Signs of the End Times? – Rebuilding Babylon

February 11, 2021 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Zechariah 5:11 and Isaiah 13 talk of prophecies against Babylon. But Revelation 14:8, 16:19, and chapters 17-18 talk about the fall of Babylon in the End Times. It seems the literal city of Babylon will again exist in the land of Shinar for these prophecies to take place. The remains of ancient Babylon are found in present-day Iraq about 55 miles south of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein was the fifth President of Iraq, serving from July 16, 1979 to April 9, 2003. According to an About.com article, “Saddam Hussein said that Babylon’s great palaces and the legendary hanging gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) would rise from the dust.” During his more than twenty years in power, Saddam worked toward rebuilding the ancient city of Babylon.

Babylon flourished in 1894 BC under the Amorite king Hammurabi who created the short-lived Babylonian Empire, but it quickly dissolved after his death. It rose to power again and was the seat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 612 to 539 BC. Nebuchadnezzar II ruled from 605 BC to 562 BC and, according to the Bible, conquered Judah and Jerusalem and sent the Jews into exile in Babylon. According to Wikipedia, “He is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.”

The About.com article says Saddam’s workers began reconstructing the 600-room palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II in 1982. Saddam’s reconstruction took place right on top of the ancient ruins which horrified archaeologists and historians, but they were powerless to stop him. The About.com article says, “The original bricks, which rise two or three feet from the ground, bear ancient inscriptions praising Nebuchadnezzar. Above these, Saddam Hussein’s workers laid more than 60-million sand-colored bricks inscribed with the words, ‘In the era of Saddam Hussein, protector of Iraq, who rebuilt civilization and rebuilt Babylon.’ The new bricks began to crack after only ten years.”

That’s not all Hussein set out to build. About.com says, “Adjacent to Nebuchadnezzar’s ancient palace and overlooking the Euphrates River, Saddam Hussein built a new palace for himself…a monstrous hill-top fortress surrounded by miniature palm trees and rose gardens. The four-storey palace extends across an area as large as five football fields. Villagers told news media that a thousand people were evacuated to make way for this emblem of Saddam Hussein’s power.”

Ceilings and walls in the palace depicted 360-degree murals from ancient Babylon, Ur, and the Tower of Babel. Plumbing fixtures appeared to be gold-plated and pediments were engraved with Hussein’s initials “SdH.”

About.com continues: “When American troops entered Babylon in April, 2003, they found little evidence that the palace had been occupied or used. Saddam’s fall from power brought vandals and looters. The smoked glass windows were shattered, the furnishings removed, and architectural details – from faucets to light switches—had been stripped away. During the war, Western troops pitched tents in the vast empty rooms at Saddam Hussein’s Babylonian palace.”

U.S. Marine Daniel O’Connell, Gunnery Sergeant, took photographs of many of these sites in 2003 and you can see 26 of his photos in a photo gallery on About.com.

So what do you think? Is Saddam’s rebuilding of Babylon a sign of the End Times? Or do you think the city of Babylon will be rebuilt to a greater degree and occupied by the Antichrist?

Trending

January 31, 2021 by  
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By Janet Morris Grimes –

I wonder sometimes how I have gotten to be so predictable.

My Gmail account suggests addresses of people, based on past emails I have sent, who might be interested in the note I am writing and usually Gmail is correct.

Facebook recommends friends based on other people I know and love. More often than not, I am thankful for the new connections.

My phone lists my favorite numbers to call. Correctly.

Even my iPod knows which songs I will play to the end. It’s not unusual to hear a pick from that same artist within the next three or four songs.

My dog gets excited when I pull out my tennis shoes. He tracks down his own leash to make sure I remember that he is supposed to go with me.

My past behavior indicates what I will do in the future.

In the electronic world, this phenomenon is known as ‘trending,’ which means ‘to show a tendency toward something.’

I suppose my tendencies are obvious. My trends are often used against me—even when I invest effort into changing them.

Unfortunately, no one knows my past trends better than Satan. He remembers the last time I was lonely, confused, or doubting. He remembers what triggered my last argument. He reminds me of the failures I have tried to forget. He plasters my mistakes all over the walls to keep them in view.

He would love nothing more than to box me into a rut, and surround me with memories of past misery to keep me there as long as possible.

That is just his way. His tendency, if you will. He, like me, has a few trends, and has gotten quite predictable.

But I refuse to participate. To be predictable. Not with him, anyway.

He hates it when I feel free to move forward. He abhors it when I choose to forgive, especially when I have plenty of reasons not to. He cringes when I figure out what works. He detests it when I open my Bible to find answers that will last until eternity. He loathes it when I find ways to keep my heart from becoming bitter. He hates it when I buck the trend and do exactly the opposite of what he expects me to do.

When I resist, he flees. He has no choice. He won’t waste his time on me if I won’t play his game.

Could it be that by learning Satan’s greatest weapon against me, I have also discovered my greatest weapon against him?

I would do well to remember that the battle is over. There is no reason for me to doubt or be afraid. Victory lies with those who refuse to engage in Satan’s meager attempts to distract us.

It was Jesus who proved this to me, over and over again. How is it that I so often forget?

Transplant Trauma

January 20, 2021 by  
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By Kathy Carlton Willis –

We had just moved into our new home and the new sod, trees and landscaping floundered. Of course, it didn’t help that we were melting in a 100-degree heat wave. But the crux of the problem was transplant shock. Uprooting those green leafies from their old, comfortable setting and placing them into strange new surroundings traumatized them.

We did all we could to “love on” our greenies. They received refreshing drinks of water once or twice a day, requiring my husband to spend a good amount of time rotating the sprinklers to saturate the entire property. Even with the proper care, the bright green leaves of grass, trees and plants faded to a straw-like gold. Transplant Trauma.

We noticed it took time and proper care for the transplants to adjust to their new surroundings, and then they snapped out of the shock and turn green again.

Many Americans move to new locations as transplants. The month of May spotlights National Moving Month and Creative Beginnings Month. It’s no surprise that many of us look for fresh ways to start anew and learn to bloom where we’re planted.

I’m a transplant too. I’m not from around here. Perhaps you moved to a new area because of a new job or you moved your membership to a new church. God rarely has us planted in the same soil for life. God uproots us, taking us from the comfort of what we know and love, and moves us to a new area where we can flourish. Maybe God moves us to revive something that is parched and dry, to rejuvenate with our refreshing green ministry efforts. Hurting people and hurting programs look for a fresh new covering of green. Because of our faith in the Lord, we are part of the landscaping team to provide a spiritual covering, a layer of prayer support and green renewal of life.

But when we move to our new surroundings, sometimes it takes a while to get acclimated. We can’t minister or encourage others, because we no longer feel rooted as deeply into our spiritual nourishment. We fade as we go through a period of transplant trauma. Shock. The refreshingness of our green—the good intentions we bring with us—are temporarily turned to dry hay. With the right amount of time to adjust, and with the loving care of our new surroundings, we green up again. It’s good to know it’s just a temporary condition.

Sometimes we come to a new place still grieving the loss of our previous setting. We bring that trauma with us until we come to accept it. Other times, eager to get started in our new surroundings, culture shock stands in our way. We adapt. We add the water of the Word, confirming our calling to our new spot. We soak in the SONlight. We allow our Heavenly Master Gardener to tend to our needs while we tend to the needs of others.

And when in doubt, repeat this phrase, “Transplant trauma is temporary. God’s tender loving care is permanent.”

“They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalm 1:3 NLT).

Play to Win

January 16, 2021 by  
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By Heather Arbuckle –

My youngest daughter, Sofie, is a fast and fearless little girl who loves sports. All sports. And like most young athletes, Sofie likes to win. Recently, she and I saw a t-shirt that made us giggle. It said—I play to have fun, but I win anyway.

“That is totally me, Mom!” Sofie laughed.

I smiled at my little athlete and agreed, “You do play to win, sweet girl.”

She was still talking about the shirt as we drove home from our errands and it led us to an interesting conversation about Christ. As she was talking about how much fun it is when her team wins a game, I glanced at her in my rear view mirror and took a moment to plant seeds of truth in my daughter’s young heart.

“Sofie, isn’t it amazing that we have a Savior that also plays to win?” I asked.

“What do you mean, Mom?” she asked.

Now that I had her attention, I stated my case carefully and quickly. She is, after all, only eight years old, and her attention span is short. My window of opportunity was small and fleeting. So, I took my moment and continued, “Christ took our sins to the Cross and conquered death. Through Him, we have victory. Jesus wins!”

A big smile came over my little girl’s face as she listened to my words. “Yep! Jesus wins alright!” She said brightly.

Jesus wins! We are told, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV). Unfortunately, many of us forget that simple truth when the game of life appears lost. Still, we must remember things are not as they might seem. As Christ followers, we must not lose heart.

The Cross is our Savior’s reminder that victory lies in Jesus Christ. When all was lost, and we were bound by sin, Christ willfully took our sin to Calvary and declared victory by His sacrifice alone.

That doesn’t mean that things will always turn out the way we want. We live in a sinful world and life’s journey can be treacherous. There are things we will never understand this side of Heaven. We simply are not calling the plays! Still, as believers, we have hope and victory because our Savior plays to win.

Regardless of the fight in which you find yourself. Despite how messy your circumstances appear. No matter how defeated you may feel. All is not lost. For Christ has declared victory in your life.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

Indeed, we have victory in Jesus Christ. So, let us lift our hearts and our heads towards our Savior. The game is not over and we are not defeated. Together, with Christ, let’s play to win—and don’t forget to have fun!

Are You Holding God Back?

January 9, 2021 by  
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By Jennifer Slattery –

Christian, are you growing cobwebs? Are you spending so much time praying for clarification, you’ve barricaded yourself permanently in your prayer closet?

Be careful not to view divine opportunities through a human lens tinted by human limitations. You see, how we live life is not about our abilities or failings, our strengths or weaknesses. Instead, it is about saying yes to a mighty God who longs to shine powerfully through us.

Here are some people I believed lived with reckless abandon to God, trusting in His power and not limiting their actions based on what they believed they could accomplish.

During the age of rationalism and revivalism, John Wesley traveled over 200,000 miles on horseback to preach 42,000 sermons, wrote 200 books, organized his followers and a Methodist society and built a chapel.

Charles Spurgeon gave enough sermons and wrote enough material to fill 200 large books. And what about the works of CS Lewis, Martin Luther, Tyndale and Wycliffe?

Were these men super Christians? Did they have more of God? God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He created the universe. Honestly, He doesn’t need us and if He chose, He could raise up a stone and make it the world’s greatest orator. For some mysterious reason He has chosen to work through man–not super humans, but ordinary men and women who trust in an extraordinary God to do mighty things through us.

I believe the question is not can we accomplish A or B but will we allow God to accomplish A or B through us.

Stop and think back to some of our heroes of faith. A murder named Moses, standing on the edge of a raging sea. A young boy named David fighting the giant Goliath. The people of Israel marching around the fortified wall of Jericho.

The Red Sea never would have parted had Moses remained in Midian. Goliath never would have been conquered had David remained in the fields, and Jericho never would have collapsed if the Israelites remained in their camp. God called them to take the city. Could they do it? Absolutely, but not in their own strength. But could God do it through them? Piece of cake.

What would our world look like if people started taking God at His word and surrendered their lives completely to Him?

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6b).

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