Tag Archives: END OF THE WORLD

“I Am” or “I Will Be”??

You may have heard God referred to as “The Great I AM.” In fact, Exodus 3:14 states that God is “I AM WHO I AM” in most if not all Bibles. But did God really call Himself the “I AM” in the original language as if He needed to prove His existence? Or did the Hebrew phrase mean something else? Let’s see.

About 500 years after God formed a covenant with Abram, Moses encountered God. He asked about His name in Exodus 3:13-14: “Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM;” and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

The ancient Hebrew language in Exodus 3:13-14 refers to God as Ehyeh:  “And God said to Moses, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.’” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’”

The Hebrew word Ehyeh was understood, and, I believe, is best translated as, “I WILL BE—not “I AM.” Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh should be understood as “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” There’s evidence showing that early Church Fathers wrote it this way. This rendering is also present in the first modern English translation of the Bible (Myles Coverdale, 1535).

Now, I realize we’re told that God is the ‘Great I Am.’ But this translation may not follow the intended meaning of the Hebrew text. And, it implies that God needs to convince people that He exists. The rendering of “I WILL BE” makes much more sense when we remember that God is a God of action, of kept promises. For instance, He will be a provider (Matthew 6:26), be a shepherd (Psalm 23), and be a healer (Exodus 15:26). Here are two other examples:

“And I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.” (Zechariah 8:8)

“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.” (Hebrews 8:10)

God will indeed be yours if you will be His! Reach out to take the next step! So, what will we dive into next week? We’ll explore our deadly consumeristic “McDonalds” Christianity.

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

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

The Lamb & the Lion

Our Jesus – the Christ – is certainly the lamb of God’ that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Unfortunately, we often miss the real point in our experiential Christian culture, feeling good while we imagine our Jesus as a cute and cuddly lamb . . . I think you’ll find that a better visual would be that of a ‘mamma bear’ who is kind, just, and protective with her own but ruthless against opposition.

The truth is that the dress rehearsal of Passover and its sacrificial lamb, and prophetic utterance by the likes of Isaiah, were fulfilled by our Christ’s obedience to God to become the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Jesus ‘bought’ us with His sacrifice; we must now choose whether to believe and obey – follow – or to ignore this new covenant with God through the Christ.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. —Isaiah 53:7 & Acts 8:32.

Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. —1Corinthians 5:7-8.

When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb . . . “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” —Revelation 5:8-9.

Also true is that those who wish to follow the lamb must consider the cost as Jesus said, for they may very well go to their own destruction or be afflicted in their bodies (just look at all the apostles, except John, who were martyred for their faith!).

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. —Revelation 12:11.

What about the ‘Lion’? Well, Jesus our redeemer is also referred to as the ‘Lion from the tribe of Judah’ in God’s revelation given to John by Jesus.

Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” —Revelation 5:4-5.

So far, we understand that the picturesquely mild and meek ‘lamb’ is that way in symbol only. The example was used to show how Jesus was voluntarily slaughtered as a lamb to assist God the Father in the accomplishment of His desire to reconcile with His creation.

Our creator is a just God who will keep His promise to reward the faithful and destroy the wicked. Jesus, because of His obedience, earned the right to save and judge as a faithful arm of God’s wrath.

and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb —Revelation 6:16.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. . . .  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” —Revelation 19:11-16.

So, the lamb and the lion are one and the same: savior and judge. Rescuer and executioner. Which will you experience?

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!