A Beast by Any Other Name … Part II

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A Beast by Any Other Name … Is Still a Beast

Good and evil; war and peace; light and darkness; pride and humility; right and wrong; unjust and just; truth and lies. Words of reverse meaning (antonyms) often provide more insight and impact than do words with similar meanings (synonyms). There’s nothing like comparison through stark contrast to grab our attention and heighten our understanding and appreciation for concepts at the extreme ends of a physical, moral, or spiritual spectrum. Even oxymoronic phrases such as, “Until hell freezes over,” serve a purpose, I suppose. In this instance to amplify the idea that some things just don’t go together … never have and never will.

Unlike hot and cold, there are many words that don’t have an antonym; but that’s no problem. So if you’re against something like abortion (good for you), then how do you express your disagreement with just a one-word opposite?

Likewise, names of people in virtually every language carry with them a linguistic meaning (for example, my first and last name mean spear and flower, respectively); but ordinarily we don’t pair off names or groups of contrary names in order to compare or contrast the meaning of those names. With one universal exception:

Christ … Antichrist.

As we all know, anti means against and/or in place of. In the English language there are hundreds of words that allow the prefix, anti, in order to convey the exact opposite. Such as anti-abortion.

What better way for the Bible to accentuate the ultra-antithesis of the true Christ (Messiah) than to tag his evil counterpart—who was born in the first century a few years after Jesus ascended to heaven—with the name (that says it all) of Antichrist. For that is exactly what he was and will be again upon his return as the beast from the Abyss.

Yet, before the Apostle John coined the term Antichrist in the first century, both the Prophet Daniel and the Apostle Paul described this infamous man with other titles. When we understand the reason for Scripture’s different names of Antichrist and the context of those passages, then we will better comprehend that the future Antichrist is also the (past) historical ruler, king, and man of lawlessness.

In last week’s article, we examined Daniel’s appellations of little horn and king … then continuation of king as found in Revelation Chapters 13 & 17. This week we will scrutinize another descriptive term by Daniel in his prophecy of a coming Ruler, whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple; this same ruler would then orchestrate a seven-year treaty with Israel that is a catalyst to the Great Tribulation. Equally significant: To recognize that there is an extraordinary (what is now a lengthy) interlude announced by Daniel between the destruction of the Temple and the seven-year treaty. But it’s still the same ruler involved in these two events, already separated by nearly 2000 years! Then Paul’s phenomenal present tense exposure of this wicked ruler called by Paul, The Man of Lawlessness.

Third Title: Ruler

“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. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, 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 defiler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:26-27).

Bible scholars have astutely and accurately identified the Anointed One as Jesus who, to the very day when he rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as Messiah, fulfilled precisely the 483 year prophetic time-clock of Messiah’s appearance as predicted in verses 24 and 25 of this chapter. Then Daniel tells us that after Messiah is killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, a ruler would arise….

The Hebrew word translated ruler in the New Living Translation just quoted, and rendered prince in, for example, the New American Standard Bible is: Nagiyd. (Pronounced, naw-gheed). The English translations of prince, overseer, or ruler (in various capacities) correctly reflect the original Hebrew word. Clearly conveyed, however, is that the term prince or ruler is a generic designation, in contrast to a more position-specific title such as King. Although several languages use the positional title Prince to identify a particular historical ruler, the term prince is more frequently employed to simply label someone in authority in any number of administrative or nobility positions. And, of course, ruler is an all-purpose term that can refer to just about any person of prestige or power.

Daniel’s first vision of the Antichrist was that of a Little Horn in Daniel Chapter Seven; also a general description as the primary emphasis was that of his proud boasting against God from a platform of authority recognized and accepted by the world at large (as subsequently confirmed by Revelation Chapter 13). But then switched to a king who would suddenly appear in a specific sphere of influence; that he would rule over ten already established kings/nations during the Tribulation.

Yet in Daniel’s portrayal of the Antichrist as recorded in Chapter 9, he wouldn’t have known, nor did the Angel Gabriel disclose to him the exact title of what would later be a Roman ruler or even more definitive, a Roman Caesar. Thus, the angel utilizes the term of ruler which is a title anyone in Daniel’s time (or any time of history) would easily grasp.

Sometimes a prophecy given by God to one of his prophets will be spectacularly specific, such as naming Cyrus some 150 years before he was even born to be the Persian King, who would allow the Jews to return to Israel. Most often, however, Scripture provides just enough information to get the attention of those alive when the prophecy is given, then dramatically captures the focus of those alive when the prophecy is fulfilled.

Between the former and the latter, anyone who possesses any degree of anticipation, expectation, or intrigue is soon full of enthusiasm when the prophesied person appears or the event unfolds. Its like: WOW, this is actually happening in our lifetime. Which is exactly the positive response of many when Messiah Jesus was born in Bethlehem of a Virgin, then thousands more when Christ miraculously arose from the dead; and the equally negative reaction of Christians during Nero’s reprehensible reign as Caesar.

I believe God does this on purpose for our benefit. He wants us to take the time and effort to carefully observe and match the historical event to a long-ago Biblical prophecy; to better appreciate the intricacies of both the prediction and its accomplishment. But also to validate Scripture’s claim that the God of the Bible is the ONLY true and living God … through the miracle of fulfilled prophecy.

The Ruler is Nero

That this ruler is none other than Nero is extensively documented in my book, Out of the Abyss, by, as alluded to in last week’s article, dissecting and then correlating first century history to all Biblical references of Antichrist, none more so than this passage in Daniel Chapter 9.

nero (2)

In order to maintain the hypothesis of a revived Roman Empire proposed by many students of prophecy (which is based on the improper substitution of the English word kingdoms for the Greek word for kings in Revelation 17 and disregarding the personal pronouns used for these kings and the 8th king who is one of the seven kings … five who were already dead, one reigning, and the seventh to come, whose reign would be very brief), the Roman Legions (armies of Daniel 9) are linked to this ruler, who is perceived as a modern-day born man, even though doing so stretches this linkage to the breaking point. In other words, the ruler and his armies (Roman legions) are most assuredly coupled, but this connective association actually took place in the first century.

As we shall see, this prince would arise shortly after Messiah Jesus was crucified, as opposed to what would now be a totally impractical and illogical time-lapse of nearly 2000 years. It’s essential that we grasp the grammar and syntax of exactly what Daniel is relaying to us in Chapter 9.

Once again we read, “…The Anointed One (Messiah) 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, italics for emphasis). Two things jump from the pages of this startling prediction:

(1) The possessive pronoun “whose” (armies) grammatically and prophetically bind the ruler to the actual armies that would destroy Jerusalem and the Second Temple. This fateful prophecy was agonizingly realized in 70 AD when the Roman Legions utterly demolished the Temple and destroyed much of Jerusalem, killing hundreds of thousands of Jews. The indisputable historical evidence clearly shows that this cruel campaign to crush the Jews had been ordered by Nero in 66-67 AD; moreover, he hand-picked the two Roman Generals who carried out his orders—Vespasian and Titus.

(2) The sequential syntax of the passage yields the unambiguous conclusion that the ruler would arise (shortly) after Christ (the Anointed One) was killed (on the Cross); as opposed to what is now a 2000-year gap between the Roman Legions that demolished the Temple and what is supposed to be a modern-day man (Antichrist) who would have absolutely no connection whatsoever to those legions. The text stipulates that the ruler would arise during the time when Messiah’s death appeared to have accomplished nothing. From my book, Out of the Abyss:

If the ruler is a modern-day man, then this verse doesn’t fit. Worse, the first part of the verse is simply inaccurate. What am I saying? I am saying that … we can look back some 2000 years and clearly see the monumentally astounding accomplishments of Christianity. Yet Daniel 9:26 effectively tells us that the ruler will sequentially rise to power during the time that Messiah’s death “appears” to have accomplished nothing. In other words, the ruler would arise fairly soon after Messiah is killed.

Nero was born just three to four years after Christ died, and he ruled as Emperor just two-three decades (later) … Christianity was still in its infancy. To the populace of Israel, the Roman Empire and world at large, the tragic death of Jesus of Nazareth seemed to have accomplished very little. To Jewish Zealots, Jesus’s death accomplished absolutely nothing … It took several centuries for Christians and the secular world to comprehend the increasing influence that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ had exerted on the world. (Pages 256-257).

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Concerning the real-time 1st century correlation between the prince/ruler and the people or armies that destroyed the Temple, I explained in Out of the Abyss:

The Hebrew word for people … means people(s) people of a nation, members of one’s people, kinsman, or compatriots … invariably when relating people to a nation, king, ruler, or to God, the word is employed in the logical and sensible Scriptural context of possessive, immediate, or generational relationship….

I go on to say that the people of the prince or ruler that Daniel foretells, … 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…. Whose is possessive, meaning those armies or people specifically belonging to that particular ruler…. The people directly affiliated, associated, or united with the prince destroyed the Temple.

Then a few paragraphs later: 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.

And, as indicated, whenever the Hebrew word “am” (meaning people) is used throughout the Old Testament in conjunction with a ruler and a people, it is used to specify an immediate, real-time connection between the leader/nation and the people belonging to that leader… Why, then, should Gabriel and Daniel mean a far-off, time-warped differential between the Roman Legions and a prince that wouldn’t arrive on the scene for what is now a nearly two-thousand year gap? (Pages 254-256).

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Roman Legion

Daniel goes on to explain that the same ruler whose armies would destroy the Temple would then make a treaty with Israel, which is the Biblical passage specifying that the Tribulation is for a period of seven years. But before Daniel announces this seven-year treaty and the ruler’s violation of the treaty half way through, we have one remarkable interval between the end of verse 26 and the beginning of verse 27 that many Bible scholars have overlooked, missed, or dismissed (in terms of its chronological impact). There’s no doubt in the syntax structure of verses 26 & 27, that the decisive events described are sequential. I repeat: no doubt whatsoever; if for no other reason that the connecting words and the logical progression of occurrences are given in a specific order.

Here’s what the text says: “…whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people…” (Daniel 9:26b, 27a, italics for emphasis). I’ve italicized the crucial interim period of time that clearly separates the (now) historical sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD from the yet-to-come seven-year Tribulation treaty engineered by the SAME ruler whose armies destroyed the city and the Temple.

The end will come … war its miseries from that time to the very end is expressive apocalyptic language to describe the Great Tribulation.

This is absolutely astonishing, and can only be truly apprehended and appreciated by realizing that the ruler (Nero) whose armies destroyed the Temple will also be the same ruler who will mesmerize the entire world by his astounding return from the Abyss; which will enable him to strike a treaty with Israel at the outset of the Tribulation, then break this treaty in 3 ½ years followed by an all-out onslaught against Israel and the tribulation saints for another 3 ½ years.

Thus, even without Revelation 17 which clearly and emphatically tells us that the 8th king (the Antichrist scarlet beast) is from the seven and had lived and died before John even saw this beast-king; history itself validates Daniel’s incredible prophecy that the armies of, controlled by, and subsequently ordered to crush the Jewish rebellion belonged to none other than the Roman Emperor, Nero. Combining Revelation 17 with Daniel 9 (and also Daniel 7), we have not one, but two historical and irrefutable proofs that the future tense ruler of Daniel’s prophecies became the first century PAST TENSE king-beast ruler known as Nero.

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Depicts Destruction of Jerusalem & Temple in 70 AD

Fourth Title: Man of Lawlessness

But there’s more! Not just future tense and past tense, but a PRESENT TENSE (right then and there as it was happening) expose of the fifth Roman Emperor by the Apostle Paul, who labeled him the man of lawlessness. Once again for sake of time/space in these three articles on the names of Antichrist, we must summarize in crash course fashion another chapter from Out of the Abyss (Refer to Chapter 21 for many more facts and details). Beginning with the riveting passage:

“…For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction … He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out-of-the-way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:3-8).

In this abbreviated review of the man later called Antichrist and the beast (of Revelation), we need to concentrate on the present tense grammar and the obvious implications thereof; to both the man of lawlessness and the secrecy of the lawlessness (that he was part of) that was being restrained or held back at the very time that Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Thessalonica.

First, a brief historical context: Paul wrote II Thessalonians in 51-52 AD, and the Temple of Jerusalem was very much intact. Believers expected that the desecration that Daniel, Jesus, and Paul spoke of would take place in none other than Herod’s Temple, in their very near future. In fact, it’s abundantly clear throughout the entire New Testament, especially from the Apostle Paul, that the Christians at that time fully expected Jesus to return any hour of any day. The “imminent return of Christ” was more alive and real in the first century that it has been ever since, with the possible exception of today’s passionate hope that his return is very near.

It’s just that the Holy Spirit had not revealed to Paul that the desecration of the Temple would take place in a 3rd rebuilt Temple, to replace Herod’s Temple that would be destroyed less than twenty years after Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

But I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit had disclosed to Paul the identity of this man of lawlessness, even though Paul could not and would not refer to the man by name … upon penalty of death and intense persecution of Christians, which would have begun as soon as Nero unlawfully ascended the throne, if not before. In fact, later in Nero’s reign, tens of thousands of Christians were murdered and both Paul and Peter were executed. Nero was subsequently “revealed” as the man of lawlessness, but not yet as the Beast-king. Nero’s future (resumed) fulfillment of his anti-Christ agenda would not fully materialize until the Day of the Lord had begun … precipitated first by the Rapture, then shortly followed by his (the beast-king’s) return from the Abyss.

How can we know with absolute certainty that Paul was referring to this man of lawlessness (who we know is one and the same as the little horn, ruler, king, and would be (later) called Antichrist and the Beast) as one who was already alive on planet Earth; as opposed to some far-off unborn ruler who would initiate a great rebellion against God?

Before answering that question, let’s also be reminded that Nero did exactly that. Not before Nero instigated and personally supervised a savage vendetta against Christians at the hands of an entire empire or until Nero resumes the rebellion during the Great Tribulation, has there ever been such brutality on this scale. Against the Jews as a race and nation, yes; but not against people from all races, nations, and languages, so identified because of their belief in the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as their Messiah. Ironically, Nero’s direct participation in this first century persecution of Christians lasted about 3 ½ years, the same period of time that his diabolical revolt against God, and torture and death of Christians and Jews will last during the Great Tribulation.

The following is how we can irrefutably conclude that Paul was telling us exactly who the man of lawlessness was and would be, without actually stating his name. Once again let’s read the words, this time from the New American Standard Bible: “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed … only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (II Thessalonians 2:6-7, italics for emphasis).

Who or What Holds Back the Man of Lawlessness & the Secrecy of the Lawlessness?

These active present tense verbs and modifiers clearly convey and confirm the premise that all this was taking place before and when Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians. Here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss to reinforce this premise:

According to Paul, the restrainer “is” (at that time) holding the lawless one back. This present tense application is augmented by the fact that what restrains is holding “him now.” Not later, not in some distant future, but right then and there while Paul informed the believers. Paul obviously is not referring to a man who hadn’t even been born yet. Nor does the text state or imply that the man of lawlessness is currently restrained from being born; in fact that would make no sense whatsoever.

Think about it. How could or why would the man be restrained if he wasn’t already alive? If Paul was referring to this man in the future tense (not what the man would do … that was still future), he would have said, “and you know what will hold him back.” The present tense grammar of the text yields a convincing conclusion; this man of lawlessness was already being held in check.

Newsflash: Nero became emperor in 54 AD, but Claudius Caesar and his wife, Agrippina (Nero’s mother), were already touting Nero as successor when Paul wrote I and II Thessalonians. Furthermore, all of Rome knew that Nero would not be a lawful successor to the crown. Romans had already prided themselves and their empire as the first and greatest law and order society in history. And, as we saw earlier: Paul wrote II Thessalonians in 51-52 AD. That’s a bit more than coincidental, don’t you think? (Page 191).

antichrist

Today’s contemporary application of these verses is that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer and that he restrains evil, but that is not what the passage is telling us. For one thing, the Greek word for lawlessness is different from the Greek words used for evil or wickedness in the New Testament. The Greek word for lawlessness is anomia, which means contempt for or violation of law—Biblical laws, moral laws, and civil laws. Found only fifteen times in the New Testament, the word conveys a more exclusive, or specific expression of evil, the very kind that Paul said was taking place. In fact, Paul said, “this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.”

Before that, Paul referred to the restrainer as “what is holding him back.” The him of this verse is the man of lawlessness and the what (as clearly explained in Out of the Abyss) was the Roman government including the Senate that represented the people, and to a lesser extent the Roman legions. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is NEVER referred to by a neutral or impersonal pronoun anywhere in Scripture; rather, the Holy Spirit is always referred to by the personal pronoun, he or him. Why then would Paul even remotely imply that the pronoun what of this passage is the Holy Spirit? Yet, that is the (mistaken) association by many scholars, i.e. that this impersonal pronoun substitution (what) is the Holy Spirit, himself.

Furthermore, why would Paul be reluctant to identify or enunciate the name of the Holy Spirit in this context; when non-believing Romans or Greeks would have been oblivious to something or someone called the Holy Spirit? When, in fact, Paul often mentioned the Holy Spirit throughout his epistles, and even references the Holy Spirit in verse thirteen of this same chapter in II Thessalonians. It’s completely logical why Paul withheld the name of Nero, Claudius, or Agrippina, all of whom were part of the lawless scheme to make Nero the next Emperor. But no reason at all for Paul to evasively disguise the Holy Spirit as the impersonal (force) that was holding the man of lawlessness in check until the secrecy of this lawlessness was fully exposed (later in 54 AD).

The lawlessness Paul cited in this passage was the Machiavellian-style political intrigue and covert maneuvers underway through what would later become a (successful) conspiracy by Nero’s mother Agrippina to assassinate her husband, the Roman Emperor Claudius—which would pave the way for Nero to become Caesar.

Please, read the passage again: The lawlessness itself was not being held back; instead it was the secrecy of that lawlessness … known only by a select few including Paul, to whom it had been revealed. Thus it was the Roman system of law and government (what) that was holding Nero (temporarily) in check; which enabled Claudius Caesar (as long as he was on the throne) to hold back or (inadvertently) suppress the secrecy of what was unlawfully being planned by his wife and step-son Nero. But when the one who “now restrains” was taken out of the way, the clandestine, hush-hush, anarchistic plot would no longer be concealed. This lawlessness would and did rear its ugly head when Agrippina poisoned Claudius, and Nero succeeded him as Emperor.

As summarized in Out of the Abyss:

Obviously Claudius wanted Nero to succeed him, but certainly not as a result of Claudius being toppled from power by anyone, let alone his wife, Agrippina. Thus, Claudius was part of the scheme that would bypass his natural son’s right to the throne in favor of his step-son Nero. Little did Claudius realize that this plot would thicken with Agrippina’s lawless sub-plot to prematurely take him out of the picture, to remove him from power by revealing her true intention—that of Nero’s immediate unlawful ascension to the throne. (Page 201).

Things to Ponder

Next weeks’ article, the final part of this trilogy, will elaborate on the remaining two names: Antichrist and The Beast. To further expand on how these two designations (alongside the man of lawlessness) comprehensively represent the composite Antichrist, i.e. body, soul, and spirit of this depraved human being.

For all those who really want to accurately determine the identity of Antichrist, I am completely convinced that God wants us to know just as the early Christians knew, especially through the 5th century AD. That Nero was this man of lawlessness, the ruler, and the king (Roman Caesar) who had died; but would one day return from the Abyss as the (little horn) beast to continue his Antichrist reign of terror … but on a truly global scale.

We need to know these things before the Rapture takes place, so that many left behind will not be so amazed at a False Messiah … Nero’s returns from the underworld.

We need to know, before we go!

A Beast by Any Other Name … Part I

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A Beast by Any Other Name … Is Still a Beast

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So why not use the first part of this famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as the actual title of this article? Answer: Because the beast is none other than the infamous Antichrist; and it’s too much of a spiritual and moral compromise to metaphorically equate this evil man to a rose … for that matter even to a weed!

If you were asked to designate the Antichrist by another Biblical alias or term, would you be able to pick one, or two, or four? Although the label Antichrist is known all over the world, including hundreds of millions of unbelievers, I would dare say that even many believers would be hard-pressed to come up with three or more of these Biblical names, other than the most familiar one … Antichrist.

Another question: Does it really make a difference what name we use to identify this notorious man? It all depends on how much we truly want to know what Scripture wants us to know. If we merely want to refer to him as the one who will be an (the) anti-Christ and a counterfeit Messiah during the Great Tribulation, then Antichrist will do just fine. But if we really wish to understand more than just the future of this terrible tyrant, if we are curious whether he has a past which also requires a present (tense) existence at one point in history; then we must carefully examine each of the Biblical names given to him. If, indeed, we actually desire to exercise the wisdom called for and needed (Revelation 13:18) in order to ascertain the accurate identity of this nefarious man, then we need to comprehend that different titles were given to him for that very purpose?

Those who have read my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the Beast be solved, 666; as well as several prior Eye of Prophecy articles on this subject, already know that the Antichrist has been identified as the Roman Emperor, Nero. Furthermore, this astonishing conclusion is not based whatsoever on the Preterist view; because the Preterists erroneously contend that the book of Revelation, including the Tribulation period (which is most of the book), took place in the first century. That argument has been soundly refuted by astute Bible scholars for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because the Tribulation has not yet taken place. There’s simply no way to symbolically equate (what will be) the literal seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of Revelation with first century events.

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What the Preterists completely missed, and what I (at one time) and many other students of prophecy have misunderstood is that the beast of Revelation had already lived and died BEFORE John was given the amazing revelation of the beast (Antichrist). Moreover, John was told that the beast would reappear from the Abyss! This extraordinary emergence would stun the world as most of those left behind after the Rapture would (logically) see Nero’s return from the grave as a supernatural event.

“I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

In support of this incredible conclusion (as to his identity) I carefully examined EVERY Scripture passage that deals with this infamous man. Indeed, the main purpose for sharing this disclosure and discernment in Out of the Abyss and in some Eye of Prophecy articles is so that (before and particularly after the Rapture) many will not be amazed … as they will realize that this man’s identity had been decoded and declassified long ago. That his sensational return from the grave (actually the Abyss) had been planned by the Lord who will allow Nero’s release from the Abyss, which will delude billions into believing the lie that they want to believe in the first place.

“So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).

The purpose of this article and the next two articles is to expand this evidence, by explaining the contextual reasons for Scripture’s allusions to Antichrist with more than just one title. To realize that the Antichrist is not just a future tyrant—a perceived modern-day man born in the generation that will experience the Tribulation. Instead, to fully grasp that the diverse Biblical references to this despicable despot clearly demonstrate sequentially that he had a future, then a present, then a past, and then (will be given) another (brief) future (appearance) on this earth.

These trilogy of articles will be a crash course that we might call: Names of Antichrist 101. Once again, because the vast majority of both unbelievers and believers know this wicked ruler as Antichrist, that will be the primary appellation employed throughout these articles. Ironically, however, the designation of Antichrist is the least used term for this man found in the Bible, and is not found at all in the two most end-times (tribulation) prophetic books of Scripture: Daniel and Revelation.

First Title: Little Horn

The very first reference to Antichrist can be found in the book of Daniel: “Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong … It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns. As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the first horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly” (Daniel 7:7-8).

If you recall the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the terrifying statue (Daniel Chapter 2), then Daniels’s vision of the four beasts, followed chronologically by the (now) historical emergence of the four (and only four) world empires depicted in these visions, then you know that the first three kingdoms are Babylon, Persia, and Greece. With the fourth most dreadful and mighty empire of all … the ancient Roman Empire.

Later in this same chapter, Daniel tells us more about this little horn. “…This horn had seemed greater than the others (meaning the other ten horns of the fourth beast), and it had human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly. As I watched, this horn was waging war against God’s holy people and was defeating them, until the Ancient One—the Most High—came and judged in favor of his holy people. Then the time arrived for the holy people to take over the kingdom” (Daniel 7:20-22).

This passage coupled with Revelation Chapter 13 shows distinctly that these things are taking place at the outset and then throughout the Great Tribulation. Daniel’s choice of a descriptive tag for this man, small horn with human eyes and a mouth that boasted arrogantly (then later just horn), conveys the following: (1) the term horn signifies authority and power, but when given human eyes and a boastful mouth, it specifically tells us that the predominate characteristics of this man is that of conceited boasting against God and God’s people, i.e. Jews and Christians Jews and Gentiles during the tribulation.

(2) This is the same expressive language used by John in Revelation 13, which was his first vision of this man. “And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his temple—that is, those who live in heaven (meaning Christians who have been raptured just before the tribulation begins). And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them…” (Revelation 13:6-7).

What I have often said before bears repeating: Nowhere in Daniel 7 or Revelation 13 (or in any other Biblical passages about this man) do we read that he is a political, military, administrative, or economic genius that possesses charismatic statesmanship or oratorical skills that enable him to persuade people the world over. Instead, he is an arrogant, boastful tyrant who blasphemes God from the very beginning. Although both religious (from non-Christian religions) and irreligious unbelievers often attack (verbally and physically) Christians, seldom do they rant, rave, and rail against Almighty God, mostly out of fear and/or some measure of respect. But here we have a man who has “miraculously” reappeared from the grave that billions of people will believe to be God.

Thus, they will have no problem endorsing his blasphemous boasts against the true and living God. In fact, most will join their self-appointed god and curse the real God despite knowing full well that he is the righteous and just God who is judging the earth. “…and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory” (Revelation 16:9).

This first introduction to Antichrist shows us his true character from the very beginning of his reappearance … that he blows his own horn with an unholy, ungodly blast against the true and living God.

cuarta-bestia

Once again we read, “…suddenly another small horn appeared among them…” (Daniel 7:8)

Daniel employs the modifier “sudden” because that’s exactly how Antichrist will initially appear to the world … from the Abyss (Revelation 17) which is in/under the Sea from where the beast arises (Revelation 13). As opposed to the other ten kings and their kingdoms (nations) who are already well-known and established, this little horn springs up abruptly. A modern-day phrase would be, “He came out of nowhere.”

There’s a reason for EVERY WORD found in Scripture; and the adverb suddenly is no exception. In fact it’s crucial in this particular text toward full realization that the horn (later called beast in Revelation) suddenly appears, unlike a leader already entrenched in an influential political, administrative, and/or military position. The contemporary portrayal of Antichrist as a modern-day man who, after the Rapture, will rise in prominence by asserting and expanding already established credentials—whether from within the United Nations, European Union, or some other high-profile national or international position—does not track at all with a swift unexpected arrival to a world already dazed by the removal of hundreds of millions from the earth. And certainly not with the little horn’s reappearance as the beast of Revelation who had already lived, died, but would return again after the Rapture.

Second Title: King (Passage #1- Daniel 7)

At Daniel’s request, “one of those standing beside the throne” explained to Daniel the meaning of his vision including, “…This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth … Its ten horns are ten kings … Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High… (Daniel 7:23-25).

To confirm that the small horn who seemed greater than the other horns would be a powerful figure to whom the other ten kings would yield their allegiance and kingdoms, Daniel is told that this man would, in fact, be a king … a second title assigned to the Antichrist. But this king would be different from the other ten. If you do a complete study of Antichrist (as is done in Out of the Abyss) it’s clear what makes this eleventh king in Daniel 7 totally unlike the other ten. Two things stand out: One is his origin; the other is found in the very meaning of different.

(1) He is a king directly from the fourth world empire of Rome. Please remember: Because some 2000 years have elapsed, we (for that obvious reason) classify this fourth kingdom in Daniel as the ancient Roman Empire. But when Daniel recorded this vision, it was equally obvious that this fourth (along with the 2nd & 3rd kingdoms of Persia and Greece) kingdom was a future empire which (historically) would emerge some five hundred years later.

Essentially, these ten tribulation kings are extensions of the fourth beast (the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue); not a separate beast or kingdom … meaning not a so-called Revived Roman Empire; because there are four and only four world empires seen by Daniel. What makes the tribulation alliance between the Antichrist and the ten kings a weakened extension of the fourth world empire is the Antichrist himself. More specifically it is who and what the Antichrist is, and when and where the Antichrist originates that connects the tribulation coalition with the fourth world empire. It is the fact that the king (Antichrist) is a Revived Roman Emperor!

(2) Most remarkably, what makes the Antichrist (king) different from the other ten kings is best, I think, clarified by the following excerpt from Out of the Abyss:

Especially as utilized in the context (of Daniel 7), the word itself is too strong to suggest an intrinsic variation, such as being a more polished, captivating, charismatic, or powerful leader … Different denotes difference, in all that the word means and implies.

I think this is important enough to refer to Webster’s Dictionary. Different is, “partly or totally unlike in nature, form, or quality … dissimilar (could hardly be more). Not the same as … distinct, unusual, special, diverse, divergent, and disparate. Unlike in kind or character … implies marked contrast.”

That my friend is “different,” and it yields a comprehensive, composite explanation of the fundamental contrast between Antichrist and the ten kings … What specifically is that difference? I’m glad you asked!

The one thing that makes Antichrist different from the other ten kings is that he is a living miracle, and they are not.

He has arisen from the underworld, and they have not. The ten kings have a birth certificate, but the Antichrist does not. Nor will anyone, including crime scene forensic investigators be able to prove that he had died a short time before he arose, as there will be no autopsy or death certificate; nor any fingerprint records or dental records, nor any evidence of a crime scene, nor a coroner’s report, nor a coffin or a grave.

We must remember the shocking fact announced by the angelic messenger: Antichrist died before John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his initial sudden appearance to a Post-Rapture world will be from the dead, which makes him dramatically different from the ten kings. There’s no way the beast can or will be born during the generation that experiences the Day of the Lord. (Out of the Abyss, pages 185-186).

Second Title: King (passage #2- Daniel 11)

For sake of time/space in this article, will simply say that Antichrist is again referred to as a king in this passage, specifically, the King of the North; but also with unmistakable reference to many of the Great Tribulation exploits of this king, some of which are similar to the initial prototype of Antichrist—which is the 2nd century BC Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus IV.

Second Title: King (passage #3- Revelation 17)

Revelation 13 is the first disclosure of the Beast, but without any reference to the (Antichrist) beast being a king, because the primary emphasis is that of the beast recovering from a deadly wound (rising from the grave) and the subsequent challenge for all readers of Revelation to (with wisdom and understanding) solve the meaning of the number of the beast. Which is tantamount to identifying exactly who the Beast is, when combined with more biographical and historical evidence presented in Chapter 17. Said the angel to John after John had witnessed this amazing beast upon which sat a woman (later identified as “the great city that rules over the kings of the world”): “Why are you so amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now…” (Revelation 17:8, italics for emphasis).

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The angel continues: “This calls for a mind with understanding: The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules. (Rome) They also represent seven kings. Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief. The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer, is the eighth king. He is like the other seven … The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. They will all agree to give him their power and authority” (Revelation 17:9-13).

Ek which also means one of, out of, or from is the Greek word used to tell us that this eighth king is (also) one of the seven; which, by default, means that he is one of the five who had already died because twice the angel told John that the beast once was, but is no longer (alive).

Did you catch that? Can it be any clearer that the first half of Revelation 17, through verse 11, provides a PAST TENSE biography of this beast-king? That is simply amazing and refits the prophetic puzzle with the correct piece that identifies the Antichrist.

Thus, the emphasis shifts from symbolic imagery of a beast seen by John on a Sunday on the Island of Patmos in the first century; to the angel’s explanation of this stunning vision of a beast with seven heads being seven kings; which, by the present-day (in the 1st century) context of this vision, were five former (now dead) Roman Caesars, one currently reigning, and one to come whose reign would be brief. In Out of the Abyss, I explain how all that works. And with ten horns, who the angel said were ten kings not yet appointed to their kingdoms, which discernibly refers to ten leaders and their nations during the Tribulation.

The ten kings that yield their kingdoms (nations) to the eighth king (Antichrist) will be specifically identified only after the Rapture; however, I’m convinced that these nations are in existence today. And it may surprise you that I’m equally convinced the United States of America is one of those nations, specifically one of the three that will be “subdued” by the (antichrist) king depicted by Daniel. But that’s another article for another day!

Once again, please refer to Out of the Abyss for several reasons why the seven kings of Revelation 17 are, in fact, kings and not kingdoms (as most modern scholars have classified them), not the least of which is the very Greek words used for kings and kingdoms. But also how and why the sequence of seven kings can and does fit three different historical options. The reason there are three options or possibilities depends upon when the book of Revelation was written and by whom. Yet, all three alternatives allow for the seven kings mentioned in this chapter to have reigned sequentially as clearly explained by the angel to John … five have fallen, one reigns, and the seventh’s reign will be brief.

When the book of Revelation was written and copies distributed throughout the Roman Empire, it’s inconceivable that the 1st century Christians wouldn’t have known the sequence and identity of the seven Roman Caesars (kings) mentioned by the angel to John. But when we look back 2000 years and now see that there were (historical hindsight) three pseudo-Emperors during the approximately 18 month civil war upheaval in which none of these three (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius) were really bona fide emperors, we have three options to choose from with regard to the historical chronological sequence of the seven kings. See Chapter 17 of Out of the Abyss, because space does not permit in this article; but any one of the three scenarios can thread seamlessly through the angel’s clarification of the seven kings.

Summary

In slight contrast to the more generic term ruler which we will cover next week in Daniel Chapter 9, the title-specific designation of king for the Antichrist indicates that he would be a sovereign monarch (in Roman times, an Emperor) who would also rule over other kings. In the ancient world that would have been kings of conquered nations that became part of the Roman Empire. In fact, Nero was so fond of one of these subjugated kingdoms (Greece) that he wrote and performed several dramatic plays in the Greek language. During the tribulation, it will be exactly ten kings and their nations.

Ancient world: Emperors or Kings. Modern world: Presidents or Prime Ministers. All prophetically identified as kings.

Incredibly, history unfolded Daniel’s future horn and king into a man portrayed as a beast-king by John, who subsequently lived and died … a prophesied past tense biography of the Antichrist (Nero, who died a few years before Revelation was written and whose name spelled out in Hebrew equals six hundred and sixty-six). But it doesn’t stop there. Revelation 17 also tells us that this same real-life king (Roman Caesar) symbolized first as a beast in John’s vision, would rule over the ten kings which are exclusively (in Daniel and Revelation) future tribulation kings!

Thus, the Antichrist king of Daniel 7, Daniel 11, and Revelation 17 is not and cannot be a modern man born in the generation of the Great Tribulation. Why? Because part of the angel’s unveiling of the mysterious beast in Revelation 17 is that the beast had already lived and died. Which, of course, means that he had already established a (dubious) legacy as one of the five kings who had fallen, but would amazingly return as the eighth king who was the composite scarlet beast itself.

The title for Antichrist of king is used in connection to the ten king/kingdom confederation that will serve him during the tribulation; but it also makes a phenomenal connection of this same tribulation king to an actual king that had lived and died (shortly) before John was given the spectacular visions as recorded in the book of Revelation. Which, in turn, further unseals the mysterious visions of Daniel that match those seen by John. This “miraculous” (as explained in Out of the Abyss, Nero’s revival and emergence from the Abyss is orchestrated and allowed by God) return from the grave is the one thing that will captivate the world’s attention and deceive them into believing that a Revived Roman Emperor is a god … even the true God.

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First Century Sculpture of Nero and his mother, Agrippina

Things to Ponder

Not until John the Apostle wrote his first epistle, is the alias Antichrist used in Scripture; which is the last or next-to-last title given to this despot. Yet, Daniel, Paul, and the author of Revelation all paint a vivid portrait of this man; employing various names that, if studied carefully and placed in the context of the future tense prophecies AND past tense fulfillment, help us to understand that this man was already Antichrist before he would return to wreak havoc on the earth as the beast-king during the Great Tribulation.

In next week’s article we will see that Daniel then refers to him as a ruler (a non-specific generic designation) who would arise in a specific chronological sequence after Messiah came to earth and was crucified. That this ruler’s armies destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple which happened in 70 AD. That this ruler is indisputably directly connected to the armies (Roman legions) that destroyed the Temple.

If we think of and refer only to the title of Antichrist (as the end-times tyrant of the Tribulation period), we think only in terms of a modern-day man and his rise to power; which is logical in terms of a more natural and normal rise to power of a contemporary figure. But inaccurate when we carefully examine the (now historical) PAST TENSE existence of this man, as profoundly, but plainly presented in these passages from Daniel and Revelation.

And the PRESENT TENSE description of Antichrist through the Apostle Paul’s reference to the man of lawlessness, just a few short years before Nero assumed the throne as Rome’s fifth emperor. This will also be discussed in next week’s article. Stay tuned!

The third and final article in this series will examine the 5th and 6th aliases assigned to this man … Antichrist and the Beast.

In summary, the six designations:

Little Horn

King

Ruler (or Prince)

Man of Lawlessness

Antichrist

Beast (and Scarlet Beast)

A Modern Day Esther

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Once Again … For Such A Time as This

“My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it. Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal. A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.”

The above quote is an excerpt from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stirring historical speech before the United States Congress earlier this week (March 3rd). The bad deal cited by the Prime Minister is currently being negotiated by Secretary of State, John Kerry, under the direction of US President Barack Obama. By and large, the precise details of this “bad deal” are unknown by much of the world; however, the fundamental framework would allow Iran to continue its centrifuges (on a limited, but nevertheless ongoing basis) for a period of ten years in exchange for relaxing economic sanctions against Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed a much better deal with concluding remarks such as, “Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.”

Even before Netanyahu’s riveting message to the United States Congress, the timing of his visit to America didn’t escape the attention of several Bible scholars/teachers (including me), as well as a great many Israelis. No, I’m not referring to the pretentious reason (excuse) why our President and his staff refused to attend this historical session of Congress—ostensibly because they don’t invite political candidates of another country to the U.S. so close to that country’s elections. Even though Benjamin Netanyahu is running for reelection (having himself called for early elections, which he didn’t have to do); the fact remains that he is the Prime Minister of Israel—for such a time as this.

I and several others firmly believe he places Israel’s security and relations with America far above any partisan political agenda, and in that order. How could he or why would he not, considering what’s at stake? Even though Israeli elections are set for March 17th; a much greater concern is the March 31st deadline for the United States to complete our (bad) deal with Iran.

Rather, the extraordinary timing of the Prime Minister’s captivating message is that it was given just one day before the annual two-day Feast of Purim begins in Israel. I wrote about this remarkable celebratory event of Israel’s history almost exactly a year ago in an article entitled, For Such a Time as This, published 3-15-14. Beginning with:

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 in disguise themselves, just as Queen Esther (at first) concealed her identity as a Jew from her husband, the Persian King Xerxes.

The article goes on to say:

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.

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Missiles from Iran, Intercepted March, 2014, by Israel

Another excerpt from, For Such a Time as This:

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 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.”

Last year’s article goes on to explain what Purim is all about. That were it not for Mordecai’s counsel and Queen Esther’s courage, the wicked Persian official, Haman, would have accomplished his devilish plan to kill all Jews in Persia. Just as Hitler almost did in Europe … no different from what Iran’s Ayatollah would do tomorrow if he had just one nuclear weapon at his disposal.

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

Benjamin Netanyahu … A Modern-Day Esther

Once again, for such a time as this, Israel’s chosen (elected) leader must stand up and speak out for his country, for its very survival. But not just for Israel … for the entire freedom-loving world. The passage of time, nearly 2,500 years from ancient Persia to modern-day Iran, has not buried in antiquity Satan’s diabolical goal to, “…wipe out Israel as a nation … to destroy the very memory of its existence” (Psalms 83:4).

Amazingly, these prophetic words written at least 2,500 years ago have been quoted nearly word for word in the 20th and 21st centuries by Israel’s enemies, particularly by Iran’s former president and by its current Ayatollah. Then mimicked by Iran sponsored terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, but even by leaders of other Muslim nations. When national leaders mouth the very words of Biblical prophecy without knowing or caring anything about the Word of God, then we know (along with dozens of other world events matching up with Bible prophecy) we are in the last days of the end-times.

As chosen representatives of their people and as played out in the extraordinary timing of today’s existential (Israel’s very existence) threat that a nuclear Iran poses to Israel—passionately conveyed in what could be called, the Purim Message to the US Congress—the striking similarity between Esther’s and Benjamin’s destiny is inescapable.

In Esther’s day, the Jews were on the brink of annihilation; as is the entire nation of Israel today. Yet there are additional factors in today’s world that make Iran an equal, if not greater menace than what Esther and the Jews faced in ancient Persia.

Such as:

Although the villainous Haman was a Persian “noble” whom the King had promoted to the “most powerful official in the empire” (Esther 3:1), who hated the Jews and plotted genocide against them, he was not the supreme ruler of the Persian Empire. Still, Haman somehow persuaded Xerxes to issue a decree that the Jews be destroyed. This was accomplished by means of a vicious lie that the Jews had refused to obey the laws of the king … all the while concealing Haman’s true agenda which was extreme hatred of principally just one Jew, Mordecai.

In contrast, modern-day Iran’s loathing of Israel and solemn vow to “wipe Israel from the face of the earth,” without any attempt to hide it, overtly originates from their very top political and military leaders. There is no Mordecai or Esther in modern Iran who (in ancient Persia Mordecai actually saved the king’s life by exposing a plot to assassinate King Xerxes) could influence the wicked leaders of this country to reconsider their plot to eliminate all Jews from the earth. For that matter, there are very few Jews that remain in Iran. Moreover, there’s no way that Iran’s Ayatollah or President would allow Israel’s Prime Minister to meet with them to explain that Iran’s pernicious pursuit of nuclear weapons is not in the best interest of world peace!

Are you kidding! If for some bizarre reason, the Iranians summoned Israel’s PM to meet with them, Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t accept the invitation. Why? Because he knows all too well that you simply can’t engage in diplomacy with an enemy who has sworn to destroy you.

But, that is exactly what President Obama and his staff are trying to do! Apparently, in order to leave some sort of presidential legacy, to directly and indirectly (as a proxy for Israel) negotiate a deal that would (by the very definition of negotiations) require that the United States and its allies make concessions to Iran BEFORE Iran reduces its centrifuge capacity to manufacture weapon-grade uranium.

And, so, instead of appealing to Iran—which would be an impossible exercise in futility to begin with—Prime Minister Netanyahu’s only recourse was to plead directly with the United States Congress (by invitation) and indirectly to the White House that they awaken from a dream-like sleep (nightmare to the Israelis) in which our President fantasizes that he can rationally negotiate with irrational evil.

Another Eye of Prophecy article, Let’s Make a Deal, published 12-14-13 not long after the initial “interim agreement” with Iran began, contains the following: Would you make a deal with someone whose main purpose in life was to destroy you and members of your family… How do you negotiate with those who would lie to you, cheat you, and ultimately kill you to accomplish their warped objectives? Where do you start? Why are you even there in the first place? But none of these questions seem to bother the G5 + 1, with perhaps the exception of France.

Then this example, from several of Iran’s visceral acts of hostility, presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu that partially correlates with another portion of the cited article, Let’s Make a Deal. Said Netanyahu: “Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock … Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut … killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

From, Let’s Make a Deal, article: “Suppose, we can reason with them?” (Here, I referred to the White House supposition that terrorist groups or rogue nations might listen to reason). Really? Concerning Iran, if they had done just one positive thing in the last 34 years to suggest the slightest hint of cooperation or concession, then there might be a slim chance (say .01%) of reaching some sort of agreement. *Note: It’s been 34 years since the attack on the US Embassy in Tehran and kidnapping of dozens of US Embassy representatives by the newly formed Islamic government of Iran. If we’re even a fraction wrong about Iran’s true intentions, then there’s a 99.9% chance they will follow through on their threats.

The Real Deal

Rather, the only “deal” that makes any sense is one that fully considers who and what the enemy is all about; a deal that unilaterally demands what is expected of them without making any concessions whatsoever. At the bare minimum, to enforce what’s already in place. But preferably, to strengthen the sanctions. To tighten Iran’s money belt around its neck until it begs for relief and immediately stops then dismantle its centrifuges, including allowance of detailed inspections as often as necessary.

More insightful recommendations from Benjamin Netanyahu:

“This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear trip wires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars, would turn into a nuclear tinderbox. If anyone thinks … this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.”

Netanyahu continued: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come here today to tell you we don’t have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don’t have to gamble with our future and with our children’s future. We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

“Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things: First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And, third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”

Throughout the Prime Minister’s moving message, there were thundering accolades from the Congressional audience with some 40 rounds of applause, 24 standing ovations, including six or seven applause interruptions in just these last few quoted sentences and in the next couple of sentences in which he said:

“If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change it behavior, the restrictions would not be lifted. If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal county.”

And then, “Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.”

Here is what I said in the Eye of Prophecy article recently published on 2-21-15, entitled: God Is in Control.

At least for the moment, I believe that God has sovereignly circumvented the folly of this nation and other nation’s ignorance and dismissal of God’s supreme counsel found in Scripture concerning the nation of Israel. Specifically, how abuse of Israel will rebound like the recoil of a powerful weapon against those who despise God’s chosen people/land.

The Lord has extended his grace to believers and unbelievers alike through divine intervention; with regard to the beneficial result of drastically reduced gas prices to help jump-start our nation’s still sluggish economy; and at the same time making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for Iran to finish their (not-so-secret) malevolent plan of manufacturing nuclear weapons. At the minimum, it provides more time for Israel to convince the United States and the EU to wake up, to come to their senses and realize that the Iranians mean business. They are absolutely serious about destroying Israel and setting up an Islamic Global Caliphate in which Muslim Sharia law will rule the world. First Israel, then the World is their malicious objective, as is the goal of ISIS and other terrorist groups and even entire nations.

And, in the context of Benjamin’s words of betting the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change or gambling with the future of our children, the following except from my recent article:

God’s omnipotent sovereignty will be vividly displayed in Iran’s humiliating defeat during her vain alliance with Russia in the Gog/Magog attack on Israel. However, that doesn’t mean that the United States or any other nation should ignore the profound consequences of endangering or abandoning Israel through reckless negotiations and agreements with countries bent on Israel’s destruction. If we persist in putting Israel in peril, you can bet the farm that this nation will suffer the same fate as ancient Babylon or Persia. That is if you have a house left to bet with even before the great end-times battles begin.

Another quote from God is in Control:

Even milder mistreatment such as disrespect, denigration, or constant disapproval of Israel will have ramifications. But if we deliberately snub Israel to the point of scorn or humiliation and certainly hatred, then it is a Biblical certainty: God will snub the United States of America, primarily by withdrawing his protection from this country that God blessed from its birth. And that won’t be a pretty sight. To the potential extreme that if we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, then pray to God that one of those nuclear-tipped missiles doesn’t explode on American soil.

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A nuclear-armed Iran is, by far, the greatest threat to Israel; greater even than the terrorist groups that lurk near Israel (Hezbollah in Lebanon) and within Israel (Hamas in the Gaza Strip). A nuclear Iran is also a grave threat to the United States, but it is not the ultimate risk that America faces. No, the paramount peril to this great country of ours is turning our backs on Israel. To ignore Israel’s safety and to put her in harm’s way is to place ourselves outside of God’s omnipotent protection. We may get to that point anyway, via our inexorable slide down an avalanche of immorality that has carried with it executive and judicial decisions designed to eliminate God from the very fabric and foundation of our country. But it’s a foregone conclusion, a sure thing, that we will lose God’s sovereign intervention if we offer Israel on the altar of a sacrificial agreement with her enemies.

Negative Reactions to the Prime Minister’s Message

Sadly, even tragically, here are some of the responses of our leaders to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s passionate plea for this country to wake up to what radical Islam is all about. *Note: Though a topic for another article, radical Islam is actually moderate mainstream because that’s exactly what the Koran calls for, i.e. jihad and ruthless suppression of all infidels—Christians and Jews alike—who refuse to submit to the Muslim god Allah. Islam means submission.

First, more words from Israel’s Prime Minister: “Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of ‘Death to America,’ that same America that it calls the ‘Great Satan,’ as loud as ever. Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America. Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.”

Netanyahu then concludes that portion of his speech with this profound warning: “In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews, or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone. So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is (still) your enemy.”

Adverse Responses:

President Barack Obama: Essentially, he concluded that Netanyahu said nothing new, that it was the same kind of speech he delivered when the US, “came to the interim deal … about how dangerous that deal was going to be…” He further said that Netanyahu, “offered no viable alternative.”

Comment: First, the recent speech contained many new and different points, not the least of which was a concrete solution to the problem, which has already been summarized in this article. Second, of course some of the speech was repetitive of past statements made by Israel’s Prime Minister. Because Israel understands her enemies far better than the current administration of the United States when the interim agreement began in 2013, Benjamin Netanyahu at that time said, “The most dangerous regime in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapon in the world … we will not allow Iran to receive a military nuclear capability.”

When the stakes are so high, such warnings need to be repeated … over and over and over. Referring to the Holocaust, Jews have incessantly echoed, “Never again.” As did Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech when he recognized and honored holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner, Elie Wiesel.

We all must be reminded continually how apocalyptically serious Iran is in its misguided messianic pursuit of world supremacy, beginning with Israel’s destruction.

In other words, if the White House thinks that Iran (because of its status as a nation) is different from the terrorist organizations it supports (such as Hezbollah and Hamas) or because Iran doesn’t like ISIS usurping Iran’s Islamic goals of a global Caliphate, that they can reason with Iran … well, it’s the proverbial, “You better think again.”

Vice President Joe Biden: Conveniently travelling abroad.

Comment: No comment needed; his absence said it all.

Secretary of State, John Kerry: Equally convenient, he was in Geneva where negotiations are taking place between the United States and Iran. In fact, the day after Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, Kerry met again with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed javad Zarif.

Said the Prime Minister in his speech to Congress: “Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden”

Comment: Does John Kerry or our President or anyone seriously think that Iran will keep any bargain without debilitating sanctions that will economically cripple the capacity to develop their uranium enrichment program as well as subsidize terrorist groups in the Middle East? The historical image of England’s Neville Chamberlain negotiating with Adolph Hitler for “peace in our time” compels me (and others) to shout on the rooftops: “What in the world are you thinking?”

House of Representatives Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi: “I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech…” She then gave the reason for her sorrow: “…saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 + 1 nations … and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”

Comment: Seriously? Does she actually believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu insulted the United States (meaning her and other liberal versions of America which, among other things, includes a gross miscalculation of Islamic objectives) intelligence—perhaps meaning actual intelligence agencies like the CIA but also the US capacity to grasp the issues? Does she truly believe that the Prime Minister is condescending to the White House by underestimating or belittling or trivializing the U.S. recognition of what a nuclear Iran means to the world?

I’ve followed the career of Benjamin Netanyahu for many years now. I can say with utmost certainty: He unconditionally respects the United States and cherishes Israel’s relationship with this great country. He fully appreciates that the United States understands the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran, primarily to Israel but also to America, herself. But he also realizes that a good many in America, including the presidential staff and some in the Congress, simply don’t grasp the doomed strategy of negotiating with one of the three Axis of Evil nations … as former President George W. Bush classified Iran.

Summary

Let’s Make a Deal was a hit television game show years ago, full of fun and prizes. But we must not play such a game with Iran, because it’s a deadly game. To make a deal with what very well could become a nuclear monster is to make a deal with the devil. A deal void of any fun; rather one filled with fatal consequences. A deal where the prize goes to the enemy: the severed head of Israel and (possibly) America perched on an Islamic nuclear mushroom.

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Instead, we lay down unqualified conditions that stipulate complete compliance. If our adversary refuses to abide by the terms, then we tighten the economic screws. If that doesn’t convince the enemy, then we resort to a harsher solution. If it means war, so be it. Prime Minister Netanyahu prefers a “better deal” over war and so do I, and so do you. But if Iran doesn’t want (or lies about keeping such an agreement) a better deal, sooner or later war is what we will get by making concessions to an enemy committed to our ruin. The ultimate difference is war on our terms, not theirs. If that means a preemptive strike by Israel, then the United States should support that initiative in whatever form it takes to accomplish the objective.

This was no less true with Napoleon’s France, Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, the Empire of Japan, Stalin’s Russia, Mao tse-Tung’s China, North Korea’s Kim Jong(s) father and son, and any other number of despots and despotic governments throughout history. Had the allies intervened in the 1930s against Hitler’s blatant disregard for and deliberate violation of the armistice conditions of the First World War … well, many blanks could be filled in with that scenario. Including the probability that there would not have been a Second World War.

We must understand beyond all doubt: Satan’s hideous resolve and horrifying reprisals against the Jews and Israel have been ruthlessly relentless. From Pharaoh to Haman, from Haman to Herod, from Herod to Hitler, from Hitler to Hezbollah and Hamas … to venomous Ayatollahs and Imams bent on Israel’s destruction.

Things to Ponder

We are in a battle, a struggle of physical and (even more so) spiritual life and death with the forces of wickedness. We cannot, we must not let down our guard. The only way we can truly comprehend and then confront the insidious, devastating effect of both religious and irreligious lies, hate, evil, and darkness in this world is to first acknowledge the source of absolute truth, love, good, and light … which is God; expressed through his very image, Messiah Jesus … vividly portrayed in God’s Word, the Bible.

God’s love and light reaches out to mankind’s free will to choose and says, “If you will only believe and receive the way, truth, and life through my Son.”

Hate and the darkness of evil says, “You will (do this or that) or else.” That is exactly what Islam teaches through the Koran and which millions of Muslims (not just terrorists) firmly believe … forced conversion through deprivation, torture, and death if you refuse to submit.

“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them … But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, ‘Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light’” (Ephesians 5:10-14).

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’” (John 8:12).

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Let believers in the true Messiah, Jesus, continue to pray that our President, and all who are stumbling around in the darkness of bad deals, turn on the light!

May God bless America?! He will, if America blesses Israel!

 

One World Government?

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Will There Really Be a One-World Government?

Contrary to what has been a recurring theme for several decades promoted even by the best of Biblical scholars and teachers, I firmly believe there will be no such thing as a One-World Government, until Jesus Christ returns and establishes the majestic Kingdom of God on this earth. THEN there will be a divinely unified system of truth, justice, and peace never before experienced on this earth … the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

If you recognized this introductory paragraph, then thank you for reading the Eye of Prophecy article published just two weeks ago (2-14-15) entitled, A Sleeping Giant. This statement can be found in the last part of the article under the heading of, Things to Ponder. With some concluding remarks in that article which centered primarily on China and the Kings of the East taking on Antichrist during the Tribulation, the following questions were also posed:

How can there be a One-World Government (economically and militarily) unless ALL nations (at least the powerful ones) are part of that Government? Bible prophecy unequivocally tells us that the Antichrist and his ten-nation kingdom will have enemies, i.e. the king of the south and even more dangerous foes—the Eastern kings (and their kingdoms) who are giants awakened from international neutrality by a man who wants to conquer the Middle East and then the whole world.

If you have one multi-national force opposing another multi-national force, does that sound like a global world government or military to you? To me it sounds exactly like what happened before and during World War I and World War II; one bloc of nations conspiring and warring against another bloc of nations. Prior to the last day when Christ utterly vanquishes ALL the forces and armies of evil, Armageddon—by Biblical prophecy and historical precedence—will become World War III. With West pitted against East.

One more quote from that article: Notice the plural significance of the following passage when it comes to kings and nations contrasted to the typically taught premise of a one-world single unity type of government. Also take note that the only reference to a world-wide kingdom is none other than the Kingdom of God:

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

To reinforce the clear-cut Biblical evidence that many nations will still wield great power and prestige (as opposed to one giant conglomeration of countries belonging to a central government) upon the magnificent return of Christ to rescue Israel from annihilation and the world itself from total destruction, let’s look at another passage in Daniel.

Referring first to Antichrist at the end of the Great Tribulation, then the true Christ who will crush his antithesis, we read: “But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed. Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:26-27).

I’m not sure how much clearer this passage, and others like it, could be. Once again notice that all kingdoms (plural … many … all) will still be (individually) powerful and sovereign right up to the time that the rulers (plural) of those nations yield their self-governing empires to Jesus Christ who establishes the Kingdom of the Most High God. With the clear connotation that the vast majority of nations will not merely be absorbed into a global governmental melting pot, in which they lose their identity and influence. However, individuals from races all over the world will (as we shall soon see) submit with blind loyalty to and worship of the one whose, “power will be taken away and completely destroyed.”

Christ will conquer all of the kingdoms (nations) of the earth that would dare do battle against the King of all kings. At the time of the final battle of Armageddon, these nations will consist of two main world alliances which will initially war against each other: the kings of the east versus the ten-nation confederation directed by Antichrist. Then these huge coalitions will join forces to do, “…battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). But they are alliances, no different from the Allies of World War II (including the USA) doing battle against the Axis nations, headed by Hitler’s Germany. Even the three most prominent Allied leaders, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, had major differences during execution of various battle campaigns against the Axis powers; as well as disposition of Germany after the defeat of the Third Reich.

According to Daniel 7 and Revelation 17, during the Great Tribulation ten kings will yield their kingdoms to the little horn (Daniel) and the king-beast (Revelation), respective titles for the one called Antichrist. Naturally, this ten-nation league will be a formidable military and political union, but it will NOT be a global, world-wide kingdom as such. Once again, for emphasis: How could it be a one-world government when the King of the south and the Kings of the East will oppose it and set out to destroy Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition?

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Future World Dictatorship/Dictator … Theory or Realty?

Question: Other than promoting a sensational conspiracy theory that so many people love to contemplate and investigate; from where, then, does the notion of an end time’s prophetic one-world political and/or religious system originate? Why has this idea been so predominate among even the best of prophecy scholars for several decades? To include the assumption that this global organization will be a Revived Roman Empire; or the fairly recent presumption of a Muslim (Imam) Antichrist and Islamic Caliphate ruling the world.

Answer: Almost exclusively from an inference based on the wording found in Revelation Chapter 13. But when we closely examine some critical verses in this chapter, we’ll see that the language describing those who give their allegiance to the beast (Antichrist) to the point of worship is actually, in form and substance, a counterfeit replica of the current Kingdom of Heaven—the true church comprised of people all over the world who have believed and received Messiah Jesus. That, in reality, the perceived global authority of the beast (Antichrist) is politically, militarily and economically limited to a ten-nation coalition, not a centralized universal government. In actuality, the beast largely exerts his influence on and through his followers from all races and ethnic groups who are sealed with the visible mark of the Beast much like the Holy Spirit invisibly seals all those in the family of God … born again believers.

When we grasp the significance of what is being said in these verses, we will better understand that the “kingdom” of Antichrist will be a federation of ten countries, NOT a duplication of the once mighty Roman Empire. Although (as documented with an abundance of Scriptural and historical evidence in my book, Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles) it will be headed by a Revived Roman Emperor!

The post-Rapture return of a first century Roman Emperor will give this ten-nation union that he leads an ancient Roman flavor and appearance, but only because of the Emperor himself; not because there will be a replication of the ancient Roman Empire. And certainly not a One-World Government. As powerful as the Roman Empire was for several hundred years, it never fully controlled the entire world, civilized or uncivilized.

What the Roman Emperor, Nero, will find upon his reappearance (return to the earth) from the Abyss will be a whole bunch of nations and people in shock from the removal of hundreds of millions from the earth (Rapture). He will not find anything whatsoever resembling the mighty Roman Empire in which he ruled as Emperor for fourteen years (54-68 AD). Nor does Scripture indicate that he will instantly or even gradually “revive” or reassemble or resurrect or reproduce the Roman Empire that he once knew. He simply won’t have time to do that, as he is essentially given only 3 ½ years to try to achieve his Satanic agenda. Instead, he will be given ten kings (Presidents or Prime Ministers in today’s terminology) and their nations over which to rule.

People from all nations will give their total allegiance to the beast, but not to the extent of all countries on earth yielding their national political and military administrations to the beast … with exception of the ten kings and the nations they lead.

A Misapplied or Misunderstood Passage That Led to the Premise of a One-World Government

“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. And all the people who belong to the world worshiped the beast…” (Revelation 13:7-8).

Semantics, syntax, and symmetry (comparing, balancing all passages of Scripture pertaining to a specific subject) are always significant in correctly understanding Scripture. It’s vitally important that we read this verse the way it is written (intended) without immediately jumping to the conclusion that the Antichrist beast will rule the entire world. If he did, then Scripture is essentially contradicting itself, which it never does.

Scripture unequivocally states that Antichrist (little horn in Daniel, beast-king in Revelation) rules over ten kings/kingdoms … not the whole world. The very existence of enemies from the kings/nations of the east is, by itself, enough to refute the idea of world-wide domination by the Antichrist. In fact, as alluded to in the recent article, A Sleeping Giant: by sheer population numbers, the eastern nations will far exceed the people that comprise the Antichrist’s ten-nation alliance.

Or, in the form of a question: If Scripture tells us four different times that Antichrist’s domain will consist of ten nations (Daniel Chapters 2 & 7; Revelation Chapters 13 & 17), then why would we expand that to include worldwide supremacy?

Revelation 13:7 tells us that the beast, “…was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” The preceding and clarifying phrase that is of paramount importance to this ruler ship is that of, “given authority” (to rule); meaning supreme authority if, in fact, he could/would successfully gain control of what we often refer to in modern terms as, the whole world … politically, militarily, and economically. There is a substantial distinction between the beast possessing (potential) authority to rule and actually accomplishing total domination over the entire world. Thus, we should not construe this verse to automatically mean that Antichrist will actually rule the earth through a universal government.

Read the verse again: It doesn’t say, “he will rule over every tribe…” Instead, he was given authority to rule over… Daniel Chapter 11 combined with Revelation 16 & 19 clearly indicate that Antichrist will be stopped cold in his tracks by Messiah Jesus before he (Nero) accomplishes his goal of world conquest.

But there’s even more compelling evidence to support my premise. It is found in the phrase itself, “over every tribe and people and language…” which is identical language ascribed to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ; but, of course, for a different purpose … for salvation of peoples the world over. Whereas, with Antichrist, it will be destruction for those (many but not all) who follow him because they believe in the lie that he is the Messiah and/or God.

Read these magnificent words with me: “You (Christ) are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, italics for emphasis). Does this verse mean that every person on earth will be saved by the blood of Christ? No, it is fundamentally telling us that the sacrificial blood of Christ has ransomed people from all races (tribes, languages, nations) in the world, but certainly not all people from all nations.

By actual results for the last 2000 years and continued throughout the Tribulation, only some (a minority) will experience his salvation; as confirmed by the very words of Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV).

In that same context and with the same parallel meaning and application, there will be those from all over the world who will follow and even worship the beast, but certainly not everyone. There will be many who won’t take the mark of the Beast; who will instead choose (on pain of torture and death) Jesus Christ, the true Messiah.

In other words, there will be a host of Antichrist dissidents from every language and nation… individuals, communities, and entire national governments such as China who will reject Nero’s authority. If virtually all peoples and nations voluntarily surrendered their loyalty and lives to Antichrist, there would be no need for him to order everyone to take his mark for the purpose of separating and distinguishing them from those who oppose him. The mark is his name (Nero) or the number of his name (the Hebrew gematria number 666, which spells Nero). And there would, indeed, then be a One-World Antichrist dynasty.

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Why So Many Will Be Amazed at The Beast … The Real Source of His Influence?

What is it exactly that causes people from all languages, tribes, and nations to worship Antichrist and willingly take his mark?

“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 worshiped the dragon (Satan) 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, italics for emphasis).

You think! Who could possibly kill or even fight against someone who had already died, and came back from the dead after 2000 years in the grave? What is it that the whole world will marvel at? Why will they give their total allegiance to the point of worshiping this man? The text is crystal clear: Because of the miracle recovery from a fatal wound (death). The entire sequence of events from the beginning of Nero’s reign, to his death at the orders of Jesus, himself, (II Thessalonians 2:8), to his revival from the dead and banishment to the abyss, to his reappearance from the Abyss … all this and more is covered in Out of the Abysscan the number of the beast be solved, 666? Beginning with another astounding revelation of the Beast to John as contained in the following verse:

“The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit … And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:8).

Here is an excerpt from Out of the Abyss that provides a stark contrast to the contemporary notion of a modern-day Antichrist (as opposed to a man—Antichrist—who had already died when John saw the vision of the beast in the 1st century, but who would return from the Abyss) who is often portrayed as some brilliant mastermind, whose charismatic characteristics charm or compel billions to follow him:

“The Antichrist is not afforded blind worship because he is a superman in terms of being an accomplished statesman, orator, or leader. The False Prophet does that for him. The superhuman qualities accorded him will literally lie in his mystical return from death. Neither in Revelation Chapter 13 nor in Chapter 17 is there a direct description of the beast with regard to personality traits normally ascribed to anyone who can sway a lot of people to follow him.” (Page 182).

After referencing Daniel Chapter 7, I go on to say in my book: “We have additional language similar to Revelation, in that the beast arrives on the scene with arrogant boasting against God himself. Like Revelation 13 and 17, this passage in Daniel is also conspicuous for what it lacks, i.e. no hard evidence (statesmanship qualities) that the beast is other than an arrogant boastful tyrant who opposes God right out of the starting blocks. That is, right after he negotiates a treaty with Israel.” (Page 183).

Thus, the striking and predominant feature of Antichrist’s influence over the world will be exactly the same as the persuasive reason that millions down through the ages (and also during the tribulation) have accepted Jesus Christ … resurrection from the dead.

Restating the premise based on correlation of all Biblical passages relating to the subject: The Antichrist will not rule and reign over every person, or city, or state, or nation of the earth. There will not be a one-world government. Not even close. He will command a ten-nation coalition; albeit, one that will vainly seek control of the entire world. He will, however, exercise god-like influence over billions of people on the earth, who will willingly (some unwillingly due to threat of death) follow him; in the same vein (a false, counterfeit anti-Christ parallel) that millions love and follow Jesus Christ.

Just as the Kingdom of Heaven currently exists in the hearts and minds of those who have believed and received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, so will the kingdom of Antichrist Nero be primarily in the minds, hearts, and skin (literally from the mark of the beast) of all those who are utterly amazed at his return from the grave. (Actually the abyss, but the world will think only in terms of resurrection from the dead that they believe Nero, himself, accomplished—when in reality it is Christ who releases him from the Abyss to join Satan in this great end-times rebellion against God).

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More Evidence from Similar Bible Passages

Let’s look at another verse that uses this same descriptive phrase: “And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. ‘Fear God,’ he shouted. ‘Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water” (Revelation 14:6-7, italics for emphasis).

This is incredible. The time is so short and the need so great, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is now (after the seal and trumpet judgments and just prior to the final devastating seven bowl judgments) proclaimed by an angel flying throughout the entire earth. In addition to salvation, the angel is imploring the same people whom the Antichrist will seek to rule to acknowledge the one true living God. It would seem that the angel is especially targeting evolutionists and agnostics, when he reminds the world who actually made the heavens, the earth and everything in/on the earth!

But we reach the same logical result with the same reasonable conclusion: The unmistakable meaning in this passage and others that reference all or every people, language, tribe, or nation is that Scripture is referring to a cross-section of people from virtually every nation on earth. This is true of Jesus’s ransom price of his very blood in which some, but certainly not all, will be redeemed. It’s also true of Antichrist Nero’s granted authority to rule. Whereas, he will have a substantial following of individuals all over the globe because of his miraculous reappearance from the Abyss (Revelation 17:8) and will be given power to rule over ten nations and their leaders, it certainly doesn’t mean global dominance.

The One-World Government will be reserved for The Alpha and Omega, The Lion from the Tribe of Judah, the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords … Christ Jesus the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man! And what a glorious government it will be!

The true church of Messiah Jesus is composed of people from all races on earth, but it does not consist of a localized or regionalized or nationalized seat of government found in a specific location on the planet. The Roman Catholic Church headquartered in the Vatican, in Rome, is NOT the true Christian church, the body of Christ. Although the ten-nation confederation headed by the beast will undoubtedly have a strategic headquarters (most likely in Rome), there will still be in existence many national capitals, as well as international headquarters for the United Nations (New York) and the European Union (Brussels) plus other powerful groups such as the World Trade Organization, OPEC, and NATO.

One other passage with identical language: “And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies…” (Revelation 11:9, italics for emphasis). This is referring to the two witnesses (Elijah and Moses) who will be killed by Antichrist at the end of 3 ½ years of testifying for the true Messiah. Many people will still not have access to television or the internet and will not actually look at the dead bodies, though they probably will be told what has happened. However, if just one person on earth didn’t view the bodies of the two witnesses, then the word, all, is erroneous. But not if we correctly comprehend the intended meaning of passages that refer to all or every in the context of many end-times Day of the Lord prophecies up to and including the Millennium. Not until after the Millennial Reign of Messiah will ALL always mean ALL.

For example, “All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed” (Revelation 15:4). But in Zechariah we find that some nations won’t always obey God and Messiah’s commands to, for example, travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium. There really is no conflict between these passages, not if we understand the pattern throughout Scripture wherein the context of the passage plus comparing the passage with others like it, clarifies whether ALL means ALL or whether it means a representative cross-section (some or many) of ALL or EVERYONE.

In fact, we use the same kind of expressive language in our modern age. For example, you might relay to a friend that you had just seen on television the best basketball game ever played in the Olympics finals by beginning with, “It was great. The whole world was watching!” When, in fact, the reason you’re telling your friend about this sensational game is because he didn’t see it; nor did maybe ½ of the world’s population.

Conversely, when we read a verse like John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”), we clearly understand that it is, in fact, the whole world—every man, woman, and child that God loves—because the passage then says that whosoever … meaning just those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior … will not perish but live forever.

Summary

If some are going to assert that Antichrist will establish a One-World government with total control over all the nations and people on earth, then they will need to draw on another portion of Scripture other than Revelation Chapter 13 … every tribe and people and language and nation. But, in fact, there are no other Scripture passages to support the supposition of a Global government during the Tribulation, headed by the Antichrist or any other world ruler. Yet there are Biblical references to world leaders and nations (Kings of the East and King of the South) that will oppose Antichrist and his ten-nation confederation.

In this same Chapter 13 of Revelation, another passage is used to support the idea of the Antichrist as a World Dictator, with total control over ALL people and ALL nations.

“He (the False Prophet) required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

Notice that Antichrist through the False Prophet “requires” everyone to take his mark. That certainly doesn’t mean all people on earth will (voluntarily) let themselves be branded. Requirement is one thing; successful enforcement is quite another thing. Two groups of people will reject this decree and refuse to comply: (1) the national leaders of the eastern nations (oriental) and millions upon millions of people living in those nations; (2) millions more from all races, languages, and ethnic groups who choose the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, over Antichrist.

Likewise, some will find ways and means to buy and sell (black market) that will circumvent the False Prophet’s “requirement” of buying and selling only through the mark. For sure, it won’t be business as usual; meaning that without the embedded name or number of the Beast, many won’t be able to buy or sell food and all sorts of other products in a normal transaction that we are accustomed to in today’s high-tech world. And that will have a profound impact on their daily lives to the point of extreme deprivation, possibly even starvation or death from lack of urgent medical care. However, though it will be difficult; some will figure out a way to live and conduct life-sustaining deals without the handy implant in their right hand or (laser) inserted mark on their forehead.

Things to Ponder

Several times Revelation also refers to, “All the people who belong to this world.” Each time that means all those who have privately and publicly sworn their loyalty to the beast … by taking his mark, worshiping him, or worshiping the statue of the beast. Once they actually take the mark of the beast, it is absolutely too late for them to recant or repent. They have literally sealed themselves for destruction.

Returning to a verse quoted early in this article: “His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27). Now that kingdom (the Kingdom of God on earth) will be a magnificent universal Government to end all governments. Moreover, the all rulers that will serve and obey him (here in this passage as it pertains to the Post-millennial reign of Christ in an eternal kingdom) means just that—ALL RULERS.

God Is in Control

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The Incomparable Sovereignty of God

Just a few days ago, I filled my truck up for $1.73 a gallon. Gasoline for less than two dollars a gallon! Can you believe it? For those of you who have a thirteen year old teenager, the price of gas hasn’t been that low since your child was born. For baby boomers who can barely remember cheap gas, it’s something we never expected to see again … along with a gallon of milk for less than a dollar (we’re still waiting for that one).

This free fall of fuel prices is pretty amazing. Although the cost is creeping back up, economic experts do not expect gas to rise above three dollars a gallon for quite some time. The bottom line is a savings of hundreds of dollars a year for many motorists. Let’s hear it for so many hard-working moms and dads!

So what does the price of gas have to do with God’s sovereignty? In my opinion, absolutely everything. Through God’s gift of free will to the human race, the Bible is clear that he allows individuals and nations to make choices that affect their lives and destiny. But throughout history, Scripture is equally clear that God sometimes intervenes in human affairs, both naturally and supernaturally to accomplish his short-term and long-term purposes for the human race. Many passages in Scripture speak of his divine sovereignty, such as: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalms 103:19, NASB). And, “God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne” (Psalms 47:8).

Permit me to quote an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss:

We don’t know what’s going to happen next hour, let alone next month or year. Yet, by our decisions and actions, by our good choices, bad choices or indifferent choices, we can change things that otherwise would or would not have occurred. We can also be changed by the decisions and behavior of others, by events beyond our control.

How then, does God still achieve his plan? How does he circumvent the innumerable bad decisions that we all have made, not to mention the evil in the world to accomplish his purpose? Okay, I’ll give you a hint: Because he is God! This isn’t just the humble opinion of one man, nor is it a cop-out, nor is it an oversimplified answer to an otherwise unfathomable question or concept.

To be sure, however, the “hint” does beg the question: he can do anything because he is God. But that still doesn’t explain how he does it. So we are left begging the question because it is simply beyond our natural, finite comprehension; which is why God doesn’t demand or even ask that we completely grasp his providential sovereignty. If we could wrap our finite minds around his infinite omnipotence and omniscience, I suppose that we would be God.

Ironically, that’s exactly what most of mankind, including natural scientists, human secularists, occult spiritualists, God-less governments and agnostic academia in general try to do. They inevitably ascribe to themselves the controlled capacity, the distinctive domain, and the potent position of determining their destiny. And, if you will but afford them the privilege and opportunity; if you will “give them an ear,” they will gladly assist you in discovering your origin and purpose for life. Ultimately, if you yield complete attention and allegiance, they will be delighted to direct your future (page 22).

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In the global arena of fuel supplies, for decades we have been at the mercy of the OPEC nations, chief among them, Saudi Arabia. But those days may be coming to an end. In a recent interview with an OPEC representative, the stated reason for OPEC’s continued production of an abundant supply of oil is because they want to maintain a market share to compete with increased output of non-OPEC oil and gas reserves. If this means tolerating losses due to competitive declining prices, then so be it. Actually, what it really means is that they are willing to be less greedy and settle for less than the enormous profits of the past! For an indefinite period of time, Saudi Arabia—including some smaller OPEC countries—can and will absorb the revenue loss from lower fuel prices.

Along with (especially) Israel, the United States, and the European Union, Saudi Arabia is also deeply disturbed with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Saudi Arabia’s enormous distrust of a nuclear-armed Iran trumps their need for vast wealth. Although they (tacitly) support the idea of an American (or even Israeli) preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear plants, they also appreciate the debilitating effect of economic sanctions against Iran, imposed by the US and/or the EU. However, should America and the EU relax its sanctions in a completely misguided and misunderstood effort to “negotiate” with Iran, OPEC nations aligned against Iran can rely heavily on Iran’s huge loss of revenue from this unparalleled drop in the price of oil.

Most experts agree: It will be extremely difficult for Iran to invest more billions in its nuclear program if, in fact, most of those billions are no longer available. It’s no secret that Iran’s military budget depends desperately on revenue from high oil prices. The tremendous impact of a 50% decrease in the price of a barrel of oil in just the last six months could severely cripple the best laid plans of Iran’s military objectives; indeed, of its entire economy. It would also drastically reduce this Islamic Shi’ite regime’s funding of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others.

As Daniel Yergin, an expert in oil finances wrote, “The OPEC members in big trouble are the ‘have-nots’—those with small financial reserves and high government budgets.” These have-nots include Russia, Venezuela, and Iran.

Something Positive for a Change

What we have here is an incredible Win-Win situation, when most of the time recent world events have resulted in a Lose-Lose … or at the very best, a Win-Lose scenario. I’m referring to the one-step forward, two steps backward progress against things like a weak global economy, or dealing a blow to one terrorist group like Al-Qaida (death of Osama Bin-Laden); only for another more vicious, more blood-thirsty gang of terrorists to take their place … ISIS.

I’m sure that many Christians in the United States and believers all over the world have prayed that US President Obama and other government leaders will not capitulate to Iran’s distorted and diabolical desire to produce nuclear weapons. Many have voiced their strong disapproval of negotiating with a radical regime whose avowed objective is the destruction of Israel, but also of the country that their Islamic clerics and leaders have often called the Great Satan, none other than the USA.

I firmly believe that God, in his mercy and sovereignty, has heard these prayers. Which can explain the inexplicable, give insight to the inconceivable, provide meaning to the otherwise unfathomable, completely unexpected and (in terms of historically high fuel cost) unprecedented plunge in gas prices. While, at the same time, throwing a giant wrench into the Iran’s nuclear machinery by severely limiting the monies needed to build or buy that machinery.

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Make no mistake: Among the myriad of ominous global developments including the ugly resurgence of Anti-Semitism mostly in Europe (of all places … the site of the Holocaust just one generation ago), the most dangerous of all (especially to Israel) is that of a nuclear Iran. So much so that our Republican dominated Senate and House has called upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the United States Congress on March 3rd. Many kudos to our legislative leaders for inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu, who knows better than anyone the grave peril to Israel, the Middle East including Arab countries, and virtually the entire world should Iran become nuclear.

And shame on our Presidential staff to scorn the Congressional invitation and refuse to attend this historical event just to snub Israel and her Prime Minister. Under, sadly, the hypocritical pretense of not allowing foreign leaders (politicians) to meet with US executive leaders a few weeks before that foreign country’s election. While at the same time sending Democrat lobbyists to assist Israeli liberal opponents of Netanyahu’s Likud party. I’m not normally one to bash any sitting President, mostly due to my great respect for the most important position in our country, but also in (at least some) deference to the one occupying that position.

But wrong is wrong; right is right. And, no, I’m not equating right or wrong to beauty (for example), which is in the eye of the beholder … a subjective evaluation of the one deciding what is right or wrong. Rather, I’m referring to the truth of Scripture; applicable, in this context, to God’s unmistakable sovereign plans for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. And, in turn, how nations of the world treat Israel.

To Bless or Curse Israel … The Stakes Are High

We all should be seriously concerned about the growing hostility of our executive branch against Israel, as expressed by this latest friction between our President and Israel’s Prime Minister. I’m not talking about personality differences or variances in political strategy and the like. Instead, I’m getting straight to the heart of the matter, to the heart of God. Which among other things includes a Biblical prophetic warning and (down through the ages) a historically documented fact: Any and all nations who treat Israel with contempt (harassment, oppression, suppression, mockery, denial of Jewish rights to the land, economic sanctions or boycotts, siding with her enemies, and certainly hatred and murder to the vicious extreme of genocide) have paid and will pay a great price. A price exacted by God, himself, as demonstrated against nations listed in Scripture and those in existence during the last days of the end times, which is today’s world.

History is littered with the corpses of nations that attacked or subjugated Israel, only to be utterly defeated and destroyed themselves. Where is mighty Babylon? Have you seen an Assyrian lately? Show me where the Roman Empire is today. Though the contemporary nation of Iran arrogantly boasts of her military might and her capability (now by conventional means, later by nuclear means) to annihilate Israel, what happened to the mighty Persian kings of her gloried past? That Persian Empire is long gone, one of several national victims of God’s sovereign promise to judge nations and peoples that attempted to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

God’s omnipotent sovereignty will be vividly displayed in Iran’s humiliating defeat during her vain alliance with Russia in the Gog/Magog attack on Israel. However, that doesn’t mean that the United States or any other nation should ignore the profound consequences of endangering or abandoning Israel through reckless negotiations and agreements with countries bent on Israel’s destruction. If we persist in putting Israel in peril, you can bet the farm that this nation will suffer the same fate as ancient Babylon or Persia. That is if you have a house left to bet with even before the great end-times battles begin.

A collapsed economy far worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s or the Great Recession of 2008 may reclaim millions of homes across this once great nation that we love and in which we have the freedom to express that love and to worship the true and living God. But for how long? We need to wake up from our spiritually drunken stupor! We need to pray for God’s mercy. We need to speak up for the truth of God’s salvation. We need to expose the new morality for what it is; where bad is good and good is bad—which is nothing more than age-old immorality wrapped in a contemporary cloak of lies about tolerance and diversity.

Despite the totally unique and diverse feature of Christianity (God through his Son dying for our sins … doing for us what we could not do for ourselves), if you are a Christian you are not diverse. So say those who despise God, Christ, and anyone who claims to have been born-again by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. If you believe and repeat the very words of Messiah Jesus, who said that He is the only Way, Truth, and Life; no person can come to God except through Him, then you are not tolerant. Don’t bother those who say otherwise, with the facts. Don’t try to reason with them, because they only know how to argue in a circle.

The fact is: If someone claims that someone else is not diverse (espousing diversity) or not tolerant because of what they believe, then the one making that indictment (by logical definition and by default) is also intolerant. If they accuse someone else of being intolerant, then what does that make them? Tolerant? If so, then one plus one must equal three.

God’s Sovereignty, Expressed through Israel

Even milder mistreatment such as disrespect, denigration, or constant disapproval of Israel will have ramifications. But if we deliberately snub Israel to the point of scorn or humiliation and certainly hatred, then it is a Biblical certainty: God will snub the United States of America, primarily by withdrawing his protection from this country that God blessed from its birth. And that won’t be a pretty sight. To the potential extreme that if we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, then pray to God that one of those nuclear-tipped missiles doesn’t explode on American soil.

At least for the moment, I believe that God has sovereignly circumvented the folly of this nation and other nation’s ignorance and dismissal of God’s supreme counsel found in Scripture concerning the nation of Israel. Specifically, how abuse of Israel will rebound like the recoil of a powerful weapon against those who despise God’s chosen people/land.

The Lord has extended his grace to believers and unbelievers alike through divine intervention; with regard to the beneficial result of drastically reduced gas prices to help jump start our nation’s still sluggish economy; and at the same time making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for Iran to finish their (not-so-secret) malevolent plan of manufacturing nuclear weapons. At the minimum, it provides more time for Israel to convince the United States and the EU to wake up, to come to their senses and realize that the Iranians mean business. They are absolutely serious about destroying Israel and setting up an Islamic Global Caliphate in which Muslim Sharia law will rule the world. First Israel, then the World is their malicious objective, as is the goal of ISIS and other terrorist groups and even entire nations.

God is so patient. He gives individuals and nations an extraordinary amount of time to change their mind and their ways, to turn to him (unbelievers) and return to him (believers). But only up to a point; eventually even the patience of God will be tested. If we cross red lines established by God or allow other nations to cross those red lines, or erase legitimate red lines that we, ourselves, create; then enough will be enough. One red line already drawn is found in Genesis and in other passages throughout Scripture concerning Israel and Gentile nations. In no uncertain terms, God declares to Abraham and his descendants (Israel): “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

An example of a red-line that the United States created, then retreated from was Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. All threats of retaliation by our President were simply withdrawn. Same thing with the ongoing sanctions against Iran … they are being reduced, not increased in size and severity. Said Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush (probable Presidential candidate in 2016) about the current Administration: “They draw red lines … then erase them.”

(I have said the same thing in a few Eye of Prophecy articles such as, Let’s Make a Deal, published December 14, 2013, which presents similar challenges found in this article. Also, For Such a Time as This, published March 15, 2014. I would encourage you to click on those articles in the archives of our blog site).

When the Lord shows great favor to us by supernaturally intervening in personal and world events, shouldn’t we acknowledge him in the matter of individual, state, and national affairs; instead of ignoring or even snubbing him in virtually every area of our individual and corporate lives. To say as our Savior, God’s Son, said to his Father just hours before he died a cruel death on a cross, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB). In fact, God’s sovereign will was done. By raising Christ from the dead, God accomplished his mighty plan of salvation for you and for me. He providentially turned the cruel torture and unjust death of his Son into the greatest episode of human history and the utmost blessing known to mankind.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

“For God so loved the world (you and me) that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, KJV).

Our Sovereign Lord is just a whisper away. Or if you prefer to shout, then yell!

After God sovereignly shook the Philippian jail, “…to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailor woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas … ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…’” (Acts 16:26-31).

So, why don’t you join me in a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to the Most High God and to the Son of God? Whether you doubt there is such a God, or whether you question that Jesus Christ died for your sins and freely gives you redemption through simple faith in him, it will do us all good to acknowledge God’s grace, mercy, and sovereignty. In spite of your doubt, if you are sincerely seeking divine answers and truth, then reach out to God and he will reach back to you. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. These are God’s promises in Scripture.

Thank you, Lord, for who you are and what you do. You are so great and so very good. Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for me and rising from the dead so that I can be saved from my sins and have eternal life. Thank you for your providence in the little and big things of my life. I am thankful for lower gas prices. And equally grateful that you have made it more difficult for Israel’s enemies to carry out their threats against your chosen people, but also against nations and the people of those nations who agree with your Word and say with the Psalmist: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12, NASB).

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Things to Ponder

More verses in Psalm 33 that was just quoted:

“The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior … But the Lord watches over those who fear (respect, acknowledge, in awe of) him, those who rely on his unfailing love… We put our hope in the Lord, He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone” (Psalms 33:13-22).

Can you … will you say with King David:

“No pagan god (man-made) is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do! All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. For you are great and perform wonderful deeds. You alone are God” (Psalms 86:8-10).

Come on brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s agree with God when he says: “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).

Great is our God, and greatly to be praised!

May God bless America! May God bless Brazil! May God bless … all peoples and nations whose God is the Lord.

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A Sleeping Giant

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A Sleeping Giant

Where were you heard the stunning news of 9/11? What were you doing? My guess is that only a handful of United States citizens over the age of eighteen would not remember the four planes commandeered by ruthless terrorists that brought down the twin towers, plunged into the Pentagon, and plummeted from the sky into a Pennsylvania field killing all passengers. Nearly three thousand American lost their lives in this brutal, evil attack on American soil.

Or what baby boomer couldn’t recall exactly where they were when told of United States President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. At age 17, I was a senior in high school just beginning my 1:00 PM class in government/social studies … of all subjects. When the teacher broke the horrific news, she wept as did nearly every student in the class.

Or farther back in American history to the deadliest attack on our country by a foreign nation. In a massive unprovoked airstrike against the United States Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Japanese pilots killed 2,335 American servicemen and 68 civilians; and destroyed or disabled eight battleships and other smaller vessels. This barbaric act rushed the United States into World War II, a war greater even than “The Great War”, the War to end all wars, which then received the title of World War I, as it was no longer the only world war.

To some extent or another, virtually the entire Empire of Japan—civilian and military alike—celebrated, admired, or gave tacit approval to this malicious attack that took place while two Japanese emissaries were in Washington under the guise of establishing peaceful relations with the United States of America. All that is, except one man: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, none other than the Japanese officer who conceived and help develop the attack plan; then directed the military force that intended to annihilate the American Naval force and (theoretically) render America incapable of fighting a foreign war.

Many remember the famous quote attributed to Admiral Yamamoto soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor as articulated by the actor portraying Yamamoto in the movie, Tora! Tora! Tora! … Released in 1970: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve.” I believe this same line was repeated in a subsequent (probably more well-known) film entitled, Pearl Harbor, aired in 2001.

Although no written (records) confirmation has been found to prove that Admiral Yamamoto spoke or wrote these words, the producer of Tora, Tora, Tora, Elmo Williams claimed to have found or have seen the famous quote in Yamamoto’s diary. Whether Yamamoto ever wrote or said these words, one thing is historically clear: The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor while his military staff and airmen were celebrating such a great victory, Yamamoto dubiously spent the entire day in a deep depression. Obviously (at least apparently) he fully realized the enormous repercussions of awakening this sleeping giant, known as the United States of America; whose relatively small armed force and sluggish economy (at the time) would transform into a colossal military and economic giant not seen since the mighty Roman Empire. A giant that would turn the tide of World War II, and destroy the country that would dare disturb America’s peaceful rest from the First World War, but would also accelerate its painfully slow emergence from the Great Depression.

Another Emerging Giant

From Pearl Harbor, let’s fast forward nearly 75 years and behold another economic and military goliath. Although not directly rebounding from a cruel surprise attack, this behemoth has risen from the ashes of World War II, from suppressive domination by its own (communist) leaders, from relative economic obscurity and deprivation. A nation that many financial and military experts believe will one day (not that far off) overtake the United States as the greatest, if not only, superpower on the earth: CHINA.

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Although the People’s Republic of China is still communistic in both theory and practice, it is not completely socialistic. There is a fair amount of free enterprise allowed, but with a shrewdly concocted economic trade imbalance (favoring, of course, China) with other countries through import taxes and export tax rebates. However, without the amazing rapid technological advancements experienced in the recent past, China’s administrative schemes and strategies would not work nearly as well.

Much could be and has been written about China’s unparalleled modernization and off-the-chart economic and military expansion in just the last three decades or so. But for sake of space in this article, statistical phenomena will be limited to the following:

Population: Nearly 1.4 billion, the most populated country on earth, comprising a little over 20% of the world’s population. One of every five human beings on this planet is Chinese! This, despite China’s deplorable one-child per family policy that began in 1979 in which millions upon millions of babies (mostly girls) have been aborted to comply with this government mandated restriction of the (once) soaring population growth. This program is no longer enforced the way it once was; however, the result was still a ratio of 118 boys to 100 girls born in 2010 … a serious gender imbalance. The average for Western nations is 105 boys to 100 girls, which is a more natural proportion. Currently there are almost 50 million more males than females in China. In stark contrast, women outnumber men in the USA by about seven million.

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It can get a bit crowded in China!

Economy: By far, the fastest growing major economy in the world. China is the 2nd largest importer of goods, and the largest exporter and trading nation. In 2010 (figures have undoubtedly risen since then), China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was the only Asian nation over $10 trillion, with only two other nations above that same $10 trillion benchmark: The United States and the European Union. Although I indicated “nations” to sort of mislead you, the fact is: China’s GDP is not that far behind the entire European Union (all 28 nations) GDP—some $18 trillion in US Dollars at the end of 2014. One of my sisters just recently gave me the gift of a new lawn chair that she purchased at Wal-Mart. I checked the manufacturing tag. What do you think it said? Easy Answer! What millions of products imported to America say: MADE IN CHINA.

Military: Were you aware that China is one of the nuclear powers on earth? You probably knew that, but did you also know that this nuclear armament includes well over 100 ICBMs that have the range to strike the USA? China’s armed forces budget of $148 billion is 2nd only to the United States. Moreover, there is reliable evidence that in the not so distant future, China may earmark nearly one trillion dollars a year for military expenditure. She currently maintains an active military force of 2,285,000 and has the capacity to field (if needed or wanted) a combined military—army, navy, air force—of an astounding 386 million men. AND an almost equal number of women! The potential number of service (men) alone exceeds the entire population of the USA.

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The Recent Formation of Some Remarkable Economic Alliances

The country’s name (China) is not actually found in Scripture, but there is an unmistakable allusion to this sleeping giant in the Bible. Both of these references are found in the context of the last part of the Great Tribulation, specifically in the series of battles that will be part of the greatest military conflict the world has ever seen or ever will see again: Armageddon.

Before we examine the two Biblical passages that point to the oriental power(s) that will participate in this epic war (to literally end all wars), let’s take a look at what’s happening between the two most unlikely countries to achieve any kind of cooperation between its people, including economic agreements: ISRAEL & CHINA.

Unlikely because—alongside of Arab and Muslim countries—communistic and socialistic nations have traditionally despised and denigrated Israel. But also likely, because this end-times association between China and Israel is part and parcel of the apocalyptic prophecies found in Daniel and Revelation. It is a startling contemporary development which identifies and confirms another piece of the prophetic puzzle.

In a recent article from a Tokyo-based online global news source called, The Diplomat, we read: “A convergence of commercial interests have led the People’s Republic of China and the State of Israel to develop an increasingly integrated bilateral economic partnership that is poised to flourish over the next decade. Bilateral trade has experienced a 200-fold increase since diplomatic ties were formally established in 1992, surging from $50 million to $10 billion in 2013, with plans to double that figure in the next few years.”

The article goes on to say that China is looking to Israel to supply technology necessary for maximum agricultural yield, as well as more competent water purification techniques that can enhance China’s urban and economic growth throughout the 21st century. This technology is crucial to a nation boasting 22 percent of the world’s population but only seven percent of the world’s arable land. To that end, Israel and China reached an agreement worth another $300 million for Israel to export water technology that will improve Chinese agricultural productivity.

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Opening Ceremonies, Beijing Olympics

Israel is also building strong economic ties with Japan and with India such as the Israeli Ports Company establishing a partnership with India’s Cargo Motors to construct a deep-water port in Gujarat; and Israel’s Towerjazz teaming up with India’s Jaiprakash Associates and IBM to build a $5.6 billion chip plant near Delhi.

Are these diplomatic and economic developments simply business as usual? Not hardly … not when it comes to tiny Israel with a population of some eight million (six million Jews) striking deals with the two largest (population) nations on earth, China and India. Or with Japan, which not that long ago boasted one of the most successful economies in the world (remember when Japanese businesses were buying up rich land in California and other states).

Although the EU is still Israel’s largest trading partner, that will gradually subside then come to a screeching halt during the Great Tribulation when the European based coalition headed by the beast of Revelation (Antichrist) will turn on Israel, attack her, and set out to conquer the entire world. As an example, recent reports from Middle East sources that I draw from indicate that the European Union is poised to sanction and further boycott Israel immediately after Israel’s elections on March 17th.

These sanctions are mostly geared to so-called Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, but are also generated by the increasing anti-Semitism mindset that is pervasively prevalent in many European counties. I say so-called settlements because, in fact, ALL of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. These settlements blocs and those in Judea-Samaria (the correct name for the so-called West Bank) were legally zoned and paid for by Israeli towns and citizens.

How/Where Does China Fit into The Bible’s Last Days Prophecies?

Let’s begin with the oldest end-times prophecy that announces the ruler to whom ten kings and their kingdoms (modern-day nations) will yield allegiance and join forces. This despotic king is none other than the man of lawlessness depicted by the Apostle Paul, the beast of Revelation, and the Antichrist labeled by the Apostle John. Much has been written about this evil tyrant, including his very identity as found in my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666? And through several Eye of Prophecy articles that can be located in the category of Antichrist.

He is first introduced by the prophet Daniel in Chapter 7, then again in Chapter 9, and once more in Chapter 11. It is the latter chapter we want to focus on: “Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood. He will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall … He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape … But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him” (Daniel 11:40-45, italics for emphasis).

The king of the south is most likely the ruler(s) of Egypt or Syria and possibly Gulf-state Arab allies. From preceding verses in this chapter it is abundantly clear that the king of the north is Antichrist. During his assault against the king of the south, he extends this massive campaign by attacking other countries including his ultimate target, Israel. But suddenly alarming developments (news) from both the north and the east will infuriate him. Consequently, Antichrist and his ten-kingdom federation will turn their attention to these (military) threats. (How dare they oppose him?) With an equally obvious conclusion that the passage is referring to a nation or nations from the east because the king of the north, “sets out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many,” i.e. war on a huge scale. Wars on this implied scale are only waged between nations, not merely ethnic groups.

We also know this will take place toward the very end of the seven-year Tribulation period, as the Antichrist King of the north establishes his headquarters between the holy mountain of Israel which is Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea, which is the hill and surrounding valley of Megiddo, from which we get the term, Armageddon. Then, “his time will suddenly run out…” because Christ will intervene and stop Antichrist cold in his tracks.

For purpose of this article, the focal point of this passage is the discernible conclusion that eastern countries mobilize their armies against Antichrist. There would be no reason for the king of the North to get so bent out of shape and redirect his military might in response to this alarming news from the east, unless these (eastern) nations and armies were threatening his specific operation against the king of the south and other nearby countries (especially Israel) and his more general megalomania goal of world domination. To further confirm this scenario, let’s look at the second prophetic passage that literally directs our attention to the East … this time found in the Book of Revelation.

Kings of the East

In the next to last bowl judgment, which is also the next to last of twenty-one total judgments (seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls), we read this amazing prophecy: “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance. And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty. And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12-14 & 16, italics for emphasis).

There are some astounding things taking place in these few verses … indeed throughout the entire book of Revelation (and Daniel). Imagine if you can, a river as huge as the Euphrates simply drying up?! We know this mighty river turned dry-path is supernatural as God’s angel is the direct source of this wonder. There’s a divine logistical reason for this incredible event—so that, the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance. This is all part of God’s providential plan for two massive coalitions and the national armies comprising these alliances to fight against each other, only to then turn against Messiah himself in a totally futile attempt to wage war against the King of kings.

Who are these kings from the east? Geographically they must be east of Israel, as Israel is the center point of nearly all end-times prophecies, both Old and New Testament, both spiritually and literally. All Biblical directional references to Gentile nations originate from Israel’s location in the Middle East. One possibility is that the kings of the east could refer to modern-day Iran or Iraq (Middle East); however, that is not a logical or valid choice. For the reason that Iraq or Babylon is no longer a threat to any other nation. Iraq fell into disarray when Saddam Hussein was ousted by American led coalition forces. Iran, plus any forces left in Iraq, will be supernaturally defeated along with Russia in the Gog-Magog attack against Israel (Ezekiel 38 & 39).

The only viable kings and kingdoms that the prophets Daniel and John (Revelation) are referencing would be the contemporary nations of Japan, Korea, and most prominent of all—China. However, I believe India will also be part of this enormous military assault against Antichrist and his ten-kingdom confederation.

When Antichrist breaks his seven-year treaty with Israel and subsequently invades the Holy Land, these Far-East Nations will mobilize their armies and march west through the Middle East over the dried-up Euphrates River, straight toward the Valley of Megiddo.

China, by itself, is capable today of taking on any national unity in the world, including the United States, Russia, or the European Union. But when you throw in Japan and Korea (North or South or a unified Korea) and especially India, even the Antichrist led coalition of nations (which I believe will include the United States, albeit an America with a much weaker economy and military due to loss of so many people at the Rapture) will not be able to withstand such an onslaught.

The dragon (Satan), the beast (Nero), and the false prophet will realize that they have rudely awakened a sleeping giant and, after a series of bloody battles, will fully comprehend that they have no choice but to joins forces with their eastern enemies to fight against the Lion from the Tribe of Judah… Messiah Yeshua. In fact that suits Antichrist’s ultimate goal, which is to crush Israel, eradicate the Tribulation saints, and establish his own messianic kingdom on earth. What better way to accomplish that objective than aligning with the formidable kings of the east. If you can’t beat them, join them!

Will the Far East giants China and India and other oriental nations assemble against Antichrist because they want to come to Israel’s aid? Yes and No. Ostensibly that will most likely be their stated purpose for this cataclysmic confrontation with Antichrist; however, their true motivation will undoubtedly be the same reason that Russia and her allies (Gog/Magog) attack Israel in the early part of the Tribulation, and the same incentive that motivates Antichrist to overrun Israel. Actually, there are two reasons: (1) to gain control of the vast oil/gas wealth in the Middle East including newly found reserves of natural gas off the shores of Israel. (2) To fulfill Satan’s age-old diabolical plan of erasing Israel from the face of the earth and, in doing so, complete Hitler’s horrendous agenda of genocide of the Jewish race … this time through the Antichrist.

But this (last of the last days) unholy alliance—when west for one brief apocalyptic moment meets east—will be crushed by the rider on the white horse whose name was, “…Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11). “… and his title was the Word of God” (Verse 13). And, “…the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army” (Verse 19).

Noteworthy in this final epic battle of Armageddon is that “the kings (plural) of the world and their armies” were now aligned against Messiah. In other words, the scene in Revelation Chapter 16 and Daniel Chapter 11 shifts from two massive military empires facing each other to a (spur of the moment) unified global military alliance against Christ. Such arrogance, such folly, such stupidity!

Would you want to take on someone who had descended from the clouds (from heaven) with a vast host (army) descending with him?! How do you fight against someone like that? Such, I suppose, is the vanity of evil and the mystery of iniquity.

Things to Ponder

Not until the very end, the last few days of the Tribulation do all (except of course Israel) nations attempt to do battle with God, himself (Messiah). Although this would be an article topic for another week in Eye of Prophecy (which I may very well do in the near future) please consider the following: Contrary to what has been a recurring theme for several decades promoted even by the best of Biblical scholars and teachers, I firmly believe there will be no such thing as a One-World Government, until Jesus Christ returns and establishes the majestic Kingdom of God on this earth. THEN there will be a divinely unified system of truth, justice, and peace never before experienced on this earth … the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

First, according to Daniel 7 and Revelation 17, there will be ten kings (kingdoms or nations) that will comprise this formidable military coalition headed by the little horn of Daniel and the king-beast of Revelation—both of whom are the Antichrist. Secondly, this king of the north who is also the Antichrist will do battle with the kings of the East, as already explained.

Question: How can there be a One-World Government (economically and militarily) unless ALL nations (at least the powerful ones) are part of that Government? Bible prophecy clearly and unambiguously tells us that the Antichrist and his ten-nation kingdom will have enemies, i.e. the king of the south and even more dangerous foes—the Eastern kings (and their kingdoms) who are giants awakened from international neutrality by a man who wants to conquer the Middle East and then the whole world?

If you have one multi-national force opposing another multi-national force, does that sound like a global world government or military to you? To me it sounds exactly like what happened before and during World War I and World War II; one bloc of nations conspiring and warring against another bloc of nations. Prior to the last day when Christ utterly vanquishes ALL the forces and armies of evil, Armageddon—by Biblical prophecy and historical precedence—will become World War III. With West pitted against East.

Notice the plural significance of the following passage when it comes to kings and nations contrasted to the typically taught premise of a one-world single unity type of government. Also take note that the only reference to a world-wide kingdom is none other than the Kingdom of God:

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders … His government and its peace will never end…” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Age of Grace (Part III)

Grace Is Far Greater than the Law

Is there anything more alarming, more distressing than to be told that you or someone you love has cancer?

Fortunately, through modern technology, treatment has added a few months or years to the life of those diagnosed with this dreaded disease. Yet, sooner or later, many will succumb to this fearful mysterious ailment in which the body actually fights against itself by altering healthy cells; thereby tricking the immune system to ignore these transmuted cells as though they were a natural part of the body.

Spiritually, our heart and mind often operate the same way when we react to sin in our lives. Though the symptoms of the wrong we do are clearly manifested by the grievous consequences in our life and in the lives of those we’ve wronged through lying, stealing, gossiping, adultery, dishonesty and any number of transgressions; we often do our best (or worst) to deny what we’ve done or try to minimize the harm it has caused. Or, if we to some degree or another acknowledge that we were wrong, did wrong; we latch onto a moral set of principles or a religious set of rules that sometimes can soothe our conscience and give us a false sense of security. Only to time and time again do exactly what we didn’t want to do, or not do precisely what we knew was right to do.

Confusing? Inexplicable? Exasperating? Distressing? Sadly, yes and more.

Despite the valiant human struggle against incurable diseases, all too often the disease wins the battle. Just check the obituaries for a few days and see how many times you read something to the effect: “She passed away in the presence of her loving family after a courageous two-year battle with cancer.”

Likewise, despite the best defense we can muster against greed, selfishness, pride, and a host of other devastating and demoralizing spiritual ailments, the outcome is virtually inevitable: Sin wins, we lose.

For decades, the very best of our scientists, biologists, and doctors have fought a brave and competent war against terminal diseases. Billions of dollars have been spent on research, technology, drugs, and various medical cures; yet cancer and a host of other illnesses continue to ravage the human race.

But, what if you signed on to the Internet one morning or picked up your local newspaper. On the Front page of both news sources you read the incredible headlines: “WE HAVE IT! A PROVEN VACCINE TO PREVENT & CURE ALL CANCERS!

Upon further reading you discover that this vaccine is totally free and abundantly available to the whole world. That one dose is all-sufficient to eradicate cancer.

What would you do? Would you:

(A) Insist on paying for the vaccine? If so, how much? To answer that question, wouldn’t you need to come up with a dollar value for your life or the life of a loved one?

(B) Tell yourself and others that, “it’s too good to be true. I don’t believe it.” And keep saying this five, then ten years later (if you live that long) in spite of overwhelming evidence that thousands and thousands of people have been set free from cancer.

(C) Out of hand, reject this free global gift given by three wealthy and gracious benefactors whose enduring compassion for the suffering of mankind was equally matched with their ability to sacrificially pay for such an incredible cure. With your given reason that you preferred to “do your part” by continuing the chemo-therapy, radiation, or immunology treatments with a proud emphasis on, “no pain, no gain.”

(D) Or would you, with heartfelt gratitude that someone else could and would do all this for you, gladly accept this gracious gift? With an open mind receive the vaccine dose and immediately realize that you had been cured and would be protected against the inevitable death sentence imposed by this awful disease?

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To Work for or to Rest in God’s Grace?

Our analogy is easy to grasp: Sin is cancer of the heart, soul, and mind. And, the only cure is God’s Grace given through His matchless Son’s death on the Cross and resurrection from the dead; administered by the Holy Spirit by believing and receiving this free pardon from the deserved penalty of sin, by substituting eternal separation from God with everlasting life in heaven. A COMPLETE CURE, with no booster shots needed! From three gracious and enormously wealthy benefactors: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Listen to these life-giving words of God through the Apostle Paul: “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) … So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:4-5, 7-8).

If you chose options A, B, or C, what do you think your family and friends might say? Something like, “How can you be so foolish,” Or even stronger language; “You fool.” Or if you made the obviously right choice (D), but then decided that (despite all evidence to the contrary) the vaccination alone wasn’t enough to keep you cured. So you begin to take all sorts of daily supplements—many of which produced debilitating side effects—just in case….

Which, as alluded to in last week’s article, is exactly why the Apostle Paul told the Galatian Christians, “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort” (Galatians 3:3).

Then for those (unbelievers) who couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the awesome remedy—God’s free gift of Grace exhibited in and given through His Son, Jesus—for the horrible malady and consequences of sin, Paul says: “But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.’ So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’ This way of faith is very different from the way of the law, which says, ‘It is through obeying the law that a person has life.’” (Galatians 3:10-12).

Paul also explains, “…The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian” (Galatians 3:24-25). Guardian here incorporates the idea of complete acknowledgement of and unwavering obedience to everything the guardian says that the one guarded must do. Going back to what Jesus said concerning the law: “I have come to accomplish their purpose.” He’s emphasizing that he came to fulfill the purpose of the law. That purpose is explained in the verses just quoted … guardianship through instruction. Plus, the law was given to show us what sin really is, in all its ugliness, as stated earlier in this chapter. (Verse 19).

Absolutely, Jesus fulfilled the law. He did so because God demanded a perfect sacrifice. According to the Levitical sacrificial requirements, only an unblemished healthy animal (the best of the flock) could qualify as an innocent atonement for the people’s sins. Likewise, only the perfect Son of God would qualify as a substitutionary propitiation (a satisfactory appeasement to God) for the wrong things we’ve done, by virtue of his total absence from the disease and effects of sin. Messiah Jesus is the Just for the unjust, the Righteous for the unrighteous, and the Perfect for the imperfect.

Make no mistake: Sin is a disease that produces both spiritual and physical symptoms and consequences. Physical death is a certainty and spiritual death (eternal separation from God and heaven) is a given, unless God’s spiritual remedy through Christ is accepted at face value and received as it was meant to be given—freely by the Grace of God. Without adding any man-made supplements (rules and regulations) to this divine prescription!

Christ fulfilled the law so we wouldn’t have to, because we couldn’t; either to get saved, or to stay saved, or to earn his favor, or anything else that we try to obtain or attain through our merit, self-worth, good works, or whatever. God knew that we could never, ever in a thousand lifetimes completely keep the law. That’s why the Levitical sacrificial system was given—a preliminary instructional example of the ultimate atonement for sins through Messiah, himself.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Is our obedience better than our sacrifices, as Scripture says? Yes, but only when we understand what obedience truly is. It is understanding that we obey not because we have to, not only because the Law requires it; but because we want to obey. We obey because we love the Lord, and we love him because he first loved us. But we also understand that we disobey … all too often. And then we even better understand why Jesus kept the entire law: to qualify as the absolute, perfect sacrifice for those who could never even come close to keeping (fulfilling) the law. That God’s pardon for sin cannot be earned or merited; instead, it is graciously given as a gift.

There is absolutely no condemnation whatsoever for those who are (born-again) in Christ Jesus, including condemnation for failure to keep/obey the law. (Romans 8:1). There’s no judgment, because God judged his Son, Jesus, in our place. Technically, it’s not our sins that will send us to hell; rather it’s rejecting the perfect sacrifice for those sins. That’s crystal clear in Scripture. The legalistic Galatians were giving people the impression that the law (and fulfilling it) was actually more important than God’s grace. In doing so, they were preaching a false gospel.

That doesn’t mean the law is invalid. It only means that when you add keeping of the law to salvation through faith in God’s grace, then you have a destructive hybrid that will send someone straight to hell. Millions of people down through the ages have tragically died in their sins because they wouldn’t let go of their system of good works as the means of obtaining a right relationship with God and/or maintaining that relationship until the day they died. The Law served its purpose as a temporary instructor for the Jews, because they were called out by God to be a special people to show God to the nations. When Christ came, he WAS the complete fulfillment of the Law. Today he is alive and well! He IS the living WORD of God (John 1:1). He IS the living LAW of God.

God doesn’t measure us by our performance. If he did, no one could possibly “measure up.” He relates to us exclusively through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son; then our faith to believe and receive that free gift which is exactly what the Grace of God and the Age of Grace is all about.

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Falling Away from Grace

Paul also told the Galatians that he, feared for them (Galatians 4:11). Meaning those who were trying to put the fear of God into others for not complying with legalistic rules and conduct, best be afraid for themselves of … as Paul said later, “falling away from God’s grace” (Galatians 5:4).

For sure, abusing and misusing God’s grace is wrong, i.e. deliberate, planned, willful sinning just because we know God will forgive when confessed, is totally wrong. But the falling away from God’s grace is a danger that Paul warned about to the legalistic Galatians. Falling from grace does not mean loss of salvation; rather, it means removing (departure from or abandoning) the Grace of God as the (only) source of salvation and Christian living, in favor of legalistic rules and behavior. The bad thing about legalistic believers and churches is that they mislead so many others who are on the bubble of whether to rely exclusively on the grace/mercy of God, or to take matters into their own hands and devise ways to “help God show his favor to them.”

The best thing any of us can possibly do is to say, “Lord, I can’t do this (meaning keep His law); please, you do it through me.” And, yes, that is possible only when we yield to Him, but that yielding is not a matter of keeping rules, whether imposed by the law or by ourselves or by others. By the very fact that we say that we can’t do this on our own, we are yielding to the grace of God that says he will do it through us. That’s the difference between Works and Grace. Works (trying through human effort to keep the law and striving to do well) says, “Thanks anyway, but I’ll do this myself, because it’s up to me to see that it’s done.” Grace says, “I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. Thank you, Lord, for doing it for me, all the way to the Cross. Your grace is sufficient to get me through this day, no matter what happens.” (And that also means if I mess up … disobey).

Once more, read what the Holy Spirit through Paul says, “You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you … I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws” (Galatians 4:10-12).

What an astounding statement! Paul is telling the legalistic Jews that the law no longer has any hold on him, that he was free from the law just like the Gentiles who made no effort whatsoever to keep the Jewish law in the first place. Thus, the only thing that would/could save the Gentiles and also condemn them if they refused, was believing in and accepting the Grace of God, which is the free gift of salvation. Paul implored the Jews to fully fathom the same thing—redemption was by grace through faith plus absolutely nothing else, as the exclusive way to right standing with God; and, by far, the very best means of living the Christian life.

The ceremonial observation of certain (holy) days was just one example of many that Paul could have used. In fact, he also talked about Galatian Jews who had demanded circumcision for the Gentiles in order to be saved or stay saved. In other letters he wrote (such as Romans), Paul talks about eating certain foods and drinking (wine). In other words, he includes all those things that moralizing people impose on themselves and others including the Law of Moses. Paul rebuts that by saying (referring to circumcision as just one example), that if the Galatians are going to insist on circumcision or anything else that they demand obedience to, then they better keep the entire law ALL THE TIME.

Listen to these strong words from Paul: “I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses” (Galatians 5:3). And if they couldn’t (which is obvious), then they should cease and desist from teaching others that they must continue keeping (fulfilling) the law in order to be righteous and stay righteous through their own effort or self-worth. We are not only saved by GRACE, we live by it every day.

Faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice (just like Abraham had faith in God’s promise of Isaac, a precursor of the coming Messiah) is the NEW WAY, the new law if you will. In fact, Paul terms it, “the law of Christ.” The Law wasn’t given to the Jews through Moses until hundreds of years after Abraham died. Yet Abraham had been declared righteous (right standing with God) solely because of Abraham’s faith—not rote, ritualistic observance of any system of laws, rules, ordinances or any other man-made ideas of what it takes to please God. That even included the subsequent Law of Moses which clearly showed right from wrong. But which could not—because of everyone’s inability to consistently keep the law—save anyone from the power and penalty of sin.

That’s why the Bible frequently tells us that trust in the Lord is the one, essential way of pleasing God. Trusting the Lord IS obedience. Because it comes from the heart, not from an external, superficial sense of obligation to keep the law as a means to obtain God’s favor.

Of course, obedience is important; but because we, in fact, disobey, then how much obedience is necessary (in light of our frequent disobedience) in order to please God? Do you know how much, does anyone? But even a little faith (trusting the Lord) as small as a mustard seed can move mountains … obviously meaning that God will honor that faith and do great things for/through us.

Those who doubted or even disbelieved that Christ was the Son of God, but also some who were sincerely seeking to know if Jesus was the Messiah asked this question of Jesus: “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” (John 6:28). Jesus’s reply was both simple and profound: “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (Verse 29, italics for emphasis). Years later, the Apostle John restated Jesus’s words: “And this is his (God’s) commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us” (I John 4:23).

Later, during one of the many times when the religious Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into saying or doing something that would violate the (their interpretation thereof) Law of Moses, Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment in the Law of Moses. “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40, italics for emphasis).

Do you see what’s going on here with these phenomenal replies from Jesus as recorded by John and Matthew? He is explaining the very essence of what is required of every person who has ever lived: Belief in Messiah Yeshua that will produce a heart of love and gratitude for God and for our fellow human beings. (And in that order!)

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Things to Ponder

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus wants us to stop working so hard for something that has already been freely offered to us … God’s grace poured out through Messiah’s redemptive ransom on the Cross.

We’ve already earned more than we ever bargained for. We’ve earned death itself.

“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a).

Do your good deed for today (and every day). “And what might that be,” you ask? Answer: Simply take God at his word and understand that: Good deeds are a Result of salvation, not a Requirement for salvation.

“…But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

As the beautiful old Christian song goes:

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Said John Newton, the former slave-trader, who wrote the famous song, Amazing Grace: “I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior.”

Age of Grace (Part II)

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Grace versus Law

For parents out there who love their children, who would do just about anything to secure their child’s safety and freedom, what would you do if your twenty-one year old son ended up in a foreign prison of a totalitarian state for a first-time offense that he committed in a moment of youthful indiscretion? And even more heart-rending: a twelve-year prison sentence that should, by all rights, have been only a two-year penalty to fit the crime. Fill in the blanks with your answer(s) to such a tough question … such a difficult dilemma. Whatever your reaction, it’s likely that such emotions as embarrassment, sadness, disbelief, anxiety, and probably anguish would flood your mind and heart.

But what if, by what many might call a stroke of luck, government bureaucrats of that dictatorial country relented and reduced the sentence to five years? Then … what if, by what others would consider to be the grace of God, court officials in an act of unprecedented mercy commuted your son’s sentence by deporting him back to the United States, back to family and friends … back to you?!

Of course you would be thrilled and grateful for such an astonishing turn of events. But after all the preparations had been made for your son’s return home, what would be your response if you received a call from your son telling you that he preferred to remain in prison for the full twelve years? Because he didn’t think that his punishment (or the punishment for any crime) should be pardoned or forgiven. That he didn’t believe in mercy of any kind, particularly a gracious amnesty that would give him a second chance for a brand new start to life.

Now, take this illustration to another (lower) level: What if your son told you that after serving his full sentence, he intended to remain in this autocratic state that demanded complete capitulation, absolute adherence, and submissive surrender to its laws and leaders for the rest of his life? He wanted no part of the democratic freedom so cherished in the United States of America. That he preferred the idea of rule by force, of might makes right, of survival of the fittest and strongest. In short, rejection of the precept that every person has the God-given inalienable privilege to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Moreover, if he ever felt like reclaiming his freedom in America, he would first need to earn that right of return by serving under this system of despotically overbearing regulations; heavy-handed even to those who managed to obey most of these suppressive laws in an oppressive country full of mindless, robot-like submission to domineering leaders who demanded perfect performance (obedience) from their subjects.

Perplexing? Incomprehensible? Shocking!

That’s exactly the Apostle Paul’s reaction to what had happened in some of the churches in Galatia. Especially the Jewish believers who, for all practical purpose, wanted to give back their heavenly citizenship rights, to give up their incredible freedom purchased with the life-blood of Jesus. Some had returned to the Law of Moses as a means to salvation; thereby, becoming imprisoned once again to the enslaving notion that human effort (good works) was the only way to merit a right relationship with God.

Paul’s greeting to the churches in Galatia begins with a solemn but joyful reminder of what Jesus had done for them: “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen” (Galatians 1:4-5).

Then immediately Paul gets to the point of his grave concern over what had happened in the Church: “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News, but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). Who and what was twisting the truth of the Gospel? Why was Paul so upset that they were so soon turning away from God? The answer is found in the rest of the book of Galatians with a highlight summary found in the following verse:

“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law” (Galatians 2:16).

Should anyone think that (if the good things they do outweigh the bad) they might be an exception to this universal Divine truth, read again the last sentence of this verse: For NO ONE will ever be made right with God by obeying the law! (Upper case letters, italics, and exclamation point for added emphasis).

A few years later, Paul conveyed to the church at Ephesus this same crucial truth—God’s grace through the sacrificial atonement of God’s Son was the exclusive source of redemption, not the unattainable requirements of the Law of Moses. This time the context was both Jew and Gentile being united as one new person in Christ, but the emphasis was the same:

“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations….” (Ephesians 2:14-15, italics for emphasis).

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Fulfilling and (then) Ending the Law

Today, just as in Paul’s time, we see legalistic efforts to bend, shape, and contort the Grace of God into a massive maze of rulings and regulations and rituals that (1) cleverly contradict and deviously distort the very means of salvation; or (2) change the Holy Spirit led dynamics of living the Christian life with an inordinate impossible demand of keeping the Old Covenant as a means of staying saved or meriting God’s favor (Grace) for daily life and (hopeful) entrance to heaven at the time of death.

Religious requirements come in packages of all shapes and sizes. Including, but not limited to, organizational church-imposed and/or church-expected meritorious works through self-effort such as: Infant and adult baptism, church membership, mandatory tithes, completion of non-Biblical catechism curriculum, periodic sacrament observance, compulsory recital of prayers or excerpts from religious books, obligatory giving to the poor, forced observance of special holy days, requisite penance for transgressions, necessary hostility to those who believe differently (infidels), rote performance of required rituals, prescribed practice of non-Biblical church traditions, involuntary abstinence from certain foods and drinks, confirmed celibacy, and perfunctory performance of “righteous” deeds—most of which are dutifully defined by the ecclesiastical hierarchy of that religion that end up being nothing more than self-righteous exploits.

Over and over the apostle Paul tells us that the Grace of God not only saves us, but keeps us saved. That trying to keep the law to get saved or stay saved is not only impossible, but an affront to God. Oftentimes well-meaning Christians as well as not so well-meaning cults that are Christian in name only will twist and turn the words of Jesus to try to persuade their listeners that the Law of Moses, including the clerical priesthood, was never removed. Therefore, they contend that it is incumbent upon all who want to obtain and maintain a right standing with God and with their church to comply with the Law and regulatory church traditions in order to enter and remain in a “state of Grace.” Which means among other things that any unconfessed violations of the Law prior to one’s death could very well prevent that person from going to heaven. For example, that’s why Catholic priests administer last rites.

What exactly did Jesus mean when he said: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17, NASB). The Greek word for fulfill is pleroo (pronounced play-ro’-o) which means: to complete, to consummate, to carry into effect, to accomplish the purpose of (the Law). How does this profound statement of truth from Christ match up with the above quoted passage from Ephesians Chapter 2, in which Paul, in no uncertain terms declares that Christ ended the system of law with its commandments and regulations?

Who’s right; Jesus or Paul? Of course that’s a senseless question because they’re both right, even though they’re saying what appears to be (at face value) opposite things. There are many verses in Scripture that are completely stand-alone verses, such as John 3:16. However, there are other passages that must be compared, Scripture with Scripture (the whole counsel of God), and not quoted independently as a means to defend a viewpoint or position that is wrong to begin with because of the very fact that the verse is used out of context or because it (if not adequately clarified and understood) might seemingly contradict another passage. The Bible never negates itself; so if there are two or more passages which seem to do just that, then they must be carefully analyzed, compared, and explained together as a whole. All cults are based on a handful of verses that, when not correlated to other Scripture, will distort the main tenets of the Bible (especially salvation) and create a whole new religion, which Paul calls a false gospel.

Without a properly balanced examination of the seemingly paradoxical fact that Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses only to end the Law, three theological/spiritual errors will (many times have) result.

  • The misguided notion that God’s Grace—without an equal emphasis on and keeping of the Mosaic Law—is not enough to be born again (saved, redeemed).
  • The idea that we must continually keep the law to gain God’s favor after salvation.
  • That continuous good works (fulfilling the law) is necessary to keep God’s grace intact right up to the time of death, in order that one not lose or forfeit their salvation.

When Jesus said, “I came to fulfill the law,” the emphasis is on “I,” meaning Christ, himself. That it was He, and only He who could have fulfilled the law; which totally qualifies him as the only one who could make the once and for all sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t say or mean that he accomplished all points of the law in order that we, too, must strive to fulfill it. Just the opposite: He fulfilled it because we couldn’t. Christ said this to reinforce the fact that no human being could ever successfully keep the law either as a means of salvation or as a means to preserve that salvation. Once he achieved perfection with the law, there is no need for any of us to try or to keep trying to fulfill it ourselves, because we can’t … never could and never will. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

Paul further reinforces what Jesus said and did: “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 4:4). A commentary on that verse would be: Christ did all the work … now all we have to do is believe in him and what he did (before, during, and after the Cross).

In other words, Scripture tells us to stop focusing on (impossible or at least inconsistent) obedience to the law and focus on Jesus alone. Obedience will then come more naturally (actually supernaturally). For further clarification, notice that I, based on Scripture, didn’t say that we have no obligation to obey God’s moral and spiritual laws; rather the emphasis is how and why we obey the law. And it’s certainly not to earn salvation or merit God’s grace. Keep reading for more amplification.

What Christ is saying is that the law itself will never be abolished. “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and the other commandments will always be God’s principled standard of conduct, but which no one can or ever will keep. (Break one law and you break them all is what Scripture clearly teaches). Of course the Ten Commandments are still a moral compass that is every bit as applicable today as it was when the law was given. But what about the hundreds of years before the law was given, going at least back to the time of Abraham? How were those folks made right with God, when there was no law? (See Romans Chapter 4 for the answer to that question).

According to Jesus and Paul, one of the most grievous most damaging sins were those of the Pharisees, whom Jesus called sons of the devil, sons of hell, hypocrites; and certain Jews (both believers and unbelievers) who Paul accused of combining Law with Grace, Why? Because not only did they consider themselves righteous by virtue of keeping the law, but they were making others “sons of hell” by telling them that the only way to gain God’s favor and forgiveness was by keeping the law of Moses. That’s why they crucified Christ, because he said he was the Messiah; because he told them that He was the only Way, Truth, and Life and that no one could come to the Father except through him. That’s why they rejected him; because to them the Mosaic Law was the only way to God. How dare someone say differently!

Jesus warned the Jewish leaders, “Moses, himself, will condemn you” (John 5:45). That statement is utterly astonishing! How or why would Moses condemn anyone for keeping the law? Answer: Because they placed the law above the only way of true righteousness—faith in Christ (and before Jesus came, faith in the promise of his coming). That is why the only people that Jesus ever truly censured were the (self) righteous religious teachers of the law.

On the contrary, those who acknowledged their inherent sin nature and the iniquities this sin nature innately (naturally) produced, those who reached out to Jesus for physical and spiritual healing; experienced salvation through and from a Savior who loved them and who longed to save them from their sins … from eternal judgment apart from God.

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What Actually Is Abolished? The Actual Purpose of the Law

What IS abolished is the keeping of the law or fulfillment of the law in order to be saved and to stay saved. In fact, that never existed in the first place … meaning salvation through the law. But neither is trying to live the Christian life ever successful or even recognized by the Lord through the self-effort of “fulfilling the law.” That’s why Paul told the believers in Galatia that they were “foolish.” (Galatians 3:1). He went on to challenge them, “Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? …why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Verses 2-3).    Paul continues: “Why, then was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised….” (Galatians 3:19). The progenitor promised child was Abraham’s son, Isaac (not Ishmael); with Jesus Christ as the ultimate Child of Promise (to the whole world).

Therefore, Scripture is crystal clear that the law was temporary. It’s only purpose was to show just what sinners we are, so that we would stop trying to keep the law as a means of salvation or even as a means of trying to please God and keep in good standing with him after we’re saved.

Our good works are a RESULT of the free gift of salvation (God’s Grace). Not a requirement or the means of salvation. Our right standing with God is based on a RELATIONSHIP with him through his Son, Messiah Jesus. Not through any religion.

We can try all we want to satisfy the law or any rules and regulations that we impose on ourselves and others, and it will do us absolutely no good, whatsoever. In fact it only leads to total frustration and failure. Both secular humanism and clergy and laity alike in religious systems such as Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah Witnesses, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, but even some born-again Christians are constantly and in futility trying to: Work their way into or back into God’s favor.

Frankly, that’s an insult to God because it contradicts and replaces the only means of a right relationship with God … Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul tells us that when we make the law our main focus and falsely believe that keeping it will keep us in good standing with God, we are “crucifying Christ” all over again.

There’s more. Paul perceptively states: “But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law (Paul is referring to anyone who would say we were “guilty” if we discard the law). Would that mean that Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:17-21, italics for emphasis).

Those who have a legalistic mindset, including some Christians, are those who live by a list of do(s) and don’t(s), including the law and other things they think must be followed. They (erroneously) believe that God’s favor is earned by good behavior. Conversely, true Christianity is expressed by those who love the Lord and live in gratitude for his free gift of grace and eternal life. By relying on the Holy Spirit who enables us, “…to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

To constantly tell or remind others that Christ came to fulfill the law but not to abolish it, without clarifying what that means or without explaining that both salvation and the Christian life, itself, is through grace and grace alone, is to confuse and mislead them. Cults do that all the time. They add to or subtract from the Bible. Or they take one or two verses and make an entire doctrine out of them, without comparing the passage with the whole counsel of Scripture.

It’s a deadly spiritual recipe … a mixture of Law and Grace.

Things to Ponder

If anyone was told that they would be granted a full pardon for their crimes (sins) against God, why would they want to stay in or return to the prison (of their sins)? Why would they throw away the key of Grace that opened the prison door of sin to set them free? How could they step back into a prison cell of a legalistic penal system that requires flawless performance and picture-perfect behavior in order to be released from a jail with four walls and a ceiling covered with do(s) and don’t(s) that no one could ever keep no matter how hard they try?

Stay tuned next week as we look at the third and final article on the Age of Grace.

Age of Grace (Part I)

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The New Covenant … A Much Better Way

The Golden Age of Israel and its kings was nearing an end. Soon after Solomon’s reign ended in 930 BC, the Jewish nation had split into two kingdoms, with the northern kingdom falling first to the mighty Assyrian Empire in 722 BC. Despite ominous warnings of destruction from the mouth of the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, the southern kingdom would also succumb to an even greater empire, Babylon.

Jeremiah’s prophecies foretold the disaster that would befall Judah if she continued on her evil path of disobedience; of decadence that often exceeded the wickedness of the Gentile nations for whom Israel was to bear the torch of God’s light and share the eternal word of the Sovereign God of the Universe. Time and time again, Jeremiah (and other prophets) uttered words of warning such as: “Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 2:19).

Yet like Isaiah, whose prophecies often spoke of the coming Messiah who would redeem, rescue, and then reestablish Israel as a beacon light to the nations; so, too, did Jeremiah offer hope and encouragement to God’s special possession, the Jews. But it came in the form of a most remarkable and unexpected prophecy; a promise that would forever change and ultimately replace the very foundation of their faith, of their individual and national relationship to Almighty God. This astounding prediction came just a few years before the 10-year series of Babylonian crusades against Judah, culminating in the ruthless defeat of Israel including the devastating destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC.

It was a promise that would be fulfilled in and accomplished by Messiah, himself. A promise that would divide time itself. One that would separate the Old from the New. One that would do what no one else could do but God himself: change stone into flesh … write God’s instructions of life, love, hope, and peace not just on stone tablets, but on the human heart. A promise that would produce so great a salvation unlike anything ever contemplated or even imagined. An unconditional gift that required nothing from those to whom the gift was given, except merely to believe it was true and receive the Gift-bearer, himself … none other than Messiah Jesus.

It would usher in a whole new epoch of mankind’s relationship to the Creator; an era that would see Divine righteousness imputed to Jew and Gentile alike, through God’s unconditional, unmerited, and unearned favor and mercy to the human race. It would be a new exciting incomparable: AGE OF GRACE.

Jeremiah vividly described how and through whom this New Covenant would be accomplished: “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The Lord is Our Righteousness’” (Jeremiah 33:15-16).

Such a phenomenal plan! Such an astonishing agreement! How could such a thing be done—to eliminate the Old Covenant which required every person’s obedience to every one of God’s laws in order to achieve a right standing before God? Something which no one has ever been able to attain (on their own) or ever will achieve through self-effort. Jeremiah tells us that such a thing will be possible through, “a righteous descendant from King David.” Another prophet also explained how this would happen: “…my righteous servant (Messiah) will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins … because he exposed himself to death … He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels” (Isaiah 53:11-12).

A New Way … A New Covenant!

Less than a generation before Israel suffered (at that time) the greatest calamity ever experienced by a nation—indescribable personal torment and national distress, massive loss of life, and deportation of the survivors—here is what the prophet Jeremiah said God would do for Israel sometime after their return from Babylonian captivity:

“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord. I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Undoubtedly, many who heard or read these words from Jeremiah recalled the written words of Moses who reminded his people just a short time before Joshua led the Hebrews into the Promised Land: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Mount Sinai” (Deuteronomy 5:2). Then in verses six through twenty-one of that same chapter, Moses repeated the Ten Commandments to the congregation of Israel.

Equally certain is that some Jews at that time, particularly those who still followed the Lord to some extent or another, must have been stunned at this prophecy. It was amazing enough for Jeremiah to predict complete Babylonian conquest of Israel, demolition of the Temple, then exiled captivity in Babylon for exactly seventy years (all of which came to pass). That alone was beyond belief, even though Judah’s kings, priests, and common people knew all too well what had befallen the northern kingdom of Israel over one hundred years earlier. In near or complete denial, they simply couldn’t or wouldn’t accept the reality of God allowing a foreign pagan nation to destroy the Temple in which God’s very presence dwelled. However, by this time, they were too far gone in their own worship of pagan gods to realize that God had left the Temple (see the Book of Ezekiel).

But even those who yielded to the reality of it all—beginning with King Nebuchadnezzar’s first campaign against Israel in 605 BC (at which time the prophet Daniel was taken prisoner and deported to Babylon)—couldn’t remotely fathom a completely NEW COVENANT initiated by God to replace the Covenant of the Law given to them through Moses. Using today’s vernacular, it must have blown them away.

Most Jews to this very day still haven’t conceptualized the mind-boggling reality that God, himself, would replace the Mosaic Law with another Covenant that would fundamentally dissolve the twofold requirements of the old way: (1) self-merited keeping of God’s regulations, commands, and decrees; (2) the ongoing sacrificial offerings of animals to cover their ongoing sins.

Those who have half-way acknowledged the truth of Jeremiah’s astounding prophecy, believe that this New Covenant is still a future event—one that will take place only when Messiah comes. With this misunderstanding a direct result of not knowing or accepting both the clearly stated and implied Old Testament predictions that Messiah would first arrive as a servant (God’s once and for all sacrificial Lamb of Salvation); then return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to set up the eternal Kingdom of God on the earth.

Out with the Old, In with the New

In previous and subsequent chapters, Jeremiah frequently and explicitly explains exactly why God’s patience had finally run out. For example, in Jeremiah’s prayer to God he states: “Our ancestors came and conquered it (the Promised Land) and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them” (Jeremiah 32:23).

A New Covenant would be made with Israel, one that would last forever. Why would God do something so drastic as to replace the Mosaic Covenant of Law which was the very foundation of Judaism? The answer is both sad and simple: Because the Jews deliberately chose not to obey and follow God. Although the Lord patiently waited for Israel to return to him over a period of several hundred years, they wouldn’t listen to the Lord their God.

Not only wouldn’t they obey, by this time in Israel’s history it was all too evident that they couldn’t keep the Law of Moses, not the way that really mattered to God. Literally, their heart was not in it.

Even those who somewhat consistently kept the Sabbath and observed the High Holy Days and Festivals and performed the necessary sacrificial offerings did so more out of ritual obligation that a deep heartfelt desire to please and honor the God of Israel. Consequently, their hearts became hard as stone. The prophet Isaiah appropriately accused the Israelites of paying lip service to God but refusing to honor him in/with their hearts. The Jews never came to terms with the real spirit of trusting and obeying God from a heart of gratitude instead of their superficial selfish (what’s in it for me) attitude.

Later, after the New Covenant was established, the Apostle Paul would reinforce what was already crystal clear through some 1500 hundred years of trying to keep the law. It simply couldn’t be done. The reason: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). The standard referred to by Paul was none other than the Mosaic Law in its’ entirety.

However, immediately following this profound universal exposure of man’s inherent sin nature and propensity to sin, Paul presents an incredible contrast, a wonderful God-initiated solution to what would otherwise be an unsolvable predicament: “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Verse 24).

The Law of Moses was a perfect representation of God’s expectations of the human race, but it could not save those who tried to keep the laws because of man’s gross imperfections. Because human beings possess an innate desire to merit (God’s) favor by good works and ritual, almost robot-like observance of God’s or man-made requirements, God gave them plenty of time to prove whether they would or wouldn’t, could or couldn’t do just that. Finally, God would step in and intervene with a New Covenant, a New Way that would solve the problem of sin and the separation from God caused by sin.

And so, a New Covenant between God and man would be introduced by Messiah. A relationship between God and man which would enable each and every person who personally believes in and accepts the Messiah of this New Covenant to become his/her own priest with direct access at any time, any place to God’s very presence. A new changed heart of flesh to replace a heart of stone.

As the prophet Ezekiel wrote during the Babylonian captivity of his people to amplify Jeremiah’s words that God would write his instructions on the hearts of his people: “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20, italics for emphasis).

For you see, God desires love and respect from a grateful, willing heart; not unlike parents who want their child to respond and relate to them because the child longs to, not because the child has to. Only with this kind of response would the Jews (and now Gentiles, too) truly be God’s people.

Exactly What Is Grace?

Several passages in Scripture offer a specified or implied definition of Grace, which is: God’s unmerited favor. Even a secular source such as Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary recognizes the Biblical standard when it defines grace as: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

This New Covenant of Grace took effect when Messiah Jesus was crucified on the cross and arose from the dead. Jesus announced that he was the mediator of the New Covenant when shortly before his crucifixion he told his disciples: “…This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:20). Then the Apostle Paul further attested to the advent of this tremendous New Covenant with these words to Timothy, “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:5-6).

That “right time” was the first appearance of Messiah to his people and the whole world. “And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

As indicated, the majority of today’s Jews, indeed, for most Jews down through the past sixteen or seventeen centuries, do not yet believe this New Covenant is in place. Because they refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Messiah. But not all! Both amazing and ironic is the fact that for many years after Messiah Jesus’s mission was accomplished and he returned to heaven in preparation for his glorious return, nearly all Christians were Jews. Thousands upon thousands recognized that Jeremiah’s prophecy of this New Covenant was fulfilled in Christ Jesus … that he, in fact, was the long-awaited Messiah. They staked their very lives on him, because of the indisputable evidence that he has arisen from the grave.

Slowly, but inevitably, those who placed their trust in Christ were mostly Gentiles, as many Jewish believers were exiled from Israel and/or gradually reverted back to Orthodox Judaism, mixing the Law of Moses with the Grace of God; thereby, leading new generations of Jews back to the old system of keeping the law as a basis for salvation. Yet this was done without the Levitical sacrificial system, which was abolished when the Roman Legions destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. They ended up in complete denial that the Levitical sacrificial system had been replaced once and for all by the prophesied redemptive death of the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man—all titles and positions held by Jesus Christ.

Even more disastrous was the formation of the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholicism, the Holy Roman Empire that replaced the secular Roman Empire of the first four centuries. This was not, I repeat not, the true church. (Please see Eye of Prophecy articles on the Woman and the Beast, Part I through VI under the category of Antichrist). Beginning in the 4th century and carried out periodically to and beyond the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Pogroms, the Holocaust, and other lesser known episodes during these Dark years, the Catholic Church persecuted and killed many Jews directly and by complicity. It’s no wonder that most Jews today want nothing to do with Jesus Christ, as they equate him with the horrors perpetrated on them by this organization that, itself, denies salvation exclusively through faith in God’s unmerited favor. Substituting Grace with a system of Church membership, baptism, and sacramental good works to achieve right standing with God.

God’s unique love for Israel (for salvation comes through the Jews) and his love for all peoples was unconditional. But this love turned out to be unrequited. The Jewish people broke the very covenant (time and again) that God gave them as the reasonable means of maintaining a right relationship with a holy God. God was willing to forgive their sins and trespasses if they followed the equally significant and mandatory need to offer animal sacrifices for those sins. All that was necessary was a genuine repentance (I’m sorry, Lord, for the wrong I’ve done) when those sacrifices were offered. But the people couldn’t and wouldn’t even do that. Their individual and collective heart was rock-hard, not a soft heart full of gratitude … willing to obey out of love and respect.

So, the Lord would replace the Mosaic Covenant of Law with a brand new Covenant of Grace which made it so much easier to gain and maintain a permanent pardon from and right standing with God. Keeping the Law of Moses could never be the means to salvation, for that was impossible to do in the first place. God would do for them (for us) what they could not do for themselves. He (not his unfaithful people) would provide and execute the ultimate, final sacrifice—God himself, through his Son, Messiah Jesus. This is the magnificent New Covenant of Grace … God’s free gift to the human race.

Modern-Day Rebirth of Israel and Resurgence of Grace

Listen to one of the most unlikely of Jews ever to yield to the New Covenant Gospel of Grace, the once diehard Jewish Pharisee, steeped in the Law of Moses, with a heart as hard as granite miraculously transformed into a heart of love and compassion for all unbelievers, especially for his own people.

“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 10:1-4).

*Note: If someone else was able to, without sin, keep every commandment of God, able to fulfill every requirement necessary to achieve a right standing with God; furthermore, to die in the place of those sentenced to death because of terrible sins against God and people (all of us), wouldn’t you accept God’s pardon and receive Jesus as your substitute Savior if that’s all God wanted from you!?

Paul continues: “For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says …’The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:5-10).

In the last 50 years or so, we have witnessed a phenomenal renaissance of the true Gospel of Christ reaching Jews all over the world; thousands of Jews responding to their Scriptures and recognizing that Jesus is truly their (the) Messiah. Though the greater numbers are still spiritually blind to the truth of God’s New Covenant of Grace, one day (very soon) all of Israel will believe in Christ. But only when they are on the brink of annihilation at the hands of a deadly coalition led by the Antichrist. Then, their partial blindness will give way to eyes fully opened to see, ears spiritually unplugged to hear, and hearts divinely softened to absorb the mighty love and power of Messiah Jesus.

It’s no mere coincidence that the miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel, preceded by and followed even more substantially by return of millions of Jews to the Promised Land has given rise to an increasing number of spiritually reborn Jews throughout the world. Though the spiritual revival has not kept pace with the physical restitution, it will one day very soon catch up to the incredible rebirth of Israel. The spiritual restoration will match and exceed the physical rejuvenation of the land.

At that time the Age of Grace which is currently manifested as the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts and minds of Jews and Gentiles alike will become the magnificent Kingdom of God on this earth. (See last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, Kingdom of God).

The following passage summarizes the now and then of it all: “Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone” (Romans 11:28-31).

What Paul means by God imprisoning everyone in disobedience is that God will allow anyone to remain in their prison of disobedience if that’s want they want. He will not forcefully overturn a person’s deliberate decision to remain under sin’s lock and key by refusing to accept God’s provision and pardon to escape this imprisonment. Moreover, the only means of escaping the death sentence that sin imposes is recognition of God’s Mercy and acceptance of God’s Grace by believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth that Jesus is both Savior and Lord.

On that great and glorious Day of the Lord, the day when Christ Jesus will rescue Israel from certain extinction at the hands of insurmountable forces (the end of the Great Tribulation), all of Israel will see and believe and shout as their ancestors shouted when they hailed Messiah riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. “Baruch haba, beshem Adonai.” Blessed is he (Jesus) who comes in the name of the Lord (Father God).

Summary

No observant Jew in today’s world, nor even many secular Jews will dispute their Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament (Covenant). This includes prophecies of the Messiah and the advent of a New Covenant as predicted by Jeremiah. In fact, even many non-observant Jews passionately anticipate and embrace the coming of Messiah, to bring them hope for a prosperous future and protection from their enemies.

But the New Covenant is here! It arrived over two thousand years ago! How could anyone with an open mind, with any objectivity at all deny the historical fact that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. That he backed up this claim with incredible miracles, unmatched wisdom and teaching, unrivaled love and compassion by giving his very life for Israel and for the entire human race. Most of all … his astonishing resurrection from the dead.

All of these and more are a matter of historical record, based on eye-witness accounts. It’s as historically accurate and valid as any record of anyone who has ever lived or anything that has ever occurred. If one doesn’t believe the historicity of the Bible which has thousands more original manuscripts than any secular work in history, then no historical record is true—none whatsoever. Everything we’ve been told is a fable or a lie. Why should anyone believe that George Washington was our first United States President? Or any other documented historical event?

Furthermore, Jesus fulfilled all of the dozens of prophecies attributed to the Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures. I repeat for emphasis: ALL OF THEM.

Yes, my friend: Jesus (the New Covenant) is alive and well! And Jesus is the cornerstone of that Covenant. Listen to the words of the Apostle Peter who was asked by whose authority he made a crippled man walk. Said Peter to the religious leaders: “Let me clearly state to all of you and to all people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).

Jesus gave us a New Way, a New Covenant, a New Hope. In fact, he IS the Way, the Covenant, and the Hope (of salvation and everlasting life). He is the express image of God. Through him God’s matchless Grace is freely given.

Things to Ponder

“You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles….” (Written by the Jewish Apostle Paul, formerly called Saul … Galatians 1:13-16).

Hopefully you’ll have the time to read the Book of Galatians in preparation for next week’s Eye of Prophecy article. But if not, read the article anyway!

Kingdom of God

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Kingdom of God

From the dawn of human existence virtually every kind of government has been in place at one time or another. A country’s government is often a reflection of its people … their race, beliefs (religious or secular), moral values, ethnic upbringing and tribal territory. But sometimes government can be an ill-conceived and unwanted bureaucracy with leaders vying for power and supremacy. All too often, innocent people are victimized by such power struggles, both citizens of the country and residents of neighboring nations that take exception to such Machiavelli type systems.

The common people, representatives of those people, wealthy entrepreneurs, ambitious leaders (good and bad), or all of the above can determine whether a country will become a parliamentary or a democratic representative republic; an absolute (king/queen) or constitutional monarch; an autocratic ruler or state controlled (communism or fascism) dictatorship; an aristocratic or military oligarchy; a cleric-run theocracy or even a true Theocracy. The idea of a theocentric government is, “having God as the central interest and ultimate concern.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

Geopolitical experts can argue until the proverbial cows come home over the best form of human government, but there’s nothing like the proof of the pudding … hard evidence to historically demonstrate the success of great nations of the earth, past and present. We could also debate the definition of greatness, but invariably the most notable historians (those who are as objective as they can be) have identified such empires as (ancient) Israel, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Mongol (Genghis Khan), China, France, England, Ottoman Turks, Germany, and the United States as constituting greatness, without necessarily imposing the standard of morality as a required criteria for success. Meaning that some “great” empires have been primarily evil or amoral. Mostly because their leaders were corrupt or even depraved. By and large, however, the most fundamental condition for historical prominence has been some measure of longevity.

Moreover, the destiny of nations (both good and bad) has often been determined by the benevolence or malevolence of rulers … the laws they make and enforce, the decrees they issue, decisions they make, benefits they provide, and goals they aspire to. As the leaders go, so go the people. A ruler with integrity, compassion, and wisdom can be, and often is, a moral compass to the entire nation. Conversely, a selfish, deceitful, evil ruler can bring an entire nation down. Even the United States of America, which many contemplate to be the greatest nation of all time (at least the greatest Republic), relies heavily on its President—considered by some as the most powerful position in the world—to lead … economically, socially, militarily, legally, and morally.

The rise and fall of great leaders, noble and ignoble; of great nations, moral and immoral, is the stuff that legends are made of. And many of these individual and national epitaphs can be found in the Bible as well as secular history. For example, the glorious rise and inglorious fall of Babylon.

The Fate of Nations

Ultimately, the success of any nation will hinge directly on whether the people and especially the leaders acknowledge the sovereignty of the true and living God, the God of the Bible. The truth and accuracy of the following Biblical passages can be tested and measured by examining the successful emergence and enduring accomplishments of nations down through history. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12). Also, as God said to Abraham and as applied to the nation of Israel: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

When people and nations at least acknowledge the Sovereign God of Scripture; periodically thank him for his provisions and goodness; treat the Jews and Israel with some measure of respect, invariably they prosper and remain safe from their enemies. For it is God who eventually determines the fate of all nations. Of course, most secular historians loathe inclusion of these behind-the-scene national stories of prominent leaders and common folks whose purpose in life was to serve God first, then their fellow human beings … but either way, to serve.

Although the God of the Bible is ultimately in control, Scripture is clear that he has allowed Satan to adversely influence those who want nothing to do with God. Those who pursue only pleasure and prestige in a world system predicated on and propelled by greed, selfishness, and the lust for money, power, land, and domination of their fellow-man, particularly those of another race or religion.

Satan’s supreme goal is to create a universal system of belief that will: (1) internally and covertly destabilize and replace the Kingdom of Heaven currently in the hearts of men, woman, and children who have been redeemed by Christ through his great sacrifice for our sins. (2) To establish an international religious and political system that will overtly crush nations whose fundamental existence and intrinsic value is centered on freedom of worship and enterprise … a government of, by, and for the people, such as Israel and the United States.

These two satanic strategies are underway primarily through the cults of Christianity (internal subversion) such as Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witness; and externally through non-Christian religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Communism, and Fascism. Any “ism” is a religion if you define religion as a belief system, which is what it really is. All of these systems are predicated on a works based program of appeasing God to somehow (maybe) merit salvation. Likewise, Fascism and Communism—with the only difference that of the State rewarding meritorious conduct and service with … whatever rewards they deem necessary.

There are many factors that separate the Bible from other religious texts, one of which is God’s plan of salvation accomplished through his Son’s death and resurrection from the dead. No other religion or philosophy has a Savior, as such. They all have requirements of what a man or woman must do to gain their god’s favor; not what God has done for us that we simply couldn’t do for ourselves, i.e. saving ourselves by declaring ourselves not guilty of breaking God’s laws. Or by reaching a completely unfounded conclusion that God will pardon us if we do a little more good than bad, all the while comparing our own definition of what is good with others. What court of law on this planet would allow a convicted criminal to pardon himself?!

Secondly, the amazing predictions recorded in Scripture, hundreds of which have already come to pass. One of the most spectacular end-times prophecies found in Scripture comes from Jesus, himself. When asked by his disciples what signs would usher in the last days which would immediately precede the end of the age, one of the first things Jesus said was, “And you will hear of wars and threats of wars … nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains; with more to come” (Matthew 24:6-8).

Nation against Nation, Kingdom against Kingdom

Some doubters contend that there have been perpetual wars and rumors of wars since Jesus uttered these words. Thus, there’s no reason to suggest that the past couple of generations (a hundred years or so) have been any different or should be any reason to assert that the end of the age is approaching. But they forget one important feature of this passage: that of comparing the signs to a pregnant woman whose birth pains have begun. That one of, if not the most important sign, is nation going to war against nation, kingdom against kingdom. The obvious implication is that these wars will intensify in numbers and severity just like birth pangs steadily increase during childbirth.

The number of new nations birthed into existence since the founding of the United States, especially during the 20th & 21st centuries is staggering. Many of these nations were established by and through military engagement, mostly on the African Continent, but also in Europe and Asia and the Middle East. Some wars are justified—freedom from totalitarian tyranny or abolition of slavery, such as the American Revolutionary War and then the Civil War. Most are not, i.e. pursuit of power, lust for land, or simply a love of war and violence. (Glory of war and to the victor goes the spoils mentality).

These same two centuries have produced wars and conflicts never before experienced, precisely as predicted by Jesus. Two world wars pitting one coalition of nations against another coalition, one similar form of government against another, one way of life over another. And the number of ethnic rivalries and conflicts have multiplied greatly in the past one hundred years or so. As have the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes and famines. We have seen a polarization of governments like never before, beginning with World War I and continuing even more dramatically and ostensibly with Word War II, then regional conflicts all over the world as typified by the Korean War.

What is this basic dichotomy between people, between ethnic groups, between religions, between governments and nations that often erupts in violence? It’s not really that difficult to understand, because the fundamental difference is a modern-day end-of-the-age manifestation of the ongoing universal conflict between God and Satan, as found in the hearts of men and women all over the world; and, therefore, in the forms of government that nations and ethnic groups have devised to express the desires, demands, and destiny of its people.

What it comes down to is this: On one end of the political pendulum, we have dictatorship control of the people in a nation through one tyrant or a select few leaders who impose a state controlled government based on agnostic or atheistic beliefs (man, not God is the final authority). However, the dictatorial head of these systems is often afforded god-like status by many in the elite circle of supporters and by most of the common people. Such as Fascism as found in Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy or Communism as found in Stalin’s Russia and Mao tse-tung’s China. Tragically, however, the millions of citizens killed by their leaders and millions of others who perished in the World Wars and regional insurrections are a stark reminder of the carnage caused by leaders and armies that vehemently oppose anything and everything to do with God, Jesus, and Judaic-Christian beliefs and way of life.

But there are also some fifty countries in today’s world whose government is based on some measure (moderate to extreme) of state controlled enforcement of religious laws. Of course, I’m referring to Muslim nations, many of which are or are becoming radicalized to the extent of imposing Islam’s Sharia law on its own people; and, by force, on surrounding ethnic groups as we’ve horribly seen with ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorists groups. To the ultra-extreme extent that these multi-national terrorist groups are seeking to be the first to establish a world-wide government (Caliphate) of absolute authoritarian domination of the free world. Ultimately, the Islamic path of power intends to go straight to and through Jerusalem, the heart of Israel.

At the other political extreme, we have governments which (at least try) are of, by, and for the people, such as the greatest experiment of democratic representation of its kind found in the United States of America. We see this in many European nations to some extent or another, a reminder of which has been vividly stamped on the global conscience after the murderous assaults on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher store in Paris by Muslim terrorists. Incredibly, an estimated three million people plus some 50 national leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marched to express their solidarity for freedom of the press (and freedom in general) as succinctly summarized in the famous French motto, “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.”

This kind of civilization values the right of the individual to believe what they will, to realize their dreams as long as it doesn’t infringe on or violate the rights of others. To embrace principles such as the separation of powers, free speech, free elections, and some form of democracy.

One writer, Jewish Professor Nissim Dana, expressed the obvious conclusion reached by those who know the history of Islam: “The fact is that Islam and the rest of the world have been in a state of war since the time of Muhammad.” Is Professor Dana correct in this analysis? Yes, because the Koran, itself, demands total submission of its followers but also of the infidels … Jews and Christians. Without submission or possibly the humiliating payment of unjust and immoral taxes (essentially a tax on one’s belief), death is demanded of the infidel.

The Jewish Connection

There are two remarkable but also insidious common denominators among oppressive state governments, whether agnostic Communism and Fascism or a state sponsored religion such as Islam: (1) an intense hatred, persecution, and even genocide of the Jews. (2) To accomplish those anti-Semitic objectives and to feed the totalitarian lust for power and conquest of nations that stand in their way, Hitler’s Third Reich (and others) have launched attacks against freedom loving nations such as Great Brittain and France and the United States (Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor). Whether by means of the Nazi Final Solution or by incessant pogroms in Russia and its satellite countries or by the avowed diabolical goal of Muslims in Iran, Turkey, Africa, and the Middle-East Arab nations to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, the past century has witnessed intensified savage cruelty against the Jews.

Yet, as if to underscore the quandary (sometimes duplicity) of those who espouse diversity at all costs, including human lives, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas was also invited to attend the Paris freedom march. This is the very same leader who recently signed a pact with Hamas to carry out the sinister goal of killing Jews and eliminating Israel from all maps of the world. Ah … if we could only distinguish militant from moderate Muslims! The fact is: the vast majority of Muslims are militant when it comes to Jews, whether actively killing Jews or non-Jews who make fun of Muhammad; or passively condoning those killings. The brutal reality of it all: It’s okay to kill freedom-loving Jews but not freedom-loving Gentiles.

But this has all been predicted and recorded in the Bible … Satan’s ruthless plot through governmental regimes and organized religion (I am not including evangelical Christianity as anything approaching an organized hierarchy such as Roman Catholicism) to eliminate the Jews, to obliterate Israel, and to destroy the Church—the body of Christ, comprised of Jews and Gentiles alike.

When God chose Abraham to be the father of the Jews and gave him the Promised Land of Israel, he said that the Gentile nations would be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. And the greatest blessing of all was the birth, death, and resurrection (for salvation) of Messiah Yeshua … through the lineage of King David, from the tribe of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

The coming of Messiah and his soon return will, indeed, fulfill the very purpose for the existence of Israel—to be a light to the Gentile nations. To bring righteousness, justice, and peace to a world that is rapidly sinking into an abyss of terror, anarchy, and evil.

God’s design from the beginning was to reveal himself through nature (Romans 1), then through the people and nation of Israel (Romans 9-11); and even more specifically his mighty plan of salvation through one man, who is God’s very Son. Many prophets spoke of the coming Messiah, with Isaiah’s description my favorite: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Jesus Christ accomplished in great detail ALL of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. First to come as a Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) to introduce an amazing new Age of Grace.

As the Apostle Paul confirmed: “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:6-7).

True freedom must first begin in and with the human heart; a heart freed from the enslaving power and penalty of sin for all the wrong things every one of us has done. Then we can truly appreciate and pursue all of the freedoms that we cherish in America and as found in some countries whose government is, at least in theory, established for the welfare of the people. Even then we still have strife, because, as we know all too well, this is still not a perfect world. Only Christ is perfect. Not until he transforms (Raptures) our weak, still prone-to-sin earthly bodies into a glorious everlasting undefiled body, soul, and spirit like His, will we experience real peace, cooperation, understanding, love (unconditional), and justice on this earth.

The Final Kingdom of God on Earth

Paul proceeds to tell us more about God’s splendid plan for the human race. In fact he calls it a mystery, because at the time that God gave it to him even the new Christians didn’t completely understand the eternal implications of what Christ would achieve at his first coming and would continue at his second coming. Listen to these extraordinary words:

“God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10, italics for emphasis).

That plan is none other than: THE KINGDOM OF GOD (on earth). Revealed by Messiah Jesus himself as recorded in the Gospels; and consolidated into the everlasting tenets of the Christian faith by the authors of the epistles and Revelation.

Jesus spoke often of the Kingdom of God; for example, comparing it to a mustard seed … the smallest of seeds that when planted grows into an enormous tree. Which is exactly what has happened to the body of Christ; an exponential growth down through the ages, to now consist of believers from virtually every nation and language on earth. It is the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts and minds of those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of Christ. Next, will come the final physical Kingdom of God on this earth; at which time all people, all governments, all nations will be brought under the authority of God’s magnificent Son. He will rule the nations with firmness, but fairness.

Isn’t that what most people want? They want: law, order, equality, safety, peace. And they want someone who has the kind of authority to realize those dreams, but also someone who is kind and considerate with that authority. One who truly cares about people and what’s best for them; who can rule and judge with impartiality and kindness. A truly wise and benevolent King whose attributes perfectly reflect who and what he is: Love, Truth, Justice, Mercy.

At the right time (and that time is soon, very soon), Jesus will return in great power and glory to rescue Israel from annihilation, and defeat the very source of evil, Satan, as well as the Satanic kingdom that will be led primarily by the Antichrist.

Then, and only then, will we see an end to the horrific bloodshed that is becoming a daily reality all over the world. Death and destruction by the hands of bloodthirsty terrorists, power-hungry dictators, land-grabbing tyrants, and from entire nations and races who have created false gods and who kill and maim innocent people because their god requires it in their “sacred” writings.

Along with others who are connecting strategic pieces of the prophetic puzzle, I am here to tell you: SOON THERE WILL BE A DAY OF RECKONING!

A day when God, through his matchless Son, Jesus, will do battle with other man-made gods such as Allah and with religious and political systems that have deceived their followers by distorting and discarding the very salvation that God has freely given to all who will believe and receive his Son.

Then we’ll see who is the one and only true God. The battle, however, is actually with Satan, the force behind these man-made gods. Although other gods do not actually exist, Satan and his demons do exist. Thus, it is he and his temporary kingdom to which religious and non-religious people the world over give their allegiance … some deliberately, others unwittingly.

Speaking of gods and kingdoms and kings, listen to this powerful prophecy of Daniel who refers to the four mighty empires of the past (Daniel’s future) and the coalition empire of nations currently being assembled for the Day of the Lord: “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

Certainly another subject for another day, but in the briefest closing summary possible for this article, we can confidently agree beyond any doubt: There is a monumental distinction between Allah, the god of Islam, and the true and living God of the Bible. There is NO comparison. Anyone who has read just some of the Bible and the Koran with any objectivity at all, can easily see the disparity. The differences are legion, but one will suffice: Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, is still in his grave. God’s Messiah, Jesus is not. “…Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” (Luke 24:5-6).

One day, “The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations” (Psalms 22:27-28).

Kingdom-of-Heaven-300x209

Things to Ponder

Kings and queens rise and they fall. Kingdoms come, kingdoms go. Nations wax and wane. Soon, very soon we will witness the rise of a Royal Kingdom and a Righteous King who will rule and reign supreme on the earth: The Kingdom of God.

If you have placed your trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, then you will triumphantly join the host of heaven when the right time comes. Here’s what you and I and millions of others will shout when the seventh angel blows his trumpet:

“The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

With the twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God, we will echo: “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign” (Revelation 11:17).

Do you long to live and serve in a kingdom full of truth and justice? Then choose and follow the One who will give us both and who is both.

If you know Christ as your personal Savior, then you will be among the, “…vast crowd in heaven shouting, ‘Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. His judgments are true and just…’” Revelation 19:1-2).

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