Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until …

Never again will I destroy all living creatures. That’s what God said. You know, back in Genesis, the first book in the Bible. Of course, that means He did destroy all living creatures once. However, let’s not forget what happens in Revelation, the last book in the Bible. God won’t destroy all living creatures. That doesn’t mean destruction isn’t coming though. Further, it says nothing of the earth itself. Is it time? Have we grieved God to the point where He’s finally going to end this fallen creation?

Never again will I destroy all living creatures.

I read something the other day that just made me sick. It really made me wonder, how much more can we do evil things in God’s name before He’s ready to say, “it’s time”.

Of course, we don’t know when. But lots of people feel like we’re getting closer. Even those who aren’t Christians know about the doomsday clock, pointing to how close we are to destroying the earth all on our own.

Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until …

The thing I read was an article on msn.com titled Why some white evangelicals are cheerleading Russia.  Here’s just the opening paragraph.

While the world looks on in horror as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolds, one group has been praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. It turns out Putin has a fan base in America’s right-leaning evangelical politicians and pundits.

If you’re able to read this online, you almost certainly know what’s going on in Ukraine.

Reading While the world looks on in horror as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolds immediately reminded me of the passage below.

Love for Enemies – Matthew

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The point of view expressed here about pagans is quite basic. Jesus spoke to His followers. Today, those who call themselves Christians should be followers of Jesus. The pagans then are everyone else. Everyone who isn’t a follower of Jesus. Now, remember that Russia claims to be a friend of Ukraine. Putin even claims Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Of course, most Ukrainians say that’s not true.

The thing is, there’s nothing about indiscriminately bombing and killing people that says, “we are one people”. Far from it. In no one’s mind can this mean we are one people. It most certainly does not say, “we love you”.

Then, when we consider Jesus’ words to Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, how can any so-called Christian praise Putin?

No, this war is not because Putin loves the Ukrainians or even cares about them. But even in the most extreme circumstance, if Putin absolutely hates Ukrainians, the namesake of Christianity told His followers to Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Dropping bombs and killing people, in case you weren’t aware, is not an act of love. It truly isn’t.

After The Flood, God said:

The Flood

Ge 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Ge 8:22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

There are some things to notice in there.

  • The underlined portion: never again will I destroy all living creatures. No, God won’t destroy all living creatures. But that doesn’t mean that a whole lot, or even most, won’t be destroyed.
  • As long as the earth endures, doesn’t mean forever. It means as long as the earth is still here. In fact, if anything, it implicitly says that, at some point, the earth will cease to exist.

Check out the passages below, which explain the bulleted items.

God won’t destroy all living creatures

As I said, not destroying all creatures is far from saying there won’t be lots of destruction. Here’s just one section in Revelation where John wrote about what he saw in his vision of the End Times.

The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

Rev 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”

Rev 16:2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

Rev 16:3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.

Rev 16:4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments,
you who are and who were, the Holy One,
because you have so judged;

Rev 16:6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just are your judgments.”

Rev 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

Rev 16:10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Rev 16:12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

Rev 16:15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Rev 16:16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

Rev 16:17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Make no mistake, that’s one heck of a lot of destruction and death. And while you’re at it, also make no mistake that this death and destruction is aimed at those who refused to repent of what they had done. And please also note, what we call ourselves is completely irrelevant. We may claim to be Christian, but Jesus’ word on the matter is the only one that counts. Insistence that we have nothing that requires repentance is equally irrelevant.

As long as the earth is still here

God never said the earth will always be here. In fact, the Bible says quite the opposite. So, when we read …

seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease

… we must remember that the statement is conditional. And the condition is when the earth no longer endures. No longer endures, as in this portion of John’s Revelation vision.

The New Jerusalem

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Rev 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Rev 21:6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Rev 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

That is, without question, the end of the earth. And while we’re getting a grip on that, we must also realize something else. Remember, the destruction in the previous passage was directed at those who refused to repent. All of the good news in this passage is for the true believer. Only the true believer. As before, please also note, what we call ourselves is completely irrelevant. We may claim to be Christian, but Jesus’ word on the matter is the only one that counts. Insistence that we have nothing that requires repentance is equally irrelevant.

Where are we with God won’t destroy all living creatures?

Why do I say all these things? Well, part of whether or not we are truly Christians is, obviously, based on what we believe Christianity is about. Paul made this quite clear. Jesus spoke on the matter as well, which is where Paul’s thoughts came from.

The Wise and Foolish Builders – Matthew

7:24-27 pp — Lk 6:47-49

Mt 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Mt 7:28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

So – if we claim to be Christian, supposedly we have actually read the Bible and have a good idea what it actually says. That’s as in, not what just anyone says, but rather what God said. Not Putin. Not Trump. Not Pelosi. Not any government leader. And not just anyone on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Quora, a 24-hour news network, or stuff like that. I even go so far as to say you shouldn’t just accept everything I say, without checking it out. God gave you a mind. Use it! If you claim to be a Christian, your soul should matter to you. Use your God-given mind to protect your God-given soul!

Now, with all that as a backdrop, let’s go through the article Why some white evangelicals are cheerleading Russia.

Is Putin really Christian?

Prior to this, I never thought of the possibility that Putin was Christian. So when I read this quote from one person in the article, I was surprised.

At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, which wrapped up over the weekend, Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the Senate in Delaware, said: “Here’s the deal. Russia is a Christian nationalist nation. They’re actually Russian Orthodox. … I identify more with Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.”

This obviously begs the question, is Putin Christian? Or are his alleged “Christian values” not from Christianity, but from someplace else? Here are a few excerpts from religionfacts.com, in an article titled, Vladimir Putin and Religion.

Vladimir Putin’s father was an atheist and his mother was an Orthodox Christian. Vladimir was baptized into the Orthodox Church as an infant.

Of course, non of that makes Putin inherently Christian. An infant cannot, with apologies to those who believe otherwise, make a decision to follow Jesus.

The article continues:

In an interview with Russian journalists published in 2000, Putin explained the significance of his well-known Orthodox cross pendant:

In 1993, when I worked on the Leningrad City Council, I went to Israel as part of an official delegation. Mama gave me my baptismal cross to get it blessed at the Lord’s Tomb. I did as she said and then put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since.

Once again, this doesn’t make the man a Christian. Lots of people wear crosses for reasons other than faith in Jesus. And if I may be so honestly cynical, especially politicians. In a country where the people are rather religious, it’s a great way to get elected. We need look no further than our own country to know this. Here in the U.S. God has been used as a political vote-getter since the birth of our nation.

Seven years after the previous interview, the following exchange took place.

In an interview with TIME magazine for their “Person of the Year” cover story in 2007, Putin was asked about his religion. Here’s how he responded:

TIME: One of the issues that is being discussed in our presidential election is the role of faith in government. One of the old stereotypes that Americans have about Russia, and certainly the Russia of the U.S.S.R., is that it was a godless country. You have talked about your own faith. What role does faith play in your own leadership and what role should faith play in government and in the public sphere?

PUTIN: First and foremost we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values. I will not expand, as I don’t want to impose my views on people who have different viewpoints.

TIME: Do you believe in a Supreme God?

PUTIN: Do you? … There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody’s consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease.

With a direct question, Putin refused to answer the question regarding his own faith. A very politically correct answer.

In 2014, when asked about Crimea, Putin’s response included the following.

All of this allows us to say that Crimea, the ancient Korsun or Chersonesus, and Sevastopol have invaluable civilisational and even sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism.

Seriously? It was a Christian feeling that he should invade Crimea, take them from another country, and make it part of his Russia? Did Jesus ever condone, let alone promote, that kind of thinking?

And then, in 2016, there’s this.

In July 2016, Putin signed a new “anti-extremism” law that, among other things, limits the sharing of religious beliefs to state-registered places of worship only. Critics says (sic) this law is in violation of Russia’s constitution, in that it effectively outlaws minority “foreign” religions (such as Protestant Christianity, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Hare Krishna) whose churches and temples are rarely approved to be registered with the state

Interesting, isn’t it? Protestant Christianity is an extreme religion that’s effectively outlawed Russia? And, outlawed by Putin. The very same Putin of which the quote that began this line of investigation includes the words: I identify more with Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.

Exactly what kind of Christian values can someone have if they banned Protestant Christianity?

Do these kinds of so-called Cinvhristians remember when Jesus said the words in the next passage?

Warnings and Encouragements

12:2-9 pp — Mt 10:26-33

Lk 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

I dare say, one of the things that will be revealed is the soundness of the foundation of our faith. And if our faith is built on a foundation that includes thinking the man responsible for banning Protestant Christianity in Russia is a good Christian, I believe we’re in big trouble. That foundation isn’t sound.

In case we forget, here’s what Jesus said about poor foundations. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

No, we don’t need to be afraid if we truly follow Jesus. However, if our foundation crumbles under His examination, we better be afraid. Why? Because we aren’t, no matter what we try to claim, following Jesus.

Lk 12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Tell me. Putin banned Protestant Christianity in Russia. Does any true Christian actually believe Putin acknowledges the Son of Man? If so, how? And if our foundation is built on a man who’s going to be disowned by Jesus, how can we expect anything other than to hear the same?

If anything, I expect someone who disowns Jesus to hear some of the scariest words in the Bible.

A Tree and Its Fruit

Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Did you catch the words I meant? Just in case, it’s these words: I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Lk 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

In the conclusion of this section, Jesus gives us the key. The Holy Spirit. Here’s another question. Do you believe the Holy Spirit told Putin to ban Protestant Christianity? And once again, if you do believe this, why would He do that?

Will Christian involvement in politics affect when God says, it’s time?

Remember our title here. Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until … Will Christian involvement in politics play any role in God deciding that “until” is now? Let’s turn to another article to check that out. It’s How Putin’s Politics Threaten the Church’s Witness from Christianity Today.

For American evangelicals, there are real questions too—not only about how we will respond to Putin’s use of religion for political purposes, but about whether we will emulate it.

Several years ago, before the tumult of the Trump era, I was seated with other evangelicals on a secular national news program that was broadcast on Easter morning. In one sense that weekend, we were all united—affirming together the most important truth of the cosmos: the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

But we parted ways on the subject of Vladimir Putin. I saw him then the same way I do now—as an enemy. Yet some of the others defended the authoritarian strongman as a defender of Christian values.

That asks some of the same questions I have. Continuing on, we get some ideas of what might be happening.

At the time, I thought we just disagreed about a matter of foreign policy. But looking back now I can see that, at least for some evangelicals, there was a larger disagreement we didn’t yet know existed: the question of what “Christian values” are in the first place.

This is also very much in line with what I’ve been writing for quite a while now. In fact, gets to the heart of my other site, which I am now trying to keep away from political issues. And yet, having said that, I often raise the question of how far apart are we from what God told us about Himself in His story – the Bible. That’s why it’s called God versus religion.

It also goes back to the issue of, do we have a good foundation for our faith? Or do we believe something very different from Jesus’ teachings and commands?

One of the issues brought up by Christianity Today is also a very popular one here in the UsS. for Christians. It’s one that many Christians just love to hate. Abortion.

Take the issue of abortion. Not only is the abortion rate in Russia high, but even when pro-government forces articulate something akin to a “pro-life” view, it is usually in terms of curbing demographic decline, rather than protecting vulnerable human lives.

The animating principle is not “Every life is precious” but “Make Russia great again.” This is even more pronounced in the Russian government’s treatment of the children who are filling orphanages and “baby hospitals” around the country.

Without a vibrant adoption culture in the former Soviet Union, many of these children age out of the system and enter into terrifying lives of immediate substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and suicide.

Truth be told, we aren’t really all that different here. The goal of too many Christians is to make sure every potential baby is born. But after birth? Well, that’s apparently not our concern. If the mother can’t afford the child, or can’t take care of the child, put the kid(s) in “the system”. A friend who works with Child Protective Services tells me that there’s way too much child abuse in that system. And they just don’t have the resources or the support to do anywhere near enough about it. Where are the Christians who did everything they could to sure these babies were born? Great question!

And in a reminder of our own “dear leader” Donald Trump, CT wrote:

The situation is even worse when one looks at Putin’s response to the gospel itself. He has carefully cultivated the Russian Orthodox Church—even to the point of approving mosaics of himself, Stalin, and the Crimean invasion to be installed in a Russian Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the military.

Why would Putin be so interested in religion if he’s not Christian? CT considered that question as well.

Why would Putin—a former KGB official who said that the end of the Soviet Union was an awful disaster—want to partner with a church? Perhaps it is because he believes, along with Karl Marx, that religion can be a useful tool for maintaining political power.

And, indeed, religions are useful when they focus on protecting nationalism and national honor. Religions can turn already-passionate feelings of tribalism and resentment of outsiders into transcendent and unquestionable sentiments. All of that makes perfect Machiavellian sense—unless Jesus is, in fact, raised from the dead.

If only this tendency were limited to the former Soviet Union, we might have the luxury of ignoring it. Pay attention, though, to anyone who looks behind the former Iron Curtain to find the future.

Indeed. And no, as I already pointed out a few times, we cannot afford to ignore this, because we do the same things. In fact, the U.S. has been called out, correctly, by both China and Russia for some of our own actions.

the CT article closes with this.

If the church is simply a cultural vehicle for national stability and pride, then one can hardly expect dictators to do anything other than manipulate it. But if the church is made up, as the Bible says, of “living stones” brought in by regenerated hearts through personal faith in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:4–5), then external conformity to a set of values for civilization falls woefully short of Christianity.

That would be true even in a place that promoted more-or-less Christian values. Yet it’s all the more true when the church is blessing an authoritarian leader, like Putin, who is known by his own people for poisoning his enemies.

In the latter case, the witness of the church itself is at stake—because a religion that dismisses bloodthirsty behavior doesn’t even believe its own teachings on objective morality, much less in a coming judgment seat of Christ. Why would anyone listen to such a religion on how to find peace with God and gain entrance into the life to come?

Evangelical Christians should watch the way of Vladimir Putin—and we should recognize it whenever we are told that we need a Pharaoh or a Barabbas or a Caesar to protect us from our real or perceived enemies.

Whenever that happens, we should remember how to say, in any language; “Nyet.”

How does this lead to God possibly saying, it’s time?

We still need a bit more context, but let’s see where this is going. We have Jesus’ words on one side. We have the things some Christians, especially political ones and prominent evangelicals, are doing to His words. Think about this setting in light of what Jesus said in the passage below.

Jesus and Beelzebub – Luke

11:14, 15, 17-22, 24-26 pp — Mt 12:22, 24-29, 43-45
11:17-22 pp — Mk 3:23-27

Lk 11:14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

Lk 11:17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

Lk 11:21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.

Lk 11:23 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

Lk 11:24 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Lk 11:27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

Lk 11:28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

I have three things from the passage to point out.

  • Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
    • Of course, Jesus is not divided.
    • However, if we don’t follow Jesus’ what appears to be His church does appear to be divided. In reality, the difference between those who truly are followers of Jesus and those who aren’t isn’t always obvious. And even if it is, some/many people will not, or choose not to recognize that.
    • That leads to the next point.
  • He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.
    • Those who claim to follow Jesus but actually don’t cause problems. Problems that aren’t always recognized/acknowledged.
    • Divisions in the church occur.
    • Some are led away from God
    • Some get a false impression of Jesus and therefore don’t become Christians.
    • Now we get to the final point.
  • Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
    • Those who hear the word of God and obey it are the ones who invite the Holy Spirit into their lives and allow Him to guide the changes necessary in our lives in order for us to truly follow Jesus.
    • These changes are called Christian transformation. But, as the first two points show, some don’t want to be transformed. Therefore, they cannot truly follow Jesus.
    • For more on the concept of transformation and its importance, please see What happened to Christian transformation – becoming more Christ-like?

Back to – Why some white evangelicals are cheerleading Russia

I just can’t believe much of what’s in this article. Actually, I guess it’s really that I don’t want to believe it. And yet, it’s true. For instance:

Evangelicals are a long way from how they historically thought about Russia and communism. Back in the 1950s, white evangelical leaders like Billy Graham preached against the evils of communism and called then-Soviet states “godless” and a threat to Christianity and America.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and today’s evangelical leaders, as well as Republicans, have embraced Russia — and, more specifically, Putin. In 2014, Putin made the cover of the evangelical magazine Decision in a piece in which Graham’s son Franklin lauded his handling of the Winter Olympics and his protection of Christians. Franklin visited Russia in 2015, and ever since, has promoted Putin as a godly leader. A few days before the invasion of Ukraine, he asked people to “pray for Putin” but not for Ukrainians, creating a decent amount of backlash.

Really, Franklin Graham thinks Putin is a godly leader. How is that possible?

Well, a video clip is included with the article. In the clip, the commentator quotes Franklin Graham from a piece in the New Yorker titled, Franklin Graham’s Uneasy Alliance with Donald Trump.

Graham has also been criticized for his relationship with Vladimir Putin, which began before Trump took office. Putin’s anti-gay legislation aligns with Graham’s views, and, in 2014, Graham wrote, “In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

Is any stance, no matter what it is, on any one issue enough to qualify anyone as an example of a good Christian? Whether it’s LGBTQ+, abortion, Muslims, or any other topic where there’s a target that certain Christians love to hate – is that really all it takes?

Plus, what about the fact that Putin has banned Protestant Christianity in Russia? Doesn’t that mean anything? Going back to the house divided words from Jesus, how does this work? Putin is a good Christian, someone to be lauded and help out as an example, when he doesn’t allow the largest Christian denominations to practice openly in his country?

Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until …?

Let’s take a shot at filling in the “…” at the end of the title. How about:

Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until so-called Christians decide they want to be their own king, instead of having Jesus as their King.

You do remember where that idea comes from, don’t you?

Israel Asks for a King

1Sa 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

1Sa 8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

1Sa 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

1Sa 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. ”

1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

1Sa 8:21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”

Yeah – God’s people in Old Testament times wanted their own king, just like the pagans had. God told them what would happen. They wanted their own king anyway. And just look what happened.

Fast forward to New Testament times.

Jesus should be our King, if we’re truly Christian. One reference for this is when Jesus appeared before Pilate.

Jesus Before Pilate

18:29-40 pp — Mt 27:11-18, 20-23; Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2, 3, 18-25

Jn 18:28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

Jn 18:30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

Jn 18:31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

Jn 18:33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jn 18:34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

Jn 18:35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jn 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Jn 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Jn 18:38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

Jn 18:40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

Jesus’ own words make this clear. At least, if we understand and accept His words, they make it clear.

Now, let’s fast forward again, this time to the End Times. Revelation. And the King of kings.

The Rider on the White Horse

Rev 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

Rev 19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The rider on the white horse, of course, is Jesus. Towards the end of Revolution. The closing of the End. The time when God decided it’s time to end this creation and begin the new one. A time that was promised way back in The Beginning.

The Fall of Man

Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Ge 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Ge 3:10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Ge 3:11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”

Ge 3:12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Ge 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Ge 3:14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.

Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Ge 3:16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.

Ge 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

Ge 3:19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

Ge 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

Ge 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Do you know which verse I referred to? It’s the underlined portion of the verse below.

Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Conclusion – Never again will I destroy all living creatures. Until …

I always hesitate to write about this topic. Too many people claim to know when the end is coming. And, of course, they’re always wrong.

The Day and Hour Unknown – Mark

Mk 13:32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

Mk 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

See? No one knows. Yes, someone might by coincidence get it right. So far, obviously, no one has. I have no intention of being among those who think they know. I use this as a way to focus attention on the second paragraph in the passage.

Mk 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

And so, I’m not saying the end is coming because of this. Maybe it will. But maybe it won’t. What I am saying is this. At some point, we know that God’s going to close the curtain on this portion of His creation. We also know it’s going to be a time when the world has largely turned against God. And things like this make me wonder. How much can alleged Christians turn against Jesus before there are consequences?

If you do much research on this, you may find references to Pat Robertson coming out of retirement claiming that God is making Putin do this to usher in the final battle in Israel. Even before I read about what he said, I did realize this could end up doing this. The key word there is could. Not that it will, as Robertson claims. There are signs there.

But, as Jesus said, no one knows! And the signs have been coming and going for a long time. Ever since Biblical times, to be sure. So how can anyone know? I thought about not saying anything about this part, just because of Pat Robertson’s prediction.

But shouldn’t we take it as a warning? I figure, we need it. After all, Jesus did tell us – Watch! So we should.

And one of the things we should especially watch is this. Who are we following? Who is our King? If the answer to both questions isn’t Jesus, we have a problem. It may or may not be part of bringing on The End. But it likely will be part of bringing about our ending. An ending that could have been Heaven. But an ending that won’t be Heaven if Jesus tells us He never knew us.

Ultimately, with all that goes on in the world, what the consequences will be, we don’t know. As I said, when it will happen, we don’t know. If you’ve ever read the short book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament, he was asking God – how long will You tolerate this? Like him, I often wonder, how long will You tolerate this?

The bottom line is, again:

Mk 13:35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

So which God are you following?

Jesus?

or someone/something else?


Image by Ulrich B. from Pixabay


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