Category Archives: Finding the End of the World

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

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

John the Revelator – a Timeline

John, the son of Zebedee, was a disciple who humbly proclaimed Jesus’ love for him (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7 & 20). He was an obedient apostle and a caring surrogate son to Mary, Jesus’ mother. He penned his own gospel account, several letters to the early Church, and unveiled things to come. But when and where did he do all this??

First, John lived during Jesus’ time. Biblical scholars agree that Jesus was born in approximately 4 BCE. So, it stands to reason that John would’ve been born near this time, although we don’t know precisely when. Second, Jesus was 29 years old (about 30 (Luke 3:23)) when He called John to discipleship. John partnered with Jesus during his one-year ministry from just before Passover until the following Passover (see my article “Why so Long??” from August 12, 2020).

He then became an apostle when Jesus sent him and the other disciples to make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Let’s assume this was about 26-27 AD. It would also be the year when Jesus charged John with caring for Mary (John 19:26-27), was crucified, and then raised by the Father.

Apostle John then went beyond Jerusalem to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. He started the church in Ephesus (in modern-day Western Turkey) and likely started, or was instrumental in creating, others he would later oversee: Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. John and Mary settled in Ephesus until he was exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he continued to oversee the other churches and received his revelation from Jesus.

Emperor Domitian, who hated Christianity, exiled John to Patmos (a prison colony) in 94 AD, where he stayed for two years until freed by Emperor Nerva in 96 AD. Early Church Father Eusebius, who defers to Irenaeus, confirms this. John then returned to Ephesus, where he continued to care for Mary until her passing. John lived to be just over 100 years old. We know much about his life because of Prochorus, one of the 70 disciples Jesus sent out who later became John’s scribe.

So, what about his gospel account and three letters to the early Church? He wrote the gospel between 90 – 100 AD in Ephesus before being exiled to Patmos or immediately afterward. The same holds for his three epistles, although he most likely wrote them after returning from exile. What follows is an abbreviated and approximate timeline:

  • 4 BC: John’s birth
  • 26 AD: Called to discipleship
  • 27 AD: Charged with caring for Mary; becomes an apostle
  • 94 AD: Exiled to Patmos
  • 94-96 AD: Receives Jesus’ revelation
  • 96 AD: Freed; Returns to Ephesus
  • 90 – 100 AD: Writes, from Ephesus, his gospel and three letters to the Church

What about next week? I’ll tell you the woeful tale of “the Ghost Pepper that wasn’t!”

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

The Covenant with God: Part I

Last week, I presented an exciting riddle about 3,000 souls lost, gained, and then lost again (on American soil). I also mentioned the related relational framework (covenant) that may dictate the presence or absence of God’s provision and protection. We’ll unpack it further in this and next week’s articles.

God has sought partnership with His creation from the beginning of human time when He charged the first man, Adam, with caring for what He had made. Adam cultivated the garden and named the animals (Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:15-20). From then, a relational God who endowed humans with the ability to choose Him has regularly sought “I will if you will” engagements.

Probably the earliest example of a covenantal relationship (two-way partnership with terms and conditions) with God was what He shared with Abraham. In Genesis 15:1-21 and 17:1-14, God engaged him to fulfill a promise to provide a way back and redeem creation after Adam and Eve’s rebellion.  The relationship was based on an ancient Hittite suzerain-vassal framework that outlined the arrangement between the lord of the land and its occupants. The lord demanded complete devotion and allegiance and a tithe (10%) of what the land produced. His subjects received, in return, protection and provision. It was the standard arrangement in place at Abraham’s time, and it had a preamble that listed affected parties and a historical prologue providing the “basis of obligation.” 

Furthermore, the covenantal agreement listed stipulations (terms and conditions), blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience.  Regular readings of the treaty to keep it first and foremost in the participants’ minds was necessary.  That God used it should come as no surprise considering that Father and Son have always employed human language, practices, idioms, etc., in communicating with people.  The lord-servant arrangement was what Abraham knew. It would have made sense to him. God continued what He had started by reaffirming the agreement through Moses 500 years later.

God remembered His covenant with Israel when the people were captives in Egypt (Exodus 2:24). Upon their rescue via Moses, God confirmed the treaty using the same suzerain/vassal framework:

1.         Preamble/Title: “I am Yahweh your God . . .”          

2.         Prologue: “. . . who brought you up out of the land” (provides obligations and motive).

3.         Stipulations/Obligations: “You shall have no other gods before me. . . .”

4.         Periodic reading of the treaty.

5.         Witnesses.

6.         Curses and blessings.

Additional covenantal artifacts exist in scriptures such as Deuteronomy 4:32-40, 6:4-25, and chapter eight.

In summary, a God who exercises choice created humans in His image, and He sought reciprocal relationships with willing participants in the Old Covenant (Old Testament). Next week, we’ll see that this is still the case in the New Covenant (New Testament).

Come Back!!

The Creator Called: He wants His stuff back! Return. Partner. Live!

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ —1Thessalonians 5:9.

And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation —Hebrews 5:9.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. —1John 2:17.

New Beginnings

We think about a New Year in human terms and for new human beginnings. But, there is an ultimate and true start that brings new beginnings for Jesus’ followers – and will bring an end to all else (Revelation 22:11-13).

Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. —Revelation 22:11-13.
Examples of human New Year celebrations:
• American/European: January 1st
• Chinese (Also known as the Spring Festival): 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar
• Jewish: Religious – Pesach (Passover): The 1st Jewish month; Agricultural – Rosh Hashanah: 7th month on the Jewish calendar

Human New Year resolutions: We usually make them to bring hope of a new human beginning (perhaps that the next year will be better than the last). We also make them as ‘do overs’ – we want to change what we don’t like.

But, let’s look at a new human and spiritual beginning in Jesus. Why would we care? To move toward God and life, and away from judgment and spiritual wrath. Here’s how:
• Believe and Repent (our focus) (Mark 1:15)
• Be baptized as an outward, physical manifestation of new faith (Mark 16:16)
• Grow in faith, live right, and tell others the good news (i.e. Matthew 19-20)

Interestingly, both human and spiritual new beginnings require repentance.
• Defined: A change in heart that results in a change in behavior
• Enables forgiveness, and salvation (Luke 24:47 and Acts 11:15-18)
• It’s what God desires of everyone (2Peter 3:9-10) and often disciplines us for (Revelation 3:19)
• A beginning that leads to good habits and better health (relationship, emotional, physical, and spiritual)
• We don’t practice sin once we repent (Galatians 5:20-23, John 8:3-12, and 1John 3:2-10
• Not repenting will lead to judgment and wrath (Romans 2:5-10)

Repent, experience a new beginning, and don’t look back! The results will be spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally rewarding.

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from http://www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

God – the Nature of the Creator

In our emotion-based Christian culture, we often picture our God as a kindly old man who emotionally loves us no matter who we are and what we’ve done. We’re told to imagine ourselves crawling into His lap and cuddling as we talk to Him. This is a dangerous and misleading picture!

Our God wants to be reconciled with the mankind He created and who walked away from Him 6,000 years ago. But make no mistake: we are to fear our God as we answer the call to a two-way relationship born of obedience out of faith, “I will be yours if you will be mine!

Let’s look at that ‘fear’ after glancing at some of the characteristics or nature of your God who is a jealous, just, merciful provider and protector of those who are His.

God is jealous: He wants to be our only God

A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.—Nahum 1:2-3.

 

God is just: He will keep His promises despite any ‘feelings

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. —Deuteronomy 32:4.

 

God is merciful: The promises He keeps as a just God bring life

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. —Luke 6:36.

The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. —Psalm 145:8.

God is protector and provider and forgiver of the righteous

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’” —Jeremiah 7:23.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1John 1:9.

God is judge of all

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. —Acts 17:29-31.

Another destructive misconception in today’s Christian culture is that God is ‘not of fear’. However, that claim comes from a lack of understanding and by taking a biblical text out of context. It’s true that we have no need to fear a man when we have the Spirit; however, we are to fear God and with good reason.

  • Fear of God and Christ (i.e. Luke 7:16, Acts 13:16, Romans 13:7, 2Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:12, 1Peter 1:17). This healthy fear is represented by the Greek word phobos (Strong’s G5401); it indicates alarm, fright, or terror.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2Corinthians 7:1.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling —Philippians 2:12.

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth —1Peter 1:17.

  • This next ‘fear’, phobeō (Strong’s G5399), comes from the one we just covered, and it basically means to ‘be in awe of’ or revere. Examples of its use can be found in Luke 12:4-5, Romans 11:20-21, Acts 5:10-11, and 1Peter 2:17.

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!—Luke 12:4-5.

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. —1Peter 2:17.

Your just God is willing to protect, provide, and forgive when we respond to His call through faith and action. Believe. Repent. Love through charity and obedience. Fear in a healthy fear the nature of your God Jehovah and live!

 

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2016 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!