A new era

Did the world end on September 23rd, as some had predicted? Obviously not – or has it? Was it the end of an era, and a time for a new one? Have we entered a different age?

I have noticed interesting bands of light in the sky since the evening where Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) started. Then I noticed different pictures from friends from all around the world in the week before that. The sky looks different – like God is using the sky to get our attention, that a time of change is upon us.

L. Banks took these photos at Rev. Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens on 9-16-17

T. Fishel took this photo in Africa 9-17-17

I took this on 9-20-17 – Rosh Hashanah is about to begin.

These were taken by me on 9-23-17 in St. Meinrad, Indiana

The light seems different – otherworldly. Do all these pictures simply show lens flares, or crepuscular rays? Maybe. But they also might call us to be awake and to turn towards God, and that is a good thing.

What does Jesus say about that time? When asked by his disciples, he replied in Luke 21:8-28. Read this all carefully. All these things have not happened yet.

8 Then He said, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. Indeed, these things must take place first, but the end won’t come right away.”

10 Then He told them: “Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness.14 Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, 15 for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of My name, 18 but not a hair of your head will be lost. 19 By your endurance gain your lives.

20 “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! Those inside the city must leave it, and those who are in the country must not enter it, 22 because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written. 23 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring sea and waves. 26 People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the celestial powers will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

Pay special attention to verse 9, where he tells us “don’t be alarmed” and in verse 28, that we are to “stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

Indeed, we shouldn’t be worried – but we should be mindful. Because Jesus goes on to say in verses 34-36 –

34 “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly 35 like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

In the end times God will decide between what is good and what is wrong – what is bearing fruit of the Spirit and what does not. Meanwhile, we have to be mindful and make good choices. Our decisions will affect what happens to us. It isn’t our religious practice that will save us. God doesn’t care how many times you go to church if you don’t learn the message and act upon it. You have to treat everyone with kindness and generosity and compassion – forgiving them constantly.

(All Bible translations are HCSB)

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The coming of the Son of Man

“Just after the tribulation of those days the sun and moon will become dark, stars will fall from the skies, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. The nations will be bewildered by the roaring sea and the immense waves. People will tremble because they are afraid of what is about to happen, because everything in the sky is breaking apart.

Then they will see the signs of the Son of Man appearing among the clouds with great power and glory. He will send forth his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather up those he has called from the four winds from the ends of the earth and sky.

Many people will lament, but as for you, when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and lift up your heads, because your salvation is near.”

MT 24:29-31, MK 13:24-27, LK 21:25-28

Signs of the destruction of the Temple

As Jesus was leaving the Temple complex, the disciples noticed how ornate and impressive it was. One disciple exclaimed “Look, Teacher! This building has such massive stones!” Jesus said to him “Notice all of this now, because mark my words, the day is coming when not one stone will be left standing on another!”

A little later, Peter, James, John, and Andrew approached him privately when he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, across from the Temple complex. They begged him to tell them when this destruction would happen, and what the warning signs would be.

Jesus said “Be alert so that you are not deceived, for many will come in my name saying ‘I am the Messiah’ and they will lead many people astray. Don’t be alarmed when you hear of wars and rumors of wars. These things have to occur, but the end isn’t happening yet. There will be battles between nations and kingdoms. There will be earthquakes and famines all over and there will be terrifying sights in the skies. But all these events are just the beginning of what is to come.

Then the authorities will grab you and hand you over to the local courts and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will be brought before kings and governors because you follow me. This will give you an opportunity to reveal the Gospel, because it must be proclaimed to all nations. Therefore, don’t worry beforehand about what you are going to say, because the Holy Spirit will give you the words when you need them. You will have all the wisdom and words you need so that your enemies will not be able to contradict you.

At that time families will betray one another. You will be hated by everyone because you follow me but by your endurance you will be saved.”

MT 10:17-22, MT 24:1-10, MK 13:1-13, LK 12:11-12, LK 21:5-19