Smoke and Mirrors

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The Signs of the Times

When the Corona-virus first broke out, I kept hearing in my spirit the phrase, “Smoke and Mirrors.”   Not being given anything else to go on, though, all I could do was wait for further instructions.  Then, when George Floyd was killed and all of the riots broke out, I heard “Smoke and Mirrors” once more—again, without being given any additional information or instruction.

Afterward, while observing the fallout from these events, I was amazed by the clear dividing line that was being drawn—not among the unbelievers but among those whom I considered to be committed and mature followers of Christ.  I was simultaneously stunned and grieved to see so many of these people being manipulated by the spirits of chaos and anarchy that were so obviously at work in these events.

At this point, I asked the Lord if He wanted me to comment on the situation and, if so, what I was to say.   I didn’t get an answer right away but a few weeks later, I distinctly heard, “Don’t get caught up in the fray, show the way.”  Now that may seem like a rather cryptic word to be given, but when I heard it, I knew immediately that it was the Lord’s way of reminding me to stay focused on the Truth, and not to get caught up in the emotions of these events and go off half-cocked, chasing rabbits.

This, then, begs the question of just what the Truth is that we should be focusing on right now?  Well, in keeping with the words I had received earlier, it is that both the pandemic and the racial upheavals are really “Smoke and Mirrors”—that is, they are…

…something that distorts or blurs facts, figures, etc.; like a magic or conjuring trick; an artful deception.[1]

Pay Attention–Don’t Let Him Distract You

They are the sleight-of-hand maneuvers of the devil, designed to shift our attention from one thing onto another; a short-term shift giving him the time and space to achieve his long-term goals undetected and unhindered.  He has been using this classic diversionary tactic, so essential to the success of both the magician and the military strategist, to keep us confined and cowering in fear because of the pandemic, and so emotionally wrought up and divided because of the riots and violence that we can’t see what’s really going on, much less come together to deal with it.

We need to remember that the devil is not concerned with the unbelievers in all of this, because he already has them in his pocket; but, it is the true followers of Christ that he hopes to divide and conquer through these events.  That’s because they make up the bulk of Donald Trump’s support base, and it is he and the other conservative candidates that the devil wants to defeat in the upcoming elections.  Why?  Because the outcome of these races will directly impact the long-term agenda for the establishment of his kingdom here on earth.  Before we can really understand why they are so critical to that agenda, we must first have an adequate understanding of the devil’s long-term goal and the warfare that it has engendered.

Before getting into that, though, I think it is important for me to emphasize here that I am called to teach the Truth of God, as contained in His Word, the Bible—and not to publicly endorse or promote one candidate or party over another.  However, when God’s Truth and His Kingdom Purposes and Politics collide, it is imperative that I speak to the Church regarding these issues–as that is all part of it what it means for me to “…show the way.”

Satan’s Kingdom Agenda

Although Satan (aka Lucifer and the devil) was created as one of the highest ranking angels, when he became vain because of his beauty and power-hungry because of his position, he rebelled against God’s authority and attempted to usurp that authority for himself.

His original plan—his Plan A—called for him to overthrow God and take over His Throne in Heaven; this in spite of the fact that God was and still is All-Powerful, and his own power was severely limited in comparison.  When this coup failed, he was then forced to come up with a Plan B, one which called for him to set up his kingdom on the earth instead.  This presented him with another problem, though, because God had already given the earth to Man to rule over, so what was he to do about that?

For Satan to achieve his Plan B and realize his goal, he devised a strategy which would allow him to gain control of the earth by taking captive God’s representatives and intended family through deception and lies.  When this proved successful, the authority[2] to rule over the earth which had once been delegated to them, became his.  Since then, armed with this authority, he has been working tirelessly and ruthlessly throughout history and in every realm of human existence to establish his kingdom, all the while doing his best to eradicate the knowledge of God and the Truth, and replacing God with himself and the Truth with a lie.

Satan’s first real drive to consolidate political power began at the Tower of Babel where he nearly succeeded in establishing the first world government on the plains of Shinar.  Although God’s dispersion of the people into different ethnic groups made Satan’s attempts at consolidation more difficult, it certainly didn’t deter him from the quest.  Not only was the first organized False Religion that began there scattered abroad along with the people, but from that time until now, in every tribe and nation, he has been at work, seeking to ensure that the godless rise to power and control all the wealth and resources, while the masses under them remain in bondage and in poverty.  Gradually, as those with the most ambition and might launched out and conquered more territory, empires developed—empires which have been and are currently being ruled by the devil and his demons.

We are living in one of those empires now—an Americanized version of the old Roman Empire; however, we are very quickly being moved toward what is referred to in the Bible as the Revived Roman Empire—but, in secular terms, is the Globalization of Government, Banking and Business, Education, Media and Entertainment, and Religion known as the New World Order.  This amalgamation of the structures of human life is what Satan has been working toward ever since his failure at the Tower of Babel, as it will be the vehicle through which he, through the persons of the Antichrist and False Prophet, will finally realize his dream (however short-lived as it may be) of being revered and worshiped as god on a world-wide level.

The Bible tells us that in the last days of this age, this New World Order will be a One-World Government ruled by a charismatic but ruthless dictator.  According to Daniel 7: 7, 23-24, this government will be comprised of Ten Kingdoms which, for the time being, have no kings to rule over them.  It will be supported by a Global Economic System, and united by a One World Religion.  Although the plans for this government have been in the works for millennia, and it has been partially realized in fits and spurts at various times throughout history, its ultimate realization has been all but impossible due to nationalism, ethnic rivalries, and problems attributable to distance and communication.  Until recently, there was just no way to centralize all of the governmental powers, financial institutions, and religious organizations in the world and bring them under the control of one person.  But now, due to all of the improvements in travel and advancements in technology made during the past century, what was formerly just a dream has now become a reality.

Quick to exploit these many innovations, Satan, working through his greedy, globally-minded human puppeteers, has been busy orchestrating the consolidation of the world’s Political and Economic Structures, Cultural Structures, and Religious Structures—national ones which have taken him centuries, if not millennia, to construct.  Mind you, he has not been dismantling them, just merging them into a single Global Unit, so that…

  • Through its universal Political and Economic Systems, he can control what human beings do and where they can go;
  • Through its multifaceted Cultural System, he can control what human beings think and how they feel about themselves, the family, and the world around them; and,
  • Through its counterfeit Religious System, he can control what human beings believe and what or whom they worship.

Controlling the Masses through Political Power

Controlling the Masses through Economics

Satan’s Political and Economic Advances…

— Through the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913, he has gained control of the money supply, ensuring that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer—and, that his future front-men will be able to enforce his worship through their control of the economy;

— Through the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in 1921, whose stated purpose is…

…to advocate the ‘building [of] a new international order [which] may be responsible to world aspirations for peace [and] for social and economic change…[3]

…he has taken over the Department of State, and filled the most important and powerful positions in the government with its members.  These constitute the deep state, whose job it is to ensure that the President adheres to the Globalist Agenda.  Additionally, through the Council on Foreign Relations, he has spawned a number of spin-off groups, such as the Bilderbergers, the Club of Rome, and the Trilateral Commission—charging each with carrying out a specific task within the broader mission of establishing the New World Order;[4]

— Through the creation of the United Nations in 1945, he has provided the nations of the world with a model global government as a means of conditioning them to accept the real one when it materializes;

— Through the establishment of the Bilderberger Group in 1954a super-secretive group of some of the world’s most powerful people—he has been working…

… to submit the sovereignty of the free nations of Europe to a Bilderberger-controlled British-American One World Government, using a nuclear threat as a battering ram against the rest of the unwilling world.”[5]

[When the Cold War came to an end, their weapon of choice became Global Warming.]

The Bilderberger’s have also been his go-to group for the vetting of potential candidates for the highest offices in the land.  They interview the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, to see who can best advance their agenda over the next four years.  Then, once one is decided upon, they will see to it that he is fully funded by the globalist-owned financial institutions and promoted at every opportunity by the globalist-owned media.

— Through the establishment of the Club of Rome in 1968a group charged with the task of overseeing the regionalization and economic unification of the entire world—he has already divided the world into ten political/economic regions, which the group refers to as Kingdoms.  These “kingdoms” sound very much like those prophesied by Daniel, and have been arranged by the Club in the following order…

  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. Japan
  4. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
  5. Russia and the Slavic Nations
  6. South and Central America
  7. North Africa and the Middle East
  8. Central Africa
  9. Southeast Asia and India
  10. China[6]

The Ten Kingdoms of the Coming World Government

In its push toward the economic unification of these kingdoms, the Club has been at work over the past several decades, bankrupting the individual nations’ economies and then taking them over in order to absorb them into its universal system.

— Through the establishment of the Trilateral Commission in 1973—he has fostered an economic interdependence among the top three of these “kingdoms”—North America, Western Europe, and Japan—for the purpose of assisting its sister organizations in their regionalization efforts and in their promotion of a world government.[7]

Satan’s Cultural Advances…

Since Satan is (and always has been) incapable of creating living beings over which he could rule, his only option has been to take those created by God for His glory and then, through the systematic eradication of the Divine Image within them, as well as their knowledge of the Divine Plan for them, remold them in his own distorted image and in accordance with his own devilish plans.  To accomplish this, he has become a master manipulator of every form of Media--Art, Music, Theatre, Films, Television, Books, Magazines, Newspapers, and Social Media—as well as the curriculum at every level of Education, from Preschool through Post Graduate Work, slowly and insidiously redefining, in the minds of men, what it means to be a human living on planet Earth.

Controlling How the Masses Think through Education

— Through his control of the Educational Structure, he has succeeded in changing the way Man thinks about himself and the world around him by replacing the previously-accepted Biblical Worldview with one promoting Evolution in place of Creationism.  His strategy for this, like that used with Adam and Eve, has been simple yet highly effective—just Discredit the Word of God and then Replace the Truth with a Lie.  This, he has accomplished, using the three-pronged approach of…

Promoting an Alternative Worldview—by offering Evolution to the intellectual community as an appealing alternative to the Biblical Worldview.  Through its near-universal acceptance, Satan has succeeded in changing Man’s perception of himself from being a Unique Creation made in the Image of God to being just the most highly-evolved animal produced to date from a long line of genetic mutations.  This means that Man is no longer accountable to a higher power, there are no absolutes that he needs to concern himself with, and there is no such thing as sin.

Compromising Biblical Scholarship—by infiltrating seminaries with the New Worldview, he has managed to undermine the credibility of the Word of God and the integrity of the ministers who proclaim it.  With the seminaries no longer producing ministers who believed the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, he could change the Church’s message of Salvation through the cleansing of the blood of Christ to one promoting the betterment of the individual and the improvement of society.  And, since Man no longer considered himself to be a sinner, all that he would need in life would be an education and the inspiration to become his best self.[8]

Corrupting the Public School Curriculum—by infiltrating the Teacher Training Schools, then the Public Education System, Satan has succeeded in changing the curriculum to promote the Alternative Worldview.  Through this revision (spearheaded by atheist John Dewey, the “father of progressive education), patriotism has been replaced by globalism, traditional values such as parental authority and faith in God have been undermined, and the high academic and moral standards previously required have given way to such things as socialization, values clarification, and sensitivity training.[9]

Controlling What the Masses Want and How They Feel through Media

— Through his control of the Media (he’s not called the Prince of the Power of the Air for nothing), Satan has gradually been replacing Man’s God-given Image with his own corrupted one. Through Media’s programming of television, music and music videos, movies, the internet and social media, and video games, he has saturated today’s airwaves with Images promoting hedonistic and godless lifestyles.  Through their appeals to the flesh—that is, the baser human instincts—he has  successfully convinced many that what is evil is really good, and what is good is really evil.  Routinely, these Images are being used to promote idolatry and a rejection of God; vulgarity, swearing, and cursing; disrespect for parents and one another; disrespect for authority and for life; drunkenness and substance abuse; lying, cheating, stealing; violence and murder; greed, covetous, and corruption; sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual; and, marital infidelity and divorce.

As if that wasn’t enough, through Media’s profit-seeking promotion of Consumerism and the millions—perhaps even billions—of advertising messages it conveys each day, Satan has managed to entice and keep many in debt up to their eyeballs, relentlessly chasing unattainable images and lifestyles–like gerbils on a wheel; narcotized by mindless “entertainment” while being left ill-informed about what is actually happening in the world; and, so confused about their sexual identity that they are willing to try anything, no matter how outrageous it is, in an attempt to figure out who they are.

Last but not least, through Media’s control of the News Outlets, Satan has been manipulating every election—local, state, and national—for decades.  With every newscast, he has been telling us what we should think and how we should feel about any given issue, what we need to fear, and whom we should vote into office.  In short, he has been reprogramming our minds and emotions, using every form of social interaction to transform the masses into willing, or at least cooperative, “citizens” (slaves) for his New World Order.

Controlling What and Who the Masses Worship through Religion

Satan’s Religious Advances…

Because most people consider Religion to be the means by which we are drawn closer to God, to say that Satan uses it to do just the opposite might seem somewhat incongruous at first.  However, once we have examined the matter more closely, I think it will become evident that the difference between Religion and the Righteousness required by God is as vast as the distance between Heaven and Hell.

Like Sin, Religion had its origins in the Garden of Eden.  There, Man was presented with two Trees—the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—and told that he could eat freely from the one but was forbidden to eat from the other.  What he was really being given was a choice between the Righteousness that leads to Life—the fruit produced by the first tree, and the Religion of human works that leads to Death—the fruit produced by the second tree.  Sadly, he chose Religion.

Sadder still is the fact that what began as just a small seed of unbelief in the hearts of our first parents, very quickly matured into full-blown evil in the heart of their son, Cain.  When his brother Abel’s offering of faith was accepted by God and his own offering of works was rejected, Cain rose up in anger and murdered his brother.  Why?  According to the Apostle John centuries later, it was…

…because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12).

Ever since then, Satan has been pitting the Wicked (those who have chosen the way of Works leading to Death) against the Righteous (those who have chosen the way of Faith leading to Life).  Again and again, he has done this merely by discrediting the Word of God and then replacing the Truth with a LieThe Lie, in this case, being that Man can save himself and become a god on his own terms, through good works, religious rituals, and a belief in his own innate goodness.

It is this last belief that will be the defining characteristic of Satan’s coming kingdom.  As Lewis Sperry Chafer so astutely discerned back in 1919…

…Satan’s ambition was not to become a fiend, but rather to become like the Most High.  Therefore he will strive for all that is moral and good, yet at the same time do all in his power to draw men from their natural reverence of God in order, that, in due time, they may acknowledge him without fear.  The satanic ideal of this age is, then, an improved social order, a moral and cultured people who are devout worshippers of Satan, though for the present they many imagine that they are worshiping Jehovah through their empty religious forms and ceremonies.  Actually, they are in a state of God-dishonoring unbelief, and all their thoughts are energized by Satan alone.  The satanic message for this age will be reformation and self-development, while the message of God is regeneration by the power of the Spirit.

Satan, in his imitation of the Most High, also is working toward a universal kingdom of morality and people upon earth, which will be temporarily realized under the reign of the Beast (Rev. 13).  The difference between Satan’s ideal and the purpose of God, apart from the utter folly of the one and the glorious certainty of the other, is the difference of both method and time.  According to the satanic program, the present order of society, with Satan on the throne, is to be developed into an ideal brotherhood, in which all men will practice what is moral and good.[10]

And, it is this push for a universal brotherhood of man that we see taking place in every major sphere of influence today.

Back to the Present

Although this is a lot to take in, it is essential that we are made aware of it so we can see just how far Satan’s plans for World Domination have progressed in recent years.  We now know that…

  • The Ten Kingdoms over which Satan will soon rule are already in place and ready to go;
  • The World’s Money Supply has been centralized and computerized—and, with so many now shopping and doing business online, he is already exercising virtual control over the World’s Economy;
  • With the World’s Purse Strings safely under his management, he can continue his efforts aimed at dismantling Capitalism—the goal being the elimination of prosperity and the creation of a divided society; one with no middle class—only rulers (the globalists) and servants (everyone else);
  • We have a centralized Educational System, one with a curriculum designed to dumb down our children while indoctrinating them with Marxist/Atheistic philosophy, and with the goal of rewriting our nation’s history;
  • Thanks to this Educational System and to the Media, Satan is well on his way to the creation of one International Identity and one set of Universal Values which—serving as a counterfeit version of the Family of God—will find full expression in the Universal Brotherhood of Man during the reign of the Antichrist;
  • Over the past several decades, the Message of the Church has been watered down and its Mission obscured in an attempt to make the Church more User-Friendly and Relevant to the Unchurched (just another way of packing the pews with more butts!). Instead of the meaty sermons which we were once being fed—those dealing with the life and death issues of Man’s Sinful Nature, his need of Salvation, and God’s Forgiveness and Redemption—we are now being served up little Snacks of Self-Help that are leaving our spirits in a serious state of Spiritual Malnourishment.  This, while the traditional programs for Biblical Education and Discipleship Training have been done away with in favor of more Social Activities, and while the “old fashioned” Evangelistic Outreach Programs have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Clearly, by comparison, God’s Kingdom on Earth—in its current state of weakness and division—has suffered tremendous losses of territory, while Satan’s Kingdom seems to have been expanding its territory at an exponential rate.  In fact, all that seems to be standing in the way of the realization of his kingdom goals are the…

  • Nations and their individual seats of power, which need to be removed and replaced by one centralized system;
  • National militaries, state and local police forces, which need to be done away with and replaced by a universal enforcement agency;
  • Restoration of a strong US Economy, which needs to collapse so it can be taken over by the World Bank; and,
  • Re-awakening, Revitalization, and Reconciliation within the Church; along with her Recommitment to the Great Commission, and the Recruitment and Training of soldiers for Spiritual Warfare.

Satan was well on the way to the accomplishment of the first three of these goals—at least until the 2016 Election and the surprising election of Donald Trump as President of the United States!  As Trump’s goals stand in direct opposition to those of Satan and his globalist henchmen, he was surely the last man they wanted to see come into power.  Moreover, because he was voted into office without any of their financial backing or promotion by their Media, they have had no leverage power over him, as they had with the previous presidents that they put into office.  This goes a long way to explaining why they have done everything in their power to discredit him and his policies, to force him from office, and to keep him from being re-elected for another term.

Trump–The Globalists’ Worst Nightmare

From a personal standpoint, I have never cared for Mr. Trump and, in the past, had considered him to be nothing more than an arrogant, egotistical opportunist.  But then, when he began his run for the Republican nomination for President—and I had lost count of the times he had put his foot in his mouth—I was so perplexed as to how he had managed to stay in the running, when anyone else doing the same things would have been kicked to the curb long before, that I asked the Lord what was going on and this is the answer that He gave me at the time…

I have chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…the base things of the world and the things which are despised I have chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in My presence.  (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

This insight helped me to stop looking at Trump the man and start focusing on what I hoped God was going to do through him—things which I could see were the very ones that Satan and his gang were working so hard to destroy…

  • The sanctity and protection of human life;
  • The restoration and strengthening of our economy;
  • The re-arming and strengthening of our military and law enforcement agencies;
  • The strengthening and protection of our borders;
  • The care of our veterans; and,
  • The restoration and protection of our religious rights.

Once I started assessing the platform upon which he stood, and in spite of my personal misgivings about the man,  I found that I had no reservations about giving Trump my vote.  That’s because, I was not hiring him to become my “Pastor-in Chief,” I was hiring him—as the tough street fighter that he was—to come into an impossible (and potentially dangerous) situation and, like the proverbial “bull in a china shop,” break up what appeared to be our finest (but actually cracked and corrupt) State China, so that it could be replaced with something better and far more in keeping with God’s plans for our nation.  I don’t think anyone with less chutzpah would have been up to the task, and been able to stand up against the powerful, pervasive, well-financed, and unprecedented opposition that he has encountered.

If God had put a more godly man than Trump into office (and that wouldn’t have been hard to do 😊), and he succeeded in implementing the aforementioned changes in our government, we would have been very quick to shower him with the praises which should rightly have gone to God.  If, on the other hand, God chose to use someone like Donald Trump to accomplish His purposes, then we would all have to acknowledge that it was He who had done it and He who was deserving of the glory.

I think the wisdom of God was further evidenced in His choice of Mike Pence as Vice President.  There can be no doubt that he is a godly man—one whom God has raised up out of relative obscurity and placed in the second most important position in our government, in much the same way that He did with Joseph in Egypt.  I shudder to think how much worse Trump’s behavior would have been without the prayers and godly influence of this truly devout man.

This, then, brings us back to question of just what all of this has to do with the events taking place in our country now.  If we look again at the first three of Satan’s unrealized objectives…

  • The elimination of national borders;
  • The dismantling of the military and police forces; and,
  • The bankrupting of the US economy..

…we can see that there is a direct correlation between them and the events taking place recently.  Given what we now know, it should be obvious that…

  • During previous administrations, the devil had been making great strides toward his goal of breaking down borders and erasing national identities by flooding the countries of Western Europe and the United States with refugees and illegal aliens.  As a result of the wars, governmental corruption, collapsed economies, and persecution which he had fomented in their homelands, many lost everything they had and were forced to try and find safety elsewhere–not only creating havoc and culture shock for them and the countries where they sought asylum, but also tremendous financial demands upon the economies of those countries.  Because of Trump’s strong stand on securing our borders, Satan’s efforts in this area have suffered a serious setback.
  • Trump’s support and strengthening of the national military and local and state law enforcement agencies is so counterproductive to Satan’s global aspirations that he has resorted to using the death of George Floyd as a match, thrown into the tinderbox of racial injustice, to create such an inferno of confusion and anarchy that people are actually beginning to think that we need to do away with these agencies.
  • Because the economy had rebounded and become so healthy during Trump’s administration, it was necessary for the devil to do something to cause it to crash again. It didn’t take a lot to make that happen—just the release of a little germ—COVID 19—the fear of which was the only thing needed to bring about the universal shut-down of all businesses and institutions, and an end to life as we had known it.

Pandemic–A Sure Way to Crash the Economy

Throughout all of this, the globalist-controlled Media has been working overtime in an effort to keep everyone stirred up, confused, and in a constant state of uncertainty.  It has been playing upon the emotions of people in order to keep them paralyzed by fear—not only the fear of becoming sick and possibly dying, but also the fear of being thought of as intolerant—intolerance being the cardinal sin in Satan’s One World’s Set of Universal Values.  Operating under this fear, many otherwise rational people have been motivated to join in the demonstrations and some have even gotten sucked into taking part in the violence.

Certainly, racial injustice is a problem that needs to be dealt with but make no mistake about it, Satan isn’t the least bit interested in bringing about healing in this area, nor does he have the power to do it–plus, violence is not the way to bring it about.  That’s because this is a problem requiring Love, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation—which is a God-Thing, and the very business of His Church.  Sadly, Satan has been exploiting the failure of the Church in this area to manufacture the chaos needed to serve his kingdom purposes—the dismantling of the police, the destruction of personal property, the shut-down of the economy, and a division among the people—especially God’s People!  All of these are just Smoke and Mirrors, distractions designed to shift our focus away from the real issues involved.

However, we must not allow this to happen.  We must maintain a clear view of the Big Picture—which is, the real and fierce spiritual warfare now being waged between God and His Kingdom Purposes for the earth, and those of Satan—and not allow these Smoke and Mirrors diversionary tactics of the devil to obscure that view, and bringing more deception and more division to God’s People!

Let’s Remember Who is Behind All of This

Has Satan been successful in this?  Absolutely—at least, so far!  What, then, can possibly prevent—or, at least delay—him from the realization of his long sought-after ambition?  The re-election of Donald Trump, the election to Congress of new Representatives and Senators who do not support Satan’s global agenda–but who are committed to the healing and prosperity of our nation and its economy; and the…

Re-awakening and Revitalization of the Church of Jesus Christ;
Reconciliation within the Church and in Society at large;
Recommitment of the Church to its Commission; and
Recruitment and Training of soldiers for Spiritual Warfare.

In short, the time has come for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to pull up her Big-Girl Breeches and get busy about the business of being the Church—which involves our participation in all of the above.  This is certainly do-able, because we have both the Spirit of God to empower us and the Promise of God that…

…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

All I can say at this point is, no matter where you stand on these issues, buckle up your seat belts–it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

This Will Not Be a Time for the Faint-of-Heart

********************************************************

 

[1] Dictionary.Com unabridged based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020.

[2] Note—Satan did not gain title to the earth because, according the Psalm 24:1, it still belongs to God.  He only obtained the authority or right to rule over the earth—something which Christ won back through His death and resurrection and redelegated to His Church.

[3] Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 1991), 33, 36.

[4] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 36-38.

[5] Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberg Group (Walterville, Oregon: Trine Day Publishers, 2007), 20-21.

[6] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation.

[7] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 45-46.

[8] Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 153.

[9] Tal Brooke, When the World Will Be as One (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), 103-104.

[10] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Methods and Motives (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1919), 67-68.

 

Of Trees and Tapestries

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Tapestry

A Beautiful Example of a Tapestry

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spiritthat they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Try to imagine with me, if you can, what human history might look like to God, as He surveys it from beginning to end.  From the prophetic insight given to us by Isaiah in the passage above, it seems quite likely that God would view it as a forest of trees, one stretching all the way from the Garden of Eden to the coming Paradise in the new Heaven and Earth; trees which, in His eyes, are representative of the countless lives of men and women throughout history who have been made righteous by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  As plantings of God, they have come in every size and shade imaginable, yet all producing the same desired fruit of holiness by which the Lord God, the creator and sustainer of all the earth, will forever be glorified!  What a truly satisfying picture this would be for God to behold; nothing less than a magnificent tapestry depicting His marvelous and ages-long redemption story; an intricately woven work of art designed to surround His throne and to testify of His unfathomable love, grace, and mercy for all eternity.

Weaving on a Loom

At Work on a Loom

Although some may not be all that familiar with tapestries, they have been around for quite a long time, with some known to have been in use as far back as ancient Greece.  Similar in texture to carpets, but hung on walls instead of covering floors, tapestries have served as portable murals for centuries, often gracing the throne rooms of kings as ways of depicting the memorable events or victories that have taken place during their reigns.  Typically, tapestries are woven on vertical looms, or large wooden frames, that hold two sets of threads—the longer set being the stationary, immutable threads running lengthwise which are called the “warp,” with the shorter set being the variable threads running width-wise which are called the “weft.”  The threads making up the warp are held in place under tension by the two sturdy frames at the end of the looms; while the shorter and discontinuous weft (threads) are woven in and out of part or all of the warp to create the design of the tapestry.

With this imagery in mind, let’s try to imagine how such a weaving process might be applied to the story of God’s redemption.  To begin, let’s close our eyes and try to visualize an enormous loom being set into place by God when, “In the beginning…,” He bracketed the timeline for His redemptive story through the placement of two sturdy frames, one marking the beginning and the other marking the ending of human history.  Having already discussed these at great length during several of our previous visits, we should be quite familiar with the two wooden frames by now; for they are the two trees that man was given to choose from in the Garden of Eden.  The tree that was chosen, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, in its choice, became the beginning frame for the tapestry; while the tree that was rejected, the Tree of Life, took its place as the end frame—the frame toward which all of the design work was to be directed.

Given the enormous distance between these two frames and the incredible number of events that the design of this tapestry was meant to depict, we should not be surprised to learn that an additional piece of wood had to be inserted at the midpoint of the loom in order to secure and support the weight of the weaving work which would be taking place upon it.  This plank was a tree, too, and one that we have also already discussed; for it was the Cross on which the Son of God was crucified; the lifeless tree which, throughout time, has served as the embodiment of all of mankind’s dead works and futile attempts at self-salvation.

Now, with the framework for the loom all set up in our minds, let’s begin to visualize the commencement of the weaving process as the first set of threads are placed on the loom.  These are the warp, and for the purposes of this tapestry, they are ten unbreakable cords which have been stretched tautly from, and then securely fastened to, the first side frame, over the middle plank, and on to the other side frame.  White in color and extending out across the ages, these cords are God’s eternally fixed standards of holiness–His unchanging rules for righteous living–known to us as the Ten Commandments; the plumb lines against which the actions of all men have been and will be measured.   It is only fitting that these should be the first threads that are woven into the fabric of redemption because, unlike everything else…

…the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;  the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
…the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
…the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever, the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether (Ps. 19:7-9).

Given the nature of these laws, what better foundation for redemption could have been laid, other than these?

With God’s laws now securely attached to the frames of the loom, the really intricate work on the tapestry can begin to get underway.  What makes this part of the process so tricky is that before the weft—or those short and variegated “loose threads”created by humanity’s failures to measure up to the standards of God’s laws—can be woven over and under that holy warp, they must first be tied to the crimson cord which runs through the entire length of the tapestry’s design.  This cord was introduced into the human story immediately following man’s first violation of God’s command and, as the cord of redeeming faith, it went on to connect every image in the story, from the beginning frame at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all the way to the Cross, and then on to the end frame at the Tree of Life.

Of course, this cord is none other than our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; the One who was promised, the One who came, and the One who will come again—and, the only One capable of salvaging all of the threads left dangling by the sins of mankind and then incorporating them into a beautiful and eternal work of art for all to behold.  And how was He able to do this?  By dying the death that should have been ours, on the tree representing all of our dead works, He was able to remove sin’s curse, and open the way to the Tree of Life once more, to any and all who would believe.

Try to imagine with me, if you can, God looking around His throne room, gazing lovingly upon His glorious tapestry of redemption—the one depicting the millions, perhaps even billions, of oak trees that were made righteous through their faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ; each tree springing up from a seed sown in the earth and then growing toward heaven, and each tree reproducing that one seed many times over through an abundant spiritual harvest, some of which will include…

…the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” produced through the discipline of the Lord (Heb. 12:11);
…the fruit of a life transformed by the Spirit, in which the very character of Christ was reproduced;
…the fruit of many answered prayers;
…the fruit of souls won for the Lord; and,
…the fruit produced whenever fear was overcome by faith, darkness was overcome by the light, and the flesh was overcome by the Spirit.

Try to imagine with me, if you can, the kind of joy a sight such as this would bring to the heart of God.  Given that joy, let me ask you this question…when, at the end of time, God scans His forest of trees, will He find you there?  Will you be a part of His tapestry of redemption—one of His oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified?  If not, can there possibly be a good reason why?

 

God's Trees of Righteousness

God’s Many Trees of Righteousness

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

The Tapestry of Redemption presented in song, by the Tally Trio in “He Saw Me/Jesus Paid it All.”

 

Walking Lightly

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I don’t know about you but the older I get, the darker the world seems to grow.  This may be because the farther along I walk with God, the more discerning of the world and its ways I am becoming.  Or, it could be just another indication that the long-awaited day of Jesus’ return is rapidly approaching.  Certainly, the conditions prevailing in our world today greatly resemble those described by Jesus in Matthew 24:4-8, when He answered His disciples’ request for a sign of His coming by saying…

See that no one leads you astray.  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of birth pains.

If these conditions—the same ones that we are experiencing today—are but the “beginning of birth pains,” what can we expect to follow?  Jesus goes on to address this question in verses 9-14, when He declares…

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Undoubtedly, all of these things are taking place in our day and age, but the truth is that much of what has been described here has also taken place throughout most of human history.  In fact, with the exception of the gospel being proclaimed throughout the whole world, I think that every generation of believers has looked around at the events taking place in their particular era and seen a world growing darker as a result of sin, thinking surely that the end of the world would soon be upon them.

As an example of this, listen to what Jude, the brother of Jesus and James, had to say about the conditions in his world back in the first century AD…

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who were long ago designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…these people…defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones…blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understood instinctively.

While this is a pretty scathing indictment of his own times, Jude goes on to tell us about a time when the same kind of wickedness had saturated another, much earlier, society—and when another godly man arose to address the evils of the world around him then…

It was about these [the people referred to above] that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15).

Wow—such was the world in which Enoch lived!  And when was that?  It was, according to Genesis 5, about halfway between the creation of man and the Flood which took place in Noah’s day.  And what was the reason for the Flood?  It was the judgment upon all of the “ungodly sinners” about whom Enoch had prophesied.  Did Enoch live to see the fulfillment of his prophecy?  No, because, as we are told in Genesis 5:21-24…

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years.  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

In other words, Enoch, after walking with God in the midst of his sin-saturated world, was “raptured” out of that world before the Tribulation of the Flood came upon it.

It was this very time to which Jesus referred when He continued in His reply to the question His disciples had asked in Matthew 24.  Likening it to the time preceding His own return, He said…

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming…you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (vv. 39-39, 42, 44).

And how are we to make ourselves ready?

According to Jude, we…

…must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, ‘In the last time, there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the spirit.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  And have mercy on those who doubt, save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Or, as Jesus put it in Matthew 5: 14 &16…

You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

…which, in our world of rapidly escalating darkness, is just another way of saying that for us to able to find our way through the darkness, we all need to be walking lightly!

Walking Lightly in a Dark World

Abraham:  Called to Wed

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God’s Covenant with Abraham

When we left Abram at the end of Episode #2, he had just returned from the daring and successful rescue of his nephew, Lot, along with the other inhabitants of Sodom and the surrounding cities.  Although, before he could return the captives and the loot taken in the raid, he was met by Melchizedek—the Priest and King of Salem—with whom he shared communion and to whom he gave tithes from the spoils of that war.  As a result of this worshipful encounter, when he was offered the recovered loot by the King of Sodom, Abram was fully prepared to turn it down, choosing instead to maintain his integrity and witness before the pagan king and the peoples of the land.

This temptation turned out to be the third in a series of Tests that Abram has been undergoing.  As we have seen in our study of him, God has progressively been revealing Himself and His plans for Abram and his descendants through a series of revelatory encounters—with each one involving a promise, and each one followed by a period of testing.  This chart summarizes Abram’s progress so far…

Abram’s Report Card

This, then, brings us to Abram’s next revelatory encounter in Genesis 15.  Although he doesn’t know it yet, throughout this process, God has been preparing him to become the Father of Israel, a role we will see him step into here in Episode #3 of his story, as he enters into a marriage covenant with God for his descendants–those who will eventually become the nation of Israel, the Wife of Jehovah.

With the lights now going down now in the theatre and the curtains slowly starting to rise, we hear the voice our off-stage Narrator once again, as he begins setting the stage for us…


Episode #3 of Biopic #1
Cast:     Narrator     God     Abram

Narrator:  Lot has just departed on his merry way to Sodom, leaving Abram shaking his head and wondering whether all his efforts to rescue and restore his backsliding nephew have not been totally in vain.  The king of Sodom has left, rubbing his hands over the recovery of all his goods, at no cost to himself and, no doubt, discussing with the secretary of his treasury what particular form of insanity possessed Abram so that he refused his share of the spoil.  Melchizedek has gone, leaving Abram with only a memory and a new appreciation of God.  Aner and Eschol and Mamre have gone, congratulating one another on their prowess in war and gloating over the rich profits they have reaped.  And Abram is left alone, somewhat depressed and a little fearful perhaps lest his unexpected display of military power might not stir the Canaanites into a league against him.  Moreover, he has probably been listening to the excited chatter of Lot’s children, which reminds him—he has no child of his own.  It is at this point that God, in His love and care, comes to talk with Abram about the building of his family…[1]

NarratorAfter these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying…

God:  Do not be afraid, Abram. I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

Abram:  Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?  Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!

Narrator:  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying…

God:  This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.

Narrator:  Then He brought him outside and said…

God:  Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them….So shall your descendants be.

Narrator:  And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.  Then [God] said to him…

God:  I AM the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.

Abram:  Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?

God:  Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

Narrator:  Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.  And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.  Then God said to Abram…

God:  Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.  But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

Narrator:  And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.  On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying…

God:  To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

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The Critic's HatWith nothing further to add, this Episode comes to a halt, indicating that it is time for us to pull out our Critic’s Caps and begin our Review of it.  As always, we will be approaching this Episode from three levels…

  • The Earthly Level—where we will be looking for any Life Lessons that we can take away from it;
  • The Heavenly Level—where we will be looking for the Contributions it has to make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption; and,
  • The Eternal Level—where we will be looking for the Revelations of God contained in this part of the Story.

So, with these as our goals, let’s begin our Review by first going over…

The Most Important Points in this Episode

1. In our previous episodes, when God “spoke” to someone, it was not made clear just what form that took. But here, the Word of God came to Abram in a vision—making this the first mention of a vision in Scripture.  This kind of appearance is called a Theophany, and is a pre-incarnate vision of Jesus Christ.

2. With this visitation coming closely on the heels of his battle experience, God reassures Abram that he did the right thing in rejecting the spoils, and that whatever happens as a result of his “military offensive,” He would be Abram’s protector and provider.

3. Given that in each of his previous encounters with God, Abram was promised either a nation or descendants, when he meets with God this time, it only seems logical that the first thing he mentions is his lack of children—after all, how can you have descendants if you don’t have any children?

In response, the Lord promises him—for the first time—that his heir will not be his adopted servant but a son born from his own seed.  At this, he is told to count the stars.  Back in Genesis 12:14ff, God told him that He was going to make his descendants as the dust of the earth.  These two promises speak of Abram’s two seeds—his natural and supernatural descendants, with the natural being those who are born of the flesh—the Jews, and the supernatural descendants being those who are born of the Spirit—the Church.

4. The Lord’s self-identification as I AM is used here for the first time. Later, in John 8:56-59, Jesus stated unequivocally that He was the I AM.  In this particular confrontation with the Jewish leaders, when He told them…

…if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death…

…the Jews said to Him…Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’  Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?…

Jesus answered…Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.

Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?

Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.

5. Although Abram had believed God before—enough so that he packed up, left his homeland, and became a wanderer in the Land of Promise—this is the first time that it has been said that his belief has been accounted to him for righteousness. Why do you think that is?  

Unlike all of God’s previous promises to Abram, this is the first mention and direct promise that a son would be born to him, and that this son would also be in the lineage of the Seed promised to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15.  It was his faith in this promised Redeemer that is being counted or credited to him as righteousness.

6. In spite of the fact that we have just been told that Abram believed God, when God promises him the land again, he asks for a signwhy? Does this demonstrate a lack of faith?

No.  Back in Genesis 9:8-17, God gave Noah the Rainbow as a sign or reminder of their Covenant that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood.  So, in asking for a sign, Abram was asking what the tangible reminder of this Covenant would be.   We can regard the sign, then, as the equivalent of God’s signature on this contract.

Abram Prepares and Protects the Sacrifice

7. To this, Abram is told to prepare an offering/a sacrifice. Even though he very quickly obeys, there is a long delay before anything else happens—other than him having to chase away the What do you think these things might mean?

The delay was probably meant to indicate that the fulfillment of this Covenantal Promise would not be immediate; while the Vultures were meant to be a picture of the demonic forces that would be at work until then, trying to keep this Covenant from being fulfilled.  Later, in Luke 8: 5, 12, in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus used a similar analogy to illustrate this practice of the enemy

A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it…

Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

8. After protecting the sacrifice all afternoon, when darkness falls, a deep sleep overtakes Abram and in it, he is shown in dream of the future of his descendants, where they will be afflicted in a foreign land for 400 years. This raises such questions as…

  • After giving the Land to Abram, why would God allow them to be taken out of the Land of Promise?

In later chapters of Genesis (especially chapter 28), we find that the corrupt culture of the Canaanites was beginning to impact the behavior of Jacob and his family.  To protect them from these negative influences—while giving the people of the land plenty of time to repent before bringing judgment upon them—God removed His People from the land and sequestered them in Goshen, the best land in all Egypt.

  • Why would God allow His Covenant People to be subjected to such suffering and affliction?

During the first part of their sojourn in Egypt, as the family of Joseph, the Israelites enjoyed special treatment and were being provided for by Joseph.  Even during the great famine, they were prosperous, not really needing to look to God for anything because their needs were being met by the government.  But, when a ruler came to power after Joseph, they lost their privileged position and were reduced to slavery instead.  It was then that they began to call upon the Lord again.  So, their affliction can be seen in one of two ways—as the means God used to restore His People to faith in and dependence upon Him, and as a picture of the persecution that the World routinely inflicts upon the People of God. 

Abram, on the other hand, was promised that he would live a long life and die in peace.

9. While he is asleep, the Presence of the Lord passes between the sacrificial elements. What do you think is significant about this?

In the Ancient Near East, when a covenant was made, it was ratified by first slaughtering animals and then creating a path between their divided carcasses.  Both parties would walk through these animals, pledging to fulfill the terms of the covenant

By cutting the animals in half during covenant ceremonies, the parties making the covenant were effectively saying, ‘Let this be done to us if we break the terms of this covenant…’

By being the one who passes between, Yahweh places the penalty of violating the covenant on Himself.  He is showing Abram how serious He is about His promises.’ [2]

God Ratifying the Covenant

In Summary…

…we have learned that…

  • For the first time, Abram has had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ—an encounter of faith which has made Abram righteous in the eyes of God;
  • God allays Abrams’ fears about his past actions and assures him of a glorious future with a Son of his own to be his heir;
  • This Son of Promise will be the foundation stone upon which the nation of Israel will be built; and,
  • As a sign of this Promise, God “Cut a Covenant” with Abram in which He swears by oath that He will fulfill every promise He has made concerning Abram and his descendants.

Now, in conclusion, we need to ask ourselves..

1. What Life Lessons can we take away from Abram’s experience in this episode?

  • Everyone, no matter how important or insignificant they may be, must come to God in the same way—that is, through a personal faith encounter with His Son, Jesus Christ;
  • Once they stand righteous before God, He will cover their pasts, and protect and provide for them as they follow Him into the future;
  • God’s tests are not punitive but preparatory. They are designed to grow everyone in faith and in righteousness, and prepare them for their divinely ordained destinies.
  • Like Abram, Believers today are participants in a Covenant with God—a New Covenant, written in the very Blood of Jesus, in which the Spirit of God comes to live within them, writing God’s Laws upon their hearts and teaching them to live like Children of the Most High God.

2. What Contributions does this episode make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption?

This episode marks a pivotal point in God’s One Big Story.  Everything that has gone before has merely been preparation for this event—the cutting of the Covenant between God and Abram.  In reality, this Covenant is a Marriage Contract in which Abram betroths Israel—the Nation that will come from him—to God.

In the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition, which provides the format for the Story of the Bible, the three phases in a Jewish Marriage are…

  • The Negotiation or Arrangement Phase—in which the Bridegroom’s Father, the Bridegroom himself, or his Agent goes to the Father of a Bride and negotiates a marriage contract. If arrangements acceptable to both parties can be arrived at, and if the bride gives her consent, then the Bridegroom and Bride become legally betrothed or engaged.  At this point, the Bridegroom returns to his Father’s house and begins preparing a home for his Bride.
  • The Betrothal Phase—which usually lasts for about a year, is a time during which the Bridegroom is at work building a home and the Bride is busy preparing her wedding garments
  • The Consummation Phase—which includes the actual Marriage, its consummation, and the Wedding Feast that follows, only happens when the Father of the Bridegroom is satisfied with the work of his Son and gives him permission to go and get His Bride.

So, with the Marriage Covenant between God and Abram having been ratified by blood, the Negotiation Phase is now complete and God and Israel have entered into the Betrothal Period.

3. What Revelations of God does this episode give us?

As we have just learned, God is seen here as the Celestial Suitor, the Bridegroom who has just become betrothed to the Nation of Israel.  And, even though she isn’t even a reality in the natural as yet, in the mind and heart of her Beloved, she has been in existence since before the foundation of the world.

Here is a video that will help explain the Love Story behind the One Big Story of the Bible a little better…

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Early on in our study of Abram, we learned that he was called to Wander, Worship, and Witness, and in our last episode, we learned that he was also called to Warfare.  In our next episode—in Chapter 16—we will discover that he has also been called to do one of the hardest things ever—and that is, to Wait!

 

[1] John Phillips, Exploring Genesis (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), 132.

[2] Calvin Park, “Cutting a Covenant,” Bible Study Magazine, September 19, 2017, http://www.biblestudymagazine.com/bible-study-magazine-blog/2017/9/19/cutting-a-covenant

Some images used courtesy of Free Bible Images.

Bible Study 101

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Learn the Basics of Bible Study

For those who may not have been with us from the beginning of our Bible Study Tour, here is a little video explaining our approach to the study of God’s Word.  It’s only 6:23 minutes long, so please take those few minutes to acquaint yourself with these basics of Bible Study.  Be blessed as you listen!

 

Stage #2–At Last!

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Now that we have arrived at Stage #2, the time has come for us to exit the Truth Train and make our way into the theatre, where Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story will soon be getting underway.  As we leave, let’s remember to take with us the Program Guides we were given on the first leg of our journey.  These will prove to be helpful because, while we are watching the smaller stories taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, they will help us keep in mind the larger story that is taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us.

In the event that you have misplaced your guides—or, if you are new to this study tour—here are some extras that you can take with you.

Guide #1

Guide #2

As you can see from Guide #2, in Act 1, Scene 1, God was the Celestial Suitor who, in anticipation of His upcoming betrothal, created the earth as the ideal home for His future wife.  We watched in awe as He, through the 9 Vignettes in Genesis 1-11, created the world full of nations out of nothing, making ready the Earthly Stage for the imminent appearance of His Bride, Israel.

So, now that our stage has been set, where does that put us in our Story?

It is here, at Act 1, Scene 2, in Genesis 12-50, that we will be introduced to the four men most responsible for the creation and development of the nation of Israel. They will be introduced to us through the use of Four Biographical Pictures—or, what we will be calling, the Biopics of the Four Patriarchs.  They are…

Biopic #1—Abraham

The first Patriarch we will be studying is Abraham, known today as the Father of Israel.  He plays such an important role in the story of Israel that, of the fifty chapters in Genesis, fifteen are dedicated to him and his earthly pilgrimage of faith.  By comparison, only eleven chapters of this first book of the Bible were used to cover all the major events of the world from its creation to the dispersion of the people into nations following God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel.

As for when his part in our story takes place, if we calculate the years given in the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 11, when he makes his entrance upon our stage, approximately 1946 years have passed since the Creation, 288 years since the Flood, and—if the division into nations took place during Peleg’s lifetime—anywhere from 27 to 266 years since the episode at the Tower of Babel. As a result of that incident, and God’s confusion of the one universal language there, people have dispersed into different nations, taking with them the false religious beliefs they had adopted at Babel. 

Concerning Shem’s descendants, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, his five sons settled in the areas making up much of today’s Middle East.  There…

  • Elam became the father of the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians (Iran).
  • Ashur became the father of the Assyrians (northern Iraq).
  • Arphaxad became the father of the Arphaxadites, later called the Chaldeans (southern Iraq).
  • Aram became the father of the Aramites, or Syrians, as they were known by the Greeks.
  • Laud became the father the Laudites, later called the Lydians (Turkey).[1]

Given that Abram was a direct descendant of Arphaxad, it should come as no surprise to learn that at some point in his life, he and his family had resided in Ur, a prominent city in the land of the Chaldeans, and a land wholly given over to the worship of idols.  In fact, we are told later in Joshua 24:2 that even Abram’s family had, in the past, been numbered among them…

Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River [Euphrates] in old times; and they served other gods (Joshua 24:2). 

Although you may not remember it, we actually met Abram/Abraham back in Genesis 11:27-36, at the end of Scene #1—where we learned that…

Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot.  And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 

Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah.  But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 

And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.  So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

From this brief introduction, we are told several important things about Abram/Abraham…

  • At this stage in his life, he was still being called by his given name, Abram, a name meaning exalted father–and, a meaning made all the more ironic by the fact that at this point, and for many years to come, he and his wife were childless;
  • He and his family had left their hometown of Ur for reasons which, for now, still remain a mystery to us; and,
  • When he left Ur, Abram’s original destination was Canaan but, also for reasons unknown, his journey there had been put on hold and they were currently living in the city of Haran.

Before delving any deeper into the life of Abraham, though, let’s first take a few moments to discuss why theses things are so important to our Story…

  • As we learned back in More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, being a descendant of Shem meant that Abraham was among those who had been charged with the Stewardship of God’s Revelation to the world; plus, being a descendant of Arphaxad placed him in the generational line leading directly to the Redeemer who had been promised back in the Garden of Eden.
  • As for the exact date of Abraham’s appearance on the earthly stage, we are not sure.  A number of different dates from 1800-2200 BC have been suggested, however, if we do some calculations using other scripture references, we will arrive at a date of 2166 BC.[2]  This was a pivotal time, not only in human history but also in God’s Story of Redemption because…
    • By and large, the other nations of the world were now in place and the peoples were worshiping a host of false gods, rather than the one True God;
    • While the other nations had been formed naturally through their common languages and shared cultures, Israel would soon be created supernaturally in response to the Word and Promise of God, as the nation through whom God’s Son would one day be born into the world, for the purpose of reconciling that world to God;
    • With human government(s) then in place (and because of its corruption at the Tower of Babel), this not only marked the beginning of the nation of Israel but also the beginning of a whole new dispensational period in God’s Redemptive Story—the Dispensation of Promise.  As this chart illustrates, dispensations are merely the periods of administration or stewardship of God’s revelation to Man, taking him from the period of innocence of the Garden to the kingdom rule of Christ in the Millennium.
  • The fact that Abram/Abraham came from a family of idol worshipers is a reminder to us that, in spite of his spiritual heritage and the part he was about to play in God’s Redemptive Plan, he was himself a sinner—and a member of a family of sinners who were comfortable living in a sin-saturated culture.  As such, he had done nothing special to merit God’s favor but, like everyone else who has or who ever will become a member of God’s Family, he was merely the beneficiary of God’s Grace.
  • Being born in Ur of the Chaldees meant that Abraham…
    • …had been accustomed to living in a prosperous industrial, commercial, and agricultural center with a population of about 360,000 people; a great city-state enclosed by a wall 2 1/2 miles around and 77 feet thick, and one dedicated to the worship of the Moon God.
    • …was most likely a member of an upper class family living in a spacious home in town and, because the sons of the upper class were the only ones allowed to go to school, he was sure to be an educated and literate person.  Since the government didn’t allow most people to just up and leave Ur, for Abram and Terah to have been able to do so, they most likely would have been free merchants or high officials.
  • Because Abraham and his family stopped for an indefinite period of time at Haran, and Haran means Caravan City, it is likely that they were involved in and prospering from the lucrative caravan trade linking Mesopotamia and the Far East with Egypt.  We know that such a trade existed because the ancient Egyptian texts speak of such caravans at this time numbering 500, 600, and even 1000 donkeys.
  • At this point in our Story, the reason why Abraham would choose to leave all of this prosperity behind and go to Canaan is still a mystery to us.  Unlike Ur or Haran, Canaan was pretty much a rural backwater with no major cities or city-states, and no governmental bureaucracy to offer him any economic opportunities or protection.  Patriarchal Rule was the law of the land and central to every aspect of life there; with the head of each clan having absolute power—even the power of life and death—over every member of his clan.
  • Probably the most important fact we have been given so far is the one concerning the barrenness of Sarai.  This is important to our Story for several reasons…
    • It was an embarrassment to Abraham and made a mockery of his name(s);
    • It was a reproach to Sarai–because God’s original blessing was that of having children, this would have seemed to indicate that she, for some reason, had lost favor with God;
    • It meant that Abram/Abraham would not enjoy the natural immortality (immortality which came from having one’s name carried into the future through succeeding generations) or care in his old age that a son would have provided; and, most importantly,
    • It meant that God’s promise of a coming Redeemer would not be realized through him.

Now that we have a better understanding of the dynamics operating withing the life and times of Abraham, it is time for us to get on with the Story of the Man himself—and, to do that, we need to return to where his story started in Genesis 11: 27-32.  Before the curtain rises on that scene, though, let’s pause briefly to mull over all of the information we have just been given.


[1] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1960), 42.

[2] In 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that the 4th year of Solomon’s reign—966 BC—was 480 years after the Exodus [966+480=1446], and from Exodus 12:40-41, we learn that the Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years.  So 1446+430=1876, making that the year that Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.  Since Jacob was 130 when he appeared before Pharaoh, Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 75 when he entered the Promised Land, this would mean that the total time spent in Canaan would have been 215 years [130+60+(100-75)=215]. Adding 215 years to 1876, then 75 (for Abraham’s age until then)—the year that Jacob and his family moved to Egypt—we arrive at a date of 2166 BC for Abram’s birth.

Back on Track–The Journey Resumes

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It’s Time to Get Back to the Land of Revelation Knowledge!

All Aboard and welcome back, fellow travelers!  I am happy to say that, after a rather lengthy but edifying visit to the Workout Room, the time has come for us to once again head out on the Truth Train and resume our Bible Study tour through the Land of Revelation Knowledge.  For those who are joining us for the first time, this tour is unique in that it presents the One Big Story of the Bible as a Play; one consisting of two Acts with six Scenes each and one long Intermission between the acts.   These scenes and the intermission, as well as an epilogue at the end of the play, are being acted out for us on fourteen different Stages, positioned along the route we are taking through this vast and incredible land.  When we broke for our detour to the Workout Room, we had just left Stage #1 where Act 1, Scene 1 had completed its run, and we were on our way to Stage #2 where Act 1, Scene 2 had been scheduled to get underway.

Now that we are back on track and heading in that direction once more, considering how long it has been since we left the first Stage, I think it would be wise if we used this travel time to Review  briefly what took place in Scene 1, and to Preview what will soon be taking place in Scene 2.  For those who may feel the need of a more thorough review, one can be obtained by visiting the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page, where all of the material we’ve covered so far has been arranged chronologically for easy viewing.

Reviewing Where We Have Been

In Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story, we were introduced to the Sovereign God of the Universe, whom we discovered is not only the Main Character of the Story but also its Author.  From the opening verses of the Script(ures), we learned that this God is…

  • A Trinity of Three Unique Persons united in One Divine Purpose;
  • Pre-existent and Eternal; and,
  • All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times.

As for the Story itself, we learned that it is a Love Story, borne out of God’s Heart and His passionate desire to have a Family of His own to love.  It was for this reason that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they multiplied, would eventually become the nations from which one, Israel, would graciously be chosen to become God’s Wife.  When Act 1 opened, however, no such nations existed; therefore, to prepare for Israel’s eventual entrance onto the earthly stage of the Story,  all the action taking place in the opening scene was for the purpose of bringing them into being.

The way in which this was accomplished was revealed to us through the use of nine dramatic Vignettes, or mini-scenes, covering the major events in Genesis 1-11–these being…

The Creation of the World;
The Creation of Man and Woman;
Their Sin and Fall from Grace;
The Consequences of their Sin…

…Personally,
…In Their Family,
…In Society at Large;

The Judgment on their Sin through the Flood;
The New World after the Flood; and,
Mankind’s On-going Rebellion and its Judgment. 

Over the course of these Vignettes, we learned how God used elements from the real-life experiences of people living on the Earthly Stage at the time to tell the Bigger Story of Love and Redemption that was taking place on the Heavenly Stage.  In fact, by the end of Vignette #9, we were able to see how the mini-scenes of Genesis 1-11, when viewed together, formed a Panoramic Prophetic Picture of all human history—creating, in effect, a Spiritual Overture of the themes and motifs which would be reappearing throughout the rest of the Story.

For example, in this Overture, we saw how

  • In the story of Creation—in going from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit—we were provided with a picture of the recurring spiritual theme of Re-creation or Rebirth.
  • The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, gave us the prophetic picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
  • The story of the Two Trees in the Garden was an illustration of the only two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
  • In the story of Cain and Abel—in which God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoked Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we were given a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s on-going rebellion against and persecution of the righteous.  We were also shown a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, was marked for protection before he began his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
  • In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we were shown how sin affected all men, leading to their deaths, and the futility of life lived apart from God.
  • In the translation of Enoch just before the judgment of the flood, we were given a prophetic picture of the Rapture that will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
  • The lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood gave us a preview of the conditions that will exist before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence increases, and doors are opened to ever-increasing levels of satanic activity.
  • And the Flood, in which the wrath of God was poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men while a small righteous remnant in the Ark was being spared, provided us with a picture of the end-times Tribulation, when the wrath of God will once again be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is being preserved on the earth.
  • In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark came out to a new earth and entered into a new covenant with God, we were shown a “type” of the “new world” that will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
  • The rebellion at Babel gave us a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he will be released from his thousand year imprisonment to lead one final revolt against the righteous rule of the Lord.
  • And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, the final Judgment of the Nations is in view, when the Lord gathers the nations together—separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations— and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren.”

In Genesis 1-11, We Start with Nothing and End Up with a World Full of Nations

Now, having refreshed our memories as to what we have seen, and with Stage #2 fast approaching, let’s prepare ourselves for what we can expect to see when the curtain goes up on Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story.

Previewing Where We Are Going

Whereas in Scene 1, we were introduced to God as “The Celestial Suitor”—who, in anticipation of obtaining a Bride, created and prepared the world to be her future home—in Scene 2, we are going to be introduced to the Patriarchs—or, the line of godly ancestors through whom “Israel: the Beloved of God,” will come into being.  Much like Scene 1, where the story was told through the use of 9 Vignettes, in Scene 2, the story will unfold by means of 4 Bio-Pics, or four biographical pictures of these ancestors of Israel, found in chapters 12-50 of the book of Genesis.  They are…

Abraham—the Exalted Father who becomes the Father of a Multitude;
Isaac—the Long-Awaited Son of Promise who displaces the Son born in Bondage;
Jacob—the Scheming Shepherd who becomes a Prince with God; and,
Joseph—the Betrayed Brother who not only becomes His Brothers’ Savior but the Savior of the World, as well.

Before we can move forward with the story, though, there is still the all-important matter of Formatting that we need to take into consideration.  Hopefully, those of you who have been with us from the beginning of this tour will remember that during our visit to the Welcome Center of the Word, we viewed the video, The Bible: The Story Behind the Story.  In that video, we learned that the Story of the Bible has been formatted according to the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition—a tradition completely foreign to our present day concepts of marriage.  Because of this–and, in order for us to truly appreciate the Love Story that the Bible has to tell–we must first come to an understanding of the Wedding Tradition upon which that story is based.

The Format of the Story

Because Family was at the center of Jewish life and culture, the choice of a marriage partner was a very serious business.  This selection was not to be determined by some fly-by-night or emotional impulse of the moment; it was achieved through an involved Marriage Process, consisting of three distinct phases…

The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase;
The Betrothal Phase; and,
The Marriage and Consummation Phase.
 

  1. The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase

The Ketubah–the Marriage Contract

In Jewish culture, when it was time for a young man to marry, typically his father would choose a bride for him and then send an agent or representative to the bride’s family to negotiate an arrangement for a marriage.  The bride, of course, had to give her consent and if she did, a mohar or Bride Price was established and a Ketubah or written document was drawn up in which the bride price, the promises of the bridegroom, and the rights of the bride were clearly stated.  This document would have to be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony.

Gifts were then given to the bride and a cup called the Cup of the Covenant was shared between the bride and groom—the rite of erusin or betrothal being completed when the groom gave something of value to the bride and she accepted it.  This completed rite was known in Hebrew as kiddushin or sanctification, and the covenant between the bride and the groom would be sealed with the drinking of the wine.  Once agreed to, this covenant was a legally binding contract which could only be dissolved by divorce.

The Cup of the Covenant

Afterward, the bridegroom would go back to his father’s house, where he would begin preparing a home for his new bride.  Before leaving, though, he would reassure her of his eventual return with this promise:  “I go to prepare a place you; if I go, I will return again unto you.”  After his departure, the bride would undergo a mikvah—or water immersion—a ritual of cleansing marking a separation from her former way of life to a new life with her spouse.

  1. The Betrothal Phase

This marked the beginning of the Betrothal Period, which usually lasted a year.  During this time, the bride was consecrated and set apart, busily preparing her wedding garments for the big day; while the bridegroom was away making, ready their new home.  The bride had to be ready at all times because she had no idea when her groom would return for her.  Even the groom didn’t know when that would be because he first had to get permission from his father—who had to be completely satisfied that his son’s house was in order.

  1. The Marriage and Consummation Phase 

Once he received his father’s permission, the bridegroom would return—usually in the middle of the night—with a shout, “Behold the bridegroom comes,” and with the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn.  He would then abduct his bride from her father’s home and carry her away in a sacred procession to the chupah or wedding canopy where the marriage would take place.  There, they would be treated as royalty, with the bridegroom in the role of a newly-crowned king, and the bride as his queen.

Under the Chupah

Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and bride would go into the wedding chamber where the marriage was to be consummated.  The friend of the bridegroom would take up his position outside the door where he, and all of the assembled guests, would eagerly await word that the consummation had taken place.  Upon receiving the signal from the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom would announce it to the guests, and great rejoicing would break out.  The couple would remain in the wedding chamber for a total of seven days and when they came out, they—along with all the guests invited by the father of the bride, would enjoy a great Marriage Supper.[1]

Although this wedding tradition bears little relevance to our lives today, because it was such an integral part of everyday life when the Bible was written, we must take time to familiarize ourselves with each of this tradition’s three parts if we are ever going to understand the Story it has to tell.  For, not only do these phases provide the framework for all of God’s Great Love Story, they also serve as the basis for the Plot, and propel the Action of the Story forward in both the Old and the New Testaments.

As we shall see in the upcoming scene, in the Old Testament—which is all about God’s love relationship with Israel…

  • The Negotiation Phase is what takes place in Genesis 15, when God—as the Bridegroom Himself–enters into a covenant with Abraham, and negotiates a marriage contact in which the future nation of Israel will one day become His Bride;
  • The Betrothal Phase will follow on the heels of this negotiation and will cover the period of time from Genesis 15 to Exodus 19. At that time Moses, acting as God’s representative, will abduct Israel in the middle of the night from the “house of Pharaoh,” and lead her in a sacred procession to the Marriage Chupah at Mount Sinai;
  • Then, in Exodus 20, the Marriage Phase will begin, as Israel vows to forsake all other gods, agrees to the terms of God’s covenant, and becomes the Wife of Jehovah. 

With this as the backdrop to our Story—and with the train now coming to a halt at our next destination—the time has come for us to leave the train and make our way into the theatre, where Scene 2, “Israel, the Beloved of God” will soon get underway.

 

 

In place of our usual music selection, here is the video referred to earlier, “The Story Behind the Story”…

 

 

[1] Information on the Jewish Wedding Tradition gathered from Edward Chumney’s book, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), 125-135.

A Change in Direction

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It’s That Time Again!

In January, 2014, at the invitation of our tour guide, Horatio, we boarded the Truth Train for a Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledgethat is, we launched out into a study of the Bible quite unlike any other that we’ve ever taken.  That’s because, in this study, the Bible was to be presented as a Love Story in the form of a play–one that would be acted out for us on the fourteen different Stages positioned along our journey’s path.

In February, 2016, we saw the curtain drop on Act 1, Scene 1 of our Story but, rather than move on to Stage #2, we broke for what turned out to be a rather lengthy intermission.  During this intermission, we opened the Workout Room where, since March, 2016, we have been working to get into the best spiritual shape possible through a series of exercises dealing with Salvation, Sanctification, Service, and Spiritual Warfare.  Now, having recently finished the last of these exercises, the time has come for us to once again change directions, re-board the Truth Train, and resume our journey to Stage #2, where Act 1, Scene 2 of our Story will soon get underway.

To help facilitate a review of what we have experienced so far, the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page is now open; there all of our earlier episodes can be viewed in the order of their presentation.  This should help both our more seasoned travelers and any who are new to this tour understand just where we are at this point in our journey.  That being said, it’s time for us to find a comfortable seat on the train so that we can make our way to Stage #2, where we will very shortly be introduced to Abraham–the Father of Israel–and, to the others in Genesis 12-50 who connect him with her .

Bon Voyage!