we have to look forward to if we remain in a fruitful relationship with God? His peace and rest now, and rescue from judgment at the end of this world.

What’s next? Let’s understand better why we’re to challenge what we see or hear—especially where God is concerned—in next week’s article, “Ask Away!!”

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Christmas, the Retold Story!

Christmas is full of traditions, including the story depicting Jesus’ birth. Some renderings sport sheep, camels, and donkeys with costume-clad humans for effect. The event makes us feel good, and it can be a great time of fun and family. But is there more to the story—perhaps stuff behind the scenes that would make it more meaningful if known? Let’s see.

First, the Son of God, born a son of man, has been around since our universe’s creation (John 1:1-4).

Second, this Son of God had to become human for a reason: to restore the relationship between Creator and creation by paying the penalty for the first humans’ rebellion, and crushing evil (e.g., Genesis 3:15).

But paying the price could only be done by someone who lived sin-free. God began to send clues about this coming perfect Savior through various prophets like Isaiah:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

This Prince would be born in about 4 BC and eventually crucified, as shown to the prophet Daniel 500 years before Jesus came to earth (Daniel 9:25-26). His birth brings God’s peace to people with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14), but it prompted the wrath of a man, Herod (Matthew 2:1-12). For Jesus’ safety, an angel told Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:13-15). How would the journey be possible? After all, travel and daily life required resources, then just as they do now. Allow me to introduce the wise men.

To fully appreciate their contribution, we must return to Persia 500 years earlier, when Daniel earned great respect and treasure. He was also well-trained in Babylonian arts, including astronomy. He knew when Jesus would be born and would’ve been familiar with Micah’s prophecy about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). 

So, Daniel, the Jew who spent his life in Persia, had treasure, knew how to chart star movements, and knew where Jesus would be born as well as the timeframe. Therefore, we should not be surprised that Persian magi (wise men) knew that Jesus would be the promised King and the alignment of the stars at the time and place of His birth. Daniel’s great wealth was likely the resource that funded Jesus’ trip to Egypt until Herod’s death. Our great God is indeed the master orchestrator who crafts all things according to His good pleasure!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Are you interested in making a fresh start physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Perhaps you’re interested in keeping personal goals. Join me next week when we’ll readdress fresh starts in Renewed Beginnings.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Dangers of Being Ill-prepared

December seventh marks the 81st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. Approximately 3,581 people were killed or wounded, 169 aircraft destroyed, and 19 ships destroyed or damaged (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/pearl-harbor-fact-sheet-1.pdf). We must honor those who lost their lives defending our great nation! But as horrific and destructive as the attack was, the extent of the carnage was possible only because the island was unprepared for the enemy.

According to pearlharbor.org, the imminent attack appeared on newly installed radar equipment but was quickly dismissed as American aircraft (at the very least). The lack of training added to being unprepared for what was coming. Another challenge was the unpreparedness of aircraft, which were ill-parked, not fully fueled, and unarmed. As catastrophic as the December 7, 1941 events were, though, being unprepared for what will come at the end of this world will yield unimaginable physical and spiritual destruction!

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus used a parable to foretell how unprepared humanity will be at the end of this age before the great judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). In the parable, ten potential brides (humankind) anticipate the arrival of the bridegroom (Jesus). However, half are unprepared, missing their opportunity to attend the marriage ceremony (Revelation 19:6-10). Being prepared to make it through this life and enter the one to come requires complete devotion to God. We must stay that way, loving others and being transformed. If you’re unsure how to proceed, contact me through the Taylor Press editor or at Northview Christian Church (www.nvcc.church), and I’ll happily make time for you!

Anyway, those who belong to Christ (not just know of Him!) must also stay equipped to fend off spiritual attacks. According to the apostle Paul, we can do this by donning the complete protection God offers: His truth, righteousness (God’s standard), peace, faith, salvation, and teaching (Ephesians 6:10-18). We must pray regularly and often and be alert against subtle wickedness, such as the immoralities so prevalent today.

In summary, let’s decide to return to our God before it’s too late and then stand firm and prepared to resist what He hates. What’s next? Christmas is approaching, and some of us will celebrate the birth of One who suffered on our behalf. So, let’s consider that it is The Sufferer’s Holiday.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley,

ron@ronbraley.com  || ronbraley.blog

Fig Trees & The End of the World

“Ron, what do fig trees have to do with the end of the world and God’s judgment?” Lots! In the Bible’s New Testament, we find multiple end-of-the-world and fig events.

First, in Peter’s account that bears the name of his scribe, Mark, we find an interesting parable about Jesus cursing a fig tree on the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:12-14). Jesus picks out one tree of probably thousands to make a point about the nation of Israel. Although the figs weren’t ready to be picked (verse 13), there should’ve been fruit because there were leaves. The tree was like the Pharisees who gave an outward impression of [spiritual] fruit where none existed. Jesus, in an active parable, cursed the tree to demonstrate judgment that would come soon through Rome and at the end of this world. Think of this as a near-far prophecy revealed by Jesus with the fruitless fig tree. Are there other instances? Yep!

Second, Jesus explained days later to His disciples that any unproductive—unfruitful—person, including self-proclaimed Christians, would be destroyed in the last-days judgment:

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 15:6). Also, read Matthew 25:31-46.

Or … If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10).

So, the one who bears spiritual fruit by obeying God’s commandments will not suffer the same fate (destruction) as the cursed fig tree. Alright—one more end-of-the-world figgie thingie!

Finally, Jesus used the blossoming of the fig tree at springtime in a when you see this, you will see that comparison to explain that the generation of people to see the signs He had just prophesied in verses 14-27 will also see His return:

Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mark 13:28-30).

I understand that some Christians believe that “this generation” in verse 30 refers to the disciples’ generation. However, “this generation” will be the one to see the end-of-the-world signs, which haven’t occurred. By the way: this fig tree instance is a Jewish idiom (figure of speech) just like Matthew 24:28 (dead bodies and vultures).

In summary, we who desire to abide with God must bear fruit or suffer destruction by our own choice. What’s next? Let’s have some fun with being thankful in all circumstances in A Gratitude Attitude for Latitude!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Cheap Grace

Now, I’m a Protestant Christian by default, but we live in a Protestant ‘get saved quick’ culture whereby someone may be told to say a silent and unbiblical ‘sinner’s prayer’ to avoid hell and go to heaven. There’s often an invitation to invite Jesus ‘in’ instead of an outward devotion of all we are and have to the King (e.g., Matthew 22:37; Romans 10:9-10). Few understand the cost of a relationship with God, so that’s where things usually stall. For about 85% of people who ‘get saved,’ there’s no discipleship, disciple-making, or charitable activity. This grace is one-sided and cheap, and it devalues our ransom paid by Christ. The Bible tells of costly grace, though—something about which Dietrich Bonhoeffer addressed in his book, The Cost of Discipleship:

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. . . . Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.

What about the ‘get saved’ history? It was never a thing until after the formal Protestant Reformation. From the beginning of Christian history until then, converts were either part of the universal Church or not. They responded appropriately to God’s call through Christ and lived transformed lives within their communities until they died, or they didn’t. The idea of an instant and permanent one-sided passive salvation wasn’t, and still isn’t, a thing in many Christian circles, including Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths. “So, Ron—then how do I become part of Christ’s universal Church?” Good question!

There’s nothing ‘quick’ about entering God’s rest now and rescuing from His wrath at the end of this world. The lifelong process appears to be: (1) become equipped for decision-making through things such as Scriptures and evangelism (e.g., John 20:30-31), (2) decide to respond to God’s call through devotion, love, and discipleship (Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 10:9-10), and (3) remain in the relationship (John chapter 15). In other words, understand well, choose well, and then stay and grow spiritually, no matter the cost.

What’s next? Well, I’m an end-of-the-world guy (Finding the End of the World, 2011) and recently ate some fig bars on a mini vacation. So, I’m motivated to write about Fig Trees & The End of The World. See you next week!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Corroborating Apocalypses

What do you think of when you hear or read the word apocalypse? Nuclear war? Missiles, tanks, death, and other violent stuff? The basic form of the ancient word means “to reveal.” In the Revelation given by God to Jesus to give to John to pass on to the churches in Asia Minor (phew!) in about 90CE, Jesus revealed events to come later. That’s why Revelation is apocalyptic. But do you know that Jesus had already told much of the Revelation events or characteristics when He was on earth about 60 years earlier? It’s true!

During the week of His crucifixion, Jesus and perhaps several of His closest disciples walked from the Temple complex to the Mount of Olives. He had said that the Temple would eventually be destroyed and not one of its stones left in place (Matthew 24:1-2). On the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked several related questions: 1. When would this happen, 2. What will signal Jesus’ return to earth, and 3. When will be the end of the age (Matthew 24:3)?

Jesus answers their questions in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, which inform of the beginning of hard times (‘birth pains,’ according to Jesus (Matthew 24:5-8)) to the judgment at the end of this age (Matthew 25:31-46). He gave much more detail about the same timeframe in visions to John about 60 years later. Here’s a brief comparison of what Jesus revealed on earth to what He revealed to John in about 90CE:

  • False saviors (Christs):                                                                 Matthew 24:5 & Revelation 6:2
  • War/violence:                                                                                    Matthew 24:6-7a & Revelation 6:3-4
  • Famine/pestilence:                                                                         Matthew 24:7b & Revelation 6:5-6
  • Terrible time of trouble and persecution (Great Tribulation) by the Antichrist:   Matthew 24:10-13 & Revelation 6:7-12; 7:9-17; 12:17                                
  • Christ’s second coming (ending the Great Tribulation):                                Matthew 24:29-31 & Revelation 6:12-17
  • The Great Judgment:                                                                  Matthew 25:31-46 & Revelation 20:11-15

A final note about the False Christs of Matthew 24:5 and Revelation 6:2, which can seem confusing: The horse in Revelation is white and the rider wears a crown, which signifies righteousness and authority; however, his weapon is a bow, not a sword, which is the weapon of Christ (Matthew 10:34; Revelation 19:15 & 21).

In summary, Jesus, who came to earth to satisfy our debt to God, is the same Jesus who revealed end-times things again to John 60 years later. So, it makes sense that the information is related. It seems important! Shouldn’t we study the Bible and pray for illumination by God’s Spirit so that we can find out what God wants and do that before it’s too late??

Next week, we’ll leave the end-times and explore a dangerous practice by many Christians in Playing with Fire.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Mark of the Beast: Part II (What it means)

What exactly will the mark of the beast be? No one knows for sure, but there are a couple of things to consider:

1.                It will be a way of identifying someone who has intentionally aligned with the Antichrist or the authority (Revelation 13:18).

2.                It may be something physical on the right hand or forehead. Or it may instead indicate something you know (forehead analogy) and do in response (symbolized by the hand) (cf. Exodus 13:9 & 16, and Deuteronomy 6:8 & 11:18).

When trying to understand anything biblical, we must consider and compare all related Scriptures. The mark is no exception. God used the hand and forehead analogy when He gave the Israelites specific commandments after the exodus from Egypt (cf. Exodus 13:9 & 16 and Deuteronomy 6:8 & 11:18). For instance:

And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year. —Exodus 13:9-10.

He told them to remember how He’d saved the nation and to remember His commandments forever. God used the tangible and familiar “forehead” to represent the receiving and committing His commandments to memory. Likewise, He used the “hand” as an identifier for acting upon that knowledge. The learning, retaining, and acting upon God’s commandments would prove allegiance to Him. So, the significance of forehead and hand may be a pledge of allegiance through the learning, agreeing, and acting upon a particular set of commandments initiated by the Antichrist’s authority.  So, what about the number—666?

The number is that of a human, and this one will be one part of an unholy trinity: Satan, Antichrist, and False Prophet (see Revelation chapter 13). The number 6 historically represented a human, whereas the number 7 represents God, indicating perfection. Because of this and the unholy trinity mentioned above, I suggest the number 666 represents some identification or sign of allegiance that will come from the Antichrist (empowered by Satan) through the False Prophet.

An alliance with the unholy trinity may enable buying and selling during the time of the Great Tribulation, but it will bring personal destruction by God. Therefore, we must increase our faith by learning of God’s ways to avoid end-times deception and should, therefore, watch out for anything that may require ungodly allegiance.

Next week, we’ll continue our end-times journey by comparing what Jesus told His disciples on the Mount of Olives to what He revealed to John about 60 years later.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Mark of the Beast: Part I (What it is NOT)

We love chaos, the fantastic, and conspiracy theories! They generally make life seem more exciting than the usual boring truth. Yet, truth is what we must seek! This week, we’ll peel back the layers of the end-times ‘mark of the beast’ as we ditch conspiracy and emotion and replace them with truth in part one of a two-part series.

First, it’s essential to understand that no matter what form the ‘mark’ will take, it will indicate allegiance to the last-days Satan-empowered authority we call THE Antichrist (the Bible doesn’t label it this way). And, taking it will be no accident. Let’s start with Scripture related to the much-debated mark:

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. —Revelation 13:16-18 (NASB). (see also 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4)

Pay particular attention to the right hand or forehead (it’ll be important later!). Another good thing to understand is the behind-the-scenes numerology: the number 7 often represents God; 6 represents humans.

Second, let’s peek at some falsehoods around the ‘mark of the beast.’ There are people, like this woman, who mistakenly believe they can accidentally take the mark: “Sometimes I panic and wonder if I’m already marked or if smartphones are the mark.” One end-times theory states that John cryptically referred to the Roman emperor Nero because, wrongly, the letters of his name equal 666. However, readers would’ve had to change the Greek rendering of Nero’s title and name to Hebrew just to get close to 666. So, first-century Nero as the Antichrist based on a 666 numbering, like many other theories, is incorrect.

 Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, later proved that many Greek names equal 666. And the search for ruler names that, when converted to numbers, equal 666, has continued. Among the list of candidates are Ronald Regan, George Walker Bush Jr., and Hitler. People have bought into other impossible marks of the beast or conspiracies: Social Security Numbers, barcodes, RFID chips, cryptocurrency, COVID vaccine, REAL ID Act, Obamacare, and COVID-era masks.

So far, we’ve covered some examples of what the mark is not. Next week, we’ll continue our end-times journey by taking the mystery out of the mark of the beast in Part II: What It Means.

For a very comprehensive and detailed study of this crucial topic, feel free to read my 2011 book Finding the End of the World, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on the Bible and history!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Wrath of Con!

Ask the average Christian in America about the end-times ‘Great Tribulation’, and, if anything, they’ll probably tell you it’s “seven years of horrible stuff from the Antichrist and God after Christians have been raptured!”

But study what the prophets, the apostles, and our Christ said about this ‘time like never seen before or will ever be seen again’ (e.g., Joel 2:2; Matthew 24:21), and you’ll find a more accurate and much more sobering version of this terrible time to come. Here are some critical facts about the coming Great Tribulation:

  • It will be no longer than 3.5 years and occur during the last half of a seven-year agreement between Israel and the Antichrist (e.g., Daniel 9:27). We know nothing about the first half of that period other than it will begin with an agreement. Whether we’ll know when it happens remains to be seen.
  • The period will be the time of the Antichrist’s wrath against God’s people—Israel and those who hold to the testimony of our Christ (Daniel 7:19-25; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 12:13-17). If possible, the Antichrist and his cohort will con God’s people through lies and deceit (e.g., Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:12-14). How will this happen? Because of shallow or non-existent faith made possible through intentional ignorance (e.g., a lack of Bible study, discipleship, and spiritual formation necessary for building faith).
  • The time of the Antichrist’s con and wrath will be cut short by Christ’s appearance. His presence will earmark two important events identified as ‘harvests’ in the Bible: the gathering of Jesus’ followers (e.g., Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 14:12-16) and the beginning of God’s wrath against what and who remain on the earth afterward (e.g., Revelation 6:12-17 and 14:17-20).

So, the wrath of the one who will con will come in the form of the Great Tribulation. After nearly 3.5 years, the faithful will find relief (e.g., Matthew 24:22 and 29-31; Revelation 19:6-10). God’s great wrath against the earth and her inhabitants will end the Antichrist’s wrath and great con.

Would you be able to resist being conned by those who say you don’t have to worry about any of this or by the Antichrist and his cohort in the last days? If not, waste no time learning the truth that leads to salvation (life with God and rescue from His coming wrath)! For a very comprehensive and detailed study of this crucial topic, feel free to read my 2011 book Finding the End of the World, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on the Bible and history!

Next week, we’ll continue our end-times journey by exposing the truth about the ‘mark of the beast.’

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Yes, Judge—but who??

The idea of judging trips people up. We know our faults or sins and feel we have no right to judge others as a result. Conversely, some people behave as though they must inform everyone around them of every sinful act. The truth regarding judging others resides somewhere in the middle.

Who should judge whom? According to Jesus, God will judge the world – those people who aren’t His. Christ-followers will be evaluated for their works done out of faith and rewarded accordingly at the end of this age. Meanwhile, we must hold one another accountable for spiritual growth and moral positioning. For instance, the apostle Paul called out sexually immoral behavior in the Corinthian church and told them this:

… Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. . . . Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. —1Corinthians 5:6-13.

So, how are we to judge other followers of Jesus? We must be careful and gentle according to Christ’s commandments, not by what we feel. The goal must always be to help followers who are ‘sinning’ turn back to the truth and be reconciled to God (e.g., James 15:19-20). Jesus also reminds us not to tolerate the practice of sinful behavior inside the community of Christians.

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” —Matthew 18:15-17.

Now, I realize that some people will counter by quoting Luke 6:37, “Do not judge and you will not be judged . . .” But it and verses 38-42 deal with justice and mercy. And verses 41-42 remind us to become righteous before holding others accountable by God’s standard.

If you want to love your fellow Christians with the love of Christ, judge them according to His commandments with a sense of urgency before it’s too late for anyone practicing sinful behavior and earning a one-way ticket to God’s judgment! And let’s demonstrate God’s standard by not doing or condoning anything He opposes (such as sexual immoralities). Otherwise, we could be single-handedly responsible for leading the lost to their destruction.

Next week, we’ll look at healthy and unhealthy Christian relationships.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley