Eschatology 33 ~ Matthew 24:44- A New Wrinkle For The Rapture Of The Church

As a student of Bible prophecy and eschatology for thirty seven years, I have found that the discovery of new truths is becoming more and more infrequent.  Well, here is a new one.  It is based on one scripture in the famous Olivet Discourse spoken by Jesus:

Matthew 24:44  King James Version (KJV)

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

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I discovered this truth in a book written recently by Terry James, entitled “Rapture Ready…Or Not?”  What made the discovery exciting was that I had the same exact thoughts about Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:44, and now I received confirmation from one who has studied eschatology throughout his entire life!

If one would attend a Prophecy In The News Conference, you would find that the forty to fifty speakers are all united, believing in a pre tribulation rapture of the church.  There are four scripture passages that are often quoted, all referring to the rapture doctrine.  They are 1) I Thessalonians 4:13-18, which is the plainest and most comprehensive scripture on this doctrine.  2) I Corinthians 15:50-53.  Paul presents the rapture as “a mystery,” meaning this teaching is a new doctrine not found in the Old Testament.  The Thessalonian and Corinthian passages parallel each other perfectly.  3) John 14:1-4.  This passage is not used as often in reference to the rapture, and refers to our Lord Jesus preparing a place for us to dwell in heaven.  Nonetheless it is a very appropriate passage in reference to our doctrine.  4) Finally there is Revelation 4:1.  The seven churches in Asia Minor are considered in Revelation 2-3.  Chapter 4 opens with John and the church taken to heaven, inferring that the church will be taken to heaven as the Great Tribulation is unleashed on a Christ rejecting world, expounded upon in Revelation chapters 6-18.  These are the four “rapture” passages that are most often referred to by those who have studied this doctrine to a great degree.

May we now contrast the famous Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, with the aforementioned passages on the rapture of the church.  (The Olivet Discourse is found in all three synoptic Gospel accounts.  Namely:  Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17, 21).   Theologians and scholars of eschatology have long contended that the prophecies shared by Jesus focus on the Jewish people and Israel, but NOT on the Gentiles, the church and the rapture.  It is very true that a great portion of Jesus’ prophecy zeros in on the Great Tribulation period and the nation of Israel.  When Jesus returns at the end of the Great Tribulation, it will be an expected event, since the Bible forecasts the Second Coming of Jesus Christ through the many signs leading up to it.  Now let us contrast His Second Coming in judgment with the rapture of the church, Matthew 24:44.  44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  This passage states the Lord will come when no one expects Him to come.  The rapture of the church will be unannounced and no one knows when it will occur.  The second coming of Jesus Christ will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation period.  Jerusalem, we have a problem.  It seems that the only way to account for Matthew 24:44 is that Jesus is referring to the rapture of the church.  The only way that Christ’s coming for His bride can be totally unexpected is for it to happen prior to the Great Tribulation.  This is Terry James’ contention and I agree wholeheartedly.  Therefore Matthew 24:44 refers to the rapture of the church and not Christ’s Second Coming.  Jesus encourages all believers to always be ready because He will return at a time when no one expects Him.  The Bible forecasts Christ’s Second Coming as occurring at the end of the Great Tribulation / 70th Week of Daniel  /  Jacob’s Trouble.  The rapture will happen at a totally unannounced time.  Matthew 24:44 refers to the Lord’s return at a totally unannounced time.  When Terry James pointed this out in his book “Rapture Ready…Or Not?,” the truth of his words immediately resonated with me and I saw his point.  What could be plainer?  The rapture of the church is the next major event on the Lord’s prophetical calendar and will remove God’s church from His judgment upon a Christ rejecting world.  It will catch people by surprise, as mentioned in Matthew 24:44.

Maranatha!

Blessings, Pastor Steve

 

Pray For Revival In America!

The Coming Convergence / Ingenuity Films

This 100 minute film, The Coming Convergence, by Brent Miller Jr. and Brent Miller Sr. of Ingenuity Films will be released on March 28, 2017.  I preordered it, and it will be shown in our church as soon as it is available.  Enjoy the following official 2017 trailer, and the synopsis of the film by Brent Miller Jr.  The movie commences by portraying the world from a young ladies’ perspective, literally waking up in the Great Tribulation period.  She realizes she is there because she was not born from above and did not receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  The unique feature of Ingenuity Films is their appeal to believer and unbeliever alike. 

 

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Prophecy in the News, PITN: The Coming Convergence – Release Date is March 28th – BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY…, 11:11 am, The Coming Convergence BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY FILMS! The Coming Convergence is a brand new film to be released on March 28th by Brent Miller, Jr., founder of Ingenuity Films, along with his father.
Prophecy in the News
PITN: The Coming Convergence – Release Date is March 28th – BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY… – The Coming Convergence BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY FILMS! The Coming Convergence is a brand new film to be released on March 28th by Brent Miller, Jr., founder of Ingenuity Films, along with his father
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PITN: The Coming Convergence – Release Date is March 28th – BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY FILMS!

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Prophecy in the News terri@prophecyinthenews.com via e2ma.net 

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The Coming Convergence
BRAND NEW FILM BY INGENUITY FILMS!
The Coming Convergence is a brand new film to be released on March 28th by Brent Miller, Jr., founder of Ingenuity Films, along with his father, Brent Miller, Sr., Producer and Technical Advisor for Ingenuity Films. This is the award winning California based studio behind “The Final Prophecies” documentary and the critically acclaimed “Decoding the Future” prophecy series.
The story begins with a young girl, (Erin Hawkins), that wakes up one day to discover that something devastating has happened in the world around her and she finds herself in what is known as “The Great Tribulation.” She realizes that she had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior, but she didn’t, and now she is facing her unbelievable and greatest fears. She faces the reality of the approaching apocalypse, as she is living through the end of days. Her words of warning are a wakeup call to the horrors mankind will soon face. The conclusions of The Coming Convergence explains both how the scenarios described within Revelation are converging before our very eyes and why everything that must come to pass is of man’s choosing.
We ask ourselves… “Is it possible to know the day of our demise?”
Jesus chastised religious leaders in ancient Jerusalem for not knowing the time of His first arrival. Will the prophesied final generation today make the same mistake? The Bible foretells that the end of days would be preceded by a sequence of global events that has never before occurred, but can this be proven? Through newly exposed geological and statistical evidence, a convergence of events has now been discovered that many believe finally prove the Tribulation is about to begin!
This whistleblower film breaks the mold of what a documentary can be by pulling you deeper into the reality of the approaching apocalypse.
The young girl’s cinematic interruptions throughout the documentary act as a warning to the genuine reality humankind will soon face. The conclusion of The Coming Convergence leaves such an impact that attendees during the films theatrical premiere in California were driven to tears and shock.
This film features Jack Hibbs, Ray Bentley, Douglas Hamp, Brent Miller, Sr., Tom Hughes and Kade Hawkins.
Watch the trailer of this “MUST SEE” Documentary Film!

This 100-minute film, available on regular DVD and Blue-Ray, is an excellent documentary to use in witnessing to your family and friends who may not know of the salvation of Jesus Christ, and how He can become their Lord and Savior.

 

 

It’s a Fact!…God Gave Israel to the Jews

The following article is by J.R. Church, the founder of Prophecy In The News.  Israel belongs to the Jews and is the apple of God’s eye!  This is historical fact and spiritual truth, going back 4,000 years to the loins of Abraham.  The Islamic Ottoman Empire broke up 100 years ago, followed by the Balfour Declaration from England, promising Israel a nation with a generous portion of real estate, called Transjordan.  Later negotiations with pro Muslim nations and their leaders totally dissed this wonderful plan.  Adolf Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, started the Jews’ migration to the Holy Land, and they became a nation in 1948.  The surrounding Arabic nations attempted to exterminate Israel at their inception in 1948, in the 1967 Six Day War, also in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and in every way possible since they became a nation.  The most recent attempt is the so called “Two State Solution,” whereas nefarious Arabic persons have concocted and invented the “nation” of Palestine, solely for the purpose of exterminating Israel.  Enjoy the following article that expounds on the nation of Israel.  It is important for nations to bless Israel.  Why?  I am glad you asked.  Because:

Genesis 12:1-3 King James Version (KJV)

12 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Blessings, Pastor Steve

 

 

It’s a Fact!…God Gave Israel to the Jews

It’s a Fact!…God Gave Israel to the Jews

Written by: J.R. Church

  • the-holy-land

 

First published in 2008 – President George W. Bush made his first “official state visit” to Israel on January 9-11, 2008, during his last year in office. For the last seven years, he stayed away, while travelling to several Arab countries. However, he finally decided to go – for the purpose of forcing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to actively seek an agreement that will lead to a Palestinian state. His plan is to carve the borders of “Palestine” out of the heartland of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.

bush-israel-poster

On the eve of his arrival, at least six Israelis were arrested for hanging posters around the Old City. Also, Orthodox Jews prayed at the Western Wall wearing “sackcloth” in an effort to register their public protest to his visit. The Sanhedrin Court drafted a “Bush Scroll” calling him the “Chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal” and begging him not to betray Israel.

It was on November 2, 1917, that the British government issued the Balfour Declaration promising a homeland for the Jews. Thirty years later, on November 29, 1947, the British government placed the matter of Israel’s future before the United Nations, resulting in another historic declaration – the establishment of the state of Israel.

state-of-israel

A few months later, on May 14, 1948, the nation was born.

The restoration of Israel is one of the most controversial political issues of the century. Palestinians have claimed that the land is theirs, that the Jews have no right to even one square foot of it, though the area had been under the control of the Turkish government for some 400 years – not JewsPalestinian control. Just who deserves the land? Do the Jews?  Do the Palestinians?  Do Jews have a right to control the land in the so-called “occupied West Bank” areas?

Though the United Nations established Israel in 1948, most of the world no longer supports the concept of Jewish sovereignty. They regret ever giving them any territory in the Middle East. The controversy rages today as much as it ever did. The children of Abraham are still fighting it out! If the fate of the Israeli government were placed in the hands of any human court, the verdict would probably be disastrous. Time and time again, the United Nations has taken the side of the Arabs against Israel. While dedicated Christians around the world are in favor of Israel’s existence, their governments are not. The only political ally on the side of Israel is the United States – and many in Washington are wavering. In light of these developments, let us appeal to the court of heaven for the final verdict in the case.

God Owns the Land

There is one verse of Scripture, which declares the absolute ownership of, not only the Middle East, but the entire world:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Since God created the earth, the right to ownership is His. Whether man recognizes the existence of God or not is irrelevant, for in the final analysis God will lay claim to His earth. He not only owns the world, but also everybody in it. Among the continents, however, there is one special area to which God lays a unique claim. It is the land of Israel. There are several places in the Bible where God calls the land, “My land.” For instance, in Ezekiel 38:16 God condemns the mighty Gog and Magog for the invasion of His land:

“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land” (Ezekiel 38:16).

Here, God emphatically calls the land of Israel His land. That claim is repeated in Joel 3:2:

“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2).

Both of these verses pronounce a judgment upon Gentile nations for their part in denying the Jews a right to live in God’s land. Notice that God calls Israel, “My People,” and He calls their land, “My land.” When Gentile nations challenge the integrity of the land and its people, God steps forward to proclaim His judgment upon them.

A Covenant With Abraham

God is the absolute Owner of the land, and as such, had every right to evict the Jewish people 20 centuries ago. But He also has the right to bring them back in this generation. God is Sovereign over the land. Let us review Genesis 17 – the days of Abraham – and determine God’s sovereign disposition over HIS land.

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”

“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).

There can be no doubt that such a covenant was declared and recorded 4,000 years ago. Ah, but the Arabs also claim to be descendants of Abraham. They are children of Ishmael.

Does not the land then also belong to them? You may recall, the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, while the Jews are descendants of Abraham’s other son, Isaac.

Isaac’s Inheritance

The controversy was settled in Genesis 26:3-4. It is there that God narrows down the covenant to exclude the children of Ishmael. It was to Isaac that God said:

“Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;

“And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 26:3-4).

God not only promised the land to Isaac, but He gave what the Scripture declares to be “all these countries.” In fact, He used the term twice in His promise to Isaac.

Jacob’s Inheritance

However, Isaac had two sons – Jacob and Esau – and there is a good deal of evidence that the Palestinian people who live in the land today could be descendants of Esau. Do they not also have a claim to the land? God has decided that they do not have any claim on the Promised Land. He narrowed the inheritance of the land to Jacob and his descendants:

promised-land

“And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy lions;

“And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land” (Genesis 35; 11,12).

The proclamation is clear. God has promised the land to Jacob and his descendants – namely the 12 tribes of Israel. When we consider these three covenants together, the line of descents to which the land is promised is evident. In each case, God narrowed His promise of the land – from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and then to his descendants after him.

The Verdict

In view of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we must declare a verdict in favor of Jacob’s descendants. We have no choice. We stand without reservation on the side of Israel. We must conclude that the land of Israel has been given to the people of Israel – to the descendants of Jacob. However, we know that the people were evicted from their land almost 2,000 years ago. It is the prophetic Scripture to which we must look for the final disposition of the land – and the prophecies do not differ from the original covenant.

Had It Not Been For Israel

Humanly speaking, we owe our eternal destiny to Jacob’s descendants. If there had been no Israel, there would have been no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and no Savior.

In John 4:22 Jesus, Himself, summed up all of this in one simple statement. He said,  “…for salvation is of the Jews.” Regardless of our nationality or background, we owe a spiritual debt to the Jewish people that can never be calculated.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis serve as an introduction to the main theme of the Bible. They fill in the background and set the stage for all that is to follow. From that point forward, the Bible is essentially the history of Abraham and the nation that descended from him through Isaac and Jacob. The Bible is basically the story of Israel embracing both the past and future. Geographically, the Bible is set in the land of Israel, and historically, its theme is the people of Israel. It is a Jewish Bible penned by Jewish men, giving both the history and the future of the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Even the New Testament is a Jewish book. The most important Person in the New Testament, Jesus Christ, was a Jew. Furthermore, He did not lose His Jewish identity after His death and resurrection. Sixty-three years after His crucifixion, Revelation 5:5 still referred to Jesus as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” He is still identified with the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is forever a Jew.

Furthermore, Jews penned all of the New Testament books. Contrary to the opinions of some, I am convinced that Luke was a Jew. The twelve Apostles were Jews. Paul, who became the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a Jew. Most of the co-workers of these great men were also Jews.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the ultimate goal of all true believers is a “city which hath foundations whose Builder and Maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). In Revelation 21, the holy city New Jerusalem, is described as having gates and foundations. On its gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. On its foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Every name inscribed in the New Jerusalem is a Jewish name. I must say that no one with an anti-Semitic prejudice could ever feel comfortable in the New Jerusalem.

Written by:  J.R. church/Article originally published in the February 2008 PITN magazine.

https://prophecyinthenews.com/bookstore/nations-united-how-the-united-nations-undermines-israel-and-the-west/embed/#?secret=5UuVzOWcTx

About the Author:

J.R. ChurchJ.R. CHURCH (1938-2011)- Founder of PITN Converted at age seven, J.R. Church set out with one main goal in life – to win others to Jesus Christ. He received a B.A. degree with a major in Bible and a minor in history at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. In 2001, he was given an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary in Peachtree, Georgia.  His love for history gave him insight into God’s great “Plan of the Ages” and prompted him to pursue this field of prophetic research. J.R. and Linda were married for 52 years.  They have two children and five grandchildren. After pastoring a church in Lubbock Texas for 17 years, in 1979 he moved his family to Oklahoma City and developed the PROPHECY IN THE NEWS ministry. He has traveled across America many times lecturing on eschatology – the study of prophetic subjects.  He has hosted several tours to Israel and the Middle East. J.R. has authored eight books with chapters in several other books. Prophecy in the News publishes a monthly 48-page magazine as well as a weekly syndicated television broadcast which airs on stations across the country and via satellite network to most of the United States. Before he went to be with the Lord on March 22, 2011, after a three year battle with cancer, J.R. Church was convinced that Jesus Christ would return soon. He was famous for his saying, “KEEP LOOKING UP!”

https://prophecyinthenews.com/product-category/authors/j-r-church/

Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!

Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!

Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!

Written by: Prophecy in the News

  • grotto-birthplace-5

If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the town of Bethlehem in Israel, you will find that the place where Jesus was born is nothing like you would imagine. Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judaean Desert, Bethlehem is the historical place where Jesus was born “in a manger” and is now preserved by the “Church of the Nativity.” It is considered a major Christian holy site and is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches.

The birth of Jesus is told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Matthew 1:18-25 – King James Version (KJV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Luke 2 – King James Version (KJV)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

According to the Bible, both accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. According to Luke 2:7 (in the traditional translation), Mary “laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” However, the Greek can also be rendered, “she laid him in a manger because they had no space in the room” — according to some scholars, they perhaps imagine Jesus being born in a cave. The gospel accounts do not mention a cave, but less than a century later, both Justin Martyr and the Protoevangelium of James say Jesus was born in a cave. Some believe this is reasonable, as many houses in the area are still built in front of a cave. The cave part would have been used for stabling and storage – thus the manger.

justin-martyr

Saint Justin Martyr, (born c. 100, Flavia Neapolis, Palestine [now Nāblus]—died c. 165, Rome [Italy]; feast day June 1), one of the most important of the Greek philosopher-Apologists in the early Christian church. … He spent a considerable time in Rome.

WIKIPEDIA: The Gospel of James, also known as the Infancy Gospel of James or the Protoevangelium of James, is an apocryphal Gospel probably written about AD 145, which expands backward in time the infancy stories contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and presents a narrative concerning the birth and upbringing of Mary herself. It is the oldest source to assert the virginity of Mary not only prior to but during (and after) the birth of Jesus. The document presents itself as written by James: “I, James, wrote this history in Jerusalem.” The purported author is thus James, the brother of Jesus, but scholars have established that the work was not written by the person to whom it is attributed

History of the Church of the Nativity

church-of-the-nativity

The first evidence of a cave in Bethlehem being venerated as Christ’s birthplace is in the writings of Justin Martyr around 160 AD. The tradition is also attested by Origen and Eusebius in the 3rd century.

In 326, Constantine and his mother St. Helena commissioned a church to be built over the cave. This first church, dedicated on May 31, 339, had an octagonal floor plan and was placed directly above the cave. In the center, a 4-meter-wide hole surrounded by a railing provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaic survive from this period. St. Jerome lived and worked in Bethlehem from 384 AD, and he was buried in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity.

The Constantinian church was destroyed by Justinian in 530 AD, who built the much larger church that remains today. The Persians spared it during their invasion in 614 AD because, according to legend, they were impressed by a representation of the Magi — fellow Persians — that decorated the building. This was quoted at a 9th-century synod in Jerusalem to show the utility of religious images.

Muslims prevented the application of Hakim’s decree (1009) ordering the destruction of Christian monuments because, since the time of Omar (639), they had been permitted to use the south transept for worship.

The Crusaders took Jerusalem on 6 June 1009. Baldwin I and II were crowned there, and in an impressive display of tolerance the Franks and Byzantines cooperated in fully redecorating the interior (1165-69). A Greek inscription in the north transept records this event.

The Church of the Nativity was much neglected in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, but not destroyed. Much of the church’s marble was looted by the Ottomans and now adorns the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. An earthquake in 1834 and a fire in 1869 destroyed the furnishings of the cave, but the church again survived.

In 1847, the theft of the silver star marking the exact site of the Nativity was an ostensible factor in the international crisis over the Holy Places that ultimately led to the Crimean War (1854–56).

In 1852, shared custody of the church was granted to the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches. The Greeks care for the Grotto of the Nativity.

grotto-1grotto-2grotto-3grotto-4

The Grotto of the Nativity, a rectangular cavern beneath the church, is the Church of the Nativity’s focal point. Entered by a flight of steps by the church altar, this is the cave that has been honored as the site of Christ’s birth since at least the 2nd century.

grotto-birthplace-5grotto-6

silver star in the floor marks the very spot where Christ is believed to have been born. The star’s Latin inscription reads, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born — 1717.” The floor is paved in marble, and 15 lamps hang above the star (six belong to the Greeks, five to the Armenians and four to the Latins).

All other furnishings date from after the fire of 1869, except for the bronze gates at the north and south entrances to the Grotto, which are from Justinian’s 6th-century church.

About the Author:

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

I love the old Negro spirituals.  Swing Low Sweet Chariot is my favorite.  They echo the suffering from generations long ago.  I am convinced that the good Lord has allowed many to suffer throughout man’s history, in order that they may more easily find Him!  You think about that.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Steve

Prophecy in the News

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

Written by: Prophecy in the News

  • go-tell-it-on-the-mountain

When something really fantastic happens, what is the first thing you want to do?
Tell someone, of course!
The spiritual, “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” does just that.

songmusic

The Negro spiritual was created out of need for expression and communication. It was used by slaves to relay coded messages concerning directions for escapes without the knowledge of plantation masters. Many times these coded messages used biblical names and terms to relate their meaning. Harriet Tubman, the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, was known as General Moses. The words “seeker” and “watchman” in “Go Tell It on the Mountain” most likely refer to an escaping slave seeking freedom and the plantation overseer respectively. Another spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” refers to the north star of the constellation Big Dipper as the direction to follow to find freedom in the North. The slaves could sing these songs without notice from the white plantation owners and overseers.

slaves-on-plantation

The spiritual was also a means of expression. The bondage of slavery was hard to bear. Some of the spiritual songs of the black man were centered on the biblical stories of the Hebrews (who were in slavery in Egypt) and Moses (their Deliverer). Death was viewed as an escape from this bondage, so likewise should be taken that there are few spirituals about the nativity or the birth of Jesus. It is suggested that this may be a result of the slaves’ hope in an Almighty God, a Deliverer, and an all-powerful Deity who could lead them to the promised land of freedom rather than a vulnerable infant.

Spirituals were first noted in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. During this time, white evangelists introduced to the imported slaves the concept of Christianity using many of the songs of the white church to teach biblical stories. The slaves, with their African roots, tempered the songs to create a new genre. The African influence of syncopation and pentatonic melodies were matched with white harmonies and lyrics to create a new and distinct concept. The songs were passed orally by generations, with each generation modifying the songs. There appears to be little written documentation of the music of the Negro until the late nineteenth century.

fisk-university

Fisk University, created after the Civil War in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, in a former Union fort, was established for the education of emancipated slaves.

the-fisk-jubilee-singers

In October of 1871, the Fisk Singers were organized in an effort to raise funds for the new school, which was quickly falling into disrepair on limited funds. At first, the singers sang standard and classical selections, without much success. As former slaves or children of slaves, they were well acquainted with spirituals, cabin songs, plantation songs and Jubilee songs, which were composed for religious reasons. These songs were sung among the Singers themselves but were not shared in their concerts. After mediocre acceptance and likewise monetary offerings, the group began to include a few of these songs in their repertoire.

ella-shepherd

Ella Shepherd, a member of the Singers, was a group’s assistant director and a great resource for these songs of the slaves, which had been passed to her by her mother.

george-leonard-white

George Leonard White, the group’s director, took note of the response of the audience whenever a spiritual was sung. The quietness of the audience, the tears that appeared, and the applause that followed convinced him that the Negro spiritual was the Singers vehicle to fame and acceptance. At first, the members were reluctant to perform what were considered personal and intimate songs of their faith and their people, learned behind closed doors of slavery from parents and grandparents. At a concert held at Oberlin College in Ohio, the group included the spiritual “Steal Away.” All talking ceased and soft weeping could be heard as the ensemble, being moved to tears themselves, voiced the musical renderings of their hearts. The audience was amazed. Word spread from the congregation. Letters and telegrams were sent out from the listeners urging churches and other towns to invite the singers.

the-fisk-jubilee-singers

This musical triumph encouraged White to add more spirituals to the performances. He also named the singers the “Jubilee” Singers. After prayer and inspiration, he felt the singers should take their name from the Bible. In Jewish custom, in the fiftieth year, slaves were set free and debts were forgiven as documented in Leviticus 25. From then on, the group was known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

henry-ward-beecher

In December 1871, the group sang for the weekly prayer meeting at the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn, which included some of the most influential families in America and was pastured by the famous Henry Ward Beecher. The new repertoire was on the line. It was make or break time, both musically and financially, for the weary group. Unless a substantial offering was received here, the group would not have funds to return home to Nashville. As the rich dark tones of the students’ voices sang out, the congregation grew still. At the concert’s conclusion, Beecher jumped to his feet with $5 in his hand. He encouraged all his members to follow suit and support these students. After that night, everyone wanted to have the Jubilee Singers to perform for them.

The Fist Jubilee Singers toured the world, singing at such venues as the White House for President Ulysses S. Grant and for Queen Victoria in England. They continued across Europe singing in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. In Scotland and Ireland, their individual and collective tales of rising from slavery were written in books that sold out to adoring fans. They found themselves performing for heads of state and dignitaries in some of the world’s most famous concert halls. However, their fame was marred with incidents of hostility against their race, especially in their own country. After performing for the President at the White House, they were thrown out of their hotel because of their race. The group raised over $150,000 for Fisk University and introduced to the world the sacred hymns and songs of their ancestors.

folk-songs-photo

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, John W. Work, Jr.and his brother Frederick J. Work, began collecting and promoting the spirituals of slavery. The song, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” was published in the Brothers’ book Folk Songs of the American Negro. In this publication, the song was arranged in anthem style with verses and refrain, making it more easily accessible to the average singer. The song gained popularity because of its energetic and enthusiastic message. It had been popularized by the Fisk Singers but was not written and arranged until it appeared in this book.

religious-folk-songs

It also appeared in Thomas Fenner’s book, Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, As Sung on the Plantations, in 1909. The song was also published in a sequel collection by the Work brothers in 1915. Son John W. Work III continued the legacy started by his father and uncle by uncovering the saving spirituals and publishing them in his book American Negro Songs and Spirituals in 1940. He traveled hundreds of miles collecting songs from former slaves, transcribing them and preserving them for future generation.

mahalia-jackson

Noted vocalist Mahalia Jackson was one of the first to record the song. She made the song famous with her rendition. Jackson was the bridge from slavery to recognition with what was termed as an African-American voice as supposed to the voice of a slave. The song, deeply rooted in the black church, is now popular in all religious venues. The song is one of proclamation, excitingly declaring the glorious Christmas story from the mountain top and even further, “over the hills and everywhere.” It is a song of hope revealed. It is a declaration prompted by the arrival of the “Deliverer” who came from heaven’s lofty realms to a lowly manger to provide redemption for a needy and desperate people. What other motivation is needed to sing from the mountains than “Jesus Christ is born!”?

In 2004, William Studwell, noted musicologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on Christmas carols, named the spiritual “Carol of the Year” for 2004.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

When I was a seeker
I sought both night and day;
I ask the Lord to help me
And He show me the way.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
And if I am a Christian
I am the least of all.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

Source: “Songs of Christmas” and the stories behind them –  by Tommy and Renee Pierce
(Copyright 2008)

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Exact Birth Date For Christ Discovered?

Exact Birthdate for Christ Discovered?

Exact Birthdate for Christ Discovered?

Written by: J.R. Church

  • 1982-planets

Published in December 1992

A precise astronomical date may be the subject of a “great wonder in heaven” recorded in Revelation 12:1-5 for the birth of Christ. Yet, no earlier theologians have ever bothered to study it enough to determine its meaning – until now!

Recently, I received a study on the subject by Bob Schlenker of Christian Research Ministry. As I listened to his lecture, I realized the importance of his find. The scene in Revelation 12 is that of a woman, great with child, clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet-and upon her head a crown of 12 stars.

It’s really very simple, yet all have overlooked its significance unto now. The woman not only represents Israel and Mary, but is found among the sun and moon, and crowned with 12 stars. The woman is a star group-a constellation-it is Virgo!

virgo-scan

Every year, Virgo is “clothed with the sun” in September. The moon under her feet would occur on the night or the new moon. Therefore, The woman gave birth to the son of God on the night of Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the month of Tishri.

It is called the Feast of Trumpets in the Mosaic Law. First, let’s observe the passage of Scripture in question:

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

“And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered…

“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12: 1-2,5).

Why no one had ever seen this astronomical sign before is amazing to me. Some years ago, I had become convinced that Christ was born on Rosh Hashanah because of various events that are listed in the Gospels. Now, I have seen a verse in Revelation 12 that confirms my theory!

Though Christ was not born on Christmas Day, do not despair. I am convinced that He was conceived in the womb of Mary on December 25! Here is why I believe that.

Luke 1:5,6 (KJV) “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God…”

In Luke 1:5-25, Zacharias, of the course of Abia (Abijah), is visited by Gabriel as he performs his duties in the Temple. We can date the time of his visitation by following the courses of the Jewish priesthood.

The priesthood was divided into 24 groups or courses (I Chronicles 24: 7-18). Abijah was the eighth course. Throughout the year, each group of priests took their turns with the daily administration of liturgy (a fixed set of religious worship or ceremonies) in the Temple. Each group served for one week.

Therefore, it can be determined that sometime around late May or early June (eight weeks after the first new moon of spring), Zacharias entered the Temple to put incense upon the golden altar and had his encounter with Gabriel. After his tour of duty, he went home and presented the good news to his aged wife!

gabriel-visits-mary

When she was six months along bearing John (the Baptist), Gabrielwent down to the little village of Nazareth to visit Mary, a virgin who was a royal descendant of King David. Mary received her good news of bearing the Son of God, sometime around the last week of December!

John was born on Passover that following spring, and Christ was born six months later on Rosh Hashanah!

Luke 2 (The birth of Jesus) dates the birth to a taxing of the people by Caesar Augustus. Such a tax would likely be collected immediately following the close of a year. Rosh Hashanah in September is celebrated as New Years Day in the Jewish calendar.

A Crown of Twelve Stars

Well, it seems fairly certain that we have locked in the birthday for Christ, but what about the crown of 12 stars in the head of Virgo. Could that give us a clue to the very year for the Birth of Christ?

Various theologians have tried to date His birth anywhere from 1 to 4 B.C. to as early as 7 B.C. However, I would like to offer my calculation for your consideration.

As I was thinking about the crown of 12 stars in the head of Virgo, I searched the list of possibilities and could only come up with one candidate.

There are only 7 lights in the heavens that move through the constellations. They are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The days of our week are named after these 7 wanderers.

Only one planet could possibly fit the description of a “crown with 12 stars.” From ancient times, Jupiter has been regarded as the royal planet-the king of the pantheon of planets. Furthermore, Jupiter has 12 moons! And takes 12 years to orbit the sun.

Jupiter spends an entire year in each of 12 constellations until it repeats the cycle all over again. For example, moving out of Leo, Jupiter enters into the head of Virgo. Then, slowly, as the year progresses, it moves across the body and exits out her feet.

virgo-scan

Only once every 12 years will Jupiter be found in the head of Virgo. But rarely will we find Jupiter in the head of Virgo when she is clothed with the sun and the moon directly under her feet!

I called Bob Schlenker and asked him to crank up his computer program on astronomy and tell me in what year Jupiter would be found in the head of Virgo on the evening when the sun was in Virgo and the moon was under her feet.

He has one of those computer programs that can tell you precisely where any heavenly body can be found from any location on our planet at any time from 4,000 B.C. to 10,000 A.D.

It took him about 5 minutes to pinpoint the exact date recorded in the story of Revelation 12:1-5. He found Jupiter in the head of Virgo with the sun clothing the constellation and the moon under her feet on September 28, 2 B.C. The moon was .01 degrees from the sun. On the next evening, September 29, the moon was .04 degrees from the sun and moving into Libra.

Therefore, the date of 2 B.C. seems more likely to me to be the year for the birth of Christ than any other suggested date. Though calendars may change, the movement of the heavens are constant enough to give us a precise accounting of ancient events.

The gestation period for the birth of a human child is 280 days. That corresponds to 40, the number of testing, times 7, the number of perfection (40 X 7=280).

According to my calculations, there are 280 days from evening of December 24, 3 B.C., to the following September 28, 2 B.C., offering a perfect gestation period for our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem.

Why did I choose the evening of December 24? Because, in the Jewish calendar, December 25 begins at sunset on the 24th. By the way, Jupiter again appeared in the head of Virgo on Rosh Hashanah, September 28, 1992! Could that be a sign that the rest of the story in Revelation 12 is about to unfold?

The Star of Bethlehem

the-star-of-bethlehem-2

The December 1991 edition of Sky and Telescope Magazine discussed a triple conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the October 16th pre-dawn sky, suggesting a possible connection with the star of Bethlehem viewed by the wise men.

The remarkable coincidence about this particular triple conjunction is that these two planets met each other in the sky during 1990-1991 on about the same calendar dates as they did 2,000 years ago.

In 3 B.C., about the same period of time when Christ was born, the two planets met on August 12. The following year (2 B.C.) they met again on June 17. Their third meeting in the sky came only a few months later, October14, 2 B.C.

Though there have been other triple conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter over the centuries, they did not occur on or near the same calendar dated until 1990-1991. The first conjunction occurred on August 12, 1990. The second happened on June 17, 1991, and the third meeting in the heavens was observed on October 16, 1991. Or was it a triple conjunction of planets?

German Astronomer, Johannes Kepler

johannes-kepler

In 1603, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler referred to a triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the days of Jesus’ birth and suggested that they might be the Bethlehem star seen by the Magi. Such a triple conjunction did occur in the months of May, October, and December, 7 B.C.

Furthermore, according to his calculations, Kepler wrote that conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn coincided with each climactic event in human affairs, including the flood of Noah and the births of Enoch, Moses, Cyrus, and Charlemagne.

In 1480 the Jewish Rabbi, Abarbanel, suggested that such conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn always betoken some great event or beginning in human affairs.

Because a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 1480, Abarbanel predicted the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

Well, the Messiah did not come in the months following the 1480 conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. But, 12 years later, in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America!

Perhaps Abarbanel’s suggestion that the conjunctions “always betoken some great event or beginning in human affairs” came to pass after all!

flavius-josephusAccording to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian who lived and wrote 2,000 years ago, a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn attended the birth of Moses.

It is written that the Egyptian astrologers reported their sighting to Pharaoh and warned him that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn foretold the birth of a child among the Jews who, if allowed to live, would bring the Egyptian dominion very low, excel in virtue and glory, exalt the children of Israel to power and honor, and be remembered throughout all ages.

According to Josephus, it was on this premise that Pharaoh gave the order to slay every male child among the Jewish people.

If conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn attended the birth of Moses, the flood of Noah, the birth of Christ, the birth of Charlemagne, and the discovery of America, could they indeed be, as Abarbanel suggested, tokens of some great event or beginning in human affairs?

A Triple Conjunction

1982-planets

In 1981, there was another triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. It followed a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Mars in the year before and preceded the alignment of the planets in 1982, which some called “The Jupiter Effect.”

In the Bible (Luke 21:25) Jesus said that certain astronomical signs would herald His Second Coming.

He said, “And there shall be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity… and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Furthermore, He said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

Could the 1990-1991 triple conjunction of Venus and Jupiter along with the 1980 triple conjunction of Jupiter and Mars, the 1981 triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, and the 1982 parade of the planets be a declaration from the Great Creator to His creatures on earth that their Savior is soon to appear?

Sign in the Heavens?

leo-scan

In the pre-dawn sky on Rosh Hashanah, September 9, 1991, four planets met in a spectacular conjunction in the constellation, Leo. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter were so close together near Regulus in the constellation of Leo, the lion, that one could cover all four planets with the little finger nail extended at arms length.

It is most unusual that the conjunction should occur on the Jewish Feast of Trumpets, observed as New Years day in the Hebrew calendar.

regulus-star-chart

Their conjunction near a star called Regulus is fascinating. Regulus is located between the feet of Leo, the lion, and means, “between the feet.”

From the term Regulus, we get the word regulation. I think we can see the background for that in Genesis 49:8-11: “Judah, thou art he whom they brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in 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 sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

“Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:8-11).

These cryptic statements of the dying Jacob revolve around the coming of Christ, who is from the lineage of the tribe of Judah.

The symbol of Leo, the lion, is given to Judah as Jacob tells his children what “shall befall you in the last days” (Genesis 49:1).

The passage is a prophecy of both the first and second advents of Christ. When Jesus came the first time, he rode a donkey and her colt from the Mount of Olives across the Kedron valley to the Eastern Gate (Matthew 21:1-9).

This Triumphal Entry fulfilled the first part of the prophecy in Genesis 49:11. When Christ returns, He will fulfill the rest of the prophecy, which says, “he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.”

Isaiah 63:1-4 and Revelation 19:15 predict that Christ will stain his “garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat.” He “treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”

leo-on-the-neck-of-hydra

In ancient star charts, Leo is seen with his feet on the neck ofHydra the serpent, just as Genesis 49:8 says, “thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies.”

The lion is the king of the jungle as seen in the words of Genesis 49:10, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah.”

The Hebrew term, Regulus, is used in that very verse to describe the law-as Jacob says, “nor a lawgiver from between his feet.” Regulus, from which we get the term, regulation or law, is located in the star chart between the front feet of Leo.

Theologians have suggested that the phrase, “until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” refers to the appearing of Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. The“gathering of the people” denotes a massive array of armies moving into the Middle East.

Psalms 91 and 92

Bob Schlenker suggests that Psalm 91:13 may be an important part of that prophecy. The Song of Moses says, “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.”

It is a message about Christ and His Second Coming. He will fulfill the prophecy in the 12thconstellation of the night sky-Leo.

Is it possible that the conjunction of 4 planets with Regulus-between the feet of Leo-in the pre-dawn sky on Rosh Hashanah, September 9, 1991 marked an important prophecy in Psalm 91?

Well, in Psalm 92:10, another night-time constellation is mentioned. Moses wrote: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn” Psalm 92:10.

taurus

The unicorn was an ancient term used for the constellation, Taurus. Today, it is seen as a bull. Taurus means, “the coming judge.”

chaim-herzog

On May 31, on the very day the Covenant of Jerusalem was issued and signed by Chaim Herzog, the president of Israel, both the sun and moon were in the constellation Taurus!

Perhaps Moses was referring to Jerusalem when he wrote,“my horn shalt thou exalt…”Jerusalem is being exalted through the Covenant of Jerusalem. Throughout the year, millions of Jews all over the world are signing their covenant with Jerusalem-pledging their eternal loyalty to the city.

All copies of the Covenant will be returned to Jerusalem next May 19 for the closing ceremonies in the year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. On May 19, 1993, the sun and moon will again be in the constellation, Taurus!

Does Psalm 92:10 thus proclaim another prophecy fulfilled in 1992? The possibility of “signs in the heavens” being fulfilled in our lifetime are both awesome and impressive!

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About the Author:

J.R. ChurchJ.R. CHURCH (1938-2011)- Founder of PITN Converted at age seven, J.R. Church set out with one main goal in life – to win others to Jesus Christ. He received a B.A. degree with a major in Bible and a minor in history at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. In 2001, he was given an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Immanuel Baptist Theological Seminary in Peachtree, Georgia.  His love for history gave him insight into God’s great “Plan of the Ages” and prompted him to pursue this field of prophetic research. J.R. and Linda were married for 52 years.  They have two children and five grandchildren. After pastoring a church in Lubbock Texas for 17 years, in 1979 he moved his family to Oklahoma City and developed the PROPHECY IN THE NEWS ministry. He has traveled across America many times lecturing on eschatology – the study of prophetic subjects.  He has hosted several tours to Israel and the Middle East. J.R. has authored eight books with chapters in several other books. Prophecy in the News publishes a monthly 48-page magazine as well as a weekly syndicated television broadcast which airs on stations across the country and via satellite network to most of the United States. Before he went to be with the Lord on March 22, 2011, after a three year battle with cancer, J.R. Church was convinced that Jesus Christ would return soon. He was famous for his saying, “KEEP LOOKING UP!”

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The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Away in a Manger”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Away in a Manger”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Away in a Manger”

Written by: Prophecy in the News

  • away-in-a-manger-photo

One of the most loved children’s Christmas songs is “Away in A Manger.” The song is easily learned and the note range is quite within the vocal ability of all children. The lyrics are musical life lessons. They give a brief and simplistic summary of the Christmas birth of Jesus and go on to express a childlike love for the Savior with a desire and assurance that He is always near.

richard-hill

There is much speculation as to the origin of the simple hymn. Richard S. Hill, a reference librarian at the Library of Congress, is considered the authority on the song, having done extensive research on the subject. His findings were published in the Music Library Association’s journal, Notes, December of 1945, in his article “Not So Far Away In A Manger: Forty-one settings of an American Carol.”

According to Hill, the song first appeared in a Lutheran publication Little children’s book: for schools and families. By Authority of the general council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. The song is listed as a nursery hymn with the book dated “Christmas 1884” and the copyright being June of 1885. In this printing, the tune for the poem is called St. Kilda and was written by J.E. Clark. Only two verses were included with this publication, and those used are without the listing of an author or source, a characteristic unlike other included hymns.

german-reformer-martin-luther

There is speculation that the two verses were from an anonymous play or story written within the German Lutheran sect found in Pennsylvania. In 1883, Lutherans as well as many Protestant groups were celebrating the 400th birthday of German Reformer, Martin Luther. The poem could have been written as part of a local presentation of this event, which possible could have led to the gross misinformation that was printed in a later publication.

It is also been commonly known as “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” Hill concluded: “Although Luther himself had nothing to do with the carol, the colonies of German Lutherans in Pennsylvania almost certainly did.”

james-r-murray
In 1887, the poem with a new melody was published in Dainty songs for little lads and lasses, for use in the kindergarten, school and home by James R. Murray. Mr. Murray, editor with the John Church Company, titled the piece “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” Beneath the title was the note “Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.” The composer indication was marked only with the initials J.R. M. Because of the recent celebrations of Luther’s birth, this may have been an act of giving credence to Luther for the sole purpose of affording the piece notoriety. It was well received, and as its popularity grew, Murray re-published the song the following year (1888) in the publication Royal Praise for the Sunday School. A collection of new and selected gospel songs… by J. R. Murray. He slightly changed the song from the original by changing the key and repeating the last phrase – enough to claim a copyright to the song and stated it at the bottom of the page. In 1892, the carol was again re-published by the John Church Company in a compilation of songs entitled Little sacred songs for little singers of the primary department of the Sunday school and for kindergartens and the home. Murray again edited the collection but this time changing the song back to its original key and adding his initials. It is interesting to note that Murray is not given credit for the piece in subsequent collections by other publishers. This is probably due to his initial indication that the piece belonged to Luther. Fear of copyright infringement probably drove others away from Murray’s claim of copyright.

Originally, the poem had only two verses, which, due to lack of any significant documentation, are considered anonymous, though the German Lutheran congregation of Pennsylvania probably gave birth to the poem. The third verse was added something in the 1890’s. It first appeared in Charles H. Gabriel’s collection Gabriel’s vineyard songs.

Bishop William F. Anderson attributed the third verse to Dr. John T. McFarland. He claimed that McFarland wrote the verse in response to his request for a third verse to be performed at a Children’s Day program. Although Anderson had requested McFarland write a third verse, it is unclear whether he actually wrote the verse or just provided a verse. Dates seem to indicate that McFarland may have supplied Anderson with a copy of Gabriel’s 1892 edition and Anderson may have assumed that McFarland wrote the verse. According to Anderson, McFarland wrote the verse sometime between 1904 and 1908, eliminating McFarland as a viable source of the verse.

carl-mueller

The early 1920s saw a new name on Murray’s carol. It was Carl Mueller who was given compositional credit. According to Hill, Mueller may have been a fictional name given by some editors who were still unsure of Murray as the composer. Rather than no indication of composer, a common German name may have been printed so as to dilute the trail of information. It would be comparable to using John Smith if an American name were used. Hill and his colleagues could find no credence to Mueller as the composer or even to the existence to Mueller. Hill gives his allegiance to Murray as composer of the tune, which is traditionally sung in American as “Away in A Manger” although the carol’s tune is officially called “Mueller.”

james-r-murray

James R. Murray was born in 1841 in Andover Massachusetts to Walter and Christina Murray. He received his musical training from such hymnology giants as George F. Root, Lowell Mason, William B. Bradbury, George J. Webb, and Whitney Eugene Thayer. After a brief military service during the Civil War, he joined Root assisting in editorial duties. After the Chicago fire, he returned to Andover where he taught public school until 1881. He then joined the John Church Company, where he fulfilled editorial duties. It is supposed that he died in 1904 when his name disappeared from the directory of Cincinnati where he and his wife Isabel resided, although his year of death cannot be substantiated.

Although there are numerous tunes applied to the poem, two melodies are most prevalent in use today. Murray’s tune has become truly an American carol. However, in England and Europe, another tune is more commonly sung. In an ironic sense, another American composer, William J. Kirkpatrick, took the American poem, composed a new tune based on a Scottish song, and introduced it across the seas. In 1895, seven of Kirkpatrick’s compositions were included in a pamphlet published by the Cranston and Curts Company. It included narratives and recitations along with songs, much like today’s sacred musicals or cantatas. The title was Around the world with Christmas. A Christmas exercise. The pamphlet described different settings of Christmas in various countries, including England, Scotland, and Germany. Kirkpatrick’s tune, as arrangement of the song “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton, “was used with the poem “Away in a Manger” and titled “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” It was sung by children or a selected soloist as a tribute to The German Fatherland in the pamphlet. Because of the popularity of the pamphlet overseas, Kirkpatrick’s setting is more commonly sung in England as opposed to Murray’s setting, which is traditionally sung in America.

away-in-a-manger-music

Recent collections, which include the carol, still give credit to Luther and the mythical Carl Mueller. Regardless of who wrote what version or verse, the indication is that “Away in A Manger” is truly an American carol loved by many, especially children. This musical portrait of an innocent sleeping king in the humblest of settings is truly a landscape of peace on earth.

Luke 2:7 (KJV)
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

 

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

Source: Song of Christmas and the stories behind them by Tommy and Renee Pierce
Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan

https://prophecyinthenews.com/bookstore/heart-and-soul-songs/embed/#?secret=0GrXfaVHFJ

About the Author:

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2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Special Edition

Donald Perkins  /  Mark Of The Beast

This message is from a wonderful preacher in Southern California who has been preaching the Gospel for thirty years.  Unlike the many other installations of the 2015 Orlando Prophecy Summit on this blog site, you can watch this message live.  You will never hear a finer preacher who makes the Gospel plain and easy to understand.  Donald is patient, speaks plainly, and will talk at length with anyone  in his spare moments who sees him at the conference.  Our son Matthew and I were at this seminar.  This special edition video is the same as 2015 Second Orlando Prophecy Summit, Part 8.  Enjoy…   Pastor Steve   <><

Evangelist Don Perkins and his beautiful wife, Marie, are both Spirit-filled and committed Christians. They reside in Southern California. He has been ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ for nearly thirty years and has been a guest speaker several times at our prophecy conferences.
He is an absolutely wonderful preacher and also a dear friend to Linda Church and Prophecy in the News. We have just started offering his DVD sets of messages for the first time. Watch below as he speaks the message of “The Mark of the Beast” from our 2015 Orlando Prophecy Summit.

 

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