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Are we fast approaching the end of the age?

Are we fast approaching the end of the age (as prophesied in the Bible and by various believers down through the centuries)?


The Didache – The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations 

Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord. Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.


For those readers who would welcome an authoritative and balanced commentary on the Didache I highly recommend The Way of Life (Didache: A New Translation and Messianic Jewish Commentary) by Toby Janicki (600 pages, Vine of David © 2017).

 


On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World

St. Ephraim the Syrian

Dearly beloved brothers, believe the Holy Spirit who speaks in us. We have already told you that the end of the world is near, the consummation remains. Has not faith withered away among mankind? How many foolish things are seen among youths, how many crimes among prelates, how many lies among priests, how many perjuries among deacons! There are evil deeds among the ministers, adulteries in the aged, wantonness in the youths—in mature women false faces, in virgins dangerous traces! In the midst of all this there are the wars with the Persians, and we see struggles with diverse nations threatening and “kingdom rising against kingdom’’ (Matt. 24:7). When the Roman Empire begins to be consumed by the sword, the coming of the Evil One is at hand. It is necessary that the world come to an end at the completion of the Roman empire.

In those days two brothers will come to the Roman empire who will rule with one mind; but because one will surpass the other, there will be a schism between them. And so the Adversary will be loosed and will stir up hatred between the Persian and Roman empires. In those days many will rise up against Rome; the Jewish people will be her adversaries. There will be stirrings of nations and evil reports, pestilences, famines, and earthquakes in various places. All nations will receive captives; there will be wars and rumors of wars. From the rising to the setting of the sun the sword will devour much. The times will be so dangerous that in fear and trembling they will not permit thought of better things, because many will be the oppressions and desolations of regions that are to come.

We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled (consummated), and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. And so, brothers most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of the world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their hands, awaiting the empire of the Lord. And we think that the earth exists with blind infidelity, arriving at its downfall early. Commotions are brought forth, wars of diverse peoples and battles and incursions of the barbarians threaten, and our regions shall be desolated, and we neither become very much afraid of the report nor of the appearance, in order that we may at least do penance; because they hurl fear at us, and we do not wish to be changed, although we at least stand in need of penance for our actions!

When therefore the end of the world comes, there arise diverse wars, commotions on all sides, horrible earthquakes, perturbations of nations, tempests throughout the lands, plagues, famine, drought throughout the thoroughfares, great danger throughout the sea and dry land, constant persecutions, slaughters and massacres everywhere, fear in the homes, panic in the cities, quaking in the thoroughfares, suspicions in the male, anxiety in the streets. In the desert people become senseless, spirits melt in the cities. A friend will not be grieved over a friend, neither a brother for a brother, nor parents for their children, nor a faithful servant for his master, but one inevitability shall overwhelm them all; neither is anyone able to be recovered in that time, who has not been made completely aware of the coming danger, but all people, who have been constricted by fear, are consumed because of the overhanging evils.

Whenever therefore the earth is agitated by the nations, people will hide themselves from the wars in the mountains and rocks, by caves and caverns of the earth, by graves and memorials of the dead, and there, as they waste away gradually by fear, they draw breath, because there is not any place at all to flee, but there will be concession and intolerable pressure. And those who are in the east will flee to the west, and moreover, those who are in the west shall flee to the east, and there is not a safer place anywhere, because the world shall be overwhelmed by worthless nations, whose aspect appears to be of wild animals more than that of men. Because those very much horrible nations, most profane and most defiled, who do not spare lives, and shall destroy the living from the dead, shall consume the dead, they eat dead flesh, they drink the blood of beasts, they pollute the world, contaminate all things, and the one who is able to resist them is not there. In those days people shall not be buried, neither Christian, nor heretic, neither Jew, nor pagan, because of fear and dread there is not one who buries them; because all people, while they are fleeing, ignore them.

Whenever the days of the times of those nations have been fulfilled, after they have destroyed the earth, it shall rest; and now the kingdom of the Romans is removed from everyday life, and the empire of the Christians is handed down by God and Peter; and then the consummation comes, when the kingdom of the Romans begins to be fulfilled, and all dominions and powers have been fulfilled. Then that worthless and abominable dragon shall appear, he, whom Moses named in Deuteronomy, saying: Dan is a young lion, reclining and leaping from Basan. Because he reclines in order that he may seize and destroy and slay. Indeed (he is) a young whelp of a lion not as the lion of the tribe of Judah, but roaring because of his wrath, that he may devour. “And he leaps out from Basan.” “Basan” certainly is interpreted “confusion.” He shall rise up from the confusion of his iniquity. The one who gathers together to himself a partridge the children of confusion, also shall call them, whom he has not brought forth, just as Jeremiah the prophet says. Also in the last day they shall relinquish him just as confused.

When therefore the end of the world comes, that abominable, lying and murderous one is born from the tribe of Dan. He is conceived from the seed of a man and from an unclean or most vile virgin, mixed with an evil or worthless spirit. But that abominable corrupter, more of spirits than of bodies, while a youth, the crafty dragon appears under the appearance of righteousness, before he takes the kingdom. Because he will be craftily gentle to all people, not receiving gifts, not placed before another person, loving to all people, quiet to everyone, not desiring gifts, appearing friendly among close friends, so that men may bless him, saying, he is a just man, not knowing that a wolf lies concealed under the appearance of a lamb, and that a greedy man is inside under the skin of a sheep.

But when the time of the abomination of his desolation begins to approach, having been made legal, he takes the empire, and, just as it is said in the Psalm:—They have been made for the undertaking for the sons of Loth, the Moabites and the Ammanites shall meet him first as their king. Therefore, when he receives the kingdom, he orders the temple of God to be rebuilt for himself, which is in Jerusalem; who, after coming into it, he shall sit as God and order that he be adored by all nations, since he is carnal and filthy and mixed with worthless spirit and flesh. Then that eloquence shall be fulfilled of Daniel the prophet:–And he shall not know the God of their fathers, and he shall not know the desires of women. Because the very wicked serpent shall direct every worship to himself. Because he shall put forth an edict so that people may be circumcised according to the rite of the old law. Then the Jews shall congratulate him, because he gave them again the practice of the first covenant; then all people from everywhere shall flock together to him at the city of Jerusalem, and the holy city shall be trampled on by the nations for forty-two months, just as the holy apostle says in the Apocalypse, which become three and a half years, 1,260 days.

In these three years and a half the heaven shall suspend its dew; because there will be no rain upon the earth, and the clouds shall cease to pass through the air, and the stars shall be seen with difficulty in the sky because of the excessive dryness, which happens in the time of the very fierce dragon. Because all great rivers and very powerful fountains that overflow with themselves shall be dried up, torrents shall dry up their water-courses because of the intolerable age, and there will be a great tribulation, as there has not been since people began to be upon the earth, and there will be famine and an insufferable thirst. And children shall waste away in the bosom of their mothers, and wives upon the knees of their husbands, by not having victuals to eat. Because there will be in those days lack of bread and water, and no one is able to sell or to buy of the grain of the fall harvest, unless he is one who has the serpentine sign on the forehead or on the hand. Then gold and silver and precious clothing or precious stones shall lie along the streets, and also even every type of pearls along the thoroughfares and streets of the cities, but there is not one who may extend the hand and take or desire them, but they consider all things as good as nothing because of the extreme lack and famine of bread, because the earth is not protected by the rains of heaven, and there will be neither dew nor moisture of the air upon the earth. But those who wander through the deserts, fleeing from the face of the serpent, bend their knees to God, just as lambs to the adders of their mothers, being sustained by the salvation of the Lord, and while wandering in states of desertion, they eat herbs.

Then, when this inevitability has overwhelmed all people, just and unjust, the just, so that they may be found good by their Lord; and indeed the unjust, so that they may be damned forever with their author the Devil, and, as God beholds the human race in danger and being tossed about by the breath of the horrible dragon, he sends to them consolatory proclamation by his attendants, the prophets Enoch and Elijah, who, while not yet tasting death, are the servants for the heralding of the second coming of Christ, and in order to accuse the enemy. And when those just ones have appeared, they confuse indeed the antagonistic serpent with his cleverness and they call back the faithful witnesses to God, in order to (free them) from his seduction…

And when the three and a half years have been completed, the time of the antichrist, through which he will have seduced the world, after the resurrection of the two prophets, in the hour which the world does not know, and on the day which the enemy of the son of perdition does not know, will come the sign of the Son of Man, and coming forward the Lord shall appear with great power and much majesty, with the sign of the wood of salvation going before him, and also even with all the powers of the heavens with the whole chorus of the saints, with those who bear the sign of the holy cross upon their shoulders, as the angelic trumpet precedes him, which shall sound and declare: Arise, O sleeping ones, arise, meet Christ, because his hour of judgment has come! Then Christ shall come and the enemy shall be thrown into confusion, and the Lord shall destroy him by the spirit of his mouth. And he shall be bound and shall be plunged into the abyss of everlasting fire alive with his father Satan; and all people who do his wishes shall perish with him forever; but the righteous ones shall inherit everlasting life with the Lord forever and ever.

Why Is The Tribe Of Dan Missing From The Book Of Revelation? –   February 20, 2017 by Jack Wellman


https://catholicprophecy.org/monk-adso/

The prophecy of Monk Adso dates back to the 10th Century.

“Against the faithful will he (the Antichrist) rise up in three ways — that is, by terror, by gifts, and by wonders; to the believers in him will he give gold and silver in abundance; but those whom he shall fail to corrupt by presents he will overcome by fear, and those whom he shall fail to vanquish by fear he will seek to seduce by signs and wonders…

NOTE: Other prophecies describe the Antichrist as a charismatic ruler whose false miracles will seduce the elect.

“The ruined Temple also, which Solomon raised to God, he shall build and restore to its former state… and he shall circumcise himself, and lie that he is the Son of God almighty… Thereafter shall he send his messengers and preachers to the whole world.

“Then shall all the Jews flock unto him, and thinking they shall receive Christ they shall receive the devil… Coming to Jerusalem he shall be circumcised, saying to the Jews, I am the Christ promised unto you, who have come for your weal that I may gather and defend you that are scattered…

NOTE: This theme is spoken of again and again. The Antichrist will make Jerusalem the seat of his kingdom and will lead the Jewish people into believing that he is their long-awaited Messiah.

“Then shall be sent into the world the two great prophets Elias and Enoch, who shall forearm the faithful with godly weapons against the task of the Antichrist, and they shall encourage and get them ready for the war… But after they have accomplished their preaching, the Antichrist shall rise up and slay them, and after three days they shall be raised up by the Lord…

“The doctors also teach, as saith Pope Gregory, that Michael the Archangel shall destroy him (the Antichrist) on Mount Olivet in his pavilion and seat, in that place where the Lord ascended into heaven…”


BOOKS

Robert Van Kampen’sThe Sign(1992) and hisThe Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple” (1997)

The Rabbi Who Found Messiah: The Story of Yitzhak Kaduri and His Prophecies of the Endtime First Edition, First edition (2013) by Carl Gallups. My Comment: This book tells the story of a revered Orthodox Rabbi who claimed to have seen messiah and wrote down his name (revealed at a specific time after his passing per his instructions) as “Yeshua” (Jesus). However, as part of his claim he stated that the messiah is physically alive and walking about Israel suggests he saw a counterfeit Yeshua – possibly the Antimessiah depicted in various  prophetic books in the Bible (Yeshua in the Brit Chadashah/New Testament returns in a supernatural way at the end of the Great Tribulation and is not born a 2nd time physically into this world).

The Rabbi, the Secret Message, and the Identity of Messiah by Carl Gallups (2019)


VIDEOS (Free)

Beware False Prophets (Identifying the Anti-Messiah)Messianic Rabbi Steve Berkson

I Will Shake All Things – Part 1: The Nations – Derek Prince

 I Will Shake All Things – Part 2: The Church – Derek Prince

“Exploring the Mid-East Wars of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38” by Bill Salus

 I Saw the Tribulation .. Ken Peters .. 2000


No matter what conclusions you reach about our place as a world on the prophetic timeline, one of the most important things you can do to prepare for whatever lies ahead is to “get on God’s page”:

“Here’s what matters most in the Covid-19 pandemic”

Everything you ever wanted to know about post-death decomposition (“Body Farm” video) 


© 2020 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

 

 

Book review: “To Heaven & Back” by Mary C. Neal, MD (Great read but it raises many concerns)

To Heaven & Back

I am like many of you reading this fascinated by unusual happenings and accounts including NDEs (near death experiences), UFOs, Bigfoot, and so forth. Actually so long as a claim does not violate the established laws of physics or chemistry and has not already been convincingly refuted by contrary evidence, one must allow that the phenomenon or what-have-you in question might one day garner sufficient proof to compel acknowledging its reality. However, until the jury is in (solid evidence) it is usually prudent to remain agnostic on the matter (With the exception of things believed on the basis of faith and not testable using the tools of science — such as the existence of God).

There is nothing, for example, to disallow the existence of Bigfoot (Sasquatch) or a Yeti. The existence of such primates do not require a violation or suspension of the laws that govern the natural world nor even quality as extraordinary in the same sense, say, as an alien or fairy or ghost would. The problem with Bigfoot and the Yeti lies in a lack of evidence. There has been lots of frauds and biological samples that turned out to be from cows and bears and such, but no hair or tissue DNA (much less corpses) that reveal a previously unknown bipedal primate.

Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are a phenomenon that involves biological events surrounding dying and death, especially brain states that tend to give rise to things like leaving one’s body, visiting the afterlife (Heaven, hell or what-have-you), and so forth. Scientists have spent decades teasing out the mechanisms underlying or contributing to this process such as anoxia (lack of oxygen) albeit some of their pet hypotheses have been recently questioned and challenged (Click this link to read one especially cogent article concerning this).

I doubt many people of faith would have any problem with NDEs as a biological phenomenon or at least rooted in it, however, things get somewhat contentious when it comes to whether anything is revealed in NDEs that could not be explained by prosaic natural events or happenings in the brain (Believers say “yes”, skeptics, “no”). Consider this:  Believers in God who have NDEs typically see people and places consistent with their beliefs and expectations, though more than a few have reported being in a place they did not expect to be — hell. Being in hell would not be the sort of thing most folks would expect, however, it could be argued that in such instances their subconscious anticipated their going to hell and they “fulfilled this” during dying or at clinical death — heart stoppage but not total cessation of brain activity — as an NDE “vision”. This is consistent with NDEs being a manifestation of processes in a dying brain though arguments abound on the Web by men and women of faith who’ve had NDEs and claim experiencing things that could not have been produced by the brain whether dying, on hallucinogenic drugs or in the throes of other influences.      

There are, I know, those who claim they were brain dead and returned to life minutes or even hours or days after death (A search of videos on You Tube will turn up many such accounts and there are many books written by people claiming this, especially in the Charismatic or neopentecostal Christian world). However, I have yet to come across a single case in which indisputable medical proof has been produced that confirms body & brain death occurred and then life was restored later on.

So as best I can tell we have this tug-of-war between the two camps — those who find in NDEs only natural processes at work and no evidence of anything beyond brain death — and those who admit to the natural aspects of dying & NDEs but claim they have peered into or visited an afterlife world and returned. As Carl Sagan rightly pointed out, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” and no such extraordinary proof has yet emerged that takes a given NDE experience beyond what can accounted for by natural processes and happenings. But, and this is a big but, when such claims of having visited an afterlife world do not represent a scientific claim but one predicated solely on faith (and is also not amenable to scientific testing), then the tale or account or story lies outside the purview of science.

As I am a believer you know pretty much where I land on the question of NDEs and especially a postmortem afterlife. And in line with this I like to peruse books and articles penned by those who have had an NDE and have vivid recollections of either heaven or hell or both.        

One of my recent reads is orthopedic surgeon Mary C. Neal’sTo Heaven and Back“. It is this book I will briefly review and critique now.

In-a-word Dr. Neal went kayaking in  the Los Rios region of southern Chile in 1999 and wound up pulled under water and drowned.     

In her book Dr. Neal shared various “lessons” derived from her NDE experience and what followed and then drew conclusions (some applicable to others) that I found perplexing, even disturbing. One reviewer of her book very ably captured some of my own reservations:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/09/review-of-to-heaven-and-back-by-mary-c-neal.html

“…and yet in which it seems as though everything that happens, whether seemingly  good or ill, is for the best, and part of a divine plan, which is at times depicted as alterable but at other times seems not to be. “

“A worldview of this sort presents many puzzles and seemingly unanswerable questions. Neal believes that she was brought back from death to be there for her family to cope with the later death of  their son. But surely that makes no sense whatsoever – it would have been just as straightforward to spare her her accident, and have the son survive his own accident after a near-death experience.

“The book highlights the fact that, if we look for the good in the pattern of life that is woven by the intersection of human lives, we will find it. And I do not disagree in the slightest. But I do think that, in making a personal God the weaver who tugs and at times forces the threads into a foreordained pattern, it actually undermines the attributes of God that Neal herself wants to emphasize, including most importantly love. A God who micromanages an adult’s kayaking accident to ensure her survival, but not the careless running down of her son by a texting driver, or perhaps who micromanages both to at times reduce and at times intensify human agony, does not seem to provide anything other than personal comfort for one who, like Neal, wants to find comfort in the idea that such events are supernaturally meaningful.”

I’m sure many of the people who went through the Shoah (Holocaust) would agree with this reviewer whose opinion above, again, mirrors my own.

Also, in a chapter titled “Conversing with an Angel”: (pp 97-103) Dr. Neal discussed how an angel addressed a question of hers concerning why “bad things happen to good people?”

According to Neal ” In preparation for our journey to earth, we are able to make a basic outline for our life. This is not to imply that we, as humans, are entirely in charge of our life’s design. It is more like God creates it, then we review it and discuss it with our ‘personal planning’ angel. Within the algorithm are written branch points in our lives at which times we may exit, returning to God, or we may be redirected to a different task and goal”.

Let’s think about this for a moment:

Consider a, mother of six children, a believer, who has five children who along with her and her husband are placed in a concentration camp and then later tortured and then cruelly executed. Is it likely this is a plan she in some way approved as a preincarnate spirit including a grisly death of herself and her family, rewards in Paradise notwithstanding, as a favored “branch point” to exit this veil of tears?.

Would a preincarnate human spirit be likely approve an early life course spent being abused, sexually or otherwise, which is ended in her teens when her abuser bashes her head in with a sledge hammer? Is the fact the person she becomes is a faithful believer and accrues great eternal rewards for exercising her faith in the face of wanton brutality and perversion necessarily make this a life plan she would endorse?  

I suspect most folks reading this will have reservations and difficulties with this aspect of Dr. Neal’s book.

On a personal note, I am of the opinion that Dr. Neal’s  particular experiences are very circumspect in the sense that they constitute a divinely conducted experiment aimed at exploring & developing her faith (But which would not apply to many others, as the Almighty IMO fashions experiments unique to the individual).

This perspective — God as experimentalist — is actually one I have held for a very long time and developed and published in an essay titled “Rats in the Cosmic Laboratory: Is God a Scientist?” which readers will find at http://anthonypayne.hubpages.com/hub/Feeling-Alienated-You-have-a-lot-of-company (I originally published it ages ago on the “Think Deeply’ website — a now defunct cyber-forum. It racked up over 100K hits during it life and was #1 in the theory category).*

Having said all this, I did enjoy Dr. Neal’s book and was enriched by many aspects of it and thus would recommend anyone interested in NDE accounts to get a copy and read it, then pass it on to others who would welcome this sort of thing.

© 2012 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

*Readers interested in my religious musings are invited to visit http://summerclouds.weebly.com/.

Terrorist beheadings and other forms of inflicted, violent death: Are victims aware of what is happening around them after their heart and lungs have stopped working?

ISISThe many beheadings carried out by insurgents in Iraq during the past year or so not unexpectedly generated expressions of revulsion and denunciation far and wide. It is difficult for all but the most callous souls not to feel pangs of anguish for those who have been dealt this grisly fate. No doubt many of you have at one time or another found yourself trying to imagine the thoughts and feelings of the victims prior to and during decapitation. And then thinking, “Were they aware of anything following this despicable act?”

This concern has a lot to do with our human capacity to emphasize and sympathize with others, but there is an element of “enlightened self-interest” in our curiosity and even fascination with dying and death. When we ask “What did that poor soul experience?”, we are in some way seeking in the death of others some idea of what we might sense or think or visualize as we go through our own final, irreversible “systems failure”.

Modern science has amassed a great deal of evidence that the dying brain can and often does generate a wide range of images and such, not unexpectedly reflective of individual beliefs, expectation, and history. But what of the period immediately following cessation of heart and lungs? For example, does the brain of a just severed head continue to function?

Consider this account tendered by a French physician named Beaurieux who attended the state-sanctioned guillotining of a criminal named Languille during the early morning hours of June 28th, 1905 (France abolished the death penalty in 1981):

Read the rest of this entry

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