Personalized Salvation


The Summer of 1944

I remember that summer as if it were yesterday! I was invited to spend those months, between Grade 5 and 6, with my grandmother Alma Laura Gibbons Dolphin ("Amo")--in Emmett, Idaho. First thing I noticed was the placard in her front window, like the one above. She told me three of her sons were serving in the military. My dad, son number three, would be drafted into the war effort three years later. It was only years later that I learned how costly World War 2 was and how precarious!

A great mystery about Amo went unsolved for many years until my sister Susanne did a detailed study of our family tree. Susanne even found an old photograph of a tall, stately man, aged 55, John Edward Dolphin--holding me in his arms, in the summer of 1932. A newspaper clipping described his death that fall. Turns out he was a heavy drinker and drowned after driving his truck off the road into Black Canyon Dam. His death was scandalous, my grandmother got a job as a school teacher and raised those boys on her tiny income. Never once did he bring up her late husband's name, though I met others from his side of the family. Amo had come to know Jesus along the way. Her fundie Baptist religion was ridiculed by both Susanne and I, but Amo was indefatigable and undeterred. (My niece, Leslie Newby Gustafson, recently recovered the old records about all this!) Years later, when I was 30, I came to know the same Jesus my grandmother had lived for all those years. I told lots of people about the danger of having a praying grandmother. They are very dangerous! No one else in my family ever openly talked about knowing God so clearly. See: My Search.

My dad had been a very successful coach at Shoshone, Idaho in 1938 and 39, but most all of those young men he coached would be drafted in '42. Many would never come home.

Gradually I began to see how terrible war is! Our youngest and best men give their lives to preserve the future for the next generation. I have heard that their are no atheists in foxholes, God knows how many servicemen called out to God in prayer and came to know Him. Many subsequently died on some foreign soil for us kids, for our parents, for the freedom our nation stood for back then. We are not the good, moral people we think we are, nor are we that "one nation under God" any longer. But "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever would believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life...

Jesus has been called the Hound of Heaven for good reason! You may not be looking for Him; you may even think you know Him when you don't. He is the moral governor of all men. He is in charge of the entire universe and even now is about to return and fix everything. Yet God "wants no one to perish." We can have as much grace and mercy as we each need to be made whole. "Behold now is the acceptable time; now is the Day of Salvation."

The compassion of Jesus and His fine tuning of things came home to me in a very fine article this week by Greg Morse of Desiringgod.com.

The Contagion of Cowardice

As the ancient Israeli soldier gazes across the field of battle, he sees a sea of chariots and horses and soldiers far outnumbering his own. His hands tremble. His mouth dries. His breathing shortens. The gentle burn washes over him: fear. He struggles in vain to combat the thought, Will today be my last?

Since a child he has read, “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 20:1. Now, in war, God didn’t feel as near as the soldier imagined as a child. Visions of glory are giving way to heat and stench and hoards growing fiercer under a blinding sun. He blinks back lightheadedness.

The enemy’s taunts grow louder as the cobra smiles at the mouse. Secret doubts begin to unman him. Even if the battle is ours, he reconsiders, the promise doesn’t ensure that I will live to share its victory.

A distant figure approaches. The men gather. The priest of God speaks to the soldiers, 

Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. (Deuteronomy 20:3–4)
To his dismay, this word does not shake his mounting suspicions of dying a horrible death. What if God does not show up and fight with Israel?

Next, an officer’s voice barks,

Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. (Deuteronomy 20:5)
He has no new house to dedicate.

The officer continues, 

And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. (Deuteronomy 20:6)
Never did our soldier envy those with new vineyards like now.
And is there any man who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her. (Deuteronomy 20:7)
He had been married for years. 

Three groups of men turn from battle — he remains — with less horses, and less chariots, and less fellow soldiers than before. What little courage remained rides off with them. 

His heartbeat drums in his ears, nearly drowning out the officer’s last word:

Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own. (Deuteronomy 20:8)
He hates himself for sighing. His heart calms, his legs regain feeling. As his breathing settles and the army fades behind his back, he comforts his questioning conscience, At least I’ll live to see tomorrow.

Seeing Tomorrow

The real-life scene illustrates cowardice in ancient Israel that still plagues professing Christian men today — a fear that keeps them from mission and manly conviction. Soldiers today turn away from battle before Philistines who won’t slash throats as much as gossip about them. For centuries, many have feared the flaming stake and hungry lion; today, we fear the shaking head and disinvitation to the friend group. 

Why be too salty in a bland world, they reason, shine too brightly in this cave full of bats? Why go forth and risk the awkward silence, the chill of disapproval, the loss of this world and all its comforts? Rubber bullets suffice on their sins, and they see no need to cause a disturbance. These too say under their breath — albeit it, metaphorically — “At least I’ll live to see tomorrow.”

I believe that this scene of Israelite warfare and the exemptions God provides has something to teach us about God, cowardice, and ourselves. 

Exemptions of Grace

First, it is noteworthy that God made special exemptions from military service for four groups of men. The first three pairs go together: Those who have not enjoyed their house, the fruit of their vineyard, or the love of their wife.

These three exceptions prevent the Israelite man from experiencing the covenant curses, which read, “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit” (Deuteronomy 28:30). 

In this, the Israelite was to learn about his gracious General. The God of Israel was no Pharaoh, whipping his soldiers into compliance. He cared for his men. None would go forth to battle who had untasted joys at home. Each exemption spared from the curse and ensured each knew blessing (Isaiah 65:21–22). Israel’s soldiers had households growing with family, friends, and feasting, before the possibility of dying on the battlefield arose. They had something at home to defend.

Men of Melting Hearts

But a fourth provision is given, separate from the other three: one for those of melting hearts. Though God commands over and over to his men, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you to fight for you,” these weaker souls cannot be comforted. Their hearts tremble within; their sweat beads without. They do not yet trust the God of their fathers with so much on the line. They consent to a release of duty, turn their backs on their brothers, and ride away to soft beds and supple securities. 

In Israel’s history, such men went home by the thousands. When Gideon approached his army with a similar proposition — “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead” — we read, “Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained” (Judges 7:3). For every man that stood fast, two of his intimidated brothers turned and hurried home. 

God Fights One-Handed

What can we learn from this surprising provision to the cowardly? 

First, we learn what Moses previously said, “The Lord (Yahweh) is a man of war; the Lord (Yahweh) is his name” (Exodus 15:3). The supreme Man of War needs no help from men. Moses saw God singlehandedly bring the world’s greatest power to its knees without one human warrior. Other armies and other gods fed men to war — searching the highways and byways for any able-bodied man, setting soldiers behind the army to kill deserters — our God needs no big army or many chariots or terrified soldiers to conquer his foes. Our God puts himself at disadvantage but is never at disadvantage.

“Our God puts himself at disadvantage but is never at disadvantage.”
And he does so to humble his people. The Lord dismisses 22,000, reasoning to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’” (Judges 7:2). He ties one arm behind his back, so to speak, and topples gods and nations to prove, “Yahweh your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4). The weakness of our God, ever since the beginning, is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Contagion of Cowardice

Second, though, we see that cowardice is a sickness that calls for quarantine. 

Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own. (Deuteronomy 20:8)
Warfare in ancient Israel was a contest of faith. A man before the swarming foe quickly discovers what he truly believes. Are the unseen promises, and presence, of his God real? Before a massive army, the soldier meant something different when he called texts “life-verses.”
“A man before the swarming foe quickly discovers what he truly believes.”
These men heard God speak through his priest: “Let not your heart faint. Be not afraid. Tremble not nor succumb to terror. Yahweh himself goes out with you. He fights with you. He will save you.” 

But this does too little for the unbelieving man. He does not trust that his King is with him. And notice: his unwarlike spirit disheartens his brothers. His cowardice is contagious. His questions make others question. His hesitations cause more to hesitate. His timidity rusts blades beside him. His long journey home is better for the army as the leper dwelling outside the camp spared the rest. Israel’s forces were stronger without panicked soldiers.

Word to Collapsing Hearts

So how shall we profit from this word to ancient Israel? 

A word to those men with melting hearts today (and a reminder to our own hearts in the process): To those who would swallow their tongues, who blush for God and his gospel, who have no stomach for conflict — whether in confronting untruth or killing their own sin, who hold no faith that God can yet bring about the unlikely victory, to those who count their lives more dear than their King’s cause, who prize this world above the next, who roar behind avatars and whimper in person, who mumble at Christ’s promises and who are ready to fight when society is on their side but shrink when devils and Philistines draw swords against their Master — to you it might be said, sheath your sword and go home. 

God Almighty does not need your half-hearted, quaking service. He is never at a disadvantage. We wish you to find your valor, your faith in our conquering Captain, and remain among us — it would be your great privilege to do so. We wish to see a lionhearted trust in our God. We would find new strength rising in us to hear you respond as Leonidas’s general did when the countless enemy threatened to shoot enough arrows to block out the sun: “Then we shall have our battle in the shade!”

We wish you would stand firm as God’s men and believe, “Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for Yahweh your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory.” We welcome you, desire your assistance, call you to entrust yourself to a trustworthy Savior and live for him — but if you will not have him decidedly as General, we cannot have you. 

The cowardice of only ten spies soon proved so contagious, as to keep a whole nation from a victory they were “well able” to achieve (Numbers 13:30). You, in their lineage, unwittingly discourage God’s people and dampen his cause. Go home until God gives you a certain heart to venture on in his promises. But do not do so lightly. Buying a new field, purchasing new oxen, marrying a new bride, or being afraid will not discharge anyone from accepting and following Christ (Luke 14:16–24). 

A courageous heart we earnestly pray for you since “cowards” will not finally inherit eternal life. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer,” Jesus charges his army in the vision at Patmos, 

Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

 Fear Not!

‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

 ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

 ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 
 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household."

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:24-39)

The Root Cause of Violence in Society

As for the nature of the human heart Jesus Christ taught:

"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."(Mark 7:21-23)

James, the half-brother of Jesus came to know God after the resurrection of Jesus. He went on to become the pastor of the early Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem. His epistle is probably the earliest letter we have in the New Testament. In Chapter Four, James puts his finger squarely on the reason why violence, fighting and wars are in the world:

What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war (stratos) in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The Greek original is interesting because "wars" (machomai) and "fightings (polemos) in this passage are military terms in the original. They refer to the individual campaigns and skirmishes as well as a war as a totality. "Members" is melos in Greek--from which our English word "melody" is derived! "Passions" (or pleasures), hedone, is the root for our English word "hedonism."

James bluntly states that the pursuit of pleasure, living for self- choosing false gods and the resulting spiritual adultery is what causes our unfulfilled search for pleasure and happiness to turn into hatred, violence and murder! We were made to find our fulfillment living in union with God. When we choose other gods instead, we act contrary to the way the universe was made to function--our idolatry leads to emptiness and despair. It can not be otherwise.

Unfaithful creatures! (Greek: adulteresses, feminine, plural)

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Finally James urges us to turn wholeheartedly to God--for therein in our salvation and the means of repairing and restoring a broken social order. Without God's help we as a people have no defense against the forces of darkness which seek to erupt and destroy us all.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:1-10)

Unprecedented prosperity, low unemployment, and a buoyant optimism characterized the spring of 1999 in America. A vague uneasiness creeps in when the evening news describes the NATO bombings and terrible refugee situation in the Balkans. And then terrible news from Littleton, Colorado breaks in upon us. Two ordinary high school juniors have suddenly decided to end their lives by taking a great number of their fellow students with them into eternity. They have chosen a shooting and bombing spree of horrific proportions as their way of expressing their existential despair. Neither is this an isolated episode, for school violence has made the major head lines 8 or 9 times in the past couple of years.

It is an illusion to suppose that society is improving morally and sociologically. Economic and technological "advances" do not affect the basic character of human beings. Education does not alter the root conditions of the evil latent in all of us. Psychology can not find a cure. Federal funding, determined resolve by Law Enforcement agencies, and lobbying for better security do not touch the problem.

The Bible does have plenty to say about the matter. It is the absence of God from public life that has caused the forces of violence and darkness to rise to the surface and express themselves in these shocking and hideous forms. Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah described ignoring God versus trusting Him as the difference between living under a curse, or enjoying the favor and blessing of God.

Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? "I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."(Jeremiah 17:5-10)

In those times of history where God's people walk in humility, godliness, and integrity with their God, the society in which these believers live enjoys a good measure of "salt" and "light." Jesus called His disciples by these adjectives because the presence of God in their lives (a) acts as a preservative against moral decay in society, and (b) because light and understanding about God through Christ's church is the only way we can understand the way things really are in a moral universe.

The Apostle Paul indicts the human race for its multiple failures in the first three chapters of his letter to the Romans. The Epistle to the Romans is foundational truth about God--it is must reading for all who want to know and understand their Creator.

Paul begins by telling us that the announcement of the good news of God's love for us in Christ carries with it God's power to change the human heart:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."

Paul then reveals that mankind is alienated against God and that we are by nature enemies of God and opposed to Him in the way we live--in our motives, goals in life, and presuppositions about most everything. As a result we live out our days under God's abiding "wrath" (Greek: orge).



Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.
Thou turnest man back to the dust, and sayest, "Turn back, O children of men!"

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
Thou dost sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are consumed by thy anger; by thy wrath we are overwhelmed.
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
For all our days pass away under thy wrath, our years come to an end like a sigh.

The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore;
yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of thy anger, and thy wrath according to the fear of thee?

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on thy servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad as many days as thou hast afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
Let thy work be manifest to thy servants, and thy glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands upon us,
yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.


The horrors of war are quickly forgotten within a few years. In the American Civil War [1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy)], our nation tried to commit suicide sending around a million people out of this life into the hands of God. World War I featured 4 million dead, sending vast numbers of boys (and others) to their eternal destinies, way too early in life. How many all told were cheated out of careers, marriage, siring kids, and the pleasures of life? World War 2 saw over 70 million exterminated.

At any given time, local riots and conflicts, terrorist attacks anywhere, everywhere, break out to our general horror and alarm. The established order of the cosmos is breaking down on every side.

Governments in the world have been put into the world to keep us from slaughtering our neighbors and killing ourselves. Disease, famine, pestilence haunt human history but much more is yet to come down on us. One of the names for the Third Member of the Trinity is "The Restrainer.” Claims that we are basically good, moral, law abiding people are less and less credible as history moves towards the consummation. Do any of deserve to even live another day?

“...when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, Jesus began to say to His disciples first of all, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

“And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:1-12)

Peace loving people, especially moms and grandmothers are especially burdened in time of war. When I visited my grandmother in Emmett, Idaho in 1944, many homes there featured small flags in their front windows with a star for each father of son away fighting for our nation.

On a different plane, leaders at every level of government, from local to national, strive to hold together the fragile fabric of society against internal surges of violence, murder, rape, pillage, plundering. Threats from without, from within, and even from outer space are constant worries for all reputable national leaders.

A thin veneer of law and order has been keeping our nation from self immolation for many decades now. This has been all the grace of God holding back the evil and violence in every heart. If God were to let go, our horrific end would soon follow. God can’t and won’t allow that to happen. He loves us too much. But He must step in else we’ll blow ourselves to kingdom come within a few more years.

At the same time, our Creator is holy and just in His nature. He ought to wipe us all out, clean up the mess we’ve made, and start all over again. Not so! He loves us too much to allow us to self destruct or to completely ruin His once beautiful universe.

Seeing our total depravity way before it actually began to happen, early on, the three Persons of the godhead counseled together about the inevitable consequences of creating us with large amounts of free will (modeled after the dynamics and fellowship of the three Persons). God the Son agreed to be born into the world as a man, one of us, to bear the judgment due everyone! Jesus is that man, the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 5:6, 13:8).

The central point of all of history from heaven’s vantage point is the life of Jesus lived out among us (from about 6 BC to 30 AD), by this one Jew whose genealogy dates back to the first human parents.

The solution to all human (and angelic evil) is an accomplished done-deal as far as God is concerned. Wait and see what’s coming down, if you dare.

“...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

The population of the world now numbers nearly 7.7 billion persons, increasing exponentially. Perhaps 10-30% know Jesus or are on their way to knowing Him. These have been reconciled to God or soon will be!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7-8)

When Jesus had finished His various job assignments from His Father, down here on our planet, He reported back to headquarters. There He was assigned to take over the government of the universe alongside the Father’s Throne.

Today Jesus sits as Commander and Chief of the vast armies of God poised for an open invasion.

A Quote from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

"God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else--something it never entered your head to conceive--comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it."


Isaiah 34

Come near, you nations, to hear;
And heed, you people!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,
The world and all things that come forth from it.

For the indignation of the Lord is against all nations,
And His fury against all their armies;
He has utterly destroyed them,
He has given them over to the slaughter.
Also their slain shall be thrown out;
Their stench shall rise from their corpses,
And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved,
And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll;
All their host shall fall down
As the leaf falls from the vine,
And as fruit falling from a fig tree.

“For My sword shall be bathed in heaven;
Indeed it shall come down on Edom,
And on the people of My curse, for judgment.
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood,
It is made overflowing with fatness,
With the blood of lambs and goats,
With the fat of the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

The wild oxen shall come down with them,
And the young bulls with the mighty bulls;
Their land shall be soaked with blood,
And their dust saturated with fatness.”
For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance,
The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.

It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it,
Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
And He shall stretch out over it
The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness.
They shall call its nobles to the kingdom,
But none shall be there, and all its princes shall be nothing.

And thorns shall come up in its palaces,
Nettles and brambles in its fortresses;
It shall be a habitation of jackals,
A courtyard for ostriches.
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals,
And the wild goat shall bleat to its companion;
Also the night creature shall rest there,
And find for herself a place of rest.

There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs
And hatch, and gather them under her shadow;
There also shall the hawks be gathered,
Every one with her mate.
“Search from the book of the Lord, and read:
Not one of these shall fail;
Not one shall lack her mate.
For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them.
He has cast the lot for them,
And His hand has divided it among them with a measuring line.
They shall possess it forever;
From generation to generation they shall dwell in it.”

God IS love

The highest form of love is sacrificial love and that is to be seen in God’s stated love for all mankind.

“...If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
(John 3:12-21)

God’s next major move in history will the removal from the earth of all those who now Jesus or will know Him soon. Jesus and His Bride will not leave for a holiday on some distant tropical sea short. Jesus will come and remain here with us, but behind the scenes.

God loves everyone, sinners and saints. He wishes none to perish. By removing His “salt and light” from society, Jesus will then express His Person through the entire earth through trained Jewish evangelists drawing millions into an eternal relationship with Jesus.

There is a vast amount of information in the Bible about the end of the present age. No one part of the Bible tells all.

Start by knowing Jesus existentially. He is personal, relational, intimate. Nothing is hidden from Him. Jesus oversees the management of every one on earth one living or dead. Surrender everything you know about, especially yourself, to Jesus. He will take over and lead you into a grand new life where He will prove sufficient for all your needs, hopes, desires. It is not enough to simply experience God, like an incomplete guru or a hippie.

"And this is eternal life: that men my know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John17:3)

We each must learn all we can about the Person of God. He is a rational Person.

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:11-13)

Final Call: the Grand Invitation

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. And 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. (Revelation 22:16-17)

It is when we grant Jesus Christ permission to take over as Lord of our lives that this divine wrath which "rests on us" is removed:

Entire societies degenerate over time--it is unusual in history for a nation or a dynasty to survey more than a few hundred years. No nation, no government--save the case of Israel (see "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done")--has ever been founded on a direct covenant with God. Yet our nation was founded at a time when the godly remnant of the pioneers and colonists was much stronger than it is now. Our nation today has a very large professing Christian population--but the "remnant" (i.e., the embedded minority of true believers), is small and weak.

Extra Credit

 
The "I am god" Problem

The Root Cause of War

Ten Propositions Concerning War--Ray C. Stedman

World War Two

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. In a total war directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the only two uses of nuclear weapons in war. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in human history; it resulted in 70 to 85 million fatalities, a majority being civilians. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), starvation, massacres, and disease. In the wake of the Axis defeat, Germany and Japan were occupied, and war crimes tribunals were conducted against German and Japanese leaders.

World War II is generally considered to have begun on 1 September 1939, when Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. The United Kingdom and France subsequently declared war on Germany on 3 September. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the \Soviet Union had partitioned Poland and marked out their "spheres of influence" across Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan(along with other countries later on). Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid-1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire, with war in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz of the UK, and the Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, Germany led the European Axis powers in an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the Eastern Front, the largest land theatre of war in history.

Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with the Republic of China by 1937. In December 1941, Japan attacked American and British territories with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific, including an attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor which resulted in the United States declaring war against Japan. Therefore the European Axis powers declared war on the United States in solidarity. Japan soon captured much of the western Pacific, but its advances were halted in 1942 after losing the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943—including a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland, and Allied offensives in the Pacific—cost the Axis powers their initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned towards Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945, Japan suffered reversals in mainland Asia, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with the liberation of German-occupied territories, and the invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the fall of Berlin to Soviet troops, Hitler's suicide and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender on its terms, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and Nagasaki, on 9 August. Faced with an imminent invasion of the Japanese archipelago, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, and the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August, then signed the surrender document on 2 September 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts, great powers-—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century-long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political and economic integration, especially in Europe, began as an effort to forestall future hostilities, end pre-war enmities and forge a sense of common identity. (Wikipedia)

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February 23, 2022