Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Key to Seeing a Move of the Holy Spirit

Something I've learned is: the Holy Spirit wants to move in our meetings - and the key to seeing a manifestation of the Spirit in a meeting (I Cor.12:7) is something PRACTICAL rather than spiritual.

The key is: simply GIVE HIM TIME to move.

The key is not that we necessarily need to fast 40 days.

It may not be that we need to intercede more.

It's not that we need to wait for some sovereign timing of God.

If we'll just give the Holy Spirit TIME in the meeting - on purpose - Jesus will start touching people's lives.

Welcoming the Holy Spirit is not achieved by singing a song such as "Welcome Holy Spirit".

Neither is it achieved when a leader on the stage says, "You are welcome in this place Holy Spirit".

It is not achieved when a preacher prays, "Holy Spirit we want you to have your way."

Holding an all-night prayer meeting to ask the Holy Spirit to move is not welcoming the Holy Spirit either.

We can say and do all of those things, and still not see a move of the Holy Spirit.

Welcoming the Holy Spirit is achieved by PRACTICALLY giving Him time during the service to do whatever He wants!

And I don't mean to just keep praising and worshiping a little longer than usual. That's not welcoming the manifestation of the Spirit either. In fact, singing can get in the way - because singing and allowing the Holy Spirit to move are two completely different functions. While we keep giving to God through our praise and worship (while we are doing something else) the Holy Spirit waits. But as soon as we open-up the meeting for Him to give to us instead of us giving to Him, or for Him to use us, or for Him to manifest His presence in special ways, then the congregation is free to start RECEIVING.

In the same way that love isn't love until it's expressed (and faith isn't faith until it's acted) - so welcoming the Holy Spirit is not really welcoming Him until the welcome becomes practical.

And when we make it practical - He'll start doing the things that He showed up to do.

And you'll be thrilled with what happens.

Believe it!

And believing it means, act it.

Deliberately give time for the Holy Spirit to do what He wants in your next service.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Noah's Flood - Worldwide or Regional?

Was Noah’s Flood Worldwide?

The Bible says it was worldwide.

I guess there is literary license however for any document to use terminology such as "every" and "all" and "whole" for emphasis, rather than universality. In other words, the words can be used relatively rather than absolutely. That’s why some people believe the account of Noah's flood may have been intended to be understood as regional rather than global.

But if the flood was regional, a high ring of mountains would be necessary to act as a catchment for the large body of water. If such a ring of mountains didn't already exist before the flood, perhaps it could have been formed through sudden tectonic upheaval, then gradually defaced in the aftermath of the flood.

However the onus of proof that such a ring of mountains ever existed is on those who want to assert the theory.

Those who oppose the literal interpretation claim that there is not enough water on earth to cover the whole surface of the planet.

But let’s examine that objection – first of all from a Biblical, and then a scientific, point of view.

From a Biblical point of view, the creation story begins with the whole world covered in water:

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters".

The New Testament also mentions, "…the earth standing out of the water and in the water…”

So from the very beginning there was enough water on earth to completely cover the whole surface.

I was taught during High School Physics that Mass is constant. Therefore whatever happened after Day One of creation, there must always have remained enough water on earth to cover the entire surface with water again.

On the Second Day God made a "firmament" which separated the body of water above it from the water below it. If this "firmament" is the same firmament in which birds were later said to fly, then I guess it refers to earth's atmosphere. I don't know what state the water was in that was placed above the firmament. But whatever state it was in, the total volume of water that was above the firmament combined with the water below the firmament, remained constant.

And the volume of water that remained below the firmament was itself still enough to cover the whole surface of the earth even after the waters above had been separated by the firmament.

It was not until Day Three that God caused the waters below the firmament to be gathered together into places called "seas" enabling dry land to appear for the first time.

Perhaps God did this by raising hills and mountains, making trenches for the seas or by causing some of the water to go underground.

The water for Noah's flood came from three sources:

1. The fountains of the great deep were broken up
2. The windows of heaven were opened
3. It rained for 40 days

The high mountains were submerged to a depth of 15 cubits. Imagine Noah measuring the depth. Noah was in the ark a whole year and ten days before the waters were abated enough for it to be safe for them to come out from the ark. That's a big Flood. But where could all that water be today?

The world's oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface to an average depth of 3,711m. That's enough water to cover the whole surface of the earth to a depth of 2.7km if all the land was level. But could Mt Everest at 8,848m have been submerged?

That would require an extra body of water only 2.277037 times the volume of the oceans. If that much water exists, where could it be?

The Bible says the flood waters "returned". Some of it was "assuaged" by means of a special wind, whilst the rest ran off the land. Is it possible for the earth's internal structure to contain that much water?

Well since 80% of what comes out of volcanoes is water vapor; since scientists believe the earth's outer core to be liquid; and since the deepest that mankind has drilled beneath the earth's sea-bed so far is still only 2,111m - I guess we can't rule-out the possibility that there may be water beneath the earth's crust.

Anyway the volume of subterranean water required to submerge Mt Everest would be a mere 0.0029044% of the earth's total volume of 1.083 207 3×1012 km³. If Mt Ararat (5,137m) was the highest peak back in Noah's days, the figure is reduced to a mere 0.0024343% of earth's internal structure needing to contain water.

But keep in mind that many of the world's peaks are getting higher and may not have been as high during Noah's day. The Himalayas and the Rockies may not have even existed at all before the flood. In fact Mt Everest, which is moving upwards at a faster rate than any other group of mountains in the world, may actually have been formed as a direct result of events that occurred in the aftermath of the Flood. According to a NASA website (NB not a Creationist website) Mt Everest contains marine fossils and is made-up of sediment that was once a seabed. What better explanation for this than the Flood.

About four or five generations after the Flood, a son was born to the line of Shem, whom they named Peleg because "in his days the earth was divided". This probably means the people were divided socially as a result of patriarchy or the Babel dispersion. However there could be another meaning.

The name Peleg פָּלֶג means earthquake, or division, and is related to a word meaning water. Several English words are phonetically related to it such as archipelago and pelagic. So is it possible during Peleg's day that the earth and not just the people was divided?

Tectonic shifts, earthquakes, volcanoes, rising sea levels, deepening oceans, continental drift, continental collision and rising mountain peaks (such as Mt Everest and the Himalayas) may all have been part of this. This may even have contributed to the present-day height of Mt Ararat.

In other words, the present-day condition of colliding continents pushing up such high peaks as the Himalayas and the Rockies (the Rockies is also a major fossil field) may be a condition that was forged only in the aftermath of the Flood, with dramatic geophysical activity being noticed particularly around 99 years after the Flood in the fifth generation - hence the name Peleg.

Therefore the volume of water that exists in today's oceans (even without looking for further volumes of subterranean water), could have been sufficient to submerge all the high hills and mountains that probably existed in Noah's day.

If so, it's possible that only one large land mass existed before the earth was divided, which could explain why Noah had to build an ark to survive rather than migrate away from the Flood region; and which could explain how people, languages, animals and flora were able to migrate easily.

If the original Pangaea was not yet broken up into the current continents, then it could be said that the Flood was both regional (because there would have been only one region!) and at the same time, global.

So to respond to the questions:

"Was the Flood regional or worldwide?"

Both, possibly.

"Is there enough water?"

Absolutely, all ways considered.

Nevertheless, Paul reminded us that if a man thinks he knows anything, he doesn't know anything yet as he ought to know it. Therefore there's merit in adopting David's attitude, "I don't exercise myself in matters too high for me."

Our faith is based not on flesh and blood nor wisdom of words, but in the power of God.

Hill Tribe Ministry

On the island of Mindanao, Philippines, is an indigenous tribe which numbers approximately 25,000 people, named the Debabawon tribe. Debabawon means mountaintop – because their villages are spread over the mountaintops.

The villages don’t have any electricity or running water. Their ancestors have lived there for generations. And all of the villages are animists. That is, until recently.

The following is the remarkable story of how God revealed Himself in dreams to one of the village-chiefs, and how an entire village came to Christ.

After traveling five hours by bus, we hired a motorcycle – with four of us straddling one motorbike – to transport us into the interior. Then after a couple of hours on the bike, crossing rivers and ascending the mountain, we hiked the rest of the way up the mountain on foot. We trudged through mud and crossed flooded rivers on a narrow log.

While we were hiking up the mountain, I was told that I was the first foreigner, the first white man, ever to set foot in those mountains. So I was anticipating a look of surprise on the faces of the tribal villagers when we arrived.

But no-one looked surprised at all. So I asked my interpreters to ask the chief if it was really true that I was their first foreign visitor; and if so, why was no-one surprised. The chief replied with this fascinating story:

“A long time ago we used to worship the spirits. The men used to spear each other; we had as many wives as we liked.

Then one day I had a dream in which someone dressed in white appeared to me and said, ‘You must change what you are doing, and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.’

Then I was told in another dream to gather the whole village together and tell everyone that they also must change and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.
Then I was told in another dream to write down certain laws which the village must live by. And I was also told to build a building where the village can gather together to worship the one true God in heaven.

The behavior of our village changed and became so good that we gained the reputation of causing the least amount of trouble to the Filipino Government of any of the hill tribes. So much so that my name was changed to Datu Malinaw [which means, ‘Chief Peace-bringer’].

"Then one day I got sick, and had to go down off the mountain into the lowlands to find a doctor. And by chance, the first person I met happened to be a pastor. He took me into his house and showed me the Bible. I was amazed to discover in the Bible almost exactly the same words that had been told to me in the dreams. So I knew that the God who had revealed Himself to me in the dreams was the same God who wrote the Bible. I invited the pastor to come and live in our village and learn our language and teach us more about God.

Finally I was told in another dream that someday white people will come from a far away land and tell us more about what God wants us to do. So no-one’s surprised to see you – we’ve been waiting for you,” said the chief.

That was some fifteen years before I arrived. So instead of being surprised, everyone was instead probably wondering what took us so long!
The chief gathered everyone together, eager to hear my message. So we preached about the Plan of Salvation, Water Baptism and Receiving the Holy Spirit.
After I finished speaking, the chief dismissed all of the villagers from the house. The elders had a closed discussion. Then after a short time he gathered everyone together again. The tribal spokesman announced:

"The elders have discussed the message which we all just heard, and have unanimously agreed that it is truly a message from God. Therefore, as of now, we all accept it."
So the whole village instantly accepted the Gospel, and they also accepted the message about receiving the Holy Spirit.

But when it came to the message about water baptism, the chief did not at first give permission for his people to submit to baptism. "But if you'll help us build a new building for worship,” he said, “"then I'll allow the people to be baptized."
At first I felt unhappy with the chief’s response regarding baptism. I felt that if his obedience to God was complete, he should be willing to submit to baptism irrespective of whether or not we agreed to help them with a new building. Then the Lord softened my heart’ the Lord seemed to be impressing upon my heart:

“These tribal people don’t have legal title to the land which they’ve occupied for generations; and they feel they are less formally-educated and less wealthy than lowlanders; and the chief feels that by allowing his people to submit to baptism he will be bringing his people into covenant with his visitors – so all he is doing is looking for a token of your sincerity – then he can feel sure he won’t be subjecting his people to risk of exploitation or being driven off the land – and then he’ll gladly consent to baptism”, the Lord seemed to be telling me.

So I shared my feelings with the Filipino pastors in our team, then one of the Pastors immediately gave the chief 100 pesos (which is only about five dollars). And the chief immediately gave permission for his people to be baptized. That was all it took – a little token of our integrity, just five dollars. I was amazed!

But God put it into my heart to do more than that. We calculated it would cost only $1,250 to construct the entire church-building, since all we'd need to do is hire a chain saw; buy corrugated roofing iron; and the wood could be cut down from the jungle.

When I returned home to Australia I told a church: “That's a small price to pay, to see a whole village get baptized”.

While I was still speaking, the pastor jumped up and grabbed the microphone off me, and said to the congregation: "We'll take-up an offering on that straightaway. And whatever you give in the offering tonight, we'll match it dollar-for-dollar from existing church funds."

So in one offering we raised almost the entire amount. We sent the money to the Philippines, and the new church-building was constructed – made from beautiful Philippine mahogany.

And the chief came true to his word: he was baptized, and the whole village assembled in row upon row down at the river and were all baptized in one day. And at their opening church service in their new building they had 1300 people in attendance. Hallelujah!

And the children of the village have learned to sing in English:

“Jesus how lovely you are
You are so gentle,
so pure and so kind
You shine like the bright morning star
Jesus how lovely you are”

Since then some young people from the tribe have graduated from Bible College, and four or more churches have been established in neighbouring villages.

Current Projects

Sadly the church-building was flattened in a cyclone in December 2012. Plans are in place to rebuild it.

A kindergarten building which we contributed to building was also damaged. The cost of building it was a mere $1,430.45 (Pesos 60,000). Teachers were already available.

Other churches planted by the Debabawon graduates were also destroyed or damaged in the cyclone. Workers are already available to go and preach in neighbouring villages.

The reason it’s so cheap is because land, labour and structural timber is already provided freely by the tribe.

A major need is training. The cost of sending a young person to Bible College is approximately $150 for six months (includes tuition and accommodation).
If one hundred church-buildings are constructed in villages throughout the entire tribe, it could service the entire 25,000 people, and might cost about $7 per person (est.)

Notes on John Chapter 1


1 “…with God” = distinct from God; and yet “…was God” = God. Jesus Christ is God!

3 “…by him…” not through Him, as mere agent – but by His own virtue as God. If Jesus Christ was made by God, as some say, then it could not be said of Him that “all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” – unless Jesus made Himself! Jesus was eternally coexistent with God and eternally God.
4 If you want to have light, you’ve first got to have life. Light doesn’t come primarily from mental allightenment – it comes first from receiving spiritual life. The cure for double-mindedness is to cleanse one’s heart.
6 God is still into sending men. He may want to send you! John means, God is gracious. God sent him as an expression of His grace for humanity. God wants our life, and our going, to be an expression of His grace through the Gospel. All of His grace – including forgiveness, healing, the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and the promise of His Kingdom
7 “Witness”. John’s primary purpose. We also are empowered as witnesses. Our beautiful identity. Empowered, because we are witnesses not by word only but by demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that people’s faith may rest not in wisdom of words but in the power of God. “Believe” the primary task of man.
8 Jesus distinct and greater than John
9 Otherwise man is in the dark
10 Knowing Him is of all-importance
11 “…his own…” = the Jews. Receiving him is of all-importance
12 “…gave he power to become the sons of God…” only God has such power. Therefore Jesus is God. “…on his name” that is, on Jesus’ Name. He, his = Jesus. Believing on His name is of all-importance. He give, not pays, the power to become the sons of God. It is a grace gift, received by faith, not of works. Sons, plural. He brought many sons unto glory.
13 Becoming the sons of God is through being “born” – born of God. Truly, it is like a birth. You have to experience it to know it. I experienced it on 16 December 1979.
14 Here Jesus’ identity as the Word is clear. “Made flesh” He preexisted, but was only made flesh at this time. He truly was made flesh. There was no doubt about that, for he “dwelt among us”. But His true identity was also known, for “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father”. They saw this on the mount of transfiguration; but also through His miracles. His character and holiness were seen: “full of grace and truth”. Note about the term “only begotten”. Isaac was said to be Abraham’s only begotten son, and yet Abraham already had a son, Ishmael – and he also had other sons after Isaac. But Isaac was unique in that he was Abraham’s only son born through Sarah. So the term carries the idea of uniqueness. God has many sons – Adam, and all believers in Jesus – however, Jesus was unique because He was the only man born of a virgin; not to mention that He was always with God and had glory with God
15 “…he was before me…” John was conceived three months before Jesus. Evidently then, John bare witness that Jesus was preexistent, that is, Jesus is God.
16 We have received of His fulness!
18 See note on “only begotten”.
19 From this verse until 2:11 is about five consecutive days.
20 Study this term “the Christ”.
23 So John infers that Jesus is “Lord” = divine.
29 Lamb of God = divine; for only the Son of God is pure enough to take away sin; and, God provided for Himself, of His own, an offering for sin. If the Lamb were not of His own – if He was not His only begotten Son – then the offering wouldn’t be from His own.
30 “He was before me” = divine, for, phsically, John was before Jesus
34 John bare record that this is the Son of God = divine
41 Messiah, or Christ = divine
42 Stone, meaning a large building cornerstone, a foundational stone
45 Philips testified of Jesus’ identity, and hence, divinity
49 Nathanael’s testimony: Jesus is the Son of God; the Kig of Israel.
50 Believing is the all-important thing
51 The angels ascend first, and then descend. They ascend with our faith, and descend with the answer. Speak your faith, act your faith – and you will have

European Union and Eschatology

It’s happening again: some prophetic ministry is currently predicting the end of the world based on another conspiracy to unite the world’s governments into a One World Government. This time it’s supposedly scheduled to happen in December this year.

Such predictions come in cycles. Last time it came around, a new currency was apparently already in print and the New World Order was supposed to begin by early 1980.

Of course it didn’t happen. And similar failed predictions can be traced back through the ages.

But here’s a question: even if the whole of Europe does unite under one Government in December, how can that be a basis for asserting that Christ must return in our generation? Similar unions have happened before, and it didn’t mean the end of the world.

In fact, such unions haven’t always been a bad thing. For example, the United States of America began by a union of 13 independent colonies and grew over the next 172 years to become a union of 50 States, in the process also unifying over 500 indigenous nations. With all its imperfections, was that union a bad thing? In many ways it enhanced the spread of the Gospel. It certainly didn’t mean the end of the world.

Similarly Australia began by a Federation of six independent States and grew over 88 years to become a Commonwealth with 16 States and territories, in the process also unifying over 400 indigenous nations. With all its imperfections, has that union been a bad thing? In many ways it also enhanced the spread of the Gospel. It certainly didn’t mean the end of the world.

Go back further in history. The formation of the United Kingdom united at least three separate Kingdoms, kingdoms which had already united several separate nations and tribal groups before them. The Union may have begun with hostility – but it didn’t mean the end of the world. In fact, the Union became the largest empire in human history and its members became responsible for much of the spread of the Gospel around the world over ensuing centuries.

So unions aren’t always a bad thing – and they certainly don’t automatically indicate the end of the world.

Europe consists of about 50 or so nations. Equally large and far larger unions have already taken place in history, even in Europe - without eschatological significance. So another European Union won’t automatically mean the end of the world either.

Even if such a union becomes a bad thing instead of a good thing, we still can’t assert on that basis alone that it automatically means the end of the world – because some similarly not-so-good unions have already come and gone without it being the end of the world.

Like the Soviet Union. And Nazi Germany. The Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine Empire. And of course the Roman Empire. Each of these unions – not to mention Genghis Khan’s enormous Mongol Empire – took place in exactly the same locations that are today given so much eschatological significance – and yet they didn’t mean the end of the world. So why should it be the end of the world now, just because some European leaders in October discussed some sort of a union for the purpose of dealing with climate change?

If you are going to assert that ours must be the last generation, you’re going to need a stronger basis than that. Otherwise your prediction might be at risk of being added to history’s long list of fizzled end-times predictions.

Why do men keep getting it wrong? Because Jesus said:

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32).

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Business-Based Model for a Rehabilitation Centre

The following are some thoughts about how a Rehabilitation centre may be able to operate without government funding or donations and without any of the residents receiving social security payments. It could operate entirely on a Biblical, moral, capitalistic model (rather than funded by a socialist, redistributionist model).

This is important because it engenders a work-ethic; and also because in many countries it won't be possible to operate rehab. centres on a welfare-based model.

Let's look at the welfare-based model first. Let's say a rehabilitation ministry rents four houses, and buys food for 38 residents, and operates a number of vehicles.

Under the welfare or donations funded model, such a ministry is likely funded through requiring each resident to contribute a portion of their Sickness Benefits, which the hypothetical 38 residents are receiving at a cost to the public of more than half a million dollars per year (38 x sickness benefit + rent assistance x 1 year = > $552,756 per year).

Plus, let's say the rehabilitation centre receives additional funding from businesses which make donations to the Ministry in lieu of paying wages to residents who are doing unpaid work therapy in their businesses.

Operating costs include: renting the houses, buying the food, and operating the vehicles. How many hours per week would each resident need to do, on award wages, to meet that cost? Let's say seven hours and 25 minutes per week. Obviously some first-stage residents will not be able to work, while last-stage residents will be able to work longer than seven hours and 25 minutes per week. But seven hours and 25 minutes might be the average.

Instead of being paid for their work though, the money would go into the ministry, and their work would be part of their therapy and rehabilitation.

The rehab could actually be registered as a company instead of as a charity. A resident, when he applies, would enter a work-place agreement with the company. The resident would agree to participate in the program - which would include being willing to eventually do an average of seven hours and 25 minutes work per week as part of the program.

The company would agree to pay him by providing accommodation and meals, by providing the rehabilitation program, providing training, and perhaps by paying a little bit of cash - and at the end of the term of 'employment', the company would pay him a lump-sum of cash equal to six weeks rent for his own apartment when it comes time for him to leave. Or the person could opt to stay, on a new workplace agreement, on mutually agreeable terms. The terms would of course comply with the industry awards.

The company (the rehab) would change its arrangement with its sponsoring-businessesmen. Instead of continuing to receive "donations" from them in return for providing labour through residents doing "work-therapy" in their businesses, the rehab (the company) would actually contract with those businesses like a labour-provider would, and be paid. So, the rehab (the company) would contract with outside sponsoring-businesses, while residents would contract with the rehab (the company.

The rehab (the comapny) might only have to be paid for seven hours and 25-minutes work per week per resident, and the cost of operating the Ministry might be covered. (7hrs 25min x 38 residents @ $18/hr = $5,073/week = rent 4 houses @ $500 each per week + $2,000 food per week + $1,073/week vehicle expenses and other expenses).

It assumes the staff are volunteers.

Consider the advantages of this model:

Half a million dollars in welfare-payments would be saved. Donations wouldn't need to be solicited. Businesses can make a certain amount of financial gain. Residents would feel the dignigty of being able to say that they are "employed" by a company instead of saying they're in Rehab.

And the director of the rehab himself can benefit, because if it was run as a Charity, he either volunteers his services, or the most he can profit from it is to receive his own wage - but if he operates it as a company, then he has every right to profit from it as much as he can.

If it is a Charity, it should be a goal of the ministry to have residents finish their dependency on the organization as soon as possible and move-on - but if it's a company, then the Director has every right to inspire his 'employees' to want to continue their relationship with the company for the long-term.

A similar model could be utilised in order to replace Single-Mothers Payments with a capitalist model. A company like a large supermarket or department store could provide the service while at the same time profiting from it.

These stores could own accommodation. They could enter into a workplace agreement with a single-mother to work for their company, and be partly paid with accommodation, and partly with cash.

In order to transition from the welfare-based model to a business-based model, a two-tiered system could be temporarily put in place. Residents could continue to do a one-year Rehab program funded by Centrelink and donations, and then a second-year program could see residents employed by the commercial arm of the ministry. Feasability studies would have to be done into the ministry operating its own for-profit businesses.

Examples of possible business could include: furniture removal; cleaning; pest control.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

MATTHEW 24:32-34
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

We are usually taught that this means that within a generation of Israel (the fig tree) becoming a nation again, the end will come.

But the text says, “When you shall see all THESE THINGS, know that it is near.” What are “these things”? They are the “things” Jesus talked about in the previous verses.

These things, far from describing the restoration of Israel as a nation, described precisely the opposite: great tribulation for Israel, including wars, famines, pestilences, siege, false Christs (antichrists) and destruction.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, all these things were said to be only the “beginning of birth contractions”, and the culmination would come when the believers saw the abomination that causeth desolation standing where it ought not, that is, standing in the Temple (as Daniel said). “When you see this happen, then flee the city,” Jesus warned them. And it came to pass that not one stone of the Temple was left standing on top of the other, as Jesus said.

The disciples were amazed at this prediction about the Temple, so had asked Jesus, “When shall this be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall come to pass?” The Olivet discourse is largely Jesus' answer to their question about the temple. The “signs” Jesus mentioned were the signs that the destruction of the Temple was imminent. As Jesus said, “All the blood of righteous men and the prophets shed since Abel to Zecharias, would be required of that generation”.

So this is not to say there may not be other Scriptures which describe Israel’s place in the purposes of God, just that in the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24, there doesn’t seem to be a strong case for the teaching that Jesus must come again within a generation of Israel being declared a nation again in 1948. Instead, the parable seems instead to be talking about the troubles leading up to the final destruction of the City and Sanctuary, which Daniel also foresaw, which occurred in the first century and ever since which “Israel has been trodden under foot of the Gentiles”. And Israel's troubles didn't end there, and may extend into the future. But it doesn't seem conclusive that these Scriptures indicate our generation as the terminal generation. No-one knows the day nor the hour.

Daniel's 70 Weeks

DANIEL 9:24-27

It was revealed to Daniel, whose main concern was for destitute Israel, that it would yet be 70 weeks for Israel (70 X 7 years = 490 years) until the Lord would:

* finish the transgression
* make an end of sins
* make reconciliation for iniquity
* bring in everlasting righteousness
* seal up the vision and prophecy
* and anoint the most Holy

Accordingly, all this was fulfilled by Christ Jesus the Lord, 490 years after Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem.

Daniel was given still more details relevant to Israel: Messiah will be "cut off" (killed) but "not for himself"; then "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (verse 26).

We are usually told that "the people of the prince that shall come," are the armies of a future antichrist. But is this really a future event, as some want to tell us - or has it already come to pass?

For it to be a still future event, a gap of thousands of years would need to be inserted into Daniel's text, plus the sanctuary would first need to be rebuilt, because it was destroyed in AD70.

But why would God have a program to rebuild the Temple and introduce animal sacrifices in Israel once again, since these were only a shadow of the true sacrifice of His Son which has now come? What pleasure could God now take in the blood of bulls and goats?

"If I build again that which I once destroyed, I make myself a transgressor," Paul said.

The Old Testament prophecies concerning the rebuilding of the Temple were spoken during the Babylonian captivity. Within 70 years, Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the Temple. The books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Haggai, Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah fit into this time period, not after.

The Temple was central to God’s Covenant (Old Covenant) with Israel; and God never takes covenant action without using His prophets to speak about it first. So if the prophecies spoken during or before the period of Captivity refer to a third temple instead of the second, where were the prophecies about the second temple which was built shortly afterwards? Such silence would be uncovenantal.

Therefore when Daniel and Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple, they were talking about the very Temple that existed at the time of the fourth kingdom, that is, the Temple that existed at the time of the Roman Empire, at the time of Christ.

Who then were "the people of the prince that shall come", who were to "destroy the city and sanctuary" during the reign of the Roman Empire, at the time of the Messiah?

In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, Jesus described Jerusalem being besieged by her enemies when not one stone of the Temple would be left standing on top of the other, because Israel "knew not the hour of her visitation".

Within that generation, all this came to pass just as Jesus predicted, when Roman armies besieged the city in AD70, fulfilling Daniel's prophecy which Jesus was quoting.

As for the believers, Jesus forewarned them that when they see "the abomination of desolation" standing in the Temple, quoting Daniel, it's time to flee the city. "Pray it's not in winter," Jesus said.

It came to pass that when Titus' armies besieged Jerusalem and pagan idols were set-up in the Temple at Jewish invitation, the believers recognized this to be what Jesus had warned them about, the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy. They remembered Jesus' advice to flee into the surrounding hillside without even returning to fetch anything from their houses. They fled the city, and by so doing, saved their lives.

Then Rome desecrated the temple and city. Some were taken, others were left. Wherever the dead bodies were, there the vultures gathered. The tribulation of those days in Jerusalem was so great that Jesus said, “Except the tribulation of those days be shortened, no flesh shall be saved”. But for the elect's sake, that is, for the sake of the believers struggling to survive during those difficult times, the days would be shortened.

Jesus had said, “All the righteous blood shed since Abel to Zechariah, will be required of this generation”.

On the way to the cross when a great company of women bewailed and lamented him, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children…”

In the parable of the tenants, Jesus foretold that the owner of the Vineyard would destroy the original tenants and give it to others. Now just as He said, it came to pass in Israel that “the kingdom will be taken away from you, and given to another nation”.

Within the exact time-frame told to Daniel by the angel, the Messiah came, fulfilling all that was written of by Daniel: offering the Kingdom to Israel; He was cut off; He was presented before the Ancient of Days; the saints possessed the Kingdom; Jerusalem and the sanctuary were destroyed; now the gentiles are grafted-in with the elect Jews, and together the Kingdom is becoming a great mountain to “fill the whole earth".

Notice that in relation to Israel, Daniel was told it would be the “saints” who shall possess the Kingdom, rather than Israel generally – that is, a remnant, the elect, rather than all Israel after the flesh.

This is precisely how Paul applied the prophetic Scriptures - and it's the only way he applied them. Israel hath not obtained it, but the election hath obtained it, Paul explained.

Paul understood that the Kingdom had come through Jesus, fulfilling prophecy. Paul's writings nowhere try to explain that the promises failed just because Israel failed to receive it, or that the Kingdom is therefore yet to come in some future way to fulfil the Scriptures. Rather, he spent ALL his time explaining how that the Kingdom has ALREADY come, in Jesus. And the Gentiles are now inheriting the Kingdom.

This is how Paul understood the promises and the prophets. Paul's revelation of the Gospel is that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and procured the promises made to Israel for both Jew and Gentile alike through faith.

Israel after the flesh is currently blinded and cut off because of unbelief, while it is a remnant of Jews who believe and inherit the promises, the Gentiles also grafted-in to the promises through faith. The Gentiles are inheriting the blessing of Abraham. This is Paul's gospel.

Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and was glad".

Paul said, "God preached before the gospel to Abraham when he promised the justification of the Gentiles by faith, saying, 'In thee and in thy seed (Christ) shall all families of the earth be blessed (saved, justified)'".

To what period or dispensation does Abraham’s blessing refer? Jesus said, “My day”, that is, to this day in which we now live through the gospel.

Abraham saw it. Jesus fulfilled it. The Kingdom is being announced and is available to all. Jesus gave to the apostles the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is the father's good pleasure to confer on you a Kingdom, just as he has conferred on me a Kingdom.”

Just like Jesus said in His parables, the Kingdom is taken away from them (apostate Israel) and given to another nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. We now live in a time when the Kingdom is being announced and the fullness of the Gentiles is coming in, and Jews who continue not in unbelief are also entering.

This is the manner by which all [true] Israel shall be saved.

The Kingdom of God is now like the mustard seed which is the smallest among herbs, yet grows to become a tree big enough for the birds of the air to land in. It began as a seed which fell into the ground and died, but now has produced many sons unto glory.

Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for us, then He that shall come shall come, and will not tarry.

So instead of watching newspapers for a one-world government to arise in Europe which will supposedly put an end to the daily sacrifice in a temple which no longer exists – can we instead perhaps understand this to be fulfilled prophecy? Christ Jesus fulfilled Scripture.

Maybe there isn't as much a case (from these verses in Daniel or from Matthew 24), for the eschatological system that teaches a coming Great Tribulation or one-world government in our generation, as a sign of the end. Even if other Scriptures point to this, Daniel and Matthew don’t seem to.

Double Fulfilment?

Now some who read this may accept that these verses could possibly already be fulfilled prophecy – but they’ll also claim a future fulfilment for them as well, some double fulfilment.

But I wonder what precedent in Scripture exists as authority to arbitrarily place a “double fulfilment” on a clear prophecy?

One text that is claimed to have a double fulfilment is from Isaiah:

“A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son”.

But I only know of one virgin birth, don’t you?

Others claim a double fulfilment of David’s prophetic psalms, saying that they first applied to himself, and later to Christ.

But Peter said, “He (David) being a prophet, spoke NOT ABOUT HIMSELF, but about Christ” – and David knew it. For example, David’s hands and feet were never pierced. He was preserved withersoever he went. But he wrote this in the Psalms being a poetic book, in the first person, using poetic identification rather than prose.

The problem with placing a “double fulfilment” on Matthew 24 in places where Jesus quotes passages from Daniel, is that we have no third testament to explain a second fulfilment to us; however, when it comes to Old Testament prophecies, we have Apostolic authority in the New Testament (through statements made by Jesus and the Apostles) to show us how the Old Testament Scriptures are meant to be interpreted. And they applied the prophecies and promises as being fulfilled in one way and one way only, and that was through Christ, in their own time.

If prophecies of the bible have a valid double-interpretation, there ought to be a clear demonstration of the use of this hermeneutic (the double interpretation hermeneutic, or method) by Jesus or by the Apostles of the New Testament, but there isn't one.

Therefore, knowing that these days in which we live are the Kingdom days spoken of by Daniel and all the prophets, and by John and the Lord Jesus, we can, like Peter and Paul, go about preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus.

Perhaps we needn’t keep looking, on the basis of these Scriptures, for a revived Roman Empire to emerge from Europe in our generation that will yet desecrate a Jewish Temple which doesn’t even exist, using a sacrificial system which God has no interest in restoring, now that He dwells in a true temple not made with hands.

A Great Mountain that Filled the Whole Earth

DANIEL 2:34,35
34 ...a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image...
35 ...and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and
filled the whole earth.

We are usually told that this stone, which destroys the image and which supersedes four kingdoms and which then becomes a great mountain and fills the earth - is a coming one-world government which will take over all other governments.

But it seems to me after reading Daniel's own explanation in verse 44, that this great stone, cut out without hands and which filled the whole earth may actually be God's Kingdom. Just a thought.

The text tells us that this event about which it speak was to take place during the time when the fourth kingdom was in power.

Four kingdoms indeed have ruled over Israel since Daniel’s day - and most Commentaries assert this fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire (the other three being the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian Empires).

If this stone that destroyed the image and split the fourth kingdom into two parts symbolizes the Kingdom of God, can we say that the Kingdom came to Israel during the time of the Roman Empire and ultimately saw it divided into two, as Daniel said? and did God's Kingdom at that time begin to become a “great mountain to fill the whole earth”?

Well we know that in that period of history, Jesus the Messiah came and announced the Kingdom of God to Israel, and since then people of all nations have entered the Kingdom of God.

Eventually the Roman Empire divided into two before coming to its final end, while to this day Christianity continues to flourish. It can truly be said that at least in some sense, from that time on, the Kingdom of God began to be announced.

The New Testament says the same:

“Jesus went about announcing the Kingdom of God".

"If I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you".

"The Kingdom cometh not with observation, but the Kingdom is within you," Jesus explained.

When did the Kingdom begin to be announced?

"From the time of John (the Baptist) until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," said Jesus.

"Paul went about preaching the Name of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God".

In a sense it can be said that exactly as Daniel foretold in Chapter 7, it came to pass that the Ancient of Days and the saints possessed the Kingdom, during the time of the fourth beast, and that Kingdom keeps on growing and no-one can hinder it.

So is there really as strong a case to be made from these verses, as some suggest, that some form of a revived Roman Empire is yet to arise and rule the world from Europe as an antichrist, within our generation?

Besides, the Jews would hardly accept a Gentile politician as their Messiah (Antichrist), knowing as they do from the Scripture that Christ must come from the Tribe of Judah.

It came to pass in history exactly as it was told to Daniel in the vision, that Christ was to come offering the Kingdom to Israel and that His Kingdom would fill the whole earth, and that this would all happen during the time of the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire).

If that is so, we would therefore understand these verses to now be fulfilled Scripture, and what need would we have of continually watching events in Europe for the rise of a supposed one-world government which will distinguish our generation as the last?

Many Shall Run To & Fro, Knowledge Shall Be Increased

4 ...many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

We are usually told that this verse refers to a boom in travel and technology, as a sign that the "end" is near.

But when one approaches this verse without that presupposition, and first reads the whole book of Daniel in one sitting, the meaning that then seems to spring naturally to mind in this verse is that "many shall run to and fro [CARRYING PROPHETIC REVELATION], and that knowledge [OF GOD] shall be increased".

Leading up to and following this verse in Daniel, one will notice words and phrases such as “knowledge" and "wisdom” and “they that be wise" and "those with understanding" always refer to people who know God.

With this in mind, it seems out of context that the word “knowledge” should suddenly now instead mean public transport on commercial Boeing 747 jet aircraft and electronic technology, just in this one verse.

Compare the vocabulary of prophetic passages elsewhere in the Bible, and observe what meaning they give to the same words as those used in Daniel. For example:

"Write the vision, and make it plain, for it is yet for an appointed time, and he shall run that readeth it"; and

"The knowledge of God (of the glory of God) shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea".

In those verses, "running" means activity in response to prophetic revelation; while “knowledge" means knowing God. Running doesn’t primarily refer to public transport on commercial jet aircraft; nor knowledge primarily to technology.

The same meanings make sense in the Book of Daniel too, because remember that under the Old Covenant, revelation was only given to prophets, and knowing God was limited to the Hebrews. Whereas when the time came that God made a New Covenant with the house of Israel, it came to pass as prophesied by Jeremiah that, “They shall all know me, from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord”. It was encouraging for Daniel to foreknow this, since at the time, his nation was in such spiritual decline.

Moreover, in these latter days (and note that the Apostle Peter said the "latter days" began on the day of Pentecost), not just Jews but all people even the Gentiles are coming to know Him.

Therefore it can truly be said, that beginning at the time of Christ and continuing until today, we live in a day of fulfilment, wherein many are running to and fro with God’s sure word of prophecy (i.e. the gospel), and the knowledge of God has increased.

This increase of knowing God began with the introduction of the New Covenant by Christ. Knowledge increased in three ways:

* Firstly, in Daniel’s day, Israel was spiritually bankrupt and in captivity. But when John, Jesus and the Apostles came preaching, many backsliders in Israel returned to the God of their fathers and “the word of God increased and multiplied”.

* Secondly, under the Old Covenant only those who stood in the office of prophet received direct revelation, while others needed someone to teach them. But in the New Covenant, “They shall not need any to teach them saying, ‘Know the Lord’. For they shall all know me, from the least even to the greatest, saith the Lord. I will give them a new heart and I will put my spirit within them and my laws will I write on their inward parts.”

Through the new birth, Israel was given the promise of the Spirit and everyone could receive an anointing (no longer limited to just prophets, priest or kings) “and you need not that any man should teach you, because the anointing that you have received teaches you of all things”. The New Covenant is based on better promises and brought better privileges to Israel.

* A third way in which knowledge increased is that since Christ, unlike during Daniel’s day, the Gentiles are now grafted-in to the promises, and share in this New Covenant. Many all over the world are coming to know Him.

If the above is truly the intended meaning in Daniel, then perhaps this verse doesn’t really give as strong a basis as we have been told, for the idea that the 20th Century boom in travel and electronics is a sign that this is the last generation before Christ returns.

Besides, we in the 21st century feel that we can describe the growth in travel and technology during the 20th century as a “boom”, only because we compare it to the 19th century. But who’s to say (if the Lord tarry) that future generations won’t undergo even further developments that supersede even the last century’s rate of increase, so that in future history the 20th century “boom” may appear relatively small?

So even if travel & technology is the correct meaning of running & knowledge in Daniel, no-one could claim that the “increase” of his own generation was the final boom of history. The most any of us could say is that it’s the biggest boom so far.

Therefore either way, this verse can’t really be used to prove that we are the terminal generation.

One Shall Be Taken, And the Other Left

LUKE 17:36,37
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he saith
unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be
gathered together.

We are usually told that these verses talk about the rapture: that one person is "taken" into the air to meet the Lord, while the other is "left" to face Tribulation.

But notice that upon hearing Jesus say this, the disciples asked, “Where Lord?" to which Jesus replied by mentioning dead bodies and vultures. How is that an answer, if He was talking about the rapture?

Is it possible that the ones who are "taken" are those who are in fact killed, while it is the ones who are "left" who are actually the survivors? I'm not sure.

If this was talking about the rapture, why would the disciples be told to flee into the hills? They wouldn’t be here any more – by that time they’d be halfway in the air!

Is it possible that Jesus was hereby predicting the terrible siege of Jerusalem which took place exactly as described, in AD70, an event which the Lord described as "Great Tribulation"?

Or is it possible that it described sufferings down throughout history, some of which may or may not be yet future.

If so, then these verses actually may not be talking about the rapture at all, nor about a future Great Tribulation. Just a thought.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

What Sort of Year Will 2012 Be?

Many people have predicted eschatologically significant cataclysms of apocalyptic proportions for the year 2012. I heard one pastor say she believes 2012 could be the start of The Great Tribulation. Others have gone even further and said it could be the end of the world.

But towards the end of the year 2011, I said the year 2012 will be one of the most peaceful years in recent human history.

I said so, not so much by revelation - but by faith. Jesus said, "Ask anything in my name, and I will do it."

Before asking, I checked how I felt in my spirit about it. I knew that God guides His sons by the Holy Spirit in their spirit - so I looked to the Lord and checked how I felt in my spirit. When I did so, I did not get any sense in my spirit that my desire was not God's will for 2012. So having felt that I'd ascertained God's will, I went ahead and asked for it; and then on the basis of God's promise, I believed I'd received, and spoke it, and did not doubt in my heart, but believed that what I said would come to pass.

At the same time however, I did also perceive in my spirit that towards the latter part of the year, there would come at least one catastrophe which would be very bad.

When I sensed this, I pressed in with my spirit in order to understand what it meant, and after at least two occasions of this, the sense persisted in my spirit that such a catastrophe would happen. I sensed it wasn't going to be in-keeping with the relative calm which would be experienced by much of the rest of the world. It would be quite sensational.

But I still believed that despite the attention that would be given to this catastrophe, it would not change the fact that overall - considering the world as a whole (rather than just considering a specific country or countries) - the year 2012 would still go down in history as one of the most peaceful years of recent times.

So among those who know me best, I began saying it.

My statement about 2012 was made in comparison and contrast to the then popular apocalyptic predictions being published about the year 2012. My statement was intended to be understood in comparison to the terms of their predictions. The predictions being made by many at the time were extraordinary. In contrast to the magnitude of what they were predicting, I was saying that the year 2012 would actually be surprisingly peaceful - surprising, that is, in contrast to the apocalyptic proportions of the predictions being made by others. But also in comparison to averages of the past century or thereabouts.

That was back in late 2011. And how has 2012 been so far? For some, in some places, it has undoubtedly been the worst year of their lives. Some have even lost their lives.

In this world there will always be trouble, until Jesus comes. And we will almost certainly see some more bad things happen yet this year. But considering the world as a whole, rather than focusing on certain areas specifically, can it really be said, as some were predicting, that we are seeing things happen this year which are so extraordinary bad as to be a sure portent of the end? Here are some figures.

In the last decade the average number of deaths globally due to earthquakes has been 63,000 per year. This year so far just 228 have died. That's only 0.36% of the average.

In the last century the average number of deaths worldwide due to wars was approximately 2 million per year. The figure for 2012 is difficult to ascertain, but so far this year there may have been around 33,000. If so that's just 0.16% of average. You would have to multiply that estimate by 3000% before you could say 2012 has been a worse-than-average year, let alone the end of the world.

What about the floods in Cagayan de Oro city, Illigan city, and later in Manila, Philippines, this year? It's really sad that so many lost their lives, and we will never belittle that. And what about the trouble in Kenya? It's really sad when any church gets burned down. But things were a lot worse in Kenya before 2008.

What about Hurricane Sandy, which happened towards the later part of this year. It's really sad for those who lost their lives, and the loss to property was substantial. It was the largest storm on record, measured by area. But as record-breaking and as sad as it was, it hasn't made 2012 a worse-than-average year if we consider the world as a whole. For the areas affected it was extraordinarily bad.

But even considering Hurricane Sandy in its own right, and comparing it with other hurricanes, was Hurricane Sandy really an indication that 2012 is a more significant year eschatologically than anything we've seen before?

Compared with Cyclone Yasi, a storm which happened in Queensland, Australia in February 2011, whose peak winds averaged 205 kilometres per hour, Sandy's were only 150 km/hour.

Yasi's storm surge reached 5.33 metres, Sandy's forecast was for 3.3 metres and apparently exceeded at just over 4 metres.

It's in the length of coastline affected by the hurricane-force winds that Hurricane Sandy broke records: 350km compared with a 130km coastal range for Yasi.

The following is an article by Roger Pielke Jr, which puts some perspective on Hurricane Sandy in comparison with other recent hurricanes in the same area. (Mr. Pielke is a professor of environmental studies and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado.)

Hurricane Sandy left in its path some impressive statistics. Its central pressure was the lowest ever recorded for a storm north of North Carolina, breaking a record set by the devastating "Long Island Express" hurricane of 1938. Along the East Coast, Sandy led to more than 50 deaths, left millions without power and caused an estimated $20 billion or more in damage.

But to call Sandy a harbinger of a "new normal," in which unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction, would be wrong. This historic storm should remind us that planet Earth is a dangerous place, where extreme events are commonplace and disasters are to be expected. In the proper context, Sandy is less an example of how bad things can get than a reminder that they could be much worse.

In studying hurricanes, we can make rough comparisons over time by adjusting past losses to account for inflation and the growth of coastal communities. If Sandy causes $20 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars), it would rank as the 17th most damaging hurricane or tropical storm (out of 242) to hit the U.S. since 1900—a significant event, but not close to the top 10. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list (according to estimates by the catastrophe-insurance provider ICAT), as it would cause $180 billion in damage if it were to strike today. Hurricane Katrina ranks fourth at $85 billion.

To put things into even starker perspective, consider that from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall—Carol, Hazel and Diane—that in 2012 each would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy.

While it's hardly mentioned in the media, the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane "drought." The last Category 3 or stronger storm to make landfall was Wilma in 2005. The more than seven years since then is the longest such span in over a century.

Flood damage has decreased as a proportion of the economy since reliable records were first kept by the National Weather Service in the 1930s, and there is no evidence of increasing extreme river floods. Historic tornado damage (adjusted for changing levels of development) has decreased since 1950, paralleling a dramatic reduction in casualties. Although the tragic impacts of tornadoes in 2011 (including 553 confirmed deaths) were comparable only to those of 1953 and 1964, such tornado impacts were far more common in the first half of the 20th century.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that drought in America's central plains has decreased in recent decades. And even when extensive drought occurs, we fare better. For example, the widespread 2012 drought was about 10% as costly to the U.S. economy as the multiyear 1988-89 drought, indicating greater resiliency of American agriculture.

There is therefore reason to believe we are living in an extended period of relatively good fortune with respect to disasters. A recurrence of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake today, for example, could cause more than $300 billion in damage and thousands of lives, according to a study I co-published in 2009.

So how can today's disasters, even if less physically powerful than previous ones, have such staggering financial costs? One reason: There are more people and more wealth in harm's way. Partly this is due to local land-use policies, partly to incentives such as government-subsidized insurance, but mostly to the simple fact that people like being on the coast and near rivers.

Even so, with respect to disasters we really do make our own luck. The relatively low number of casualties caused by Sandy is a testament to the success story that is the U.S. National Weather Service and parallel efforts of those who emphasize preparedness and emergency response in the public and private sectors. Everyone in the disaster-management community deserves thanks; the mitigation of the impacts from natural disasters has been a true national success story of the past century.

But continued success isn't guaranteed. The bungled response and tragic consequences associated with Hurricane Katrina tell us what can happen when we let our guard down.

And there are indications that we are setting the stage for making future disasters worse. For instance, a U.S. polar-satellite program crucial to weather forecasting has been described by the administrator of the federal agency that oversees it—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—as a "dysfunctional program that had become a national embarrassment due to chronic management problems." The lack of effective presidential and congressional oversight of this program over more than a decade can be blamed on both Republicans and Democrats. The program's mishandling may mean a gap in satellite coverage and a possible degradation in forecasts.

Another danger: Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy. In New York this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared: "I think at this point it is undeniable but that we have a higher frequency of these extreme weather situations and we're going to have to deal with it." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke similarly.

Humans do affect the climate system, and it is indeed important to take action on energy policy—but to connect energy policy and disasters makes little scientific or policy sense. There are no signs that human-caused climate change has increased the toll of recent disasters, as even the most recent extreme-event report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds. And even under the assumptions of the IPCC, changes to energy policies wouldn't have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more.

The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy."

There will almost certainly be some more bad things this year yet. For some regions and some people, it may well be their worst year yet. But considering the world as a whole, and in comparison to previous decades over the last century or so, I believe the year will prove to be statistically more peaceful than average. I certainly don't think we will see cataclysms which in themselves will be so great as to be a sure sign that 2012 is an especially significant year in eschatology.

A lot of modern popular end-times punts are based on a dogmatic interpretation of some prophetic passages of Scripture, passages which don't actually clearly express their interpretation. Hence the repeat cycles of flopped predictions. To some of these people, it's almost unthinkable that the world could actually see a better year than the year before.

Nevertheless, the Son of Man could come at an hour when you least expect it.

Genesis Chapter 1 - Explanatory Notes

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, not in a beginning. There has been only one beginning.
The heavens and the earth and everything in them were made in six days, not in six days plus one - there was no gap in-between (Exodus 22:11).
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
In the beginning the whole earth was covered with water.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
The Word of God activated the Spirit of God. Whoever commands and does not doubt but believes in his heart shall have whatever he says.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Everything mentioned in verses 1-5 took place on the first day of creation, including verses 1 & 2.
A day began in the evening and concluded at the end of the day (at 6pm). Rest came first, then activity. Labour was not to be a reward for labour, rather activity was to follow the grace of rest.
6 ¶ And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
It is a godly trait to name certain things.
9 ¶ And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
The six days of creation were literal 24-hour days, for if the night and day were very much longer, then the plants, which rely on photosynthesis for survival, could not have survived very long.
14 ¶ And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
The heavenly bodies were created for earth’s benefit, not as a home for aliens.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
Blessing is an imparted and perpetual ability.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 ¶ And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Plants and animals alike reproduced after their kind. The word kind may be wide in its scope, but precludes the theory of the single origin of species.
26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Let us infers the Godhead – the Father, the Word and the Spirit.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Both the male and the female, and not the male only, were made in God’s image.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The ongoing blessings.
29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Mankind and animals were possibly all originally vegetarians, until after the Flood.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Everything God does is not only good, but very good.