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Off The Grid Prophecies for Christmas With Mark Rushdoony – Episode 081

People are attracted to power. They are always looking outside themselves to find someone or something that has the answers to all their problems. There is only one problem with this approach—there is only one way to change a man… and that is through the redemptive work of God Almighty.

But being accountable to God and His law is a sobering thing, isn’t it? Most of the time we feel under judgment and without hope. We fear turning to that ultimate source because we just know we’ll be rejected, turned away to face our lives the best we can. However, that is Satan’s lie.

What is God’s answer to Satan’s lie? Join Bill Heid and Mark Rushdooney on Off the Grid Radio today as they take us through biblical history, through divine prophecy, through the birth of Jesus, the act of redemption, and the proffer of hope that is ours in this life and the life to come.

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Off The Grid Radio
Ep 081
Released: December 23, 2011

Bill: Welcome, everybody, it’s Bill Heid. I’m your host today with Off the Grid Radio. Merry Christmas to everybody. This will be our Christmas show. Today we’ve got Mark Rushdoony. Mark heads up Chalcedon. What we’d like to talk a little bit with Mark about are some – what we’ll call maybe a little more off-the-grid prophecies. We’ve got a couple of Old Testament prophecies that we want to cover as well as a New Testament prophecy as well. Mark, welcome.

Mark: Good morning, Bill.

Bill: It’s good to hear you again. I think it’s been a year since we chatted, at least on the show. We’re very happy to have you back. I wanted to tell you as well that I appreciated your year-end letter in the most recent Chalcedon – it’s chalcedon.edu – but your most recent year-end letter where you talk about politics not being soteriological – having a soteriological function. Do you want to chat a little bit about that before we go into our predictive prophecies?

Mark: It’s basically that we don’t change people through politics. We can only change laws, but people are only changed by Jesus Christ. People have to be changed from within. We have to reform people religiously before we can really change our social order. Change has to come, literally, from the bottom-up. That starts with the individual and their heart.

Bill: Yet on television, especially now, if you look at all of the news programs and everything, there’s this focus on Newt, on Mitt, on Rick Perry … we always want to – why is it, do you think, Mark, that mankind wants to always change things from the top? Why do we crave a Caesar? Why do we crave a dictator constantly from above? And I’m not calling those three gentlemen dictators but I think the propensity that we have as people is to always be like the folks in Israel that wanted a leader like the other kingdoms, they wanted a king, why do we always want that?

Mark: People are attracted to power. Even the celebrity cults are really attracted to people because they emanate a power. The idea is that people really are attracted to a power and politically it’s the idea that if we give people enough power, he will fix our culture – they’ll fix our society. That somehow, somebody else, if you give them enough power, enough authority, enough control and they pass the right laws, they will fix the problem. We’re not looking at ourselves and our own influence in society and saying “we need to fix this beginning with the individual, the family and the community.” It’s a difference in top-down reform versus bottom-up reform.

Bill: It’s almost like Kuyper’s – you’ve got Maslow’s Hierarchy, well Kuyper had a hierarchy as well – it’s the inverted hierarchy of Kuyper where we talk about self-government first and foremost.

Mark: Right. That’s the basic government of Scripture. It’s individual accountability before God. It begins with ourselves and moves outward from there.

Bill: We’re so used to when someone talks about government, I don’t think that Americans really have a paradigm, necessarily, for self-government or family government or church government. Their paradigm immediately goes to what we were taught in school which is government is civil government and there’s no other forms of government. I think your point is a good one, about the fact that we’ve got to get back to self-government, principially, and then move out from there. Then we can have good civil government as we become a nation of self-governed individuals.

Mark: And you can’t have self-government unless you have a faith that controls people. That’s why ultimately our problems are always religious.

Bill: Our problems are ultimately religious and yet when we go to discuss our problems, we never – it’s not polite, Mark, to discuss religion, so we tend to avoid the very thing that can help us out of our mess. We avoid. But the things that we want to talk about today – there was some problems early on in society after God made the world, man had a problem. Man and woman, his wife, had a problem. We were going to talk about what I call off-the-grid prophecies, predictive prophecies. You had listed some of the ones we were talking about. Let’s go back and do them – if you don’t mind, let’s go back and talk about them in the order that they came chronologically in Scripture. If we could maybe talk about Genesis 3:14-15 first, as a prophecy. I guess I’m setting the stage here – you’ve got this problem that happened – problems then, problems today – let’s talk a little bit about Genesis 3: 14-15 as being one of our first, what we’ll call, off-the-grid prophecies.

Mark: Yes, of course Genesis 3 is where the fall of man takes place. It’s really not described in detail. In Genesis 3:5, Satan tempted man to “if you disobey God, you’ll be like God. Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” That was in Genesis 3, Verse 5. Adam and Eve both sinned. Ten verses later is the first promise of a redeemer. In Verse 14, God said “and the Lord God said unto the serpent, ‘because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly shall thou go and dust shall thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise your head and thou shall bruise his heel.’” So the very first promise of redemption that the sin was going to be undone occurs just 10 verses after sin. Immediately after sin, we’re directed to hope. People have this fall idea that somehow Scripture there to condemn man and to put man down, but in reality it’s all about hope. It’s about redemption. When man stays in his sin, he has nothing but his sin and he clings to that sin. All he sees is God’s judgment as the message of Scripture and yet in reality the message is one that God wants to go beyond sin, God wants to go to redemption. Give man a life of meaning and purpose and hope. It’s basically to return man to his created purpose – what he was meant to be.

Bill: Yeah, he wants to you back.

Mark: Right. It’s easy for us to fixate on sin, whether we’re redeemed or unredeemed, but instead God directs us really to hope. We don’t dare miss the hope God has for us. Christmas is largely about that, because it’s about the coming of God into history to actually fix the problem. Before Jesus Christ, it was all about the promised salvation, but once God was with us, incarnate in human flesh, it meant that all that was about to change. Now God was actually accomplishing what he had promised. We have the advantage of being able to look back and saying “this is already done.”

Bill: That’s a huge advantage, especially compared to the other folks, especially Old Testament folks that really looked at the world where there was a lot more – Paul talked about water darkly – this is even worse than that. We’re right by the Mississippi – this is a glass of Mississippi mud – to some of the Old Testament folks. They can’t see this coming, right Mark? At least not all of them.

Mark: Right. It was largely hidden. It was in shadow and types. There was atonement but it was atonement of animals. They realized that this stood for atonement and Scripture had messianic prophecies but they weren’t always entirely clear. But there was always an individual, a person – Moses spoke of a prophet that would “come after me,” they would hear. Bits and pieces were given them but … John said “and he was incarnate. The Word became flesh and we beheld his glory.” He’s saying “we actually saw incarnate Messiah. He was amongst us and we looked right at him.” This is now what we have because the nature of the first sin we were talking about in Genesis was that here God created this image bearer in Adam and Even for his purpose and Satan tried to steal that image bearer for his purposes. Satan tried to pull off this huge coup that he had ruined all of God’s creation and God’s intended purpose. God basically says to Satan “this isn’t going to stand. The seed of a woman is going to be your undoing.” That’s Jesus Christ. He says “there’s going to be a conflict. You’re going to bruise his heel.” When you bruise your heel, it’s painful. It can be very painful and debilitating, but it’s not life threatening. He says “this seed of the woman, child of the woman, is going to bruise your head, Satan. It’s going to be fatal to you. It’s going to be your undoing.” There’s this enmity that was now put. Satan thought “I pulled off this great coup. I have now mankind – God’s image bearer is now on my side” and God said “no, that’s not going to stand.” That was really Satan’s temptation to Jesus in the wilderness. “Just acknowledge that it’s all mine” and God says “it’s not going to happen.” Jesus refused to give Satan any ground.

Bill: He always went back to the word any time he was tempted which is good advice for everybody today. Let’s go onto the next one. I’ve always been amazed at hearing your dad, especially, break down Genesis 49:8-12. Do you want to read that, Mark? Because the imagery is not something that modern Americans or modern folks at all have any kind of perspective on.

Mark: Yes. Genesis 49 is really a prophecy and it was the dying Jacob’s blessing on his 12 sons. Verses 8 through 12 are really his blessing on Judah. He had a special blessing on Judah. Judah was the line of David that would become the kingly office of David and Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah. It’s really a prophecy about the Messiah, which is interesting because Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph, after that it was Benjamin. This was not Jacob’s preference to give the special blessing to Judah. But this is what he said, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise. Thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies. Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp. From the prey, my son, thou art gone up. He stooped down. He couched as a lion and as an old lion. Who shall rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. Unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal to the vine and his ass’s colt to the choice vine. He washed his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes shall be red with wine and his teeth white with milk.”

Bill: Strange words, Mark. Strange words indeed.

Mark: They’re strange to us but they weren’t strange to people at the time because they understood what they meant. For instance, they knew what a scepter was – a scepter is a sign of royalty. Of course, David came from the line of Judah and Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He says “a scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” The word Shiloh itself has a meaning. They knew what that meaning was. It means “he to whom it belongs” or “he whose right it is.” From Judah would come “he whose right it is.” That’s a name of Jesus Christ. That’s a beautiful name because Jesus has all right. He has all authority. He has all entitlement. We like to talk about human entitlements and human rights but Jesus is he whose right it is. This is a magnificent statement that all right, all power, all authority, all sovereignty, resides in Jesus Christ. At Christmastime, we tend to focus on the babe in the manger, but the beauty of the story of the manger is that God was in human flesh. That’s why traditionally for most of Christian history, Easter has been the primary Christian holiday, because it’s Christ’s victory, his resurrection from the grave. We sometimes sentimentalize Christmas and all of our traditions are about sentiment, but the idea of Christmas shouldn’t be to keep Christ in the manger anymore than it’s to keep him on the cross. It’s about “he whose right it is.” God become incarnate in human flesh in order to save us and he will be victorious. It’s really an amazing statement. Judah’s descendants – interestingly enough, Judah was not the prominent tribe for many years – through the period of the Judges or even King Saul, it wasn’t until David that you actually had Judah becoming prominent. Of course another prophecy was that he would possess the throne of David, which is interesting because the throne of David had ceased to exist when the Babylonians captured the people. For hundreds of years there had been no throne of David, but that’s why the genealogies all trace Christ’s origin back through David, because he was of the line of David, legally through his father Joseph, his adoptive father, Joseph, but also biologically through Mary. He came through the tribe of Judah and specifically was his ancestor on both sides.

Bill: Sure. Mark, why is it important – as you go into Verse 11, this is fascinating, and it’s not a baby Jesus metaphor at all, neither it is a meek and lowly, lukewarm Jesus – but if the average person today were to look at verse “he’s going to tether his donkey to a vine and his colt to the closest, choicest branch.” What would that imagery have been like to someone that lived during that period? But obviously grapevines – food wasn’t abundant during that period of time, nor wine abundant – we have a dearth of material goods. You can get wine anywhere and there’s – I was just in Germany and there’s vineyards everywhere along the Rhine. But in that period of time, the scarcity was a different kind of thing. Talk a little bit about grapevines and donkeys.

Mark: I live in a rural area and when I moved here in 1978 it was pretty much just cattle ranching. It’s hard to make money in cattle. I was told once, at the time, someone said “I don’t know a single individual in this county that makes their living just from raising cattle. They all have other forms of income. They’re contractors or they have jobs somewhere and they raise cattle on the side because there’s not a lot of money in it.” A few years after here, some men started experimenting with growing grapes for wine. It’s a very profitable business, if you know what you’re doing. In fact, our neighbors planted vines a number of years ago. In fact, I’m looking out the window right now and I see their grapevines – they still have some of the fall colors on them. But grapevines are a luxury to be able to produce but they also represent a great deal of profit potential. They represent luxury. If an agrarian society can afford to be growing wine grapes, that means there’s some level of prosperity. They’re above subsistence. Wine grapes can last for generations and still be – the vines can still be productive. When it says “he’ll bind his foal to the vine,” you didn’t tie a donkey to a grape vine where it could do damage to something that was very valuable. You didn’t want animals potentially grazing on expensive vines that could produce a profit for you. The idea that this Shiloh – he whose right it is – could tie his foal to a vine meant that he was living in real prosperity. It was a vision of abundant wealth and prosperity. It means that Shiloh doesn’t have to be careful of the vines because he lives in such wealth. Verse 12 says “his eyes shall be red with wine, his teeth white with milk.” The idea is abundance. He has everything. Again, he’s secure in his wealth. He’s secure in his kingdom. Shiloh, Jesus Christ, rules in prosperity. Talking about the abundance of the kingdom of God is basically what it is. The reign of Jesus Christ is going to be one that is productive.

Bill: Those are amazing verses. Again, the imagery is a little outside what we’re normally … but this idea of comfort and security in their rule and reign, or in his rule and reign, rather, I think should be the comfort for Christians to know where this thing is headed. Because we’ve got to look at time, let’s look at Numbers, another really neat Old Testament off-the-grid prophecy, as we would say. Numbers 24:10 – is that where you want to start, Mark? Or 9?

Mark: Let me find it here. Numbers 24, Verse 10. This is the prophecy of the star out of Jacob. Again, another imagery that is a little foreign to us but it’s actually the same imagery exists elsewhere in Scripture, although it’s not really as foreign to us as we would imagine, it’s just that we don’t use it in this expression. It’s really a long passage. It’s about 15 verses, maybe it’s too much. Maybe I should summarize.

Bill: Sure. Go ahead and summarize it.

Mark: It was basically when the Hebrews were coming out of the wilderness after the exodus, after many years in the wilderness. They were approaching the land and they wanted to enter the land and these various foreign Canaanite nations around them were very leery of them. Obviously, you’ve heard the story – we’re given intimations elsewhere in Scripture that they’d heard stories about what had happened to the Egyptians and how God’s curse had been on the Egyptians. They were very frightened of this people who seemed to have a supernatural power behind them in the person of Jehovah. This king of the Moabites, his name was Balak, hired a seer to – he says “I want you to curse this Hebrew nation for me. They’ve obviously got Jehovah on their side. They’ve got supernatural power. I want you to get some kind of supernatural power together and curse them, to counteract their supernatural power.” Balaam tried because he was offered a lot of money and he really wanted to curse the people but God kept preventing him from cursing the people. He became afraid and he says “I don’t care how much gold and silver you give me, I’m not going to curse this Hebrew people,” and he actually ended up blessing them. Then he said “he has said which heard the words of God and knew the knowledge of the most high, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance but having his eyes open. I shall see him but not now. I shall behold him but not nigh. There shall come a star out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel and shall smite the corners of Moab and destroy all the children of Sheth and Edom shall be a possession and Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies. And Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall he come that shall have dominion and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” That’s not what Balak wanted to hear. He ended up blessing the Hebrews. God basically worked through this very ungodly man, who was only spoken of in Scripture, he was not a godly prophet. He had called a seer. He used, apparently, some magic and dabbled in different religions trying to – a polytheist, basically, who’s trying to dabble in different religions and trying to get this power and that power. He didn’t want to bless the people but God says “I’m going to make you bless this people.” God made this ungodly man prophesy to the blessing of the Hebrew people. It’s just another way which God works. God works through the ungodly. Even the crucifixion, we’re told, that these ungodly men did what God had determined beforehand that they should do.

Bill: Mark, here’s another one of those scepter – in Verse 17 – you have “a scepter shall rise from Israel.” This image not of weakness, but this image of tremendous power and, like we went to the last verse, perhaps even comfort and strength.

Mark: Right. We sometimes … we live in a current area that’s very hostile to Christianity but if you look at the whole course of Christianity, the Kingdom of God has had an amazing amount of influence since Jesus Christ. We might be in a lull right now, where the world is trying to push it back. I think that’s safe to say. But the fact is, I think we can take a great deal of consolation in the fact is – what do the ungodly have to oppose? They have to oppose Christianity. They know Christianity is still the enemy – the force to be reckoned with is Christianity. It’s not as though they’re ignoring Christianity, it’s that they have to fight against it. In one area after another, they know that there’s power in Christianity. Of course we know there’s power in Christianity because of Christ and the God we worship. But these images of a star out of Judah, a scepter out of Israel – these are representations of power. Scepter, we know, is what a king holds. It’s literally a symbol of his power, just like a shepherd’s staff represents his ability to defend the sheep. The scepter was, in effect, a symbol of the power wielded by the king. He literally wielded a scepter to represent his greater power. The star out of Jacob – we still use stars on flags and things. Why? Because a star throughout history has represented power, dominion. It’s a symbol that has always meant something, because stars basically rule the night. These are old, old symbols. It’s a symbol of power, not of Jesus, meek and mild. That Jesus exercises power in history. The term Shiloh – he whose right it is. He is king by right. He wields the scepter by right. Man, in his sin, is full of pretenses but the curse that we talked about – this is the pretenses of Satan, the pretenses of man to be able to challenge God. But in reality it’s all a sham. It’s all artificial. It’s all a phantasm of man and his sin. In reality, Shiloh, he whose right it is, is the star. He bears the scepter. He bears the royal rule. It speaks literally of him defeating various nations like Moab and Edom, the Amalekites. These were actual nations at the time which were once very powerful and were very threatening to God’s people. They’ve literally disappeared from history.

Bill: Mark, as we examine these Old Testament prophecies, this hope that is to come, this scepter that’s get passed, let’s fast forward a little bit and they’re all pointed towards this early nativity narrative, this early Luke story. What are the implications of this story? Of where this ends up? Talk a little bit about Zacharias and Mary and what we see unfolding in the early passages of Luke, for example.

Mark: In Luke we have a little bit more of the background of the predicted birth of both Jesus and John the Baptist. The beginning of … in Luke we have Mary being told that she’s going to be with child of the Holy Ghost. She praises God and then later in the chapter Zacharias, after the birth of John, praises God. We don’t talk about this so much and I think perhaps part of it is Protestantism has stayed away from talking too much about the Magnificat because it’s afraid it will get into too much the adoration of Mary, but it’s actually Mary’s Magnificat is one of the most magnificent things. It really has a much broader view of Christmas because, again, we tend to focus on what happened and the manger and what a precious story it is. It’s God gift is his baby Jesus. But we can’t think of Jesus as a baby alone. We have to think of Jesus as Shiloh, he whose right it is, someone who wields the scepter. Jesus grew up and he is now King of kings and Lord of lords. We can’t focus on just what is precious to us. Have you ever noticed how people always make – whenever there’s a baby, the focus of the conversation is always the baby. Whereas if you meet someone with a teenager and they never necessarily focus on those teenagers, but people always fuss over little babies. We tend to do that and we focus on Christmas on Jesus in the manger and not on who Jesus is and really always has been – the eternal second person of the trinity. Mary and Zacharias both saw the magnitude of what was happening. They didn’t focus on the “Jesus, meek and mild, laying in the manger,” but they focused on the magnitude of what was happening. In fact, if I can read the Magnificat Mary – “and Mary said, ‘my soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior, for he hath regarded the lowest state of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty have done to me great things and holy is his name. His mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation. He has showed strength with this arm. He has scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he had sent empty away. He hath hope in his servant, Israel, in remembrance of his mercy. As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” Mary saw these things in a much bigger sense. Incidentally, the Magnificat at times was forbidden to be read in churches by kings because they didn’t like the language that “God hath scattered the proud, that he had put down the mighty and exalted the lowly,” because they thought that was anti-monarchical. They thought that that was language of rebellion and that the people ought not to think in these terms. Monarchs actually saw this as something that pertained to society, how God treated men. Mary saw this in the bigger sense. She refers to “remembering his worlds of old” – she saw this as the fulfillment of all the promises. Remember when Eve bore her first son she says “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” A lot of people believe that she believed perhaps that this was the Messiah that had been promised to her, that her first child was actually going to be this savior. Mary realizes it’s really happening, after all these thousands of years it’s really happening. Now we have the Messiah. She was seeing the big picture. God puts down the mighty and the mighty includes everyone including Satan. God has exalted the lowly. That man – you can’t get lower than man in sin. She has taken man and his sin and God has exalted him to a position of fellowship through a remission of sins. Mary saw the much bigger picture, as did Zacharias. Luke 1 then goes on and tells the story of the naming of John and Elizabeth’s pregnancy – John the Baptist was a cousin to Mary. Mary visited with Elizabeth during her pregnancy. Zacharias, as you recall, was an old man. He didn’t think he could have children. When he was given the prophecy that he was going to have a son, he thought it was amusing and he questioned how that was even possible. He was struck dumb. He couldn’t speak until after John was born and actually, when he was being dedicated on the eighth day, then his language came back to him. Then he praised God. He says “his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesized saying ‘blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he hath visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us of the house of his servant, David. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. The oath which he sweared to our father Abraham that he would grant unto us. We being delivered out of the hand of our enemies by serve him without fear. In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. Thou child shall be called the prophet of the highest and thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the days spring from on high hath visited us. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace.” In other words, they saw in the Christmas story, something much bigger. They saw the full plan of God’s salvation. They saw the magnitude. Christmas is a time when we don’t just focus on Jesus in the manger. We focus on all that he is. Christmas leads us to Calvary and ultimately to the kingdom of God and his Christ throughout all of eternity. It’s the total victory over sin and death and the total defeat of Satan.

Bill: I get the idea, Mark, that it’s really a magnitude issue. For the people of Israel – for Mary, for Zacharias – there’s this longing. It seems to me like they were probably – I’m not sure how to say this, but in a different position to receive this message, perhaps a better position. In other words, there’s this tremendous longing. There’s hardship, there’s scarcity. These metaphors are easily recognized and here comes this thing that happens. The magnitude setting is extremely high. Fast forward to today, and someone’s got a huge plasma TV and – what would the metaphor be if you were trying to talk about tying a donkey to a … would it be that you’re letting your kids play Wii next to a giant plasma TV? I think that it’s hard to … you come back from a Harry Potter movie or something and you have all this stimulation in your mind, today’s person, and all this grandeur and all this what looks like mightiness – it’s a false mightiness. Then you see this narrative and it doesn’t seem to me that it has the power – it certainly does to me, but as I look around it doesn’t seem to have the power and magnitude that it had to the folks that had very little. See what I’m saying?

Mark: Yes. I think even then a lot of people at the time were probably very cold to this message. Of course we’re talking here of Mary and Zacharias. To people of faith who were anticipating God’s salvation, this had meaning. But a lot of people, we know from the reaction to Jesus throughout his ministry, were very cold to the things of God. I think that’s true throughout all periods of history, that many people remained cold because their hearts have not been opened by the Holy Spirit.

Bill: That’s a great point.

Mark: There’s always, throughout history, even in the Old Testament – if you read the Prophets, they were talking to a people who were spiritually dead. There were times when Jerusalem itself was full of altars to Baal. There’s always been a great deal of apostasy and unbelief. It’s hard for us to even imagine what security and prosperity’s all about because so much of the prosperity we enjoy is actually debt, it’s actually a form of enslavement. That we have good things, perhaps, but in reality our lives are very insecure. Any time there’s a fluctuation, a downturn in the economy, a lot of people are ruined – absolutely ruined – to the extent that they know they may never recover, even in a next boom time. In reality, our prosperity is an illusion based upon inflation and funny money. We keep creating money like a counterfeiter so we have the illusion of prosperity. In reality, we’re not as prosperous as we think, even though – as you say, we have a lot of technology and things. That’s our real advantage today, is we have technology which makes us think we’re extremely advanced and we’re extremely prosperous, when our technology is just so much cheaper.

Bill: Exactly. Doug Casey had just said recently – I had read it in one of his newsletters – that we’re the first police state with Netflix and Best Buy and Neiman Marcus. I agree with you. There’s a perception, Mark, of security, but people should know that that security can disappear rather quickly. I think the Israelites, the people of God in general, were at their high water mark and it wasn’t very long after they reached their high water mark in history that they were totally decimated and scattered. Things can happen. My guess is that those folks thought that they were pretty well in control. Herod’s kids, I’d be willing to bet you, thought that – the ones that he allowed to live, at least – probably thought that they were in a pretty good position, wouldn’t you say?

Mark: Right. There’s an expression the prophets use over and over again, that “you’ll plant vines, but you won’t drink the wine, you’ll build the houses but you’ll not dwell in them.” Basically, God says “you’re secure in your prosperity. I’m going to take all this away from you,” and he did. He not only took it away from them and gave it to others, but he then destroyed it and all that … the greatest period of prosperity – both agriculturally and as far as building – was all destroyed. When a small number of Jews came back – most never came back – in the 1st Century there were still more Jews between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers than there was in Palestine. The remnant came back, never could create the same prosperous culture that they had once had. God said “in your prosperity you became apostate and you’ve forgotten me.” He took that away from them and he literally destroyed the wealth. When they came back to the land, even when they were back in the land, they never had the advantages and the prosperity they had had before. They were a much poorer people.

Bill: And that same thing can happen to us as a people. I think we need to remember that. Mark, as we close up, do you have any final comments on some of the stuff that you’ve just talked about? We’re always interested on this show in bringing things back and trying to get back where we were – not back in the old-time religion, but back towards where we have a focus on God and the magnitude that we were discussing. What are your concluding thoughts as we close not only the show but the year 2011?

Mark: I think that Christmas story, and really all of the Gospels from Nativity to the Resurrection, really present us with a watershed of history. Christmas is more than a precious story, it’s more than God’s Christmas present to us. It really is the meaning of all history. It’s the coming to fruition of all God’s promises. We have a lot more information and knowledge to us than Mary or Zacharias had. We should also bear witness. We should praise God for his power and glory. We should bless his name, likewise, because he visited his people and we’re part of that people. Our lives have meaning and purpose and hope because what he did. My father once used an expression that “the incarnation of Jesus in human flesh, the nativity, was really God’s reinvasion of history.”

Bill: Reinvasion – I like that.

Mark: Where he made it clear that he was taking control. This is our God. We should have a very optimistic and a joyous faith. We must never assume that somehow sin or rebellion are going to be victorious. That’s why the old carols, like “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King …” – this is a time of joy. We have every reason to be a happy people because God has given us so much. If we understand – God has given us knowledge, he’s given us the picture of the cosmic history from the creation to the end of human history and even glimpses of our existence beyond history. We have every reason to be happy and optimistic.

Bill: Well, Mark, well stated. We want to say Merry Christmas to you and thank you for all the work that you’ve done at Chalcedon. Folks, there’s a lot of great resources at chalcedon.edu. There’s tremendous resources for equipping you to advance the Kingdom of God so I suggest going there. Mark’s dad’s been a great influence to me and just worth checking out. I also want to say, as we start to close out, that on behalf of everybody here at Off the Grid News, we really do wish you the most blessed and Merry Christmas. Thanks again for listening.

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