“Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem” by Rembrandt, 1630
13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
I haven’t been writing too much the past couple of days because I’ve been very busy reading even more than normal. So, I had to still put in some time for work in the midst of that. 🙂 However, I believe the extra reading was well worth it, and one of them was Wallace G Smith’s piece on “Christians and Heathen Prophecy” (link to follow later).
God says the person who creates an idol and worships it is ignorant (“they know not”) and undiscerning. He says they are spiritually blind, and their hearts are similarly closed. There is another passage of the Bible that says that the idols cannot see or hear, and those who worship them are just like them. Can anyone who claims to be in the Church of God be like this?
Christmas and Astrology
I recently wrote about astrology, and the danger of promoting false pagan ideas that grant special powers to inanimate objects, including the heavenly bodies:
10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
I included quite a bit here, just to ensure the context is clear. Otherwise, the meaning just might get lost. It should be clear that the key part of this passage is, “Learn not the way of the heathen“. Examples are then given of being dismayed at the heavens and creating an idol from a tree. Why would these be lumped together, lest the subject is worship of them?
So, the reasoning is that the heathen, that is the pagan nations surrounding Israel, are dismayed at the heavens, but Christians should not be dismayed at the heavens because they understand them from studying them? Really? And, the heathen do not study them? Is that why astrology is so prevalent in a wide variety of societies throughout the world?
How about this tack? Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I admit that the cutting down of a tree and decking it with silver and gold sounds an awful lot like a Christmas tree, but, I reason to you, it’s actually OK because I don’t worship trees. Does that actually sound like a reasonable argument? After all, that is the type of argument the world uses!
No, the cutting down of a tree and decorating it, whether or not it really looks like a Christmas tree, is wrong! The gazing up at the sky to determine the future, even to supposedly see the plan of God in the sky, is wrong!
Well, this same line of thought applies to dabbling in false pagan prophecies as well!
Christmas and Pagan Prophecies
Wallace G Smith, LCG pastor and author of Thoughts En Route, used this same line of reasoning to make a subpoint of his in “Christians and Heathen Prophecy“:
Can God be any clearer [in Dt 18:9-14]? The heathens have their soothsayers, diviners, etc. But the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.
If God Almighty has not appointed those heathen prophets, fortune tellers, diviners, etc. for us, then are we not in opposition to Him if we seek to pull knowledge and information about the future from their words? Even if we use God’s word to “filter” it, has He appointed that “information” for us to filter?
Frankly, that’s the same excuse many give for keeping the pagan practices of Christmas, Easter, etc. “Yes, they are from heathen sources, but we only use them in good ways and we discard the bad, based on God’s Word.” But what if God says it is all bad? What if He says that it isn’t appointed for you in the first place? Who do we think we are to say, “Well, God, don’t worry-I know what I’m doing…”?
This states in a nutshell, I believe, the entire problem with dabbling with Mayan, Catholic and other prophecies in order to try to discern how the endtimes will play out. It is, I firmly believe, a direct violation of God’s commandments to not seek out pagan practices.
Smith’s article is a bit long, but it is well worth the time, IMO. I may not agree with every jot and tittle that LCG espouses, but they are on the mark more times than not, and Smith is a pretty balanced blogger most of the time.
False Prophets and Disillusionment
There are two scenarios in which false prophets will play in the endtimes. There will be more than just these scenarios.
Notice I am saying “are” and “will”, but not “likely”. How can I be so sure? History has recorded certain of these scenarios! There is only one case in which history has not recorded simply because it can only happen once.
I am no prophet, yet I feel comfortable making these predictions simply because human nature is so obvious to all except the ones participating in the events. Yet, the Bible also makes quite clear the intended outcome of the enemy.
16 But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. 17 And their word will spread like gangrene; Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them. 18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some.
Can there be any doubt as to Satan’s goals? He wants you and I to be disillusioned and quit!
Scenario 1: Fleeing at the Wrong Time
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
The Great Disappointment was not the first or the last of instances where people believed Christ would return on a certain date and it did not occur. Few were as dramatic, but there have been other instances where people sold property, quit their jobs and even physically went to a certain location to witness a great event which never happened.
Why don’t people take Christ’s words seriously?
Frankly, though, there will be others. There will be some that will claim to flee to some place of safety. I can even envision a time where pagan and other predictions seem to correlate and is the impetus for them to flee. At the end of the day, if they are saying to flee because of pagan prophecies, then I have no desire to go with them — at all.
Scenario 2: Not Fleeing When It Is Time
Of course, there can only be one correct time, and it is very likely that people will become so disillusioned and tired of it all that they do not flee when it actually is time.
The ones who won’t be worn out by all of this will be the ones who study to make themselves approved. They will be the ones who do not go chasing after every pagan prophecy on the planet and understand that God’s timing is quite clear, albeit relative.
Blind Leading the Blind
More to the point, why delve into pagan prophecies in the first place? Are the pagans not blind? Can they truly hear and discern? Of course not!
Once again, people who do such things totally disregard Jesus’ clear words:
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
~ Lk 6:39