Blood Moons

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BLOOD MOONS

How many moons are there? Well, let’s count some of them. There are new moons, crescent moons, half-moons, and full-moons. There are white moons, blue moons, cold moons, and moons over Miami. There are hunter’s moons, harvest moons, planting moons, and thunder moons. And, the moon that has recently captured global attention (over 3,000,000 hits on Google alone in the past few days) is the ever famous Blood Moon.

Blood Moon? Such a strange, almost morbid way to characterize the earth’s moon, but even scientists’ use this graphic term to explain what happens during a total eclipse of the moon. They do their best to teach us about the sun, earth, and moon lining up; about refracted rays of the sun; resulting shadows that fall on the moon, darkening it; all part of a lunar eclipse that gives the moon a sort of copper, orange, rust-red coloration, all netted in the phrase blood moon. Ugh … a bloody moon? The thought somehow conjures up things that I really don’t want to conjure. In fact, I don’t ever want to conjure anything at all. Leave conjuring to the conjurers, I say.

Did contemporary astronomers of the 20th or 21st century coin this mysterious, gloom and doom, almost unscientific expression of blood moon. Not even close. The concept has been around for thousands of years, and the phrase is used dramatically in the context of the end times “Day of the Lord.” Let’s read about it in the Old Testament book of Joel written around 800 BC:

“Sound the alarm in Jerusalem! Raise the battle cry on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us” (Joel 2:1). Then later in the same chapter, “And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood-red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives” (Joel 2: 30-31, italics for emphasis).

Last week’s Eye of Prophecy article was entitled, Passover, an Enduring Legacy. And, of course, it dealt with the very first Passover deliverance of the Jews from hundreds of years of bondage in Egypt. But it also explained the relevance to today’s celebration of Passover and Resurrection Day, i.e. redemption from the wrath of God and from personal (and national) sin and the penalty of that sin. Moreover, God instructed the Jews to annually celebrate that first Exodus Passover for all time. Later, when the Mosaic Law was given by God to his people, six more annual festivals were ordained, three of which required a personal journey to Jerusalem by the Jews—Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, and Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Many Jews today believe that Messiah will make his appearance (to the observant Jew it will be Messiah’s first arrival) during Passover week. That “the day of the Lord” may bring more (temporary) heartache, but ultimately will be their Day of Redemption!

Here, I need to interject my own personal belief (based on a pretty intensive study of Scriptures and history for several decades), that each of the Old Testament festivals is a forerunner prototype, a shadow if you will of the Messiah … who he is, what he did upon his first appearance, and what he will do when he returns. We’ve already talked about the significance of Passover and how it interactively represents and relates to, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The Feast of Tabernacles reminds the Jews of God’s protection and provision during their 40 years in the wilderness, so accomplished by God’s very presence on Mt. Sinai, in the Cloud Pillar and, of course, in the Tabernacle itself.

For Jewish and Gentile Christians in this current Age of Grace, Tabernacles also reminds us that for some 33 years, God was actually present on this earth (Immanuel, god with us) in the form of his very Son, Yeshua ha Mashiach … Jesus the Christ. Then Scripture gives us the incredible promise that Messiah will return to live with his people (the redeemed) FOREVER. Did you know that the Feast of Tabernacles is the only festival that will be a perpetual requirement for observance/celebration during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth, and for all eternity after that? (See Zechariah 14). Why? To never forget and to forever acknowledge that El Shaddai (Almighty God) is our very life and existence. He gives life at the moment of conception and he gives life a second time (everlasting) when we are born-again from above. We must have that life to overcome the consequence of physical death (soul/spirit separation from the body) and spiritual death (eternal separation from God). To remember the Feast of Tabernacles (also called Feast of Booths) is to say to the Lord our God, “We trust you for food, clothing, shelter, family, life, truth … for everything!”

Jewish Festivals and Blood Moons

As first postulated by Pastor/Author Mark Blitz in his publication on Blood Moons, then subsequently presented by Pastor John Hagee, founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, in his book, Four Blood Moons, they believe that there is an undeniable connection between full eclipses of the moon (blood moons) and major Jewish festivals, especially Passover and Tabernacles. As summarized by reporter, Tom Olago in Prophecy News Watch, “While lunar eclipses themselves are not rare—four consecutive blood moons or a ‘tetrad’ are more uncommon—sometimes going several hundred years without one. However a blood moon on Biblical Feast days is extremely rare. It has only happened eight times since 1 A.D.”

Pastor Blitz further explains that the last two cycles of blood moons that took place on Jewish festival days occurred a short time after two monumental events in Jewish history: the national birth of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967. Another blood moon cycle occurred in 1492, around the time that the Queen and King of Spain expelled all Jews from that country. In Western civilization we also remember 1492 for what? Of course you know: Columbus sailing to and discovering America!

Thus, Pastors Blitz and Hagee speculate that the current tetrad could very well be in proximity to another significant event involving Israel. They could be right. Putting it another way: I would be the last to say that they’re wrong, if for no other reason than the historical precedents just cited. However, I would also caution against an automatic or default cause and effect type of association between this blood moon tetrad and the Rapture which sets in motion The Day of the Lord.

The first of these four blood moons took place this past week—April 15th on Passover. It’s my understanding that tens of thousands stayed up (or got up) in the early morning hours after midnight to watch the two-hour gradual eclipse of the moon. There was a time when I might have joined them; but at this stage of my life, it was way past my bed time! Besides, that’s what newspaper and internet photographs are for.

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The next blood moon will occur this year on October 8, the festival day of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles. The third one next year—again on Passover, April 4, 2015—and the final blood moon eclipse on September 28, 2015 … again on Sukkot.

Fortunately, neither Pastor Blitz nor Pastor Hagee dogmatically claim that one of these events will be the day when Christ raptures the Church. And, that’s good, because no one knows the day or hour of our Lord’s return. To select any one of the four days would be just another attempt to “guess” even though the guess may be on a significant date, such as those that comprise the tetrad. As said, one of those days has already come and gone (April 15th), without an event of huge consequence happening to/in Israel or, for that matter, anywhere in the world.

Connections between Rapture, Festivals, Moons, End Times?

Personally, I think it would be great if the Rapture would occur on one of these very important festival dates. Especially September 28th … my birthday. Kidding, but not entirely! But all of us who passionately long for the return of our glorious Savior Jesus Christ know full well that ANY day (the sooner the better) would be a wonderful day! Alongside of the triumphant return of Christ to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to set things right throughout the entire earth, the Rapture of believers in Christ will be the most spectacular event of all time. Not necessarily the most important (that belongs to the day that our Lord arose from the dead), but arguably the most stunning.

So, based on the previous tetrads in proximity to the rebirth of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem, can/should we expect a milestone event to occur, particularly affecting the nation of Israel? To answer that question, let’s return to Joel 2:31, “…and the moon will turn blood-red….” Or, is there a direct connection between the coming lunar eclipse tetrad (one leg of the tetrad already past) and the Rapture of the Church, or the Day of the Lord?

First, this prophecy will be fulfilled, “before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” The obvious implication here is that it will take place during the aspect of the Day of the Lord that involves God’s wrath poured out on the earth … in other words during the Great Tribulation. The Day of the Lord includes both punishment (Tribulation) and blessings, which will begin with the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth. The tetrad events of 1492, 1948, and 1967 are too far in the past to connect them to the day of the Lord which has not yet arrived. Plus, the fact that there have been eight of them since 1 A.D. leads us to the conclusion that, although there very well could be a connection between a full lunar eclipse and something dramatic taking place in Israel, we should not dogmatically conclude that one of the remaining three blood moons will immediately precede or coincide with the beginning of the tribulation. Not only that, but notice what else will take place, and in what order. “The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood-red…”

Jesus amplified and expounded on this passage during his Mount of Olives discourse to his disciples regarding the end times. He said, “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). The strong implication in these two passages concerning the sequence of events is that the darkening of the sun (also refer to the fifth bowl judgment found in Revelation 16:10) and the moon turning to blood will take place well into the seven-year Tribulation period, perhaps half-way through. But this “turning of the moon into blood-red” will be much more than just an eclipse of the moon. For sure the eclipse of the moon (especially on Biblical Jewish festival days) is a marvelous sight to behold. Equally remarkable is that some of these “tetrads” have been in very close proximity to monumental milestones of Jewish history.

One or more of the remaining three blood moons might occur at the same time or close to the same time as some significant event (say, for example, an Israeli preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities). But, I don’t believe the blood-red moon of Joel will be a “normal” lunar eclipse. It will be a very special wonder in the sky, which will probably take place totally separate from a regular scheduled eclipse that all scientists can predict with a great deal of certainty and accuracy. I’m convinced that the blood moon during the Day of the Lord will “eclipse” (pun intended) any and all blood moons that have already occurred or will occur again during a scheduled eclipse of the moon. It will truly be a supernatural event in which the moon will look more blood-like in appearance that any eclipse ever witnessed by man.

Plus, in conjunction with the moon turning to blood, the sun will become completely dark … no light at all for a period of time. And, so will “the moon give no light…” I believe this will take place soon after the moon turns to blood. There will also be other, “wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke” (Joel 2:30). And, “…the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

Listed to what Jesus said would come next, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens … And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

The Joel prophecy of what is clearly a one-time moon turning to blood-red and giving no light event, preceded by the sun (completely) darkened doesn’t fit with 2000 years of periodic lunar eclipses in which the moon is described as a “blood moon.” In other words, Joel’s prophecy isn’t being fulfilled gradually over hundreds of years. However, these blood moon lunar eclipses have been a harbinger and a forerunner of what will take place during that great and terrible day of the Lord. And, in God’s sovereignty and emphasis on holy days that he established for the nation of Israel, blood moon tetrads have been linked with milestones in Israel’s history, and very well may do so again. And, as much as I (and many of us) would like to see the Rapture take place on one of these glorious festivals (holidays, meaning Holy Days), I’m equally convinced it will not.

When We Least Expect

Instead, the Rapture will most likely take place on some “ordinary” day far removed from such days as Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Christmas, Resurrection Sunday, Purim, or any other vitally important day that we might revere and celebrate. Why on earth would I say something so anticlimactic, so over-the-top, so uninspired, so uneventful, so … well, so, negative!?

What is the basis for such a conclusion? This premise is based on what Jesus, himself, said. Most of us know the passage; in fact, we’ve just referred to it, i.e. Matthew Chapter 24 (and 25). Many of you will recognize the verse. Here it is: “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24: 44, italics for emphasis).

Did you catch that? Of course, you did. To further emphasize and reinforce his statement that no one knows the hour or the day of his return, Jesus gave us another strong clue. He will return (on a day) when we least expect him to arrive. There are 365 days in the year (360 if you use the Hebrew calendar). If we rely heavily on what Jesus is telling us, then combine it with all the other end times passages, I think we can safely assume (predict) that he will not take us home in the Rapture on any holiday of great importance to us or to the Jews. Besides, the only prophecy remaining for the church, itself (the body of Christ consisting of both Jews and Gentiles) is the Rapture. This prophecy has no bearing whatsoever on all the predictions pertaining to Israel and the Jews, such as the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel as a people and a nation.

Thus, I believe it is a mistake, at least a miscalculated presumption to claim or even to speculate beyond mere possibility that blood moon tetrads (lunar eclipses) have a direct correlation with the Rapture of the Church. If that were the case, then our Lord has teased us some 7 ¼ times during the past 2000 years. Some could even argue that we have been misled to think that blood moon tetrads will signal the return of Christ. But misled only if they make a connection that should be reserved to significant events pertaining to Israel. Do you see the difference?

Blood moons? Do they apply to Israel? Absolutely, they do, but we never know which ones or when, until something happens such as the Six-Day War of 1967. Do blood moons apply to the Church or the Rapture? Highly unlikely; however, the Great Tribulation that follows the Rapture will see an abundance of signs/wonders in the heavens and unimaginable plagues on the earth never experienced before and never to be experienced again. The reason that the darkened sun, and the blood-red moon which gives no light of Joel Chapter 2 will be so utterly spectacular, is because it will defy all scientific explanations including a lunar eclipse. And, these signs will be but two of many wonders in the heavens and earth, “before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.”

Things to Ponder

As a matter of emphasis, I would repeat my (and I think all who passionately hope for the soon-to-be glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ) earlier preference that the Lord’s return might be on a significant day of the year. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the Last Trumpet would sound, our mortal bodies transfigured, and we ascend to heaven (Rapture) while we’re opening presents on Christmas Eve or Day? Or while we’re listening to Handel’s Messiah on Resurrection Sunday? Or while Jews and some Gentiles are celebrating Passover?

The evidence weighs heavily against the Lord’s appearance on such days. But as suggested: Any day of the year would be the most wonderful day imaginable, if it were the day of our Lord’s return to take us home! Meanwhile, let’s follow Paul’s majestic appeal to Titus and other believers: “For the grace of God had been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2: 11-13).

Passover … an Enduring Legacy

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PASSOVER … AN ENDURING LEGACY

Try to visualize our state and federal highways built without overpasses found on hundreds of clover leafs and interchanges throughout the country. There would be instant and ongoing traffic gridlock that would make a twisting, turning roller coaster ride at Disneyland seem like a perfectly straight path. And standing in line to get to that ride would seem like only a minute or two. Not to mention the hazardous traffic conditions created, so I won’t mention that. Instead, we are able to enter or exit an Interstate highway bypassing high-speed traffic below or above us. We pass over those obstacles on a path that keeps us moving toward our destination.

One of the greatest events in human history took place when God, himself, passed over the descendants of Abraham while the angel of death traveled through the land of Egypt killing the firstborn son in every Egyptian family. Virtually all Jews know the story, as do hundreds of millions of Gentiles throughout the world. Even Hollywood has told the tale that has survived some 3200 years of human history. You remember, don’t you? The Ten Commandments, featuring Charlton Heston as Moses. The first Passover marked the birth of the Jewish nation.

The Passover plague was the tenth and the most devastating in the line of miracles God performed against the Egyptians, who’s Pharaoh stubbornly refused to free God’s people … ordered by God, through Moses and Aaron. It was the plague to end all plagues. It was the, “what does it take to get your full attention, to fully understand that I am the true and Almighty God and I mean business,” catastrophe. It was, what part of “let my people go” don’t you understand?

The stakes were incredibly high—deliverance from oppression, brutality, deprivation, and often times death at the hands of cruel task masters. Lest you think that the demise of every firstborn Egyptian was too harsh, there were some two million Israelites held in unbearable bondage. It was slave labor for an entire race of people. Would you be willing to continue sixth or seventh generational back-breaking, soul-sapping, poverty-stricken labor for someone else who couldn’t care less whether you lived or died or how much you suffered between birth and death?

In this country, a mere thirteen colonies composed of only a few thousand people revolted against the mighty empire of England. Do you think the American Revolutionary Army would have shamefully given up the fight if they had been ordered to kill the firstborn of every English family to gain their freedom? Though the task would have been grim, they certainly would have done what was necessary for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Economic, cultural, and political repression by England was no longer tolerable. And this subjugation by “taxation without representation” had gone on for only a few decades; whereas the Israelites had been in submissive enslavement and abject poverty for 430 years! Enough was enough. God heard their desperate cry for help. It was time to return to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; a land given to them by God, himself … time to be the head, and not the tail.

Read with me God’s instructions to Moses and the Hebrews: “On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt. This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time” (Exodus 12: 12-14).

Down through the ages, that’s exactly what the Jews have done. The Jewish Passover is still celebrated to this very day. It will be observed next Tuesday, April 15th and continues for one week as the feast of unleavened bread. Somehow, in some inexplicable way, the Jews never forgot how much Passover means to them. Despite being ruthlessly conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC, by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and finally by the Romans in 70 AD, driven out of their land, and exiled to virtually every nation on the earth for some 2000 years, they faithfully kept Passover. You would think that the Jews, who were no longer a people or a nation (as nations are defined by a people living in a certain land), would have eventually forgotten or dismissed the importance of an observance that, among other things, required a personal journey to Jerusalem every year to celebrate this ordained festival.

Yet, millions of Jews in Israel and millions more throughout the world have already begun their meticulous preparation for Passover Seder. Tens of thousands will travel to Israel, reborn as a nation in 1948; tens of thousands more will fly from Israel to their families in the United States, Russia, France, Germany and countries all over the earth. Many Seders consist of extended families with twenty or thirty in attendance.

Why? Is it because God ordained Passover as an annual ritual to be remembered and observed by the Jews? Yes, but that is not the complete picture or reason, as confirmed by the fact that many Jews who celebrate Passover are not observant Jews who practice Judaism on a regular basis … meaning they are secular, or at the most, reformed or liberal in their leanings. It’s ceremonial, but it’s more than a ritual. To better understand the deep meaning and relevance of Passover to even secular Jews in today’s post-modern non-religious or even anti-religious society, we need to identify what really took place in this tenth and final miracle that led to deliverance of the Jews.

Redemption

Why were Israelite families required to sacrifice a lamb or a goat and then, “take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the door frames of the houses….”? (Exodus 12:7). Then, as we already have read, the Lord would, “see the blood. I will pass over you…” (Verse 13). By now the Hebrews fully understood that their God was the true and living Almighty God. Nine previous miracles attested to God’s omniscience and omnipotence, as well as remembrance that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Wouldn’t it suffice to deal with the Egyptians in one ultimate, miraculous demonstration of power? Why must the Jews participate through a visible display of blood to exempt them from this final devastating plague? And, why must it be repeated as an annual observance forever?

The answer: God’s deliverance of the Jews was more than liberation from corporeal slavery in Egypt. For sure it was physical redemption (akin to the ancient purchase of a slave in order to grant freedom to the slave). Redeem has a twofold meaning: “to buy back … to free from that which distress or harms … to free from captivity” (Webster’s dictionary). But also to: “release from blame or debt.” Biblical redemption, therefore, generates deliverance from external harm or captivity or judgment (whether deserved or not), but also from internal enslavement to selfishness and sin.

In the Exodus, for the first time the redemptive price was the sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of otherwise innocent lambs and goats throughout the land. But even that was not enough. For it was necessary that each Israelite (family) personally apply the blood of this sacrifice to his/her dwelling place. This served as a “sign” that each man, woman, and child would be spared the plague of death that would strike Egypt.

This personal application of the blood would demonstrate and represent individual responsibility of choosing to obey the Lord; to recognize that, without the shedding of blood, there would be no escape from God’s wrath and judgment—which is administered only against those who refuse to acknowledge the true and living God and trust him exclusively for their redemption (salvation). Thus, there was no relief for the Egyptians, as they had made it all too clear that they would not (even after nine horrible plagues) listen to God and let his people go.

Less than two years later, all of God’s laws and decrees were given to the Israelites through Moses, including the extraordinary Levitical sacrificial system that established a relationship to/with God on God’s terms. The bedrock cornerstone of this system: without the shedding of blood, there would be no atonement for sin. There would be no redemption. The high-priced guilt and consequences of sin required an equally high price in order for God to forgive wrongdoing against him and against humanity.

This God-given principle of life (and death) was necessary for God’s chosen people as much or more than the pagan nations who deliberately ignored and even defied the true and living God, choosing instead to worship man-made gods of fertility and prosperity. No different from people today who follow hard after (worship) the gods of money, power, pleasure, prestige, sex, and greed. Thus, the Lord God made it clear that deliverance of the Israelites from slavery was not only liberation from Egyptian bondage, but an ultimate release from the penalty of personal and national sin. Both required a sacrificial offering. Both required trust in God and God alone.

Later, through King David and the prophets, God made known to Israel in more detail that a Messiah would come who would redeem Israel … to the fullest meaning and extent of the very idea of redemption. “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins, says the Lord” (Isaiah 59:20). And, “The Lord has sent this message to every land: Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’ They will be called, ‘The Holy People’ and ‘The People Redeemed by the Lord’” (Isaiah 62: 11-12).

God wanted the Jews to never forget who it was that rescued them from miserable, hopeless, endless servitude. And, he wanted them to remember what exactly it was that accomplished this delivery from otherwise certain death during the 10th plague… the blood of an innocent lamb. And then to understand that serving the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would result in true freedom from personal enslavement to sin with all of its ugly consequences.

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture records God’s amazing guarantee to King David that concludes with, “Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever” (II Samuel 7:16). Because the succession of Israel’s kings ended with the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BC, it’s all too obvious that this everlasting promise could only be fulfilled by the coming Messiah, a descendant of David who would one day rule and reign forever.

I love King David’s reaction to God’s remarkable promise. The very heart of that response focuses on his keen remembrance of and tribute to Israel’s spectacular emancipation from what (at the time) seemed to be perpetual slavery. Listen to David’s stirring prayer of gratitude: “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! What other nation on earth is like your people Israel? You made a great name for yourself when you redeemed your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations and gods that stood in their way. You made Israel your very own people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God” (II Samuel 7: 22-24, italics for emphasis).

But David knew, as did many of Israel’s prophets, that God’s Passover redemption of Israel would (later) also include a “people that were not God’s people” in God’s majestic plan of salvation. That it would be God’s Messiah who would accomplish this purpose.

Another Celebration of Passover

Christians also celebrate Passover every year, in a different way; but with the same emphasis of applying blood to the doorposts of our hearts and minds. We call it Easter, although I personally prefer Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday, as it really has nothing to do with bunnies and a search for eggs! How on earth did we ever go from, “Hallelujah, He is Risen,” to “Happy Easter.” Oh, I know the story of Easter and all that … I’m just lamenting the change in name, prominence, and meaning of a magnificent Holy Day in which our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, arose from the dead; to one where we hide eggs for our children to find, without telling them that they can find the greatest treasure of all time in Jesus, who loves them and died for them. But, I digress!

The difference is that true born-again Christians believe that God’s chosen Redeemer has, indeed, come to this earth. That Jesus of Nazareth is the very Messiah predicted by the prophets, as proclaimed by the first prophet to have come to Israel in over 400 hundred years (since the last prophet, Malachi), John the Baptist: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater that I am, for he existed long before me. I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:29-31).

Indeed, Jesus was revealed to Israel, and to the whole world as God’s Messiah, the very Son of God. He proved this beyond any doubt by willingly dying an excruciating death on a cruel cross for the sins of the whole world and then rising from the dead! But to be forgiven, to pass from death (eternal separation from God) to life, to live forever with God and the host of heaven, each person must apply the shed blood of Christ to the threshold of their heart. How is this done? According to Scripture, it’s really very simple: “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:25). But this universal truth must be personalized.

Before Christ miraculously raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus and Lazarus sister, Martha, had one of the most poignant, but powerful and precious conversations ever recorded in the Bible. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’” (John 11:25-26). Can and will we reply with Martha, “Yes, Lord, she told him. I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:27).

Passover is to be celebrated each year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (our months of March or April). On precisely that day in 32 AD Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. That was beyond mere coincidence. God deliberately chose that day to sacrifice his beloved Son, as the final atonement for every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. Nor was it a coincidence that the Temple curtain that enclosed the Holy of Holies (the place where the annual sacrifice took place) was inexplicably torn down. Nor was it mere happenstance that the Temple itself was destroyed 40 years later just as Jesus predicted. Each of these remarkable events took place to demonstrate that Jesus was the supreme sacrifice once and for all time and for all people. It was no longer necessary to sacrifice animals. Sins were no longer just covered, they were completely removed from all who believe in so great a salvation.

Listen now to the words of the apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul—a once devout Jewish Pharisee steeped in the Mosaic Law—who persecuted the followers of Christ, “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” (Romans 3:27-28).

When God delivered the Hebrews from captivity in Egypt, there was no Mosaic law. That came later and primarily for the purpose of educating the Jews to the fact that no one is capable of keeping the whole law. The law was given as a written record, written proof of what the human conscience already knew (the difference between right and wrong). It also served as a tutor, pointing the way to the coming Messiah … training them to fully grasp the God-given spiritual law, “…without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). When God passed over the Hebrews, he didn’t just pass over the entire populace at once. Rather, the angel of death passed over each and every house where the blood had been applied.

Israel’s Fervent Longing for Messiah

The Passover Seder is still the most widely celebrated Jewish festival in today’s world, eclipsing even Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Most Jews reenact the fateful hours of that night long ago. And, as indicated in several past Eye of Prophecy articles, there is a growing awareness and increasing expectancy that Moshiach (Hebrew for Messiah) will come at any time. To varying degrees, non-religious and religious Jews alike believe the time is very short for Messiah’s triumphant arrival. They refer to this time simply as The Redemption that will take place in the Messianic Era.

As noted by reporter, Ahuva Balofsky in a Breaking Israel News article, “In fact, the 12th century sage, Maimonides, listed belief in his (Messiah’s) imminent arrival as one of the thirteen Principles of Faith that separate true believers from heretics. When he comes, tradition dictates, all Jews will be gathered back to the land of Israel and an era of peace, prosperity, and understanding for all mankind will be ushered in. It is precisely for this reason that some individuals outside the country (Israel) own and maintain property there.”

What is Ms. Balofsky referring to? She is explaining a unique condition that many Jerusalem homeowners have inserted into rental contracts … the Moshiach clause! This clause stipulates that when Messiah arrives renters must vacate the home to allow the landlord to return and live there. In other words, these absentee landlords want to guarantee themselves a place to live in Jerusalem when Messiah appears in Israel. Some landlords will rigidly enforce this clause; however, others will apparently work with their tenants depending on the language of the contract. For example, one renter who didn’t like the contract (“Where would we go? What would we do?” the renter said), persuaded the owner to provide one room of the two-room apartment for the tenant to live, with the landlord occupying the second room!

This is nothing short of astonishing! Because it demonstrates both the ideal and the practical longing and expectancy held by many Jews that Messiah is soon to come. For the Christian, it will be the return of Yeshua ha Mashiach. (Jesus the Messiah).

Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed (passed over) by the Lamb of God, will not experience the wrath of God during the Great Tribulation. (See I Thessalonians 5:9). We will be taken in the Rapture and spared from the greatest calamity ever experienced by mankind, much like Noah and his family escaped the Great Flood, and just like the Hebrews were passed over by the angel of death.

Meanwhile we all remember: Without the shedding of blood, there would be no Passover. There would be no forgiveness of sin and no protection from God’s judgment, which includes eternal separation from God after death.

The first Passover led the Jews to the Promised Land of Israel. Though exiled, they have returned in great numbers. For hundreds of years the Passover Seder has included the utterance by Jews all over the world, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Today, millions of Jews have seen that dream come true.

The last Passover (sacrifice) was made by a prophet greater even than Moses. None other than a man from Galilee willingly laid down his life and shed his blood to deliver us from our trespasses. He made us right with God. Do you believe that?

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God! Great glory and power to the Lion from the tribe of Judah!

Things to Ponder

What is meant by the last Passover? Does that mean it’s no longer important to celebrate Passover? Or does it mean that blood sacrifices are no longer necessary? Or both?

Wiles of the Woman

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WILES OF THE WOMAN

On page A13 of The Arizona Republic published 3-29-14, the headline reads: Pope’s video message starts new era with Pentecostals. The article comes from Associated Press journalist, Rachel Poll, who writes, “The video … message is simple: We’re brothers despite our differences. Yet religious leaders say this informal greeting from Pope Francis has reset relations between the Roman Catholic Church and one of its fiercest competitors around the world, Pentecostals. Recorded by a clergy friend Francis had invited to Rome, the message was directed to the spirit-filled Christians whose popular movements have for decades been draining parishioners from the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America.”

Then Zoll quotes Pope Francis, “Come on, we are brothers. Let’s give each other a spiritual hug, and let God complete the work that he has begun.” Again, Pope Francis declares from the video, “I am speaking to you as a brother. I speak to you in a simple way, with joy and yearning. Let us allow our yearning to grow, because this will propel us to find each other, to embrace one another and together to worship Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history.”

In another article written on this subject (3-11-14) by Prophecy News Watch reporter Christine Pasciuti, we read, “The Pope has stirred things up in recent weeks by sending a video message to Pentecostal Word of Faith leader Kenneth Copeland, urging reconciliation between Catholics and Charismatics. Anglican Episcopal Bishop and friend of the Pontiff, Tony Palmer, stated in an introduction to the video before Copeland’s live audience, ‘The Catholic and Charismatic Renewal is the hope of the Church,’ as ministry followers cheered him on.’”

Even more shocking is Tony Palmer’s daring proclamation in support of Pope Francis’ olive branch extension of love and unity to the Pentecostal movement. Palmer announces: “Brothers and sisters, Luther’s protest is over. Is yours?” Followed by Kenneth Copeland’s equally audacious response: “Heaven is thrilled over this.”

Spiritual hugs? Allow our yearning to grow? Catholic and Charismatic Renewal is the hope of the Church? Heaven thrilled over this? Luther’s (Martin Luther) protest is over? Really? I beg to differ. I thought that Jesus Christ is the only hope of the Church.

How could our Lord possibly be thrilled over the adulteration of his gospel, which is precisely what happens when you mix salvation that comes from trusting exclusively in God’s grace and atoning sacrifice of Christ with righteousness acquired through self-effort and self-merit? Does the Son of God really want or need a renewal of catholic and charismatics (or any other such alliance) to restore unity in and guarantee survival of the true Church (those justified by faith, not by works)? Actually, in this case, Charismatic Christianity as represented by Kenneth Copeland’s teaching is, itself, an aberration of Biblical Christianity. But that’s another story and is not the real issue here.

The real problem is the Protestant movement—underway for several centuries now—seeking some sort of reconciled liaison with the very entity that caused the protest in the first place. Not only with the Catholic Church but with Islam, so much so that some evangelicals have coined a term to identify this insidious movement … Chrislam. More specifically, the issue is that enduring unity, love, and brotherhood cannot exist without a basic agreement that what we believe is a matter of life and death (heaven or hell). What we believe not only determines our destiny, but it regulates what we think, say, and do … how we relate to others who believe differently. The true Christian principle is: We can love them, but we shouldn’t join them. The love I’m referring to is the Biblical agape that is defined by right action (such as a genuine concern for their eternal destiny and sincerely sharing the truth of the gospel with them).

Truth versus Unity

You might ask, “What’s so wrong with Christian unity? Answer: Absolutely nothing. If, that is, unity and love are based in and on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in the proverbial nutshell, that truth is encapsulated in and represented by Ephesians 2:8-9: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

And, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek … But the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1: 16-17). Which is what compelled a Catholic Priest by the name of Martin Luther to boldly protest against the Catholic doctrine that claims a person is ultimately justified through self-actions that merit and maintain righteousness, or the granting of indulgences. If you doubt that Catholic dogma has changed to the point of assenting to mainstream Protestant or Evangelical or even Pentecostal emphasis of the Christian faith, just go online and read, The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The facts are clear: Catholicism still endorses a sophisticated set of rules, actions, and conditions that all Catholics in good standing must adhere to, in order to even have the chance of (pre-qualify) obtaining salvation and admittance to heaven.

Why would non-Catholic religious leaders like Bishop Tony Palmer and Kenneth Copeland reach back to the Pope and give him a spiritual hug; when, in fact, the very foundation of the Catholic Church is based on salvation through good works, keeping of non-Biblical sacraments, and God’s potential acceptance of the individual just because he or she is a baptized member of the Catholic Church? The answer is equally and sadly evident: Because some Protestant leaders have also distorted the gospel of Jesus Christ; replacing it with a system of man-made do(s) and don’t(s) that circumvent Biblical salvation of justification through faith in the substitutionary death of Christ, with a works-based, cultic, law-keeping self-righteousness that nullifies the very idea and sufficiency of God’s free gift of grace (through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son) to save us.

To further confirm that the Pope’s ultimate objective is to divide and conquer through the shroud of unity, listen to his statements on Islam made in Rome during an ecumenical style meeting of representatives from various religious groups, including Jews and Christians: “I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you….”

Much could be said about the one God referenced by the Pope, as books have been written on the matter of whether Allah is the same God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament; and in the new Testament, the Father who gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of all mankind (John 3:16). Having read much about this subject, I can assure you beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever: Allah, the god of the Koran, is not the God of the Judaic-Christian faith as found in the Bible. The differences are many, but I will cite only one: It is blasphemy for a Muslim to believe that Allah has a son or could ever have a son; thus, no Muslim believes that Jesus is the divine son of God (Allah). Likewise with observant Jews; however, thousands upon thousands of Jews the world over have acknowledged the divinity of Jesus and have, in fact, accepted Him as both Messiah and Savior. So, too, are Muslims coming to Christ in increasing numbers.

Thus, it’s not just the Christian Protestants, but also the Muslims who are being courted by the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s very strange that unity and brotherhood would be used to divide and conquer, but that is exactly the strategy employed here. If you can separate (divide) the marginal Christian (those unsure of their salvation … susceptible to the notion that love and unity should be gained at all cost, even at the expense of truth) from those who truly have been redeemed by believing in the shed blood of Christ, then you will have recaptured many of those who previously dissented from or protested against the universal, ecclesiastical government known as the Roman Catholic Church—that claims divine control over the residents of its kingdom.

The Woman Who Sits on the Scarlet Beast

This tactic is precisely what God calls (spiritual) prostitution and adultery in Scripture, of which Israel was guilty as described in the Old Testament. Such as, “When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, ‘Go and marry a prostitute … This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshipping other gods’” (Hosea 1:2). Of which the woman sitting on the scarlet beast was/is guilty, as graphically depicted in the New Testament. “…I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality” (Revelation 17: 1-2).

For those who wonder or doubt exactly who and what the woman of Revelation 17 and Babylon of Revelation 18 represent, please refer to the Eye of Prophecy articles entitled The Woman and the Beast (Parts I-VI), posted successively 10-12-13 through 11-16-13. The woman and Babylon are identified with a great deal of Biblical and historical documentation. For sake of time/space in this article, suffice to say that this woman was the ancient Roman Empire of the first century (when Revelation was written), and is currently the Holy Roman Empire, represented by the Roman Catholic Church and personified by its Supreme Vicar, the Pope, who governs with great authority from the Vatican. Babylon is the encoded name for the city that sets on seven hills, none other than ancient (and modern) Rome.

The woman of Revelation 17 is alive and well. Both deliberately and unwittingly she is preparing the earth for the scarlet beast on which she will seek to exert her influence toward world-wide collaboration of all those who will worship the beast upon his return from the abyss. The beast and the ten tribulation kings who give him their allegiance will turn on the woman and utterly destroy her. Until such time the woman will endeavor to ply her wiles on an unsuspecting world, all too eager to pursue a warm, fuzzy, kum ba ya type of love and unity, while sacrificially discarding the very truth that can save them.

What Pope Francis has done in just a short time since he became the Supreme Pontiff is both remarkable and unprecedented. Never before (certainly not to this extent) has a Roman Catholic Pope reached out with such conciliation as he has done with Protestants—especially the Pentecostals—and Muslims and Jews. Together these three groups comprise nearly two billion people in the world, alongside of the one billion Catholics. From the vantage point of the Protestants and Muslims, this olive branch could easily be construed as the Catholic Church’s willingness to modify certain beliefs and practices for the sake of dialogue and even fellowship between these religious groups. However, it’s anything but compromise. It’s clever conciliation through appeasement, mollification, and pacification. I mean, it can’t get much better than all Roman Catholics wanting to be one with all Protestants, and all Muslims, and all Jews (the Pope has made several conciliatory statements regarding the Jews and is planning a rare Papal visit to Israel next month).

Is love important? Of course it is. In fact, Jesus said love is how his true disciples will be identified by unbelievers. But the key operative condition in order for this love to be properly defined and expressed is that the one defining and displaying it must first be a true believer, i.e. personally believe/receive Christ’ atoning death on the Cross. Is unity to be pursued? For sure, but not if the truth of the gospel is distorted or replaced in the process.

“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8: 31-32). From other teachings of Jesus, we know that in this passage he is referring to freedom from enslavement to sin and pursuit of all things that lead to dissolution and destruction, and eternal separation from God, in hell. Not love, not unity, not brotherhood, but truth leads to real freedom and liberty. All of these other things are a supernatural by-product of knowing and experiencing the truth. And just what is the truth? Jesus answers that with an astonishingly exclusive proclamation. He said, “I am the truth.” Also the “way and the life” (John 14:6).

Thus, the Pope’s recent words and actions are nothing short of bewildering. But there’s more.

Vatican Control of Jerusalem Holy Sites?

Part of the framework of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs as presented and promoted by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, calls for holy sites in Eastern Jerusalem to be placed under the control of an “international administrative mandate.” The clear-cut composition of this administrative body is still in the making; however, one strong recommendation would designate the Vatican (alongside of Muslim nations such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia) to assume administrative jurisdiction of all Holy Sites, not the least of which would be the Temple Mount, where the ancient Jewish Temples once stood and where the Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque currently stands.

The Vatican? Yes, you read that correctly. It is, after all, a State that has been afforded diplomatic recognition by the United Nations. How would or could the Vatican work together with Israel and Turkey and Saudi Arabia (both enemies of the Jews) to maintain peace and tranquility over these Holy Sites? Your guess is as good as mine; however, this proposal is a contemporary representation of what the ancient Roman Empire and its successor the Holy See has done off and on for the last 2000 years … meaning control of holy sites and a good many unholy sites by seduction, division, compromise, intrigue, that led to military and religious rule over kings, queens, princes, and nations who both willingly and unwillingly became bedfellows.

There’s more.

Vatican Astronomers

Yes, you also read that correctly. Holy See Astronomers.

According to Popular Science there is an instrument attached to the University of Arizona’s Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) located on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona (my home state). This instrument and telescope are used primarily to search for intergalactic life on other planets that may be similar in size and physics to the earth. And for whatever reason, this telescope and instrument attachment has been designated (named): Large Binocular Telescope Near-Infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research.

Now, what do you suppose the acronym is for this long-worded (winded) piece of equipment? For that matter, why does it need a name or acronym in the first place? Why not limit it to LBT? Because the full name of the instrument doesn’t precisely match the acronym, it’s a safe assumption to say that the acronym was deliberately contrived. If you weren’t told the acronym, it would be very difficult to figure it out. So, I’ll eliminate any more suspense and tell you what these “scientists” have dubbed their extraterrestrial machine. They call it: LUCIFER!

Shocked? If, not, we should be. Why would astronomers (and all that goes with the idea of science and scientist) name this technical equipment—used to search for life in outer-space—after Satan, also known as Lucifer?

But wait, there’s more: Could you possibly guess what is housed right next door to LUCIFER?

I couldn’t have guessed either. None other than a second telescope called the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, owned by the Vatican and used by Vatican astronomers! It’s one thing for Vatican astronomers to believe in extra-terrestrial life in the universe. It’s quite another for one of their astronomers, Guy Consolmagno, to publicly state that aliens could actually be the “saviors of humankind.”

Moreover, the website Truth Wins reported that researcher Tom Horn discovered that there are those in the Roman Catholic Church who contend that Jesus is a descendant of aliens and that Mary’s conception and virgin birth occurred after she was abducted by these aliens. That’s more than just crazy. It’s outright blasphemy. Had it originated from an agnostic or from one of the many televised programs promoting theories that aliens are the origin of many wonders of the earth (such as the pyramids), we would have simply considered the source. But for a member/representative of the Catholic Church that purports to be the true representative of Christ on earth to make such a statement … well, we’ll leave that entirely in God’s hands to deal with.

Once Again: Truth vs Unity (Should be, but not necessarily compatible)

There are many of us who agree that Israel and the Palestinians will never reach true peace and unity without the Prince of Peace to lead them. Why? Because the Arabs refuse to consider the TRUTH that the Jews have been given the land of Israel by God, himself. They will not even comply with the only prerequisite for peace negotiations requested by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu … that Israel be acknowledged and accepted as a Jewish State.

Likewise, there can be no unity or peace or reconciliation between the Roman Catholic Church (or Muslims) and those Protestants (and even some Catholics) who believe that redemption comes exclusively by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, until unity is based on that TRUTH.

Lest you think that truth and love can’t be at odds one with the other, or that they must be innately compatible, or that love (however love is defined) can trump truth by overcoming differences in beliefs, then listen to Psalms 85:10: “Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!” In order for these concepts to meet and kiss, they first must be separate or apart one from the other. This profound gem of Scripture is simply saying that true love (understanding of and genuine consideration for God and for our fellow-man) is not really effective or meaningful unless it is first reconciled with the absolute truth of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Also, lasting peace (unity)—apart from right standing with God (the righteousness given to us by Christ, himself)—simply isn’t possible for mankind because a right relationship with God is the very foundation of peace (with both God and mankind) in the first place. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lords has done for us” (Romans 5:1).

Love, peace, and brotherhood absent truth and righteousness is like the warmth of the sun’s rays without the light of the sun. Why would anyone ever want one without the other? God made the sun. He IS love and truth!

Summary

Two weeks ago my article, Beware of the Bear, warned us of the resurgent rise of Russia, and how this restoration of power and prestige in the world fits accurately with the Gag/Magog prophetic attack against Israel found in Ezekiel 38 & 39. This week’s article reminds us that the once mighty Roman Empire still flourishes under the guise of a seductive woman dressed in, “purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality … she was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus” (Revelation 17: 4-6).

In the very next chapter the angel warns John (and all true believers in Christ): “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds” (Revelation 18: 4-5).

More so than ever before, this woman seeks to subvert through seduction, compromise, tolerance, and clever politically correct words and gestures that will mislead all but the most vigilant and diligent of those who cherish the truth of the one and only true God and His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. For without Biblical truth that leads to salvation, righteousness, and eternal life, true love can never be successfully defined, understood, and shared between people, both religious and non-religious.

These recent activities of the Roman Catholic Church (the woman of Revelation) once again demonstrate just how close we are to the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Things to Ponder

How is it that all religious paths can lead to God, when the very belief system of religions disagree on who God is or even if he exists (atheism), or how a person is saved (salvation), or what determines a person’s eternal destiny, or our definitions of love, unity, brotherhood, and truth itself … which, in turn, determines our morality, behavior, and our very lifestyle?

We who are redeemed by Christ and Christ alone should bear no animosity whatsoever toward Catholics, Muslims, or to any follower of other religions or cults or aberrant lifestyles. But we must separate ourselves from what they believe and practice. To fellowship with them under the mantle of brotherly love would be no different from an American soldier crossing enemy lines, putting on the uniform of the enemy, and then demanding that the Americans surrender or else. Or else, what? Time will tell.

Beware of the Bear!

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BEWARE OF THE (Russian) BEAR

Who could ever imagine that a Hollywood actor would one day become President of the United States of America? A performer can play the role of a President, but he doesn’t become one! But that’s exactly what happened when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President in January, 1981. I voted for him, but I also had doubts. Bedtime for Bonzo kept flashing through my mind! But, so did what is perhaps Reagan’s best movie, Kings Row. Many believed he would be a one-term wonder, a political fluke whose election was merely a backlash rebound of the voters against the ill-fated presidency of President Jimmy Carter (1976-1980). Mostly, it was the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran that sealed Carter’s fall from political grace with the American public.

Not only did Ronald Reagan successfully navigate through his first term with his trickle-down Reaganomics economy, but he won a landslide victory over Walter Mondale to ensure a second term as our President. He garnered the most electoral votes in history (525), with Mondale winning only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Moreover, by the time President Reagan completed his second term as President, he had been instrumental in achieving what no one thought possible … the dissolution of the mighty Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (Though the Soviet Union wasn’t dismantled in 1991, this was simply the aftermath of Reagan’s efforts during the 1980s to stand tall against the Soviet regime).

Some of you may remember: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The Russian President complied, resulting in the reunification of East and West Berlin; also, the end of Soviet dominance of East Germany, which had become like a vassal state to Russia. Soon to follow was the break-up of the Soviet Union, in which most of the 14 satellite states that comprised the Russian Sphere declared their independence from the mother land. By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union was no more. The principal nation of Russia converted to (still is) the Russian Federation. Many of these peripheral countries became independent states, such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldavia, Uzbekistan (and all the other “stan” states), and the Ukraine.

The American eagle flew proudly over the Russian bear, and spread her wings to protect and defend the nations that embraced democracy. The United States regained her status as the world’s only superpower. The Soviet Union seemed to implode from within … suffering from all the ills of economic collapse, political corruption, and social disarray. Virtually overnight, her status as a superpower vanished. Many politicians, social scientists, economists, religious leaders, and even evangelicals believed the once mighty Russian bear was dead.

Students of prophecy shook their heads in disbelief, questioning whether their analysis of the Ezekiel 38 & 39 Gog, Magog attack on Israel could possibly be accurate. Many students of the Bible reexamined the Scriptures to determine if, “the prince who rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2) and, “Gog” ruler of the land of Magog would, in fact, be the ruler of the nation that comes against Israel, “from the distant north” (Ezekiel 39:1). Had they been wrong all this time? Russia couldn’t even lead itself, let alone a great multi-national army as Ezekiel so graphically portrays in Ezekiel 38:9: “You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them (Israel) like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”

Despite President Reagan’s huge contributions toward the Soviet Union’s collapse as a godless communist conglomerate along with its looming threat to the United States and the entire world as a nuclear superpower, this article is not about Ronald Reagan. Rather, it is about the rising resurgence of the Russian Bear.

Return of the Bear

We see, now, that the Bear was not dead, but in a state of prolonged hibernation. Due mostly to the leadership of one man, Vladmir Putin, the people from the mother land of “the distant north” once again proudly wave the Russian flag. Recently, Mr. Putin voiced his opinion that the greatest calamity of the 20th century—indeed of modern history—was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In no uncertain terms, he was implying that this catastrophe even exceeded the monumental disasters of World War II, including the unthinkable, unimaginable tragedy of the Holocaust. But, then, with autocrats such as Putin, we must consider the source. For many, it is crystal clear what Putin intends to do: Whatever the cost, he means to rebuild the once mighty Russian empire and reestablish its preeminence among the global family of nations.

In slightly over twenty years, Russia has emerged economically, politically, and militarily as a force to be reckoned with; in large part due to Vladmir Putin’s ominous, but remarkable rise to prominence and power. After 16 years as a KGB officer, Putin eventually became Russia’s President in 2000, serving in that position until 2008. (Many countries have a president, however, their highest position of leadership is that of prime minister. In Russia, it’s just the reverse … President first, then Prime Minister).

After a good deal of deliberation, Putin decided to acknowledge the Russian Constitution’s presidential two-term limit (identical to the United States two-term limit), and chose not to run again for President in 2008. However, he was appointed by the newly elected President, Dmitry Medvedev, to the 2nd highest position in the land, Prime Minister. Yet it was no secret that most of Russia wanted Putin back as President; therefore, Medvedev recommended (nominated) Putin as a presidential candidate in 2012. On May 7th, 2012, Putin once again was elected President, swapping positions with Medvedev who was appointed Prime Minister. For all practical purposes, the Russian constitution was ignored.

Recently, Forbes magazine ranked Vladmir Putin as the world’s most powerful person, a rating that the President of the United States normally is afforded. Apparently, the current criteria for this ranking doesn’t depend on the goodness or benevolence or positive image of a leader, but rather on sheer power, prestige, and global influence. However, Putin claims to be a Russian Orthodox Christian, and, in fact, attends Orthodox Church services … all the while maintaining his membership in Russia’s Communist Party. Throughout Russia, Putin is revered as a super-hero, with many commercial products named after him. Putin declared the recent Winter Olympics held in Russia as a huge success. Why not … Russia led all nations with the most medals!

With such world-wide accolade and lofty status, Putin had no problem ignoring United States and the European Union’s threats of political and economic sanctions against Russia if they annexed Crimea back to the Russian Federation, which is exactly what happened just a few days ago. Subsequently, the U.S. and EU targeted several high-ranking officials in the Russian government with sanctions, but not Putin. In part this is because heads of state are not often sanctioned, but also because of the bewildering standing Putin has gained in the international community.

In response to Russia’s takeover of the Crimea and corresponding fear of surrounding former Russian satellite nations (such as Lithuania) that Russia will seek to return them to Russian territory, US Vice President Biden assured them that the United States is, “absolutely committed” to defending any aggression against its allies, i.e. NATO alliance nations or those who are in partnership with NATO.

Yet, many are skeptical of any U.S. or EU backing of these countries vulnerable to Russia invasion and annexation. Such as Israeli columnist and Editor Boaz Bismuth who wrote in Israel Hayom, “The Russian bear has already swallowed the (Crimean) peninsula as if it were a jar of honey.” Thus, Crimea no longer belongs to the Ukraine, even though former Russian President Nikita Khrushchev had allowed the Crimea to be part of the independent Ukraine state in the 1950s. Bismuth concluded his article by saying that Putin will, (continue to) “exploit the West’s blubbering and Washington’s lack of leadership.”

What About Ezekiel’s Gog, Magog Prophecy?

International developments within the past few years shows that Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog is alive and well after all! Right? Of course, right. Why is that? Because it’s found in the Bible, the very Word of God! What God says will happen, happens! Always has, always will! It parallels other Biblical prophecies that were considered to be impossible or inaccurate or non-applicable to the generation of that time, only to be proven correct by means of gradual or even sudden changes in world conditions. Israel’s miraculous born-in-a-day arrival on the world scene in 1948 is a good example.

Prior to that remarkable event, the vast majority of Biblical scholars and the Christian Church in general had given up on Old Testament prophecies that distinctly articulate the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel and the Jews. So much so, that many Christians and churches turned to the insidious, deceitful idea of Replacement Theology—the church symbolically replaces Israel even as applied to end-times prophecies. Or, the Church is God’s only reference point despite the many prophecies that indisputably identify the physical LAND and actual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the PEOPLE of that land, Israel.

I repeat for emphasis: Not the Church but Israel is the exclusive subject of such passages as: “Watch, for the day of the Lord is coming when your possessions will be plundered right in front of you! I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the woman raped. Half the population will be taken into captivity, and the rest will be left among the ruins of the city” (Zechariah 14:1-2). How can this passage possibly refer to the Church during the Tribulation? The answer is, it can’t. Not unless the Church is exclusively located in Jerusalem and half of the church (believers) are taken captive, etc, etc. But that’s what you must do if you subscribe to Replacement Theology. You must take all the negative passages with the positive.

Scripture is unambiguous: Believers will be taken in the Rapture, so that we do not have to go through the Great Tribulation. “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (I Thessalonians 5:9). The us in this verse clearly refers to believers in Christ. In the context of this entire passage, the poured out anger is equally transparent: it is the wrath of God vented on a rebellious global populace during the Great Tribulation.

There was no need for Bible students to panic back in 1991, when the Soviet Union crumbled to the ground. Although that was considered a positive development for the world-at-large, many Christians felt they had been misled by teachers of prophecy with regard to Russia as the only viable nation to match the description of Gog and Magog. So, we should have chilled out a little. In just over twenty years, we’re back on track … precisely where we started. Russia under the powerful leadership of Vladmir Putin is once again in the spot light of world affairs, and she is flexing her political clout and military muscles. I firmly believe that Russia will continue to grow as a world power right up to the time when she marches against Israel and fulfills the spectacular prophecy of Ezekiel 38 & 39.

Several nations will join the Russian campaign against Israel; in fact, these nations are even identified by Ezekiel in verses five and six of Chapter 38. Chief among these Russian allies is none other than the other rogue nation generating most of today’s headlines, Iran. Never before in medieval or modern history have Russia and Iran been allies or supportive one of the other. Until now! Russia is doing its best to block any additional sanctions against Iran from the West. Although there is no actual treaty or pact between Russia and Iran, it’s no secret that Russia and Iran are bosom buddy bedfellows in just about every way imaginable.

Russia, Iran & the Sovereignty of God

In fact, before the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s that overthrew the Shah, Iran was a staunch ally of the United States. Since that time, Islamic controlled Iran has done an about-face, and now pursues diplomatic, economic, and military support from Russia. And, Russia is all too willing to oblige. At first glance this is an oddity, as the Ayatollah Khomeini initially said (1979) that Iran and Russia were not well-suited for diplomatic cooperation, because Islam and Communism were totally incompatible. But that all changed when the Soviet Union collapsed. Communism no longer controlled the internal structure of government and external life style of the people.

Do you see the inexplicable irony in that? The United States was largely responsible for the demise of the communist government of the Soviet Union. Which, in turn, made strange bedfellows between Russia and Iran, historical enemies for hundreds of years. And Russia’s recent support for Iran, including actual aid in the development of nuclear facilities, has deepened the rift between the US and Russia, that had actually abated for some twenty years. Ironic? Yes. But there is an explanation. That explanation is the Sovereignty of Almighty God. The kind of providence that makes all the international intrigues and political maneuverings work together to fulfill God’s perfect plan for Israel, the Church, and all Gentile nations of the world, including (especially) the evil nations.

A brief review of the Gog, Magog attack on Israel shows that the prince who leads this great coalition comes from a land to the distant north of Israel. If you look at a world map, Moscow is directly north of Jerusalem. Thus, some Bible scholars (including me) believe this prince will be none other than a modern-day ruler from Russia. Who else could it be?

Question: If Russia, Iran and the other nations in this Gog, Magog coalition were to suddenly march against Israel today, would the United States come to Israel’s aid? Despite the recent wavering of the United States and retreating from red lines drawn in Syria (use of chemical weapons) and Iran (sanctions to deter manufacture of uranium and plutonium for nuclear warheads), my view is that America would, indeed, defend Israel and take on this Gog, Magog alliance.

My Rationale: Even though we might legitimately question President Barack Obama’s resolve to support Israel, there is still extremely strong support from our Congress (both houses) to fight for/with the tiny nation of Israel. Right now, as we speak, I’m totally convinced that the US Congress would vote to support Israel in response to an act of war against Israel … be it from Iran, Russia, the Arab Federation, or all of the above. But, according to the Gog, Magog prophecy of Ezekiel, other nations throughout the earth (strongly implying only the nations with military capability to take on Russia and its allies), will do nothing to come to Israel’s aid, except to verbally challenge Gog’s intentions (See Ezekiel 38:13). How can we then reconcile the nearly 100% guarantee that the US will come to Israel’s rescue today or in the foreseeable future, with the fact that neither the US nor any other prominent nation will oppose the Gog, Magog forces of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

ANSWER: When Russia, Iran, and this unholy coalition attack Israel, the U.S. won’t be able to do anything about it. Why? Because she will have been decimated by the loss of millions upon millions of people. And how will that happen? THE RAPTURE. Which means that, in all likelihood, this audacious attempt to destroy Israel and mock the true and living God will take place shortly after the Rapture. Nero, who reappears as the beast of Revelation, will not yet have assumed the great authority given to him for forty-two months. He, too, will sit idly by to watch and wait for Russia and her international partners in crime to destroy Israel. As Ezekiel clearly tells us … it will be God, himself, who will supernaturally crush Gog from the land of Magog.

Which, in turn, strongly suggests that the Rapture could take place soon, very soon. The reason for this conclusion is the fragile modern-day alliances between certain nations of the world. It only takes a minor incident for one country to turn on another and end whatever cooperation that had existed between those nations. Meaning that it wouldn’t take much at all for Russia and Iran to end their relationship. If that were to occur, then the Biblical prophecy of Gog, Magog would be put on hold indefinitely; which doesn’t fit with the ongoing fulfillment of other prophecies in our modern-day world.

Like so many other recent developments that match the Bible’s last-day predictions that take place in the final generation, the cooperative alliance between Russia and Iran (including Russia’s overt or tacit support of the other countries listed in the Gog, Magog coalition) suggest that the end is very near.

Summary

The slumbering Russian bear has awakened. She is baring (pun intended) her teeth at NATO and the EU. In a demonstration of superiority, fearlessness, and defiance, she is swiping her paw at the United States. She dared the West to do something about Crimea and the Ukraine, much like Iran dared the EU and the United States to do something about Syria and about Iran’s nuclear intentions. Russia and Iran stood up. The West stood down. What will they do next? What will we do next?

Who better to assume the role of the prince of Magog, than Vladmir Putin? Right, wrong, or indifferent, today’s global community crowns Putin as the “world’s most powerful person.”

Things to Ponder
- In the epic battle of Gog, Magog, Russia and Iran will do precisely what God warns them not to do. So, too, does this warning apply to the beast of Revelation. “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance’” (Psalms 75:4-5). But they will not listen. Following the total annihilation of Gog’s armies as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39, here’s what God says to Israel and to the nations, “In this way, I will demonstrate my glory to the nations. Everyone will see the punishment I have inflicted on them and the power of my fist when I strike. And from that time on the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (Ezekiel 39:21-22).
- For believers in Messiah Yeshua, the awesome Son of God, we embrace the very words of Jesus: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me … When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14: 1-3).
- Again, Jesus says: “…Yes, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:20a).
- And we say, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20b).

For Such A Time As This

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

It’s that time of the year for Jews to celebrate the festive holiday of Purim, one of the delightful memories in Jewish history which makes the Jewish month of Adar (Feb/March) perhaps the happiest month of the year. They rejoice by reading the book of Esther, and playfully dressing up to disguise themselves, just as Queen Esther (at first) concealed her identity as a Jew from her husband, the Persian King Xerxes.

The festival of Purim will be held tomorrow, just ten days after Israeli commandos intercepted the Klos C cargo ship sailing under the flag of Panama on its way to the Gaza Strip. The Israelis escorted the ship to the southern Israel city port of Eilat, where the Israeli Defense Forces unloaded the cargo, followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inspection of the shipment. There for the whole world to see was an imposing arsenal consisting of hundreds of thousands of rounds of AK-47 ammunition, dozens of mortars, and the most imposing of all—forty long-range missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, Jerusalem … and other cities deep into the heart of Israel. And, if these missiles could have or would have (in the future) been tipped with a nuclear warhead—even a tactical one—the tiny state of Israel would be transported to the state of oblivion.

From where did this destructive payload originate! Too easy of a question, right? None other than Iran, formerly known as the Persian Empire. It’s not enough that Iran supplies and sponsors and exports terrorism to Lebanon. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago or so that Israel took out some long-range missiles in Lebanon that had been transferred by Iran to its intended destination … the terrorist organization, Hezbollah.

Now, Iran is adding (aiding) another terrorist group, Hamas, to Iran’s import/export trade partners in crime. Just this past Tuesday Hamas renewed diplomatic relations with Iran and again boasted that Hamas would strike the “heart of the Zionist entity.” Hamas bragged that future clashes with Israel would result in missiles raining down on cities all over Israel. It only took two days to make good on their threat. Day before yesterday, the militant group Islamic Jihad launched some 60 rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Fortunately (miraculously) no one was killed or even injured. Either the projectiles were deficient or the terrorist’s aim was bad, or angels diverted the rockets, or all of the above!

Although Islamic Jihad is a separate terrorist cell from Hamas, Israel holds Hamas responsible (rightfully so) for all terrorist attacks that originate from Gaza. Rightfully so because Hamas claims to be the only legitimate, duly elected, government for Gaza. If they’re going to assert that right, then they must bear the responsibility of controlling all extremist groups operating from the Gaza Strip

At the press conference that followed the viewing of the confiscated weapons in Eilat, Benjamin Netanyahu reminded the world (he had just articulated this during his meeting with US President Obama a few days earlier) of the malicious intentions and ominous threat Iran poses to Israel, but not just Israel … also to the United States. Said, Prime Minister Netanyahu about Iran: (this) “…brutal regime has not abandoned its deep involvement in terrorism, its systematic efforts to undermine peace and security throughout the Middle East and its ambition to destroy the state of Israel … Those engaged in self-deception must awaken from their slumber; we cannot allow Iran to continue building nuclear weapons.”

M-302

(Photo depicts M-302 missiles intercepted by Israeli commandos)

If anyone doubts Iran’s hateful objectives regarding Israel, it’s only necessary to wait a few days to hear yet another Iranian leader threaten Israel. For example, Iranian Brigadier General Hussein Salami recently affirmed that Iran’s military leaders are determined to destroy, “the Zionist regime of Israel.” Although Salami has threatened Israel before, his recent tirade seemed particularly hostile in an imminent sort of way. He went on to say, “Islam has given us this wish, capacity, and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400km away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place.”

These intimidations were made the day after Benjamin Netanyahu’s held his press conference in Eilat with video exposure of the weapons captured from the Klos C ship. This time, Salami was referring to conventional weaponry … essentially boasting that Iran could take down Israel without nuclear capability, when they chose to do so. Notice, that he said, when such an incident takes place; rather than if it would occur. He went on to say, “Today we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here.” Meaning directly from Iran via remote control technology.

Moreover, Salami’s menacing threats echoed the innuendoes made a few weeks ago by Iranian Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Major General Ali Jafari. Boasted Jafari, “We have recently acquired the capability to mount guided and precision-targeting missiles with pinpointing capabilities and bombs on drones, which is actually among branches of advanced hi-tech in this field.” This announcement followed Iran’s disclosure last November of a new drone called Fotros, which has a flying time of 30 hours, a range of 2000 kilometers, and an altitude of 25,000 feet. Furthermore, Fotros can be armed with air-to-surface rockets. Another drone labeled Karrar has similar flying capability plus a large explosive payload that could inflict massive damage and casualties within Israel.

Why must Netanyahu keep harping (that’s how he is perceived by Barack Obama and John Kerry) on the catastrophic danger that a nuclear-armed Iran or even a non-nuclear Iran poses to the entire world? It’s really pretty simple: The President of the United States and our State Department doesn’t get it, or isn’t listening, or isn’t that concerned. Or the worst scenario of all: Our government fully understands the potential threat of a nuclear Iran but is prepared to accept the risk. This in keeping with our President’s tacit recognition of the “peaceful” Muslim religion the world over, especially Muslim nations that are predominately Arab, which Iran is not … but it’s still embraces Islam.

The Meaning of Purim

Indeed, contemporary Iran is ruled by modern-day Haman(s)—the Persian megalomaniac that wanted to exterminate all the Jews—instead of a nostalgic return to the days of their ancient kings and their compassion for and benevolence toward the Jews. Before the wicked official Haman rose to power, it was Persia’s king Cyrus who released the Jews from captivity, and allowed them to return to Israel and rebuild their Temple. Thus, how ironic it is: While Israeli Jews and Jews still living in Gentile nations reminisce and celebrate the decree issued by Mordecai, the prominent Jewish leader and advisor to King Xerxes the Great of ancient Persia, the Iranian leaders of today’s Persia are once again threatening to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. These leaders would do well to remember the fate of Haman and those who followed him!

Purim means “lots” (pur equals lot, with the Hebrew suffix im making it plural) as in the casting of lots originally ordered by Haman, to set aside a date on which all Jews were to be slaughtered. The date selected a year in advance was March 7th, 473 B.C. When Queen Esther bravely told King Xerxes about this diabolical plot, the king ordered Haman to be executed instead of the Jews. The Jews then killed those Persians complicit with Haman in the plot against them. Then, in another twist of irony, this same date plus March 8th were chosen by the Jews to celebrate the miraculous deliverance of the Jews from certain extinction. Let’s read the Biblical passage:

“Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy. So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom” (Esther 9: 20-23).

Were it not for Mordecai’s counsel and Esther’s courage, Haman might have fulfilled his warped dream of genocide, just as Hitler almost did … no different from what the Ayatollah of Iran would do if he had just one nuclear weapon at his disposal. What makes Iran’s malevolent ambitions even more insanely criminal is that they couldn’t care less that hundreds of thousands of Arabs (most of whom are fellow Muslims) would also be incinerated alongside of the Jews in a nuclear strike against Israel. Or, thousands killed in a conventional attack on Israel.

“Who knows,” Mordecai said to Esther, “if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Does Anyone Care?

Anyone and everyone who gives a hoot about this once great nation called the United States of America and who harbors at least a tiny bit of sympathy toward Israel should realize that today—right now as we speak—it is such a time as this. We need a Secretary of State who will stop chasing the elusive dream of pacifying modern Persian rulers who make vague and devious promises never to develop uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb; if the West would only lighten up on the sanctions that brought the Iranians to their economic knees. For such a time as this, we need a President who will look the Persian King (Iran’s President) in the eye and order him to stand down or face the consequences … not of tougher sanctions, but of US launched missiles raining down on nuclear reactors and the like. Tomorrow it may be too late. Today we need a Katie-bar-the-door Congress who takes Iran seriously and Israel even more seriously, when both of these nations know full well that Iran is not bluffing.

We the people must insist on a President and a Cabinet and a Congress who support Israel, not just with superficial words, but with meaningful actions such as (at least) equal criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s (led by Mahmoud Abbas) stubborn unwillingness to even acknowledge Israel as a Jewish State. I say equal, because President Obama has already accused Israel of jeopardizing the future of their own security and the so-called peace process by not halting all construction of new settlements in the West Bank. Some call that a self-fulfilling prophecy; meaning that any overt or covert hostility against Israel, will have been caused by Israel herself. And for what reason? Just because Israel is Jewish … no other reason is needed. Just because Israel is there … that’s excuse enough for Iran and Muslims everywhere to obliterate the Jewish State if they could.

Wake up America! That means you and me. Sit up and take notice Europe. There will be plenty of time to doze and slumber when we die! Of course, I say that facetiously (because I firmly believe in life after death) but I say it to get your attention. Are we, as suggested by Benjamin Netanyahu, “engaged in self-deception?” Do we really think that Iran is bluffing? They certainly didn’t bluff in 1979 when they stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took dozens of Americans hostage, and kept them hostage for well over a year. Is their shipment of heavy armaments and ammunition to Hezbollah and Hamas just playing war games, or sabre rattling, or a show of bravado? Or would those weapons have been put to use? If you choose the latter of these options, you will have chosen correctly.

What is Different about today’s Iran?

What makes Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s recent threats against Israel different from those just a few years ago? Two things come to mind: (1) Iran’s imams including the supreme Ayatollah are now convinced that the 12th Imam Mahdi (their version of a Messiah) will not appear until or unless Muslims have launched a massive Jihad (holy war) against the infidels. In general, the infidels are all Christians and Jews. Specifically, these two groups are identified and represented by the United States and Israel, respectively. So, it behooves Iran and other militant Islamic nations/groups to initiate an intifada against their hated rival Israel. (2) Iran’s leaders realize that the United States along with other members of the G5 + 1 group (England, Germany, France, Russia, and China) have painted the former red line yellow. That the entire world, therefore, will do little or nothing to keep Iran from going nuclear. That America’s red-line commitments (to keep Iran non-nuclear) are empty and meaningless. That our President is essentially an isolationist and has retreated from any and all confrontations with Islamic nations.

Like Haman, some 2500 years ago, Iran’s leaders are tired of waiting. They are on the verge of casting lots and of throwing caution to the wind. They are on the precipice of date setting, just as Haman did when he enticed the Persians of his day to cast lots for a date, and then annihilate all Jews when that time arrived. (See Esther, Chapter 3). They seem anxious to “test the waters” of Western resolve. So, too, is Iran’s primary ally and supporter, Russia, flexing her military muscles, as is China … another tacit ally of Iran. Then, there’s the rogue nation of North Korea that continues to belligerently flaunt their inter-continental ballistic missile program, all the while challenging the United States and EU to do something about it.

Never before have we seen and heard so many “rumors of war” predicted by Jesus as recorded in Matthew Chapter 24. Jesus said there would be wars and threats of war that would be part of the end-times activities. I believe that this order or sequence of words was not random or arbitrary. Meaning that wars engulfing the whole world came first (the massive 20th century conflagrations of World War I and World War II), followed by an incessant and mounting crescendo of saber-rattling in this 21st century, unprecedented since the birth of Messiah.

What Can We Do?

We all wonder, even sometimes to the point of despair or at least resignation to the destiny of it all: How can I make a difference? My own thought is that we can start by being fully aware of what is happening in the world, especially the Middle East and Israel. Then study the Scriptures like never before, particularly prophecies of the last days. Then lend our support to Israel, especially Messianic Ministries. Or determine to support Israel with our thoughts, words, and prayers. As Israel goes, so goes the entire world. All of God’s end-time plans and actions are focused on and around Israel. Those who are antagonistic toward Israel, will experience God’s hostility toward them … individually and as a nation. Those who truly care about Israel and the Jews will be blessed by God himself.

Most of all pray, as prayer can accomplish incredible things. It can unleash the awesome power of the true and living God against the forces of evil. It can lead to God’s protection of all that is good in this world, including the apple of his eye, Israel. It can hasten the return of our great and glorious Savior, Messiah Jesus; to set up his kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. He will make all things new, and right, and eternal.

“Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper” (Psalms 122:6). In Hebrew the first part of this verse reads, “Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim.”

Whose Side Are We On?

The end of the story found in the book of Esther goes like this: “Then Queen Esther … wrote another letter putting the queen’s full authority behind Mordecai’s letter to establish the Festival of Purim … an annual celebration of these days at the appointed time…” (Esther 9:29-31).

Then the last verse in the book of Esther: “Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants” (Esther 10:3).

Be an Esther and a Mordecai in your family, circle of friends, church, community, and nation. Speak up for Esther’s and Mordecai’s descendants, the Jews. Stand up for Israel … be counted with them. Thank the Most High God for restoring Israel’s people to their land. Honor him for all the amazing things he has done for Israel and for his church, those who belong to Christ. Praise him for who he is and what he has done, and will do.

Whose side are you on? As for me, I prefer to be on the winning side. God the Father and God the Son will have the final say in this matter. For those individuals and nations who would dare oppose God’s chosen people and promised land, here is what they can expect at the hands of Messiah when he returns, “I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth” (Isaiah 63:6).

For those who have been redeemed by Israel’s Messiah, who love and support the people and land of Israel, there are hundreds of wonderful promises found in the pages of the Bible for our welfare and eternal destiny with the Lord, the Holy One of Israel (as He is frequently referred to by the prophet Isaiah).

“For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” (Isaiah 64:4). Imagine … we wait upon the Lord and he works for us!

But while we wait upon the Holy One of Israel, we also say and do what Isaiah said: “Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).

For Such a Time as This

Christ or Antichrist … who will it be?

CHRIST OR ANTICHRIST (JESUS OR NERO) … who will it be?

From the first century birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus to the present time, many Christians and non-Christians have been seeking to know the identity of Messiah’s arch-enemy, the Antichrist, who is called a little horn, ruler, or king in the Book of Daniel, the man of lawlessness in Paul’s 2nd epistle to the Thessalonica Church, and a beast-king in the book of Revelation. Those not all that interested in Biblical prophecy and/or current events sometimes pose the question: Does it really matter if we know who this man is (will be)? Let’s see if we can answer that question with at least some degree of satisfaction.

In part, this article is a continuation of last week’s topic that established a great deal of relevancy to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the remarkable diplomatic outreach of friendship from modern-day Rome (and Germany) to Israel and the Jewish people that these nations sought to destroy. This week’s article will continue the amazing, but nevertheless unmistakable link between the ruler whose armies destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, and the end times man who will orchestrate a seven-year treaty with Israel; facilitated by certain contemporary heads of state who are strangely sympathetic to the nation of Israel.

In making this connection, we will revisit the main supposition found in my book, Out of the Abyss, as well as Eye of Prophecy articles found in the category of Antichrist. This astonishing premise comes in two parts: (1) The Antichrist cannot be a modern-day man, born and raised in the Omega (last) generation. Why? Because Revelation 17:8 is explicitly clear: The beast (Antichrist) had historically lived and died before John saw the vision of the beast. And, (2) the ruler of Daniel Chapter 9 whose armies destroyed the temple is the same ruler who will arrange this treaty with Israel at the outset of the seven-year Tribulation period. Moreover, it’s not at all difficult to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt which notorious figure from the past precisely fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy. All we need do is to thoroughly examine the text, revisit first century history; then combine points 1 and 2 listed above. When we do this, the prophecy leads us directly to one and only one man: NERO!

Out of the Abyss examines several Biblical passages that provide compelling evidence to document the accuracy of this premise and conclusion. The last passage referred to in the book is found in Daniel Chapter 9. Specifically, I’m referring to the shocking prophecy that predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Shocking especially to the Jews, because their second temple hadn’t even been rebuilt; yet here is Daniel telling his people that the temple would be destroyed … obviously referring to a future temple as Solomon’s Temple had already been torn down. Not only shocking, but also unfathomable to Israel after the erection of the second temple, because it was unthinkable to them that the second temple would also be destroyed.

*Note: The book of Daniel was written around 536 BC. The second temple wasn’t finished until 516 BC.

But Biblical prophecy ALWAYS comes to pass. So, let’s take another look at what the angel Gabriel told Daniel: “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple….” (Daniel 9:26a).

Which Roman Emperor Ordered the Campaign Against the Jewish Revolt of 66 AD?

Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, as I’ve already given you the answer and/or you already knew this from reading Out of the Abyss or some of the Eye of Prophecy articles; or perhaps you actually remembered it from a history class or two. But if you did remember it from a World History class in high school or college, or perhaps from a Sunday school class, I guarantee that you are only one of a handful! The vast majority of people, even Christians, have no clue that Nero personally commissioned two generals, Vespasian and Vespasian’s son Titus to crush the Jewish rebellion.

From a Biblical prophecy perspective as well as a historical back-drop, most Bible scholars, pastors, teachers, or historians in general say very little about Nero’s involvement. And for a logical reason: (1) Nero died in June, 68 AD, over two years before the final sack of Jerusalem took place in August, 70 AD. (2) The overriding consensus among even the best of prophecy scholars portrays the Antichrist as a modern-day man—born and raised in the generation that will experience his rise to power. Thus, Nero’s connection to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is essentially irrelevant, immaterial, and inconsequential to most students of prophecy.

But, when we intently study Daniel 9:26 and place it’s prediction in a real-life context and a real-time reality that establishes an inseparable link between the ruler and the ruler’s armies of this phenomenal prophecy, there’s only one viable conclusion to make: Nero is that ruler. Nearly two full chapters in Out of the Abyss are dedicated to documentation and rationale showing that it is not a modern-day man born in some current country that was once (2000 years ago) part of the ancient Roman Empire. Rather, Daniel 9 unequivocally attached the ruler that will arise with the actual armies that attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. For sake of time and space, I’ll quote just a few excerpts from the book:

“…People of the prince or ruler to come includes all of the prince’s country-men; but more exactly it was the armies (Roman Legions) of this people that fulfilled the prophecy. But whose armies are they? Whose people are they? If you study the text carefully, there is a clear possessive correlation between the ruler and the armies or the people. The New Living Translation simplifies the English to demonstrate this connection by stating that, ‘…a ruler will arise whose armies’ (Italics for emphasis). Whose is possessive, meaning those armies or people specifically belonging to that particular ruler. Or, if you prefer the translation that says, ‘people of the prince,’ the same possessive principle applies. The people directly affiliated, associated, or united with the prince destroyed the Temple’” (Out of the Abyss, page 254-255).

Next, “But Gabriel through Daniel is not saying that the armies of the ruler would first destroy the Temple, and then the ruler would come after that. He’s simply saying that both the ruler and the people of that ruler would come after Messiah is killed. What Gabriel is emphasizing or distinguishing is the fact that the armies of the prince would destroy Jerusalem, instead of the prince and his armies together; that it would be the armies independent of the ruler, with an excessively strong implication that the ruler didn’t live to see the conquest finished” (Out of the Abyss, page 255).

Then, “People of the prince who is to come is a prepositional phrase that demands a possessive correlation. People of the prince who is to come will destroy the city neither prophetically or grammatically state nor even imply that the city would be destroyed before the prince arrived. In other words, this ruler and his armies are inseparably linked together in possessive relationship and in a real-time context” (Out of the Abyss, page 255).

Finally, “Where have you ever read or seen or thought that a ruler of any era would be connected to armies or people hundreds or thousands of years earlier. All monarchs, both in Biblical and secular history, are linked directly with the armies of that particular time of the ruler’s life … But that’s the current hindsight application made by those who hold to a modern-day Antichrist and a Revived Roman Empire. Meaning that this prince who is to come must be born and rise to power after an enormous lapse of time (2000 years), with a 21st century result of an impractical and unrealistic time-capsule detachment from the armies that destroyed the city and the Temple” (Out of the Abyss, pages 256 & 257).

That is why it’s so important to historically remember exactly who it was that ordered the campaign against Israel … which was none other than the Roman Emperor Nero. And because he died prior to the completion of this campaign, it was necessary for the prophet Daniel to specifically tell us that it was actually the armies of the ruler who would destroy Jerusalem, rather than the ruler himself. Because in both ancient and modern times, we invariably credit military victories to the leader. Thus we say that Alexander the Great conquered Persia, not Alexander and his troops.

Then, when we read in Revelation 17:8 that the beast of Revelation (Antichrist) will make his appearance by first coming out of the abyss (with obvious implication that he must first be banished or placed in the abyss), we can much more easily grasp the connection between Nero and his generals/armies that sacked Jerusalem in the 1st century to the “reappearance” of the beast king of Revelation at the outset of the Great Tribulation. And, when we realize that Nero’s name in Hebrew fits precisely with the Gematria number of the beast in Revelation 13 (six hundred, sixty-six), we see overwhelming proof that Nero will return as the Antichrist.

Again quoting Out of the Abyss: “Nor has any conquest, in ancient or modern warfare, been accomplished or even recognized by means of troops conquering a city or country, then the supreme leader (king or emperor) of that army born hundreds of years later or even a few years later. In fact, that makes no sense at all. The only way the armies can be connected to, belong to, controlled or ordered by their leader, is a direct result of the leader—by virtue of being alive—delivering commands to his subordinates; thus, for that ruler to be unequivocally associated with and attached to the people that do the conquering. Make sense? … The passage does not state nor even imply a (far away) future ruler to the Roman Legions of the first century. Instead, we see culpability by direct possessive association with and correlation between first century Rome and a first century Roman ruler” (Out of the Abyss, page 264).

One last quote from my book, “The armies or people who destroyed the city and the Temple were Roman Legions that belonged to Nero, as ultimate Commander-in-Chief of all Roman Legions. These legions are long gone, and couldn’t possibly be the people or armies of a modern-day born Antichrist” (Out of the Abyss, page 264).

We need to think in terms of a Revived Roman Emperor, not a Revived Roman Empire. In my book, I also explain how or in what manner Nero is “revived,” again by using other Scriptural precedents and principles to verify the very event that will captivate and mesmerize hundreds of millions of people left behind at the Rapture … the reappearance of the beast. Which leads us to the answers or reasons why identification of the Antichrist puts into place a significant piece of the prophetic puzzle.

Pre Rapture & Post Rapture Benefits to Knowing the Identity of Antichrist

First, we need to dispel the notion that we are not meant to know the identity of the Antichrist until after the Rapture. To hold to that view is a direct contradiction of Revelation Chapter 13, in which the angel through John challenges the readers of Revelation (which obviously included the 1st century Christians) to “solve” the meaning of the number of the beast, which was one of several critical clues to identify the beast. “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Revelation 13:18).

Next, to comprehend the mystery of the woman and the scarlet beast on which she sat, as presented in Revelation Chapter 17; which also is equivalent to matching the identity of both the woman and scarlet beast to Rome and the Roman Emperor Nero, respectively. Believe me: it can be done. Read Out of the Abyss or the Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist with an open mind. Then decide for yourself. However, our passage of Daniel 9 can stand alone as prophetic and historical proof as to the identity of the ruler and his armies.

Then to understand that ALL of the book of Revelation was written and relevant to 1st century believers, if for no other reason that the imminent return of Christ. Unlike the book of Daniel, which was (temporarily) sealed—meaning that it couldn’t be fully understood until the time of Christ—the angel told John, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near” (Revelation 22:10).

As thoroughly documented in my book, I’m convinced that the 1st century Christians knew beyond any doubt that Nero was the Antichrist. This is what the modern-day Preterists contend, however, they overlooked or distorted one monumental fact: The return of Nero as the Antichrist. In order for their premise that Nero was the beast of Revelation to be correct, they had to symbolize nearly all of the events of Revelation, including most of the twenty-one seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of God. In other words, they claim that the Tribulation took place in the 1st century, which simply did not happen. Essentially, they missed or discounted or ignored the amazing mystery disclosed by the angel to John in Chapter 17, specifically verse 8: The beast had lived and died BEFORE the vision of the beast was given to John. BUT, the beast would reappear from the abyss! That reappearance could have occurred in the 1st century or any century thereafter, as the only event to precede it would be the Rapture itself … which has always been the imminent hope of every believer.

It’s vital that we grasp this before the Rapture takes place, so that the post-Rapture population will realize that the Bible was right after all, i.e. concerning the identity of the beast of Revelation, who is the little horn of Daniel, and the man of lawlessness depicted in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians.

According to Revelation 17:8, the beast who had died (before John saw the vision of the beast), will ascend from the abyss, and many, “…will be amazed at the reappearance of the beast who had died.” The source of this amazement is also recognized in John’s first vision of the beast by the following description: “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal would was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshipped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. Who is as great as the beast? They exclaimed. Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13: 3-4).

What is the miracle that caused such astonishment (marvel) and what is it that will lead to unadulterated worship of and allegiance to the Antichrist? What was the great power given to the beast by the dragon? Was it his charisma, or eloquence, or statesmanship, or leadership traits, or all-inclusive genius? NO, it was one and one thing only … his spectacular recovery from the deadly wound (death) and return from the grave! This is what will appeal to people from “every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). And, this is why the ten kings of Revelation 17 and Daniel 7 will yield to the authority of the beast-king.

But, if some (hopefully many) who are left behind at the Rapture grasp the truth that the revived Roman Emperor Nero’s return was predicted 2000 years ago by John in the book of Revelation, and 2600 years ago by the prophet Daniel (as explained in this article), they will not be “amazed” at such a thing. They will look back and realize that the Bible foretold this all along. And perhaps, just maybe, they will choose Christ instead of Antichrist.

The Choice (Who will you believe?)

“But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: ‘Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?’” (John 12:37-38). Then the passage goes on to say: “Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God” (John 12: 41-43).

In Isaiah’s time, in Jesus’s time, and in our time, people would not believe despite the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God; who died on the cross to purchase our redemption, and to save us from our sins and the penalty of those sins … eternal separation from God. How much more proof does someone need, than the historical fact that Jesus arose from the dead!?

After the Rapture, there will be no more fence-sitting; nor more gray areas or indecision or neutrality concerning the claims of Christ or his antithesis. Why? Because the claims of Antichrist will force people to decide one way or the other. At first, Nero will ask for your loyalty and allegiance, citing his miraculous return from the grave 2000 years after he died. Later, however, he will insist on it, to the extent of demanding that everyone take his mark if they want to buy, sell, eat, and otherwise experience some semblance of safety, security, and prosperity. He will demand that you acknowledge him as the Messiah. He will seek to kill all those who do not bow down in complete surrender to him or to his statue. He will claim that he is divine and the only real God on earth. (See II Thessalonians 2).

If you are reading this article after the Rapture, you already know that the man who fills your television screen, your laptop, your Ipad is none other than the ancient Roman Emperor Nero. Already you have been reminded incessantly that he returned from a 2000-year old grave. Therefore, he is divine; for what other man could possibly do that? But then you look around and realize again that hundreds of millions of people are gone. Who took them? Where are they? But you know … how could you not know?

What more do you need to realize that Jesus is the true Christ, the divine Son of the true and living God? What more evidence must you have to understand that all those people who were taken from the earth belonged to Messiah Jesus? Who else could have done such a miraculous thing … to suddenly take so many people from the earth before your very eyes? Certainly not Nero. In fact, he will have already ranted and raved against the Most High God by accusing him of robbing the earth of so many people. And in the same breath, expressing relief that the earth has been cleansed of those bigoted Christians, who intolerantly stood in the way of the real Utopia that only Nero can bring to the earth.

What will you believe? The Truth or the Lie? Who will you choose? Christ or Antichrist? Will you realize that whatever power Nero wields was given to him by Satan? But even that power was given by God. “Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5, italics for emphasis).

Now is the Day of Salvation

Why wait until after the Rapture to choose everlasting life in heaven that only Christ can give you? It will be so much harder then. In fact, to choose Christ after you’ve been left behind will mean certain death. “…Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die” (Revelation 13:15).

Just as in Jesus’s day, many understood him to be the Messiah, but they refused to personally invite him to be their Savior. Why didn’t they take that next step, and accept him as their redeemer and God? It certainly wasn’t a matter of physical life or death to them. No, they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the religious leaders would spurn them and they would lose their positions, popularity, prestige, and lives of pleasure.

But during the Tribulation, it will be a matter of your very survival … of deprivation of housing, transportation, clothing, and food. It will be a literal choice between life and death. If you choose Christ, you will live forever; you will be saved from hell, but not from the wrath of God and the wrath of the beast as the tribulation plays out. So, why wait? Or as believers, why wait to tell someone we love that the time is very short?

Choose Jesus now and be among those who will be wonderfully transformed at the Rapture. If you have already died by then, you will be resurrected. If you are still alive at that time, you will instantly be given a glorified body that will equip you to live in Heaven forever. No more pain, or tears, or heartache, or suffering. No more death.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36, NASB).

To not make a decision is to say, “No” to Jesus. To put this destiny-changing, life-giving decision off is to face the horrible evil of the Antichrist during the Tribulation, and the wrath of a loving, but holy God. To reject the awesome love of God as demonstrated by the amazing gift of God’s Son to the human race which meant that Christ had to make the greatest sacrifice of all time (His very blood and life), is to separate yourself from God and from the host of heaven for all eternity in hell. There’s no sugar-coating this harsh reality.

Even now, it could be a difficult choice for you. You might experience ridicule from friends or family. You might be subject to outright persecution, especially if you live in a Muslim country or in an atheistic nation like Russia or China. Even many in the United States and Europe are expressing a great deal of hostility and intolerance toward Christians and the Bible.

After the Rapture, however, the decision will increase tenfold in intensity and difficulty; with the inevitable consequence that the Antichrist will eventually choose for you. Take the mark of the beast and have a few months or years of relative security (maybe) on an earth destined for judgment and extreme makeover; or choose Christ and live forever. But your forever might begin soon afterward, as Nero and the False Prophet will hunt you down.

Here’s what is said about the Christian saints of the Tribulation: “…And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (Revelation 12:11). However, the vast majority of those left behind, those who do not die in the plagues will, “…refuse to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God” (Revelation 9:20).

So, I implore you: Choose Christ now. To do so is to choose life … everlasting life. And you won’t even have to make the hardest choice anyone will ever have to make after the Rapture: Christ or Antichrist. Jesus or Nero?

Things to Ponder:
- During the Great Tribulation, it will take extreme courage, ultimate bravery to reject the mark of the Beast and to choose the true Messiah, Jesus. But why put yourself through that? Why delay your decision and risk dying without Christ now or even worse … living and dying without Christ during the Tribulation?
- What are you waiting for? What are you holding onto? Remember the words of Jesus: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8: 36-37).

Rome and Jerusalem … friends or foes?

JERUSALEM AND ROME … Friends or Foes?

Other than the 20th century Holocaust during World War II, secular historians and Biblical scholars agree that the darkest hour of Israel’s history took place in 70 AD, culminating with the destruction of the Jewish temple on the 9th of Av (Hebrew month equivalent to the Roman calendar month of August).

Even the weakest student of history has probably heard of this disaster in which the legions of Roman generals Vespasian and his son Titus invaded Israel, conquered Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple. In fact, the prophet Daniel predicted this would happen some 650 years earlier. Not only was the holiest site of Judaism dismantled and put to the torch, but a massive flood followed, a flood of exiled dispersion for the Jewish people to many nations of the earth; one that would last until 1948. Several past articles in our Eye of Prophecy blog site have mentioned this catastrophic event, with varying points of reference and purpose for citing this ancient, but still relevant milestone of Jewish history.

I bring it up yet again because of another significant event that occurred exactly three months ago. What is it that happened to affirm my premise that the Roman conquest of Israel in the first century continues to influence contemporary events of today’s world?

During the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lit the candles for the 5th night of Hanukkah (Sunday, December 1, 2013). Unusual for the Prime Minister to light Hanukkah candles? Perhaps not. Unless that is: He lit them at the Great Synagogue in Rome! And, for good measure, the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta attended the solemn event! There’s more: The following day, Netanyahu travelled to the Vatican where he met with Pope Francis; additional pleasantries were exchanged between these two leaders!

What is so special about two heads of state (make that three heads of state, as the Pope is head of the Vatican, which is recognized as a sovereign state within a state) meeting in such a fashion, you might ask? What the Romans did to Israel happened so long ago. What, then, is so strange about a 21st century meeting between the Prime Ministers of Italy and Israel?

In answer to these questions: The sheer magnitude of Rome’s brutal first century conquest resulted in Israel ceasing to exist as a nation. Not only did the Romans slaughter hundreds of thousands of Jews, but they drove the vast majority of survivors out of Israel, where they would live under the heel of Gentile nations for nearly 1900 years. To drive this dagger of national death even deeper into the heart of Israel, a subsequent Roman emperor changed the name of Israel to Palestine, a derivative and derogatory name that resembled Philistia, Israel’s ancient enemy (Philistines).

During the Diaspora, the Jews would be further oppressed, suppressed, persecuted, deprived, and killed en mass. Does anyone remember the Crusades in which tens of thousands of Jews were murdered by so-called Christian knights and defenders of the Holy Land? Or the Spanish Inquisition with its gruesome torture and killing of Jews that refused to convert to the universal church? Or the pogroms of Russia and parts of Europe that sought to dispossess the Jews of their liberty, property, livelihood, and life itself. All leading to the most horrible of all: The Final Solution to the “Jewish problem” instigated by a demoniacal depraved Adolf Hitler and the equally degenerate thugs of the Third Reich. And don’t forget that Italy (Rome) was an ally of Germany during World War II. Although Italy didn’t directly participate in the evil genocide that took place in the concentration camps of Germany and Poland, Mussolini and many Italian citizens turned a deaf ear and blind eye to what was happening. And some actually participated in the round-up and internment of Jews throughout Italy.

So you see: It’s not just an ancient event that contemporary heads of state could otherwise overlook … letting bygones be bygones. Rather, it was a diabolical effort initiated by the ancient Roman Empire and continued by the Holy Roman Empire to rid the earth of God’s chosen people and to prevent them from their God ordained destiny to live and thrive in Israel. To further confirm my premise of relevancy between 1st and 21st century Rome and Jerusalem, let’s listen to the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu during his meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Letta.

“There is a special relationship between Jerusalem and Rome. No two other cities have such a deep meaning in the history of our people and our shared culture. On this evening, on Hanukkah in particular, this trip to Rome is significant. Here, the Arch of Titus is engraved with the image of a menorah that was looted from the Temple and arrived in a victory parade in Rome. Two thousand years have passed since the destruction of the Temple. The State of Israel is strong and vibrant. And its symbol is the same exact menorah engraved on the Arch of Titus. The (seven-branched) menorah and the Hanukkah (the eight-branched menorah lit on Hanukkah) embody the great spirit that beats within our people.”

Regarding the modern-day relationship between Israel and Italy, Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Prime Minister Letta, “Your commitment to the welfare and security of Israel is clear.” Letta responded by saying that the Jewish community in Italy is Italy’s “moral compass.”

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(Photo depicts Prime Ministers Letta and Netanyahu)

Jerusalem & Berlin (another unlikely alliance)

Just a few days ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of several meetings conducted between the two leaders in the recent past. Said, Ms. Merkel: (there is), “a very strong friendship, which ties our two countries together and a friendship that we want to continue to develop further.” She further affirmed her recognition of Israel as a sovereign Jewish State, to reinforce the diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel that began fifty years ago.

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu there existed between the two countries a, “unique bond forged of tragedy and hope.” He further stated: “Chancellor Merkel is a friend of Israel.” He thanked her for taking a stance against boycotts that threaten Israel. In fact, Israel will purchase a multi-million defense system from Germany to guard the natural gas rigs along the Israeli coastline. And Germans continue to buy Israeli goods.

What makes these recent Israeli meetings with Italy and Germany so historically relevant and prophetically pertinent in today’s world? How is it that these two nations, that have caused Israel more grief and misery than virtually all other nations combined, have extended olive branches to the Jews, whom they endeavored to utterly destroy in the first century (Rome) and the 20th century (Berlin)? Let’s examine another Old Testament prophecy about Israel to see the association. And in doing so, we again marvel at the dozens of prophecies that are unfolding in our generation, before our very eyes.

(That’s what Eye of Prophecy is all about. To provide a clear witness for Jesus, which is the theme of the blog site. But also to link historical dots of incidents long past, with the current events of today’s world in a way that many people might not otherwise connect).

Here’s what God promises to/for Israel: “And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken” (Zephaniah 3: 19-20, italics for emphasis).

Reasons for Ancient & Modern Enemies to Befriend Modern-Day Israel

From these last two verses of the book of Zephaniah and from several other similar passages in the Old Testament, we can find two basic reasons why Italy and Germany have gone out of their way to support Israel, despite the politically correct pressure from the majority of countries in the United Nations, including all Muslim nations, to alienate and disenfranchise the state of Israel.

(1) Out of Guilt and Remorse: This has been clearly evident for several decades, but no more so than the past couple of years. For example, President Merkel of Germany has promised a monthly stipend for an estimated 20,000 Holocaust survivors, some $275.00 per month. The last three Popes have essentially apologized for the Roman Catholic Church’s persecution of Jews taking place over centuries of time. Both countries have criticized the BDS movement against Israel, and have pledged support for the existence and welfare of the State of Israel. All this because of the horrendous behavior toward the Jews at the hands of past (ancient and recent) Italian and German dictators/governments.

And, I’m sure both Italy and Germany have made a remorseful connection between past treatment of the Jews and the subsequent demise of their respective empires, both of which went down in flames, never to rise again. Meaning the once mighty indestructible Roman Empire and the more recent imperishable, everlasting Third Reich (one that would last a thousand years!) In fact, it lasted for only twelve years! Whether their leaders understood this correlation based on Biblical principles and precedents that God would bless those who support Israel and curse those who would dare to harm her, is essentially irrelevant. The fact is: God’s Word is true, it will always come to pass no matter what anyone thinks of it. If, however, any of Germany’s and Italy’s leaders made this connection, so much the better for them. Perhaps they will think twice about causing future harm to God’s people. Sadly, however, they won’t, as we soon shall see.

(2) Out of Respect: This is more than just token esteem or appreciation or admiration for a people who have risen from the ashes of utter defeat to the beauty of a vibrant and strong nation, using Netanyahu’s words—although the rebirth of Israel as a nation and the restoration of the Jews as the people of that nation is, in fact, a source of wonder to most of the civilized world, especially the European Union. Rather, this is the kind of respect that is generated by a country that is a formidable rival to any nation on the face of the earth. No matter that the entire population of Israel is less than many major cities of the earth; Israel boasts an economy and a military that (for its size) is the envy of the contemporary world.

Today’s Israel could easily hold her own against either Germany or Italy or both. But she won’t have to, at least not yet. Because, for now, both of these nations have nothing but the utmost respect for Israel’s accomplishments as well as the ability to defend herself through the army, navy, and air force of Israeli Defense Force that boasts state of the art technology and equipment, as well as some of the bravest and finest soldiers any nation could ever want. Indeed, modern Israel bears a name and reputation of distinction, just as the prophet Zephaniah predicted it would.

Another Reason for Solidarity between Israel and Germany/Italy

There’s another reason, one that will ensure Israel’s safety and prominence in the world until their final confrontation with the Gog/Magog coalition of nations described in Ezekiel 38 & 39; then the ruthless assault by the Antichrist and his alliance, during the first half and second half of the Great Tribulation, respectively. This is the time designated as Jacob’s Trouble, the time that will precede and usher in the glorious appearance of Israel’s Messiah to save the Jews from extinction.

This third reason is a foregone conclusion that must come to pass. Why? Because, God says it will happen. It will be in the form of a long overdue peace agreement that continues to elude the Middle East in spite of relentless political efforts by the United States and the European Union to solve the unsolvable dilemma of a Palestinian State alongside of the State of Israel. The only such treaty specified in Scripture is found in the book of Daniel, and it will be accomplished by none other than the Antichrist. Which, of course, makes it a deceitfully false treaty.

“The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of sevens, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this ruler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27).

The harshest or severest segment of the Great Tribulation takes place during the last half (3 ½ years) of this treaty, but the important link to make for purpose of this article is that the ruler (Antichrist) will somehow orchestrate a seven-year treaty with Israel … meaning between Israel and her enemies … the Arab world. And this deal could very well include the construction of the Third Temple on Temple Mount alongside of or even in place of the Dome of the Rock. How will that be possible? Today, as we speak, it’s not possible; not without an all-out attack by virtually every Muslim nation against Israel including non-Muslim nations aligned with these Arab countries. In short, it would mean World War III, because western nations, including America could not stand by while Israel is mercilessly attacked.

But until the Rapture takes place, followed by the stunning return of the man of lawlessness from the Abyss and his seven-year pact with Israel and the Arab nations, we are witnessing God’s sovereignty in the preparation of certain powerful nation’s remarkable reversal of their historical animosity toward Israel. After the Rapture (which could happen any day), these nations and others will pledge their allegiance to the Antichrist; then follow his lead when he breaks the treaty with Israel at the half-way point.

For the first time in history, we see two very prominent European Nations—Germany and Italy—ostensibly courting Israel as an economic and political partner. Though there are many dissidents within both countries as well as the EU in general that despise Israel (not the least of which are the neo-Nazis), the governments of these two nations are currently empathetic toward Israel. So, too, has France jumped on the bandwagon to support Israel as evidenced by recent visits between France and Israel’s leaders. As Germany, France, and Italy go, so goes the European Union.

Summary

What does all this mean? It means that if the Rapture occurred today, or next year, or five years from now, the beast of Revelation (Antichrist) will have a much easier task of reaching a treaty with Israel than at any other time in history. And, for those who have read my book, Out of the Abyss… can the number of the beast be solved, 666; or for those who have read the Eye of Prophecy articles under the category of Antichrist, you know about the Biblical and historical evidence that documents the identity of the Antichrist.

In next week’s article, we’re going to examine the wicked ruler of Daniel Chapter 9 in more detail. We’re going to once again see how Daniel Chapter 9 supports the premise that Nero is the ruler who ordered the conquest of Israel in 66 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This same man will reappear from the abyss as the beast of Revelation 13 & 17, as the little horn of Daniel 7, and as the ruler in Daniel 9 who successfully arranges a seven-year treaty with Israel. And this will be, in large part, possible because at least some of the ten kings or regional heads who give him their allegiance will undoubtedly be from the European Union.

Right now as we speak, I firmly believe that a “risen” Nero would have no problem in convincing a people (Jews) who were destroyed and exiled by Nero’s generals that he means them no harm, that he has only their best interest at heart. After all, isn’t that what the current leaders of Germany and Italy and France are telling (selling) Israel? It’s more than just an impression or a theory. It’s what is actually happening in today’s world between Israel and some prominent leaders of Europe. Even our United States President has promised total support of Israel, despite his misunderstanding of Jewish and Arab history that compels him to harshly criticize new Jewish settlements and Israeli reluctance to give up east Jerusalem to exclusive Arab control.

Concerning the prominent influence and role of the Antichrist when he reappears, how could Israel (or any nation) argue with a Roman Emperor who has returned from the dead!? Plus, the condition of a world that has just experienced the loss of hundreds of millions of people will be ripe for conciliation, healing, direction, and peace. Stay tuned next week while we revisit the first century fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, more specifically the inseparable link between the armies who destroyed the Temple and the supreme commander of those armies.

Things to Ponder
- One previous Eye of Prophecy article dealt with the subject of BDS against Israel by many nations of the world. According to Genesis 12:3, in the context of BDS, a nation better think twice about hurting Israel. The last thing an individual or a nation wants is to be boycotted, divested, and sanctioned by God, himself. We only need to take a historical look at those nations who have done Israel great harm, to see how they imploded from within and/or were demolished from without. We have already seen what happened to the eternal Roman Empire and the immortal Third Reich. Those empires are gone forever. Israel is back and here to stay forever!
- Conversely, Genesis 12:3 is equally clear that God blesses those who favor Israel. For that reason alone I’m confident that The Lord has, for one example, shown some favor on the nation of Brazil. Jews have lived and thrived in Brazil for several centuries and currently the 120,000+ Jews in Brazil constitute the 9th largest Jewish community of all the 244 nations on earth. It’s estimated that around 17 million Brazilians have Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Moreover, Brazil strictly condemns Anti-Semitism, to the extent that there are Anti-Semitic laws in place, with penalties for violation of those laws.
- Good for Brazil!!

The Birth of a Nation

BIRTH OF A NATION

I don’t suppose too many of us have ever watched D.W. Griffith’s blockbuster silent film, The Birth of a Nation. Every now and then you might catch it on TCM or some other golden oldies television station. Upon its release in 1915 and for several years thereafter, it was considered one of the greatest movies ever made, even though its portrayal of African-Americans was considered derogatory … at the very least, controversial.

The movie depicted pre-civil and post-civil war America; with an underlying implication that the real birth of our nation actually took place after the Union defeated the Confederacy and abolished slavery. Some believe that’s when the United States actually became united, via a birth or rebirth of a Union that all states eventually recognized and supported. That American history up to that point was more of a gestation period that consisted of two wars with England, the granting of statehood to more territories, and the westward pioneer pilgrimages.

Whether the United States was born at the signing of the Declaration of Independence or reborn when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox is a matter for the historians to debate. Either way, the formation of the United States of America was by all accounts an extraordinarily rapid phenomenon in contrast to the much-more gradual development of virtually all other nations up to that point in history.

But there is the dawn of another country that, beyond debate, beyond speculation, beyond doubt, constitutes the swiftest and most remarkable national birth in the annals of human history. It was truly a nation born in one-day: the nation of Israel. Even more astounding … this birth was predicted some 2,700 years before it took place! Not just the fact that it would happen, but exactly HOW it would take occur. That it would be unlike any other birth ever experienced: (1) the birth would take place in one day, and (2) the birth would precede the labor pains!

Isn’t that exactly backwards? Of course it is. Regarding point #2 for you men: If you missed it or have forgotten how much to appreciate it, just ask your wife who gave birth to that beautiful daughter or handsome son. Or, ask your mother who brought you into this world. First came the contractions. Then, “Hello, I’m here. Give me a name and give me something to eat!”

Let’s read the prophetic description from one of the great Old Testament prophets: ‘Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?’ asks the Lord.’” ‘No, I would never keep this nation from being born.’ Says your God’” (Isaiah 66: 7-9).

Normal Birth of a Nation

Actually, nations do not normally arrive on the scene of history through a birth process; that is what we consider analogous to a woman giving birth to a child. Rather, they gradually develop into a political, social, and national identity through decades of homogenized language, geography, culture, government, and interactive economy. Examples that come to mind are the four superpowers prophetically identified in the book of Daniel, subsequently confirmed by both Biblical and secular records … Babylon, Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire.

For other nations who were seemingly birthed into existence, the pattern does reflect the metaphor of a woman giving birth. Beginning with conception, then birth pains, then deliverance into a brave new world of freedom and autonomy. Here, The United States of America comes to mind. This great country began with a concept (conception) of individual and corporate freedom from tyranny (taxation without representation), then painful contractions through resistance to oppression, and finally a liberating birth as a self-governing, self-determining republic of the people, by the people and for the people; albeit one that acknowledged Creator God as her sovereign benefactor and source of moral and spiritual excellence. Which makes the birth of Israel all the more unique and miraculous.

The Reverse Birth of Israel

For those who have read Eye of Prophecy on a somewhat regular basis, you have seen several articles that touch on the astounding introduction of Israel to the family of nations that took place in 1948. This amazing birth of a nation, the shocking victories over enemies far superior in number and weapons, the stunning agricultural, technological, cultural, political, and military growth of a people who turned swampland into gardens, desert into oasis, hamlets into hubs of commerce, diversity into unity, and defeat into victories.

It is one thing to predict the rebirth or revival of a nation from the dead (read again about Israel’s Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel Chapter 37). I suppose an argument could be made that this kind of prophecy has a 50% chance of coming to pass. Either the nation will return or it won’t. If, however, you were fully aware of the Roman Empire’s utter destruction of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple in 70 AD, followed by exiled eviction of all but a few Jews from Israel, with hundreds of ensuing years of subjugation in/by nations all over the world, I think the odds might take a nosedive to a miniscule probability of less than 1%.

But it’s quite another thing to predict the sequential details concerning the resurrection of a nation, particularly one that died a brutal unnatural death hundreds of years ago. Our passage in Isaiah does both. It tells us that this will happen and then tells us how it will take place; that it will be unimaginable, inconceivable, unheard of … unlike anything experienced in the annals of human history.

No matter where you rank the likelihood of the Jews ever returning to their land, let alone the undreamed-of improbability that they would or could restore and speak their ancient, near-extinct Hebrew language, what makes the rebirth of Israel so unfathomable is HOW it happened. Moreover, it catapults the prophecy of Isaiah 66 into a stratosphere that is absolutely breath-taking and mind-boggling. What am I referring to?

Look again at the text. It says, “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son” (Isaiah 66:7).

Once again, isn’t that totally backwards? Do you know of any woman who gave birth to a child, then went into labor after the child was born? Of course not … it doesn’t work that way. Unless, that is, you were born of, in, or through (as a result of) Israel. On May 14, 1948, seemingly out of nowhere Israel became a nation literally overnight. At the end of World War II, over half the Jews in Europe had been murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich. The survivors continued to be dispossessed, without any semblance of community or identity, let alone the hope of national unity. Yet, in less than two years the earth gave birth to Israel! Her children were born as naturally birthed Israeli citizens (Sabra) or through the exponential increase of Jewish emigrants from many nations of the world to Israel. Only after the birth of the State of Israel did the labor pains really begin. Strange? Unusual? Exceptional? I would think so.

This was also part of the amazing prophecy. Let’s review: “Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? By the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born” (Isaiah 66:8). This is precisely what happened when Israel was birthed as a nation in 1948.

First, she had no more to say about the matter than does a baby whose delivery is completely dependent on others. Although a handful of Jewish visionaries and Gentile supporters of Zionism had conceived the improbable birth of a new Israel, they had no idea how or when this would happen. They had no real say in the manipulation of nations to achieve this seemingly unattainable goal. Instead, it took the absolute sovereignty of God to deliver the Jews from the birth canal of Gentile oppression and horror which reached its ugly zenith during the Holocaust. ‘Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?’ asks the Lord.’” ‘No! I would never keep this nation from being born,’ says your God’” (Isaiah 66:9).

Second, the cruel contractions did follow the birth of Israel; in the form of an immediate assault by five Arab nations against the tiny, newly birthed, virtually helpless and defenseless infant nation called Israel. And what happened then? Not only did God bring forth a newfound nation from the womb of exile, but he delivered the newborn children from total annihilation at the hands of ancient enemies. Decades later, these birth pains would continue to strike Israel time and again … the Suez Canal conflict, the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the deadly homicide bombing attacks, the incessant launching of missiles from the Gaza Strip, the perfidious anti-Semitic boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. And the labor paints go on and on and on.

In my generation, we are witnesses to the spectacular fulfillment of a 2,700 year-old prophecy: The nation of Israel would be literally born in a single day, in a mere moment (of history). This new creation of national life would be unlike any birth known to mankind. One that is not ordinary, but extraordinary; one that is not expected, but unexpected; one that is not natural, but supernatural. Children would be (immediately) born, then the excruciating pain of childbirth (nationhood) would follow the birth, not precede it. But like the arrival of any newborn baby, the family rejoices; not because of the pain that goes with childbirth, but because of the miracle of life itself.

In fact, that’s what comes next in our text: “Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts” (Isaiah 66:10-11).

Once again we see the astounding accuracy of Biblical prophecy. Once again we are reminded that we are living in the last days, that we are very likely part of the generation that will experience the glorious return of our beloved Jewish Messiah. Once again our vision is renewed, “While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13).

Things to Ponder
- At one time or another, we marvel at God’s perfect timing concerning events or developments in our lives individually, as a family, and as a nation. Although the United Nations is essentially a coalition of ungodly countries the world over, God used this organization to approve a resolution that granted Israel Statehood rights. Without the UN resolution of November, 1947, it’s highly unlikely that Prime Minister David ben Gurion would have announced the Birth of a Nation (Israel) in 1948.
- The Holocaust was NOT indicative or representative of childbirth pains. In fact, it cannot be analogous to childbirth (life) at all, as it was a horrendous time of persecution and death. The birth pangs of a woman about to give birth are not persecutory, nor are they a signal that something or someone is about to die. Rather it is a necessary time of struggle that yields to the miracle of birth, then rejoicing and celebration over a new life given to us by an awesome God. A God who gives us life, then gives us life (eternal) again, through His Son.

The Omega Generation

(Are We) THE OMEGA GENERATION?

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22: 12-13). These are the very words of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, Messiah. And they are found in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible.

I am from the Baby Boomer generation. What generation do you belong to? Silent Generation? Generation X? Generation Y (Millennial)? Generation Z (Coming of Age)?Lost generation? We love to name our generations. But how often do we think about the final generation? Or, will there even be a final generation? If so, will it have a name? I think so … let’s call it the Omega Generation!

Old Testament prophetic books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah and New Testament books such as I & II Thessalonians and Revelation give us a wealth of information about the end times or the last days of this age. Of equal or even greater consequence are the words of Jesus, himself, given to his disciples on the Mount of Olives just a few days before his crucifixion and resurrection. This impressive disclosure of the signs of the last days can be found in Matthew 24 & 25, and the companion text in Luke 21.

Yet, from what I’ve seen and heard, many Christians don’t fully understand these passages. One reason is that the events announced by Jesus are not necessarily in chronological order. Or they refer to a period of time that precede and precipitates the final days … meaning events that take place during the birth pains; such as wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes. Or, as in the case of Luke 21: 20-24 and Matthew 24:2, Jesus is predicting (referring to) the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple that subsequently occurred in 70 AD.

“And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived” (Luke 21:20). We know that this refers to the Roman conquest of Israel by the Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus, as that is exactly what happened in 66-70 AD. This is further confirmed in verse 24: “They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world…” That, too, took place in 70 AD and continued for hundreds of years through the horrific Holocaust during WWII.

Then we read the words of Jesus in the last part of Luke 21:24: “…And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.”

The God-ordained and time-specified prophecy of seven times over as found in Leviticus 26, has been the subject of our previous three articles. As explained and documented in these articles, God’s final (phase four) discipline of Israel resulted in eviction of the people from the land of Israel and subsequent exile to nations all over the world. Because God himself designed the sequential phases of punishment, he alone would determine exactly when the discipline would begin and end. The vast majority of Bible scholars agree that the Times of the Gentiles began with Babylon’s final conquest of Israel in 586 BC. We then found that the 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 paradigm measured in historical years (including 49 Jubilee years) did, in fact, come to an end in 1967.

Furthermore, the year 1967 was/is a monumentally significant year in Jewish modern-day history as that’s when the Six-Day War occurred. One outcome of this stunning victory was the final capture of all of Jerusalem by the Israelis, including Temple Mount. This was God’s predetermined plan to end Gentile domination of the Jews, of Israel, and of Jerusalem.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Israel will not be attacked again; or, for a specified period of time (42 months), be under partial control by Gentile nations … specifically led by Antichrist. “Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, ‘Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months’” (Revelation 11: 1-2).

This allotted time matches precisely with the time given to the beast of Revelation (Antichrist). “Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his temple—that is, those who live in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13: 5-7).

But notice one thing that is transparently missing from this temporary 42-month period of God-permitted domination by Antichrist: The Jews are NOT exiled or taken captive to other nations on earth, as they were before the Times of the Gentiles ended in 1967.

Both in terms of method and time, the seven times over prophecy was very precise in its fulfillment; with the 4th and final phase incorporating God’s use of Gentile nations to discipline God’s chosen people. This was accomplished through exile of Jews to nations all over the earth. Until, that is, the rebirth of Israel in 1948, then the seizure of other sectors of Israel during the Six-Day War in June, 1967; not the least of which was all of Jerusalem, the Holy City of the Holy Land.

Scripture is very clear—through many of the Old Testament prophets: Once the Jews return to Israel, they will never again be under constant Gentile domination. As we have seen, that continuous rule ended in June, 1967. Thus, the Tribulation period of 42 months is but a temporary interlude to the cessation of Gentile rule over the Jews. In the book of Ezekiel, we find one of many promises throughout the Old Testament that, once God ends his punishment of the Jews and restores his people to the land of Israel, never again will they be held captive by Gentile enemies.

“And from that time on the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. The nations will then know why Israel was sent away to exile—it was punishment for sin, for they were unfaithful to their God. Therefore, I turned away from them and let their enemies destroy them. I turned my face away and punished them because of their defilement and their sins” (Ezekiel 39:21-24).

The passage continues with good news: “So now, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I will end the captivity of my people; I will have mercy on all Israel, for I jealously guard my holy reputation! They will accept responsibility for their past shame and unfaithfulness after they come home to live in peace in their own land, with no one to bother them. When I bring them home from the lands of their enemies, I will display my holiness among them for all the nations to see. Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again. I will leave none of my people behind. And I will never again turn my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’” (Ezekiel 39: 25-29, italics for emphasis).

Now it’s time to examine more words of Jesus’s prophecy as to a potential or projected time-frame starting with the return of the Jews to Israel and their final spiritual restoration … “pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel.”

Generational Measurements of the Last Days

Another well-known, but nevertheless spectacular prophecy given by Jesus during the Mount of Olives discourse is as follows: “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:32-34).

When Jesus says, “this generation” he is not referring to some vague, unspecified, undefined, ambiguous period of time. Rather, he is identifying the precise generation that will be alive and witness the amazing end time’s events described in Matthew and Luke. In other words, this is a literal, identifiable generation. Scripture gives us two primary designations or parameters of a generation, both of which are measured in real time.

1. One Hundred Years: “Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years … After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction’” (Genesis 15: 13-15).

This is a phenomenal prophecy given to Abraham even before Isaac was born, in which God not only talks about the (many) descendants of Abraham; but hundreds of years before the fact announces that they (the Israelites) would be slaves in a foreign land (Egypt), only to return to the Promised Land of Israel. Moreover, God equates a generation to 100 years … 400 hundred years equals four generations. Think about it for a moment. Although unusual (perhaps even rare), there are people the world over who live to be one hundred … some even a few years more. Yet, 100 years of age is pretty much the maximum scope of any given lifetime or generation.

2. Seventy Years: “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty” (Psalms 90:10).

This insight as to the customary lifespan of a human being was given to Moses, who is the author of Psalms 90, the only Psalm credited to Moses. Again, think about it. By and large, the normal or average lifespan of most people the world over is between 70 and 80 years of age. By seventy, virtually no more children are conceived and birthed by a woman. For all practical purposes, a person who reaches 70 years of age (perhaps a few more years) has lived a generational life-time. They have children and grandchildren who are the progeny of the next generation. King David, himself, died at exactly 70 years of age.

Application of Biblical Generations to the Last Generation

If Jesus is referring specifically to the last generation, and I believe the text/context is crystal clear that he is; then this generation must have a designated start-up date or dates. Without an actual event (which can be identified by a specific calendar year) to begin the generation, the 70-year or 100-year generational time frame is much too vague … meaning there’s too much overlap or ambiguity as to the actual decades involved. If you were explaining your generation to someone, what would be your reference point? How would you describe it? Wouldn’t you say, “In my generation….” Essentially, then, your reference or starting point is the date of your birth!

Using our first example of four generations of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt, God gave Abraham the point-in-time commencement of this 400 hundred years (four generations) captivity, i.e. from the time that the Jews no longer enjoyed freedom in Egypt, which was not too long after Joseph died. Another example is the 70-year Babylonian captivity, which just happened to be the exact length of the 2nd measurement of time for a generation … 70 years. Historically, we know the beginning (586 BC) and end date (516 BC) of this time-designated punishment of Israel.

Is it, then, possible to select or identify events/dates in Israel’s contemporary history that correspond to the Biblical definition of a generation … that is one hundred years and/or seventy years? The answer is a resounding, YES. In fact, we’ve already touched on these dates in the previous three articles. In addition, I partially addressed these events some time ago in the Eye of Prophecy article, entitled, When the Rapture, published 8-10-13, as well as The End of the Age article published 11-23-13.

Some Christians are confused about or don’t entirely understand the role of the Church and Israel during the last days beginning with the Rapture. Please fathom one critical premise/truth: Although the Mount of Olives discourse indirectly applies to the Church (composed of all Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by Messiah Jesus), the whole purpose of Christ’s majestic return is to set up the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) on the earth IN the Holy Land and THROUGH / FOR his chosen people, the Jews. And what triggers the need for Christ to return to Israel is none other than the ultimate and final rescue of the Jews (Israel) from conquest and destruction at the hands of Antichrist.

Concerning the Church, the sole purpose of the Rapture is to snatch away believers from the earth so that we do not have to experience the final wrath of God poured out on an ungodly generation of unbelievers. Otherwise, ALL of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Last Days or End Times focus on Israel, not the Church; in fact, the Church (consisted of all Jews/Gentiles who place their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death) doesn’t even come into existence for over 400 years after the last book of the Old Testament was written. Moreover, from the 4th Chapter through the 18th Chapter of the book of Revelation, the Church is not even mentioned, as such.

So, let’s look again at the three monumentally crucial events of the last 100 years, relating to the return of the Jews to Israel.

A. Balfour Declaration of November, 1917: England extended official support that Palestine could be a home for the Jews. This was the beginning of Jewish autonomy in Israel, although the land was still called Palestine at that time.

Recognizing this very important event/date, we can then apply the Biblical generational measurement of 100 years. Once again, however, we need to convert Roman calendar years to Jewish years. Doing the math we come up with 101.4 Jewish years which translates to 101 years and 5 months. From November, 1917, this would take us to March or April, 2019.

B. United Nations Resolution of November, 1947: UN voted to grant statehood rights to the Jews; the nation would be called Israel. (May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the reborn existence of the State of Israel!).

This was the 2nd significant milestone in fulfillment of hundreds of Biblical prophecies concerning the Abrahamic Covenant, i.e. the physical restoration of Israel. Most Bible scholars and historians select the statehood date of May 14, 1948 as the historical landmark, which it certainly is; however, the actual declaration of statehood was almost anticlimactic. Reason: officially, the British Mandate (rule) over Palestine expired on that date. But it was the UN Resolution that delivered the pivotal turning point or breakthrough. Without the UN resolution of November, 1947, there would have been no recognized Israeli State in May, 1948. Yet, there is only a period of 6 months separating these two events; thus, selection of either one would be a legitimate application to the 70-year generational measurement of time.

Again, doing the conversion math, we arrive at a total of 70.97 or (rounding it off) 71 Jewish years. Adding 71 years to November, 1947, we arrive at November, 2018. If we utilize May, 1948 as the benchmark date, the 71 years would take us to May, 2019.

C. June, 1967 Six-Day War (Jubilee Years): In addition to the two Biblical measurements of a generation (100 years and 70 years), what happens if we also select the Jubilee time-frame of 50 years? As stressed in the previous seven times seven articles, the 50-year Jubilee was part of God’s formula for disciplining Israel, as the Jews also failed to keep the Jubilee. Consequently, I believe the Jubilee will also be a component part of God’s magnificent restoration of Israel.

In this instance, we will use the next epic milestone in Israel’s brief modern-history … that of the June, 1967 Six-Day War. We talked about this at great length in last week’s article, to include the fact that it occurred 50 years (not coincidentally, a Jubilee period of time) from the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Once again we convert 50 Roman calendar years to Jewish time and we come up with: 50.7 years which is 50 years and 8.4 months (8-9 months). From June, 1967, this would take us through February or into March, 2018.

Combining All Three Events

Now comes the really exciting feature of all these conversion tables and what you might consider to be some boring mathematics. First, none of these three possibilities give us an exact day/hour of Christ’s return that begins with the first phase which is the Rapture and ends with his physical return at the end of the Tribulation. And that’s good. Why? Because Jesus, himself, said that no one can possibly know the day or hour of his return. I emphasize that almost to a fault in my article, When the Rapture. Therefore, I wouldn’t even pretend to know the exact date of Christ’ return, nor would I ever venture a guess. Forget it!

On the contrary, Jesus did advise us to recognize the seasons, the times, the signs, and the symptoms if you will, of his glorious return. If he didn’t want us to put 2 and 2 together, then why did Jesus provide so many clues and signals? Why would he have even used the metaphor of the fig tree in bloom? Even more challenging: Why would he have selected a time-measured or time-dedicated point of reference (generation), if he didn’t want us to identify the noteworthy bench mark events of the final days, aligned alongside the pre-Rapture birth pains and post-Rapture (Tribulation) incidents that he describes.

With these questions in mind, what other specific events have occurred relating to Israel during the 20th or 21st century that would surpass or supplant the 1917, 1947 (48), and 1967 highlights that we’ve selected as commencement dates for both the 100 and 70-year generations, as well as the equally important Jubilee? In answer to this question, I’ll give you a hint: There are NO other events that even come close to these historical mileposts. In fact, take a look at what constitutes the Jubilee year in Leviticus Chapter 25. Among other things, it is a time to free servants, debts, and captives, which is exactly what happened when the IDF captured Jerusalem and freed all Jews to return to and live in all of Jerusalem—at least in principle.

Summary

Here’s what we find when we combine all three projected dates of generational or Jubilee time-lapse… meaning 100 years, 70 years, and 50 years (Roman calendar). From our three (four, if we also use Israel’s statehood of May, 1948) examples, we will select the earliest possible month/year all the way to the latest month/year.

It’s conceivable that we will hear the blast of the last Rapture trumpet: BETWEEN FEBRUARY, 2018 and MAY, 2019!!

Of course, Christ may Rapture the Church any day between now and the above listed dates, or even after those dates. For the following reasons: God will determine the next Jubilee in Israel’s history. Concerning a generation (whether 70 or 100 years): unless the prophecy specifies actual periods of time such as found in Daniel 9, there is normally some flexibility built-in to God’s use of numbers in Scripture. For example, there are, relatively speaking, a handful of people on the earth who live to be 105 or 110, or whatever. Also, the average life expectancy in many developed countries is in the vicinity of 76, 77, or 78 years.

But, if the Lord decides to combine all three time-frames, then I would be very surprised if we Christians are still on this earth after the year 2020. Although that is a speculative statement, I believe that it is a sanctified speculation! Meaning that it is based on some solid evidence from Scripture, particularly the passages quoted in this article and prior articles.

Things to Ponder
Once again, listen to the words of Jesus. He says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).

Are we the Omega generation?

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