Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Detour Ahead

In light of the recent election, I think these reads are a little more important that what was going on when I was 8. :) Check out my friendChristen's post...

While you're at it, check out what my friend Shelley WROTE. Incredible! The Lord has blessed me with such wonderful friends!

***All words and thoughts beyond this point are to be attributed to Shelley.***

November 4, 2008. Presidential Election day. As I type this, I watch the results of each state show up as “red” or “blue” on the United States political map on television. (Funny that we are called the UNITED States, huh?) Throughout this election process, I have kept up with the candidates, watched the debates and so forth. As the election comes to a close, and our new President is named in a few short hours, I remember with confidence the words of Daniel, the Old Testament prophet who said, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:20-21). Although some of our first tendencies are to think, “God! What in the WORLD are you doing here?!”, we must remember that our ways are not His ways, but His way are so much higher than what we could ever comprehend or imagine; we also must remember that the Words He has spoken will leave His mouth and will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:8-11).

Providence, according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, means that God has a plan and purpose for His world. Providence is not a principle of orderliness or reason; rather Providence is the will of the Creator who is actively involved in moving His creation to a goal. History is not a cyclical process of endless repetition; history is being moved toward the predetermined end. This means that nothing that happens is “happen-stance.” It’s all in His hands, and it’s all to bring about the goal of His creation. As the state of our country and world gets more and more frightening, what can we do to stay positive? Is there any hope for our country? For the world? How can we know what is going to happen in the future? Believe it or not, answers to all of these questions can be found in the Word of God, the Bible. As I mentioned above, God says:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,so is my word that goes out from my mouth:It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

We can trust what the Word of God says, because there is nothing that has ever been disproved in the Bible. I have recently become very interested in studying Bible prophecy. There are hundreds and hundreds of prophesies throughout the Bible, and most of them have already come to pass. The mathematical odds of this are impossible, unless some miracle of God could occur. Check out the mathematical odds of Jesus fulfilling prophecy:

The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, 'we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep."

Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man."

Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophesies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident."(This information was taken from the book Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.)

The Bible has never been wrong in the past, and it won't be wrong in the future. It claims inspiration from God (2 Tim. 3:16). Since God is the creator of all things (Isaiah 44:24), then He is also the creator of time. It is under His control. Only God, then, would always be right about what is in the future, our future.

Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose, and a guiding hand behind the Bible. If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God, because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future. Deut. 18:22 says, "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously" (NIV). Isaiah 46:9-10 says, "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (from source 7)

The prophecies of the Bible are real, and they were written hundreds and sometimes thousands of years before their fulfillment. The magnitude and number of prophecies coming to pass in Christ’s life is astronomically impossible to have happened by chance. Taking only 30 of the more than 300 prophecies concerning Christ’s life, mission, death, and resurrection, the chance of all of them coming to pass on their own is a number of 1 times 10¹¹ยบ! That is a number one with 110 zeros after it. Any number larger than 1 times 10 to the 50 is believed by scientists to be impossible—in other words, no chance.

The only way that 300 prophecies came to pass in Christ is by Divine inspiration. It is the only logical and consistent answer. In his book, The Rapture, Dr. Tim LaHaye remarked, “No scholar of academic substance denies that Jesus lived almost 2,000 years ago. And we find three times as many prophesies in the Bible relating to His second coming as to His first. Thus, the second advent of our Lord is three times as certain as His first coming, which can be verified as historical fact.”

As I continue to watch the 2008 election results unfold, I think about the current state of our society. I doubt anyone can look at our society and say that it is improving. I believe the opposite is quite obvious. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes the de-evolving of a society. If one reads this scripture, and places America in mind, one can see that our nation is on the decline. (Go ahead…read it…)

The Bible is clear in stating that if a nation seeks the One, true God as their God, He will be with them and will bless that nation. This is what He promised Israel, and all one has to do is read the Old Testament to see what happened when Israel obeyed and served God (blessings!) as opposed to when they began worshipping idols and going their own ways (cursings!) I believe the same is true for nations today. As America was founded and established on Christianity, God truly blessed our nation for many, many years. Why has God favored America? Dr. David Jeremiah states in his book What in the World is Going On that God has favored America because:

1) America has been the force behind world missions (75% of all missionaries have come from a country boasting only 5% of the total world population)
2) America has been a friend to the Jewish people (God promised to bless those who bless Israel in Genesis 12:1-3)
3) America has been a free nation. Throughout the Bible, the principles of freedom are united with the tenets of Christianity. The Bible says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). Freedom is what creates the life God intended us to have from the very beginning.
4) America was founded on God and His Word (George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible”), and Proverbs states, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (14:34) President Calvin Coolidge said, “The foundation of our society and our government rests so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

However, one does not have to look far (on the television, read a newspaper) to see that our nation does not fear God anymore. We are turning from His ways, not reading His Word, and are taught to believe that we can all have our own beliefs about what is right and true, and that whatever we believe is right for us, is right (post-modernism). And it’s a bunch of crap. But our society, and our world are believing it. Just as Israel continued to walk in disobedience to God, and as a result, God sent armies of many nations, culminating in Assyrians, then Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and take them captive, so our nation must turn back to God—or we, too, shall reap God’s disciplinary measures. It’s simple, really. Cause and effect. Yet because we will not turn from our sins back to Him, it’s bound to happen. Mark my words. And it’s sad to me because we are shooting ourselves in the foot. If we would stop all this “new age” belief stuff, and return to the “old age” Truth, we would return to prosperity, because we would find favor again with the Lord. As Herbert Hoover wrote almost six decades ago, “Our greatest danger is not from invasion by foreign armies. Our dangers are that we may commit suicide from within by complaisance with evil.”

According to Edward Gibbon who wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the average lifespan of all the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been between 200 and 250 years. (Do the math…think where we are…)

During that time span, each of these nations progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage. (ex: think of our dependence on foreign oil…) At what point is America in this cycle?

In 1947, forward-looking sociologist Dr. Carle Zimmerman wrote a text called Family and Civilization. He identified eleven “symptoms of final decay” observable in the fall of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. See how many characterize our society:

1) No-fault divorce
2) “Birth-Dearth”; increased disrespect for parenthood and parents
3) Meaningless marriage rites/ceremonies
4) Defamation of past national heroes
5) Acceptance of alternative marriage forms
6) Widespread attitudes of feminism, narcissism, hedonism
7) Propagation of antifamily sentiment
8) Acceptance of most forms of adultery
9) Rebellious children
10) Increased juvenile delinquency
11) Common acceptance of all forms of sexual perversion

“One cannot read lists such as these and doubt that America is throwing away its treasured position as the most blessed nation ever on the face of the earth. Remember, as we noted earlier, God blessed this country for a reason: our nation was founded on submission to Him. But now as the reasons for His blessings upon America are eroding, we can expect the blessings themselves to fade as well.” (What in the World…136)

So what does Biblical prophecy say about the future of America? Oddly (or maybe not so oddly), nothing. There is no specific reference to America in Biblical prophecy. According to Dr. David Jeremiah, one reason may be that “in the grand scheme of history, the United States is a new kid on the block, less than 250 years old—much younger than the nations of the Bible times that are featured in Biblical prophecy.” However, according to noted prophecy expert John Walvoord, “Although the Scriptures do not give any clear word concerning the role of the United States in relation to the revived Roman Empire, it is clear this will be a consolidation of the power of the West…Europe and America may be in formal alliance with Israel in opposition to the radical Islamic countries of the Middle East.” According to this theory, though America is not mentioned by name in prophecy, it will be in the mix of the political realignments that foreshadow the end of time. (Trade and other kinds of agreements have already started between the U.S. and the European Union, forming a stronger alliance with the EU…)Dr. Jeremiah states, “Perhaps the silence of Scripture on the future of America indicates that by the time the Tribulation period arrives, America will have lost her influence in the world and will no longer be a major player” (What in the World…133)

Walvoord states: “Some maintain that the total absence of any scriptural reference to America in the end time is evidence that the United States will have been crippled by a nuclear attack, weapons of mass destruction, or some other major catastrophe…In the post 9/11 world the detonation of a dirty bomb, nuclear device, or biological weapon on U.S. soil is a dreaded yet distinct possibility. Such an attack could kill millions of people and reduce the United States to a second rate power overnight.”

Dr. Jeremiah says that “Scripture often warns us that even a long-suffering (meaning very patient) God will not forever strive with men. If we ignore Divine directives, we cannot expect God’s blessing. A limb that cuts itself off from the trunk will not continue to live.” (Think, “I am the vine, you are the branches…” from John 15:1-8)

Now, the goal of this blog was not to get anyone down and depressed. Although, looking from a worldly viewpoint, that would be the natural tendency, if we look at other Scriptural prophecies, and we have trusted Jesus as the LORD and SAVIOR of our hearts and lives, we have cause to rejoice even through the trials that may lie ahead! The Bible speaks of the Rapture to come, where all believing and God-fearing Christians will be taken up into heaven in the blink of an eye. We who love Christ will be blessed by the Rapture. We will now know the joy of being with our beloved Lord, and we will also be spared the horrors of the Tribulation period to come. (Imagine all the Christians disappeared, and the United States was left with nothing but people who have rejected God to rule it. It is a scary picture.)Looking at this presidential race, (which has now concluded, Barrack Obama being elected President), at the state of our country, and of the world, fear may be the initial emotion that sweeps across our bodies. But we, as Christians, should anticipate with joy what the future holds. We approach with confidence the events we are anticipating because we know they were put into play by the Creator of the Universe. He knows the end from the beginning, and lets his friends (us) in on the eternal secrets of His determined will. As Dr. Jeremiah put it so eloquently, “We have always put our trust in the One who stands above institutions, above history, and even above time itself—the One by whose power and permission these things exist, and who knows their times and the ends of their days. Only He is worthy of our ultimate allegiance.” (What in the World…139)

As we watch God fulfill prophesies right before our very eyes, and just as God’s Providence is true, He guides this world toward the end goal, the return of Christ, the destruction of Satan, and the establishment of His New Kingdom. That, my friends, is something to look forward to in joyful anticipation!

1) The Bible
2) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
2) Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
3) Harper’s Bible Dictionary
4) The Rapture by Dr. Tim LaHaye
5) What in the World is Going On?: 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore by Dr. David Jeremiah
6) Dr. John Walvoord

For more information on these and other evidences the following is a small bibliography:
• Fast Facts on Defending Your Faith, John Ankerberg & John Weldon, Harvest House Publishers, Copyright 2002.
• The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishing House, Copyright 1998.
• The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishing House, Copyright 2004.
• The Signature of God, The Handwriting of God, Grant R. Jeffrey, Inspirational Press, Copyright 1996.
• A Skeptics Search for God, Ralph O. Muncaster, Harvest House Publishing, Copyright 2002.
• Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell Here’s Life Publishers, Copyright 1979.

1 comment:

Douglasfam said...

whoa girl. you certainly have some wise friends. Very interesting and eye opening stuff - kinda wich I could put the whole thing as my facebook status! :)