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June 10, 2001

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Q/A Topics:
Prayer of Jabez

READER QUESTION:
not wanting to poke anyone in the eye with a sharp stick.... but this book about the prayer of jabez seems to be out of place.... aren't we to pray as jesus taught?

"Prayer of Jabez" a Best Seller, Secular Press Notices

God has indeed blessed Bruce Wilkinson and enlarged his territory. Even Time Magazine has noticed. In its April 23 issue,..Lynn Garrett, religion editor at Publishers Weekly, told Time: "It's a raging success, and I think it's going to continue to build. It could easily become this year's hardcover best seller."...."After decades of willful ignorance," David Van Biema, author of the Time article notes, "the publishing world has learned ... that titles by and for evangelical Christians can sell angelically. But unlike 'Left Behind,' which trades on the spectacular cast and characters of the Book of Revelation, 'Jabez' is essentially a bulked-up sermon, pouring much of the evangelical mission into the prayer's five short clauses."

[Editor: this "prayer" is found in 1Ch4:10]

VW ANSWER:
Yes... We should pray as Jesus taught...

But that wouldn't fit with today's "bless me" -prosperity- theology... and the praying of mantras, would it. I've read someplace that people are being encouraged to recite this 'prayer' 50-100 times-a-day...just like the Catholics repeat the rosary, etc. It's another "vain repetition as the heathen do.." (Mt6:7) This "prayer" is recorded in Scripture 'historically', not meant for us to recite/repeat.

Beyond this, I don't intend to address this topic further. If we spend all our time on every latest idolatrous mantra fad that comes out, we won't be in the Scriptures and "looking unto Jesus". (Heb12:2)

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Gospel in the Stars?

READER QUESTION:
What is your option of the teaching of the gospel in the stars, we have a local pastor who strongly teaches on this,and I disagree l with him, thanks for any help you can give us.

VW ANSWER:
I think it only 'confirms' the Scriptures. When it was all created God did say, "..and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years." (Gen1:14b) But what Paul says is necessary for the "man of God" to be "complete" is "all Scripture". (2Tim3:16-17) He doesn't include the stars there.

However, when the wise men came to worship Jesus after His birth, they didn't have the Scriptures...but God spoke to them through the star. After all, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. [There is] no speech nor language [Where] their voice is not heard. (Psalms 19:1-3)

From what I've read of these "gospels", the ones I've read have been Scriptural. I expect it -could- be a witnessing tool when speaking to those who know nothing but the stars...pointing them to Jesus Christ. But once the introduction is made, then take them into God's written Word. Jesus is the One with the "Words of eternal life". (Jn6:68)

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Anti-Rapture Scripture?

READER QUESTION:
Another interesting bit of anti-rapture Scripture useage that confounds me is the use of Ezekiel 13:20, which in the KJV reads "Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly." I hear this used from time to time in the AOL chat rooms to defend that the rapture doctrine is not Scriptural. Yet even in the NKJV, where it says that the Lord God is "against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds", that bit of Scripture sounds more like God is against some form of sorcery that went on in the time period the Lord is criticizing His people. Without a thorough re-reading of Ezekiel, I have no idea or clue whether this bit of Scripture would also apply or not to the rapture doctrine. Any thoughts?

VW ANSWER:
Yikes!! What a stretch to strain out gnats to twist the Scriptures to support their point of view! Such a verse cannot be taken out of context. The entire chapter is God's proclamation "against the prophets of Israel". (vs2) And at vs17, what God has been proclaiming against the 'male' prophets, He now proclaims against the 'females'. And where vs17-19 summarize what the females have been doing, vs20 begins God's judgment against the women who have been prophesying and doing non-Godly magic and witchcraft. And where the women have been trying to make others captive to their witchcraft...God is promising judgment on them, and freedom to their intended victims. Seems pretty obvious to me...in spite of all the figurative terminology.

But what the false teachers do is to take isolated verses out of context, and if they contain anything remotely resembling their beliefs, they will tack such Scriptures on in "support".

Using their "logic" (notice in quotes), a person could proclaim from Scripture that one should hang one's self, that a person -should- commit suicide, and that hanging is the way to do it. If a person opened the Scriptures to Mt27:3,5 they could see that Judas "hanged himself". And then jump over to Lk10:37 to the command to, "go and do likewise". And finally, Jn13:27, "what you do do quickly". If a person looks at the adjacent verses in these instances, one easily realizes that such verses are taken out of context...and have nothing to do with any injunctions for a person to kill themself.

I fear that the same thing has been done by these people to Eze13:20.

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Who are Gog, Magog, Gomer, etc? Ezekiel 38 & 39

READER QUESTION:
One question. Does Gog/Magog refer to Russia? How do we know? What does Gomer refer to?

VW ANSWER:
Let's see if we can sort this out in a rough sketch. It seems that even the "experts" are not totally certain, as any descriptions are laced with words like "probably", or "thought to be", etc. But let's see what the references say about these various names, and you-all can plug them into the correct verses of Ezek ch38-39

  • Gog: is the "prince/ruler of Magog, Rosh, Tubal, Meshech"

  • Magog: is the "land of Gog". Mountainous region between Cappadocia and Media. Directly north if Israel on the "neck" of what is presently the middle of Turkey.

  • Rosh: "Rosh" is found in NKJV/LITV, etc. In the KJV it is rendered as "chief". Many scholars assume it refers to Russia.

  • Meshech: "descendants of Mesech often mentioned in connection with Tubal, Magog, and other northern nations including the Moschi, a people on the borders of Colchis and Armenia." Today, of course, we know Armenia is in that area between the Caspian and Black Seas. Many scholars have associated "Moschi" with current "Moscow" and the Muscovy/Muscovites

  • Tubal: region in east Asia Minor, which would be like current eastern Turkey.

  • Persia: the Persian Empire included everything from India, to Egypt, to Thrace (west side of the Black Sea), parts of Europe, Africa, everything around the Black & Caspian Seas, Arabian desert, Persian Gulf.

  • Ethiopia: I expect that's pretty much where it is now

  • Libya: see definition for Ethiopia

  • Gomer: while my NKJV map shows it being western Turkey, the OLB notes indicate "Cimmerians and other branches of the Celtic family" That seems to get on up into Europe. I've read some scholarship in the past that includes "Germany" and "France" and such. And of course, the Celts ended up in the UK regions.

  • Togarmah: the NKJV map shows it being similar to the above definitions of Magog and Tubal. But 38:6 indicates "far north", so I expect these descendants of Noah might have started out in eastern Turkey and migrated up to the "far north". Who's up there? Follow a straight northerly course from Israel and it's Russia?

  • Sheba: southern Arabia

  • Dedan: "place in south Arabia"

  • Tarshish: "site unknown but perhaps in Cyprus or Spain" Ps72:10 speaks of "Tarshsish and of the isles". While Tarshish is mentioned a few times in the O.T., it is never pinpointed, and seems to have been some place 'far away' from Israel. Enough so that Jonah was going to run away from the Lord by going there.

    Many scholars speculate that this might be a prophetic reference to the USA. And the reference of "all their young lions" (38:13) is thought, by scholars, to refer to the British Commonwealth... since the British crest has lions on it. That would include Canada, Australia, etc. And indeed, the UK seems to be somewhat dragging its feet with relationship to joining in with the EU; the EU seeming to be part of the rest of those coming against Israel. And indeed, the US and UK have tended to carry out many joint military ventures, including the punishing of Saddam with the business of the "no fly zone", etc. It was a Britain (Balfour) who was responsible for the establishment of the Israeli homeland, and the US is Israel's closest ally. And indeed, all these other enmities against Israel are at odds with the US and UK, and the US seems to have somewhat of a working relationship with Saudi Arabia and some other entities around that region.

    Now, if Tarshish -is- the US prophetically, notice God's pronounced woes against this country. (Is2:16, 23:14) But also notice Is60:9, "And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar," The largest concentration of Jews outside of the Israeli homeland is the USA. In fact, there are 'more' Jews in the US than in Israel.

These entities that migrated from what is now Turkey are presently part of what used to be the Soviet Union. We should understand that these names in Scripture are their ancient names, and that they originated in these places, and so many names are concentrated around what is now Turkey because Noah's ark landed in the mountains that are presently between Turkey and Iran. That is the point from which all current ethnicities originated. From Genesis it would seem that they migrated to the Tigris/Euphrates plains where Babel began, and then they all split up when the languages were scrambled. So, this is where the expressions "probably" or "thought to be" come in... because the historian scholars are not exactly sure of every ethnic migration, either.

Now, even Turkey, while having a treaty with Israel, has been making noises against Israel. The EU has been gaining momentum, and flexing its global muscles to dabble into world affairs all over...and it seems that the PLO are looking to the EU, wishing (begging) for them to get involved in the process. Of course, Russia is already involved. They've already got their "muslim" wars going on. And all these nations... Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Lybia, etc. are overflowing with Russian weapons they have been stockpiling for the past several decades.

So, yes... Ezekial 38-39 is about 'all' the countries that are presently involved with (in some way) the Middle-East 'crisis'.

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Prayers of the unsaved answered "in Jesus' name"?

READER QUESTION:
For a person who has lost their salvation through deliberatley turning back from Jesus - rejecting him and choosing dead religion and sinful filthy living, will they ever get answers to prayers in Jesus name again? .... Can an unbeliever get answers to prayer in Jesus name..?

VW ANSWER:
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear." (Is59:2)

"Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him." (Jn9:31)

READER FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
In that case do you think that answers to prayer in Jesus name are proof of the fact this person has not lost salvation? Or they have, but because they are trying to serve God now, he will bless that, but can no longer save them as Jesus was recrucified by them, holy Ghost insulted, but they will be blessed by God till they die for seeking him and his will. God is merciful even to demons, well thats what I see in scripture, he is merciful to all.

Or if that was the case, then the other friend of mine who claims that that type of prayer has worked for him, and is not a believer, would be saved and not know it? I know its tough. any further thoughts?

VW ANSWER:
OK...now I see what you are asking, and 'where' this comes from. There are a lot of unsaved people praying "in Jesus name". And they even get answers through the agency of "power, signs and lying wonders". (2Th2:9) And they will say to Jesus in that day, "Did we not 'in Your name'...'in Your name'...'in Your name'...do all sorts of wonderful things." And Jesus will respond, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Mt7:22-23) Merely praying vehemently "in Jesus' name", vocally...and even getting "answers" does not mean a person is saved. Satan's demons also provide "answers"...just like practitioners of voo doo and all sorts of other witchcraft receive "answers". Always remember that when Moses started performing signs before Pharaoh, his pagan priests also duplicated them for awhile. (Ex7:10-12)

The fact that a person would even say something like prayer "worked for" him, means they are not saved. They don't know what true Believer's prayer is. Prayer is not some "tool" one wields as a mantra. But is a continual (1Th5:17) fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit. (Rom8:26-27) If a person does not know this kind of Holy Spirit prayer, because the Spirit does not reside, they are not Believers. (Rom8:9)

But this does not indicate (one way or another) whether or not a person "walked away from" (Heb10:38-39) their salvation (NOT "lost"), or if they never were ever saved to begin with. (1Jn2:19) Only the person, themself, could know such a thing...and even moreso, the Lord knows the heart. (Heb4:12-13, Pr21:2, 24:12, etc) He knows "those who are His" (2Tm2:19)

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Church, Government & Finances

READER QUESTION:
If I may, I'd like to ask a question that has been wearing on my mind for awhile and I fully appreciate and do trust your answers. In my opinion, I feel it is wrong to attend a church that is state sponsored, or put another way, that claims 501c3 status. To me, the church belongs to God fully; it is not meant to be a tax collector for the state.

Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. We render to Caesar in all we do. The church, however, is God's and thus, the state should have no say in it whatsoever. I feel that pastors feel muzzled in alot of ways and are afraid to speak out about that which is wrong (ie. abortion, homosexuality, etc). They are afraid to appear as being "politically incorrect."

I am just curious as to how you feel about this. I'm sure you know about the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, a 50 year old church, which was seized because they refused to bow to the 501c3 fraud. The first Christian church to be seized in American history - how very sad!

Thank you so much for your time and God bless you!

VW ANSWER:
First of all, let me send you to the website:

http://www.a-voice.org/qa/militias.htm

and particularly, the answer to Point #3 will speak to your concerns. You'll see the bit about the 'questionnaire' the government requires to be filled out about the group's beliefs and ideologies.

I would have to say that my 'views' on what a local assembly should be like have changed dramatically over the past few years. I remember a point in time when I would have hoped to be able to be "called" by some church to be their (salaried) pastor. I spent many years, years ago, working within the system, in music. Directing choirs, leading music, doing special music, doing itinerate concerts, preaching, teaching, etc. Whatever there was to do, I have done it. But I must say that, for the most part, I am seeing that the way most 'churches' function today is detestable in God's sight. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with having a 'building'... but all the 'form'. The "order of service", the platform/altar, the heathen inscriptions on the pulpits, tables, communion implements, programs, programs, programs, etc, etc.

Yes, Jesus' group that travelled around with Him, had a treasury. Judas kept the moneybag. (Jn13:29) Likely some sort of "petty cash" system? The early church had some sort of system whereby people were selling their possessions and bringing the proceeds for the benefit of the overall organization. (Acts2:45, etc) As Jesus was about to be crucified, and is giving instructions for future ministry, He speaks of "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it," (Lk22:36) And Paul goes into quite some length about the carefulness with which money should be handled. (2cor ch8-9) So, obviously, money needs to be handled in a Christian setting.

(It is the corporation/financial reasons the government gets involved in "church" legalities...officially. It will be one of the 'hooks' by which christendom will be under the antichrist's control. Christ's True Church will have been raptured out by then, but the pretend "church" will find itself ensnared!)

But, how can something that is "Christian" be governed by the world's legal system? We are of a different "citizenship". (Phil3:20) Our warfare is not "carnal". (2Cor10:4) Jesus' kingdom is not subject to Rome and Caesar; it is "not of this world". (Jn18:36) Even in settling disputes, Paul chides carnal Corinth for going to the world's court systems. (1Cor ch6) If a local assembly is tied under the government, it has subjugated itself to the "ruler of the authority of the air". (Eph2:2) But Jesus, our "Head" (Eph1:22), is the "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1Tm6:15)

We find Jesus responding to some encounters. First of all, He is questioned, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" And upon getting their observation of Caesar's inscription on the coins, He says, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mt22:17-21) On another occasion someone comes around asking about the "temple tax". (Mt17:24) Now, while it is called a "temple" tax, it would seem to be one of the taxes that Rome may have likely imposed upon Israel, because Jesus discusses with Peter about the "kings of the earth" who take taxes. (vs25) And notice that Jesus instructs Peter regarding paying the tax for Himself and Peter (vs27), -NOT- the whole group. As 'individuals' we pay our taxes. (Rom13:6-7)

However, notice how Jesus' ministry was supported. It is not recorded anywhere that Jesus took up collections, or engaged in commerce. In fact, His disciples He called 'away from' their forms of livelihood. But notice, there was an 'entourage' that followed Him. It lists the names of some of them and says, "..and many others who ministered to Him out of their possessions." (Lk8:3) I expect that all of these 'individuals' were tax-paying citizens. But they supported Jesus' ministry from out of their 'own' means. Jesus had no home where He could "lay His head" (Lk9:58), but was continually invited into people's homes. (Mt17:25, Mk9:28, Lk14:1) And as He sent out the twelve, He commands them about receiving whatever hospitality that is offered along the way. (Lk9:4, 10:5) This hospitality was their room and board, as He calls it their "wages" of which the workman is "worthy". (Lk10:7)

Having grown up in the ministry I have seen this countless times. We came back from Japan in 1960, a man took my dad out and bought him a new suit. A minister who is travelling might stay some place, and the people go along to the gas station and pay to fill up the tank...or slip some bills into the handshake, or shirt pocket, "This is for gas...or meals along the way". During one of the choir tours at Bible school, I was the group's treasurer, so saw how people would give, and how expenses were paid. I have seen these things in personal ministry. And usually the biggest givers are either those who want no recognition for their giving, or are least financially able to give (by the world's standards)... like the widow who threw in "two mites". (Lk21:2) A friend even in these days tells how people give to their ministry, whether cars, equipment needed, or money. This is how God's work is supported, by the 'individual' giving of God's people as they "[purpose] in [their] heart" to give "cheerfully". (2Cor9:7)

Now... if today's Church was doing as Scripture says, and the world was kept out, each fellowship would be 'considerably' smaller. There would likely be no 'salaried' pastors (although their needs would certainly be met from out of the fellowship). In most cases, there would not be group-owned buildings. Just as the N.T. churches are pretty much all recorded as being in somebody's home, I expect that today those whom God had blessed with homes large enough to hold groups of people would host such meetings. Remember that the early, hatchling, fledgling Church was meeting "from house to house" (Ac2:46) And while Paul had periods of time when he taught either in the synagogues or in the "school of Tyrannus" (Ac19:9) he summarizes how he had taught "from house to house" (Ac20:20)

I cannot speak one way or the other about any current entities that are being hounded by the government, because I don't know them personally to know if they are even "Christian" by a Scriptural definition. There will certainly be a lot of politics in the next few years between the organized "church" of 'christendom', just as there were conflicts between the various governments and the Catholic and Protestant factions of the church of Rome down through the centuries, and the government.

But it is my strong conviction that any group of Believers who are truly "Believers" into Jesus Christ -CANNOT- have any ties to any governments. VW does not. And when the new "VW-edition" of the Scriptures is ready (soon) for unveiling, it is not going to be copyrighted. A Copyright says that some government (human) agency is needed to "protect" something. Well, all the works that publishers guard jealously with copyrights now are all perverted, and to varying degrees, not true to God! So, of what good were those copyrights? The only 'guarding' they did was of the bank accounts of those publishers. 2Cor2:17 comes to mind.

If you read through that Pt #3, you will see the recommendation for truly Godly assemblies to re-evaluate their group's legal status. Investigate exactly 'what' their ties to the government are, if they don't know. And if they are a truly "Christian" group, seriously consider what changes might be in order, so that they can get out from under any obligation to 'Caesar'. Possibly even to the point of selling all physical assets, and totally reorganizing their group's structure ("disband" legally) as they, perhaps, split up into smaller groups to meet in homes and various such places. This recommendation will not apply to any of the 'mega' churches. I have yet to hear of any of them that are truly "Christian". If there were -actually- "thousands" of Believers in one place (like their church "membership" rolls indicate), the whole world would be turned upside down for Christ by now. And that, simply, is not happening today! We are in the days of 1Tim4:1-3, 2Tim3:1-9, 2Pet2:1-3, Jude, etc.

True Believers are a rarity today. They are the "few". (Mt7:14) In fact, just today I discovered another 'interesting' mistranslation. When Jesus speaks of the seed that fell into the good ground, many have been the sermons indicating things on the order of "bumper crops" of converts, as people are spurred on in their mission as "soul winners". "..SOME thirty...SOME sixty...SOME a hundred.." (Mk4:20) But actually, the Greek word behind what we have become accustomed to reading as "some", is "one". Thus, out of all this seed that gets scattered around, whole bunches of it get eaten up by birds, choked out by thorns, dried up on the rocks... and the fruitful ones are "one" over here producing 30; "one" over there producing 60; etc. That's "few".

Thus, with the reality of what makes up Christ's Church today, the whole thing of becoming incorporated under the government is, not only 'wrong'... it is physically 'unnecessary'... for the 'real' Believers. There aren't enough of us in any one location together for it to matter.

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