Tag Archives: Israel

The Holy Spirit Part II: The Ultimate Equipper!

Last week, I introduced the Spirit of God, our connection to the Kingdom of Heaven, as we await a new age when the Father and Son will dwell with all creation. Meanwhile, the Spirit instructs and convicts and gives lovely gifts. He brings comfort, knowledge, and the ability to discern between right and wrong. Here are a few glimpses into a contemporary yet ancient Spirit:

God’s Spirit was at creation (Genesis 1:1-2): In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

He filled the Jews with wisdom and craftsmanship (Exodus 31:3-5): I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

He enabled the prophets (Numbers 11:25): Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.

Even today, the Spirit’s gifts include human languages (for preaching and teaching those of other nations) and that of heaven along with interpretation, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and discerning spirits. But the Spirit gifts according to the Father’s purposes, not ours. He will do what He will do through the Spirit to suit His excellent pleasure (will). Here are gifts of the Spirit for the common good of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7-11):

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Here are additional resources:

Acts 2:4 – 13 (other languages to preach the Gospel).

Ephesians 4:1-6 and 11-16 (use the Spirit’s gifts for God’s purpose, equipping, and unity within the Church).

Regeneration by the Spirit enables access to the Kingdom of Heaven. Spiritual growth and equipping by the Spirit through gifts, talents, and the Church keep us heading in the right direction. Next week, we’ll uncover the discernible effects of walking by the Spirit and what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

The “A-B-C’s” of God’s Law and Covenant

What is the Old Testament ‘Law’ (note the capital L) and what does it have to do with today’s New Testament Christian? To answer these questions, we must first understand where the Law came from.

Long ago, God formed a covenant with mankind through the nation of Israel with Abraham, reaffirmed through Moses. There was no formal Law before God revealed it to Moses in about 1445 BCE. The covenant God formed with Israel was to be as close and as binding as a marriage contract and the resulting relationship. This is why He called Israel His ‘wife’ and the Church is called the ‘bride of Christ’. The Law given to God’s bride through Moses and the prophets would serve to guide her in this relationship with God. It would also become an unachievable standard by which we realize our sinful and imperfect nature (i.e. Romans 5:20 and 7:7; Galatians 3:24).

Today, no one can truly be called ‘Christian’ unless they’ve entered into a similar covenant with God through our Christ. That marriage-like agreement and its “I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine” promise begins with a change of heart and corresponding behavior that moves our direction and actions toward God and His ways (repentance). We give ourselves to God and then reaffirm our commitment to Him and our Christ – the Savior of mankind as foretold by God through the prophets – whenever we drink from the Communion cup.

But . . . salvation from God’s wrath to come and eternal life with Him through a following of our Christ doesn’t nullify the Law as some suggest (see Paul’s response in Romans 3:31). Jesus fulfilled the Law by His coming, death, resurrection (i.e. Matthew 5:17-18), but it still serves a purpose and the words contained within it and the Torah (Old Testament) that houses it are very valid, even today. We may no longer be under the religious requirements of the Law (i.e. any of hundreds of rules from tithing to sacrifices), but that ancient guide can tell us a lot about how we’re to walk with God and treat our fellow man.

Want to know the mind of God – what He likes and what He hates? Interested in knowing where you came from, spiritually-speaking? Then study the Old Testament and the Law – the Scriptures referenced by the Apostle Paul (2Timothy 3:14-17)!

The old covenant between God and His bride, Israel, brought us the Law. God’s new covenant with the world through our Christ fulfilled the ancient Law and provides the Spirit to all who truly believe and follow. The perfect law is now written on the hearts/minds of followers through the Spirit (i.e. Romans 2:13-15; prophecy of Jeremiah in Chapter 31, etc.). And, we still have the ancient Law as it existed to instruct, guide, and provide a sanity check in our daily activities (i.e. Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8).

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 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!

Suicide . . .

Is suicide a sin? Will those who commit suicide go to hell? There’s little in Scripture related to the taking of one’s own life. Nothing condones it, but neither is there anything that prohibits the act. What we’ll most likely discover is that, as with nearly everything else we do, intent is important to determining the eternal fate of someone who has committed suicide.

What does the Bible say about suicide? Very little, actually. What little information there is can be found in one of two categories: verses that tell us of a few individuals who killed themselves and others that may reflect an unfulfilled desire of some to end their lives.

Acts of actual suicide in Bible and history:

  • Samson. After being captured and blinded, he took advantage of an opportunity to kill not only himself but 3,000 Philistines by ‘bringing down the house’ (cf. Judges 16:25-31). It’s possible that Samson martyred himself as opposed to committing suicide. Only he and God know of his intent at the time of this final act.
  • King Saul. Seriously wounded, he asked his armor bearer to kill him. When the assistant refused, the king killed himself (according to at least one account). The armor bearer then committed suicide as well (cf. 1Samuel 31:1-6; 1Chronicles 10:2-6; 2Samuel chapter 1). In context, Saul sought death to avoid abuse by his enemies.
  • King Abimelech. A woman mortally wounded him by dropping a millstone on his head. Knowing he was about to die, the king had his armor bearer finish the job because he didn’t want it said that a woman had killed him (cf. Judges 9:50-54).
  • King Zimri. This king reigned only 7 days before committing suicide. King Omri of Israel besieged Zimri’s city of Tirzah and, probably out of fear, Zimri killed himself by burning the house down around him (cf. 1 Kings 16:15-20).
  • Ahithophel. King David’s counselor turned on the king in support of his son and enemy, Absalom. When his advice against the king wasn’t followed, he returned home and killed himself (cf. 2Samuel 17:23).
  • Judas Iscariot. This disciple of Jesus killed himself out of guilt for betraying the Christ (cf. Matthew 27:3-5).
  • Hundreds of Jews at Masada. Roman soldiers breached the walls of this hilltop fortress in 73 CE, compelling nearly 1,000 Jews to commit suicide. Husbands killed wives and children out of fear they’d be sexually abused and turned into slaves. The males then drew lots to determine which ones would kill the others.[i]


Possible unfulfilled desires to commit suicide:

  • Moses. In despair over the burden of caring for the Israelites, he asked God to kill him (cf. Numbers 11:12-15).
  • Elijah. . . . and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” —1Kings 18 and 19:4. Interestingly, this request came just after God had enabled a great victory over the prophets of Baal. Now that Jezebel was seeking his life, Elijah despaired and went from what was probably an extreme high to quite a low. This is common even with today’s followers of Jesus.
  • Jonah. This prophet was angry enough at God’s mercy with the Assyrians and discouraged at the lack of protection from intense heat that he asked God to take his life (cf. Jonah 4).
  • Those about to suffer during God’s end-times wrath.  At the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars of the sixth seal of the Revelation in the last days, Jesus’ followers will be gathered and the remainder of humanity will prepare for God’s impending wrath (cf. Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 6:12-17). Those left behind will cry out for the rocks to fall upon them because of the realization that God’s wrath is upon them (Revelation 6:16-17).
  • Those who’ll suffer during God’s end-times wrath. The fifth angel of God’s last-days wrath will cause the release of locust-like creatures from the abyss. They’ll torment men for 5 months (cf. Revelation 9:1-10). The pain will be so severe that the victims will wish for death, but it will elude them (Revelation 9:6).


While there’s nothing that directly condones or prohibits suicide, some insist you’ll find proof that suicide is wrong in the commandment that prohibits murder and in 1Corinthians 6:19-20 and 3:17:

You shall not murder. —Exodus 20:13.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. —1Corinthians 6:19-20.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. —1Corinthians 3:16-17.

In the case of the commandment to not murder, remember that it’s one of 5 that tell us how to treat our fellow man. Regarding Paul’s admonishment to glorify God in our body in 1Corinthians 6:19-20, as with many of his words to a sin-riddled church, the message exhorts the followers in Corinth to rule the flesh with the spirit and honor God through purity and not the other way around. It’s not specifically addressing suicide.

What we’ve learned so far is that many people in Scripture and history have committed suicide for what they believed to be good reasons: to avoid worse fates or get relief from excruciating pain and certain death by more unpleasant means. We see this kind of activity today for similar reasons. Is it wrong? Will the act result in a sentence of hell? The answer may depend on the state of mind and therefore the intent of anyone who has committed suicide. Internal chemical/emotional and external factors can overwhelm an individual and temporarily cloud their judgment.

Most people understand the potential lack of accountability that can stem from blocked rational thought and an inability to use sound judgment. We often talk about something termed the ‘age of accountability’ whereby we believe God will accept and save from judgment the spirit of a child until it’s old enough to fully understand the need for God’s salvation through Jesus. The youngster would need to decide from that point onward whether to follow the Christ.

The lack of emotional and mental maturity keeps one from being able to make this choice regardless of whether it’s due to age, disease, or intense physical or emotional pain. Only God knows the heart of someone who has committed suicide and whether they were able to make right choices. And, since He’s a good and righteous judge, we can trust that God will judge each person according to their heart’s condition.

Two extremely unfortunate side-effects of suicide are grief and finality. In some cases, family members understand that death provided relief for the deceased. But in most cases, the grief produced by the loss of a loved one is overwhelming. And death is certainly final. If God’s plan had included a part for the deceased, then the chance to fulfill that role has been forever removed. Therefore, suicide is also a serious matter with possible heavy and lasting consequences.

Summary: The Bible says little on the subject of suicide. What it does report is strictly historical in nature. As a result, we’re left only with opinions on the subject and personal desires. Mine is that the act itself won’t condemn a person to hell – that condemnation depends alone on the individual’s heart including the presence (or absence) of faith and resulting obedience up to the time of death. My prayer and belief is that God does indeed consider the heart condition when determining the fate of someone who has committed suicide.

“Taking the Mystery out of Communion”

Communion is defined as sharing; intimate fellowship or rapport (Merriam-Webster).

What do Christians so intimately share and why? What you’ll discover is that our communion ritual has its beginnings in God’s covenant with Israel and the Passover celebration – something we’re certainly encouraged to participate in.

In fact, Jesus was celebrating the Passover Seder when He announced that His body would be broken and His blood shed for a new covenant with God. Jesus then encouraged His disciples to remember His coming sacrifice whenever they partook of the Passover elements – probably because of their fulfillment with His coming, death, resurrection, and salvation.

The Passover flat bread and lamb’s blood had significance then . . . and now. Let’s take a quick look at the communion components before discussing how they’ve been used to represent God’s actions and fulfillment of fulfillment of His words through the prophets:

  • The bread: from the Passover, and as our ‘bread of life’ – Jesus.
  • The wine: blood the Passover Lamb and Jesus shed for salvation.

Old Covenant/Passover fulfillment:

  • The bread – matzo – had no yeast and represented the urgent departure of the Israelites from Egypt. Its holes and stripes represent OT prophecies about the piercing and beatings our Christ would endure (Isaiah 53:3-5).
  • The wine represented the blood of the old covenant between God and Israel. Today, Jews celebrate the Passover with a Seder meal that includes matzo and four cups of wine: Sanctification, Deliverance, Redemption/Blessing (1Corinthians 10:16-17), and Hope – usually associated with the return of Elijah.

New Covenant fulfillment:

  • The bread represents the ‘bread of life’ (Jesus) broken for us to offer salvation from God’s judgment to the world (John 6:35-58). The matzo bread was broken and hidden in a specific manner during the Passover celebration. Jesus did this and made His comments about being broken for the forgiveness of sins while conducting the Seder. God asked Him to do this and He accepted the assignment: inhabit a human form, live a perfect life as a blemish-free sacrificial lamb, and then be sacrificed at the exact time the Passover lambs were to be sacrificed.
  • The wine represents the blood Jesus shed for salvation as our ‘Passover Lamb’ (Matthew 26:27-28; 1 Corinthians 5:7). It is the Seder Cup of Blessing and the covenant cup (like in a traditional Jewish wedding). One of the many prophecies and ‘dress rehearsals’ Jesus fulfilled (and is still fulfilling) was that of a traditional Jewish bridegroom. Let’s look at these things in greater detail.

Wedding – Covenant – fulfillment:

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

  • Choosing of a bride: The father of a potential groom would search for a wife for his son. We have been selected as a pure bride for our Christ (2Corinthians 11:2).
  • Contract (covenant) – first cup of wine (Matthew 26:27-28). When a suitable bride had been found, the two families would meet to discuss the potential 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. To cement the deal, the couple would drink from a cup of wine called the “cup of covenant”.
  • Separation and the building of a home (John 14:2-3). After vows, the giving of gifts, and ceremonial bathing (like the baptism we experience), the couple would separate for a short time. The boy and his father would prepare a home for the couple. This betrothal separation would normally last a year in a traditional Jewish wedding process; however, we continue to wait. Why? Because God’s timing is His timing, and He’ll wait until the number of those who’ll accept His mercy has been met.
  • Marriage and second cup timed by the groom’s father. This is also the final Seder cup and the second covenant cup in heaven: Matthew 26:28-29; the gathering for the marriage: Matthew 24:21-36; the marriage: Revelation 19:5-9). The father of the groom, at a time known only to him, would summon the groomsmen to announce that it was time for the marriage ceremony, which consisted of a supper and second cup of wine. The groomsmen made their announcement with shouts and trumpet calls.

We now understand that communion is a way of remembering the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf and reiterating our vow in the new covenant with God through Jesus. Should everyone take communion? No!

First, only those who have promised their lives to God and our Christ should consider engaging in the ritual.

Second, there are unsuitable ways to take communion (remember that drinking the cup of covenant serves as a reiteration of our vow to ‘be a faithful bride’ until our groom returns).

  1. With an impure heart (1Corinthians 11:23-28). Taking the cup during communion while practicing sinful behavior (akin to being an unfaithful bride) is a contradiction and a lie. This is why we must be careful!
  2. For the wrong reasons (1Corinthians 11:20-22). In this case, some of the people in Corinth were using the communion table for eating and drinking – even getting drunk! This was a total abuse of the ritual, which is meant to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and our covenant. It also reeked of gluttony . . .

In summary, Jesus’ sacrifice of flesh and blood mirrored the Passover Lamb of the old covenant with God and paved the way for the salvation of all mankind in a new one. Followers of the Christ remember His sacrifice and the new covenant (synonymous with a human marriage relationship) by taking symbolic bread and wine together.

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 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!

Tattoos & Piercings: “Holy Inking, Batman!”

Question: “Is it a sin to get tattoos or body piercings?”

Is this more of a cultural than sin-related question? What drives an individual to ink or pierce their bodies? Could the intent (motive) itself be sinful? What does the Bible have to say about tattooing or piercing?

There’s been an incredible explosion in the number of people getting tattoos and multiple piercings these days. So, I’m not surprised at having been asked whether either is sinful. Anyone looking for a definitive sin line in the sand won’t find it here, as intent and culture make it impossible to draw one. This doesn’t mean that getting tattoos or receiving piercings isn’t related to sin, but the actions would most likely be manifestations of underlying sinful behavior such as pride, arrogance, or rebellion.

I mentioned that intent comes into play here (as it does just about anywhere!). Why an action is done is important to understanding whether it’s sinful. For instance, someone may get a tattoo to commemorate the life or death of a loved one. Someone else may have meaningful Scripture tattooed on their body for remembrance or some kind of witness. Is this sinful?

On the other hand, a minor may illegally and immorally receive tattoos or piercings out of rebellion against their parents or because of vanity.  Or, someone may get piercings in particular places for the purpose of enhancing sexual experiences or satisfying a narcissistic, prideful desire to stand out through the use of tattoos or piercings. Of course, these are but a few examples of what may be innocent intent on one hand and sinful desire on the other.  So, what does the Bible say about these activities? How could someone contemplating a tattoo or piercing determine whether they should follow through with the act? Let’s examine them one at a time.

Piercing. The only direct biblical reference to piercing is that of the Old Testament piercing of a slave’s ear by their master (cf. Exodus 21:6 and Deuteronomy 15:17). The Old Testament mentions earrings, but these may have been slipped on and not necessarily inserted through holes in the ears. Because there’s no way to tell for sure, references (e.g. Exodus 35:22) shouldn’t be used in support for or against ear piercings.

Tattoos. This one’s a bit trickier, as God specifically forbade the Israelites from gashing or marking their bodies.  I’ve heard it said that God was just talking about doing this in commemoration of the dead; however, look at the text and you’ll see that the tattoo warning comes after the mention of the “the dead”.

You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves . . .

Besides the biblical warning against tattooing, there are no benefits to the act. You’ll also find definite disadvantages and risks:

  • Permanence. Tattoos are relatively permanent, although today’s technologies may help in removing most evidence of inking.
  • Negative perceptions. These could come from potential friends, spouses, or employers. Why risk not getting an ideal job or missing out on close relationships for the sake of making a statement? You’ll likely find, though, that this isn’t quite the risk it once was; perceptions have changed somewhat as tattoos become more popular.
  • Roadblock to an effective witness. Presenting yourself as an inked Christian could have a detrimental effect on spreading the Gospel or invoking confidence in others. But, as with the ‘negative perceptions’ bullet above, the risk of a roadblock, while valid, may not be as viable as in the past.
  • Risk of infection. This does happen as a result of unsanitary conditions and equipment.

Summary: Unlike piercings, which seem to have no prohibition or permanent effects, tattooing carries a biblical warning and risks while sporting no apparent benefit. Also, the motive behind inking or piercings can be sinful – especially if born of sin such as pride or rebellion. Sinful motives (no matter what the action) should be repented of.

For a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come, 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!

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part IV

“No Weapon Formed Against me will Prosper” & “I can do all things Through Christ”

Let’s continue our Apocalyptic Misquotes with a look at more abuses that support a false and dangerous spiritual rock star mentality.

Misquote #1: “No weapon formed Against me will prosper” I’m continually amazed that we’ll justify our lack of biblical study in part by claiming that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us. And, yet, we’ll pluck Scripture out of its context to support bad doctrine. Here’s the abused reference for this week’s misquote #1:

 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.—Isaiah 54:17.

In this example (in its entire context), God is issuing a warning and promise through Isaiah about Israel’s current disobedience and loss of protection, and last-days reconciliation with Him. This is part of a near-far prophecy where God is basically saying to Israel, “You’re going to get a smack-down because of your unfaithfulness, but I’ll bring you back to me in the end and no one will harm you because of My protection.

Unfortunately, out-of-context abuse of this reference bolsters today’s Christian spiritual rock star doctrine that God will give us anything we want and nothing bad will happen to us. So, when someone’s prayer isn’t answered the way they believe it should have been and when bad things do happen, common responses from within or by others include, “The devil must be after me!” or “There must be something wrong with your spiritual walk!”.

Neither is necessarily true. First, Satan has no authority or influence on true followers of our Christ. Second, neither God nor our Christ ever promised earthly prosperity or escape from sickness or danger. We’ll talk more about ‘why bad things happen’ in a future blog; however, Jesus’ true followers can expect tribulation now and in the last days (e.g. Matthew 24:9 & 21; John 16:33; Romans 5:3 and 12:12; 1Thessalonians 1:6; Revelation 7:14, 13:10, and 14:12). We’re told to ‘count the cost’ (Luke 14:27-33). And, try telling the apostle Paul that there must’ve been something wrong with his spirit life because of all the trials he had to endure . . . (check out 2Corinthians 11:23-27).

Misquote #2: “I can do all things Through Christ” Here’s yet another verse that, when taken out of context, lends itself to spiritual rock star and superhuman ways of thinking.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13.

This verse is abused because it, like the others we’ve studied recently, has been taken out of its context. Read the entire chapter to determine the intent of the writer, and you’ll find that Paul is saying he has learned to be content in any situation.

Remember 2Corinthians 11:23-27 from Misquote #1? Good. Then you should understand that Paul had persevered through many trials experienced while doing Jesus’ will: preaching the good news of salvation from God’s coming judgment to the lost – all in support of the Father’s overarching will, which is to reconcile mankind to Him.

Christ’s strengthening and resulting perseverance were possible because Paul was doing the will of our Christ and God as he sought the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (cf. Matthew 6:33).

So, if you want the Spirit of God to strengthen you in your activities, aiding in perseverance, then make sure that whatever you’re doing is in pursuit of the will of God as you seek His kingdom before all else.

For more information regarding the return of our Christ and our ‘marriage’ to Him, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.

Next week, we’ll look at another great example of personal interpretation and bad hermeneutics as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture. The next topic: “God needs an audience to show up – where two or more are gathered . . .”.

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part II

“1,000-year-long God Days” & “Robbing God”

Let’s continue our Apocalyptic Misquotes with a look at abuses that give birth to erroneous end-of-the-world timing, extortion, and prosperity gospels (see Part I for a more complete introduction).

Misquote #1: “One of God’s Days Equals 1,000 of our years” Nearly every manmade last-days doctrine has been created and perpetuated by being selective in identifying supporting Scripture, spiritualizing or ignoring contradictory passages, or taking verses out of context to prop up an agenda. At least one major example takes 2peter 3:8-10 out of its context to support a belief that one of God’s days equals a thousand of our years.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. —2Peter 3:8-10.

Why is this done? To help validate several bad doctrines:

  1. Creation was done in six days, which really equaled 6,000 years.”
  2. Each of our millennia equaled one day of creation. So, since the earth is 6,000 years old, we’re at the end of the creation period and it’s now time for Jesus to come back for the last day: the millennium kingdom! That means he’ll come back at any time!
  3. Often coupled with the example in #2 is a position that Jesus can come back at any moment (imminent return). This is supported in part by abuse of 2Peter 3:10, “Jesus will come back like a thief!” However, the “Day of the Lord” is always a reference to the coming wrath of God, not the return of our Christ for His bride.

Here are two things to carefully consider when attempting to understand Peter’s real intent behind what we read in 3:8-10:

  1. The word ‘like’ is used here. This indicates simile and not a literal one-for-one meaning. For instance, I might say, “Being married to my wife Joanne is like heaven on earth!” Of course, I’m not telling you that my marriage is heaven itself. . .
  2. Equally important as considering the use of ‘like’ is the context Peter is using. He’s referring to God’s patience with us in relation to His coming end-of-the-world judgment. In other words, ‘God’s timing is His timing . . .’ Judgment of the wicked is coming, but God is taking His time to give mankind a chance for reconciliation before then.

Misquote #2: “”You’re robbing God if you don’t pay your tithes to the church” This extortion of Saints and perpetuation of deadly prosperity gospels has gone on in the Church for roughly 1,800 years and has been made possible in great part by an abuse of Scriptures such as Malachi 3:8-10.

Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” —Malachi 3:8-10.

I’m intrigued by the fact that while nearly every Christian religious leader will tell you that we’re no longer under the Law, they’ll imply that you’re under at least one: tithing. But, my desire is to stay objective and teach. So, let’s take a look at several problems with this abuse of Malachi 3:8-10.

First, in context, God is admonishing the nation of Israel for not keeping the covenant with Him through the bringing of tithes to the temple. This was critical not only to the worship of God, but it was vital to the survival of the priests and their families. In fact, this tithe was their inheritance whereas the other tribes received parcels of land within the borders of Israel as their inheritance. Here’s a very brief breakdown of Malachi’s message from God:

  • Chapter One: God admonishes the priests for their unfaithfulness in keeping the Law (as related to sacrifice) and resulting lack of respect.
  • Chapter Two: God continues by claiming the priests have turned from the righteous ways of Levi. They mistreat their wives and engage in divorce, which God hates.
  • Chapter Three: The kingdom of God and of Christ; judgment; verses 8-10 deal with the nation as a whole robbing God by not brining in the inheritance of the priests, used to sustain themselves and their families.

Second, our covenant with God through the Christ doesn’t rely on any rule or subdivision of the Law of Moses. Read Acts 15:29-20 and 21:25, and you’ll find that new, non-Jewish converts to the faith had only these specific requirements: stay sexually pure and be careful of the source of their meat.

Third, there is absolutely no New Testament mandate to tithe. What you will find with regard to the giving of our resources:

  1. We are to give without mandate or limit to care for the brothers and sisters in Christ. We see an example of this with the collection taken up by Paul to send to Jerusalem during a time of great trouble and famine.
  2. There was no example in the first century of today’s church model that requires vast resources for salaries, building projects, utilities, etc.
  3. Besides the benevolence we saw in #1 above) we see only one other use of funds in the first century church: benevolence to care for those who spent their time traveling to spread the Gospel and couldn’t work. Interestingly, Paul did this and yet worked when he could and took no money from those he ministered to . . .

Note: I’ve been asked, “Won’t God still bless my tithes anyway?” Well, who knows . . . Again, there’s no requirement for us to tithe and, just as with the Pharisees who weren’t to neglect the weightier matters of love and mercy for sake of legalism (Matthew 23:23), we’re still supposed to obey the commandments to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ who can’t work including those who spend all their time spreading the good news of salvation to the lost.  So, help fund churches and their programs if you’d like.  However, be sure to still be obedient out of faith through benevolence.

For more information regarding the timing of the return of our Christ, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.

Also, keep an eye out for my upcoming blog on Tithing and for the book I hope to publish later this year titled, “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss”.

Next week, we’ll look at bad doctrine related to the timing of Jesus’ return and the apparent need for God to have an audience to show up as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture.

Let the Feasting Begin!

In His covenant with His bride, Israel, God ordained 7 feasts and festivals: 4 in the spring, and 3 in the fall.  While followers of Jesus aren’t forced to observe them, knowing of the events and their past, present, and future significance will help understand where we’ve come from and God’s covenant with Israel and our Christ’s covenant with the world are related.

~ Spring Feasts of the Lord (fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming) ~

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 7 days beginning on the day after Passover. Jesus fulfilled the role of Passover lamb sacrificed for the choice of salvation (just as with the Hebrews in Egypt), and He represented the removal of leaven (yeast) – sin, as we see in 1Corinthians 5:6-8.

Feast of First fruits: This marks the beginning of the harvest period and gives Israel an opportunity to present the first fruits of that harvest to God in thanksgiving. It occurs 50 days prior to the Feast of Weeks. Jesus fulfilled this event as the first fruits of the resurrected dead presented to the Father (1Corinthians 15:20 & 35-48).

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): This particular feast occurs 7 weeks and a day (50 days total) after the feast of First Fruits. The purpose is to signal the end of the grain harvest and give thanks to God for His provision. It’s also marked the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit of God to empower His followers for ministry (John 14:16).

~ Fall Feasts of the Lord (will be fulfilled by Jesus’ return to earth) ~

The Feast of Trumpets: This ‘memorial of blowing of trumpets’ is to happen on the first day of the 7th month (usually September) and will most likely signal our Christ’s return to earth and the gathering of His bride at the ‘last trumpet’ (cf. Matthew 24:30-31 and 1Thessalonians 4:16-17).

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 7 days, Jews are compelled to live in structures – booths – made of branches, twigs, and leaves. This practice most likely also represents the time of Jesus’ kingdom where He will dwell with man and once again be the protector and provider for Israel.

Which will it be for you – feast or famine (spiritually-speaking)?


No Need for the Temple of God?

Some people believe the third temple mentioned in Scripture is symbolic and not a physical structure. A component of this false teaching is that the biblical third temple is actually representative of every Christian. While it’s true that Jesus’ followers are called the temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 2:21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 & 6:19), there’s no reason to believe the third temple itself will be anything other than what the Bible says it will be: a temple of the Lord built for God by the Jews, and desecrated by the Antichrist. God’s Holy Spirit does reside in and with Christian believers, negating the need for them to have a temple, but apocalyptic literature in the Bible has revealed that the Jews will build one in fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

Is anyone serious about building the third temple? You bet! Many Jews have looked forward to this since June 1967 when the Israelis once again controlled the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock (where they believe the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant had been in Solomon’s days). The control only lasted for a few hours, but many Israelis still hope to one day obtain permission to rebuild the temple. Several significant sources raise funds, create temple articles, or educate the public on the topic of the Temple Mount and temple: Temple Institute (www.templeinstitute.org), Temple Mount Faithful (templemountfaithful.org) and Temple Mount resource compilation (www.templemount.org).

Some of the preparations already made for the third temple include:

  1. Reestablishment of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
  2. Creation of cornerstones in 1989 (attempts made annually to place these have been unsuccessful thus far).
  3. Attempting to determine the exact location of where the temple should go (the location may be several hundred feet from the Dome of the Rock, allowing it and the new temple to exist simultaneously and peacefully).
  4. Seeking the Red Heifer (the ashes of which are necessary for the process of temple purification).
  5. Creation of various temple vessels to include the menorah and temple utensils.

In the end, both ‘temples are necessary: the bodies of Jesus’ followers for the Spirit of God; the Jewish temple for prophetic fulfillment.

Generation Gap

On the Mount of Olives, just before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus answered these questions from His disciples: “When will the destruction of the Temple happen?” “What will be the sign of your return and the end of the world?

In a near-far prophecy that will span thousands of years, Jesus attempted to provide answers that will comprise many events from the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 70 CE to the end-times judgment. These milestones, among others, can be found in complementary texts Matthew Chapters 24-25 and Revelation 6-22:5.

After providing many signs to come including the persecution of the saints by Satan through the future Antichrist (cf. Matthew 24:15-31, Mark 13:14-27, and Luke 21:24-28), Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32).

Be careful here! “This generation” is tied to the audience addressed in the previous passages – not to the disciples’ generation. The future generation that will see “these things” (e.g. the Antichrist, signs in the heavens, etc.) will also witness Jesus’ return. To support a belief that He returned in 70 CE, some have claimed that “this generation” depicts the generation of the disciples Jesus was talking to.

As we’ve previously discussed in another blog, the purpose of the parable of the fig tree given by Jesus (just after He provided signs of the end) was to illustrate that, “when you see this, you will see that . . .” In other words, the generation that sees the signs of the end (Antichrist’s persecution and destruction, darkening of the natural lights, etc.) will also see Jesus return to gather His faithful. It wasn’t some kind of cryptic, figurative reference to Israel becoming a nation as some have suggested. Again, it was just an association by Jesus of the last-days events to come to the generation that will witness them along with His coming.

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; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (cf. Matthew 24:32-33, Mark 13:28-29, and Luke 29-31).

Be ready . . .