Category Archives: got Ears?

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” ~ Jesus

The was a series I did to explain my view of the end times.  You will have to click here to get to the beginning post.  You will need to follow the order I presented them in.

9. Peace and Safety

Matt 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. NASU

What if the peacemakers multiply and become successful?  What would happen to society and our world?  What if the church began praying… 

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. NASU

What if God answered?  Would we see peace on earth?  What is so “good and acceptable” about this?  What relationship does peace on earth have to do with one coming to the knowledge of the truth? 

The answers to these questions are crucial for us to remember and apparently Paul knows well we are apt to forget or neglect these matters altogether. Hence, he “urge[s]” the church to make such prays for peace a priority.

It should be a priority because peace is fundamental to the Gospel.  True Biblical Christianity does not spread by the point of a gun, manipulation, or any other type of intimidation; false Christianity works that way.  Paul’s detailed discourse on the Gospel in Romans says this…

Rom 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  NASU

“do you think lightly…not knowing” – Paul is saying, think and you’ll uncover some basic facts about the Gospel.  Cruelty, intolerance, and impatience do not spread the true knowledge of Christ, but kindness, tolerance, and patience do. These are the core components of peace.

James 3:18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  NASU

Clearly, such peace extends beyond our vertical private relationship with God.  This peace extends horizontally to our relationships with others, going so far as to influence entire nations.  This kind of peace has an effect on earth in the physical realm, not just the spiritual.  Remember what we are to remember? 

Ephesians 2:11-22 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands —  12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,  15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,  21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. NASU

The Church will preach peace as Jesus preached peace.  This peace will have its effect on the world as it did on a small portion of the world 20 centuries ago.  I believe this Gospel light and its effect will shine worldwide before the world comes to an end. 

Matt 24:14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.   NASU

Further, I believe the effect of such prayers for peace and such preaching peace will assist man’s effort to bring the best form of government he can to his nation and world.  By saying this I’m not saying I believe in a utopian world.  Far from it, I believe the net result of the Church’s obedience to pray and preach peace, mixed with the efforts of man in governing, will be something temporal, fragile, and imperfect.  Imperfect, but it will be enough to give men everywhere a strong sense of peace and safety as much as any good government has done for any people thus far. 

So, let me ask this final question. Jesus taught a parable about a time when the plant would be full grown (Matt 13:31-32). Is this the same time period Paul was referring to when he said, “while they are saying, “peace and safety?”

1 Thess 5:3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. NASU

I’ll look into this next.

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8. A Light Greater than His?

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.  NASU

Are you one of those that believe?

Jesus had high expectation for His followers.  He saw something they could not.  He knew His relationship with them would change them.  He understood it was divinely ordained, a match made in heaven and therefore destined for great things.

By the time John 14 came about in the life of Christ, Jesus was about to pass the baton of ministry to them.  His light would be fading, but His hope and plan was for their light to grow brighter day by day and to exceed His.

John 12:35-36 So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.  36 “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”  These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. NASU

He knew they would fumble and stumble around in the dark, hence the test of hiding Himself.  He wanted them to learn how to find their way.  He knew they would bounce back to finish the course He had set for them.  That is the nature of eternal life, the Gospel, and divine regeneration (see Proverbs 24:16).

Because of what Jesus believed, I believe the Church has a bright future.  As I look ahead I don’t see a Church overcome by darkness, but a darkness overcome by the Church. I see light; I see brightness.  I believe exciting days lie ahead of us.

For now we are what we are and what we are doesn’t hold a candle to the light Jesus brought into the world.  Jesus did some amazing things when He was here, but He destined His followers to do greater things.  Remember, He said…

Matt 16:18 “…I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” NASU

This positive outlook caught on. Paul understood what Jesus was saying.  He wove this optimistic attitude into his writing.

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. NASU

I’ve always applied this verse to myself or individuals.  Only recently, as I began reexamining my eschatology, have I looked at these words more closely.  I discovered that Paul used the plural form of the word “you” in this verse.  In other words he said he was confident “that He who began a good work in you Philippians will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  He saw the Church, a Bride made ready for that glorious day.

I also discovered that when Paul mentions “the day of Christ Jesus” he was not referring to the Second Coming, but the Rapture.  The difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming are as different as day and night.  One is extremely encouraging while the other is extremely terrifying.  Study 1 Thess 4-5.

Paul was optimistic about the Church’s future, like Jesus he had his own word pictures to convey his message.

Eph 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless…32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. NASU

We see two important points here, but don’t let the lesser truth be eclipsed by the greater one.  Husbands, love your wives – yes, but notice too what extent Christ will bring the Church; she will be ready.  Paul prayed to that end.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. NASU

I don’t think we are there yet.  I see spots and wrinkles and I know I have a long way to go, but what if God answered that prayer today?  What if the Church appeared fit for heaven clothed in fine linen bright and clean at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?  What would life on earth be like then?  What would we see?  Would the birds of the air be nesting in the branches (Matthew 13:31-32)?

I’ll look into this more next time.

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Next 9. Peace and Safety

Previous 7. A Light Unto My Path

7. A Light Unto My Path

Why not monitor the end of the age by the condition of the Church, rather than by looking at the weather?  I’ve already given reasons why I don’t believe the signs Christians point to today are the signs Jesus was talking about, but here are some other factors we ought to consider if we are bent on predicting the end of the age. 

When we look at the Church at the end of the Age what do we see?  We should see a bright light at the end of the road.  Revelation 19 unveils a beautiful portrait of the Church then.

Rev 19:1-8 After these things [the Tribulation]…I heard something…saying…the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” NASU

Consider the phrase “has made herself ready.” How has His Bride made herself ready? When has she made herself ready?  Was this something she did in heaven?  Can you get ready in a place of perfection and purity?  Does one go to heaven to get ready or does one get ready to go to heaven? 

Also notice the verb “has made” is in the past tense; this getting ready happens sometime prior to the end of the age.  More details about what this means are given in the revelation.

Rev 19:8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. NASU

This is referring to the good works of the Church.  The adjectives “bright and clean” would indicate the quality of those works.  They were clearly visible, highly apparent, and very fitting.  Bright and clean works would be fitting for such a wedding that involved Jesus.  You would expect to see some compatibility between bride and bridegroom.

How this happens is by God’s grace.  “It was given;” refers to God’s gracious hand and the outpouring of His grace.  The effect of this giving can be seen in the same use of this verb elsewhere in John’s writing.

Rev 11:3-6 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth… And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies…These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. NKJV

I can’t imagine the two witnesses doing all that on their own.  Likewise, before God’s gracious gift of fine linen bright and clean the Church is not ready, but afterwards, she is! 

By the time of the wedding feast there will be a certain compatibility between the Bride and the Bridegroom that you would expect.  In fact, this is what I believe, what was said of Christ will be said of His Bride the Church.  So when I read this about Jesus…

Luke 2:52 …Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. NASU

…I think this about His bride…the Church will keep increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.  And when I read this…< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

Acts 10:38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  NASU

…I think this…You know of the Church, how God anointed Her with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how She went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Her. 

Do you get the picture?  I do.  It is enough to make me want to crawl out from underneath this bushel basket and begin to fulfill my bright and glorious destiny.  The birds of the air have been flying around for a very long time; I know they are looking for a place to rest their wings. (Matt 13:31-32) Maybe if we join together and work to “strengthening the things that remain” the Father will see a Bride getting ready and make Jesus’ return all the more imminent.

Matt 24:14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. NASU

It is easy for us to believe that God’s outpouring of grace can produce the results we see of the two witnesses or that His grace can resurrect a nation (see the valley of dry bones, Ezekiel 37), but when His grace involves us do we baulk in disbelief?  We shouldn’t; Paul and Jesus believed it.  I will review this next time.

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6. A Lamp unto My Feet

I’ve been thinking out loud about my view of the end times.  I’m seeking to align my views with Scripture, not popular Christian opinion.  I understand how the one who disguises himself as an angel of light can infiltrate the Church and lead her so far astray that she can contradict what the Lord said. When deception involves prophecy the consequences are dangerous for everyone.

Since God intended us to be lights in the world and describes the Church as a tree where “the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matthew 13:33) we ought to “believe in the Light, so that [we] may become sons of Light.” (John 12:36)  We ought to stay focused on shining the light of the Gospel upon every area of our lives whether that is upon our church, our family, our government, or our business.  The Lord’s teachings were meant to sober us up to deal with all our problems effectively. Satan’s deceptions do the opposite turning us into pillars of tasteless salt “no longer good for anything.”

The Gospel is a lamp unto our feet.  To see what I mean, look at John the Baptist.  Jesus thought John the Baptist was the greatest man that ever lived.  Of himself John would not say he was anything more than “a voice crying in the wilderness.” Luke understood him to be a man that went about preaching the Gospel.

Luke 3:18 So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. NASU

The “many exhortations” Luke is referring to are rather enlightening.  Go back a few verses and see.

Luke 3:10-14 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” NASU

Notice his exhortations placed moral obligations and responsibilities upon certain institutions and classes of people.  I believe it is safe to say that Luke was a Christian when he wrote this.  He was evaluating and assembling events that had happened in a way that would explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  His comment about John is weighty.

Both John the Baptist and Luke understood the Gospel to be a transforming light that illuminates every area of our lives.  Paul understood this too.  Much could be said to point this out, but let me try to be brief by pointing to one sentence that encapsulates my point today.

Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. NASU

Regardless of the darkness, the complexity, or the difficulty we face in our personal lives, our government, our family, our church, or our business, we ought to meet such challenges with the same attitude Paul exhibited. His positive attitude wasn’t created by interpreting the signs that were prevalent in his day or by counting on God to interrupt humanity to solve all his problems.  Instead, his positive mental attitude was created by a clear understanding of the Gospel.  The Gospel compelled him to obtain oil for his lamp and take on responsibility.

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. NASU

I’ve been thinking we ought to think more like Paul.  We need to remember the Gospel is a lamp unto our feet.  We ought to travel the road he traveled.  It may be dark and lonely, but look ahead into the future.  Do you see a brighter light, one that lights the entire path?  I do and I’ll point this out next time.

Rejoice!

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7. A Light Unto My Path

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5. The Road Less Traveled

5. The Road Less Traveled

When Jesus taught His disciples to be ready in Matthew 25:1-13, He taught that there were two roads one can travel on, the one of the wise and the one of the fools.  The one of the wise is the road less traveled and the one commended by Jesus.  It ought to be explored.  Better still, it ought to be traveled.

The wise made themselves ready in light of the possibility that His return might be delayed.  They avoided the sin of presumption.  Jesus helped His disciples do this through His repetitive teaching.  He sought to sober them, not lull them to sleep.

Mark 13:33-37   “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.  34 “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.  35 “Therefore, be on the alert — for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning —   36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep.  37 “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'” NASU

Jesus understood the propensity of man, how they could easily become distracted, become careless, and pull away from the added responsibilities He was giving them.  There was work to be done and much was at stake.  Knowing when the end would come is no blessing under these conditions.  Maybe this is why the Father chose not to disclose such information even to His own Son.

So, I want to talk about the road of the wise.  What does it look like?  First, it is a road less traveled.

Matt 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. NASU

Consider when Jesus said this.  The fall of Jerusalem was just 40 years away.  He already predicted its fall in John 2.  No doubt, He and everyone else could see the end coming soon for the nation Israel.  A national collapse is not an easy thing to hide.  We get a sense of what that must have been like as we see our own nation totter.

So with so much trouble filling the air did Jesus start connecting the dots between current events and the signs the people were expecting to see?  (See Comment – Prophetic Expectations In Judaism.  Quite the contrary, Jesus laid down a code of conduct for them to follow. He believed His instruction would bring life to a decadent and decaying society.  He spoke to their need.  Jesus did not sit by idle waiting for God to do something, but He acted as if God had commanded Him to do something.  He became part of the solution to the problems in the world.  He was light in the darkness.  He considered that to be the work of God.

This mindset He sought to pass on to His followers.  Listen to His speech.

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. NASU

We seemed to have lost this in our day.  We seemed to have concluded that darkness conquers light.  Until God appears there is nothing more we can do but expect things to get worse, and worse, and worse.  Things can’t change.  Things won’t change.

THANK GOD THE EARLY CHURCH DID NOT BELIEVE THESE THINGS!

They had more reasons than we to despair, but they chose to listen to Jesus instead.  More, they chose to follow Jesus and walk as He walked.

Jesus understood the miraculous and amazing transformative power of the Gospel.  He could see beyond its individual impact to the impact it would have upon the whole world.  Do we?

Matt 13:31-32 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” NASU

Matt 16:18  “I also say to you that you are Peter…I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. NASU

I have more to say on this next time.

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4. With So Many Signs How Could We Get Lost?

Does it matter to whom Jesus gave the signs? If you want to get to your destination it does. Should a distinction between Jew and Christian be made? I think so.

Luke 19:11 you remember reveals the prevailing mindset of the Jew at that time. There was a great deal of anticipation. The questions about when the end would be and what the signs would be arise naturally out of Judaism, not Christianity.

This is an important distinction to make. Christianity was yet to be. Jesus, in Matt 16:13-18, had just recently introduced the idea of the Church to the disciples when He said, “I will build my Church.” The Church was a program with the same goal as Judaism, but would pursue it by different means using different tools. Put simply, Judaism was the method of God working through a nation for the redemption of mankind. Christianity on the other hand was the method of God working through a corporate body of individuals from many nations for the redemption of mankind. If put side by side, you would see individuals from both groups marching off in different directions pursuing the same goal.

Since the Church was yet to be formed and yet to be understood for many years to come (see Eph 3:1-13), the signs given in Matthew 24 have nothing to do with Christianity. They are not for the Church; they would mean nothing to Her. In fact, those in the Church following them could get lost (apostasy, see Matthew 25:1-13).

Consider the nature of a sign. A sign points the way to something ahead. Imagine being one of two people leaving Denver Colorado to make your way to Pakistan on the other side of the world. You head east and the other person heads west. How useful would your map be to the other person? And the signs that line the road that read “Kansas City, Indianapolis, Pittsburg, straight ahead” how useful would they be to him? And what would you make of him if he thought your signs were helpful on his way west to Pakistan? And more alarming still, what if he was funding and supporting projects instigated by Satan which were tearing down his signs to erect your signs in their place?

This raises some important issues, but for now I just want to make the single point that Jesus taught His disciples – we will not know when the end will be until it happens. This we can know for sure…

…the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will Matt 24:44

We all have an interest in the future so it is easy for us to listen to those that talk about it. We should be careful how we listen (Luke 8:18). We must not underestimate the power of Satan. He sends out ministers of righteousness to tickle the itchy ears of many. Their activity is not limited to work in the church, but appear in business, government, and along the roads we travel. He leads many off course not unlike he has done time and time again. Therefore, we must be careful what signs and maps we use to guide us.

Judgment may not come as a lightning bolt, but a belief that you think you know when the end is near.

…God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth… 2 Thess 2:11-12


Rob/

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3. The Dullest Thing Jesus May Have Ever Said

The Dullest Thing Jesus Ever Said

Matt 24:3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” NASU

With all the excitement going on in Palestine the disciples now wanted to know when the end of the age will be.  Luke 19:11 reveals anticipation filled the air.  Much like learning your favorite football team made it to the Super Bowl the next question to ask is “when will the big game be?”  Imagine asking Jesus, the know-it-all, the omniscient One, and hearing his answer, “I don’t know.”  Unbelievable!  If you hear Jesus right, then His answer sounds stale, flat, and disappointing.

Matt 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. NASB

Jesus would not be a very exciting conference speaker at any prophecy seminar today!

Matt 24:36-40 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,  39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. NASU

Compare what “signs” we see today to what Jesus’ disciples must have seen.  They must have been very excited.  Imagine then the disappointment when they heard Jesus say He didn’t know.

The record of the New Testament shows they accepted Jesus answer.  You don’t read about them applying the signs Jesus gave to current events happening in the Middle East.  They could have, but they were wise not to.  They acted as if they could not know the time of the end so they didn’t try.  Actually, they acted as if they had a lot of work to do.  To them the matter was not like looking up into the sky, analyzing it, and concluding “it looks like rain today.”  Instead, they acted like those that went out diligently to build a roof on a church not knowing if it would rain or not today.  They accepted the fact that the timing of the end would be unpredictable; it would be like the time of the flood when the ever present cloud would just one day break loose surprising everyone.

We should be like them.  To supplement eschatology with human wisdom, to say the end is near is not commendable.  In fact, it is damnable.  Think about what I’m saying.  Imagine going to hell for holding the wrong view about the end time. Yet, according to Jesus teaching in Matt 25:1-13, living according to a misconstrued view of the end will damn you.  How can this be?  Maybe we should ask if Jesus has the right to condemn those who cannot handle the responsibilities that come with an extended delay on His part.  I think Jesus sees this as no different then mixing human wisdom with soteriology; both are damnable.

Prov 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. NASU

Certainly understanding Matthew 25:1-13 is one of the reasons why the disciples lived the way they did.

The application Jesus draws from the unknowability or ignorance of the timing of the end is clear.

Matt 24:42-44 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.  43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. NASU

Apparently, God holds such people who think the big game is going to be on a Sunday in the late afternoon to be dangerous. He is right because they are presumptuous.  History is filled with the destructive ways of the presumptuous.

Isa 5:18-19  Woe to those…Who say, “Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it!”  NASU

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4. With So Many Signs How Could We Get Lost?

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2. “Jesus is Accursed.” So Say We.