Are We in the End Times?

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Often people ask me, “Did you hear the news? Do you believe these events are related to end-time prophecy?”

Many of the events in the news today are referred to in the scriptures. Jesus’ disciples were just as curious as we are about end times. Before Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples were on the Mount of Olives and asked Him about what signs signaled the end of the age.

“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” — Matthew 28: 4-8

We see the evidence nearly every week of the earth’s “birth pains” all over the globe with earthquakes, floods, famines, fires, and great storms. It seems there are people at war in nearly every country. The news reports that both men and women are killing God’s people in the name of their religion all over the world. These soldiers who fight a “holy war” and follow a false prophet are likely the army of 200 million described in Revelation 9:16-19 that were released after the 6th trumpet sounded.

If that is correct, then the next Revelation event to occur is the sounding of the 7th trumpet that brings about the rapture and 1st resurrection of the saints. Hallelujah! Are you ready for that?

Seven trumpets were used in ancient Jerusalem once every 50 years during the Year of Jubilee on the Day of Atonement (also called the Day of Judgment). The trumpets signaled when the High Priest had completed the cleansing ceremony in the Temple and when God had forgiven the sins of the nation. As part of the Jubilee observance all slaves were freed and property reverted back to the original owners.

Thus, we could speculate that God will likely sound the final trumpet that frees our lives from this earth during a Jubilee year. When is that? Some Jewish websites claim we are in a Jubilee year now that started September 2015 and lasts until October 2016. Others are not so sure.

If God follows His previous patterns, He grants freedoms during Passover. The Hebrew nation was freed from physical slavery at the first Passover and all mankind was freed from sin at Christ’s death at Passover about 2000 years ago. It stands to reason God will free mankind from death and the grave at a Passover celebration as well. In 2016 Passover occurs on April 22, almost a month after Easter.

According to Matthew 24 no one knows the day or hour but we know what people will be doing. “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” – Matthew 24: 38-42.

We are told to watch. In 2 Peter 3, we are also told to live holy and godly lives. We are to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with God. We are to be patient and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. These are great words to live by.

If you want to know more about end time events, the following table is taken from chapter 20 in my book, “In the End… Jesus.” In that chapter I explain each of the events and what they mean. If you want a copy of the book, click on “Buy Now” at the top of this blog page or the “Home” page to learn more.

Table from: In the End... Jesus by James T. Martin

Table from: In the End… Jesus by James T. Martin




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A Tale of Two Weddings

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Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.

– Exodus 19: 16-18



Long ago Yahweh chose a man of faith, named Abraham to become the father of his people. After many generations were born, Abraham’s descendants were great in number but they lived as slaves in a heathen land. Yahweh sent Moses to call his people to become a great nation, as he had promised Abraham. It was time they became acquainted with Yahweh, the creator and God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Moses extended Yahweh’s invitation to the nation and they agreed to leave Egypt and follow Him. In essence Yahweh issued a marriage proposal between himself as the bridegroom, and the nation of Abraham, his long awaited bride. The people accepted his proposal and left their false gods in Egypt and followed Moses, who served as the bridegroom’s best man, to a new land. It was customary for the best man to be dispatched by the bridegroom to comfort and protect the bride before the wedding ceremony.

Along the way Moses received from Yahweh at Mt. Sinai a wedding gift for his bride – 10 laws to guide her how to live after the wedding ceremony. The bride had second thoughts at first and rejected the bridegroom and his gift. But Moses showed the people they were wrong in their love of non-living gods and to accept Yahweh, the living God, as their bridegroom.

The second time the wedding gift of 10 laws was offered it was accepted. For once, the people understood how they were to live their earthly lives according to laws from God instead of following laws made by men. All the people went through a 3-day purification process, put on their best clean clothes and waited for the bridegroom to appear. But His glory was so bright and his voice so loud, the people asked Moses to continue to intercede for them.

The wedding took place, vows were exchanged where the people all agreed to reject all other gods and serve only Yahweh. The creator of all mankind agreed to take this nation from the bloodline of Abraham as his people. He would live with him in a land of milk and honey, where they could live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, Yahweh’s bride began to lust after other gods and turned her back on her husband. This defied the laws in their wedding covenant. The bride was so disrespectful that Yahweh had to step in and punish his bride. She was expelled from her home in the Promised Land and taken as a prisoner and slave in Babylon.

After sufficient time, Yahweh allowed his bride to repent, return home and rebuild a new nation that would love the bridegroom. For many years the relationship wavered. As a last attempt at restoring the marriage, Yahweh conceived a Son with his bride through a girl named Mary. His desire was for the bride as mother, to love her Son and thus, restore the bond with the husband.

Unfortunately the bride rejected the Son and killed it. This was the last chance for the bride to reconcile with the bridegroom. As punishment for what she had done, Yahweh, the Father, divorced his bride, and scattered her to the four winds, never again to be part of their home in the Promised Land.

The Father raised his Son from the dead and gave him a place of honor beside him on his throne. The Father then agreed that anyone who was loyal to his Son could become his Son’s bride. To assist the Son’s bride until the time of the wedding ceremony, the Father sent a best man (the Holy Spirit) to comfort and protect the bride and to remind her of the gift of laws the Father gave to live by.

None of the people chosen to become the Son’s bride deserved it. They too had broken the laws given by the Father. But they were told they only had to have faith in the promises made by the Father. As a result, he will freely forgive them and provide the gift of living forever with his Son in a place prepared for them.

As a show of faith and love on the part of the Son’s bride, she is to reject her old life and desire to obey the laws of the Father, which the Son has not changed. As preparation for her new life, she is to love the Father and Son and reflect that love in her everyday actions with others.

Then one day when the Father signals that the time for the wedding ceremony has come, the Holy Spirit will escort the Son’s bride to the place of the wedding banquet. The ceremony will occur and the bride and Son will be together forever. They will live in a place the Father has created for them and He will live with them also. And they will all live happily ever after. Amen.

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Do we all “Sleep” when we Die or go to Paradise?

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“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Nearly every day one or more of the newspaper obituaries will read, “He or she is now in heaven with Jesus.” What a glorious thought that one day we will leave this world with its troubles and suffering and immediately fly to heaven where all will be glorious. Does the Bible back up this concept?

The passage from 1 Corinthians 15:55 is a staple at many funerals, “O Grave, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” But just a few verses earlier Paul writes, “We will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” Thus, we are changed not at the moment of death, but at the 7th and last trumpet when our new eternal bodies will be resurrected and fly to heaven to meet Jesus. Prior to that great day, the scriptures say the spirit of all who die will “sleep.”

Paul again describes the 1st Resurrection in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 as follows: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” The dead that belong to Christ will rise into the heavens and then be joined in the air with the living (raptured) Christ followers. So if people believe the dead immediately enter heaven, how can they rise from the dead again at the last trumpet? The answer is they can’t.

Jesus is very clear in John 11:11-15 when he tells his disciples that “Our friend Lazarus sleeps.” The disciples replied that “if he sleeps he will get well. However, Jesus spoke of his death” and he told “them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ ”

The scripture is also clear in 1 Samuel 28 that tells of the prophet Samuel being raised from the dead by a medium so King Saul can ask his spirit advice about an upcoming battle. The medium says: “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Samuel asks Saul: “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Samuel’s spirit did not descend from heaven; he was brought up from his resting place in the earth.

So why do most people believe their deceased loved ones have ascended into heaven with Jesus? It started when false doctrine entered the church about 2000 years ago. Paul warned in 2 Timothy 2:18 of people who say the resurrection had already occurred, implying the dead were already in heaven. Paul warns Timothy to stay away from this “godless chatter” that had departed from the truth.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament has numerous passages that confirm we fall into a restful, sleep state when we die. For example:

  • “All the kings of the nations, all of them sleep in glory.” – Isaiah 14:18
  • “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” – Daniel 12:2
  • “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.” – Psalm 13:3
  • “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.” – Hosea 13:14
  • “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” – Ephesian 5:14
  • “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:14

But what about Luke 23:43 people ask? Jesus told the criminal on the cross beside him: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” That means they both went to heaven together that day, right?

The common teaching in Jesus’ time was that when people died, their soul remained on earth in Sheol (an underground spiritual world). Nearly all Old Testament references to Paradise were in relation to the Garden of Eden, not heaven. The underground entrance to the Garden was guarded by angels. Many people believed if you were good, your soul would go into the Garden of Eden (Paradise).

When the people heard Jesus tell the criminal that “today you will be with me in Paradise” most of the crowd understood they would go in the underground caves that lead to the Garden; that Jesus would get the criminal past the angel guards – not that he would take him to heaven.

Jesus also said “today you will be with me” not three days later when he went to visit his father in heaven. In 1 Peter 3:19, the scriptures tell after Jesus’ death and before his resurrection, His spirit visited other spirits imprisoned in Sheol and he preached to them, some who had been there since the days of Noah.

All these passages should lead us to believe the spirits of those in Christ sleep on earth until the 1st resurrection. The remainder of the spirits will continue sleeping until after the 1000 year reign is over, when the 2nd resurrection takes them to the white throne of judgment.

The next time you read an obituary or hear someone say their loved one is in heaven with Jesus, just smile and know, like the martyrs in Revelation 6:9-11, they are to “rest a little while longer” before they join Jesus in heaven.


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The Messiah was NOT called Jesus or a Jew

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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
– Isaiah 7:14



Before you start throwing rotten fruit at me, read this to the end.

First, there is no “J” in Hebrew, or Greek, or Aramaic (the local language in Judea). The Messiah is prophesied to be called “Immanuel,” meaning “the Lord’s salvation.” But the Hebrew name given by the angel Gabriel to Joseph to name the Messiah was most likely Yeshua (ye-SHU-a), not Immanuel or Jesus.

When you translate the very common Old Testament name Yeshua into English you get “Joshua.” However, if you translate Yeshua into the Greek language, it becomes Iēsous, and in Latin Iesus . Translating Iesous into English gives “Jesus.” So the translation of the translation produces something different from a direct translation (Jesus vs. Joshua). However, Acts 2:21 commands us to “call on the name of the Lord to be saved.” It doesn’t stipulate which translation, spelling, or pronunciation to use.

From this we can conclude the Messiah never heard anyone call him “Jesus”. Additionally, Revelation 19:12 tells that when the Messiah returns, “He has a name written that no one knows except Himself.” Thus, we just need to call upon him and put our faith and trust in him, whatever his name may be. For more details see:

As for the Messiah’s heritage, he could be called a Judean because he was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Since the Hebrew language does not have the letter “J” the actual name for Judah is Yuhudah, and the people that lived there Yahudites.

He could be called an Egyptian because his parents took him to Egypt as a baby to avoid being killed by King Herod. He could be called a Nazarene because his parents relocated there after leaving Egypt. He could be called a Galilean because he moved near the Sea of Galilee at the age of 30 to start his ministry. He could be called an Israelite because he was a descendent of Jacob and the tribe of Judah. He could be called a Hebrew because that was his religious heritage. But he was not a Jew because the term did not exist at the time.

The word “Jew” is a translated English word created in the 17th century as a substitute for Yahudite. Jew does not appear in the 1611 translation of the King James Bible. So when you read the words “Jew” and “Jewish” in your Bible, understand they are a substitution and not the actual words used in ancient scriptures.

Most modern day Jews are NOT descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel; most are converts to a form of Hebrew theology. About 85-90% have their roots in the Ashkenazi Jews that began around 1000 AD in Germany. For more details go to:

Now I hope you can put down the rotten fruit.

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Are the 4 Blood Moons a Sign?

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Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons. – Genesis 1:14

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. – Joel 2:31 & Acts 2:20

What is a Blood Moon?

It occurs when the earth’s shadow from the sun totally covers the moon, allowing only the red wavelengths of light to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere and reflect on the moon. This gives the moon a blood red appearance.

Are Blood Moons rare?

A total lunar eclipse is not very rare but when you have four together, they are given the special name of Tetrad. There are only 8 tetrads that will occur this century. The 2014-15 tetrad is rare because it is also divided by a total solar eclipse in 2015 (sun turned into darkness).

Making it more significant for religious people is the fact that these 4 Blood Moons occur on the two most holy Jewish festivals: Passover and Feast of Tabernacles. A tetrad on these festivals has only occurred 4 times in the past 500 years. Each one signaled a major change in history. The current Tetrad dates include:

2014 Passover (April 15)
2014 Feast of Tabernacles (October 8)
2015 Total Solar Eclipse (March 20)
2015 Passover (April 4)
2015 Feast of Tabernacles (September 28)

Is this a sign from God? Was the star the Wise Men followed announcing the Messiah’s first coming from God?

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” – Matthew 2:2

Clearly God’s sign alerted the Wise Men that something of major significance was occurring. Jesus tells his disciples to look for significant signs to alert us of His second coming.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring… Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:25, 27-28

The Blood Moons are clearly a sign – 4 Blood Moons imply the signs relate to the created order of the world. The fact that they occur on religious holidays may imply significant things will soon happen in the religious world. Whether it is the second coming or something else we do not know. But the scriptures tell us we should prepare, watch, and pray; for we do not know the day or hour of his coming.

“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light… the Son of Man will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. – Matthew 24:29-31

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Once Saved, Always Saved?

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Once you are saved by the blood of Jesus, are you then saved for the rest of your life? This concept is rarely debated as often as that of “faith versus works.” However, the two have much in common. One way to look at these concepts is to understand that salvation occurs at one point in your life and then you have to live the rest of your life.

God’s grace saves us by our faith and not by our works. When we choose to repent of our former lifestyle and pledge to change, we strive to live the rest of our lives as a follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit given to us at the time of our rebirth encourages us to do good works and follow God’s laws. The debate begins when we backslide into old habits and continue to sin. We can’t help it because our physical body is weak. We need help to overcome Satan’s temptations. Jesus is the only human that did not sin before or after the Holy Spirit entered Him (at his baptism).

The Bible is clear that your salvation can not be taken away but you can choose to reject eternal life with God. We learn in Ephesians 1: 13-14: “In Him (Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Paul is telling the Ephesians that after you heard the truth; you put your trust in Jesus and were sealed (branded) by the Holy Spirit within you as belonging to God Almighty. The Holy Spirit only abides in those who are heaven bound.

The Apostle John describes these new converts in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

John points out that once you have the Holy Spirit in you, no one can take it from you – not even Satan or his followers. So in this sense, once you are saved and have the Holy Spirit, you are on your way to Heaven and no one can stop you.

However, one person does have the power to prevent this from happening – you! But wait – Romans 10:13 states: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So doesn’t this protect us from backsliding?

1 John 2 tells us in verses 4-5: “He who says, “I know Him” (saved), and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (not saved). But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (saved).

So if we have truly repented and turned our life away from sinful ways, we will strive to keep God’s commandments. Often we fall short and have to pray for forgiveness. And if our heart is contrite, our sins will continue to be forgiven.

But if we choose to return to sinful ways and ignore God and his commandments, we will find trouble. Matthew 10:22 says that Christ followers will be persecuted and that we have to endure to the end of our life to be saved. This is not to terrify the weak or discourage the fallen. This is in reference to a person choosing to turn from Christ and intentionally not follow his commands any more.

In Hebrews 10:26, we learn: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left (Jesus can only die once), but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” So if we choose to sin deliberately, we can expect God to punish us after the final judgment. Romans 8:13 states “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

In ancient Egypt, God saved his people from the angel of death by the blood on their doorposts, freed them from their earthly taskmasters, and saved them from physical death by parting the Red Sea. The people choose to follow God (saved) and to live according to his laws. However, they worshiped the golden calf and over time many rebelled. Then God told Moses, “They shall never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:11 & Hebrews 4:3). Some were consumed by the fire of God, others were swallowed up by the earth, and almost all perished before entering the Promised Land (not saved).

The Bible cites several examples of those that are once saved but then lose their reward:

Isiah 14: Lucifer was God’s Guardian Angel that challenged God and was banished from heaven and will be punished forever.

Numbers 25: God’ people were tempted by Balak’s beautiful women. They were seduced and bowed down to idols. All 24,000 involved were slain by God.

Ezekiel 33:13-15: “If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live (saved), but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die (not saved) for the evil they have done. And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die’ (not saved), but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right… that person will surely live (be saved); they will not die.”

Matthew 13: 20-22: “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy (is saved); yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles (is not saved). Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word (saved), and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (no longer saved).

Matthew 25: 10 virgins (saved followers) – 5 got into the wedding banquet but 5 who let their lamps go out (Holy Spirit left) were told by the bridegroom (Jesus) at the wedding banquet, “Go away, I don’t know you” (not saved).

Luke 13: People will say they ate and drank with you (saved) but Jesus will say “I don’t know you” (not saved).

Luke 19: Nobleman (Jesus) leaves country and gives money to invest to each of his 10 servants: 2 multiply their money, 1 hides it, and 7 spend it. The 7 that hated their master (Jesus) are killed. The 2 that multiplied their money are put in charge of several cities (in heaven), and the 1 who did nothing with it (produced no fruit) was banished to a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (not saved).

2 Thessalonians 3:6: “But we command you, brother, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every (saved) brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”

Revelation 2: The Nicolaitans were false teachers who claim to represent Christ and His truth (saved) while saying you don’t need to follow God’s laws after you receive His grace. Some people in the early church tolerated their actions to preserve the peace in the church. In verse 15 Jesus says He hates the doctrine of the Nicolatians. 2 Peter 2 calls them: “wells without water, clouds carried by a storm, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (not saved).

Revelation 3: Our name can be blotted out from the Book of Life (destined for heaven but we choose not to go).

The unpardonable sin mentioned in Matthew 12:31 states: “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” This sin is not a backsliding but one of totally rejecting God and His Spirit and expelling the Spirit from your heart. The Pharisees who were for God but against Christ committed this unpardonable sin against the Spirit.

God desires that everyone be saved and live with Him for eternity. We have free will and free choice. We can choose to follow Jesus and be saved. No one can take our salvation away. We can also choose to return to the evils of this world and reject Christ. When we choose to deny him and follow the ways of Satan, Jesus will deny us before His Father. Thus, we choose not to be saved. Because we were once saved does not mean we will always remain saved. It’s up to us and us alone to make the right choice.

Other references:
Isaiah 14:12-15, Matthew 10:22, Luke 8: 12-13, Luke 10:25-28, Luke 12:45-46, John 14: 16-18, Romans 2:13, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:37-39, Romans 10:9-13, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26, 38, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:17-18, 2 Peter 2:21-22, 1 John 2:24, 1 John 3-6; 24-29, Jude 22-23, Revelation 2:5, 10, Revelation 3:5

“If God were to take one unrepentant sinner to heaven with Him, sin would rise up again.” —

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Why was Jesus a Carpenter?

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Its likely Jesus served his hometown of Nazareth as their carpenter for many years before starting his ministry. Near the end of Jesus’ first year of ministry, he returns to his hometown where his teaching wisdom astonishes the religious leaders. According to Matthew 15:55, they ask themselves, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” They were offended that a local carpenter’s son was wiser than they were in religious matters. Mark 6:3-6 adds during this hometown visit the carpenter’s son healed some sick people but they still did not believe in him. How could this lowly, blue-collar type worker not know his place in life? Who was he trying to impress?

The word for carpenter used by Matthew and Mark is “tekton” in Greek. This is a common term for someone who works with their hands, such as an artisan or craftsman; or more precisely, a carpenter, wood-worker, or builder. The homes in Nazareth were mostly carved from limestone by stone-workers or masons, not carpenters. The roofs were typically wood logs and thatch. Thus, Jesus’ step-dad, Joseph likely spent most of his time working with wood to help build furniture and other home furnishings.

In the Bible, carpenters are known for cutting down mighty trees and repurposing them to create something new, such as the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus as the creator of the world (Colossians 1:16) came to earth to cut down the old covenant with Abraham and build up a new covenant with all the people of the world. Jesus declares to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that “on this rock I will build my church.” So Jesus was a creator, builder, craftsman, and carpenter in one.

During Passover week in Jerusalem when Jesus was 12, Luke 2:49 records Jesus was asked why he was in the temple and not with his parents. His answer was: “I must be about my Father’s business.” The business of His Father in Heaven involved ministry and teaching the words of the law and prophets. Before doing God’s business he did the business of his earthly father, which was carpentry. It was customary in those days for families to perform the same trades for generations. Trade skills and secrets were passed from father to son. So as a youth, Jesus obeyed the 5th commandment to honor and respect his earthy father Joseph and served as his apprentice. After Joseph died, Jesus as the oldest son would take over the responsibility of providing for the family and inherit the family business. Around the age of 30, Jesus likely passed this responsibility to one of his brothers so that he could begin his ministry.

Consider that a tree used to make a feeding trough for animals was repurposed to cradle a new baby, God’s son. Also, a tree used in Jesus’ death was repurposed to give us life through his blood sacrifice. What better profession is there for the creator and savior of the world than a carpenter?

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Was Jesus Really Born on December 25th?

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Most Bible scholars say no. Consider the portraits related to Jesus’ birth. Do any of the people have coats, hats, or scarfs? Israel is cold in December and temperatures are often below freezing. In 2013 a storm brought Israel 2 feet of snow!

The gospel of Luke provides the clues that on the night of Jesus’ birth sheep were out in the fields (Luke 2:8). Sheep are kept out into the open fields only during warm weather – between Passover in the spring and the rainy season in the fall. Sheep are not in the fields on cold nights in late December.

Luke 1 explains that Jesus was born 6 months after John the Baptist. If we knew when John was born we could determine Jesus’ birth-month. Research points to John being born in the spring, probably in late March. This is derived from Luke 1 that tells of John’s father, Zacharias, who was a priest of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5). Each priest division served in the temple for one week at a time. According to 1 Chronicles 24:10, the division of Abijah served the 8th rotation week. The Hebrew calendar indicates this division would be on duty in early June.

An angel appeared to Zacharias during his rotation and told him his wife Elizabeth would have a son and to name him John; for he will prepare the people for the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Zacharias went home after his rotation and Elizabeth conceived a child, likely in late June.

In the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (December), Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel, who tells her she will conceive a child who is the Son of God.  Mary goes with haste to stay with Elizabeth who says blessed is the fruit of your womb (Luke 1:42), indicating Mary was also pregnant in December.

Mary stayed for 3 months and then left. John was born shortly thereafter (late March). Six months later Jesus was born; most likely in late September around the Jewish New Year (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles).

Luke establishes a timeline by adding that Caesar Augustus issued a decree for all residents of the kingdom to be registered in the city of their ancestors. This would be an unpopular request; so to make it more palatable, it likely occurred during a festival time when people planned to travel. The most likely time for this event would be the festivals in September, which would explain why the city was crowded with visitors.

If Jesus was born in September, why has Christmas been celebrated on December 25th since the 4th century? This is most likely due to the celebration of the pagan sun god (Sol Invictus). This date was considered the birthday of the unconquered sun after the winter solstice. This celebration followed the Roman Saturnalia festival that involved feasting and exchanging gifts. Some historians say this date was chosen for Christmas to ease tensions between the pagans and Christians. This confusion is another example of how Satan deceives us from the truth and attempts to steal glory from God.

The writings of the New Testament, which span 4 generations after Jesus’ birth, do not mention any celebrations of Christmas. Thus, our bottom line should be to worship God and thank him for sending us His Son, no matter what day He was born. What really counts is His sacrificial death for our sins and the resurrection to come.


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God Loves a Cook-Out!

“And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.” – Exodus 29:18

Photo from © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Photo from © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Grilling, tail-gating, and pig-pickings usually conjure images of meat sizzling over a fire. The smell and taste of outdoor cooking is hard to beat. Mankind has prepared food this way for thousands of years. It is a natural taste we yearn for.

We come about this desire naturally, for we are made in God’s image and God loves a cookout. How can I make a statement like that? Consider that one of the primary activities in Old Testament worship involved an animal sacrifice cooked on an altar. Nearly 50 verses in the Bible describe the burnt sacrifice as a “sweet aroma to the Lord.”

God loves the smell of sacrifices coming from the altar. The aroma derives from the act of worshiping Him and purging our sins so that we are blameless and holy. Paul describes in Ephesians 5:2 how Christ offered Himself out of love as a sacrifice to God on our behalf and that act created a sweet smelling aroma to God. We are likewise called to show love for others.

The next time you smell food cooking on a fire and see smoke rising to Heaven, remember how Christ loved us so much He gave Himself in our place.  His selfless act was a sweet aroma to God and we should demonstrate His love in our walk as well.

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Why a Crown of Thorns?

Crown of Thorns

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“When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed staff in His right hand. And they bowed before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the staff and struck Him repeatedly on the head.” – Matthew 27:29-30

“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” – Revelation 14:14

Jesus, the Son of Man, was crucified wearing a crown of thorns but will return soon wearing a crown of gold. What do these crowns symbolize?

The golden crown is a sign of victory and royal power and is in sharp contrast to the crown of thorns. Genesis 3 tell us that thorns came about on earth as part of the curse of Adam’s sin.

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” – Genesis 3:17-18

As you can imagine, when the solders hit the prickly crown on Jesus’ head, the thorns punctured His skin and brought out His blood. This symbolized Jesus taking on the sins of the world and paying for them with His own blood. But one day there will be no more thorns.

Paul writes in Romans 8:19-23 that “all creation waits patiently with eager expectation for that future day when God will resurrect his people. On that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay – the things that overcame the original world against its will – will all disappear, and the world will share in the glorious freedom from sin. For even the things of nature that groan and labor with birth pains wait for this great day.”

Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 13:24-30 that represents the kingdom of heaven as a field of seeds that has thorns. A farmer (Jesus) sowed good seeds in his field but while he was sleeping, his enemy (Satan) came and sowed weeds (thorns) in the field. The weeds grew in amongst the wheat and could not be pulled because their roots were entangled and would damage the wheat. However, at the time of the harvest the wheat is gathered first and then the weeds are collected and burned.

This parable has its roots in Jeremiah 4:3 which states, “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.” The wheat and good seed represent Christ’s followers and the weeds and thorns among them belong to Satan.

In the end, Jesus will come wearing a golden crown as King of Kings to harvest the wheat. In His hand will be a sharp sickle instead of a reed staff that he will use to collect the wheat (His followers). What is left behind will be the weeds and thorns that will be burned in the Lake of Fire.

Land that produces thorns and thistles, is worthless and near to being cursed, and will be burned in the end. – Hebrews 6:8

When you see a crown of thorns, remember it represents sin and how Jesus took our sins upon himself. He did so that we can be harvested and taken to Heaven when he returns wearing His golden crown.

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