Get ready for persecution. But don’t defend yourself.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 September

Mark 13.9-11, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 12.11-12, 21.12-19.

After Jesus said the temple’s coming down, his students wanted to know when and how, so Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse, loosely telling ’em what’d become of them when the Romans destroyed the temple in the Roman-Jewish War, i.e. the great tribulation.

What’d become of them? Persecution. Which happened in Acts, happened over and over again in the various Roman persecutions, happened throughout Christian history whenever Christians went to lands where Christianity upended the status quo, and still happens. Never stopped. Our first-world rights to freedom of speech and religion aren’t perfect, but they’re still way better than the rest of the world. But don’t kid yourself: They’re hardly the rule; they’re a huge exception.

Now, your average American doesn’t know squat about history, and your average Evangelical doesn’t know squat about Christian history. Mostly ’cause their anti-Catholic bigotry calls it “Catholic history,” so they know little to nothing till the King James Version showed up—and even then, their version of events is all warped. So they believe the previous tribulations of Christians under persecution were nothing. And that the great tribulation is yet to come. They’re steeling themselves for it. “When they come for me, here’s what I’m gonna do.”

That’s where whatever Christian beliefs they have, start to turn profoundly dark. Many of ’em are planning to do some mighty violent things. Not just Simon Peter with a machete type things: They’re planning to shoot cops and soldiers. They already have the assault weapons and the armor-piercing bullets. Even though many of ’em claim they “love” our police, “love” our troops. Sure, that’s what they say now. But their gun stockpiles indicate no, they really don’t.

As for those Christians who aren’t planning to murder law enforcement officers, a number of us are already planning our defense if we’re ever hauled before courts and city council chambers and Congress. Watch David A.R. White’s godawful God’s Not Dead movies and you’ll see what I mean. They’re pretty sure the government is already coming for them, even though our local, state, and national governments are so predominantly Christian (yep, even here in my liberal state of California) it’s silly. They’re expecting persecution—so they’re getting their logical and legal defenses ready.

But here in the Olivet Discourse, what did Jesus say about such defenses? To not put any such thing together. To shut up and listen to the Holy Spirit and let him defend us. To practice faith. You know—exactly what fearful Christians aren’t doing. Have no intention whatsoever of doing.

Mark 13.9-11 KWL
9 “Look out for yourselves.
People will hand you over to senates
and you’ll be flogged in synagogues.
You’ll stand before leaders and kings because of me,
to testify of me to them.
10 Primarily, this testimony
has to spread the gospel to every people-group.
11 Whenever they may take you to hand you over,
don’t worry beforehand about what you should say.
Instead, whatever is given to you at that hour, say it.
For you aren’t to be the speakers.
But the Holy Spirit is.”
Luke 21.12-19 KWL
12 “Before all these things happen,
they’ll throw their hands on you;
they’ll hunt you down,
handing you over to synagogues and prisons,
dragging you away to kings and leaders because of my name.
13 It’ll turn you into witnesses,
14 so determine in your hearts to not prepare a defense:
15 I’ll give you a mouth and wisdom
which every one of your adversaries
will be unable to withstand or dispute.
16 You’ll also be betrayed by parents, siblings,
relatives and friends,
and they’ll put some of you to death.
17 You’ll be hated by everyone because of my name.
18 But if every hair on your head isn’t destroyed,
19 save your souls by your endurance!”

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”

by K.W. Leslie, 21 September

Isaiah 54.16.

I’ve lost count of how many times Christians have cited this verse and claimed it for themselves. Or for others, to encourage them. “It says in the bible no weapon formed against me shall prosper. And I believe that, and it won’t!

The verse in question would be this one. I quoted the translation which sounds the most like the way people quote it.

Isaiah 54.16 NKJV
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the LORD.

The original saying comes from the KJV’s, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” but of course people prefer “you” instead of the out-of-date “thee”—and most other translations like to go with other words than “formed” and “prosper.”

Anyway. Since I can be a smartass y’know, I have tested just what people mean when they quote this verse. “You’re saying no weapon formed against you will prosper. Well I can take this perfectly harmless hair tie” (I have long hair, and I usually have elastic bands on me so I can tie it back) “and form it into a weapon against you.” Here’s where I put it over the tip of my finger and pull back. “If I flick this hair tie at you, are you saying God will miraculously keep it from hitting you?”

Most of them, especially when they’re younger, immediately flinch. Or hold their hands up to block the hair tie. Because confronted with a literal weapon—even though I’m not pointing it at their face; it’s harmless—it turns out no they didn’t mean that.

Well again, depending on how young they are. Little kids sometimes are thinking of literal weapons. Sometimes toy weapons, like sticks and squirt guns and plastic swords. Sometimes not. In the United States, we have school shootings on far too regular a basis; and in nonwhite neighborhoods, too often the police are far more antagonistic than helpful. So sometimes little kids are naïvely thinking maybe, maybe, if they pray really hard, God’ll keep the scary men with guns away.

But for most of us: No they didn’t mean literal weapons. They don’t imagine God’ll stop the fists of an abusive spouse, or the assault rifles of the gun nut next door. Not that he can’t, but that’s not what they had in mind when they were talking about how no weapon formed against ’em would prosper.

So… what, were they saying this for no reason? Not at all. They’re thinking of spiritual weapons. They’re thinking of spiritual warfare. They think God’ll make it so none of those weapons formed against us will prosper. Whereas if Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Remington, or Lewis Machine and Tool makes ’em… yeah they’ll most definitely put holes through us. But they aren’t thinking of AR-15s. They’re thinking of the devil’s fiery darts. Ep 6.16

Okay. So if all we’re talking about are the weapons of spiritual warfare, is this verse then valid?

Of course not. You think I’d write an article about its context if it were?

Hallelujah: The highest praise?

by K.W. Leslie, 20 September

I’ve heard a whole lot of people claim the Hebrew word hallelujah means “highest praise.” It doesn’t.

The word הַ֥לְלוּ/hallelú is an imperative verb which means “praise ye,” or “praise, all of you,” and יָ֨הּ/Yah (KJV “Jah”) is of course short for יְ֭הוָה/YHWH, the LORD. It literally means “praise ye the LORD.” Exactly like this old children’s worship song I grew up with. (YouTube has a version of it with cats. Yea cats!)

Hallelu hallelu hallelu hallelujah
Praise ye the LORD
Hallelu hallelu hallelu hallelujah
Praise ye the LORD
Praise ye the LORD
Praise ye the LORD
Praise ye the LORD
Praise ye the LORD

The children’s pastor would instruct one half of the room to stand to sing, “Hallelujah,” then sit while the other half stood to sing “Praise ye the LORD.” Of course the song would speed up as we repeated it, and we kids found all this jumping out of our seats to be very entertaining. It’s why you don’t see it practiced this way in a lot of adult services. Way too many creaking knees.

It’s a very simple song, but it’s meant to teach us precisely what “hallelujah” means. It’s technically not even praise! It’s the command to praise. “Praise ye the LORD” tells people to praise God… and leaves it up to us as to how we’re gonna praise him. Maybe with loud musical instruments, Ps 150.3-5 maybe with singing. Ps 150.6 Maybe with art, dance, barbecue… all of which are actually in the bible, believe it or don’t. Heck, why not a laser light show? Get creative!

But of course not every Christian has grown up with this children’s song, and a lot of us have taken our definition from another song—CeCe Winans’ 2003 song “Hallelujah Praise (The Highest Praise).” Which begins like so.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah is the highest praise, hallelujah is the highest praise
Hallelujah is the highest praise, hallelujah is the highest praise

Lately I’ve heard it in Bishop Carlton Pearson’s 2019 song “Hallelujah is the Highest Praise.” Other gospel artists are repeating the idea, ’cause it’s all over the place. But let’s be fair; the teaching didn’t originate with Winans. I’ve heard it long before her song came out.

It’s obviously not based on bible. Not just because of what the word hallelujah literally means, but because God makes it pretty obvious that saying fancy, holy-sounding biblical-language words are way less important to him than simply obeying him. Praise him aloud till your throat’s sore, but if you don’t do what he says, what good is that? “Hallelujah” in the mouth of an unbeliever or hypocrite isn’t even remotely the highest praise.

What’s the highest praise we an offer Jesus? Do as he says. Abide in him. Jn 15.4 The devout, fruitful, obedient Christian can say nothing, and by their actions praise God mightily.

Jesus still appears to people, y’know.

by K.W. Leslie, 19 September

Several years after Jesus was raptured, Paul of Tarsus (sometimes referred to by his Hebrew name Saul) met him enroute to Damascus. Ac 9.1-9 He later retold that story to King Herod Agrippa 2.

Acts 26.13-16 NLT
13 “About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’
15 “ ‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future.”

Up to this point Paul was dead set on destroying Christianity—and he flipped hard. Preached Jesus with such fervor, his former backers wanted him dead. Went to his own death for Jesus.

That’s not the behavior of a man who merely changed his mind. Paul saw something—and for the rest of his life, claimed it was Christ Jesus.

Nearly all Christians accept Paul’s story without question. Not just ’cause Paul produced fruit of the Spirit from then on, and performed various miracles. Usually it’s because Paul wrote 13 books of the New Testament, particularly Romans, which spells out how the self-sacrifice of Jesus revealed God’s grace to the world.

But as far as further Jesus-sightings are concerned, they’re pretty certain Paul’s experience was a special circumstance. Only Paul got to have a special Jesus-appearance. Nobody else. Nobody since.

There I gotta disagree with them.

Warnings when persecution comes.

by K.W. Leslie, 18 September

Mark 13.9, Matthew 24.9-13, Luke 21.12-19.

In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned his students what’d happen before, as he predicted, the Romans destroyed the temple in the great tribulation in the year 70.

But fearful Christians insist this passage isn’t at all about ancient Jerusalem, but our future: A seven-year worldwide tribulation. Darbyists manipulate the Olivet Discourse to defend their beliefs, and people believe ’em because they don’t know first-century history, don’t know their bibles, and aren’t depending on the Holy Spirit to help them defeat fear, paranoia, peacelessness, and the lack of basic discernment in interpreting scripture.

Today’s passage especially triggers their fears, because here Jesus speaks of the active persecution of Christians. Which, when Jesus taught this discourse in 33, was coming soon. Really, really soon. Probably before the year was out, Peter and John would cure some guy on the temple steps, Ac 3.1-10 and the Sadducee head priests would arrest and try ’em before the Judean senate for it. Ac 4.1-22 Things would only escalate from there.

Because when you legitimately follow Jesus—even in a country which considers itself predominantly Christian, even in a country full of Christian nationalists who want to make it officially Christian—you’re gonna get pushback. Just as Jesus himself did, from Pharisees who thought he was heretic. Who’d have him killed five days later.

It’s only common sense to expect Jesus’s active followers to be treated like our Lord, so that part doesn’t take the Holy Spirit to foretell. What does are the details Jesus included in his warnings about persecution. Christianity was gonna advance despite persecution. It always has, despite the careful plans of persecutors.

Mark 13.9 KWL
9 “Look out for yourselves.
People will hand you over to senates
and you’ll be flogged in synagogues.
You’ll stand before leaders and kings because of me,
to testify of me to them.”
Matthew 24.9-13 KWL
9 “Then they’ll hand you over to tribulation and kill you.
You’ll be hated people to every ethnic group because of my name.
10 Then many will be tripped up,
will betray one another, will hate one another.
11 Many fake prophets will be raised up,
and will lead many astray.
12 Because of the exponential spread of lawlessness,
the love of many will grow cold.
13 One who perseveres to the end—
this person will be saved.”
Luke 21.12-19 KWL
12 “Before all these things happen,
they’ll throw their hands on you;
they’ll hunt you down,
handing you over to synagogues and prisons,
dragging you away to kings and leaders because of my name.
13 It’ll turn you into witnesses,
14 so determine in your hearts to not prepare a defense:
15 I’ll give you a mouth and wisdom
which every one of your adversaries
will be unable to withstand or dispute.
16 You’ll also be betrayed by parents, siblings,
relatives and friends,
and they’ll put some of you to death.
17 You’ll be hated by everyone because of my name.
18 But if every hair on your head isn’t destroyed,
19 save your souls by your endurance!”

Mistakes we might make in our word studies.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 September

Yesterday I posted a piece about how to do a word study, and in it I largely emphasize how not to go to the dictionary first. ’Cause that’s how you do a word study wrong. Instead of drawing from the bible how its authors define a word, y’wind up overlaying the dictionary definition on top of the bible—whether it fits or not. (Or to use scholars’ words for it, y’wind up doing eisegesis instead of exegesis.)

When people overlay a definition upon the bible, they rarely looking at the context of the passage. (Yep, I’m gonna harp about context again. It’s important here too.) The few who do bother to look at context, often try to bend, fold, spindle, or mutilate the context as well till it fits their new definition.

Fr’instance. Years ago a fellow teacher was trying to teach his kids about planning for the future, for “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Pr 29.18 KJV Except he couldn’t find that verse in his NIV, because they translate חָזוֹן/khazón as “revelation.” See, khazón means revelatory vision, i.e. not just any vision, but something we get from God. Not our hopes and wishes for the future, but his. That’s why the second part of the verse—the part everybody forgets to quote—is “But he that keepeth the Law, happy is he.” Pr 29.18 KJV Context explains what “vision” means.

But my fellow teacher didn’t give a sloppy crap about what “vision” actually means. He just wanted to correct his kids who had no goals, and wanted to use the bible to help him smack ’em on the head. So he taught what he pleased. Context shmontext.

The same thing happens whenever Christians fixate on the dictionary in our word studies. We start with a word or concept we like; one which we already sorta know the definition of. We find a dictionary which gives us the definition we like. We dig out a bunch of verses and paste that definition over them, then try to interpret the scriptures by them, then marvel at all the new “revelation” we’re getting.

Hey, if Christians take the bible out of context in our regular, day-to-day bible reading, better than average chance we’re gonna take it out of context in our word studies. Such people don’t think context is important, and don’t care. But if we’re planning to live our lives based on these bible verses, context is always important. When Jesus said “Love your neighbor,” he proceeded to spell out in detail just who our neighbors are, lest we found a Webster’s Dictionary which suggests a neighbor is only someone we like. Lk 10.25-37 Such dictionaries aren’t all that hard to find. There are already plenty of mistakes in our minds; how many more will come out when we skip context?

How to do a proper word study.

by K.W. Leslie, 14 September
WORD STUDY 'wərd stə.di noun. Learning the scriptures’ definition of a word through its use in the text.

In the churches where I grew up, when people talked about “doing bible study,” they really meant doing a word study. They weren’t actually studying the bible—by which I mean read a story or section of the scriptures, look at its literary and historical context, analyze the original language, determine what it meant to the people who originally wrote and read it, and determine how this info is relevant to us today. Much as you’d study any work of history or literature—but somehow the definition of “study” got changed in church into looking up all the instances of a word in the bible.

Well you are using a bible, and you are studying.

But properly they were doing a word study: They chose an individual, significant word, found in the bible. Like grace. Or gossip, redemption, repentance, longsuffering and any of the other fruits of the Spirit; any words which have a particular importance to Christians. They’d try to dig out that meaning and understand the word better.

And that’s good! We should understand those words better. You’d be surprised (or annoyed) at how many Christians don’t know the definitions of words we use all the time. I already told the story of a pastor who didn’t know what a soul is. He’s hardly the only Christian who should know better, doesn’t, and has resorted to guessing. A little word study would help such people.

Problem is, few Christians are taught how to properly study a word. They do it like so:

  1. Look up the word in the dictionary. (If they feel adventurous, they might look it up in a Hebrew or Greek dictionary, like the ones in back of a concordance. But usually they’ll just go with a Webster’s.)
  2. Use a concordance, or a computer bible, to get a list of every verse in the bible with that word in it.
  3. Read a few of the verses with that word in it, so they know “what the bible says” about that word.
  4. Assume these verses are using the very same definition they read in the dictionary. Regardless of whether it does or doesn’t. Read that definition into every verse. Get some “insights” as a result.
  5. Feel all knowledgeable, profound, and spiritual.

Outside of Christendom, only schoolchildren will claim they “studied” when all they really did was look up a word in the dictionary. Come on, Christians. Let’s do some actual study, shall we?

Lamentation: Sad prayers.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 September

When Christians believe we gotta evoke some form of prayer mood before we can talk with God, y’might notice Christians try to pick a mindset which reflects how they think they gotta approach him. Not boldness, like the writer of Hebrews suggests; He 4.16 more like awe at how amazing God is, or self-loathing at how amazing we’re not. Sometimes sadness because of just how much we suck; we’re rotten sinners, and how dare we approach the holy Almighty in our unclean state.

If we had to manufacture any mood before we could pray, it’s artificial; it’s hypocrisy. Don’t do that. Don’t make yourself sad just so you can approach God repentantly.

But if you’re legitimately sad, that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with sad prayers. God’s totally cool with them. It’s called lamentation—and yeah, there’s a book Jeremiah wrote called Lamentations in your bible, which consists entirely of his sad prayers. You wanna learn how to pray sad prayers?—you got Jeremiah’s example right there in your bible.

You also have King David ben Jesse, who was an emotional guy, and didn’t hide it at all from the LORD when he got low. Didn’t hide it from anyone, which is why his lament psalms are included in the books of Psalms. He had no qualms about writing the Bronze Age equivalent of the blues.

Psalm 38.0-9 NET
0 A psalm of David, written to get God’s attention.
1 O LORD, do not continue to rebuke me in your anger.
Do not continue to punish me in your raging fury.
2 For your arrows pierce me,
and your hand presses me down.
3 My whole body is sick because of your judgment;
I am deprived of health because of my sin.
4 For my sins overwhelm me;
like a heavy load, they are too much for me to bear.
5 My wounds are infected and starting to smell,
because of my foolish sins.
6 I am dazed and completely humiliated;
all day long I walk around mourning.
7 For I am overcome with shame,
and my whole body is sick.
8 I am numb with pain and severely battered;
I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel.
9 O Lord, you understand my heart’s desire;
my groaning is not hidden from you.

David goes on and on like this. Y’notice he even blames God for some of it. Yeah, various Christians will leap to the conclusion that because this is infallible scripture, God literally did do this stuff to David, and literally does stuff like this to sinners nowadays. But a more accurate interpretation is that David felt like God was behind some of his misery, and said so; not that God actually was or is. As Job reveals, sometimes he’s not. Since Jesus tells us not to worry, clearly David’s stress and anxiety is generated by David himself. Not God.

Notice as well: Even though David suspected the LORD was behind some of his suffering, he still turned to God for help and relief. Because he knew—and this part is entirely true—God is our comfort. 2Co 1.3 He comforts us so we can turn round and comfort others. 2Co 1.4 So because that’s who he is, that’s why we need to turn to him when we’re sad with our sad prayers. Lament to God. He’ll comfort the sorrowing.

God is the Father of Jesus.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 September

We Christians worship God.

Which god is that? Well, we point out he’s the One God, יהוה/YHWH, “Jehovah” or “the LORD” (in all capitals, customarily), the God of Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Moses, David, and the Hebrew prophets. But both Jews and Muslims figure they worship that god too, so what makes us Christians any different from them? Simple: We believe God’s a trinity—whereas they don’t—and he’s uniquely the Father of Christ Jesus.

Uniquely the Father of Jesus. Because monotheists are generally agreed that God’s the Father of humanity. He created us, so he’s our Father. Duh. Says so in the bible. Moses, when he was yelling at the Hebrews, said as much:

Deuteronomy 32.6 ESV
Do you thus repay the LORD,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s called the Hebrews’ father—and really everyone’s father, ’cause he made everyone. Jesus likewise calls him “your heavenly Father,” Mt 5.48 and compares our relationship with him like that of fathers with their kids. Lk 11.13 His Prodigal Son Story Lk 15.11-32 is all about God’s fatherly forgiveness.

Monotheists figure by the very same reasoning, of course God’s the Father of Jesus; he created Jesus same as he created you or me. But that’s where we Christians will say, “Wait; hold the phone; no he didn’t create Jesus. Jesus always existed. He’s God.

Which’ll confuse them. Heck, it confuses Christians! If God’s the Father of Jesus, yet Jesus himself is God, we’ve got a paradox brewing, don’t we? Well, kinda. So we gotta explain how God’s a trinity; one God, three persons, one person’s the Father, another person’s the Son, and both of them are the one Being who is God.

When Jesus described his relationship to our heavenly Father, there’s something way different going on than we see between us and our Father. ’Cause Jesus describes himself as the Father’s only Son. You know how John 3.16 goes:

John 3.16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus is our Father’s only Son, his unique Son, his Son in a way that I’m not. ’Cause you know the Lord’s Prayer; he’s our Father. Mt 6.9 Yet Jesus is the one and only Son.

Another paradox? Not really.

Stop prematurely freaking out over the End!

by K.W. Leslie, 11 September

Mark 13.7-8, Matthew 24.6-8, Luke 21.9-11.

No doubt you’ve read the Sermon on the Mount. (You are Christian, right? It’s kinda required reading.) So you’re aware Jesus orders us followers not to worry.

Matthew 6.31-34 NRSV
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the gentiles who seek all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Kinda straightforward instructions. But when we’ve not surrendered our lives to Jesus—our entire lives, not just the religious bits and beliefs—we’re gonna suck at obeying them. We’re gonna worry. If we’re poor, about the necessities of life; if we’re wealthy, about staying comfortable and influential.

Professional End Times prognosticators try to make us worry about both. If we’re wealthy, they want us to worry about losing our wealth; if we’re poor, they want us to worry about losing our freedom. Believe it or don’t, it’s not because they’re trying to con us into buying their lousy books—or worse, their lousy food buckets for our End Times bunkers. It’s because they’re preaching out of their own paranoia. They worry even more than you do about the rubbish they write about. They write it because they believe it.

And they write it because they don’t believe Jesus. “Don’t worry about tomorrow”? That’s all they do. Because tribulation is coming. Oppressive governments, cashless societies, stealth drones that could blow you up when you least expect, spy cameras in every computer and phone, people trying to rig elections… They’re everywhere. Read the times, man!

All of ’em ignore today’s passage. Or in many cases flip its meaning over entirely.

Mark 13.7-8 KWL
7 “When any of you hear wars
and the noises of wars,
don’t panic. It happens.
But it’s not the end yet.
8 For ethnic group will be pitted against ethnic group,
and kingdom against kingdom.
Quakes will happen various places.
Scarcity will happen.
These are first birth pangs.”
Matthew 24.6-8 KWL
6 “You’re all about to hear wars
and the noises of wars.
Look, don’t panic, for it happens.
But it’s not the end yet.
7 For ethnic group will be pitted against ethnic group,
and kingdom against kingdom.
Quakes and scarcity will happen various places.
8 All these are first birth pangs.”
Luke 21.9-11 KWL
9 “When any of you hear wars
and instability,
don’t panic, for these things happen first.
But the end isn’t at hand.”
10 Then Jesus told them,
“Ethnic group will be pitted against ethnic group,
and kingdom against kingdom.
11 Both great quakes and scarcity in various places,
and plagues will happen.
Both terrifying events
and signs from heaven will happen.”

I translated μὴ θροεῖσθε/mi throeísthe, “don’t wail aloud in terror,” Mk 13.7, Mt 24.6, Lk 21.9 as “don’t panic.” I could also go with “don’t freak out,” and have in the past.

’Cause people do. Did back then. They’d hear of violence, earthquakes, signs from heaven, and immediately think, “What does it mean?” Then spend a whole lot of time speculating what it might mean. Is it a sign from the gods, like ancient pagans insisted?—or like “prophecy scholars” still do?

Well I just showed you three synced-up Jesus quotes which say no it’s not. And if you don’t trust my translation, fine; read others. They’re all gonna mean the same thing though. Stop prematurely freaking out over the End!