christian Posts

Who Am I Going to Vote for to Be President?

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When considering all of human history, having the opportunity to vote is a rare privilege. Many of the world’s population today, and most of it historically, had no say in who would be their national leader. To vote at all is a special gift God has allowed us to take part in.

Understanding that, I am concerned when I hear people, many who I know and respect, say they are just not going to vote. This seems to be at best ignoring or at worst a thumbing of the nose at God’s blessing and gift to choose through a vote.

People often complain they don’t like or agree with any of the candidates. Welcome to a cursed and fallen world. Will there ever be candidates I “totally” agree with or trust? No. There is only one person I could totally agree with and trust: God. I could list GOD on my ballot as a write-in candidate, but I really don’t believe a majority of the country will write in GOD as their candidate of choice. Or anyone else we could write in for that matter.

Elections are just that: elections, not “statements.” Write-in candidate votes are usually statements, not votes. They are statements of wishful thinking, not related to reality. They are the equivalent of not voting at all – which is a vote. A vote for letting others choose the president for me.

I hear a great deal about people not liking the morals or language or character of candidates. I agree these are definite considerations. But how do I know the morals, language and character of any of the candidates off camera? I don’t. I would prefer to have a president who is above reproach in morals, language and character. I would prefer that their stance on every issue aligned with the Bible, that they would value what God values. But I also know God can use totally immoral and unethical leaders (such as Nebuchadnezzar and Nero) to accomplish His purposes.

I want to vote for a potential president who will do their part and work hard to perpetuate the freedoms of our country – so the gospel is freer to be communicated. And someone who will protect our security as a nation from those, both within and outside our country, who would seek to destroy our freedoms – so the gospel is freer to be communicated.

I plan to vote for a person who will make the best president of the United States. Not a teacher for my children. Not a pastor or elder in my church. To do so, I can’t live in a dream world that I wish were true, but in the world as it is: fallen and full of evil. According to the biblical text, I am a visitor, an alien and stranger in this world. It is not my home. But I happen to live in a country that gives me, along with every citizen, the privilege to vote for the leader of this country.

I plan to vote, and not stick my head in the sand. I plan to vote in a way that will make the most difference possible, and not ignore my God-given opportunity to make a small difference for the future spread of the gospel.

Socratease: On the Existence of God

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The famous philosopher Socrates lived in Greece from about 470-400 B.C. Stories of his teaching are plentiful in students like Plato and Aristotle. Socratease is my fictional, modern-day version of a Socrates-like character using his same ironic, dialogic form of teaching and applying this method of teaching to today’s issues.

Ben is an acquaintance of Socratease who likes to think of himself as a thoughtful and deep person.

Ben: Socratease, I’m wrestling with whether I believe in a God or not.

Socratease: Who or what are you wrestling with? Are you wrestling with God, the existence of God or with the implications for your life if there is a God?

Ben: Hmm. Not sure I’ve thought about it like that. What’s the difference?

Socratease: Does your wrestling with the existence of God change the reality of whether there is a God or not? Doesn’t He either exist or not exist, no matter if you wrestle with it or believe it? It seems like your wrestling is futile, since it doesn’t change the reality one way or another.

Ben: Yes, that makes sense.

Socratease: How do you explain our existence?

Ben: I’ve always been taught about evolution. We came from a single cell life form that crawled out of the primordial ooze, and then we eventually evolved into human beings.

Socratease: If that’s what you were taught, then it must be true, of course. So the single cell life form came from the primordial ooze. That makes perfect sense. One question. Where did the primordial ooze come from?

Ben: I guess it evolved as well.

Socratease: Of course it evolved. From what?

Ben: Guess I never heard about where the ooze came from.

Socratease: That’s rather foundational, don’t you think?

Ben: Well, yes, I guess it is. I have been taught that the universe banged into existence from what they called infinite density.

Socratease: Yes, I’ve heard that too. What is infinite density exactly? I’ve known some people who are infinitely dense, but I doubt that’s what you’re talking about.

Ben: The way I’ve heard it described, the universe is expanding outward from a central point. If we could rewind the expansion of the universe, eventually it would all be condensed back into this infinitely dense mass.

Socratease: Infinitely dense mass. Could you explain that?

Ben: Well, I’ve heard that at some point all the universe was compacted even smaller than a microdot, not even visible to the human eye. Other scientists have said infinite density is a cloaked way of saying “nothing.” The universe banged into existence out of nothing.

Socratease: Very interesting. So if it banged into existence from something smaller than a microdot, where did the dot come from? If it banged into existence out of nothing, doesn’t that defy the natural science belief about cause and effect, that everything is an effect that comes from an equal or greater tangible source or cause? Isn’t something out of nothing supernatural?

Ben: Either way, something doesn’t match up, does it?

Socratease: So how do you explain the existence of the universe and everything in it now, Ben? Would the existence of a supernatural God be a plausible resolution to your logical dilemma?

Ben: I guess so. Maybe.

Socratease: Well that resonates with confidence. Why do you seem so hesitant, Ben?

Ben: It just seems like a big leap of faith to believe in a supernatural God.

Socratease: A big leap of faith, huh? But believing a single cell life form crawled out of some primordial ooze, that we can’t explain how it got here, as part of a planet called earth, that we can’t explain by natural means how it got here, isn’t a big leap of faith?

Ben: OK, sure. But there isn’t any proof for the existence of God.

Socratease: So you want proof. What kind and how much proof would you need, Ben? Again, is the issue that there isn’t enough evidence for the existence of God, or is it that you don’t want to believe in a God you would be subject to?

Ben: I want to say there’s not enough evidence. But down deep inside I also know it scares me that I would be subject to such a powerful, absolute authority like God.

Socratease: So how much have you searched for evidence for the existence of God?

Ben: Well, not at all, I guess. Why do you ask?

Socratease: From my experience, I rarely find what I haven’t even looked for. If you haven’t sincerely searched for evidence, why are you so surprised you haven’t found what you haven’t looked for? Which brings me to my original question: “Are you wrestling with God, the existence of God or with the implications for your life if there is a God?”

Biblical Families: Spiritual Growth

Rick and Judy discuss what it looks like to grow spiritually as individuals and as a couple, seeking Him first in all things (Matthew 6:33). They provide some ideas about how you can find your personal rhythms and how a husband and wife can grow spiritually together.

Biblical Families: Parenting

There are a lot of misconceptions about parenting. Rick and Judy discuss what the Bible says about helping children learn how God designed life to be lived, and how they should respond appropriately to a parent’s authority, and ultimately, to the authority of God.

 

Why is Morality Changing in America?

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There are so many things happening currently in the United States that are concerns: an escalation in the racial divide, growing immigration debates, gay rights disputes, political dysfunction and distrust, a tepid and yet volatile economy, and a decline in religious tolerance. All of these are very real and present issues that should be concerns for all Americans. But there is one subtle phenomenon that is of even greater concern to me than all these issues, because, if not checked, will impact all of these issues and more, making them worse.

What I’m most concerned about is a major shift in the moral foundation of our country. Morality has to do with determining what is right and wrong, but it is also rooted in something that guides it in that decision-making process.

America was settled centuries ago by those seeking religious freedom from nations, mostly in Europe, that had shifted their moral base away from the church and into the halls of the political elite. Determining what was right and wrong had moved from a quasi-biblical basis to the whims of monarchies and government officials. The result was a severe persecution of those who held the former moral base by those who had the new moral base.

Many fled to America with the hope of being able to re-establish an essentially Judo-Christian moral base for making decisions about what is right and wrong. This Judo-Christian moral base was essentially the Bible, and what it taught about right and wrong. Now skip to today in America.

Over the last 60 years, that moral base has shifted significantly in America, as it had in Europe centuries ago. Today we hear much discussion and debate about Supreme Court decisions legalizing such things as abortion and gay marriage. We are told things either are or are not Politically Correct (PC). But all of these more recent experiences are simply expressions of a national morality base that has shifted and continues to shift away from the Bible, and more to what might be called the “what feels good” base of morality.

The grave danger of this shift in our morality base is that the “what feels good” base is a clear shift away from God and His perfect design to mankind and his fallen nature. It is this shift in moral base that historically has led to “every man doing what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). For a glimpse of what this leads to in a culture, just read Judges 17-21.

This has been developing for several decades, but in recent years the floodgate has been opened and the raging waters of change are already beginning to sweep through our country. My deep concern stems from seeing the results of this morality base historically, but also from considering, “what’s next?”

Abortion is justified by what has been dubbed Pro Choice: the right of the mother to choose whether she wants to give birth to a baby that’s in her womb or kill it. We talk about a woman’s right to choose. What we are saying is she has the right to do “what feels good” to her in the moment, even if that means killing an unborn, living baby (see Psalm 139:13-16, for instance).

The Supreme Court has said we no longer need to follow God’s original design for marriage between a man and a woman (see Genesis 2:24, for instance), but we can do “what feels good” to us at the time, including gay marriage.

So with that logic from our new moral base, what can we expect in the future? Our American culture has opened up Pandora’s box.

Already we are seeing courts being told by defense attorneys that incest, pedophilia and even rape are justified, essentially because the person doing the act was just following the “what feels good” moral base. Incest, pedophilia and rape have been considered wrong in our culture because of our biblical moral base of the past. But with that being replaced by the “what feels good” base, there is no moral reason to not condone them in the near future.

One book publisher is already being sued for publishing a book – the Bible – which teaches against homosexuality and dares to call it a sin (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10, for instance). The “what feels good” morality base is challenging the biblical base of the past in open court.

It seems obvious to me this same reasoning will lead to churches being challenged for teaching against incest, pedophilia, bestiality, rape, polygamy and homosexuality from the Bible. How long before the PC police and courts step in and shut down churches altogether for teaching the Bible and its moral base? It has happened before. It is headed in that direction in American now.

I think it is time for Christians who still hold to a biblical morality base and haven’t been seduced into the “what feels good” morality base to do two things: first, stand for biblical truth unashamedly and secondly, pray that God would grant us peace in the midst of this mounting morality storm in our country.

Biblical Families: Submission

Submission from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

Many people cringe at the concept of submission. Rick and Judy explain what mutual, biblical submission in a marriage is and isn’t (Ephesians 5:21-33), and how it plays out practically and beneficially in real life.

 

 

Submission

Prophecy: Judgments & Resurrections

The Judgments

There is often much confusion about different judgments and resurrections in the Bible. This will help simplify and spell out these two areas of prophecy.

The Judgments

Before the Great Tribulation

1. Judgment of the work of the church saints. The picture is painted of church saints who will have their works weighed, whether they were done in faith or not. This judgment is a rewards judgment that will result in church saints being rewarded for their deeds done in faith. I believe this will happen when the church is raptured prior to the Great Tribulation (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

At the End of the Great Tribulation

2. Judgments of those still alive at the end of the Great Tribulation. Jesus tells us there will be a judgment for those who survive the Great Tribulation. This is often referred to as the judgment of the sheep and goats. Those who are believers will live and go into the Millennium, and those who are unbelievers will die and wait for another judgment (Matthew 25:31-33).

3. Judgment of the nations. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will bring the nations of the world before Him and they will be judged. This will be the same as the judgment of the sheep and goats, but it often refers specifically to the nations, which are made up of both sheep and goats, believers and unbelievers (Matthew 25:31-46; Joel 3:2).

4. Judgment of Israel. At the end of the Great Tribulation there will be a judgment of Israel that will weed the unbelievers from the believers. This too is part of the judgment of the sheep and goats (Ezekiel 20:37-38).

5. First judgment of Satan. When Jesus returns and defeats the antichrist and all the nation’s armies in the battle of Armageddon, He will also lock up Satan for the period of the Millennium, until the very end (Revelation 20:2-3).

After the Millennium

6. Judgment of Satan and the fallen angels. There will come a time after the Millennium when Satan will be loosed one last time to lead a rebellion against Jesus, the God-King. When Satan is defeated, Jesus will cast him and his demonic angels into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:7-10; Jude 6; 1 Corinthians 6:3).

7. The Great White Throne Judgment. The last of all the judgments will be for all unbelievers for all time. John refers to this as taking place before a great white throne upon which God sits as judge. The result of this judgment is that all unbelievers for all time will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity – where Satan and the demons live also (Revelation 20:11-15).

 

The Resurrections

Before the Great Tribulation

1. Resurrection of the church saints. Prior to the Great Tribulation, church saints will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. This will include those who are living and those who are dead. These dead church saints will be resurrected for this rapture of all church saints (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

At the End of the Great Tribulation

2. Resurrection of Old Testament and dead Tribulation saints. At the end of the Great Tribulation, all Old Testament saints and all dead Tribulation saints will be raised from the dead so they can enter into the Millennium along with living saints who survived the Great Tribulation. This is also called the first resurrection, referring to the first general resurrection, and it is believers only (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:4-6).

After the Millennium

3. Resurrection of all unbelievers. All unbelievers for all time will be raised from the dead to stand before God on His Great White Throne and His judgment. They will face their judgment and be cast eternally into the lake of fire. This is also called the second resurrection, being the second general resurrection, and it will be unbelievers only (Revelation 20:11-15).

Prophecy: The Millennium

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The word millennium is a way of delineating the thousand-year period mentioned specifically in Revelation 20:2-7. However, over the last century, there has been a growing debate over the purpose, nature and even the reality of this period mentioned in the Bible. Personally, I take the Bible at face value.

When it refers to this period of time specifically as “a thousand years” or “the thousand years” six times in those six verses, I take that to mean there is going to be a specific thousand-year period, not a long, indefinite period of time, where the world gets better and better. Why would John call it a, or the, thousand years, six verses in a row, if he meant something less specific?

So what do we know about the Millennium from the Scriptures?

Psalm 2:1-12 forecasts that God the Father will establish His Son as King over all the nations of the world.

Daniel 2:44 prophesies that this Messiah King will bring an end to all earthly kingdom and usher in His own perfect and just kingdom.

Isaiah 7:6-7 declares that He will be in the lineage of King David, and as the Prince of Peace, will usher in “world peace” for the first time in human history.

Jeremiah 23:5-8 further promises that this King, in the lineage of David, will usher in a world of peace and justice, but will bring the Jewish people from all over the world to dwell in a restored land of Israel.

Isaiah 2:2-4 tells us that in this future kingdom, Jerusalem will be the focal point of the world, and the coming King will reign here over all the nations of the world.

Isaiah 11:4-9 makes it clear this period will not only be a time of peace but also of absolute justice for all on the earth.

Isaiah 35:1-7 paints a picture of healing on the earth during this period of time, healing of both the land and all the people who enter in there.

Isaiah 49:14-26 promises the future King will deal with all of Israel’s enemies justly and restore the nation of Israel to their promised land.

Joel 2:26-27 adds to this the promise that the nation of Israel will never again be put to shame in the world.

Ezekiel 40-43 portrays the new, future Temple in Jerusalem in great detail. It will be the most magnificent Temple ever and will be indwelt by the God King-Priest Himself.

Daniel 7:18, among other Old Testament passages, seems to indicate that part of the population of the Millennium will be Old Testament saints, especially believing descendants of Abraham. That means they would be raised from the dead to enjoy the kingdom promised them.

Revelation 20:4 clearly spells out that martyred saints from the Tribulation will be raised from the dead and enter into the Millennium as well.

Revelation 3:21 is a record of Jesus promising church saints that they will rule and reign with Him in the Millennium.

Revelation 20:2-3, 7-8 prophesies that Satan will be confined and have no influence during this thousand years until the very end when he will be released to lead any who want to revolt against the God-King. The Millennium will begin with only believers and saints, but over time they will have children, who will each have to choose whether they are willing to put their trust in Jesus. Some will not, and will follow after Satan at the end of the Millennium.

Revelation 20:7-10 tells us that at the very end of the Millennium Jesus will defeat and banish Satan forever.

These are but a sampling of the hundreds of passages that speak to this aspect of prophecy.

To put the Millennium in perspective, it is promised to be a thousand-year period that will follow the Great Tribulation. This will be a time marked by Christ being the Priest-King, ruling in a new Jerusalem from a new Temple, and will rule with love and justice over a world kingdom, over all the nations.

Prophecy: Jesus

Prophecy

We see prophetic glimpses of Jesus all the way back in Genesis 3:15, where God promised a singular man in the future who would deal a deathblow to Satan once and for all. Throughout the prophets of the Old Testament period we see pictures of a Messiah, the Promised One, of whom Isaiah makes these predictions:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:6–7 (NASB)

Just over 2000 years ago, that child was born (Luke 2:11). This Messiah, the man Jesus, is a wise counselor and teacher, a King of an endless kingdom, the very God and eternal Father Himself.

The prophecies of Jesus do not stop there. More promises concerning Jesus are clear in the Scriptures. Mainly, He is coming again. But when and how will He come? What will He do?

Jesus made a promise to His disciples with these words:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. – John 14:1–3 (NASB)

As we study the rest of the New Testament, we see two “comings” of Jesus. One is when church saints, believers, go up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1). This is referred to as the rapture (“caught up”) of the church. Jesus is going to come and take His church to be with Him one day, both living and those who have died before this rapture.

But there is another “coming” of Jesus. He is coming to the earth and will establish Himself as that Prince of Peace who will build a kingdom here. We see this beginning and developing in Revelation 19:11-20:6.  As seen in this passage, Satan and his demons will be removed from the earth until the very end of the 1000 years. This will be a time to fulfill promises of a kingdom to Israel, including dead Old Testament saints who will rise to enjoy this kingdom under the perfect rule of Jesus, just as Isaiah predicted in Isaiah 9:3-7.

After this 1000-year period is complete, there is yet more that is predicted about Jesus. See these words of John as he describes the new heaven and earth that will be refashioned, indwelt only by those who had trusted in God and His promises, and particularly in the new Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven:

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (that’s Jesus) are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb (Jesus again). The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. – Revelation 21:22–24 (NASB, parentheses added by author)

Jesus has come, and is presently the Lord of His church, as predicted.

But He is coming again to rapture His church, to establish and reign over an earthly kingdom for a thousand years, and to be the Light of the World.

Lord, come quickly!

Prophecy: The Antichrist

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Ever since Satan declared, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14, NASB), he has been about the business of accomplishing that goal. One of the ways he plans to attempt to supplant God and make himself greater is to trick the world into believing that he is “like God.” (See this described in a dramatic form in Revelation 12.)

In yet to be fulfilled prophecy, one of those planned deceptions is to raise up a counterfeit Christ. We see quite a bit about this antichrist in Scripture. For instance, we are told in Daniel what happens after the true Messiah is cut off and killed:

…the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (Temple). And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he (this substitute prince who is to come) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (7 years), but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate (this antichrist is destroyed). – Daniel 9:26-27 (NASB, parentheses added)

Most of the Jewish people who are part of the nation of Israel today are looking for the Messiah to come as a political, military figure who will rescue them from those who would destroy them. There are about 6-7 million Jews in Israel today surrounded by more than 50 million Muslims, many of whom want to see Israel destroyed. Satan will one day provide a substitute messiah who will come as a political, military leader, offer peace and sign a 7-year treaty with the nation of Israel. Many will undoubtedly embrace him as their promised messiah.

But after 3½ years this fake messiah will turn on the nation of Israel, and destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, until his own predicted demise at the hands of the true Messiah, who is coming again.

This antichrist will be a leader from the western part of the world, related to but not the same as the Old Roman Empire. Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 mention the 4 (plus 1) kingdoms that are to come. They are described in unmistakable detail: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and another kingdom that is related to Rome but weaker and not under one ruler – yet. This last kingdom is detailed even further in Revelation 17-18.

And it is in The Revelation to John the Apostle that we see even more details of this antichrist. For instance, we get a glimpse of him in Revelation 6:2 where he is described as having a crown (a national leader). He will go out from his own nation to conquer others, and he will be successful.

In Revelation 13 we see this antichrist dramatically described as a beast that came out of the sea (or from across the sea?). He will be able to move fast militarily and will be overwhelmingly powerful. Satan will give this beast, the antichrist, his own power, a throne to rule from and great authority. He will be Satan’s puppet king on the earth.

This antichrist is described as being one who spoke and was listened to as he will make great promises, and will speak against God for the last 3½ years of the Great Tribulation. He will become a whole world ruler (Revelation 13:7) and he will work to bring about the demise of all who call on the name of the one true God. And many in the world will worship him instead of God.

We also see in Revelation 13 and elsewhere that this antichrist will have a high priest accomplice. And when the antichrist receives a death blow (Revelation 17:8), this false prophet will raise him from the dead. Remember, Satan is trying to make himself like the Most High, and God raised His Son from the dead.

This false prophet, along with the antichrist, will establish not only a worldwide empire, but also a one-world religion (Revelation 17:1-6, 15). The antichrist will be the god figure of this worldwide religion (Revelation 13:15) that will be gaudy, elaborate, brazen and ornate (Revelation 17:4). It will be a religious system that is bloodthirsty for all who profess faith in Christ (Revelation 17:5-6).

The antichrist will move from this short-lived seventh kingdom of the west. The first 7 great empires described are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, followed by this yet future seventh that will be this coalition of 10 (plus 1) nations who are either part of or related to the Old Roman Empire. Daniel 2:40-43 speaks of the establishment of this eighth empire, a worldwide kingdom that will be headquartered back where it all began: Babylon in south central Iraq (Revelation 17:9-13).

In Genesis 11:1-9 we see all the peoples of the earth, repopulated after the flood, gathered in this same area, where they built a tower into the heavens. This was a ziggurat built much like a pyramid, only with clay bricks. The very top of this ziggurat was a throne room that was uninhabited. Remember, Satan said:

“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” – Isaiah 14:13-14 (NASB)

This ziggurat was the Tower of Babel, where the eventual city of Babylon would be built, and it still exists today. Most likely, the people of the earth were gathering to build a throne room for Satan into the heavens, and that is why God confounded their languages, as a means to separate them into diverse nations so they couldn’t fulfill Satan’s desires. This same place will be rebuilt into grand fashion by the antichrist and will serve as the capital of his worldwide kingdom and religion. Satan is and will be working to bring the entire world of nations together once again, to follow and worship him.

The antichrist will be a bigger than life personality that will promise peace to Israel and the world, but instead he will use his power to turn the world over to Satan.

Eventually, God will thwart Satan’s and the antichrist’s plot, and in an unimaginable battle, defeat the antichrist, the false prophet, the gathered armies of the world and Satan at the battle fought in the Valley of Megiddo (Revelation 17:15-19:21). In the end, God wins!