Fire is one of the most amazing powers in God’s creation. Sitting by a bonfire on a cool evening can be relaxing and mesmerizing. Fire, however, can also be deadly. Many people were killed in fires after the San Francisco  earthquake of 1906. Many others perished in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and in other blazes around this same time in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Holland, Michigan. God used fire during Biblical times to display His power. Elijah prophesied that Ahaziah, one of Ahab’s sons, would die of illness sustained in a fall because he consulted Baalzebub, the god of the city of Ekron which belonged to the Philistines. Ahaziah was not very pleased with this turn of events and sent a group of fifty soldiers to arrest Elijah and put him in prison. God sent fire from heaven and consumed these fifty men and their captain. The same thing happened to the next group of fifty men and their captain. The third captain and his fifty men were spared from this fate and Elijah went with them to prophecy to Ahaziah concerning his death. Elijah saw God’s power demonstrated in fire once more. He had killed the 450 Baal prophets after proving on Mount Carmel that Jehovah is God. God sent fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar and everything else around it connected with the sacrifice.
Sometimes God sends trials to us that seem like we are going through a major fire. “For thou, O God hast proved us: thou hast tried us as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”(Psalm 66:10-12). This theme is continued in the book of Malachi: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). The meaning here is that, just as a gold or silver smith takes what he believes to be gold or silver and burns away the impurities to get at the metal, so too God does the same thing with us. He uses the trials in our lives to purge us of sin and make us fit for heaven.  The persecution that we will experience in the end times will be an intense time. “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy”(I Peter 4:12,13). Nevertheless, God has not and never will bring on us more than we are able to bear “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee (Isaiah 43:2). May that be our comfort as we go through the trials of life.
Kevin Rau

“Homosexual Marriage,” Another Step toward the Persecution of the Faithful Church

Persecution is coming. We are all most likely aware of this reality. We have faithful ministers who preach the Word of God which says that the place of the Church in this world is small. We have read the book of Revelation and Matthew 24 and other such passages. We are aware that man, that is, the wicked men and women who are of the world, who have not been given the grace of God, seek to make  a god of themselves, and that from this seeking of wicked men and women the Antichrist and his kingdom  will come to power, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:4). There is no place for the faithful Church of Jesus Christ in this kingdom. We are called to be in the world but not of it…the wicked world of man says to us, “if you will not be of the world, neither may you be in it!”

Not only have we been warned by our own reading of the Bible and by the faithful preaching of the truth that this Antichrist is coming, and that the place for the Church in the world is made small by the wicked men of the world, but we can see the very things spoken of in the Bible coming to pass. The most recent step the world has taken, though I am sure that many of us are so thoroughly disgusted by this that we are sick and tired of hearing about it, is the recent Supreme Court decision to deem the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, thereby allowing homosexuals who live within those states which have already legalized what the world calls homosexual marriage to receive recognition from the federal government and any benefits that accompany such recognition.  The arguments to support this step are based upon the theory of the world that God did not establish marriage as an ordinance at the beginning of time, but rather some sort of primitive man evolved to a certain level of intelligence, whereby he recognized the benefit of marriage for the raising of children. According to the world there is no higher ordinance which defines marriage, it was man who established marriage, and now man has evolved enough to realize that he can change marriage into whatever he wants it to be.

However, my point with this discussion is not to go on a rant about homosexuality, disgusted with the recent developments as I am, but to remind all of us how we must be viewing these developments in the world. This will lead to our persecution. Already men are sitting in the temple of God and claiming to be God, why else would they make decisions which clearly oppose not only God’s moral law, but also now what he put right in the Creation for all to see? I realize that there are probably sincere Christians who must earnestly struggle against the sin of homosexuality, and who implore the grace of God to deliver them from that sin in deed as well as thought (rather than embrace the perverse logic of the world that one is free to indulge in until sick whatever sin he or she may be predisposed to), and I also do not want to suggest that I or anyone reading this is ‘better’ than even the most vile of sinners in ourselves, for we are all vile apart from the love of Christ for us. But now with that stated, consider how truly ridiculous is homosexuality. It is so apparent that the man is for the woman and the woman for man as to need no explanation. The obvious fact that there is and can be only one true marriage, which is between a man and a woman, sheds some light upon the true purpose of the world (and the devil who is behind the world) in making these kinds of decisions. It is almost like a challenge to God, pulling up the nose at him and daring him to respond.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 says “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Man has deluded himself into thinking that God’s judgment is not already upon him, and the full manifestation of God’s wrath will not take place until the end, and so man continues to become more and more evil and to tread more and more upon God’s commandments and ordinances. But take heart! God will not let them get away with it, though the perversity of mankind continue to the point in which they take God’s faithful and persecute them unto death. The next two verses in Ecclesiastes 8 are as follows: “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.”