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Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s Vision of 4 Beasts

Daniel’s disturbing dream in chapter seven of his book has sparked so much interest among Bible readers. Who are these four beasts that Daniel saw in his dream and visions?

In Daniel 7:1-7, God communicated with Daniel while he was asleep by giving him a disturbing vision in a dream. What’s interesting is that, during this vision, Daniel was also part of the event. We know this because he was able to approach an angel and ask for an interpretation.

Daniel did not explain how he could be asleep in his bed and yet be able to speak to an angel standing before the throne of God. Perhaps like Paul, he didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body (2 Corinthians 12:1-3).

Daniel 7:1-2 NKJV

What Daniel Saw

In his vision, Daniel observed the sea being stirred up into a raging storm by the four winds of heaven (Daniel 7:2). The churning (stirring) sea is a frequent biblical image for the nations of the world (Isaiah 17:12-13; 57:20; 60:5, 9; Ezekiel 26:3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

Just as the ocean is sometimes, so the nations of the world are sometimes in confusion or even at war. Just as the waves and currents of the ocean are unpredictable, so the course of world history is human ability to chart or predict.

God stirred up the sea, and from its foaming, raging waters came forth four horrifying beasts. These beasts, each different from the other, are described in Daniel 7:4-7.

“The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

 After this, I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.

It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

Interpretation of Daniel’s Vision

Daniel’s vision troubled and terrified him. So, he approached one of those who stood by (possibly an angelic being) to ask for the interpretation of the things he saw and was given to him (Daniel 7:15-16).

The four beasts were four kings and their kingdoms, who will arise from the earth (Daniel 7:17).

The First Beast: The Babylonian Empire

Daniel describes the first beast as one like a lion with eagle’s wings.

It is generally agreed that this beast represents the Babylonian Empire and king Nebuchadnezzar in particular. While God does not specifically tell Daniel that this represents Nebuchadnezzar He does reveal that the “head of gold” in the vision of the great statue was Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:36-38).

Since the head of gold seems to describe the same king and kingdom as the first beast, it may not be too far afield to conclude that Nebuchadnezzar is the king represented by the first beast.

The Second Beast: The Medes and Persian Empire

The second beast looked like a bear that was rearing up on one side and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. This beast symbolized the empire of Medes and Persians who defeated Babylon (Daniel 5) and parallels the arms of chest and silver in the great image (Daniel 2:32, 39).

The bear was raised up on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes. In Daniel’s later vision of the ram with two horns (Daniel chapter 8), the higher horn represented the Persians (Daniel 8:3, 20).

Interpreters do not agree on the meaning of the three ribs that the bear carried in its mouth. But the best explanation is that they stand for Libya, Egypt, and Babylon – nations that the Medes and Persians had conquered.

The armies of the Medo-Persian Empire did indeed “devour much flesh” as they marched across the battlefields.

Understanding Daniel's Vision of 4 Beasts
Photo Credits: Neverthirsty.org

The Third Beast: The Kingdom of Greece

The third beast looked like a leopard with four wings and four heads; it represented Alexander the Great and the swift conquest of his army, resulting in the incredible expansion of the kingdom of Greece.

This beast was identified with the number four: four heads and four horns (Daniel 8:8, 21-22). Alexander’s untimely death in 323 BC left him without a successor and his kingdom was divided into four parts and assigned to his leaders.

Israel and Egypt went to Ptolemy I; Syria was ruled by Seleucus I; Thrace and Asia Minor were assigned to Lysimachus, and Macedon and Greece were governed by Antipater and Cassander.

The Fourth Beast: A Fourth Kingdom

This fourth beast is a fourth king different from the first three. It receives greater attention and is of the most interest to Daniel. It seems more terrifying, dreadful, more powerful, and much more hostile toward God and His saints (Daniel 7:23).

Daniel describes this beast to have huge iron teeth, crushing and devouring its victims, and trampling their remains beneath its feet. It has the distinction of ten horns. And as Daniel was looking at these horns, suddenly a small horn appeared among them before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words (Daniel 7:8).

Some believe this creature represents the Roman Empire, a mighty kingdom that indeed crushed all its foes.

The Small Horn

The ten horns represent ten kings who will emerge out of the fourth kingdom. But then, an eleventh king (small horn) rises to power, different from the others, replacing three of the previous kings (kingdom (Daniel 7:24).

The “small horn” (Daniel 7:8, 11, 24-26) represents the last world ruler, the man called Antichrist. The Greek prefix anti can mean “against” and “instead of.” The final world ruler will be both a counterfeit Christ and an enemy who is against Christ.

The mention of his eyes suggests that he would have remarkable knowledge and skill in planning his exploits. He would also be a man skilled in using words and able to promote himself so that people follow him (Daniel 7:11, 25; Revelation 13:5-6).

He would also blaspheme God and ultimately convince the unbelieving world that he is a god (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12). He would become the ruler of the world and would not only control the economy and religion but would also seek to change the times and the laws.

But while this king appears to be successful in his plans against God and his saints, we read that the Lord would grant him success only for an appointed time of three and a half years (Daniel 7:25-26). God would permit the Antichrist to rise to power, rule the world, and even allow him to make war on the saints and temporarily win the victory (Daniel 7:21)

But when the court shall be seated, his dominion is taken from him and he is destroyed forever. The greatness of the kingdoms under heaven and its dominion shall be given to the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:27).

Final Words

This prophetic vision of Daniel was fulfilled and these four kingdoms represented by the four beasts have already come and gone. However, Daniel 7:12 indicates that each kingdom continues to exist in some way within the succeeding kingdom that “devoured” it.

Daniel saw in his vision something that hadn’t been revealed to Nebuchadnezzar: the last human kingdom on earth would be a frightful kingdom, unlike any of the previous kingdoms, and it would even declare war on God (Daniel 7:8-12).

This is the kingdom of the Antichrist, described in Revelation 13 through 19, an evil kingdom that will be destroyed when Jesus Christ returns to earth (Daniel 7:11-12, 21-26).

What a comfort to know God wins in the end. And we, His saints, will be there with Christ our King to celebrate the greatest victory.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:Daniel: The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries bJohn Walvoord and Charles H. Dyer.

A Commentary on the Book of Daniel The book of Daniel is key to the entire Old Testament prophetic revelation.

Who better to help you understand Daniel’s stories, prophecies, and dreams—and give you a brighter hope for things to come—than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Charles Dyer, a Bible professor and expert on Israel?

In this second work of a renewed series of commentaries, Dr. Walvoord addresses alleged historical inaccuracies and considers past and future fulfillment of specific prophecies. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored.  Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you understand and interpret the book of Daniel and gain a better grasp of what the future may bring.

When Christians Backslide

When Christians Backslide

Do you know someone who used to be a strong Christian but for some reason has ultimately abandoned the faith? When Christians backslide, people can’t help but wonder if they are still saved or are forever lost. What future awaits those who came into the saving knowledge of Christ but in the end chose to go their own separate way?

In this post, we will have a Bible study on backsliding. What does it mean to be a backslidden Christian? What are the causes and results of backsliding?

Biblical Definitions of Backsliding

Before going any further, it is important that we first discuss what backsliding really is. What does it mean to say that one is a backslidden Christian?

The Cambridge dictionary defines backsliding as “going back to doing something bad when you have been doing something good, especially to stop working hard or to fail to do something that you had agreed to do.” 

But what does the Bible say?

1. Backsliding is turning away from God.

We read in 1 Kings 11:9-10 that “the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded.”

As we can see in this particular text, backsliding starts with the heart setting its focus on someone or something else other than God. It could be fame, wealth, power, and whatever it is that the world has to offer. The person who is on the verge of backsliding may not even be aware or could be in denial until it’s too late. 

This is a reminder for us to not only guard our hearts (Proverbs 24:3) but also to rend it and make it subject to the Word of God. Why? It’s because our heart is deceitful and could lead us astray (Jeremiah 17:9).

Guard your hearts

2. Backsliding is growing cold and leaving your first love.

Revelation 2:4 says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

In Jesus’ letter to the church in Ephesus through the apostle John, He specifically rebuked them for not loving Him and each other with the same intensity that they used to. Their love has become lukewarm and God said He does not want lukewarm Christians.

If you find yourself growing cold in your love for God, that should immediately raise a red flag. One of the signs that Jesus mentioned when His disciples asked Him about the signs of His coming is that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). 

Are you still zealous for God and His kingdom? Do you still find joy laboring in God’s vineyard the same way you did when you first came into the saving knowledge of Christ? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11, NIV).

3. Backsliding is turning away from the simplicity of the Gospel to salvation by law.

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

Most of us may not be aware that one of the signs that someone is backslidden is when they start questioning the sufficiency of the finished works of Christ and argue that good works are necessary for salvation. But we are warned that teaching work-based salvation is contrary to the gospel that Paul and the apostles preached. 

When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30),  it meant that God’s justice has been satisfied and His wrath appeased. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and He paid it in full. We do good works and try our best to live in accordance with the will of God as evidence that we are truly saved; not to add to what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross at Calvary.

4. Backsliding is separation from the Lord because of sin or iniquity.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

When you find yourself committing the same sin over and over again, that is an indication that you are no longer listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Either your heart has become callous or you are choosing to willfully and deliberately disobey God’s word. 

Causes of Backsliding

Although there are several outward causes of backsliding such as covetousness and love for the world, and the things that are in the world, we will focus on the true reasons why Christians choose to turn away from the Lord go back into the world.

1. Failure to pray.

Prayer means talking or communicating with God and consistent communication with Him is what strengthens our relationship. I remember my senior pastor saying, “No communication means no relation.”

How is your prayer life? Do still enjoy spending time with God, talking with and listening to Him?

To fail to pray is also a form of pride. When we do not consult with God in regard to any decision we make, we are saying we do not need His guidance and we do not care about His will.

2. Failure to read the Bible and meditate on it.

If you sincerely want the Lord’s will to be done in your life, then you need to feed on God’s Word. As I often say, “The Word of God is the will of God.” Watching preachers on TV or the internet is not the same as reading the Bible for yourself and asking God what He wants to tell you in His Word.

In the same way that our bodies need food, our spiritual life also needs spiritual food which is the Word of God. Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:4 hold true and remain to be true for every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus. how much time do you spend daily reading and meditating the Word of God?

Man shall not live by bread alone

We need to pray and read the Bible at the same time not only to be informed of the will of God and enlightened, but also to be encouraged and strengthened.

Note: Regular daily time spent alone with the Lord in prayer, praise and worship, and meditating the Bible is referred to as quiet time. And backslidden Christians who have come back to the Lord say that they lost out with God in their quiet time.

3. Failure to attend church.

Be sure to go to church at least once a week. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

You can’t expect to grow and mature spiritually without church fellowship. Many Christians who stopped coming to church eventually abandoned the faith and went back to their old sinful life.

4. Failure to obey the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is what convicts us of sin and when we do not obey Him, He is grieved. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Hebrews 10:25).

Note: As I already mentioned, willfully and deliberately disobeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit is a strong indication that we are turning away from the Lord. So, when you find yourself going against what God has said in His Word, know that you are heading towards destruction.

5. Failure to confess Christ.

We are given a stern warning in Matthew10:33, “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

One of the many things distinguishing a new believer from those who have been Christians for a while is their boldness to declare Christ as their Lord and Savior to the world. Sinners who just came to faith in Jesus are so pumped up and overwhelmed with the amazing grace of God that they want to let the whole world know how Jesus saved them despite their wickedness.

When was the last time you confessed Jesus as your Lord before a hostile group of people?

6. Failure to walk in the light.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God has called Christians out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Thus, we are to not only walk in the light but are also to be the light in this world of darkness (Matthew 5:14). 

Note: Generally speaking, backsliding is growing cold, losing interest in the Lord, Bible reading and meditation, prayer, church attendance, and witnessing, and turning toward or going back to the world.

Heres a song to remind us of the commitment we made to follow Jesus.

Results of Backsliding

1. Backsliding will result in the loss of power, a loss of peace, a loss of joy and happiness. Murmuring and darkness will begin to cloud the daily pathway.

2. Backsliding will result in the loss of salvation.

Consider the following passages:

“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him a warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:20).

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).

See also Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:10-11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21.

Does this mean that a backslidden Christian is forever lost? No! God’s unconditional love and amazing grace compel Him to constantly call and invite people to return to Him, accept His forgiveness, and be in fellowship with Him. One just needs to repent and receive God’s invitation.

Conclusion

We must understand that nobody backslides suddenly.

I am reminded of a church-mate who used to be very active in the church. She was the leader of the Dance Ministry and always sat on the front row for many years. Until one Sunday, she came to church but opted to not join her ministry for praise and worship. 

Surprisingly, she sat on the third row (or was it the fourth?) instead of her regular spot which is the first row in the music and dance ministry sitting area. The following Sunday she sat near the very back row. This continued for several Sundays until such time that she stopped coming. 

To end on a positive note, this sister was restored, praise God! The church leadership came to her rescue, counseled, and prayed for her. It turned out that her fiancé called off their engagement because he wanted to marry another woman. She has gone through a difficult ordeal but God is faithful.

He promised to “complete the work He has begun in us until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

Let us then “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).


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How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How important is it to discern the signs of the times? Many people today react negatively to any mention of the signs of the end times. They say it is foolish and unwarranted to look for or even talk about trends and developments that point toward the end times scenario portrayed in Scripture.

Is this negative outlook justified? In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus sternly rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their blindness to the sign of the times of His first coming.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus demanding that He show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove His authority, He replied, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the time” (Matthew 16:1-3).

Biblical Signs of the End of Days

Signs of the times, or the end of days, are visible events, sometimes miraculous or otherwise unexplainable, that point to something beyond themselves. Many signs were predicted by Jesus and the prophets throughout Scripture.

Signs are important; they help us know what to look for and what to pay attention to. When we read Bible prophecy, we can look for these “signs of the times” that show us what to be on the lookout for, much like a road sign points to what’s coming.

Jesus used the term “signs of the times” to verify His first coming. He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and performed the miracles of the Messiah right before the eyes of many people, yet they were blind to the clear confirmation of His identity.

Signs that we are living in the end times

Despite being shown signs to look for, the people didn’t pay attention. Jesus fulfilled 109 prophecies during His life on earth, and He indicted the Jewish leaders for missing these signs of His first coming.

Most people of that day missed the clear signs – Jesus’ visible miracles that confirmed the invisible truth that He was God. Those were the signs that verified His first coming, but what about the Second Coming? Have we been given any signs? What can we be looking for and paying attention to?

Signs for Jesus’ Second Coming

Luke recorded Jesus saying, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea, and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Here, Jesus clearly referred to “signs” that will portend His second coming back to earth.

In Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about the signs of the end of the age.” He didn’t also say, “I’m not going to tell you, it’s none of your business.”

Instead, Jesus outlined several general and specific signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:4-31). Since Jesus gave us signs like these, we should be careful not to ignore them and scoff at them. We need to listen to what Jesus was saying.

After listing some of the main signs, Jesus concluded with the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33. Many believe that the fig tree refers to the nation of Israel since fig trees represented Israel in the Old Testament. However, Jesus was probably using a natural illustration that anyone could relate to.

Just as the blossoming of the fig tree indicates that summer is near, so the fulfillment of the signs predicted in Matthew 24:4-31 will show that Jesus’ second coming is near. We do not scoff at the signs of spring but look for them with anticipation. It should be the same with Jesus’ return. We should look forward to it.

5 Signs of the End Times

Biblical prophecy doesn’t predict every insignificant ripple in our world today, but it does reveal the main currents and trends. Several key signs appear to be flashing in today’s headlines.

While many signs could be listed, here are five significant signs of the times that every believer should be aware of.

1. The Regathering of the Jewish People

The number one sign is the regathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. The Bible predicts over and over again that the Jews must be back in their homeland for the events of the end times to unfold (Jeremiah 30:1-5; Ezekiel 34:11-24; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Zechariah 10:6-10).

It is the most prophesied event in the end-time passages in the Bible, and for that reason, it is often called the “super sign” of the end times. Almost all the key events of the end times hinge on the existence of the nation of Israel.

In 1948 when the nation of Israel was re-established, only 6 percent of the Jews in the world were in Israel. Today, the statistic stands at almost 40 percent. The Jews have returned and continue to come home to their land – just as the ancient prophets predicted.

By the year 2030, it is estimated that half of the Jews worldwide will live in the land. This sign should be like a flashing red light to all who know the prophetic Scriptures.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

2. Surging Apostasy

A second sign of the end times is surging apostasy, that is, a departure from the truth, both doctrinally and morally (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; Jude 1:1-16). This apostasy foreshadows the final falling away that will break out as the end times begin to unfold (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3).

This current age will climax with a monumental falling away, both doctrinally and morally. While the church today may not be experiencing a full-blown apostasy on 2 Thessalonians, many within the church appear to be on the leading edge of it.

The book of Jude, which describes and denounces apostasy, also describes our modern world to a tee. Jude is the final book before Revelation and some have called it the preface to the book of Revelation. It portrays the conditions that will prevail before the events of Revelation are unleashed.

Deepening apostasy is a sign of the end times.

3. The Coming Middle East Peace

The third sign is the worldwide clamoring for peace in the Middle East. The one huge issue in our world today that often overshadows all others is the ongoing hostilities in the Middle East.

The Middle East peace process is a key sign of the end times because the signing of a peace treaty between the Antichrist (the leader of the Western Confederacy) and the nation of Israel signals the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

The current yearning for peace in the Middle East is setting the stage for the final covenant of peace between the Antichrist and Israel predicted in the Bible.

4. Reuniting of the Roman Empire

The fourth sign of the end times is the rebirth of the Roman Empire. As the end times begin to unfold, global alliances will emerge as nations scramble for political power and dwindling economic resources.

Out of this quickly shifting situation, a coalition of nations, headed by ten leaders, will emerge to protect the interests of the West. This alliance will reconstitute the Roman Empire. This “Group of Ten” I first mentioned in Daniel 2:41-44, where it is symbolized as ten toes on a great statue.

In Daniel 7:7 and Daniel 7:24 this same ruling oligarchy of ten leaders is symbolized by ten horns on a beast that represents the last world empire – the Roman Empire in its final form.

Its final leader, the Antichrist, will eventually be able to seize control of the ten leaders and consolidate power very much as the Roman Empire did in the past (Daniel 7:8).

5. Globalism

A fifth key sign of the times is globalism. Ever since Genesis 10–11 when Satan ruled the world through one man named Nimrod, Satan’s goal has been to get the world together again so he can rule it all.

World history bears out this pattern. It’s the record of one person after another trying to rule the world. Many of the power-hungry rulers who have cruelly subjugated nations under their feet have been energized by Satan to foster his goal of globalization.

For the first time in history since Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel, globalization is within man’s (and Satan’s) reach. It is most significant that in the twenty-first century, not only does a need for world government exists, but the technology for establishing such a government is now in our hands.

5 Signs of the End Times

Today the electronic media, especially the use of television via satellite, is a tremendous tool that allows instant communication around the world. Access to the internet and satellite cell phones reach around the globe. The capacity for missile warfare also makes world rule possible.

In terms of economics, the Bible predicts that the world ruler will have absolute control of the economy, and no one will be able to buy and sell without his permission (Revelation 13:17). Today, electronic fund transfers, electronic banking, and debit and credit cards make this literally possible for the first time in world history.

The necessary ingredients for a world government are present for the first time in the history of civilization. The time may not be far away when such a government – foretold in Scripture long before one was possible – will have its accurate and complete fulfillment.

The Final Act

Sometimes life feels like entering a dark theatre and realizing you are coming in near the end of a play with several acts. We didn’t write it. We didn’t ask to be thrust into the play. Yet we can be certain this drama is nearing the last and final act.

Even though we didn’t see the beginning of the play, we can look back and see and see its plot and direction. But even then, how can we be sure when the next act will start?

The biblical prophets talked a lot about the last act. What we can do is look for the events that set it up. If those events occur, we can be fairly certain the final act is just ahead. When the curtain comes down on the current scene, will the next act be the last?

But more importantly, will we be wise enough to see it coming? Will we be ready? The only way we can be ready is if we can discern the signs of the times and know something about the last and final act.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

Recommended Resource: Bible Prophecy Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know About the End Times by Ron Rhodes

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

In the study of end times prophecy, there are several key players whose identities are critical to understanding what’s happening. God highlights these players and provides important information about them.

One set of key actors in the end times is a mysterious group of 144,000 people who faithfully serve the Lord. They are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 and discussed again in Revelation 14:1-5.

The 144,000 have been the subject of considerable speculation. Who is this congregation of God’s people?

Identity of the 144,000

The most common view is that the 144,000 in the book of Revelation represent the church of Jesus Christ, which is understood as the true, spiritual Israel. The problem with this view is that the word Israel is never used for the church in the New Testament.

Also, it is interesting that Jews and Gentiles are clearly distinguished from one another in Revelation 7. The 144,00 Jews are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 while Revelation 7:9-17 presents an innumerable host of “every nation and tribe and people and language. Merging these two groups does not do justice to the distinction that Revelation 7 makes.

Who, then, are these 144,000 servants of God?

The Identity of the 144,000 in Revelation

If the Scriptures are interpreted literally, then the 144,000 are a literal group of 144,000 Jewish men – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel – raised up by God during the Tribulation to serve Him.

They are not spiritual Israel (the church), but actual Israel. As John F. Walvoord says, “Israel’s tribes are still in existence, and God certainly knows who they are.”

Characteristics of the 144,000

Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-5 highlight six main characteristics that provide insight into the identity and ministry of these 144,000 servants of God.

1. Purchased

The 144,000 “had been purchased from the earth” (Revelation 14:3, NASB). The word purchased means to “redeem or pay the price for something.” The precious blood of Christ redeemed or purchased these servants of God. They have been bought at a price and they belong to the Lord as His special possession.

2. Prepared

The 144,000 are prepared for God’s service by being given His seal (Revelation 7:3-4).

During the Tribulation, the followers of the Beast will bear his mark on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16). During this same time, the Lord will identify His people by placing a seal of ownership on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).

It is important to note that Revelation 7 and 13 use two different Greek words distinguishing these marks from each other. In Revelation 7, God seals the 144,000 on their foreheads. The word used there, sphragizo, symbolizes the spiritual sealing mentioned throughout the New Testament (John 3:33; 6:27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

But in Revelation 13 where followers of the Antichrist are given a mark, the word charagma is used, which refers to a literal brand, tattoo, or etching.

The seal of the 144,000 sets them apart and prepares them for God’s service.

3. Protected

God’s seal not only prepares the 144,000 for service, but it also protects them. The seal is God’s pledge of security. God seals the 144,000 before allowing the four angels to bring their judgment on the earth (Revelation 7:1-3). The 144,000 will be protected from the wrath of God and Satan during the Tribulation (Revelation 9:4).

In Revelation 14:1-5, John sees the 144,000 at the end of the Tribulation standing triumphantly on Mount Zion – the city of Jerusalem. Notice he doesn’t see 143,999. Rather, all 144,000 have been divinely preserved by the Lord. Not one has been overlooked.

God will preserve and protect His sealed servants for seven years through the horror of the Tribulation. His pledge of security will be fulfilled.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

4. Pure

The 144,000 are pure virgins who have not defiled themselves with women (Revelation 14:4). Many interpret this figuratively – meaning they are spiritually undefiled and pure, separated from the corruption and pollution of false religion.

However, Scripture’s explicit statement that they are not defiled with women suggests that they are male, celibate servants of God. In light of the pressures of the Tribulation period, they are called by God to abstain from normal married life and devote themselves totally to the Lord’s service (1 Corinthians 7:29-35).

5. Persistent

The 144,000 persevere in their service for the Lord even under the direst circumstances.

During the terrible days of the Tribulation they constantly “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). Jesus is the Lamb, but He is also the Shepherd. He knows the way, and the 144,000 follow Him wherever He leads.

6. Preachers

These Jewish servants fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Christ during the Tribulation period. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship in Revelation 7 between the 144,000 in verses 1-8 and the innumerable crowd of Gentile believers in verses 9-17.

The ministry of the 144,000 brings about salvation for millions of people. They will be the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen. These sealed servants of God will fulfill Matthew 24:14. Revelation 7 provides a panorama of God’s saving work during the Tribulation.

The 144,000 reveal God’s passion to save people even in the middle of the unspeakable judgment of the Tribulation. To the very end, the Savior will graciously continue “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Why are the 144,000 Important?

The 144,000 are important for three reasons.

First, they reveal God’s faithfulness to His promises. God seals them in Revelation 7 and keeps them to the end of the Tribulation. They make it all the way through under God’s protecting hand. God keeps His promises.

Second, we learn that even in judgment, God is merciful. God will use the 144,000 as messengers of mercy during the Tribulation. Every judgment of God beginning with Noah all the way to the Tribulation, including the judgment of God’s own Son on the cross, reveals God’s mercy.

Third, these Jewish witnesses will help fulfill the prophecy Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14. The 144,000 will spread the good news all over the globe during the Tribulation, and the end won’t come until they’re finished.


Reference Material: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades. Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century.

The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Does Religiosity Equal Christianity

Do you know that one major reason why people are hesitant to become Christians is the notion that they have to be religious? This has negative connotations for most people. But does one need to be religious to be a Christian? Does religiosity equal Christianity?

First of all, we need to understand that Christianity is NOT a religion in the same way Islam or Hinduism is. Rather, it is a relationship with the living God.

In this short post, we will look at two important points that need to be made in dealing with this issue.

Religiosity vs. Christianity

One of the things that differentiate religion from Christianity is that the former consists of rules and rituals – things that people must do and other things they must not do. However, Christianity, though it has rules to follow, is basically a relationship between man (humanity) and the Creator.

When one becomes a Christian, he or she enters into a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus.

Christ Himself said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

To become a Christian is a personal matter; it is a personal decision made by the sinner when he acknowledges his need for God. This is then followed by a desire to know God’s laws and precepts and to obey them (Psalm 119:33).

Christianity is not merely a set of laws and rules. It is a relationship between the living God and those who believe in Him. Thus, at its heart, Christianity is relational.

What is True Religion?

The Bible Condemns Empty Religiosity

The Bible strongly condemns religion that is without any genuine substance. We read so many instances where Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23:2, 3, 27, 28).

If religiosity equals true Christianity, Jesus would not have strong words for the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were strictly living according to the Mosaic Law. By doing so, Jesus exposed their hypocrisy.

Does this mean religion is not important? Some argue that without religion, it would be impossible to practice what God in His written Word has instructed us to do. This is where we need to distinguish between empty and genuine religion.

Scripture informs us what true religion should be and that is living out what you believe. James wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not religiosity; a Christian is not someone religious. A Christian is one who has a pers0nal relationship with the living God through Christ.

Conclusion

Religion is not attractive to most people because it conjures up the idea of several rules and rituals that one must strictly adhere to. Oftentimes, people follow these rules without any sense of personal satisfaction or fulfillment.

In that sense of the word, Christianity is not a religion.

Don’t be religious; be a Christian, a Christ-follower who has a loving relationship with the Creator.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

Since winning the Six-Day War in June 1967, the nation of Israel has grown into a world military power and has proven its ability to defend itself. But according to the Bible, the greatest threat to modern Israel’s continued existence has yet to happen.

This is when Israel will be attacked by a coalition of nations from every direction. The prophet Ezekiel describes this invasion, known as the Battle of Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel 38-39. This coalition of invading nations will be motivated by a seething desire to eradicate Israel, enrich themselves, and entangle Israel’s allies in the war.

Participants of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

The prophecy of the Battle of Gog and Magog begins with a list of ten proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3
and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’”

4 “I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops–many people are with you.”

7 “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.”

Note: Italics added for emphasis

Gog

While the other nine proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7 are specific geographical locations, the name Gog, which occurs eleven times in Ezekiel 38-39, is clearly an individual who heads the coalition of invaders.  He is also directly addressed by God several times (Ezekiel 38:14; 39:1) and is called a prince (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1).

Ezekiel may have used ancient names familiar to the people of his day and these names have changed many times throughout history, but the geographical territory remains the same. Regardless of what names they may carry at the time of this invasion, a literal interpretation holds that these specific geographical areas will be involved.

Let’s take a look at each of these ancient locations and examine them and then we will identify the modern counterpart.

Magog

The Jewish historian Josephus said the land of Magog was inhabited by ancient Scythians. The Scythians were northern nomadic tribes who inhabited the territory from Central Asia across the southern steppes of modern Russia.

Magog today probably represents nations from the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Afghanistan could also be part of this territory.

Rosh

Bible scholars have often identified Rosh with Russia. But this conclusion has not been unanimous.

The word rosh in Hebrew simply means “head, top, summit, or chief.” It is a very common word used in all Semitic languages. Although most Bible translations translate rosh as a common noun – “chief,” the Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, and New American Standard Bible all translate Rosh as a proper name indicating a geographical location.

Several arguments support taking Rosh as a proper name but the most impressive evidence is simply that this translation in this context is the most natural. G. A. Cooke translates Ezekiel 38:2, “the chief of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” He calls this “the most natural way” of rendering the Hebrews.

After establishing that Rosh should be translated as a proper name for a geographical area, the question now is where is Rosh? The great Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius noted that Rosh is “undoubtedly the Russians.”

Ezekiel 38-39 emphasizes repeatedly that at least part of this invading force will come from the “remote parts of the north” (Ezekiel 38:6, 15; 39:2). The Bible usually provides directions about Israel, which, on God’s compass, is the center of the earth (Ezekiel 38:12).

If you draw a line directly north from Israel, the land that is most remote or distant to the north is Russia.

Meshech and Tubal

Meshech and Tubal are normally mentioned together in Scripture. Aside from Ezekiel 38:2, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned two other times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:13; 32:26).

In Ezekiel 27:13, they are mentioned as trading partners with ancient Tyre. It is highly unlikely that ancient Tyre (modern Lebanon) was trading with Moscow and the Siberian city of Tobolsk. The preferred identification is that Meshech and Tubal are the ancient Moschoi and Tibarenoi in Greek writings or Tabal and Musku in Assyrian inscriptions.

These ancient locations are in present-day Turkey.

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog
Photo Credits: Pinterest/Revelation Bible

Persia

 The words Persia, Persian, and Persians are found thirty-five times in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 38:5, Persia is best understood as modern-day Iran. The land of Persia became the modern nation of Iran in March 1935, and then the name was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Libya (Put)

Some ancient sources indicate that Put or Phut was a North African nation. The New Living Translation documents this identification in footnotes for several passages, including Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 46:9; and Ezekiel 27:10; 38:5.

From the Babylonian Chronicles, tablets that recorded ancient Babylonian history, it appears that Put was the “distant” land to the west of Egypt, which would be modern-day Libya and could possibly include nations further west such as modern-day Algeria and Tunisia.

The Septuagint renders the word Put as Libues.

Ethiopia (Cush)

Modern versions often translate the Hebrew word Cush in Ezekiel 38:5 as “Ethiopia.” Ancient Cush was called Kusu by the Assyrians and Babylonians, Kos or Kas by the Egyptians, and Nubia by the Greeks.

Secular history locates Cush directly south of ancient Egypt, extending south past the modern city of Khartoum, which is the capital of modern Sudan. Thus, modern Sudan inhabits the ancient land of Cush.

Gomer

Gomer has often been identified by Bible teachers as Germany, or more particularly East Germany before the fall of Communism. This identification is superficial and not the literal meaning of the word in its cultural and historic context.

Gomer is probably a reference to the ancient Cimmerians or Kimmerioi. Ancient history identifies biblical Gomer with the Akkadian Gi-mir-ra-a and the Armenian Gamir. Beginning in the eighth century BC, the Cimmerians occupied territory is what is now modern Turkey.

Josephus noted that the Gomerites were identified with the Galatians who inhabited what today is central Turkey.

Beth-Togarmah

The Hebrew word beth means “house,” so Beth-Togarmah means the “house of Togarmah.” Ezekiel 27:14 mentions Togarmah as a nation that traded horses and mules with ancient Tyre.

Ezekiel 38:6 states that the armies of Beth-Togarmah will join in, too, from the distant north. Ancient Togarmah was also known as Til-garamu (Assyrian) or Tegarma (Hittite), and its territory is in modern Turkey, north of Israel.

Based on these identifications, Ezekiel 38-39 predicts an invasion of the land of Israel in the last days by a vast confederation of nations from north of the Black and Caspian Seas, extending to modern Iran in the east, as far as modern Libya to the west, and Sudan in the south.

Therefore, Russia will have at least five key allies: Turkey, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and the Central Asian nations of the former Soviet Union.

Timing of the Battle

The battle of Gog and Magog will occur in the future, in the end times, but when in the future? While there is a general agreement about many of the details in Ezekiel 38-39, the timing of battle is the most debated issue. Scholars have located the battle at almost every major point in the end times from the Rapture all the way to the end of the Millennium.

Some believe the battle will take place before the Rapture; others believe it will occur between the Rapture and the Tribulation; others believe it will take place in conjunction with the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation. Some believe it occurs at the end of the Millennium since Revelation 20:8 refers to Gog and Magog. Others maintain that it will unfold in phases throughout the Tribulation.

Thankfully, we are not left to our own speculation in timing the events of Ezekiel 38-39. The passage gives us clues that suggest when this battle will take place. One of which is when Israel is at peace (Ezekiel 38:11).

Daniel 9:27 tells us that there’s coming a time when Israel will sign a peace treaty with the Antichrist, which will guarantee protection for the Jewish people and Israel will be able to relax. This is the first half of the Tribulation or what’s called Daniel’s seventieth week.

This peacetime moment in Israel’s history fits the prophetic scenario perfectly. With these guarantees of secure borders and international peace, Israel will turn her energies toward increasing wealth rather than defense. But the peace treaty will be shattered less than four years later.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

The Purpose of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

What is the purpose of this invasion? The passage gives both the human and the divine purposes for the invasion.

The invaders will have four main goals: the land, money, total destruction of Israel, and power. First, the invading forces will desire to acquire more territory (Ezekiel 38:8). Any military invasion of this magnitude and scope always includes land.

Then there’s money. The invaders will come to plunder Israel and amass wealth (Ezekiel 38:12). One might wonder, “What wealth does Israel have?” No one knows for sure what this will entail, but discoveries of vast gas reserves off the coast of Israel could be part of the equation as oil becomes more scarce in the future, triggering energy wars. Make no mistake – greed will be a key motive behind the Gog invasion.

The third is racism. The invading horde will come to destroy the people of Israel and wipe them off the face of the earth (Ezekiel 38:10, 16). This is in keeping with the hatred we see for the Jewish people in Israel’s neighbors today.

Fourth is power. These nations will use this attack to challenge the Antichrist, who will be Israel’s ally as a result of the peace treaty (Daniel 9:27). Their attack on Israel will also be an attack against the Western confederacy, attempting to draw it into an open confrontation.

Finally, while the invaders will have their evil intent, God will also have His own motivation. He says that through this attack He will be sanctified in the eyes of the nations: “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes” (Ezekiel 38:16).

Result of the War

When the forces invade Israel, there will be no stopping them. They will be bent on war and destruction. The timing will seem perfect, and the invaders will not back down. It will look like the biggest mismatch in history. The Arab invasion of Israel in 1967 and 1973 will pale in comparison. The Jewish people will be unable to overcome their enemies by their own strength and ingenuity. Gog and his army will cover Israel like a cloud. It will look like Israel is finished.

However, God will come to the rescue of His people and will quickly annihilate the invaders by supernatural means (Ezekiel 38:18-22).

Ezekiel 38-39 describes what we might call “One-Day-War” or even the “One-Hour-War” or “When Gog Meets God.” God will mount up in His fury to destroy these godless invaders.

This coalition of nations will brashly swoop down on Israel to take her land, but the only piece of land they will claim in Israel will be their burial plots (Ezekiel 39:12). They will set out to bury Israel, but God will bury them.

The Prophetic Significance

Is the world stage being set for the fulfillment of this incredible prophecy? Many major developments point toward the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, but three key elements stand out.

First, the Jewish people are back in their land, fulfilling the major pre-condition for this invasion. Second, the nations predicted in Ezekiel 38 all have the will and desire to wipe out the Jewish people and these nations are forming alliances with one another.

Third, according to Ezekiel 39:2, 4, Israel will possess the “mountains of Israel” when this invasion occurs. God tells the future invaders: “I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.”

“You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.”

The famous Six-Day-War in Israel in 1967 helped set the stage to fulfill this prophecy. Before the Six-Day-war the mountains of Israel were in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs, except for a small strip of West Jerusalem.

Only since that war have the mountains of Israel been in Israel. Thus many pieces of the prophetic puzzle are already in place for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Conclusion

Events in the Middle East today strikingly foreshadow this coming invasion. The continued unrest and smoldering hatred for Israel are necessary ingredients for what the Bible predicts.

Nations are rising and falling. The world is focused on the Middle East. Israel is in the crosshairs. No one knows when the Lord will come or how much time remains before the Battle of Gog and Magog plunges the Middle East into war.

There will undoubtedly be many twists and turns, some expected and others we could never imagine in today’s climate. But God’s Word is clear – when the world stage is set, this invasion will occur right on time in the unfolding of God’s end-times script.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.

The end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades. Mark Hitchcock’s book is that comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise?

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise?

The growing popularity of yoga in western culture has raised concerns and stirred some debates as to whether Christians should be practicing it. Is yoga demonic? Is it okay for Christians to stretch their bodies while meditating on God’s Word? What does the Bible say about yoga?

The Origin of Yoga

Yoga originated in ancient India thousands of years ago. The word “yoga” means “to unify, yoke, or join together.” It comes from the ancient Sanskrit root word “yug” which means “to unify.”

While many people in modern times think of yoga as just a physical practice to help them become physically healthier, yoga is deeply spiritual. The goal is to attain wisdom, ultimate knowledge, and freedom by losing one’s sense of self and uniting your soul with the universal consciousness.

Transcendental Meditation

Yoga practice is a form of Transcendental Meditation (TM) popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1960s. It came about as a result of his diagnosis of the human predicament that we who were actually part (or extension) of the infinite Brahman were unaware of the fact due to our ignorance and preoccupation with ordinary things.

To find our union with the Infinite, we needed to transcend the ordinary by the practice of the appropriate meditation. This was the classical pantheistic teaching of the early guru Sankara (A.D. 788-820).

However, Yogi suggested a very practical and down-to-earth way of meditation that needed any sophistication and practically no knowledge of Hinduism or speculative philosophy. In his prayer hall (asham) in northern India, he would assign a monosyllabic word to each of the devotees in the language with which they were comfortable.

Yoga is Transcendental Meditation

Each devotee would have to repeat the assigned word audibly as a chant during all of one’s waking moments. One could change over to a silent mode as long as the preoccupation was with that one word. After a few days, when the conscious mind was preoccupied with the word, the devotee was advised to expel the thought of that word so that the mind would become theoretically blank.

In that moment of blackness, one could suddenly have inward enlightenment that one was an extension of Brahman. It was at this point that one would have transcended the transient to find the inward liberation that is the longing of the human heart.

A moment’s reflection would show that the meditation recommended by Maharishi Yogi involves an emptying of the mind. He argued that the clutter in our human minds came in the way of true knowledge of the Infinite.

The Teaching Behind Yoga

The term yoga is comprehensively and somewhat interchangeably to describe certain physical and mental techniques and exercises that facilitate the realization of the union of the finite with the infinite. Note that union is not achieved – it need not be because it is a reality rather than achieving a union that is not there, to begin with.

To bring about this self-realization, a series of physical and meditation techniques are proposed. These are by no means uniform or similar and in fact can be quite diverse, depending on the particular school of yoga.

The techniques are inaugurated in the form of physical exercises, although in some cases they may involve worship of the sun or the lotus form, the flower being the abode of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. These worship forms depend on the theological preferences of the Hindu school advocating yoga.

Yoga Advances Into the Western Culture

As previously stated, yoga is a practice in the East but somehow found its way to the West. In order not to offend Western sensibilities, yoga these days is purveyed without any theological overtones but only as a series of physical exercises, and in most cases, these exercises can have beneficial physical effects.

Yoga teachers often encourage their students to meditate – without necessarily telling them what to meditate on or how to do it. They may even tell Christian students to meditate on Jesus Christ! The idea, of course, is that one thinks about and reflects on the subject of meditation which is in itself is of no great concern.

However, as one advances in the yoga course, one is often called on to be increasingly involved in a meditation that entails vacating the mind.

Should Christians Do Yoga Exercise

Why Christians Should Not Do Yoga

Christians who think that yoga practice is nothing more than physical exercises should think twice about doing it as it has a spiritual aspect to it. It’s worth repeating that yoga involves totally emptying the mind during meditation.

This is dangerous because a demonic dimension may arise out of content-less meditation.

In a teaching recorded by Matthew, Jesus seems to be alluding to a situation in which the evil spirit has gone out of a person only to return and find “the house empty, swept, and put in order” (Matthew 12:43-45). This could be the state of a person whose mind is inactive in the passive sense after having been vacated of all other entities.

In earlier times, the idle mind is said to be the “devil’s workshop” because yoga and other forms of transcendental meditation are not anchored on objective truth. There is room not only for error but also for the occult. The devil delights to oppress (and even possess) the empty mind of the unbeliever where there is no seeking after the God of truth.

We will also do well to remember that meditation in this sense is “looking inward” to self rather than “looking outward” to God. It’s because the metaphysical teaching behind this meditation is that we are extensions of the Infinite Reality of Brahman. We are encouraged to look inward to realize this “truth” that we are part of the Infinite.

Let’s not forget that the sin of the “morning star” was that he would “make himself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14). This attempt at self-realization as part of the Infinite is the subtlest form of idolatry and thus an inevitable port of entry or the work of the devil.

In contrast, the Triune God of the Christian faith is capable of eternal communication. He is a God who creates by speaking, so much so that the universe can be believed to be real and objective, just as a spoken word is.

This God has created us capable of thinking and speaking. To belittle the faculty of thinking is to despise our created being. However, the response to wrong meditation is not “no” meditation, but the right meditation.

The Bible enjoins us to meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2) and to “think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

Conclusion

Christians in the West tend to play straight into the jaws of the New Age and other Eastern religious philosophies and practices. This is because these religions and practices seem to offer a quick-fix relief to the stress-filled lifestyles of the twenty-first century. Yoga stretching exercises are also very useful to help people stay healthy.

So, should Christians practice yoga? The simple answer is “no.” A Christian cannot do yoga exercises without getting caught up in the spiritual and religious aspects of it. Yoga is more than just physical exercise. Keep in mind that the point of yoga practice is to unite oneself with the Infinite.

The Bible exhorts us to meditate not on nothing by vacating our minds. Rather, we are to meditate on the Word of God, his Law, precepts, and goodness (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 97).


Reference: Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith
General Editors: Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential Figure by Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray

Encounter Jesus Like Never Before through Eastern Eyes

Seeing Jesus from the East: A Fresh Look at History’s Most Influential Figure by Ravi Zacharias and Abdu MurrayThroughout these pages, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray invite readers to rediscover the cultural insights we often miss when we ignore the Eastern context of the Bible.

They offer a refreshing picture of Jesus, one that appeals to Eastern readers and can penetrate the hearts and imaginations of postmodern Westerners.

In Seeing Jesus from the East, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray show us why a broader view of Jesus is needed – one that recognizes the uniquely Eastern ways of thinking and communicating found in the pages of the Bible.

Zacharias and Murray capture a revitalized gospel message, presenting it through this Eastern lens and revealing its power afresh to Western hearts and minds.

Incorporating story, vivid imagery, and the concepts of honor and shame, sacrifice, and rewards, Seeing Jesus from the East calls believers and skeptics, both Eastern and Western, to a fresh encounter with the living and boundless Jesus.

Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture

Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture

The timing of the rapture is one of the most debated issues in eschatology. Most Christians agree that the rapture will occur, but the same is not true when it comes to when it will occur.

Will the rapture take place before the Tribulation (Pre-trib), in the middle (Mid-trib), or at the end of the Tribulation (Post-trib)? Whatever view one holds, one must acknowledge its drawbacks, for every view of the timing of the rapture has strengths and weaknesses.

However, it is in my opinion that a pre-tribulation rapture view has the best scriptural support and the fewest drawbacks.

7 Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

So, what is the Scriptural evidence for the pre-trib position? Is it the most popular simply because it’s more appealing than the other views? After all, being caught up to heaven before the terror of the Tribulation doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

In this article, I will present the seven most compelling biblical arguments for the pre-trib position. These seven points are arranged into a handy acronym that spells out the word PRE-TRIB.

Defending Pre-Trib Rapture

Place of the Church in Revelation

If the church will experience any or all of the Tribulation, then one would expect that Revelation chapters 4 to 18, the most detailed description of the Tribulation, would include an account of the church’s role during that time period. But remarkably, Revelation 4-18 is silent about the church on earth.

The Greek word for church is ekklesia and this word occurs 20 times in the book of Revelation. Revelation 1-3 specifically mentions the church 19 times. The glorified Lord addresses 7 letters to 7 specific churches in Asia Minor. In them, the Lord instructs and admonishes each church.

But suddenly, beginning in Revelation 4, the word ekklesia disappears. From chapters 4 to 18 (that’s fifteen chapters of the book of Revelation), not once does the word church appear.

In Revelation 4:1 the apostle John is lifted up to heaven and transported into the future, where he sees visions of the end of days. He is carried forward in a kind of divine time machine.

In the subsequent chapters, from Revelation 4 through Revelation 18, John watches and describes the events of the Tribulation as they unfold on earth. But the church is absent from any of these events.

The church doesn’t appear again until chapter 19, where she is pictured as a bride returning to earth with her glorious bridegroom. This returning from heaven to earth with Christ indicates that the Bride has already been in heaven for some time since she has “prepared herself” (Revelation 19:7). Revelation 22:16 refers to the church again for the final time, specifically using the word ekklesia.

The absence of the church from Revelation 4-18 is convincing evidence that the church will not be present on earth during the Tribulation and the outpouring of God’s wrath.

Objections to this Argument

Post-tribbers argue that the word saints (holy ones) occurs several times in Revelation 4-18, which describes the church as present on earth during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7, 10; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24). But pre-tribbers counter that these “saints” are not church-age believers but “Tribulation saints.”

Let us not forget that there are 3 distinct groups of believers: Old Testament saints, church-age saints, and Tribulation saints.

The fact that Revelation chapters 4 to 18 mention saints indicate that there will be believers on earth during the Tribulation, but it doesn’t prove that they are church-age believers. Again, the key to determining this is the context of the passage.

Another argument from post-tribbers is this: “What evidence is there in Revelation that the church is in heaven during the Tribulation?”

Pre-tribbers believe the “twenty-four elders” represent the church throughout Revelation 4-19 (Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5-6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4). The elders appear twelve times in these chapters and in each instance, they are in heaven worshiping Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. From their first mention in Revelation 4:4, the 24 elders are pictured in heaven, judged, rewarded, and enthroned.

Revelation 4-19 consistently pictures the church in heaven, representing it by the 24 elders enthroned and crowned, dressed in white, and worshiping the Lamb.

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Rapture versus Return

The New Testament describes two facets of Christ’s second coming: (1) He will come FOR His church to escort her to His Father’s house (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16), and (2) He will come WITH His saints when He descends from heaven to judge His enemies and establish His glorious 1 thousand-year Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

How can these facets both be true of Christ’s second coming? These seemingly contradictory events are best resolved by the pre-trib rapture view.

The first facet is the RAPTURE of the church, wherein the Lord takes believers from earth to His Father’s house (John 14:3). The second facet is commonly called the SECOND COMING of Christ wherein believers return with Christ from heaven to the earth (Matthew 24:30).

Both describe the Lord’s coming, but their difference indicates that they are two unique stages occurring at two separate times. Between these two stages, the Tribulation happens. The first stage – the Rapture – is imminent and signless and could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

The Second Coming, on the other hand, will be preceded by all kinds of signs (Matthew 24:1-29). The same event cannot be both signless and yet preceded by numerous signs. This is patently contradictory.

It is difficult for other views to make sense of the passages that describe these two stages differently. But by calling them two stages of the same event, the pre-trib view successfully harmonizes these two descriptions of Christ’s coming.

Exemption from Divine Wrath

It’s common to hear people say that pre-tribbers are just escapists. We just want a view that removes us from all the world’s troubles. Post-tribbers argue that it’s arrogant for believers today to think that of all the generation of believers who have lived, we are somehow so special that we will be exempt from the coming Tribulation if the Rapture occurs in our lifetime.

Pre-tribbers are not saying that Christians are spared from the troubles and trials of this life. Jesus Himself said that in this world His followers will face trials and tribulations (John 16:33). Believers in every generation have faced their share of trouble (James 1:2-4; Acts 14:22). True believers will face the common trials of life (sickness, marital and family problems, physical and emotional stress, discouragement and depression, persecution for their faith, loss of their jobs, and die).

Why? It’s because we live in a fallen world!

But the troubles of this life that we all face are vastly different from the wrath of God poured out on a sinful planet during the future Tribulation. All Christians will face tribulation in a general sense today. But the wrath during the 7-year Tribulation is wrath in a specific sense.

Today, people endure the wrath and persecution from men and the wrath and persecution from Satan. While the wrath of man and Satan will still be around during the Tribulation, the Tribulation will be more defined by the wrath of God than anything else.

Why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

It doesn’t make sense, though, for God’s people to endure God’s wrath. Part of what salvation in Christ means is that God saves us from the wrath we deserve (Ephesians 2:2-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

It has always been God’s pattern not to judge the righteous with the wicked. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom when God poured out His wrath on the cities of the plain (Genesis 18 – 19). Enoch was raptured to heaven before the flood (Genesis 5:23-24).

The Bible promises that church-age believers will be exempt from the coming wrath of God during the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10).

The wrath of God commences with the first seal (Revelation 6:1) and continues until the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21). The whole Tribulation is period is the outpouring of God’s wrath; this requires that Christ’s bride be exempt from this entire time of trouble, not just some part of it.

Why would God leave the bride of Christ (church) to endure His wrath?

Time Gap Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

Sure, there are obvious similarities between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus. In both cases, Jesus descends from heaven. But there are also some differences.

Post-tribbers insist that the rapture and the second coming are just one event. However, there are biblical prophecies indicating that these events cannot be simultaneous, that there must be an interval of time between them.

There are four end-time events that will take place in between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.

1. The Judgment Seat of Christ

The New Testament clearly states that all church-age believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ in heaven. Interestingly, in the detailed accounts of the second coming of Christ, the judgment seat of Christ is never mentioned (Revelation 19:11-21).

Assuming this judgment would require some passage of time, the pre-trib gap of 7 years between the Rapture and the Second Coming would accommodate such a requirement.

2. The Preparation of Christ’s Bride

In Luke 12:36, the Word says that when Christ returns, He will be returning from a wedding. At the rapture, Jesus is married to His bride, the church. After the wedding, He will return to earth with His bride.

Revelation 19:7-10 pictures the church as a bride who has been made ready for marriage to her groom.

3. Life in the Millennial Kingdom

A third event that requires some gap of time between the Rapture and the Second Coming is the presence of believers in mortal, physical bodies during the 1-thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.

Isaiah 65:20-25 (which talks about the Millennial Kingdom) seems to suggest that, during the Millennium, people will carry on ordinary occupations (farming, planting vineyards, and building houses) and they will bear children, populating the messianic kingdom.

Revelation 20:1-6 says that, when Christ returns to earth, He will establish His kingdom that will last for 1 thousand years. Old Testament saints, church-age believers, and believers who died during the Tribulation will all enter the millennial kingdom in their glorified bodies, having been resurrected at various points before the Millennium.


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Meanwhile, those believers who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation and survive until the Second Advent will enter the millennial kingdom of Christ in their natural, human bodies.

Here’s the problem with the post-trib view. If all saints were caught up in a post-Tribulation rapture prior to the Millennium, there would be no people in natural bodies to repopulate the Kingdom. In a post-trib rapture, all believers would already have a glorified body.

4. Separation of the Sheep and the Goats

Matthew 25:31-46 depicts God’s judgment of Gentiles. This judgment will occur after the Second Coming and at the beginning of the Millennium. The people gathered at this judgment will be survivors of the Great Tribulation. Jesus will divide the Gentiles into 2 groups, believers and unbelievers (the sheep and the goats).

This dividing up indicates that both believers and unbelievers will be alive on the earth at Jesus’ second coming. Why is this noteworthy?

If the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event and will occur together, as post-tribbers claim, and all living believers are caught up to meet Jesus and escort Him back to earth, then there won’t be any sheep left on earth when Jesus arrives. All that would be left are goats.

In a pre-trib rapture, many people would come to know the Lord during the Tribulation and before the Second Coming, and these Tribulation saints would account for the “sheep” in Matthew 25:31-46. Once again, a time gap between the Rapture and Second Coming is the best way to account for this passage.

Removal of the Restrainer

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-8 describe the revelation of the “man of sin” or the “man of lawlessness.” This is the Antichrist whose identity remains hidden according to Paul and that the lawlessness continues in secret until he is revealed. And then Paul continues to say that something or someone is holding him back from being revealed – the restrainer.

Who is the restrainer? Who is holding back the Antichrist from being revealed?

Down through the centuries many candidates have been suggested: The Roman Empire, the Jewish State, The Apostle Paul, The Preaching of the Gospel, Satan, Human Government, An Unknown Heavenly Being, Michael the Archangel, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.

The great Bible teacher and expositor Donald Grey Barnhouse summarized this view.

“Well, what is keeping the Antichrist from putting in his appearance on the world stage? You are! You and every other member of the body of Christ on earth. The presence of the church of Jesus Christ is the restraining force that refuses to allow the man of lawlessness to be revealed.

True, it is the Holy Spirit who is the real restrainer. But as both 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19 teach, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. Put all believers together then, with the Holy Spirit indwelling each of us, and you have a formidable restraining force.”

When the rapture occurs, the Spirit-indwelt church and its restraining influence will be removed. That will release the world to sin as it never has before.

Imminency

The doctrine of imminency is the view that Christ could return at any moment. The strongest evidence in the Bible of a pre-trib rapture is the prophesied element of surprise.

The Lord Jesus taught that “no man knows the time of His return.” The most important characteristic of Christ’s return is that it could happen without warning, suddenly catching us off guard if we’re not faithfully serving our Master (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40; Mark 13:32-37).

The Lord told us to watch because He might come back at any time, suddenly. So there’s no way that the rapture could happen after the Tribulation. Anything other than a pre-trib rapture totally removes this biblical element of surprise.

The imminency of the rapture should fill us with hope, anticipation, and motivation to godly living. If we believe that our Lord could come back at any moment; that He may come back today, we will be motivated to live in anticipation of that return.

Maranatha – Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22 and Revelation 22:20)

Blessed Hope

The rapture is intended to comfort and bless the Lord’s people. The New Testament consistently presents it as a sure hope that God’s people are to anxiously anticipate (John 14:1-3 & Titus 2:13).

After describing the rapture, Paul concludes with this gentle reminder: “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

If God’s people would have to endure 3 ½ years, 5 ½ years, or all of the 7 years of the Tribulation before He comes, how much of comfort would the rapture be? That would be the “blasted hope” not the “blessed hope.” Could you honestly get excited about the Rapture if you knew that you had to endure a time on earth when all the 19 judgments of Revelation 6 to 16 were being poured out?

The reality is, Paul uses the Rapture to encourage the Thessalonians to have hope. It’s the same thing with us today. The hope of the rapture is an uplifting encouragement for troubled hearts. It’s a blessing and consolation for the Lord’s people.

We are looking for the return of Christ, our blessed hope; we are not looking for the Antichrist!

Conclusion

If the rapture occurs in your lifetime, your future will be very different depending on which view is correct. Will you be here to see the Antichrist? Will you be forced to choose whether to take his mark? Will you witness the carnage of God’s wrath poured out on the whole world?

Or will you be in heaven during this time, experiencing a glorious fellowship and intimacy with the Lamb and His sheep? Will you and I be here for none, half, or all of the Tribulation?

We have looked at numerous passages that describe a lot of the details about the end times and a pre-tribulation rapture makes the best sense of these details. While there are other strong arguments in favor of the pre-trib view, I believe these seven are the strongest.


Reference: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

How is the Father Greater than Jesus?

How is the Father Greater than Jesus?

One of the most commonly quoted Bible verses to dispute the deity of Jesus Christ is John 14:28 wherein Jesus told His disciples that “The Father is greater than I.” Jesus repeatedly said that He is doing the Father’s will, thereby implying that He is somehow subservient to the Father.

Doesn’t the Bible teach that the Son has been God for all eternity? And that God the Son became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ? If the Father and the Son are both God and equally divine, how is the Father greater than Jesus? What exactly did Jesus mean with this statement?

Making Sense of Jesus’ Statement

The fact that Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I,” has led some to conclude that He was somehow lesser in nature than God. Thus, Jesus is not the true God. However, the New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ lived in submission to the Father while He was here on the earth.

“The Father is Greater than I” Meaning

Christ humbled Himself by taking on the form of a human being. But doing so did not diminish His divine nature. In other words, Jesus did not stop being God at His reincarnation. He just added humanity to His deity. Jesus took an inferior position as a human being but He was not inferior in nature.

The Father Sent the Son

1 John 4:9 tells us that “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” And in 1 John 4:14 it says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.”

The Bible consistently teaches that the Father sent the Son; it never teaches that the Son sent Himself.

The Son Submits to the Father

Even before He took on human form, the Son was in submission to the Father. Yet He was not the Father’s servant. God the Son, Jesus Christ only became a servant to the Father when He came to earth. This important truth is emphasized by Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

“But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

God the Son, Jesus, humbled Himself and came to this earth in the role of a servant Though He was God Almighty, He willingly took the form of a servant.

God the Father Remains to be Jesus’ Father

After His resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus still referred to God the Father as His God. We read this in John 20:17.

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

In the book of Revelation we also read Jesus saying this about the Father:

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name” (Revelation 3:12).

Jesus’ submission to the Father does not mean He is inferior. He may be inferior in position but certainly not inferior in nature.

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The Father is the Head of Christ

Christ is the head of the church but the Father is the head of Christ. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and explained it this way.

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Yet this headship has to do only with their relative position; it has nothing to do with their nature. In nature, the Father and the Son are equal. In the same way, no one would argue that men are superior to women in nature. This was made clear by Paul in Galatians 3:27-28.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Therefore, the passages referring to the Son submitting to the Father do not reflect His inferior character, only the inferior position. Although the Father and the Son have distinct roles within the Godhead, they are the same essence, the same nature.

The Exaltation of the Son

Continuing his thought to the Philippians, Paul wrote:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

God the Son humbled Himself when He came to this earth. But upon His return to His former position, He has been exalted by God the Father. In this passage, it says that one day every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess that He is indeed Lord, all to the glory of the Father.

Conclusion

Jesus is God; He is co-equal, co-powerful, and co-eternal with the Father. Therefore, Jesus’ statement in John 14:28 that the Father is greater than Him has nothing to do with his nature compared with God the Father. It does not contradict the idea that He is God.

One of the best illustrations I’ve heard is that of Nabeel Qureshi’s explanation of the Trinity. The president of the United States is greater than every ordinary American citizen but that does not make him more “human” than the rest of them. The president is greater in role but not in nature (or essence).


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5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

People often ask, “Does God answer all of our prayers?” Many times Christians complain that God did not answer their prayer. They prayed for a particular thing but did not receive what they had asked for. Does this mean that God does not always answer our prayers? What should we conclude when our prayers go unanswered?

God Always Answers Our Prayers

While there are complaints about certain prayers that are left unanswered, such is not the case. The Bible promises that God hears the prayers of those who believe in Him and answers all of them. His answer consists of one of three things; yes, no, or wait.

When God Says YES

Many times God will say “yes” and gives us what we asked for. Let’s take King Hezekiah’s example in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Hezekiah was very ill and at the point of death when God sent Isaiah to inform him of his impending death. He was told to put his house in order because he was going to die and not recover.

Immediately, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord while weeping bitterly. But before Isaiah could leave the King’s palace, God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and sent the prophet to tell him that He has added 15 years to his life.

Hindrances to an Answered Prayer

When God Says NO

However, there are times when God will say “no” and will not grant our prayer request. In other words, not everything we ask for in prayer will be given. Nevertheless, we need to remember that when God says no to our prayers, He does it for our good. After all, God always has our best interest at heart.

The apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove a particular problem that he had – a thorn in the flesh. And each time God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). In this case, Paul’s prayer was indeed answered but the answer was “No.”

With the answer of no, God promised Paul that His grace would be sufficient to help him cope with his problem.

When God Says WAIT

There is also the possibility that God will not give us an immediate yes or no answer and tells us to “wait.” However, a delayed answer is not necessarily a “No” answer. We find this in the example of Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

For many years, Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child but did not receive what she asked for (1 Samuel 1:1-8). Finally, in the bitterness of her soul, she wept and prayed in anguish for the Lord to give her a son (1 Samuel 1:9-11). Her prayer was immediately answered and she conceived a son (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

God did not grant Hannah’s request the first time she asked. She waited for years before her son was born. What can we learn from Hannah? God will answer our prayers in His timing, not ours.

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Hindrances to Answered Prayers

Why do so many prayers seem to go unanswered? In other words, why does God say no to our requests? The Bible gives us several reasons as to why this is so.

1. Sin

Psalm 66:18 indicates that sin can hinder our prayers from being answered in the affirmative. We read something similar in Isaiah 59:1-2. This truth is illustrated in John 9:31-32. The blind man healed by Jesus said instructively said that God hears those who worship Him and do His will. However, He will not listen to those who are in sin.

Does this mean we have to be completely free from sin before approaching God in prayer? Of course not! Otherwise, none of us would have our prayers answered. Each of us has certain sinful areas that we must deal with. But we can have the confidence to approach God through Christ, not our own merit.

2. Lack of Faith or Unbelief

A lack of faith can keep our prayers from being answered.

James, the Lord’s brother, wrote about the importance of exercising faith. He said, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

When we pray, we need to do it in faith. We need to believe and do not doubt that the Lord will answer our requests. God has promised to do so and He always keeps His promises.

"Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

3. Unforgiveness

Unable to forgive those who might have wronged us can hinder our prayers. Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts can affect our daily relationship with God, which in turn will affect our prayer life. The verse above clearly states that we need to forgive others for what they have done to us so that our heavenly Father may also forgive our sins.

Furthermore, Paul wrote that we need to forgive others just as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). As much as we are able, we need to forgive those who have wronged us.

4. Disobedience

God will answer our prayers if we remain in an obedient relationship with Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

To remain in Christ and stay joined to Him is to keep His commandments. John wrote of this in 1 John 3:21-22.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

This just goes to say that disobeying God’s commands can keep our prayers from being answered. We must keep in mind that obedience to the Lord is the key.

5. Not in Accordance with God’s Will

Oftentimes, we get a “no” in answer to our prayers because they are not in accordance with the will of God. John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will rather than our own in 1 John 5:14.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

We should not insist that our desires must always be met because most of the time our desires are wrongly motivated. Our desires must match up with God’s desires.

Closing Words

God does hear and answer all our prayers. But that does not necessarily mean He always says “yes.” There will be times when God answers us with a “no” and when that happens, we consider it an unanswered prayer.

The Bible mentions at least 5 hindrances to answered prayers; sin, unforgiveness, lack of faith, disobedience, and asking something that does not line up with God’s will or desire.

Several other reasons why God does not answer our prayers include marital problems (1 Peter 3:7), asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3), and spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:12-14; Ephesians 6:12).

Had there been times when you asked God for something and He said no? What do you think was the reason behind it?

Please feel free to share your testimony in the comment section below.


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