Thursday, June 4, 2009

WHERE ON EARTH IS THE PLACE OF SAFETY?


In the 1960’s there was a church organization that taught about a place of safety where its believers would be hidden. It was said that the church would flee there to be protected from the events bringing about the end of the world, especially as described in the book of Revelation. Once that was all over, the place of safety would be left behind. The church would emerge to help lead the survivors in rebuilding and teaching the way of truth.


The time given to flee was January 1972. The church was to be hidden for three and one-half years until the Messiah returned in the fall of 1975. The place of safety? Petra, the rose city of Jordan.


But that didn’t happen then, did it? The world has gone on – the end has not already passed. The Messiah has not yet returned. And now (March 2009) it is 37 years later.


What happened to that church? Thousands of members became disillusioned and left. Those who clung to the church underwent changes in leadership and in understanding. Every doctrine once taught has been abandoned. What once was a Sabbath-keeping, law-abiding, holy day observant group is now a Sunday-keeping, law done away, worldly holiday observant organization. It no longer stands out apart from mainstream Christianity in any way.


Where did the ideas of a place of safety come from?


Was it in answer to Christianity’s doctrine of a rapture?


Matthew 24:40-41 40-Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41-Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.


Matthew 24 was used to show that people could be taken in order to avoid the wrath to come. But is that what these verses say? Could it be that these were “taken” because of disobedience or heresy? Could invaders or terrorists be taking them? Could the ones left behind to be the protected ones?


Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.


This does mention fleeing.

But to whom?

The church of 1972 was not in Judea.


This reference is repeated, but look at what is added.


Luke 21:21-22 21-Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22-For these shall be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.


So why would anyone consider going to the Middle East area? As referred to here, it appears to be an area avoid. It will not be a safe place.


The church was told that when it was time to flee, God would have officials help us. They would make airplanes available to us and fly us to Jordan. Why? Where did that come from?


Exodus 19:4 You have seen what I (Yahweh) did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.


But how did the Israelites of the Exodus reach their destination? Did they actually fly on the wings of eagles? No! They walked ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET every lengthy mile – unless they had a donkey to ride or an ox-driven cart in which to ride.


Once it was clear that the prophecies were not going to come to pass at that time, the place of safety was dropped from sermons and church doctrine. But now today, there are those who are bringing up this issue once again. Why? They believe that the United States is Babylon and we need to get out of it. Their reasoning is based on only a few verses.


Isaiah 48:20 Go you forth of Babylon, flee you from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare you, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say you, Yahweh has redeemed his servant Jacob.


So today, where is Babylon?

Who and where are the Chaldeans?

Where is Jacob?


2 Corinthians 6:14-18 14-Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15-And what concord has Messiah with Belial? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? 16-And what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? For you are the temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. 17-Wherefore come out from among them and be you separate, says Yahweh, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18-And I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says Yahweh Almighty.


Can you do this ONLY by leaving the country? Or is this a warning such as “be careful of the company you keep”?


Revelation 18:2, 4 2-And he (an angel) cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 4-And I (John) heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.


Would we be correct to assume that ONLY the United States could fit this? Does that mean there is no unrighteousness in other countries as bad as what goes on here?


Where is there Scriptural basis for the United States being Babylon? If we are to leave, when? Based on the word of whom? How do we know? And where would we go?


Consider these things. How easy is it to move to another country? How would a family live? Some countries allow people to move there, but immigrants are not allowed to work there. So what about an income? What about language difficulties? Cultural differences? Would there be any brethren or an assembly available? Some say we should move to Israel. But as we have seen, Scripture warns against that in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Also, in order to move to Israel, one requirement is that an individual must convert to Judaism. And the red tape can take years, if a person is accepted at all.


Do these verses mean to come out physically? Or can it mean in heart, attitude and actions? To leave behind evil, unclean and unrighteousness, you would have to leave the world. There is NO righteous nation to flee to. And that includes Israel!


Luke 21:25-26 25-And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26-Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.


Notice: it says “on the earth”, not just on Babylon or the United States.


Luke 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.


Now how do we get past that? Bluntly, there is no safe place to which one can flee on this earth!


There are some among this group who do not advocate leaving the country, just moving to an area where they can shun the rest of the world as much as possible. Some of them buy a farm or a tract of land where they strive to be as self-sufficient as possible. Besides growing their own food (and there is nothing wrong with that), they home-school the children who have very little, if any, interaction with people outside the family. A number of them do not meet with fellow-believers on a consistent basis, but simply have church at home.


Is this a true attempt to come out of Babylon? Or is it an attempt to avoid being touched or tempted or influenced by the unclean and unholy? Is this what Yahweh wants?


Matthew 5:13-16 13-You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14-You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. 15-Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. 16-Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


Salt can become useless. To be effective, it must interact with something. Left by ourselves, away from others, can we become useless as well? A light that is hidden is of use to no one. Our light is to shine forth – that means we must be among others so that it can be seen. Your good works must be visible to others – not hidden so that only your family sees. Those of the world are to see your good works – how you live – so that they may praise Yahweh, too.


From you they can see what it is like to follow Yahweh and you may spark an interest in their spiritual lives to seek Him as well.


Matthew 28:19-20 19-Go you therefore and teach all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the set-apart spirit; 20-Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.


How can we teach anyone if we are hidden away? Or immerse them? An example is often the best teacher. But if your example is not there for them to see, it is like the useless salt. It cannot help lead anyone to Yahweh.


Hebrews 10:24-25 24-And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; 25-Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much more as you see the day approaching.


How can we do this if we don’t gather with and get to know Yahweh’s people?


1 Peter 4:7-9 7-But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8-And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9-Use hospitality one to another without grudging.


How can there be charity and hospitality if we do not assemble with others?


So what is the issue? Wanting to have physical protection and safety for the physical body? Is it simply a desire to avoid pain, deprivation, tribulation, etc?


Will Yahweh really hide His people from the scary events of prophecy? If so, where is the place? Does it exist? To see how Yahweh might take care of us today, let’s check some Scriptures to see what He has done in the past.


When Israel was in captivity in Egypt, Yahweh brought plagues on that land. Those plagues did finally play a part in gaining their freedom, but it also manifested His power to teach who He was. Where were the Israelites during those plagues? They lived in an area of Egypt known as Goshen. Did Yahweh move them to a safe hiding place while He destroyed the country? The Israelites did suffer along during the first three plagues, but then something changed.


Exodus 8:22-23 22-And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end you may know that I am Yahweh in the midst of the earth. 24-And I will put a division between my people and your (Pharaoh’s) people; tomorrow shall this sign be.


Exodus 9:4-6 4-And Yahweh shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel. 5-And Yahweh appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow Yahweh shall do this thing in the land. 6-And Yahweh did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.


Exodus 9:11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.


Exodus 9:23-26 23-And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and Yahweh rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24-So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25-And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26-Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.


Exodus 10:22-23 22-And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; 23-They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.


Exodus 12:21-23, 29-30 21-Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. 22-And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23-For Yahweh will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, Yahweh will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 29-And it came to pass that at midnight Yahweh smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on the throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30-And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.


So where were the Israelites protected? IN THEIR HOMES! They remained there while destruction and death went on in the country about them. Yahweh made a separation between them and the Egyptians.


Exodus 16:4, 35 4-Then said Yahweh unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 35-And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.


The people were in need of food. Yahweh simply provided it. They had only to gather it.


Exodus 17:1, 6 1-And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of Yahweh, and pitched in Rephidim; and there was no water for the people to drink. 6-Behold, I will stand before you (Moses) there upon the rock in Horeb; and you shall smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.


The people needed water. Yahweh provided it.


I Kings 17:8-16 8-And the word of Yahweh came unto him (Elijah), saying, 9-Arise, get you unto Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you. 10-So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray you, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11-And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray you, a morsel of bread in your hand. 12-And she said, As Yahweh your Elohim lives, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13-And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as you have said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after that make for you, and for your son. 14-For thus says Yahweh Elohim of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that Yahweh sends rain upon the earth. 15-And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 16-And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by Elijah.


Elijah, the widow and her son did not leave for a safe place. It was right there where she lived. Yahweh did not give them lots of food or a variety of food. But He did provide daily what was required to sustain their lives.


Isaiah 26:20-21 20-Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21-For, behold, Yahweh comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: their earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.


Where does Yahweh tell these people to go to hide? To another country? No. Basically He tells them to “Go to your rooms”! And notice that this covers the world.


And why is this indignation taking place? It says clearly that it is because of the iniquity of the people of the earth.


Jeremiah 1:7-8, 17-19 7-But Yahweh said unto me (Jeremiah), say not, I am a child: for you shall go to all that I shall send you, and whatsoever I command you, you shall speak. 8-Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with you to deliver you, says Yahweh. 17-You therefore gird up your loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command you: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound you before them. 18-For, behold, I have made you this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. 19-And they shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says Yahweh, to deliver you.

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Jeremiah was promised protection by Yahweh. What happened to him?

Was he taken to a place of safety?


Jeremiah 37:21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the baker’s street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.


Jeremiah 38:6, 9, 13, 28 6-Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison; and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sank in the mire. 9-…he (Jeremiah) is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city. 13-So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. 28-So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.


Jeremiah 39:14 Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.


Jeremiah had protection – Yahweh protected and sustained his life. But that does not mean that he was spared discomfort, deprivation, captivity, etc.


Daniel 3:16-18, 21, 26-27 16-Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. 17-If it be so, our El whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18-But if not, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. 21-Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 26-Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spoke, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the most high El, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27-And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of the fire had passed on them.


These three young men were in captivity. Yahweh had not protected them from being taken. But where was the greatest protection that He extended to them? IN THE MIDST OF THE FIRE!


Daniel 6:7-11, 16, 21-23 7-All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of you, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8-Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which alters not. 9-Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. 10-Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his Elohim, as he did aforetime. 11-Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his Elohim. 16-Then the king commanded and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said unto Daniel, Your El whom you serve continually, he will deliver you. 21-Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever. 22-My Elohim has sent his angel, and has shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt. 23-Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his Elohim.

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DANIEL WAS A CAPTIVE IN BABYLON, TOO.

YAHWEH DID NOT PROTECT HIM FROM BEING CAST INTO THE LIONS DEN,

BUT PROTECTED HIM WHILE IN THE LIONS' DEN!


With Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel, how did they gain such favor and protection from Yahweh? It’s there in their responses to Him. The three stood firm and totally trusted Him, no matter what would happen to them. Daniel did not let anything come between him and his relationship with Yahweh. They believed Him and obeyed Him – NO MATTER WHAT.


So how important is it to have a deep faith; a willingness to seek Yahweh’s face; a willingness to obey? Could it be that our safety and protection depend upon these things


Deuteronomy 10:12-13 12-And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your Elohim require of you, but to fear Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in all his ways, to love him, and to serve Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, 13-To keep the commandments of Yahweh, and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good?


Zephaniah 2:3 Seek you Yahweh, all you meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment: seek righteousness, seek meekness: that it may be you shall be hid in the day of Yahweh’s anger.


Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living Elohim.


So where is our place of safety? Our hiding place? Do we have one?


Psalms 32:7 You (Yahweh) are my hiding-place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall compass me about with songs of deliverance.


Psalms 119:114 You (Yahweh) are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.


It does not matter where we are physically, as long as we are right with Yahweh.


Today’s failing economy, lost jobs, bail-outs, shrinking savings, companies folding, etc, are horrifying people around the world. No one knows how far down things will go or how destitute millions could become. People are cutting back on spending and some are stock-piling food. Should we worry about that as well?


Job 5:17-20 17-Behold, happy is the man whom Elohim corrects: therefore despise not you the chastening of the Almighty: 18-For he makes sore, and binds up; he wounds, and his hands make whole. 19-He shall deliver you in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch you. 20-In famine he shall redeem you from death; and in war from the power of the sword.


This contains promises of safety and sustenance. But to whom? It is the one who receives correction from Yahweh and accepts it and makes necessary changes in himself to be right with Yahweh.


Psalms 33:18-19 18-Behold, the eye of Yahweh is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope on his mercy; 19-To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.


Once again, promises. To whom? To those who fear Yahweh.


Psalms 37:18-19 18-Yahweh knows the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever. 19-They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.


Promises to whom? The upright.


Note that Yahweh’s promises of safety and sustenance are not to all the inhabitants of the earth. They are to those who obey His voice, who fear to stray from His covenant, who acknowledge and praise Him.


Proverbs 10:3 Yahweh will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casts away the substance of the wicked.


In a discussion on this, a few people doubted these verses. They said they were simply the words of Job, David and Solomon, not Yahweh. But think about it. What happened to the Israelites and to Elijah, the widow and her son? During times of famine or a lack of food, they did not perish. Yahweh took care of them and provided what they needed. CAN’T HE STILL DO IT TODAY? AGAIN AND AGAIN? His power has not diminished.


The following passage of Scripture is one of the most comforting chapters about how Yahweh can take care of those who seek Him. Read it slowly and think about each phrase. Consider how much protection is available for Yahweh’s people, if they will just follow and trust Him. The ending promise is salvation.


Psalms 91:1-16 1-He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2-I will say of Yahweh, He is my refuge and my fortress: my El; in him will I trust. 3-Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4-He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5-You shall not be afraid of the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; 6-Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7-A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. 8-Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9-Because you have made Yahweh, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; 10-There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. 11-For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12-They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13-You shall tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shall you trample under feet. 14-Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name. 15-He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. 16-With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.


The future is not something that should terrify us and cause us sleepless nights. That is not what Yahweh wants.


Matthew 6:25, 31-34 25-Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment? 31-Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32-(For after all these things do the Gentiles:) seek for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33-But seek you first the kingdom of Elohim, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34-Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


Luke 21:36 Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.


Notice the wording just above. It does not say to “pray that you escape”. It says to pray “that you may be accounted worthy to escape”.


Will you be?


In this article the author has used quotes from commonly available books and materials. Every effort was made to correctly quote each source. The conclusions drawn are based on the materials quoted; therefore it is the responsibility of the reader to verify that the material is true and correct as to content and context.

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