Sunday, March 9, 2014

Officially Announcing the Hiatus

It's been two months.  I had planned to post regularly in 2014, but life has kept me running at full capacity.  And I've been learning that's okay - other aspects of my life are what God has me doing for the moment, and those experiences can give me fresh insight to bring back here to my Bible studies when I return to blogging.

It is my full intention to start up again once summer break hits, and (right now) I am feeling as if that will be the time I am *supposed* to start up again.  So I'll leave Elijah's Bunker up and running both because I hope to be back with new fervor in a couple of months, and because so many hits continue to come from topical Google searches and people digging through the archives.

I've known for a while that it would be a good idea to post this, but I guess I kept delaying it just in case some miracle would occur and I'd suddenly have 48 hours in a day. :-)  So I'm officially announcing my hiatus until mid-May.  Until then, may God keep you firm in His Word.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The End of the Tribulation - Matthew 24:29-31

29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

31 "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."

I don't have any intention to bring up the whole pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation rapture issue all the time, but since this blog employs the verse-by-verse study method, and the part of Matthew we've been in lately talks about End Times events a lot, this topic has been coming up a lot.  But there's also plenty we can talk about regarding this passage that doesn't depend on our individual views of when the rapture will happen. :-)  So I'll briefly address that first, then move on to other topics.
One of the passages most commonly used in support of the pre-trib view is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  And yet, the return of Christ described in that passage seems to exactly mirror what is referenced here in Matthew (the sound of the trumpet, meeting in the sky, etc.), which is directly identified as happening after the Tribulation.
Additionally, consider that the entirety of Matthew 24 so far has traced out, in detail, the events of the End Times.  If there were a pre-tribulation rapture, I would personally assume that Jesus would have mentioned it in His timetable.
The insane astronomical events and bending of physics mentioned in this passage get me really excited.  I suppose I enjoy the idea of God displaying how powerful He is that undeniably.  And it marks the massive transition to a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).
Not only will these events make it clear to every human that there is a God, but His sign in the sky will make it clear that He is God...and most will realize with terror that they have not been serving Him.  I'm not going to engage in speculation about what this sign might look like or how it might take place, but its no-denying-it nature is important to realize - it is the end.
But for the saved, the new heaven and new earth and Christ's glorious return mark the end of persecution and suffering, and the beginning of utter paradise and ruling with Christ (Revelation 21-22).
Many believers often wonder how much longer God will put up with this world before He ushers in the end, given how messed up this world is.  But we must remember that this only evidences His astounding mercy toward humanity - He is giving people still more time to repent.  2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
Taking that a step further, those who are aware of the rampant persecution of the Church sometimes wonder how long God will endure His children being slaughtered before bringing about the end.  But I recently heard Francis Chan (in a different context than persecution) succinctly summarize a key theological truth - God's grace to us is not just forgiving us, but rather His grace to us is making us more like Him.  Persecution is one of the many trials that serve to make believers more like Christ, so it is not as if putting off the End Times grants mercy to unbelievers but not believers - it's grace to both categories, in two different ways.
Normally I might find it hard to derive an easy application from this passage, but since it's New Year's Day, one comes to mind easily.
At the beginning of the year, many people make resolutions or goals that are clearly defined, perfect for marking off a checklist, controllable, and life-on-this-earth-centric.  But I would encourage you to not get so wrapped up in all these plans that you lose an eternal perspective.  Not only could the End Times start at any moment, thereby making any plans we have made pointless, but more importantly, God has a list of plans for you this year, and they may match, contradict, complement, or supersede what you have planned for yourself - and the only way to find out what His plans are is to stay tapped into His Spirit and constantly keep the Kingdom in mind.

Monday, December 16, 2013

During the Tribulation - Matthew 24:15-28

Last time we studied Matthew, we read about events leading up to the Tribulation.  In this next set of verses, Jesus is jumping straight to the Tribulation's middle.  The entire book of Revelation traces out each little event with detail, but apparently for His warning recorded in Matthew, He was being more brief.  So, what we see here are basically the high points.

15 "Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

17 "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.

18 "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath."

The Abomination of Desolation is described elsewhere in Scripture:

From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.
- Daniel 12:11

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

So what we gather will take place at the Abomination of Desolation is that it is the half-way point in the seven-year Tribulation, that sacrifices in the Jewish Temple will be halted (which means they will have been begun again - something that could actually happen at any moment as the Jews can have everything up and running in a matter of days when the regain the Temple Mount), and that the "Antichrist" (it seems, since being God has been Satan's motivation all along) will declare himself to be God.

(Tiny side-note: Those verses in 2 Thessalonians are yet another point in Scripture that I see as pointing to a post-Tribulation rapture, not pre-Tribulation.)

An Abomination of Desolation of sorts already happened a couple of centuries before Christ said these words - committed by the evil Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes.  What he did to the Jewish Temple was the inspiration for the Abomination of Desolation scene in Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series.  And it was kind of a precursor to the "real-deal" on that will happen during the Tribulation.  Just as Jesus appeared in human form before His incarnation multiple times in the Old Testament (for example, talking with Abraham and wrestling with Jacob), I think it likely that "the Antichrist" has appeared on Earth multiple times as well (i.e. human beings indwelt by Satan - like Judas and probably Hitler).

The rest of the verses in this set serve to point out just how terrible this time will be for the Jews.  Keep in mind how much oppression and near-extermination they have suffered throughout the history of the world - and realize that this time will be THE worst.  And yet, God's concern for the pregnant and nursing women trying to flee reveals His incredible care - even thousands of years in advance while delivering a brief prophecy, He takes the time to express His concern for them.

And verse 20 brings up an interesting topic for us to all mull over regarding prayer ... Even beyond the basic theological truth that God has always known everything that will ever happen, it is even made explicitly clear that the day of Christ's return is set in stone (Matthew 24:34-36).  And since studying Daniel and Revelation makes it clear that all End Times events are on a strict, interconnected timetable, that means that the day of the Abomination of Desolation has a set date, as well.  So, praying that this won't happen on a Sabbath or during winter wouldn't seem to be able to change anything ... except that God would have known in advance that people would pray that if He told them to, so He answered their prayers in advance before they had even prayed it yet ...  Try wrapping your mind around that for a minute! ;-)

21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."

The word "tribulation" has the potential to confuse some.  Basically, we have decided to call the entire seven-year period of judgments outlined in Revelation "the Tribulation," but the Bible itself calls the second half of that seven-year period a "Great Tribulation."  So they are two different things.

And, as indicated here and in the timeline in Revelation, that second half will be far more intense than the first half - and considering how terrible the first half will be, no wonder the whole thing has to be cropped to only a few years so that some sort of remnant of the saved will be able to survive!

23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.

24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.

26 "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the l,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,,' do not believe them.

27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be."

We talked about this topic in our last study, too, so I won't spend a ton of time on it here.  But it's critical to remember that as the End gets closer and closer, demonic power will increase on Earth, to the point that possessed people have such demonic powers that even some Christians will fall for it and think they're prophets or Christ Himself.  But Christ will not come in that form - even though there is a lot of End Times prophecy that is confusing, one thing that is abundantly clear is that when Christ comes, everyone on Earth will know it, and it will be a powerful moment.

28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."

Apparently a lot of people try to read specific prophetic meanings into this verse, like it talking about the rapture or Armageddon, but I see it is as simply a wry descriptive phrase about the false Christs.  It could mean that as the post-apostasy Church has a lot of spiritually-dead "Christians" and former Christians, charlatans will come in and lead them into following demonic influence, or that as the Earth approaches its death, false teachers will come in and drag people into spiritual death, or many other things along these lines.

Next time, we'll get to cover some of the "happy," exciting stuff following the Tribulation. :-)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's Coming Up

What's coming up for the short-term:

Writing final papers and studying for final exams the next two weeks, so the blog will return in full-force with continued study in Matthew sometime the weekend of the 14th/15th.

What's coming up for the medium-term:

My plan is to get ahead on verse-by-verse studies over Christmas break so I can hopefully maintain a more consistent posting schedule next semester.

I also intend to read some Christian Living and Theology books over the break, and will have reviews up for those.

See you in 2 weeks! :-)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Study in Thanksgiving

For this year's Thanksgiving post, I decided to not only meditate on what I'm particularly thankful for this year and share the list, but to also incorporate poignant Scripture verses speaking of these blessings.

So, in no particular order, this year I am especially thankful for:


This year, a number of factors are combining to make this holiday an especially joyous celebration of getting to share time together.  From family we don't normally get to see on the holiday to those we simply haven't had much time with lately, the mere chance to spend a few days together is a tremendous blessing.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
- Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
- Psalm 133:1 NASB


With each additional year of college, I grow more and more grateful that I live in a time and place in which I have access to gaining that knowledge for myself - and I'm not restricted by the fact that I'm a woman or middle-class.  Enlarging my brain gives me such joy, and I realize that there are scores of people around the globe whose mental potential far exceeds mine, yet they don't live in an area where education is available to them.  The level of access to education we have in the U.S. is rarer than we think.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
- Proverbs 18:15 ESV

Take hold of instruction; do not let go;
Guard her, for she is your life.
- Proverbs 4:13 NASB

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
- Daniel 1:17 ESV

Studying Scripture

Along those same lines but even more so, we live in an extremely unique time and place in which we can study Scripture.  We have the ability to read and understand it in our own language.  A Bible is extremely inexpensive - most of us have more than one, as opposed to one per church (if that).  There are a multitude of other resources we have access to that can deepen our understanding - commentaries, concordances, lexicons, books, downloadable sermons, etc.  And we don't have to hide our Bibles for fear of being arrested, beaten, raped, tortured, and executed.  We have the rare freedom and ability to pursue the rich depths of God's Word!

(If you're interested in helping your brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries who do not have access to Bibles, I recommend Wycliffe Bible Translators and The Voice of the Martyrs)

Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wondrous things out of your law.
- Psalm 119:18 ESV

Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words."
- Daniel 10:12 NASB

God's Accessibility

God has always been everywhere, all the time...but that doesn't mean people had access to Him anytime they wanted.  God would meet them at specific places like the Tabernacle and Temple, and even after the Holy Sprit came to indwell believers, some sects still taught that you had to go to a specific building or perform a certain ritual in order to talk with God.  But because of the Holy Spirit inside us, we can silently talk with God at any time of day, in any location, no matter what we're doing.  God even gives us access to Him while we're scrubbing toilets!  What amazes me so much about this is that is how incredibly deeply He loves us - that He doesn't demand physical, ritualistic demonstrations of reverence.  As Holy as He is, he has every right to demand ritualistic cleansing, religious garments, etc. in order to speak with Him - yet He doesn't.  We truly serve an astounding God.

Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?
- 1 Corinthians 6:19a NLT

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Romans 15:13 NASB

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV


I talk about this one throughout the year, I know. :-)  It just never ceases to thrill me that God created each and every one of us for a reason - that there's a specific destiny He has planned out for each of us, tasks to accomplish that have eternal significance.  So many people struggle with the question, "Why am I here?"  But if we ask God that question, as he slowly reveals the answer to us over time, we can trust that His plan is a thrilling adventure!

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- Ephesians 2:10 NASB

also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
- Ephesians 1:11-12 NASB

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- Romans 8:28 NASB

Now you tell me - what are you especially grateful for this year?  Can you think of any Bible verses related to that blessing?  Leave a comment below (or if you're reading this via e-mail, click the post title to take you to the blog in order to do so).

Image Credit: "The First Thanksgiving" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, reproduction, from the United States Library of Congress.  Wikipedia.  Public Domain in the United States.