Saturday, January 29, 2011

End times: The third question

Jesus' disciples asked Him when Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, what would be the sign of the end of the age, and what would be the sign of His coming (Matt 24:1 - 3).

We have talked about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and the sign of the end of the age. So what will be the sign of His coming?

The sign of His coming will be the appearance of the shechinah glory. The shechinah glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God.

In the tabernacle the Israelites constructed in the wilderness, the outer court was illuminated by natural daylight. The holy place, where the priests went to minister, was illuminated by the golden lampstand. The most holy place, where only the high priest was allowed to enter on one day each year and where God dwelt above the mercy seat, had no artificial illumination. The illumination would be provided by the glory of God.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, where Christ's glory was manifested,

His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light (Matt 17:2).

When the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, it will have no need of illumination:

And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light (Rev 21:23).

Christ's coming too will be accompanied by the manifestation of His glory:

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt 24:27).

Shortly before His coming, there will be darkness on the 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 (Matt 24:29).

But then. . .

The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matt 24:30).

A brilliant light will shine from heaven and every eye will see Him as He comes to earth to destroy His enemies and set up His millennial kingdom.

Are you prepared for the things that are coming on the earth?

Friday, January 28, 2011

End times: the second question

A few days before Jesus was crucified, His disciples asked Him three questions: When would Jerusalem and the Temple be destroyed, what would be the sign of the end of the age, and what would be the sign of His coming?

Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in AD70. So what will be the sign of the end of the age?

The Jews spoke of "this age," referring to the age in which they were living, and "the age to come," meaning the messianic age. Christians would call the age in which we live the church age, which extends from Christ's resurrection and the the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Christ's Second Coming.

So what did Jesus say would be the sign of the end of this age?

"Take heed that no one deceives you.

"For many will come in my name, saying 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

"And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet
(Matt 24:4 - 6).

So there will be false messiahs and there will be wars, but these are not signs that the age is coming to an end.

Then Jesus comes to what is the sign of the end of the age:

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

"All these are the beginning of sorrows"
(Matt 24:7, 8).

To the Jews, "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" would signify world war. We had the first world wars - two of them - in the 20th century.

These, along with famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places, are "the beginning of sorrows." The Greek word used for "sorrows" there is the word used to describe labour pains.

These are signs that the world is in travail, preparing for the birth of the messianic age.

Monday, January 24, 2011

End times: The first question

The first three verses of Matthew 24 tell how Jesus and His disciples were in the Temple just a few days before His crucifixion:

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple.

And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"

Really, this is not one question. This is three questions. First - in the order in which the events were to occur - when will these things be (referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple)? Second, what will be the sign of the end of the age? Third, what will be the sign of Your coming?

Jesus proceeded to answer their questions. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem:

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

"Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.

"For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

"But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing mothers in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.

"And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive unto all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled
(Luke 21:20 - 24).

In AD 66, the Jews rebelled against the Romans. Roman soldiers, led by Cestius Gallus, legate of Syria, came and besieged Jerusalem. Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, as Jesus had prophesied - but the believers in Jesus could not leave the city because of the siege.

Then Cestius Gallus inexplicably withdrew. The Jewish believers left the city and set up a Christian community at Pella, in what is now Jordan.

More Roman forces arrived under the Roman general Vespasian and his son Titus and laid seige to Jerusalem. When the city fell in AD70, a million Jews were massacred and Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.

It is said of the Jewish believers, who followed Jesus' instruction to leave the city, that not one was killed.

More soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is the Bible true?

Is the Bible true? Is Jesus the Person the Bible says He is?

Matt 1:1-11 refers to the genealogy of Jesus. Dr Chuck Missler points out that in those 11 verses in Greek - the language in which the New Testament was originally written - the number of words is divisible by seven; the number of letters is divisible by seven; the number of vowels and the number of consonants are both divisible by seven; the number of words that begin with a vowel and the number of words that begin with a consonant are both divisible by seven; the number of words that occur more than once can be divided by seven; the number of words that occur in more than one form is divisible by seven; the number of words that occur in only one form can be divided by seven; the number of male names can be divided by seven; and the number of generations is divisible by seven.

No man could have engineered that. The chance of those verses conforming to all the above by chance is one in 40,353,607.

Just for fun (4)

One in five people in the world is Chinese.

There are five people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either Mum or Dad or my older brother Colin or my younger brother Ho Chi Chou.

I think it's Colin.

- Tommy Cooper.

Getting ready for Big Brother

One of the last things the last Labour Government did during the dying days of its administration was push through the Equality Act in an attempt to ensure people conformed to its "diversity" and "equality" agendas.

The new Coalition Government is now seeing that the requirements of the act are observed.

Public sector employers are required to "eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation" on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

To this end, organisations employing more than 150 people - that's 27,000 of them, including Government departments, councils, hospitals and schools - will be required to provide information each year, beginning this summer, about their employees.

The information, regarding millions of people in total, will include details of how many come from minority groups and details of salary.

In order to obtain information, staff will be asked to fill in questionnaires stating whether or not they are homosexual, whether or not they are in the process of changing gender, what religion they adhere to, and what disabilities they have.

Although answers are not compulsory, employees will be told they will help prevent bullying and pay gaps.

The resulting data will not be scrutinised by the Government, but by individuals and voluntary bodies of David Cameron's "Big Society."

Guidance by the Equality and Human Rights Commission warns public bodies not to identify individuals by publishing detailed figures on small offices, but says they must do all they can to obtain accurate data on the make-up of their staff, despite fears about intrusion, preferably through "routine monitoring."

All this extra work is required from public sector employers at a time when they are required to make massive savings. What's more, it seems likely the requirement will cause as many problems as it solves.

According to the Daily Mail, the guidance says complying with the requirements of the act "may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law."

Mrs Hazelmary Bull, who with her husband was ordered to pay thousands of pounds to a homosexual couple this week for refusing to allow them to share a double bed in their home, which doubles as a bed and breakfast establishment, said after the case: "I do feel that Christianity is being marginalised in Britain. . . Much is said about equality and diversity, but it seems that some people are more equal than others."

Whatever one's views on the Bulls' case, with so much information about employees to be handed over to who knows who, can Big Brother be far behind?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

'Our little hero'

Sometimes in the reports of national disasters individual stories get overlooked.

Last Monday Donna Rice went shopping with her 13-year-old son Jordan for a new school uniform. He was to start in high school in two weeks' time. Jordan's younger brother, 10-year-old Blake, went along.

As they were driving back to their home in the Australian town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, floodwater met them. Their car stalled, and wouldn't restart. Donna used her mobile phone to telephone triple zero - the number for Australia's emergency services - but the water was rising faster than the emergency services could reach them.

The mother and the two boys climbed on to the roof of the car. A lorry driver with a rope tied round him managed to reach the car and attempted to rescue Jordan. Although Jordan could not swim and was terrified of water, he insisted the man rescue his younger brother and his mother first.

The man got Blake to safety. Donna and Jordan were holding on to a rope, but before the man could get back, the rope broke and they floated away.

The two managed to catch hold of a tree until Jordan could hold on no longer. When he let go, his mother let go to try to save him. Both were swept away to their deaths.

Said Jordan's father, John Tyson: "Jordan can't swim and is terrified of water. But when the man went to rescue him, he said 'Save my brother first.' I can only imagine what was going on inside to give up his life to save his brother, even though he was petrified of water. He is our little hero."

Jordan's older brother Kyle said Jordan was really shy with people outside the family and wouldn't say a word to them - "but when it came to the rest of his family, well, he'd do anything for them."

That evening, Donna was due to make a birthday meal for the children's father.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Political correctness strikes again

I wrote here 10 days ago that just a little bit of sanity is returning to our politically correct society. The smug, self-satisfied practitioners of political correctness have not finished yet, however.

Margaret Forrester is a mental health worker employed by the NHS in London. She had an informal conversation with colleagues in the office - not with a patient, notice, but with colleagues in the office - about abortion. She gave a colleague a booklet describing the problems some women had had after abortion.

It referred to women who had experienced post-abortion syndrome, including depression, relationship issues and suicidal feelings, as well as fertility problems.

Miss Forrester was concerned, she said, that women contemplating abortion were not given enough information about the risks involved.

A few days later her manager told her she was being sent home on special leave with full pay. She was ordered not to see any patients and to stay away from any NHS site while an investigation was carried out. She was then told to return to work, but not allowed to do her normal job.

She was called before an internal disciplinary committee accused of "distributing materials some people may find offensive." As far as I am able to ascertain, the decision of the committee has not yet been announced.

"I felt physically sickened by their bullying," she said. She was eventually signed off sick and has not since returned to work.

There is something I would like Miss Forrester to know. I feel sickened, too.

There is something else I would like her to know. She has my full support. Not only that: she should have the full support of every right-thinking person in the country.

I think she is being persecuted for daring to question the accepted abortion culture. If the booklet had said what a wonderful thing it was to have the abortion service we have in the UK, would she have been persecuted? I think not.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More troubles ahead

We live in a dangerous world.

There is the constant threat of Islamic terrorism in the West. The present stand-off between North and South Korea could lead to a major war. Pakistan's government is in danger: its failure could give radical Islam access to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Hezbollah has 40,000 missiles lined up against Israel. Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.

Just a short time ago, the greatest threat to Israel was from Iran, who had threatened to wipe Israel off the map and was just a short time away from acquiring nuclear weapons. No one outside Israel appeared able or willing to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, which meant Israel would need to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities to ensure Israel's continued survival, with the possibility of terrible retaliation.

But then there were rumours of mysterious explosions at an Iranian nuclear facility. There was the assassination of a leading Iranian nuclear scientist and the near assassination of another. A powerful computer virus named Stuxnet infected more than 30,000 Iranian computers and brought the Iranians' enrichment of uranium almost to a standstill.

Meir Dagan, who has just retired as head of Mossad, Israel's external intelligence agency, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that a series of events had put Iran's nuclear weapons programme back by several years. He did not think that Iran would now have a nuclear bomb before 2015 - and Israel has still not had to bomb Iran.

But the net around Israel is tightening. The Palestinians are now talking about declaring a sovereign, Jew-free Palestinian state in the summer of 2011 without Israel's agreement.

Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Turkey have spoken of their intention of recognising such a state. French and Spanish foreign ministers are talking about recognition, and are urging the European Union to recognise such a state also.

Caroline Glick, of the Jerusalem Post, says a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Jerusalem would leave Israel without defensible borders. Since no Palestinian leadership will accept Israel's right to exist, this would invite a war that Israel would be hard-pressed to survive.

"The 'two-state solution' policy paradigm is delusional," she says. "It is not a policy paradigm. It is a fantasy. A debate about the two-state solution is not a policy debate, but a debate about the attractiveness of a pipe dream."

Meanwhile, the Israeli armed forces have announced the formation of a military battalion to deal with a non-conventional attack. The unit has been trained to respond to a potential nuclear, biological or chemical missile assault.

Bible believers need to be concerned about what is happening to Israel. For a variety of reasons, what affects Israel affects us all.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee" (Psa 122:6).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Parents, prepare to be horrified

The last Labour Government fought hard to have sex education in schools made compulsory by law for children from five years old and upwards. Eventually the proposed legislation was ditched because there was insufficient time to pass it into law before the General Election.

There are still people fighting hard to have sex education in schools made compulsory for children from five years old. (Sex education in primary schools is currently at the discretion of school governors and the head teacher.)

The Christian Institute has published a booklet called Too much, too young: Exposing primary school sex education materials. On the booklet's front cover it says "WARNING: This booklet contains explicit material not suitable for children." Quite right too.

The booklet shows extracts from publications - including explicit descriptions and graphic illustrations of sexual intercourse - already approved by some local authorities for use with young primary school children.

Some parents might conclude people producing such material for little ones do not do so out of a real concern for young children, but rather out of a desire to destroy marriage and family and educate children to be sexually promiscuous.

There is a place for sex education. But this sort of stuff used in classes for children of five and upwards is not it.

Some parents are blissfully unaware of what is taught, or likely to be taught to their children in school.

If you have children, ask about their school's sex education policy. Ask to see materials that will be used. Ask who will present the material. If you have concerns, talk with the children's head teacher or some of the school governors. If you are not satisfied, contact a local councillor or your MP.

For further information, contact the Christian Institute. Details are on their website at

There is a big difference between sex education in schools and the legalisation of assisted suicide - but the same principle applies. If you're not aware of what's happening, legislation could be pushed past you which would appal you if you knew what it involved.

Lord Falconer's Commission on Assisted Dying is already taking evidence from interested parties. It sounds an imposing body. In fact, it was the idea of Dignity in Dying - formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society - who also helped set it up.

Lord Falconer has battled to have the law on assisted suicide relaxed. He appears to have chosen the 12 members of the commission. Nine of them are in favour of legalising assisted suicide; the other three are not known to have opposed it.

Of 11 people or organisations invited to give evidence to the commission, six have declined - presumably because they don't want to give the commission credibility.

Anyone hearing of the commission might assume it was an officially established body whose recommendations ought to be given serious consideration.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A step in the right direction

Just a little bit of sanity is returning to our politically correct society.

Anthony Rollins, a Christian street preacher who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, quoted from a Bible verse on the subject of homosexuality while preaching in Birmingham city centre.

He was arrested by police, handcuffed, held in a police cell and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The charge was later dropped. A complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about his treatment was rejected.

When he sued the police at Birmingham County Court, his complaints of wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment, assault and battery and infringements of his human rights were upheld. He was awarded £4,250 damages.

Dale Mcalpine, who preaches in the shopping precinct at Workington in Cumbria - I wrote about him here and here - didn't mention homosexuality while preaching, but said in conversation that the Bible says homosexual behaviour is a sin.

He was arrested, placed in a police cell for seven hours and charged under the Public Order Act. The case was later dropped.

Mr Mcalpine sued the police for wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and breach of his human rights. He was awarded £7,000 damages. Police were ordered to pay costs.

Section 5 of the Public Order Act criminalises "threatening, abusive or insulting" words or behaviour which are likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress." There is now a move afoot to have Parliament remove the word "insulting" from the act.

"We may have gone too far when the act was introduced," said one MP.

A survey of 1,000 adults sponsored by Christian Concern showed that

* 87 per cent felt it was wrong for healthcare workers to be punished for offering to pray for a patient;

* 72 per cent felt Christians should be free to follow their conscience at work without fear of disciplinary action;

* 73 per cent believed the right to wear a Christian symbol in the workplace should be protected by law.

The way courts have interpreted the law on these issues in recent times has hardly been in line with public opinion.