I am so grateful for my friends, family, church and nation. Nevertheless, one has to wonder why it is becoming so much harder today for people to connect with others or stay united within their marriages, families, churches, communities, and nations? And how might we pull back together?
The Root of Division and Strife
Be it racism, politics, discomfort among family members, or religious differences, division usually finds its roots in pride. Even when there are issues to work out or many differences of opinion, it is very rare that a true division between people must actually exist. One perfect example of this was discovered after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died. The press highlighted the unlikely friendship between this conservative Justice and liberal Justice Ruth Ginsburg. Despite sitting at polar opposite sides on many issues being heard by the Supreme Court, they shared a very close relationship.
Of course, there are, indeed, times when one must exercise extreme prejudice against people with opposing points of view. For example, when a radical group like ISIS or the Third Reich tries to force people to accept their extremist views by the removal of their personal freedoms or through a campaign of terror and death, a war or police action must ensue. Of course, in a free world, everyone is entitled to believe how they want to believe. But it wouldn’t matter what they believed in. Even if they were walking in the truth, it is rarely acceptable to impose upon the freedoms of others. More on that concept in just a moment. Nevertheless, even in cases where people are trying to force their point of view upon others, pride is typically the energy that fuels it.
Where Pride Comes From
Pride is a part of our psychological defense system. We use it to protect our psychological selves (identity, self-image). Negative or positive reactions or actions (e.g., rage, ambition, criticism…) based upon pride or this need for self-preservation are made in an effort to protect that part of us which senses a potential psychological threat. These threats can come in many forms such as rejection, humiliation, or shame. Pride might be likened to being physically prepared for emergencies or reacting in self-defense against some sort of physical threat. However, when people are less psychologically developed, it will usually be their pride that will get them into big trouble with others.
Psychological maturity takes time to develop. One doesn’t expect a child or a teenager to understand how to react with maturity and grace when humiliated by others. Nevertheless, where pride is concerned, age rarely has anything to do with it. There are many people in middle age running corporations that are still emotionally immature. Why is that? Because few people, even psychologists, know what to do to fix this problem.
Those individuals who are most likely to act superior, self-righteous, or react irrationally out of pride are usually that way because they have either sustained a major emotional or psychological wound and/or they often hold an incorrect perception or belief about who they are (i.e., self-concept) or their worth (self-esteem).
Circumstances that create these wounds or beliefs usually surround a childhood experience with or perception of rejection, trauma, abuse, neglect, shame, or humiliation. This only intensifies with wounds sustained during adulthood. Emotional work done within the environment of the church, or with a psychologist, or by reading a self-help book can help in these circumstances, but the goal would be to train parents and teachers how to teach children to handle these feelings before they become pathogenic; creating a psychological disease that turns dangerous to themselves and others.
Wounded, emotionally immature people tend to be easily manipulated by those things, people, or ideas that hold the promise of helping them redeem their self-esteems (spouses, bosses, parents, heroes, groups, accomplishments, money, titles, politics, religion, extremist regimes). The range of what that can mean to individuals is myriad. For example, they may join an extremist group or get themselves into an unhealthy marriage or abusive relationship that they cannot extract themselves from. That’s because in order to feel at peace within themselves they need to earn that person or group’s acceptance. Or they might never feel right until they have so much money, a certain title, or way of life.
They are usually easily offended and even self-righteous at times. Therefore, the people who care for or work with them may get the feeling that they must forever walk on eggshells whenever they are around. If a group such as a family or a church suffers a split up, it is usually perpetuated by an individual entrapped by this sort of emotional immaturity.
These stressed-out people will struggle continually throughout their lives to create the conditions that will help them gain that sense of inner peace they lack. But this will never happen unless they are able to work out why they feel so unworthy and are able to heal from their old wounds. To learn more about how that happens, you will want to read more within this blog and subscribe for updates. Also, you will be greatly helped by my book, Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing.
Of course, at times, division between people can also be the result of ignorance to the truth. Nevertheless, people will also often hold onto their ignorance, prejudices, and beliefs for much the same reason; the fear of rejection or of suffering from a feeling of shame or disgrace.
Those individuals who are psychologically afraid to hear the points of view of others, often use pride to protect their identities. Identification with a certain people group gives many people a sense of added protection as well. The need to belong to something bigger than ourselves, to be a part of a group is a powerful motivator; be it for good (joining charitable organizations) or evil (becoming a terrorist). See for example, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to learn more.
Sadly, until a program is implemented in schools and society to help heal people of their childhood wounds and educate them to turn around their misconceptions about themselves and about life, most of humanity will continue to suffer from pride to one degree or the other. So the potential to see a small issue explode into division which creates strife and hatred between people is always going to be present among human beings.
What is it that can equalize the playing field and can break down these walls of individual or group pride? A crisis.
Need: The Great Equalizer
Our vulnerability or need is a great equalizer. When we are vulnerable, we no longer have the option to live behind our walls of pride. However, it is also true that many people will instead grow more bitter and prideful and begin doing things like blaming others or God after any crisis touches them. But the truth of the matter is, when pride is our problem, those unfortunate circumstances and situations that create need in our lives actually have the potential to be our salvation.
Of course, getting bitter or blaming others never helps. Going down that road will only make things worse for us, locking our hearts up even tighter, making us harder and meaner. That is just a natural human tendency; to try to bring a sense of control back into our lives, to cut out of our lives anything that might hurt us in the future. Instead, we should try and make that difficult circumstance into our opportunity to do a little soul searching.
Returning to an earlier statement regarding it rarely right to force anyone into believing the way we do, let’s investigate the natural tendency to human beings to blame God during difficult times. Of course, God isn’t to blame for the crises we experience. According to wisdom taught in the Bible, we are told in God’s effort to teach us to trust Him and to promote the value of love and relationships among naturally narcissistic human beings during the early stages of development, He gave humanity the freedom of choice (in other words, you just can’t force people to love you). Is it not true that much of the turmoil in our lives comes to us when we or others exercise this freedom and make destructive or unwise choices? So, how does any of this help us connect with God and others?
Experiencing the consequences of our own actions or becoming a witness to the harmful foolishness of others can be great teachers; albeit very painful ones! They have the potential to teach us the value of life, of others, and of leading a considerate and clean lifestyle or of “doing good” (e.g., following God, the wisdom of our parents, following the rules, etc.).
Other difficulties that come our way, such as natural disasters, diseases, and accidents can also help rid us of our pride. In the beginning, our first parents wanted to be God. So, to enlighten His children of the utter foolishness of this human tendency, He went ahead and let them try. Consequently, this type of circumstance can give us a greater understanding of our humble placement in this big bad world of ours. It can also enhance our understanding of our need for others when times get difficult (e.g., assistance/comfort from God, our families, friends, society).
Let’s look at the lesson we were supposed to gain from America’s founding fathers/mothers, the Mayflower Pilgrims, after Thanksgiving was set up as an American holiday.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when we count out blessings. It is when we are to take the time to stop long enough to consider how grateful we are for our lives, for the kindness of those who reach out to help us (including of civic-minded strangers working behind the scenes), and for our connections to friends and family members. But, unfortunately, as time has moved on, our society has become increasingly isolated from others and, therefore, much more selfish. This condition comes from living in a well-supplied nation with fewer and fewer opportunities for Americans to be truly vulnerable anymore.
The Ministry of Vulnerability
There is a blessing or ministry that comes to us from our vulnerabilities. If we had no need of anything or anyone, we’d never learn to love, trust, or get along with others. As you may know, our founding fathers and mothers were given life-sustaining assistance by a group of kindhearted American Indians during a time when they were in a very vulnerable place. Because of their late departure from Britain, they were made vulnerable to the elements, disease, and an overall lack of preparedness and the majority of them died during that first winter.
Vulnerability can be a scary place to be, but it also has the potential to be life transforming as well. You see, being in a place of need is what’s required for many of us to be able to finally make those life-giving connections with others that we so desperately need. We need others both psychologically and physically to help us have healthy and abundant lives. Sometimes being made vulnerable is the only thing that will bring us to the point humility where we can finally lay down those protective walls of pride that we have wrapped so tightly around our hearts. These walls of fear and pride invariably keep others out of our lives and trap us in a place we don’t want to be; alone and isolated with our fear and pride.
But just think about how humbling it had to be for those Pilgrims to open their hearts up to seek out the assistance of others. It is the same for each of us. Yet this may be the very thing that could save us in the end. Whether that salvation comes to us on a physical or material level, as it did in the case of the Mayflower Pilgrims or on a spiritual and psychological level, as it is when we must lay down our pride and open our hearts up, it is in our connections with others (including God) that can potentially brings us greater satisfaction, helpful resources and vital wisdom into our lives.
We all need help from time to time to negotiate this life. In a world where just about every sort of assistance can be rendered to us with only a few dollars, people tend to have less need for quality contact with others. Think about it. Who did human beings need to contact for advice on how to fix something or get a good recipe from? Our family members. But today, we have Youtube and the Internet. While I, too, love Youtube and the Internet, they are making the members of our society even more isolated that they already were.
Similarly, before there were food deliveries or automobiles to quickly take us to the store if we ran out of an ingredient for our dinner, we depended upon our neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar from. Nowadays, most people don’t even know what their neighbors even look like! But back in the good ol’ days, when communities were smaller and since we knew that we might need our neighbors and community at some point in time, people had the tendency to treat one another with greater respect and kindness than they do now. That usually meant we had to engage in some social etiquette and make an effort to invite them over once and a while. Today, with the vast number of people that there are in most cities, and the ability to move away if things get sticky, that sort of cordiality almost totally unnecessary now. How sad.
At one time, it was your neighbors that helped you fight off the marauding raiders and vandals that came to town to steal what you and your neighbors had worked so hard for. As the Bible teaches us, there is “no greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for another.” But those days are basically gone. Consequently, love is growing colder in the heart of humanity as people lose their need for one another.
Learning to embrace our vulnerabilities makes us more authentic. While bad choices may have led the Pilgrims’ to their vulnerability, having gone through it put their hearts in a much better position to receive the friendship and help from a people group that they might have normally shunned in their pride and religious arrogance. That is why need is such a great equalizer. But by forging these relationships, a new civilization of diverse and more tolerant people was able to be born.
This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MALC, M.Ed. from the blog entitled, Healing Christ’s Spotless Bride (https://thespotlessbride.wordpress.com). Permission to reproduce and use in other media without charge is granted if the author’s information and a link to it is included at no charge to those who wish to read it.
Here is the full article on healing which I hope to soon split up into several different articles in the interest of brevity. However, if you are in desperate need of healing, it is worth reading the full article.
Jesus Christ constantly healed people where ever He went throughout His earthly ministry. Consequently, few Christians would deny that Jesus still heals today. Millions of modern and ancient stories of divine healing can be found in the plethora of Christian books, television, and movies available today. What’s more, one can’t seem to go into a charismatic-style church today without hearing several people go before the whole congregation to give testimony about their healing.
It doesn’t appear to matter what flavor Christian one is either. Protestants, Catholics, cessationists, and continuists alike tend to, at the very least, hope for healing at some point in their lives, whether for a friend, loved one, or themselves. This hope in divine healing exists even among many agnostics or general believers in an undefined supreme power. However, among the two main divisions of Christians today (cessationists and continuists), the level of faith found among them and the approach taken to be healed differs greatly. In other words, if you want the prayer of faith prayed over you, pick a continuist over a cessationist.
With all due respect to my cessationist brothers who excel in many things, it isn’t that they have less faith, necessarily, but they have less understanding in God’s intentions. The continuist on the other hand, understands that God intended salvation to be a full package deal; body, soul, and spirit. Whereas, many a cessationists only focus on the afterlife, or the heaven and hell aspects of salvation. They also do a fair job with the mind renewal/transformation/sanctification part of the equation. And they might even employ some healthy practices for the body and even pray for your healing. But, with regard to expecting to walk in divine health and healing or doing spiritual warfare with the “creator of doubt,” they tend to be less confident. Of course there are always exceptions to this stereotype.
Before I tell you how to be healed by Jesus, it is very important that you understand this distinction between the cessationist and continuist. It is foundational. Because it can bring confusion to your confidence in healing if you don’t know the difference.
NOTE: I realize in a blog on the topic of unity, one might think I would try to minimize our differences and focus more on our similarities. But, I still believe true unity will come when the brethren humble themselves enough to pursue truth and understanding so they can finally come to understand the full Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will we ever fully agree? Likely not; not before Jesus returns. That is only because people do tend to get stuck in their pride (i.e., for those whose pursuit of Jesus is more focused on their group identity than a humble pursuit of truth). That is why this blog is dedicated to healing that pride. Nevertheless, we need to come to accept that there are areas in Scripture where things are not a clear cut and therefore are forever going to be subject to interpretation and personal revelation. But fortunately for us, healing is one area where the facts are clear cut. Yes, we can expect to be healed. (In the interest of truth, could the continuists be wrong and cessationists right? Watch for an upcoming article where I lay down my stance in order to humbly assume that could be true in my Investigation of Truth series.)
Building Confidence in Healing
So what is a cessationist or a continuist? Here is the Got Questions? answer:
Cessationism is the view that the “miracle gifts” of tongues and healing have ceased—that the end of the apostolic age brought about a cessation of the miracles associated with that age. Most cessationists believe that, while God can and still does perform miracles today, the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous signs.
Now I will break that down for you. A continuist believes those gifts given to individual Christians by God have continued; hence the name continuist. A cessationist, believes they have ceased; hence the name cessationist. To be blunt, a continuist would say that he takes God at His Word in every aspect of Scripture. In other words, they don’t pick and choose the parts they want to agree with to fit their particular bias. Then, if God states over and over again throughout the Bible that He will heal us, a continuist believes that is a guarantee unless it is truly one’s “time to die.”
This is where things get sticky among those who expect everyone to get healed and where they get a bad rap. Some of it is immaturity, some of it is ignorance. But the truth is, they don’t like to focus on “the time to die” aspect of life. The reason for this is logical. Many times people will be so overwhelmed by fear after they get a “death sentence” diagnosis like cancer that they will just focus on “it must be my time to die” because it is easier. Plus, it plays into all sorts of low self-esteem issues. So, rather than doing the hard work to apply their faith to their situation, they often give in.
However, when bad situations happen, that is the time to toughen up and be more determined than ever to defeat the enemy of our souls. Our trials help us a great deal. They transform us. You see it is our bad situations that help to expose areas where we don’t have a good handle on Scripture. For example, it may show us how little we know about God or about who we are in Christ. So, it can be a bit intimidating to hear someone preach the healing message to us when all we want during times like that is sympathy. Consequently, that is why continuists who believe in divine healing can come off sounding critical; as if those Christians who can’t get healed die of a disease are a failure. And that is not necessarily true. Read James 1:2-8 (given further below). He tells us that our trials in life build our faith.
Cessationists also believe that they are fundamentalists, meaning they take God at His Word as well. But, unfortunately they really don’t. They hold a bias that is in error. They take one Scripture way out of context to spin it into what they want it to mean. Here is the verse I am talking about.
What they have done is to spin this Scripture to mean that those supernatural gifts given to the Church in the early days before the Bible was written ceased once that canon of Scriptures was agreed upon and compiled; hence the name, cessationist (the gifts ceased). In other words, cessationists are Christians that do not believe that the gift of prophecy still operate today, particularly that prophetic gift called tongues. Yet, they do not deny that the Holy Spirit guides them and teaches them; even “speaks” to them through impressions and leadings.
Continuists call what they refer to as leadings and impressions from the Holy Spirit the gift of prophecy. Continuists believe every spirit-filled Christian possesses this. So, in all truth, with the exception of the gift of tongues, the differences between these two types of Christians is actually quite minimal. It is just a matter of semantics. The idea is the same. They just call it something different.
However, the degree of importance placed upon this gift is slightly different. Prophecy to the cessationist is a scary word because they don’t want prophecy to be equal to Scripture. And to the continuist it isn’t. But they assume that it is. Cessationists are right to put primary weight of authority on God’s Word, the Bible, because people can and will go about deceiving us if we don’t know what the Word says. The only way we can protect ourselves from walking in error and deception is to know what that Bible says. We can only do this if we make a continual study of the Bible all our lives.
As I mentioned before, Cessationists tend to believe in miracles and healings, too. They just have less faith for these miracles and healings happening. That is because, they do not believe that Christians can really expect God to follow through on His Word; or at least not as strongly as the continuists do. Yet, they have the same faith in the Bible to be the literal Word of God. So where do they err? Even though the Bible clearly states that Jesus came to heal us, they tend to hope rather than believe He will do so. They have less confidence or faith in that fact.
That point of view will tend to get you disappointed every time. Why? Because in Hebrews 11:6 we learn, without faith it is impossible to please God, as follows.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (NKJV)
What’s more, Jesus and His apostles made it a point to instruct us over and over again that we must have faith. In fact, we can expect nothing if we don’t have faith. See for example the following:
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:22-24 NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The double mind is the heart and the brain. Scientists now know that the heart can think. It has the neurological structure of a mini brain. Therefore, science is just catching up with the truths in the Bible which tells us over and over again that people think with the heart. As a mini brain, the heart checks for congruence; whether something we are hearing or seeing is true or trustworthy or not. But painful experiences teach our hearts and minds to fear. So this creates the double mind.
So the first order of business in getting healed is not to doubt or fear.
Healing Step No. 1
Have faith and don’t doubt or fear
But why is that is easier said than done? Because while the rational side of our brain may be able to be taught the meaning in Scripture in order to accept the truths it contains, our hearts cannot be taught. They must be healed relationally if we want our feelings to match up with the facts we know to be true. That is what this whole website is about; lining up the heart and mind to the truth to bring about accelerated transformation. So, let me commence with helping you get there. First, I must teach you. Next, you must learn how to have your heart healed.
Doubt is the opposite of faith. Some say that fear is also the opposite of faith. To a degree that is true. But doubt arises from the fear that was created, most likely, by a relational breach. That is why fear is the opposite of love, as follows:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment [or punishment]. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (I John 4:18 NKJV)
Understanding this verse is essential to healing your heart. You see, in life, we are taught by experiences. When we touch the hot stove as a child, we learn to fear the heat of the stove. We were punished or “tormented” by the heat. This cycle is part of our learning process to help us negotiate the physical world around us. Without it, we could not survive. The same is true for our social and psychological learning as well. Here is how it works on a social level, which, in turn will affect us psychologically.
If we step out of line within our social group, we will get punished or tormented in some way. We may be shamed or humiliated. Or worse yet, rejected or permanently separated from a person or the group.
This happened to Adam and Eve when they sinned. They were no longer able to commune God. They had breached God’s trust in them and they no longer trusted God’s Word to be true. If they had, they wouldn’t have sinned. Losing trust or faith in someone will automatically separate you from having any intimacy with them. So, one could surmise that they stepped away from God. He didn’t step away from them. And the only way to repair that breach in trust was for God to prove Himself to humanity as a trustworthy and true to His Word. That is what the process of building our faith is all about. Overcoming the fear of being mislead by or disappointed by God. Okay, so part two of our journey towards faith is understanding at what great lengths God has gone to prove His Word to you; to show you His heart and intentions towards you are good, as follows:
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Jesus is speaking here. The thief he referred to is the devil. God proved His intentions to us were for an abundant life through what Jesus would ultimately do:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)
So how does this “fear of punishment or torment” translate to us psychologically? Well consider what happens when children grow up feeling rejected or shamed by their peer group or families and you will get a better handle on that. They tend to grow up with a low self-esteem. Consequently, a toxic form of shame is woven into their identity.
What does that mean?
It isn’t that I have done something bad. This is shame as an action and is easily repented of. No. Toxic shame isn’t that. Toxic shame says that “I AM bad.”Can you see how this is ingrained in the identity? Unfortunately, it is not easily unwoven without healing and transformation of the heart and mind.
That is why it is Satan’s greatest aim to harm us through the ones we love. When he can accomplish that, not only is our identity going to be damaged and distorted (to look nothing like God, in whose image we were made), but it is going to make us lack faith in God, because we tend to translate our hurtful experiences and lack of trust with other human beings over to God. Somehow, because we have never known anyone who was holy, we basically assign Him the same flawed attributes we see in humanity. That is why studying the Bible is so important, especially focusing our attention on Jesus because He was also sent down here to serve as our example of a holy person. When we finally understand what Jesus is like, we will know what God is like.
That is why God worked so hard to build for us a grid of trustworthiness for us. These come to us in the story of laying His own life down for us through His incarnation, Jesus. And there was also the many stories in the Bible and Church history. Without this grid, we cannot have an abundant life because our suspicion or lack of faith in God is too great due to the way others have treated us. This will ultimately keep us at a distance from God. And if we want an abundant life here and after we die, we will need Him:
- We need Him to heal us of the diseases that come upon us. These arise from a couple of sources, both of which have their root in sin: The hurts our hearts and bodies have suffered at the hands of others and ourselves.
- We need Him to show us who we are and why we were created; to give us purpose and meaning in life.
- And we cannot enter Heaven without accepting Christ’s blood sacrifice for our sins.
We can only be healed and transformed through a relationship with our Heavenly Father through Christ. Not only because of His blood making payment for our debt of sin, but because of how spilling His own blood built a bridge of trust to repair the suspicious heart of humanity. No relationship can go far without trust.
Lack of trust in God’s Word was the very thing doubted by Adam and Eve in the beginning. So, let’s read what God had to say about Jesus, through the apostle, John. (Jesus who John is referring to in this verse):
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4, 14)
So, if God calls Jesus His Word, couldn’t you say that by God coming down in the form of a man to die for us it was proof that He puts His “money where His mouth is,” so to speak? In other words, there just isn’t anything greater one can do to prove his word to someone than to lay down his life. For example, I have a friend who had a really difficult time accepting that any boyfriend she had could love her enough not to cheat. That is because her mother was cheated on by her father. Because her mother made her daughter her confidant when she was forming her identity in childhood, her heart was wounded and identity distorted. The wound of her father’s rejection of her mother was attached to her own feminine identity.
Without God present in our lives, our parents must serve as our models for our identity. Whatever flaws or sins they have pass down through the generations. Because her parents modeled what happens between a man and a woman and she was made in the image of her mother, since she was being rejected by the father who should have modeled trustworthiness to her, she could never believe her boyfriends when they told her they loved only her. Consequently, whenever they were in public, she suspiciously watched their eyes everywhere they looked when they were not fixed squarely upon her. If they paused upon a female, she was convinced they were desiring that woman instead of her. After years of counseling, I saw how insidious a heart wound is when it is attached to the identity. I finally told her, “It is apparent that your boyfriend wouldn’t even be able to convince you of his innocence even if he died to prove his word.” And bingo! That was when I realized why God had to die for us. If that can’t convince you, nothing will. That is why we really need to meditate regularly upon on how awesome that sacrifice really was because that is an example of “perfect love” which does what? Casts out fear (revisit the verse above from I John.)
Those of us who are afflicted with sickness see it as a punishment of some type. And they are right. It is. But that comes from an Old Testament law. We are no longer under the law but under grace (a hugely important teaching to be taught another day). Jesus’ Blood bought us the gift of grace or forgiveness for our sins as long as we are faithful to confess and repent from our sins (turn away from them). This is how we are transformed. The law couldn’t transform us. Only grace and forgiveness can. That is because our sins are often so deeply ingrained that it takes repeated attempts to get past them. These are called “strongholds” in the Bible. Sort of like a castle fortress. It takes perseverance and strong weapons of warfare to penetrate the walls of a castle (yet another topic for another day).
However, I will mention the armor of God spoken of in the book of Ephesians. Faith is to serve as our shield with which we are to “quench the fiery darts [arrows] of the enemy.” This is a defensive strategy. With the exception of the sword, all of the rest of the armor is defensive as well.
The belt of truth coupled with that shield keeps the “lies of the enemy” at bay. These are the fiery darts that tell us God couldn’t love us enough to heal us. God is angry at my sin, so I deserve to die, etc. The only offensive weapon we have to combat Satan’s lies with is called the Sword of God’s Word. So, it is vitally important that we learn what God’s Word has to say about healing and faith then memorize those key scriptures that are the most meaningful to you regarding those topics.
Healing Step No. 2
Learn God’s Word
What I have just told you about building your faith is confirmed by this verse in the Bible:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
One of the most meaningful verses to me regarding healing, besides those I have already shared is as follows:
He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions. Psalm 107:20
What this verse told me was that even if my sickness was the result of my own bad choices, Jesus would still heal me. That was important to me because I know a lot about nutrition, but one of the hardest things for me to do while I was working on tearing down my emotional strongholds was to lose weight. So, this freed me to trust God in this area of that particular vulnerability. If I could have done so, I would have. He knows my heart. So, when Satan tries to tell me that I will die early from some unknown thing because I have not obeyed nutritional laws, I show him that Bible verse.
What have I just done by doing that? I have used my Sword, the Word of God, against my enemy to vanquish Him. When He accuses me. My breastplate of righteousness protects my heart from guilt and shame because I have trusted in Christ’s Blood rather than my own righteousness to cover my sins. I pick up my sword when I put my faith in that Blood and God’s Word to be true. And that truth serves as my belt. See how it is supposed to work? When you need some healing scriptures to meditate on, you can find them by doing a Google search or searching for videos on Youtube. Here are a bunch of healing scriptures that may be helpful to you in your healing process. I can’t vouch for the site, per se, but the verses are good and upon first look, it looks to be a very beneficial teaching site about healing. But I trust anything that Kenneth Hagin at Rhema has to teach on the topic and there are dozens of teaching videos of him on Youtube.
Healing Step No. 3
Put on the Armor of God and Use God’s Word like a Sword
I mentioned vulnerability a moment ago. Vulnerability is something all humans seek to overcome with self effort. You see, when shame, humiliation, rejection, or something natural happens to us that exposes our vulnerability (such as when a tornado hits), fear is the result. Our response is to try and control things the next time to insure that we will be safe going forward. And that can be a good thing. This is part of the cycle of learning I mentioned in the beginning when referring to what a child does when he touches a hot stove. He learns from a punishing experience what his limitations are and fear is created in his heart. This fear is supposed to protect him.
This cycle is like a layer cake. Our vulnerabilities or toxic shame (which is a psychological vulnerability) is placed on the bottom. The next two layers on top should first be fear then control. But God essentially tells us that we are not to fear when John said, “perfect love casts out fear.” If we are afraid, we are believing that we will have face punishment from Him. If we are experiencing punishment, it is not from His hand.
So, if you see someone who is obsessed about controlling their lives, they are usually living from a place of fear (and often pride) rather than faith (and humility). Pride and humility are yet other topics that should be studied in depth at some point in time. But suffice it to say for the moment, pride is just a manifestation of our need to be in control. We are protecting our hearts from being vulnerable.
NOTE: I speak of pride and humility a lot in this blog and in my book, Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing.
Why did I share this about the layer cake? Because trying to control things, while not wrong, can serve as an indicator of a symptom to a greater problem deep within the heart that needs to be healed. Once healed, we will gain greater faith in God for healing.
Healing Step No. 4
Let Your Relationship with God Heal Your Heart
The example I shared about knowing about nutrition would be an example of one of these deeper issues that needed to be healed. The enemy would try to accuse me of disobeying natural laws and dietary laws in the Bible. There is no doubt that these laws are meant to keep us well. Living by the law tells me that I deserve any health problems I might encounter. I was able to resolve that issue on the surface or the level of my reason with a Scripture. But if I am still not getting healed, there is a deeper wound or a belief from childhood that is ingrained in my identity. Something, for example, that may have convinced me that I was deserving of suffering. Or it could be something else. So, it helps to have someone like myself who is trained in discovering these things or my book to help you drill down to the emotional or mental root cause of your blocked healing. It is from this place that a special prayer can be utilized to heal that root. But ultimately, since many of our suspicions and fears are placed in our hearts through breaches in our most intimate childhood or adult realtionships, healing must come through a trustworthy relationship. It will be through your experiential relationship with God that He will demonstrate His truth to you. So, it is vitally important that you foster that relationship by journaling the things He is teaching you in Scripture. Keeping a track of answers to prayer, the spontaneous impressions, and confirmations to those impressions also helps you discover more about God.
To summarize in conclusion, to be healed we must first have faith. But our faith in the trustworthiness of God must be built because we have never known a truly holy and fully trustworthy person. We have all suffered betrayals, abuse, rejection, abandonment, and humilation before. So, it is not unusual for us to to have difficulty with this concept of trust and faith. So, we must get there through a process of renewing and healing the mind and heart. This can only take place by first knowing what God’s Word says about His relationship to us, who we are, and who He is. Then, because we have learned a few things about His true intentions towards us, that those intentions are good, then we must put on the armor of God; using that Word like a sword and our faith like a shield. Next, there is the process of healing the heart. That can only take place in an intimate relationship with God.
This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MALC, M.Ed. from the blog The Spotless Bride (https://thespotlessbride.wordpress.com)
Is the Bride (Church) supposed to await Her Bridegroom (Jesus) with great expectation? Yes! But we don’t go hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich waiting for all hell to break loose on the sinners like many have done in the past. We are to live life as He would want us to in the meantime. We are to busy ourselves building God’s Kingdom on Earth. Nevertheless, it is a lot of fun to watch for the signs and it is important so we can make ourselves ready for what is to come upon the earth.
Multiple Signs in the Heavens Coming True NOW!
I have already written about the four biblical blood moons and the solar eclipse that landed on the Jewish feast days which just happened over 2014-2015 in an earlier article. Since this phenomenon had happened only a handful of times in Church history it was significant. Each time these tetrads occurred they took place during significant events affecting the nation of Israel or the Jews and the Church. They are undeniably signs for the end times because they are spoken of in end times prophecy.
But the sign that I am about to share with you is really going to make your jaw drop.This heavenly sign involves the constellations described in Revelation 12. There can be absolutely no doubt that this one is a biblical sign. It is described in precise detail. When studying the constellations that happen throughout history the fall of 2017 is the only time in the 7,000 years (after Christ) when this one sign will ever show up. What’s more, it begins happening and is taking place just a few months before the 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation a second time in history. This particular anniversary is pretty important because 70 is a significant number in Judaism. More on that a bit later. For now, we need to do some background work to discover why the reestablishment of Israel as a nation is such a big prophetic deal.
Israel and The Final Count Down
Israel had to be a nation again before the end time countdown could begin. Music from the band Europe and the Geico commercial now plays, deedle deeeee deeeeeeee! deedle dee dee dee! “It’s the final countdown!” (I love this 40 second video! I envision it to be sort of be like when people begin to awaken to these facts. Look at the number on the microwave that the countdown starts on!)
The fact that Israel is even a nation today is extremely remarkable, some would even say miraculous, because Israel is the only ancient land to have ever returned to nationhood after almost 2,000 years.
Why is this so miraculous? Historically, the trend is that after experiencing a displacement from one’s homeland, people groups usually assimilate into the culture of the new land and their culture completely disappears after only a couple of hundred years. The Hebrew people (i.e., Jews) have been the only displaced ancient culture to have retained their national identity for 2,000 years.
Consider these things and you will see why this is even more miraculous. As a group, the Jews have always been greatly persecuted throughout history. In fact, they were almost exterminated during the Holocaust. Even in this weakened condition, just two years after WWII, they were able to win their war of independence against seven Arab nations using only a handful of used tanks, aircraft sent to the scrap yard to strip for metal, and weapons.
This rag tag group of Hebrew people was so desperate to be responsible for their own welfare and come out from under this sort of continual persecution that some decades earlier, a small group of men and women from 66 nations bought pieces of this desert wasteland from various Arabs who didn’t have any use for it. They bought it to have a land to call their own. Here is what Mark Twain called the land of Palestine…
“… [a] desolate country… …We never saw a human being on the whole route… …There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
– 1867 (Quoted in Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad. London: 1881)
Yet these future Israelites would work the land until it became so fruitful that it was truly a paradise flowing with milk and honey. As a matter of fact, they are one of the main producers of Europe’s fruits and vegetables as well as many other products. The Jews are truly a blessing to the world as the prophesied it would be. Here is what Twain had to say about that:
“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.
His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it. The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished.
The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities, of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality? ”
– September 1897 (Quoted in The National Jewish Post & Observer, June 6, 1984)
Speaking of the Milky Way, we are brought back to the topic of heavenly signs and stars. Now that we’ve covered some background to help you appreciate the coming events and their setting in history, let’s read this next verse from from the book of Revelation upon which our topic for today is based.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. (Revelation 12:1-2)
As you can see from the previous prophetic Bible verse from the book of Revelation, the “heavenly sign” depicted in the image painted by these words, above, is supposed to appear in our skies one day. This is to serve as an indication of the nearness of the time of Christ’s return. Of course, as with any end times “date setting” event, be sure to take it with a grain of salt as many biblical interpretation of dates have come and gone to no avail. But, then again, no one is saying Christ must return on this date either. This sign could just serve as a harbinger or warning sign of things to come so we can get ready. Nevertheless, at least for this section of scripture, the stars appear to be in alignment on a particular date landing on, once again, a Jewish feast day during fall of 2017 (keep reading to see a picture of this and to understand the interpretation). And when you consider everything else that is also happening, the 70th anniversary of Israel coming into nationhood, the 50th anniversary (Jubilee or super Shemitah) of the liberation of Jerusalem, plus the biblical blood moon tetrad of 2014-15, the Star of Bethlehem showing up for the first time since Christ’s birth now again in June 2015 prior to his second coming, this sign from the book of Revelation does appear to be showing up “right on time.”
According to Revelation 12 this sign is meant to precede the most terrible time in all of history known in the Bible as the tribulation. Most significantly, this is to be the period when the Antichrist, who, by the time we reach this point (when this sign appears in the sky), will (likely but not necessarily) have already been in power (or on the public scene) for at least the previous three and a half years. According to one interpretation of the timing of these events in the book of Revelation, this is when this son of Satan is supposed to begin to show his true colors.
Soon after this, he is supposed to start to persecute Christians and likely the Jews as well. He will be beheading anyone that does not take the mark of the beast (666). Sort of seems like this has already begun to a certain extent in the Middle East and even in the USA by the likes of ISIS and its “wanna be,” lone-wolf supporters.
We became aware of ISIS over social media through beheading starting in June just after the first blood moon in the tetrad showed up at Passover in April 2014.
At the point in time that this sign from Revelation 12 shows up, the Antichrist could be on the scene. Anyone who chooses to take the mark of the beast (by essentially denouncing Christ) will automatically get a fast ticket to Hell. Some believe this mark may be an identifying microchip (RFID) to be placed under the skin. There is one like this expected to be implanted by 2017.
Interestingly, in an older version of Obamacare, the implantation of such a microchip had also been set to go forward in 2017. Apparently that version of the law was struck down and the new law does not contain that rhetoric in it any longer.
THE HEAVENLY SIGN OF REVELATION 12
Due to its placement in the book of Revelation, many Bible scholars believe that the event described therein that is to take place among our constellations will happen right in the middle of this most dreadful seven-year period. The middle is to be the most difficult part of this period of time, launching us into what has become known as “the Great Tribulation.”
The morning of September 23, 2017 is the only time in 7,000 years that the stars, sun, and moon will line up exactly like Apostle John said they would in Revelation 12.
The picture, above, was taken from the free software program called Stellarium. The guy who did all of this is a Christian who has a well established end-times channel on Youtube: Eternal Rhythm Flow. And here is Scott Clarke’s website: http://www.erfministries.com He had to have had incredible patience to be able to check on these alignments through a 7,000 year period. Here is a close up of this constellation.
Who are the woman and the baby?
In order for us to determine whether or not these particular constellations are the correct ones for this sign to appear within, we need to know who the baby and the woman are that this verse in Revelation refers to. Most Bible scholars agree that the woman is Mary. Since Mary had already birthed Jesus and been by His side at the cross by this time, there is some confusion whether the woman in the stars/prophecy was actually meant to be a representative of Israel and/or of the Church. Nevertheless, Mary fits both types of women in this description because she was simultaneously an Israelite as well as the first Christian being the first Christian to birth Christ into the world as we all do when we share the Gospel with others. The Word of God is like a seed that we plant in the hearts of others. Sometimes this seed takes root. Sometimes it doesn’t. But what we are birthing is the family we call the Church.
There is absolutely no doubt that the baby being referred to here was Jesus. Nor would there be any doubt whatsoever who it was that birthed Jesus (Mary). The only reason some believe “the woman” being referred to in this particular verse was either the nation of Israel or the Church or both is found in successive verses (4-6) where the woman is hidden from the devil/dragon once Jesus is born:
And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Of course, this didn’t happen to Mary after Jesus was born, although they did have to leave the country for a time to escape the infanticide perpetuated by King Herod. So this event was probably a type and shadow of this end times prophecy. It is likely representative of either Israel or the Church, using Mary as the icon to represent either one or both of them (either of which would be proper). However, my purpose isn’t to determine exactly who Virgo, the constellation, represents here. For our purposes, it is just enough to remember that Mary was a virgin and a type of the Church/Christian as well as a type of Israel. It just so happens that this constellation, Virgo, universally represents a virgin.
Are we talking about astrology? No. Absolutely not! We are not doing anything that remotely looks like what astrologers actually do. We are just looking for what Scripture is telling us to find in the heavens as a sign of Jesus’ return. But if you doubt whether God intended the stars, moon, and sun to serve as signs for prophecy, please read this article entitled: Does God Intend for us to Watch the “Signs in the Heavens?”
The constellations have been a part of human symbolism since ancient times. And God knew they would still be around by the time Jesus returned. So, it is no wonder that He might choose such longstanding symbols to become a part of end times prophecy.
There are several remarkable things about this alignment of stars, sun, and moon that make this event an even more convincing “sign in the heavens” than it already is. First of all, in this prophecy Jesus is the baby. Jesus is the “King of kings” who is now sitting on His throne in Heaven awaiting the time when He may come set up His Kingdom on Earth for 1,000 years. These references to His royalty will be even more significant when trying to understand this sign once you realize that there are various bodies in the heavens that also represent royalty. The King Planet is Jupiter. The King Star is Regulus. And the King Constellation is, of course, Leo, the Lion.
Some have discovered that the story of the Gospel is played out in the constellations, with, for example Leo the Lion constellation representing Jesus, who is said to be “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” During the middle ages, the Church decided to make the constellation Virgo represent the Virgin Mary. When you look at the Zodiac and the other constellations that way, they begin to tell the entire story.
Now, with all of that information in hand, we are better equipped to understand this alignment of heavenly bodies to take place in 2017, as follows:
- As mentioned earlier, in Revelation 12 we know that the constellation Virgo is a virgin (like Mary) who must also have a crown of twelve stars above her head. Here is what makes up these twelve stars in her crown:
- The “King Constellation” Leo forms nine of the twelve stars.
- Regulus, the “King Star,” is one of three other heavenly bodies that also arrive on the scene on this date needed to complete the rest of the twelve stars in this prophecy.
- The royal “baby” to be born from Virgo’s womb is the planet Jupiter; aka the “King Planet.”
- Jupiter leaves Virgo’s womb on September 23, 2017.
- Most remarkably, Jupiter literally stays in Virgo’s womb 42 weeks.
- This is the exact number of weeks for human gestation in the womb!
- This ability for a “star” to “stand still” for a period of time as it did during the time of Christ’s birth (i.e., Star of Bethlehem) can actually happen through a scientific phenomenon known to cosmologists as retrograde.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?
The discovery of this “sign” in the heavens does not mean anyone is actually setting a date for Christ’s return. It just means, like other cosmological events such as the biblical blood moon tetrad and the arrival of the Star of Bethlehem, it serves as a harbinger to announce to all of us that the time of His return is VERY close.
However, there are several things that I find interesting about this timing. This alignment of heavenly bodies takes place almost 70 years after Israel became a nation again in modern history.
Why is this significant?
Well, once again, Jesus said that this was the generation (when Israel became a nation again) that would see His return. After 70 years, aren’t we getting close to the end of a generation? Yes. How long is a typical lifetime? About 70 years! According to Psalm 90:10
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Could this be a sign meant to serve as an alarm and wake the world up before Christ’s return? According to Scripture it is.
So, back to this number 70. We can get more insight into the 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation again after 2,000 years when we look at the biblical significance of this particular number, as follows:
Seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible that is made up of the factors of two perfect numbers, seven (representing perfection) and ten (representing completeness and God’s law). As such, it symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power. It can also represent a period of judgment.
Ancient Israel spent a total number of 70 years in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10). Seventy is also specially connected with Jerusalem. The city kept 70 years of Sabbaths while Judah was in Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25:11). Seventy sevens (490 years) were determined upon Jerusalem for it to complete its transgressions, to make an end for sins and for everlasting righteousness to enter into it (Daniel 9:24).
The first paragraph in this quote is pretty self evident and needs no real commentary. However, readers may benefit from my thoughts on the second one. This timeline, referred to in the prophecy by Daniel 9 mentioned above, doesn’t just have to do with the Israelites paying for their sin of unfaithfulness (they worshiped other gods). It is also part of a prophecy regarding the arrival of the promised/prophesied Messiah. Of course, Revelation 12 seems to be pointing to Christ’s birth as well, but remember, Revelation was written well after Christ’s death, so this prophecy is about the future not the past.
Interestingly, though, this prophecy in Daniel 9 also predicts the start of the Tribulation during the End Times. To understand all of this takes some in-depth and tedious study, but I will try to put it in the simplest terms, as follows. However, to do some study on your own go to reference section to read articles by a few trusted scholars on this topic who can break it down for you and get you started, Andreas Köstenberge (senior research professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Frederick Larson (expert on the Star of Bethlehem).[2,3]
This prophecy Daniel 9 provides us a starting date. In Ezra 7:9, this date was given; the date that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was declared by the Persian king Artaxerses. Next we are provided with the exact number of years before Jesus, the Messiah or Savior of the world, would show up. When the prophecy is interpreted properly, it gives us a date known to be the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry (between 32-33 AD). This also lines up with the date given by astronomers for the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem at Jesus birth (October 2 BC) and the date of a solar eclipse which the Bible mentioned happening when Jesus died, April 3, 33 AD.[4,5] Of course, there is some debate surrounding these dates depending upon which calendar one uses, but there is a growing consensus for the 33 AD date. No worries though, this is not a matter upon which one’s salvation depends. It is just one of many things that help prove that the Bible is true because Jesus, did, indeed live during this time period. Finally, this confirms that the tribulation will happen over a period of seven years.
Some biblical scholars say this that Revelation 12 is the middle point of the tribulation. If that is true, then we might be able to do some approximate date setting. We are told we cannot know the day and the hour of Jesus’ return, but He did say we could read the signs. So let’s read them!
Since we have a date for this heavenly sign to appear in the skies, we might as well calculate the a number of days God gave to us in this chapter as follows:
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Revelation 12:6)
1,260 days from September 23, 2017 is February 24, 2021. So is this the date for the end of the tribulation? If Bible scholars are right about Revelation 12 being in the middle of the tribulation, it could most certainly be. While all that may be terribly exciting to know, what I find even more interesting is that since this sign is supposed to appear in the sky during the middle of the tribulation, let’s find out when the tribulation got started.
1,260 days prior to September 23, 2017 was April 12, 2014! Do you know what happened two days later? The first biblical blood moon tetrad! That is close enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!
To read more about this, I encourage you to click on the link to the article, below:
The date for this sign to show in the heavens is a very special date on the Jewish calendar. It is called Shabbat Shuva or “Sabbath of Returning.” This is the Sabbath day that falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which is meant to represent how we can reconnect with God through repentance.
Are you ready for the return of our Lord? Have you repented from your sins and drawn closer to your fast approaching Bridegroom? For more posts on a similar topic check out the following article:
This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MALC, M.Ed. from the blog The Spotless Bride (https://thespotlessbride.wordpress.com)
1) Biblestudy.org. (no date). The Meaning of Numbers in the Bible: The Number 70. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/70.html
2) Köstenberger, A.J., Taylor, J. (no date). APRIL 3, AD 33: Why We Believe We can Know the Exact Date Jesus Died. [First Things]. Retrieved from http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/april-3-ad-33
3) Larson, F. (no date). Daniel’s Prophecy. [The Star of Bethlehem]. Retrieved from http://www.bethlehemstar.com/the-day-of-the-cross/daniels-prophecy
4) Christ’s Birth
1) Missler, C. (2007, December 18). The Precision of Prophecy Daniels 70 Weeks. .
2) Missler, C. (2007, December 18). When Was Jesus Born? [eNews Online] Retrieved from http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2005/1008/print
As the Spirit [Holy Spirit] and the Bride [the Church] say “Come!” as they call for the lost to find their way home before its too late, the signs of Christ’s return are accelerating on every front; in world politics and through the increased “birth pangs” (earthquakes, climate change, wars). There are even amazing signs in the heavens signaling the time is near if not right upon us.
These signs are meant to energize the Church to bring in the final harvest, not a time to be passive by hiding away to ride all of this out. The signs are meant to help the Church sound the alarm to those who have not found their way back home to point the way.
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.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17)
BIBLICAL BLOOD MOON TETRAD
Recently, the world witnessed a very rare thing. From April 2014 to September 2015 we experienced what is being referred to as a bibilcal blood moon tetrad. Blood moons are lunar eclipses that typically happen about every 18 months. These, alone, aren’t very rare events.
However, a blood moon tetrad (tetrad means four) is where FOUR lunar eclipses happen over the same 18 month time period. This is very rare. Over the past 2,000 years, for example, blood moons tetrads have only happened about 64 times. However, there is a similar phenomenon that is even rarer still. That is when each of these cosmological events lands on Jewish or biblical feast days/holidays. That is what we just went through. This tetrad is distinct from the others due to its association with the feasts so it is referred to as a BIBLICAL blood moon tetrad.
As you can see, the most recent of these began on Passover, April 14, 2014 and ended during the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot), September 28, 2015. There was also one full solar eclipse during that spring of 2015 then a partial eclipse on Rosh Hashana later that fall. Remarkably, each of these fell on the two dates that mark the Jewish New Years (civil and religious new years).
There have only been 7 events like this in the last 2,000 years. The next one does not occur for another 400 years. So, yes, these are very rare, indeed.
“Sure, that may be pretty cool,” you might say. “But, so what?!? What, if anything at all, does this mean?”
Like all good Christians who trust the Bible to be God’s final word on any subject, we must check on what God might have to say about signs in the heavens and blood moons. If after reading this article you aren’t convinced, please refer to another article on my blog on this topic for a more in depth study on the signs in the heavens: Does God Intend for us to Watch the “Signs in the Heavens?” However, to learn about these fascinating blood moons, stay with me here for a while.
Besides the remarkable fact that these solar and lunar eclipses fell on Jewish feast days, we are also able to discover that lunar eclipses (blood moons) and solar eclipses are also meant to serve as signs before what is referred to as “The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” from in Joel 2:30-31:
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
Of course because blood moons and solar eclipses are so common, we can infer that there had to be something more significant about these events for them to qualify as true signs of the end times, right? Rare groupings of multiple eclipses may be remarkable, but not distinctive enough in an of themselves because with 64 tetrads, there are just too many of them. But the fact that each of the lunar and solar eclipses during seven tetrads each land on Jewish holidays is quite significant, especially when you consider what happened to the nation of Israel and the Church during each of those tetrads.
But first, before I get to the “punch line,” so-to-speak, by revealing those exciting facts to you, let me do something for those who are sticklers for Scripture and for those who may not understand the significance of Jewish holidays for Christians.
Let’s back track just a bit.
Christians unable to recognize the significance of Jewish holidays may want to know that these were the same feasts and holidays that Jesus celebrated. As a matter of fact, the Protestants celebrate an abbreviated version of the Passover meal (i.e., the “Lord’s Supper”) during what they call Communion (bread/wine). Catholics do the same through the Eucharist.
Jesus fulfilled the Passover when He offered His Blood up to save humanity by becoming the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The apostle, John, was referring to the blood of the lamb that the Hebrew slaves (Jews are Hebrew) had to spread over their doorposts on that first Passover in Israel’s ancient history during their time spent in Egypt.
The lamb’s blood was put there as a mark or a signal to the death angel to make sure that the final plague God sent on the land of Egypt did not harm God’s children, the Hebrews (i.e., Jews and Israelites). The angel of death was going to take the first born member of every Egyptian family and animal flock to prove to Pharaoh that of God’s hand was at work on behalf of these slaves. God wanted His people to be set free from slavery so they could return to their homeland, Israel.
Now the entire story about the Passover is important for all Christians to remember for several reasons; most of which I won’t get into here. Through the story of Moses and the Exodus we are better able to understand the following:
- Who Jesus was as “the Lamb of God;”
- Why a blood sacrifice is required to avert death in hell;
- The significance of Israel in the Christian walk;
- The significance of Israel in the timing of Christ’s return.
It will only be this last point that we will cover in this discussion on the heavenly signs of the end. Regarding the rest, it is enough to know that the lamb’s blood was to serve as a prophetic sign to Israel of who their Messiah would be.
- That He would be like an innocent lamb led to the slaughter.
- His Blood would be required to pay off our debt of sin.
- Consequently, our souls would be marked so that the “death angel,” who is meant to take us to Hell will “pass over” us and allow us passage into Heaven instead.
SIGNS OF CHRIST’S RETURN
The Star of Bethlehem was a sign in the heavens that showed up when Jesus came to Earth as a baby. This star features prominently in every Christmas pageant, book, or manger scene during this holiday.
Well, what do you know? That star just showed up again for the first time in 2,000 years on June 30, 2015! This has to make people wonder why.
Well, in Luke 21:25-28 after Jesus described to his disciples what the signs on the earth would appear before His return, He also described the signs to appear in the heavens, as follows (my notes are in brackets):
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars… [He describes many troubling signs in the world that will also coincide with these cosmological signs]. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
Here is another translation of that last verse: “When these things start to happen, stand up and hold your heads high; because you are about to be liberated!” Now, let’s examine the two of the biggest things that had to “come to pass” in Bible prophecy before Jesus could return.
- First, Israel had to become a nation one final time: See Isaiah 43:5-6, Jeremiah 30:1-21:30, Amos 9:14-15, Luke 21:32. When did this happen?
- Prophetic Fulfillment in 1948: Israel becomes a nation again after almost 2,000 years!
- No other people group has retained their ethnic identity beyond about 200-300 years after losing their homeland.
- Second, Jerusalem had to be returned to Jewish/Israeli control: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:24
- Prophetic Fulfillment in 1967: Jerusalem was no longer in Gentile hands (anyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile) after Israel won the Six Days War.
The remarkable thing about all of this is that two biblical blood moon tetrads also happened simultaneously at about the same period of time! It was as if God was trying to confirm to the world that they were seeing the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in these events.
In the same verse spoken of earlier in Luke when Jesus was explaining to His disciples what the signs of His return would be, Jesus said that Israel’s return to nationhood would serve as one of those signs.
He also gave us a more specific clue as to the timing this event would happen. He said once Israel was a nation again, the generation alive at that time would live to see His return.
Based upon this fact, alone, we know the time is near. But when you combine all of this with the sign of the Star of Bethlehem showing up in the sky in 2015 at the precise timing of the latest biblical blood moon tetrad, one can’t help but wonder if this last blood moon tetrad was to serve as a signal to humanity of the “appointed time” of Christ’s return? The evidence I am about to share seems to be saying yes.
Let me share a couple of remarkable things about the biblical blood moon tetrads.
- Besides falling on biblical feast days and being so rare:
- The last three of seven blood moons tetrads have all happened within a very short period of time of one another. It was as if God was drawing our attention to this time period in History. In other words, in only the last 68 years, almost half of these biblical blood moon tetrads have occurred. Not only that, but they have happened during significant periods in Bible prophecy.
- By doing this, it was as if God didn’t want us to miss the fact that these prophecies were being fulfilled.
- The timing surrounding these events was significant to both the church and the Nation of Israel, as follows:
- Biblical Blood Moon Tetrad of 1949:
- 1st of the four blood moons to show up in this tetrad landed on Passover April 12, 1949
- In March 1949, with very little help from any other country, Israel won its War for Independence.
- The Jews finally had their own nation again after wandering the world homeless and persecuted for almost 2,000 years.
- There was no single date to attribute to this but signed armistice agreements were reached on these dates so March was the date given as their victory: Egypt (Feb. 24) Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3) and Syria (July 20)].
- Biblical Blood Moon Tetrad of 1967:
- The 1st of 4 Blood Moons landed on Passover April 1967 – Israel won its Six Day War with the Arabs on June 10, 1967.
- They won back Jerusalem (former capital and location of Temple).
- Biblical Blood Moon Tetrad of 1949:
- The last three of seven blood moons tetrads have all happened within a very short period of time of one another. It was as if God was drawing our attention to this time period in History. In other words, in only the last 68 years, almost half of these biblical blood moon tetrads have occurred. Not only that, but they have happened during significant periods in Bible prophecy.
What other signs are forthcoming that point to Jesus’ return? There is another sign on its way in 2017 straight out of the book of Revelation chapter 12. To read about that one, please go to this article: Heavenly Sign from Revelation 12 to Appear during Fall 2017
Other articles similar to this one regarding the signs of the end times can be found here:
This article was written by Tracey Nelson, MALC, M.Ed. from the blog The Spotless Bride (https://thespotlessbride.wordpress.com)
Are there Scriptures where God says that He actually uses the sun, moon, and stars for signs? If so, what does He expect us to do when we see them?
MOADIM – THE APPOINTED TIMES
On the fourth day of creation, God was designing/creating His divine calendar. The purpose was to teach us about His plan of redemption through Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah. At which point He said the following:
“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years”. (Gen.1:14)
I emphasized this English word “seasons” to shed greater light on the meaning of this verse by using the original language of the Old Testament (Hebrew). In Genesis 1:14 seasons has been translated and interpreted incorrectly for centuries. This is the Hebrew word “moade or moadim” which means “an appointed time.”
In the Stone’s Edition of the Tanach, (same as the Bible’s Old Testament), Genesis 1:14 means ” …and they shall serve as signs, and for appointed times, and for days and years.” Also, in Psalm 104:9, “God appointed the moon for seasons,” the word seasons again is “moadim” which is “appointed times.” In other words, we can read it to say “God appointed the moon to determine the appointed times.”
We need to realize that these “appointed times” were set prior to the creation of any living being to align with God’s plan for redemption. God had already created a timetable for His children to meet with Him (for example, during Feasts/holidays). These appointed times serve as God’s signs for us that He is our God and we are His people. But they are also meant to point to something else; signs of Christ’s arrival on Earth, both times.
OTHER BIBLICAL EXAMPLES
As mentioned in another article, the Star of Bethlehem was a sign in the heavens that showed up when Jesus came to Earth as a baby. This star features prominently in every Christmas pageant, book, or manger scene during this holiday. It was what the royal delegation referred to as the Three Kings, the Wise Men or the Magi used to help them make their journey from the East to discover who this Child was. They were likely Jews who already knew about these biblical prophecies who were still living in Babylon or elsewhere in the East from their time in captivity.
Well, what do you know? That star just showed up again on June 30, 2015 for the first time since the time of Jesus 2,000 years ago! This, among many other signs to show up in the heavens recently has to make people wonder why. See links to additional articles described further down the page for more detailed information about these.
So what are these signs all about?
Well, in Luke 21:25 after Jesus had just described to His disciples what the signs would look like just before His return (e.g., increasing number of wars, earthquakes, climate issues, etc…), He also described that there would also be signs to appear in the heavens, as follows (my notes are in brackets):
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars… [at this point He describes many troubling signs in the world that will also coincide with these cosmological signs]. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
In Matthew, Jesus referred to a list of specific signs that will appear in the heavens during the darkest days on Earth.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven… (Matthew 24:29-30)
The signs being described here are fairly frightening. I mean, what in the universe could cause the stars to “fall from the sky” and the “heavens to be shaken?” Besides asteroids and pole shifts, might there be something man made that could be added to this list of potential candidates? What about the immensely dangerous scientific experiments being conducted at the Hadron Collider at CERN?
Whatever the cause may be, this is not the doomsday everyone expects it to be. While it may be among Earth’s darkest days, it is not the end of the world. It signals the beginning of Jesus’ 1,000 year reign on Earth, as this verse in Luke continues (vs. 28):
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
Here is another translation of that last verse:
When these things start to happen, stand up and hold your heads high; because you are about to be liberated!
What we can discern from these verses is that these are the signs that we are going to see at the very end of that seven-year period known as the tribulation. That is the time when Satan gets to do his worst with humanity through a false savior known as the Antichrist. The Antichrist will deceive many and will eventually begin beheading anyone unwilling to “take the mark of the beast.” Of course, Christians cannot do that because they know doing that will purchase them an instant ticket to hell. Will any Christians survive. Yes, they will. Likely only those who have strong enough faith to pray for and expect miracles. Who knows? God may even give some of them a heads up in advance to get prepared so that they do not need to do any buying and selling during that period of time.
Are there signs that will signal the beginning and the middle of the tribulation, too? Likely, yes.
We also learn from the prophet Joel in chapter two and in several places in the book of Revelation just prior to the end it is said that there will be signs appearing in the heavens. This one is speaking of the time “before the great and terrible or awesome day of the Lord.”
The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (Joel 2:31)
This verse is obviously speaking of a special set of lunar and solar eclipses that are to show up just before the tribulation begins. Few people would see a simple solar or lunar eclipse as a sign. So there would have to be something rather special about this. Has anything special like this involving lunar and solar eclipses ever happened before? Yes, most definitely! You aren’t going to want to miss reading about an extremely rare succession of lunar and solar eclipses we just experienced in 2014-15 called the Biblical Blood Moon Tetrad:
Most Bible scholars believe that the book of Revelation is in chronological order. So, with 22 chapters, one could say that chapter 12 is approximately in the middle. Consequently, this verse referring to specific signs that are to show up in the constellations, moon, and sun, should happen in the middle of the tribulation when the worst part of the tribulation begins.
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. (Revelation 12:1-4)
This sign will show up in the heavens in September 2017. Of course, I am not date setting or telling you that this is the middle of the tribulation. But it certainly looks to be possible, especially when you consider that 1,260 days earlier from this date was when the first blood moon of the tetrad happened (that is 3.5 years).
To read more about this, please check out this link:
Of course, there are additional places in the Bible where other signs are spoken of. So, what should our response be to all of these recent and upcoming signs?
- First of all, you need to prepare yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically to endure what is to come. What might that include?
- Building up your faith for we cannot please God without faith nor can we obtain the things we may need or ask Him for until we are able to exercise that faith.
- Overcome the temptation to conform to this world or to be accepted by those closest to you who may be among those to persecute you in the end.
- Find a body of believers or form a small group in your home of brothers and sisters in Christ that will encourage you when you are down and visa-versa. We are going to need one another in the difficult days ahead.
- And secondly, get active in doing your part to bring in the final harvest. Begin building the Kingdom of God. What does that involve?
- People are hungry to know who God is. Introduce them to Him.
- Give your testimony of how God has changed your life.
- Learn how to answer the “hard questions” intelligently like:
- Those involving creation: intelligent design vs. chance.
- Who is the true God? I.e., why not Buddhism?
- Give money to ministries that are actually going out there to harvest the lost and train new Christians to do the same (like this ministry).
- Give your time to ministries that are doing this (like this ministry).
You may want to check out these other related articles:
In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus was describing the state of the Church before His return in the context of the Jewish wedding.
Hidden within the wedding feast we are better able to recognize who the Messiah is. We can also discover clues about His return.
Why ten virgins? I have heard it said that in the Bible, the number ten represents the legal congregation. (I heard this in a Youtube video abut the Jewish wedding from Rebecca at the Well Ministries. I love these videos! I highly recommend them.) So, it makes sense that the whole Church would be represented by ten virgins.
After a Jewish couple in ancient Israel agreed to get married, the bride (symbolically and prophetically represents the Church) had to wait for her bridegroom (symbolically and prophetically represents Jesus) for an indefinite period of time. The bridegroom had to go home to his father’s house to build an addition for he and his new bride to live in once they were married. Once this structure was complete, he was to return in order to retrieve her to celebrate the wedding feast.
Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus Christ indicated that He (like any bridegroom) must go to His Father’s house to do the same for us before He returned for His new Bride (the Church).
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
There are many references to the Church being the Bride of Christ and Jesus being the Bridegroom. You would be blessed to do a search of the word bridegroom as well as several others like, bride, husband, wife, married, marriage in Biblegateway.com. For our purposes, though, I will only share a few.
Jesus very specifically referred to Himself as the Bridegroom in several of the gospels including Matthew in chapter 9 the 15th verse. He inferred that He was speaking of Himself as the Bridegroom in this parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.
The bride and bridegroom are also familiar themes in the Old Testament particularly in the Song of Solomon and when symbolically and prophetically referring to Christ and His Bride. In Isaiah 62:5 God is referring to His affection for Israel within the context of marriage. Then prophetically, the word bridegroom is referring to the second coming of Christ in Revelation 18:23 and in Joel 2:16.
Referring to the Church as the Bride can be seen in Revelation 22:17. But first in verse 12 Jesus says,
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”
[Then] the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
The idea of the Messiah even having a Bride is described in the “The Glories of the Messiah and His Bride” in Psalm 45. We also hear of ourselves as the Church referred to as a wife Ephesians 5. God often refers to Himself as a husband and Israel as His wife.
It is within this backdrop of the Jewish wedding that many believe that there will be what is referred to as the rapture; a time when Jesus may rescue His faithful Bride from the “wrath to come” just before all hell breaks loose during the tribulation.
The the event known as the rapture was taken from a Latin word which was meant to translate the original Greek word, harpazo, in the original biblical text. This means “to snatch away.” There are several verses where this word is used. But I will share 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
As Christians, we should always be prepared to endure difficult times. But there is a growing body of believers who are starting to think that this teaching on the rapture is wrong. In that case, we would really need to strengthen our faith and prepare ourselves for the hard times to come. Either way, taking our clues from this parable of the ten virgins, we should still watch for our Bridegroom and make ourselves ready for Him.
Still, there are a lot of arguments in favor of the rapture.
Regarding this time period when the wrath of God approaches, the apostle, Paul, states in I Thessalonians 5 that we need to be ready and watching (below). It also contains another indication that we may be spared the “wrath to come:”
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
This article is meant to comfort you and to encourage you to be ready for His return “as a thief in the night.”
The belief is that since God did not appoint us to wrath, that we will also escape the suffering that comes onto the earth during the end-times tribulation. As indicated earlier, some evidence for this as well as more proof of the rapture may be found within this parable of the ten virgins.
In this parable, the Bridegroom, Jesus, arrives at the midnight hour. All of the virgins had been awaiting the return of the Bridegroom. They all had lamps that were lit.
We know from Scripture that the oil and fire represent the Holy Spirit. So all ten of the virgins are Christians. But only half of them taken enough oil with them in case the Bridegroom was delayed in coming. The other half had not adequately prepared themselves so they were left behind during the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
Does this mean that those who are prepared will be raptured and spared from the wrath to come during the tribulation? Let’s look into this further…
The Bridegroom in this parable arrives at midnight. This is the darkest hour of the night.
We know that midnight is still many hours before daybreak. It is actually halfway between dusk and dawn. From this it might be inferred that, although the Church will see the arrival of Earth’s darkest hour, Jesus will not leave them to endure it all night long.
Wouldn’t Christ’s arrival to set up His glorious Kingdom on Earth for 1,000 years be represented by daybreak rather than the midnight hour? Midnight is halfway between night and day! His arrival at the midnight hour appears to indicate that:
- The Bridegroom has comes to snatch away His Bride from the wrath to come, in the middle of Earth’s darkest hour.
- There looks to be an interlude between the darkest hour on Earth and the setting up His Kingdom here because:
- In the Jewish wedding tradition, the arrival of the Bridegroom, is always the start of the celebration of the feast.
- This will be the expected “Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”
- Half of the virgins (unprepared Christians), are going to be left behind to endure the rest of the night.
- In the Jewish wedding tradition, the arrival of the Bridegroom, is always the start of the celebration of the feast.
Think about it, would any bridegroom subject his beloved bride to a beating just before such a festive occasion? It doesn’t make sense! What’s more, when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on Earth, the saints (Bride) will be with Him.
As members of the Bride of Christ (i.e., the Church), we are taught by Jesus that we are to be like the “five wise virgins” and make ourselves prepared for His return. We don’t want to be left behind.
Tapping into the Holy Spirit is an important, daily undertaking for every Christian. This is not a one time event. We must remain continually filled with the Spirit, as we can see from this more “true to the text” translation of Ephesians 5:18:
Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
Besides being left behind, we are told by Jesus in the parable of the vine and the branches found in John 15 that branches which dry out and are unfruitful in their own growth or in God’s Kingdom will be cut off and thrown in the fire because they are useless.
So, the secrets to being included in this wedding feast is to:
- Never “burn out” of your love for God.
- Remain full of God’s Spirit (as shared above in Eph. 5:18).
- Be fruitful in building God’s Kingdom.
- Bear your own spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5:20); love, forgiveness, patience, etc…
- Walk in the Spirit.
To do this, to be full of God’s Spirit, to keep from burning out, and to grow in your spiritual fruit, we must “abide in the Vine” (see John 15) on a regular basis.
Of course, for some of us all of this is pretty easy to accomplish because the amazing love of God has been imparted into us. It is easy to do anything for one’s beloved when one is in love. For others, those who have been raised Christian or accepted Him on faith but have not had a tangible experience of His Love yet, it takes some real effort.
What’s more, it is not unusual for even those who have encountered this incredible Love to get tired after enduring a great deal of difficulty. But our trials are supposed to strengthen us, not tear us down. If they are tearing you down, then that means one of two things. One, either, there is still some pride within your heart that needs to be torn down so that the only thing left standing inside of you is your faith in God. Or two, you have never learned how to utilize the many Christian skills we are taught to take advantage of to benefit from a life lived in Christ; peace (that surpasses all understanding), joy, and righteousness in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
So make yourselves ready! Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Allow His Holy Spirit through your time in worship, prayer, and study of the Scriptures as well as your time fellowshipping with other Christians encourage and comfort you so you can endure your trials.
This is a new series of articles surrounding the history behind Christian unity, where we’ve been, and where we are now. This is as much for myself as for you, because, like many others, even I am not totally convinced that this movement won’t be used by the Antichrist one day to form the end-times’ “one-world church.”
However, Jesus basically told us that the most effective strategy for world evangelism will be through Christian unity (see John 17:21-23). So, will this current movement towards unity create the conditions to help build Christ’s Kingdom or will it build the Antichrist’s church of deception? I think both are likely to be true at some point in time. In the beginning, the believers began going down this road to heed Christ’s plan to draw the world to Himself. Jesus told us that unbelievers are supposed to witness our love for each other and eventually accept Him because of that, as follows (John 17:20-23):
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
There is a very distinct difference between Christian unity and the ability to coexist in peace with other “opposing” world religions. This is not what Jesus was referring to. Although, there will likely be some huge benefits from Muslims coexisting with Christians and Jews, such as world peace due to the bloodshed going on in the name of Islam these days. But that is not the type of unity Christ was referring to in that scripture, above.
However, it could very well be the beginnings of the formation of the one-world church we are expecting to appear on the scene in the end. I will explain more about that in another article when I cover the potential dangers of Christian unity. But first, let me explain how beneficial Christian unity could be.
Huge Benefits of Christian Unity
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing– life forever. (Psalm 133:2-3)
Despite the potential for Christian unity to be used for evil purposes, nevertheless, the Holy Spirit has most assuredly been leading me in this direction ever since He started me down the path to teach His plan to bring accelerated transformation to the members of the Church.* He made it a point to highlight for me that unity is one of many benefits to come from this plan. In other words, unity can only be gained if hearts are healed of their identity wounds. This is what the plan presented in Accelerated Transformation seeks to do, see book to the right.
Of course, the natural fruits that are produced as a result of our personal transformation are going to gain us greater intimacy with those we care the most about. This comes to people who have gained a higher sense of security within. When I say security, I don’t mean pride or arrogance either. These can give one a false sense of security but they have no foundation. And any house that is built on sinking sand will go down during a storm.
This sort of vulnerability and humility makes us more capable of hearing the hearts of those we are listening to (including God’s); hearing what they actually have to say. Rather than interjecting our words right on top of theirs, we give them the gift of listening.
Think about it. When was the last time someone actually listened wholeheartedly to you? It’s a rare, but very precious thing, indeed. When was the last time you listened for God to speak to you rather than filling the air with all of your own requests? There is a very good reason that He tells us to, “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
What will naturally arises from maturity, vulnerability, and humility will be greater unity among Christians. Because, when you come right down to it, listening to other points of view is what helps one appreciate why others are taking the stand they are taking. Only then are people able to feel “safe” enough to discuss the possibility of changing those views to match the proper interpretation of Scripture.
Opening our hearts to hear the points of view of others can build the trust needed to make progress in any discussion. Trust is built when we feel our closely held views are going to be respected and our hearts are going to be heard. This is the only way to come anywhere close to reaching some sort of consensus regarding certain controversial or contentious differences in the interpretation of Scripture.
The following is an example of the transformation process David du Plessis went through when joining the ecumenical movement. Recounting a meeting with 24 ecumenical leaders in Connecticut, this Pentecostal leader among the Charismatic movement, wrote:
- I could remember days when I had wished I could have set my eyes upon such men to denounce their theology and pray the judgment of God upon them for what I considered their heresies and false doctrines. … After a few introductory words, I suddenly felt a warm glow come over me. I knew this was the Holy Spirit taking over, but what was He doing to me? Instead of the old harsh spirit of criticism and condemnation in my heart, I now felt such love and compassion for these ecclesiastical leaders that I would rather have died for them than pass sentence upon them.
Du Plessis had to endure many hardships from his own denomination for his expanded point of view. They even asked him to resign from the Assemblies of God for going in this direction. It would take another thirty years for them to see the err of their ways to re-institute his ordination with them. However, he was used mightily of God to bring the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues and all the gifts of the Spirit into the mainline churches in what would come to be known as the Charismatic Movement. He recounted how Smith Wigglesworth prophesied over him ahead of time that Du Plessis would be greatly involved God’s pouring out his Spirit upon many other churches.
*Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing by Tracey Nelson can be found at http://thespotlessbride.com or click on the image at the top right hand side of this page.