The Madness of Christmas

The recent NZ census shows we are no longer a predominantly “christian country”. In fact, many people are quite godless. Yet in recent years the commercialism of Christmas has reached at an all time high. Some retail stores make more at Christmas than at any other time of the year. 

People associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ, yet there is no Bible command to observe his birth. Rather, the Lord himself commanded to remember his death (Luke 22:14-20), and this became the custom among early believers (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). 

When was Jesus born? Certainly not on 25 December, which is winter time in Israel. In winter, the sheep are in shelter, not in the fields (Luke 2:8), when there is often snow. The Roman Casesar Augustus ordered a census of the Empire (Luke 3:1). He would not have ordered it in winter when it was difficult for people to travel to the place of their birth.

The other clue we have, is that the angel appeared to Zacharias when he was serving in the temple as a priest. Zacharias was of the division of Abijah; each division served at a certain time of the year.  The angel then appeared to Mary to tell her about the birth of the Son of God (Luke 1:32,33).  Jesus was born six months after John.  These facts mean Jesus was born late September.

Why is 25 December commemorated? This is the date of the Roman sun-God Mithras. The cult of the sun-God was revered by Romans.  As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, taken up by a largely uneducated people, the customs of christianity and the current pagan religion were subjected to the process of syncretism – the merging of two incompatible ideas. “The newly empowered Church (during Emperor Constantine) used the cult of saints to win the hearts of ordinary people. Roman gods were replaced by Christian saints…” (The World of the Roman Emperor, Peter Chrisp). Or in the words of several historians, ‘the Catholic Church is more Roman than Christian’.  

What do we do then? Get back to the true message of the Bible! Put away all reference to the pagan gods! (Joshua 24:15; 1 Corinthians 10:14-21). Worship God “in spirit AND truth” (John 4:24).

The Pope on Atheists

Last week, Pope Francis said that atheists can do good and go to heaven too! Catholic Online 25-May-13

He explained that atheists can be led to God by doing good. He said, “We are judged by a just God who will welcome us based on what we have done with what we knew. Those who do not know God will be judged on the good they have done and the values lived by.”

But the Bible teaches: “He that comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6).


The issue is faith and works.  Ordained a Catholic priest in 1507, Martin Luther found from his Bible studies that good works do NOT make a man good, but a good man does good works. The essential difference is FAITH. We learn and slowly develop faith, an absolutely acceptance of what God has promised. Faith only comes by ONE process – “hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17). 


We have to make the mental change FIRST.  “Let this MIND be in your which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5), and then good works will be the natural outcome of the conscience.


Start reading your Bible.  “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).  Christ is the mediator, the High priest, we need no priest of the Church to bring us to God.


Heaven?  God never promised heaven!  He promised “dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1:26) for “the heavens are the Lords, but the earth has he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) We wait for the day with the “Lord shall be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

ISRAEL – new found wealth!

Early this month, Israel began pumping from the new gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea.  Twelve undersea fields have been discovered since 2008, and now they are coming into production. For many years Israel had searched for oil, and been one of the very few countries in the Middle East who could not seem to discover the elusive black gold!


The Leviathan field is by far the largest, so large that Israel sought help.  Last year, newly re-elected President Putin paid a state visit to Israel, promoting the benefit of using Russia’s Gazprom’s expertise with gas extraction.  In the end, an Australian company bought a 30% stake in the Leviathan natural gas field. 


This new situation will secure Israel a more prominent position in world trade.  Already Asian countries are offloading their export goods at Eilat to be transported across Israel to Haifa where they are shipped directly to Europe.  It is too dear to transport new cars via the Suez Canal.  China has signed an agreement to build a railway from Eilat to Haifa and Ashdod to speed up the transport process.


Bible prophecy is clear that at the time when a northern confederacy invades Israel, she will be secure, confident and economically wealthy. The invaders will aim “to take a spoil and a prey… which have gotten cattle and goods that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:12).  It seems the “great spoil” of v13 includes the recently discovered oil.


Israel is a modern phenomenon. No other ancient people who were conquered (by Rome 2,000 years ago), dispersed, not only retained their identity, but have been repatriated.  (Ezekiel 37) Then in 1967, the Jews reconquered their ancient city, Jerusalem, according to the words of the Lord Jesus (Luke 21:24).


Despite being on almost constant military alert, Israel is doing well.  There are now more Jews living in Israel than outside the land. The kibbutz (communal farms) produce some 60% of the nation’s food, and technology and tourism are big money earners. The Arabs and Palestinians who live and work in Israel benefit from this environment.


There is a spirit that is working, however, to gather the nations “to the battle of the great day of God Almighty….  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”  Only since the establishment of Israel (1948) has the Hebrew tongue become, once more, the official language of a nation.  Like sheaves for threshing, God will gather the nations for judgment at Jerusalem (Joel 3). 

Istanbul – its History and Destiny

On Sunday I was in Istanbul – ancient Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire – alias the Eastern Roman Empire.  


Istanbul occupies one of the beautiful positions in the world. Straddling the Bosphorus, the narrow strait leads into the Black Sea and gives Russia access to warm water ports.


Byzantium was selected by Constantinople as Nova Roma, the New Rome. In Bible terms it was the eastern leg of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel 2:40-45).  Perhaps its most illustrious ruler was Emperor Justinian, mid 6th century.  He codified Roman Law which is the basis of European law. He rebuild Constantinople after fires destroyed much of the old city.  His greatest achievement was the Hagia Sophia (the Church of Holy Wisdom) with a high central dome. It was the largest church in the world for years.


Istanbul has been under the Turks since a dramatic siege in 1453. The Emperor, Constantine XI, died fighting on the walls with his men. His only heir and niece, Sophia, was offered two marriages, and she chose the rising leader, Ivan, in Muscovy. Among her luggage, Sophia took the royal regalia, crowns and beautiful carved ivory throne depicting the double-headed eagle on the back. This throne was ordered by Justinian who patterned some of his royal customs on King Solomon of the defunct Kingdom of Israel.


Of all the beast empires (outlined in Daniel 7), the fourth beast (Roman) was the most dominant and rapacious.  It not only conquered, but tore in pieces and trampled every last vestige of those it conquered (Daniel 7:7).  This is clearly demonstrated in its subjugation of Judea in AD66-70.  Marching through the land from north to south, they took each town, while those who could escape, fled to the fortress of Jerusalem, the worst siege in history. The city was levelled according to the words of Jesus (Matthew 24:2-28).


The Romans regard the one who possesses the royal regalia as having the authority to rule.  So from Ivan of Moscow and his wife Sophie, came the first Tzar of Russia. All the Tzars were crowned on the beautiful ivory throne of Justinian. Thus, say the historians, Russia became the legal heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. When the Muslims took over Constantinople, they closed the churches. The Greek priests left, taking their precious manuscripts with them.  Within 5 years, Greek was being taught in the University of Paris, and the manuscripts were available for students. The Greek New Testament helped Martin Luther to see that the Church had changed Bible teaching.  Latin had distorted the doctrine of God.


Islam however, absorbed the wisdom and sciences of the world of the East (the old empires such as the Babylonian and Persia) when the wisdom and culture flowed from the East to the West.  It was not until after the Renaissance that the flow changed, from West to East. Recently a documentary has been produced which portrays two different worlds, different points of view, different perspectives. …between works inspired by revelation and the works that are the product of the human mind – the Prophet Abraham, the former, and Alexander the Great, the latter.”


Standing in the Hagia Sophia today (the Church of Holy Wisdom), the Muslims have plastered over many mosaics and erected huge circular plaques to honour Allah and his prophet Mohammed. When Russia occupies the city, she will do so as the Roman Eastern “leg” of Daniel 2:35, the eastern section of the revived Roman Empire (the modern EU).  The Orthodox Church will be restored to its ancient pre-eminent religious position and then the Muslim plaques will be removed. But Russia’s occupation of Constantinople will be short lived. It is possible that Istanbul will share the fate of Rome (Revelation 18) when the Lord arrives to elevate Zion as the pre-eminent city of the world. 

From Jerusalem

I am in Jerusalem.

The city of a thousand memories.

Where once the Shekinah glory of the God of Israel dwelt.


When rebellious Israel ensured their fate the Lord Jesus wept over the city for its certain doom at the hand of Rome, the fourth beast (Matthew 23:37-39).  “Not one stone upon another” will be left, he said (Matthew 24:2), and indeed the stones there today relate not to the temple but to the great retaining walls built by Herod to extend the platform above.


Today, the city is dominated by shrines and idolatry. The narrow streets are stacked with many shops selling tourist material, icons, crosses and jewellery.  Hundreds of tourists flood the streets and holy sites, detracting from serious contemplation.  Thankfully, the Muslims who manage the Temple Mount, do not permit any show of idolatry on the Mount.  In fact, the erection of the Dome of the Rock (late 7th century) was a direct challenge to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre’s triune god.


After 1,900 years, Jerusalem is now back in Jewish hands as Jesus prophesied (Luke 21:24). But there is yet one more downtreading to come.  Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies and will fall to the infidel.  Half of the Jewish population will be deported (Zechariah 14:1,2).  This time Israel will be unable to redeem themselves.


Then like swift lightning, the Lord will arrive, returning to the Mt of Olives from where he ascended. In the ensuing earthquake, all the idolatry will be destroyed and the geography of the area dramatically changed, with new waterways being formed to transform the land, and even beyond in Arabia (Zechariah 4:4-11; Isaiah 21:13; Joel 3:18).


The Redeemer shall come to Zion and restore the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Tribes of Arabia will come to worship at the new temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 59:20 – ch 60:1-14).


Today, Jerusalem is characterised by religious divisions.

Tomorrow, Jerusalem is the “city of the great King”.  (Matthew 5:35)


August 2012

Political trouble still continues in Syria


Many of these Middle Eastern countries have experienced instability after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (1917).  Syria descends from the ancient Assyrian Empire that for a while dominated the Middle East.  Ancient Assyria was the enemy of Israel in the time when Israel operated as the Kingdom of God.


Syria’s President Assad has met (August 7) with Iran’s Supreme National Council Security Jalill in Damascus.  Both Syria and Iran are building up armaments, and there are fears this could include nuclear weapons.  Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned that war may be weeks away.


America plans to destroy Iranian Missiles in order to defend Saudi Oil and Hormuz.  There is an expectation that Israel has decided when she will attack Iran to demolish Iran’s nuclear facilities.


No matter what the enemies of Israel do, they are doomed to failure.  God promised to “bring you to the land which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers… Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.” (Deuteronomy 30:5-7).  “I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of my fury; you shall no longer drink it.  But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you.” (Isaiah 51:22,23)


The Bible prophesies that Damascus will ultimately be in ruins (Isaiah 17:1), and that Syria (expressed as Assyria) will be judged for their invasion of Israel.  Micah chapter 5 speaks of the coming war when Assyria (and the confederate countries, cp Ezekiel 38:1-5) will be “wasted” Micah 5:6) and Israel be helped.  This is the day of the “Ruler in Israel”, he who was born in Bethlehem so long ago (v2).


May 2012

New President for Russia

Early in May, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as President of Russia for the third time. The ceremony was held in one of the fabulous palaces belonging to the former Tsars. Putin has presided over the recovery of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989.

Bible prophecy reveals that Russia will be the dominant power of the area north of Israel, eventually to invade the Middle East (Ezekiel 38:8, 9) and occupy Egypt (Daniel 11:41,42). Russia is described in Ezekiel 38 as Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, the three great areas of modern Russia.

Today, post-Soviet era Russia has readopted the ancient symbol, the double headed eagle. This symbol was inherited from Constantinople when the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as Byzantium) was conquered by the Turkish Empire in 1453. As a result, the imperial succession (through the Byzantine princess Sophia) succeeded to Moscow who also eventually assumed leadership of the Orthodox Church.

What purpose then was the 70 years Communist rule?  Attempts by the Tsars to modernise Russia were unsuccessful. It took the brutal ambition of Lenin and Stalin to develop Russia into a modern industrial society.

There have been great Russians who have had the name ‘Vladimir’. Duke Vladimir of Kiev, Vladimir Lenin, and Vladimir Putin. In Russian Vladimir means “prince”. Bible prophecy says that it is the “prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal” who will prepare Russia for the invasion of Israel.

March 2012

The Middle East

A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was “a bomb” certain to have serious repercussions.

Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest allies despite international condemnation of his government’s violent crackdown on the country’s uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council’s attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.

Now the Russian Black Sea fleet’s Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard (Interfax news agency).   Russia as King of the North will invade the Middle East both by land and sea (Daniel 11:40-45).  Russia will be confederate with Syria (ancient Assyria, Micah 5:5) and other countries (Ezekiel 38).

Also see Bible in the News


Quakes have occurred in Mexico and surprisingly, South Australia.

Meanwhile, in Christchurch, while many people live in uncertainly about their houses, all efforts have produced a replacement stadium to ensure the continuance of the provincial idol – rugby!