Have the Seven Vials Begun?

Rev 16 Angels 7bowls

An outbreak of leishmaniasis, a parasitic skin infection borne by sand flies which causes horrible, open sores on the skin, may well reach epidemic proportions in areas controlled by ISIS. The cutaneous form of the disease causes hideous skin ulcers which may or may not be painful. This form will often clear up without medical intervention, but it can take months, and will usually leave ugly scars in its wake.

Why might this be relevant to biblical prophecy? It is interesting in its parallel to a scripture found in the 16th chapter of Revelation, which happens to describe the first bowl (or vial) of God’s wrath to be poured out on the kingdom of the Antichrist.

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.  Revelation 16:1-2 (KJV)

This is hardly a sure thing, but as I have said before, such peculiar intersections of current events and prophecy shouldn’t be ignored. There is a good possibility that, up until now, we have misunderstood the prophecies and they might come about in ways that we have not expected. For one thing, for this to be the prophetic fulfillment of Revelation 16:1-2, it presupposes that the Mark of the Beast has already been distributed and is therefore not the much-dreaded RFID chip, but likely a spiritual mark, which by the way, is the form of such “marks” when they are mentioned in other passages of scripture (cf. Ezekiel 9:1-11). In that passage, an angel is setting a mark upon people who are to be spared judgment. I think it is safe to assume that any mark that an angel is making is probably a spiritual mark. Of course, that is my opinion.

Another interesting theory on the Mark of the Beast is that what John actually saw in his vision resembled the Greek letters  χξϛ
Vaticanus-A.D.-3502-150x150

This is the Greek text in Revelation 13:18 that is translated as “six hundred, threescore, and six” or “666”. Even if you have zero familiarity with biblical Greek text, the letters above might still look vaguely familiar, at least if you are one who pays close attention to current events in the Middle East.

Number-of-the-Beast

On the bottom is a clearer depiction of the Greek letters above, the chi xi sigma ( χξϛ ) from the Greek version of Revelation 13.  On the top is something you have likely seen many times in the news over the past few years, although it is often buried among other inscrutable foreign text. It is the bismillah–the words of which I refuse to duplicate here. The ‘X’ are the crossed swords we see so often with it, especially on the headbands of the followers of Mohammed, the worshipers of Allah, the moon god.

alhb4

Let it be made clear here. The Mohammedan god Allah is NOT the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is NOT God, the Father of Jesus Christ. Allah is a pagan god that Mohammed adapted to his own nefarious, Satanic purposes. Neither Christians nor Jews owe it any allegiance, any respect, any honor.

As the days draw closer to the end, it is becoming evermore apparent that Islam could well end up being the final manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist. Do you not find it curious that the world, which has so often persecuted both Jew and Christian, has shown nothing but foolish, suicidal tolerance of Islam? Even now we see a rise in antisemitism, and Christians are being singled out and persecuted around the world, but the Mohammedan cult is welcomed, coddled, tolerated, placated, appeased, while it espouses only the death and subjugation of those who are not Muslims. The world and its evil system will always welcome its own.

The coming days will be interesting, especially since the second and third vials of Revelation are the turning of the sea to blood, and the rivers and fountains turning to blood, respectively. The vials are specifically the wrath of Almighty God upon those who have persecuted the saints of God.

And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.  Revelation 16:3-7 (KJV)

I’ll be watching ISIS and events in the Middle East. You would be wise to watch also.

Fourth Horseman Rising

Les-cavaliers-de-l-Apocalypse

While I have some formal ministerial training and experience, it is not my intention on this blog to hold myself out as some sort of theological expert or biblical scholar. The thoughts I proffer here are many times not well thought out, in that I haven’t taken the time to follow them out to their ultimate conclusions. There are plenty of well-known bible prophecy sites and ministries out there who will give you all the predigested thought you can swallow. Don’t get me wrong–that isn’t a bad thing; I read several prophecy related sites because, why reinvent the wheel?  No, the goal here is to get you (and me) to think outside the prophetical box–to see how and if current events align with biblical prophecies, even if only partially.

The stories coming daily out of the Levant and north Africa are troubling. What we are seeing in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Libya are nothing less than wholesale persecution of the Christian church. Granted, Boko Haram has been persecuting the Christian church in Nigeria for some time, but there is something different in the air with ISIS. It is a regional and growing threat. It started in Iraq and Syria, and has spread into Egypt and Libya. Now, Italy is calling for help because the threat is at their shores. ISIS is a cancer, and an aggressive one at that.

It started with beheadings of a few people, and not Christians. Along comes ISIS, and now we have immolations and beheadings–the immolation of a Jordanian pilot (a Muslim, no doubt), and the mass beheading of 21 Coptic Christians. And most recently, in the just captured village of al-Baghdadi, the murder of 150 members of the al-Obaid tribe, including the live immolation of 45 policemen. The others were beheaded.

“And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4 (KJV)

Thirty or forty years ago, prophecy teachers conflated the above scripture with Revelation 6:9, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained,” and came up with horrific visions of masses of people herded to guillotines for refusing to worship the Antichrist and take the “Mark of the Beast” in their hands or foreheads. Over the years, I have seen conspiracy sites warning that thousands of guillotines were being imported into the United States, presumably for this purpose. I even heard an evangelist relate one such tale in my home church when I was a teenager. Of course, it was at least a third or fourth hand story.

Over the past decade, I have come to regard such a scenario as highly unlikely. Few westerners in the 1970s and 1980s regarded Islam as the monster–the beast–it has revealed itself to be in the 21st century. It seemed far more likely that the European Economic Community (now European Union) would rise to be the revived Roman (or Holy Roman) Empire. Anecdotal hysteria revolved around rumors of a supposed supercomputer in Brussels named “the Beast” that could track everybody on earth. These interpretations–these fears–seem almost cartoonish now. There have been few imperial fizzles greater than the European Union, which now teeters on the brink of economic disaster. A supercomputer in Brussels is laughable, now that we all are well-plotted and monitored via the internet, satellite, smartphones, RFID cards, and a global electronic banking system that is almost a living thing in itself.

From where comes the danger? Right now, the rising specter of Islam seems a good candidate. As some food for thought, I submit to you the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as interpreted by Irvin Baxter of Endtime Ministries. You don’t have to accept this (or anything) out of hand, but it never hurts to learn other viewpoints, to consider other possibilities:

The White Horse–Catholicism, founded AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea (or if you’re a good Catholic, AD 33 with Jesus’s giving of the keys of the Kingdom to Peter).

The Red Horse–Communism, founded circa 1848 with the publication of the Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto.

The Black Horse–Capitalism, founded circa 1776 with the publication of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

The Pale Horse–Islam, founded AD 622 by Muhammad. This one needs a little expansion.  Several years ago, the best explanation Reverend Baxter had for this horse was the unparalleled death and destruction in the 20th century. In the original Greek, the word rendered “pale” is χλωρός (chloros), which is the word for “green” as in chlorophyll, but it can also be interpreted as the color of a dead body. So it was interpreted as a “death-colored” or “pale” horse. Of course, we have since learned that green is also the color of Islam.

greeninislam

Islam fits the pattern of the previous three horses each being major philosophical or religious systems. Reverend Baxter now teaches that Islam is the Fourth Horseman. His willingness to admit that a previous interpretation was incorrect is one of the reasons I respect Irvin Baxter; he honestly seeks to understand prophecy.

So, while we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand certain interpretations of prophecy that don’t jibe with our preferred understanding, we also shouldn’t indiscriminately marry ourselves to other interpretations, simply because they do.

Unlikely Witnesses

Not long ago I was scrolling down the endless stream of Grumpy Cat, conspiracy theories, and Obama drama on my Facebook news feed when I came upon a post that stopped me cold: “This Should Go Well: Westboro Baptist Church Says It’s Going To Iraq To Protest ISIS.” I don’t share/repost very often these days and when I do, I end up deleting about half of those posts within a few hours. But when I saw this headline–which at first glance seemed crazy enough to be true–I hit the share button, thinking of something cute to say about what an interesting confrontation that would be, even though such a confrontation would almost certainly end with the deaths of every Westboro-er at the hands of ISIS.

I hate to admit it, but for a moment there, I experienced a disturbing flicker of glee at the thought of it, like when one considers the prospects of an alligator fighting with a giant anaconda; what an epic conflict it would be. The world would watch such a contest with a gleeful intensity that would make mine seem positively morose. Just as I was about to type in my clever comment on the link before posting it, a bible verse flashed into my memory, concerning the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:1-:13 (also described as “The Second Woe):

And when they [the two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 11:7-10 ESV)

There aren’t many people in this country more hated right now than the members of Westboro Baptist Church; many Christians have little good to say about them because of their abrasive, in-your-face methods which don’t dovetail well with those of mainstream churches. Their picketing of soldiers’ funerals with signs saying “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” have done little to endear grassroots America, but have brought together unlikely groups such as churches, veterans, motorcycle gangs, and lawmakers in unity of purpose to exclude Westboro from those funerals. Few would weep, and many would rejoice if they did go to Iraq to confront ISIS, and paid with their lives. I dare say there would be much gloating and celebrating. I doubt anybody would hasten to remove their bodies, but I don’t find it hard to believe that people might even send gifts–or clever Facebook posts–to celebrate.

Now I’m not saying that God’s two witnesses are going to come from Westboro, but I did have a moment of clarion understanding of how that moment might play out when somebody universally hated by the world finally meets their end. I could see them televising the dead bodies for three days in the streets of Jerusalem in joy and relief after three and a half years of their plagues. I could see humanity united in “Happy Dead Witnesses Day” celebrations and the exchange of greetings and gifts. I could see churches joining in the merriment.

I believe that the signs in Revelation will not be as they have been popularly interpreted in the 20th century, a la the Left Behind series. I believe they will likely be mundane events, except for the stunning perfection with which they match prophecies 2000 years old. So when I see things like a lens flare in Tahrir Square, Egypt that looks oddly like a ghostly rider on a pale green horse*, I pause for a minute to evaluate it. When I see a story (even though it later fell through) that Westboro is going to the Levant to confront ISIS, I pause.

Time is short. I believe we may be witnessing the rise of the Beast–the Antichrist and his empire–right now. Wiser men than I have sounded the alarm that Erdogan of Turkey is reviving the evil Ottoman Empire, and that he is the final Antichrist. But that is something for another post.

* at about 1:21 into the video

I Have Returned

It’s been over a year since I last posted on this blog. While I will spare you the boredom of hearing the sad tale why I was gone, I will explain this: During my absence from this blog, I was also largely absent from the internet and from massive US cable/satellite television for over two years. I lived without 99% of the news and social input to which I had been accustomed when I began this blog. No, I was not in prison.

I returned to the 21st century about two weeks ago, both with television and internet service. A lot has changed in the world. When I left in 2012, Isis was a member of the ancient Egyptian pantheon (and a really tacky Saturday morning kid’s show in the 70s). When I came back, it was now an acronym in all caps–ISIS–and the new, awful face of Islamic jihad upon the world.

When I last blogged here in September 2013, I cared to the point of agony that Barack Obama was not only a horrible President, but an illegitimate one deliberately bent on destroying America. When I returned, I had come to accept that this country didn’t have the moral courage to oust the pretender, and I now no longer care. Removing Barack Obama from office now would be like cutting the gangrenous leg off a dead person–pointless and messy.

Larger issues have emerged in my mind, beyond the state of the United States. What I do care about, more so now than ever, is how current events may (or may not) fit into biblical prophecies of the end. I believe Barack Obama has “jumped the shark” if you will in prophetic significance. He could surprise us all and suddenly sprout horns on his head (metaphorically speaking), but it seems unlikely. I do think that it is fairly evident by now that Obama is indeed–as Allen West coined–an islamapologist at the least, an Islamic Manchurian Candidate at worst. Generally, I assume the worst.

But things in the world are shifting mightily, and Obama’s role in it merely seems to be to hamstring the United States so it cannot exert its influence. The rise of Isis, the ascendency of Russia militarily and of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economically, and the drift of once moderate Turkey toward Islamic lunacy, are all potentially significant events prophetically.

So I will resume posting shortly, and while I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I hope to throw out some things for your consideration.  A lot of them will probably be ideas borrowed from others and expanded on; maybe a few of them will be original. All of them I hope will encourage you to look at this world a little differently than how you are accustomed, and maybe in the process find some truth yourself.