preference and favor

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Ephesians 1:1-2 (JDV)

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, a missionary1 of Christ Jesus by God’s preference:2 To the faithful devotees3 in Christ Jesus at Ephesus.

Ephesians 1:2 Favor4 to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

preference and favor

Paul emphasizes God’s sovereignty in this salutation. What mattered the most is not what Paul wanted, nor what the Ephesian Christians wanted, but what God preferred – who he chooses to favor.

We live in a generation that encourages us to go for what we want – to not be satisfied with someone else’s plans and purposes for us. We could choose to live our lives like that – living them to suit ourselves. Or, we could choose God’s favor and peace. That kind of life comes from yielding to God’s preference.

Lord, teach us to know and yield to your preference.






then you will know

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Joel 3:17-21 (JDV)

Joel 3:17 Then you will know that I am Yahveh your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy, and illegals1 will never overrun it again.

Joel 3:18 In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will flow with water, and a spring will issue from Yahveh’s house, watering the Valley of Acacias.

Joel 3:19 Egypt will become desolate, and Edom an open desert, because of the violence done to the people of Judah in whose land they shed innocent blood.

Joel 3:20 But Judah will be lived in forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.

Joel 3:21 I will have avenged those who have been murdered, which I have not yet avenged, because Yahveh dwells in Zion.

then you will know

Joel had prophesied that his nation would be overrun by illegals committing violent acts upon its people. But his last words give hope that the Lord will end that reign of oppression and murder. The bloodshed will be avenged, and then the nation will know that he is Yahveh.

Thankfully we do not all experience that kind of violent oppression. But we can all experience the kind of deliverance Joel prophesied. We have to be willing to trust God to deliver us in his timing.

How can we know that God is going to rescue us? We will know when it happens. Until then, we have to believe that God is who he says he is in the Bible, and trust him to rescue us eventually. That is biblical faith.



wrong team

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Joel 3:12-16 (JDV)

Joel 3:12 Let the nations be roused and come to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, because there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

Joel 3:13 Swing the sickle because the harvest is ripe. Come and trample the grapes because the winepress is full; the wine vats overflow because the wickedness of the nations is substantial.

Joel 3:14 Uproars,1 uproars in the valley of decision! You see, the day of Yahveh is near in the valley of decision.

Joel 3:15 The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will cease their shining.

Joel 3:16 Yahveh will roar from Zion and make his voice heard from Jerusalem; sky and land will shake. But Yahveh will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the Israelites.

wrong team

I don’t watch a lot of sports, but if I do watch a game, it is usually because someone I know is on the team. If I know no one on either team, I find it hard to root for anyone, because if I did back a team, I would want it to be the winning team.

When the leaders of the nations surrounding Joel’s nation looked for strength and encouragement, they prayed to the sun and moon and stars – they sought out idols representing the sky above them and the land beneath them. Now, Yahveh speaks out through his prophet to these idolatrous nations. He tells them that those light bearers are all going to grow dark, and the sky and land will reverberate when Yahveh roars in anger. They will have no stronghold left. Yahveh himself will be a refuge and stronghold for his people, but the nations who relied on lesser gods will discover that they backed the wrong team.

Lord, our trust is in you.



On Leave

Light Blogging

We are on leave for the next couple of weeks or so.  Apologies for the ensuing light blogging.

Will resume early September.


the coming big one

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Joel 3:9-11 (JDV)

Joel 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: Commit to war; rouse the warriors; let all the men of war muster and go up!

Joel 3:10 Form your plows into swords and your pruning knives into spears. Let even the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”

Joel 3:11 Hurry, all you surrounding nations; gather yourselves. Bring down your warriors there, Yahveh.

the coming big one

War is a terrible thing, but it is also inevitable in this case. The nations who will have invaded and decimated Joel’s nation will see their days on the battlefield as well. Those who lived by the sword had better be prepared to die by the sword, and no one will be exempt.

Joel’s words also suggest that great battle at the end of the age. The element of hurry suggests a significant event that rouses all the nations to gather themselves quickly for an assault on the Holy Land. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zephaniah speak of this battle as well. John calls it “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” and says it will happen at a place called “Armageddon.”1

In Joel’s context, his words were meant as encouragement for a plundered people who anticipate being devastated by foreign nations. He encouraged them to keep in mind that one of these wars will result in the big one, the one that changes everything. God will not allow injustice to reign permanently.

Thank you Lord for the peace you will bring by your coming judgment.

1Isa. 13:3; Ezek. 38:15-16; Zeph. 3:8; Rev. 16:14-16.


the true score

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Joel 3:4-8 (JDV)

Joel 3:4 And also: what are you to me – Tyre, Sidon, and all the territories of Philistia? Are you getting retaliation1 or trying to get even with me? I will quickly bring retaliation on your heads.

Joel 3:5 You see, you took my silver and gold and carried my finest treasures to your temples.

Joel 3:6 You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks to remove them far from their own territory.

Joel 3:7 Watch, I am about to rouse them up from the place where you sold them; I will bring retaliation on your heads.

Joel 3:8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a distant nation, because Yahveh has spoken.

the true score

Every evil empire who has ever invaded another land has claimed some excuse for doing so. No doubt Tyre and Sidon and the Philistines had claimed that they deserved to dominate Joel’s nation in retaliation for being dominated after the Israelite conquest. But the God of all justice will only tolerate such excuses for a time. He will set things right. He will reverse their course.

What injustice have you experienced? God knows the true score. He may have reasons for allowing what you have experienced, but he also has plans for rescuing you out of it. Trust him.

Lord, we know you know the true score. We are choosing to trust you to make things right.



The Timing: After the Second Coming

The Bible does not specify how long the battle of Armageddon lasts, nor how long the wedding supper of the Lamb lasts. The duration of these events is not as important as the fact that other events prophesied must take place after them. It is, therefore, appropriate to speak of these next events as taking place after, and as a result of – the second coming.

The Destruction of the Beast and False Prophet

Jesus and his church are not to remain celebrating in the air forever. At some point in time – it does not really matter when – Christ and his glorified bride will descend to earth. Having concluded the celebration of their reunion, they must now conclude the other consequence of the coming of Christ – the judgment of this world. John in Revelation speaks of Christ destroying the beast and false prophet:

“And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” [1]

“This is the second death, the lake of fire.”[2]

John says that these two spirit beings (like Satan) are to be judged. They are the spirit beings who have led humanity in its rebellion against the Lord and his Christ throughout the ages. The beast has led the kings of the earth in rebellion against God’s political rule. The false prophet has masterminded and taught the religions of this world to reject Christ and his gospel.

John sees them suffering torment “for ages and ages.”[3] Most translations render that phrase “forever and ever” which is not literal, and it does an injustice to something else that John asserts about the lake of fire, namely, that it is the second death. In a logical universe, you cannot have both. Either these spirit beings will suffer eternally, and not die, or they will suffer for ages, and eventually die. John asserts the latter.

The beast and false prophet are eternally put out of commission at this point by having been thrown into the lake of fire. Satan remains, but he will also be rendered useless in the next event as divine history progresses.

The Binding of Satan

Satan’s judgment is not immediate destruction. Before he is thrown into the lake of fire, he will be allowed to live to see the undoing of his defilement of planet earth.

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.[4]

He will know that redeemed humanity will be undoing the curse that his influence had put on God’s creation. He will not be allowed to deceive the nations during this incarceration. He will have no control over the world that he had controlled for ages.

The Millennial Reign

A separate article will deal with the description of, and an evaluation of the theological debate over the millennium.[5] Suffice it to say that – in this presentation, a thousand year earthly reign of Christ and his church[6] fits into the overall plan to judge the enemies of Christ, and to redeem his creation, vindicating the dominion over the earth that God originally gave humanity.

The Final Battle

After Satan is released, he will immediately seek to lead the world in rebellion again:

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.[7]

It is difficult to understand how a rebellion like this can occur after a thousand-year reign of righteousness. Such is the power that Satan holds over us. But the good news is that this rebellion is put down, and then its instigator is definitively dealt with. His place is in the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels, which is the second death.[8]

The Second Resurrection

John’s vision of the final events continues with a reference to the sea and death and Hades giving up the dead who are in them.[9] This second resurrection will involve all those who have died from the beginning of creation – with the exception of those who have already been raised at the παρουσία. Its purpose is to have all those who have ever lived face Christ as their judge.

The Great White Throne Judgment

The purpose for this judgment is to determine two things: the status of all people who have ever lived, and the extent of each unbeliever’s punishment before their destruction. There are only two statuses: saved or unsaved. We will either be in the Lamb’s book of life or not. For those who are not, they will each be judged based on their own works. While their works cannot save them, their works will determine the extent to which they obeyed the light that they had. The punishment will be proportional. Here is another biblical reason to reject the notion that all the lost will be punished perpetually. The sequence is that the lost will be judged “according to what they had done”[10] and then “thrown into the lake of fire”[11] afterward – to be destroyed.

The Second Death

This lake of fire is the second death, and it will do what the first death did. It will put the lost out of conscious existence. The difference is that there will be no resurrection from the second death. In that since, it will be αἰώνιος “aionios” – permanent.[12]

The New Heavens and Earth

After finally destroying all traces of unredeemed humanity, the Lord will recreate the universe to make it suitable for the saved. The new Jerusalem that John saw in Revelation 21 is a picture of that new beginning. Just as the old Jerusalem was intended to represent God’s presence on earth, so the new Jerusalem/heaven and earth will be that presence. God will be among and within us. The second advent will then be complete.

By Rev. Jefferson Vann

(Rev. Jefferson Vann is a graduate of Berkshire Christian College, Columbia International University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He and his wife Penny have been involved in Advent Christian ministry since 1984, serving as missionaries in the Philippines and New Zealand. Jeff is the author of “An Advent Christian Systematic Theology” and “Another Bible Commentary” and is a contributing editor to “Henceforth …”)


[1] Revelation 19:20-21, ESV.

[2] Revelation 20:14.

[3] Revelation 20:10.

[4] Revelation 20:2-3, ESV.

[5] see next issue.

[6] Revelation 20:4-6.

[7] Revelation 20:7-9, ESV.

[8] Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:14.

[9] Revelation 20:13.

[10] Revelation 20:13.

[11] Revelation 20:15.

[12] see the next article: The Destinies, for more on the meaning of αἰώνιος.


Dumb Rules and Dumber Politicians

Worker Shortages and Dumb Rules 

Kneecapping Business

Mike Hosking
NZ Herald

I ask a simple question: Why is this Government so hell-bent on making doing business in this country so hard?

We could, of course, spend the whole morning discussing the plight of the farmer. Isolated as some sort of demonic operator, pillager of the earth. Instead of the backbone of the economy.  But this specific question is asked as a result of seeing Francie Perry on the news. Her plight is the plight of many like her. She grows strawberries, and like most others who grow stuff, she can’t get people to pick the stuff she grows.

And the Government won’t let her solve her problem. She employs 1200 people – but needs 140 or so from offshore and bureaucracy is killing her. Excuses and ideology are killing her and her business.

This Government, for reasons best known to themselves, seem to insist that there are large swathes of locals more than willing to work in the field. But there are not, and there haven’t been for years.  Not just that, but the very same Government knows this, because they have seen the numbers on their JobSeeker benefit rise to record levels – another 14,000 last year.

These are supposedly work-ready people and yet remarkably unable to find anything to do. The madness of this is enough to make you pull your hair out.  But none of that helps Francie. She has a problem. What’s worse is she has a solution – but they won’t let her solve her own problem. How hard can it be? Can you find anyone locally? No. Can you bring them in? Yes. Done deal.

Why take a problem and exacerbate it? Why make business harder to do than it already is? Why drive an ideology that simply doesn’t work?  Would it be nice to think we could employ locals? Of course it would. But tragically we live in a world where the welfare is clearly at such a level doing nothing is now attractive – and the Francies of this world are paying the price.

So a couple of things could happen. One, she will close her business and everyone is out of work. Or two, she will pick what she can, leave the rest to rot and what’s in the market costs more because of lack of supply. How mad, how inept is that?  Simple issues, simple solutions and yet we are determined to make it harder than it needs to be. I’m furious, and I’m not even part of this. I’m just observing this insanity.

The biggest frustration right now is watching this country operate in a half-baked way.  People prevented from excelling, road blocks, dumb rules, mad bureaucracy – a government’s real role is to get the hell out of the way and let those who know what they’re doing, go for it.

How hard can it be?


all lives matter

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Joel 3:1-3 (JDV)

Joel 3:1 Watch, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

Joel 3:2 I will gather all the nations and take them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I will enter into judgment with them there because of my people, my inheritance Israel. The nations have scattered the Israelites in foreign countries and divided up my land.

Joel 3:3 They cast lots for my people; they bartered a boy for a prostitute and sold a girl for wine to drink.

all lives matter

Joel looks ahead to a bleak future when his nation will be scattered, and young lives will be ripped from their homeland and traded like loose change as if their hopes and dreams did not matter.

The prophet gives his nation a truth to sustain them during these dark generations. That truth is that this long period of injustice will come to an end, and those nations who do this will be held accountable. There will be judgment. They might think that the lives of these boys and girls do not matter. They do. All lives matter to our creator, and he will hold accountable those who exploit and destroy them.

Father of all, show us how to respect the lives that matter to you – all lives.


Veganism For Children Outlawed

Belgium Will ‘No Longer Tolerate’ Parents Who Force Their Kids to be Vegan

Dan Satherley
News Hub

Belgian officials will “no longer tolerate” parents who force their kids to be vegan.  It follows a number of cases in the European country of children being hospitalised and suffering health complications, and even a death in 2017, linked to vegan diets.

Government children’s rights official Bernard Devos asked the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium to make a ruling on the controversial diet, whose adherents avoid eating meat and dairy, and avoid using products made from animal-derived sources.  The academy did so on Thursday, reports local paper Le Soir, saying it was “not ethical” to impose veganism on children.

“This restrictive regime requires ongoing monitoring of children to avoid deficiencies and often irreversible growth delays,” the academy’s report said.  “It is unsuitable for unborn children, children, teenagers and pregnant and lactating women… This concept of nutrition is similar to a form of treatment that it is not ethical to impose on children.”  It’s reported around 3 percent of Belgian kids live in vegan families.

Prof George Casimir of Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital, who led the team that put the report together, listed the potential side-effects to UK paper The Telegraph.  “We are talking here about stunted growth and psychomotor delays, undernutrition, significant anaemia. Some developments must be done at a specific time in life and if they are not done, it is irreversible.”

Devos said the legal opinion from the academy will make it easier for children to be removed from parents enforcing a strict vegan diet, and charge them with a crime.  “We can no longer tolerate this endangerment,” said Casimir, saying parents now face up to two years in prison.

A Belgian vegan couple convicted in 2017 after their seven-month-old died of malnutrition only received a six-month suspended sentence. A Sydney couple are now facing five years behind bars after their toddler suffered a brain seizure linked to her vegan diet.

Animal rights group PETA angrily rejected the ruling, calling it “ignorant codswallop”.  The American Dietetic Association, as PETA pointed out, says it’s fine for children to go vegan, even from infancy – as long as the diet is “well-planned”.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health doesn’t rule out vegetarian or vegan diets for children and has plenty of advice, but does warn their “stomachs may be too small to hold all the food they need for activity and growth”. It recommends parents speak to a doctor or nurse for advice on what to do.