Amazing Anticipation for Messiah

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Amazing Anticipation for Messiah Continues

Recently, Natan Sharansky, Chairman for The Jewish Agency met and welcomed nearly thirty families including seventy-five children at Ben Gurion International Airport between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Although the event was exciting, it was not all that unusual; as hundreds of thousands of Jews all over the world have made Israel their home over the last seven decades or so, through what the Jews call, Aliyah … the “going-up” ingathering of their people.

What made this group of immigrants exceptional is that they all had left their homes in North America to take up residence in Israel; the Promised Land given to them by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To be sure, thousands of Jews have immigrated from Canada and the United States to Israel. Yet, considering that people from all over the world would do just about anything to move to the United States (and Canada), it is quite remarkable that even a handful of people would want to do just the opposite … move from the prosperity and security of America and Canada to the uncertainty and turmoil faced by this tiny democratic Israeli nation surrounded by enemies who seek their destruction.

Said Natan Sharansky to the new arrivals: “Only think for a moment about your fathers, your grandfathers, your great grandfathers, all those generations of your families who were dreaming and praying next year in Jerusalem and you did it.”

*Note: Next Year in Jerusalem is a saying repeated by Jewish families for hundreds of years to this very day, especially during the Passover celebration.

One of the elated immigrants was Max Kresch, age 19, from Detroit; one of several who moved to Israel for the express purpose of serving as a “lone soldier” in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Previously, he had been granted a visa to attend a yeshiva (Torah seminary) in Israel. This time he came to stay and to serve proudly with one of the greatest militaries in the entire world … in a nation with only slightly over six million Jews. He told CBN News, “…living in Israel made me realize how much I really loved being there.”

The families included David and Lisa Parshan and their two younger children. Said Lisa Parshan, “It was very nice to watch people just like us coming off … all jet lagged but with a smile on their face. It was really a very exciting experience.” The Parshan family had made Aliyah to Israel primarily because their oldest daughter, Shira, had paved the way by moving to Israel two years earlier!

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As I have said in one way or another in two books and in past Eye of Prophecy articles, and as other students of prophecy have articulated in similar fashion, “Watching Jews return to Israel in such great numbers is watching Biblical prophecy unfold before our very eyes.” As significant as Aliyah is (I would place it alongside of Israel’s rebirth in 1948 as the two greatest signs of the end times), it is only one of twelve modern-day milestones of our generation that tells us we are so very close to Messiah’s return. If you haven’t already, please read two recently posted Eye of Prophecy articles, entitled, Look Up, Redemption is Near, Part I & II, published 7-11 & 7-18-15.

Referenced earlier in today’s article was The Jewish Agency, which actually came into existence during the 1929 Palestinian Mandate, conceived in 1917 as part of the Balfour Declaration … subsequently recognized by the now defunct League of Nations. But it wasn’t until Israel’s rebirth in 1948 that The Jewish Agency began its remarkable journey which led to what is now the largest nonprofit Jewish organization in the world. This agency has brought over three million Jews to Israel, providing relocation assistance throughout the land.

Their stated mission is to: Inspire Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage, and land, and empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel.

Why the Jews Returned to Israel in the Early Years

Soon after the 1948 rebirth of Israel as (once again) a sovereign nation, most of the Jews who moved to Israel were from European countries and cities ravaged by World War II. Six million Jews had been slaughtered by the Nazi Third Reich. Many of the surviving five million Jews had been stripped of their property, their jobs, their businesses, and their homes. They had hardly anywhere to turn, except Israel. And turn they did.

In even greater numbers they later left Russia, where they were still under persecution by the Communist regime and by people who simply didn’t like (many hated) Jews. To this very day, most European, Russian, or South American Jews making Aliyah to Israel do so to get away from a menacing modern-day rise of anti-Semitism. For example, many Jews from France have recently moved to Israel, in direct response to the alarming increase in France’s Islamic population and Muslim terrorist’s acts.

From wherever they came, the underlying motivation behind their (leave it all behind) bold move to Israel was that of pressure … to escape the horrors of anti-Semitism. To live in and do their part to help restore Israel as their homeland; a place where they could confidently trust what they were telling themselves and their children: Never again. This must never happen again.

Thus, began fulfillment of spectacular prophecies announced by many Old Testament prophets even before the first captivity of the Jews in Babylon, let alone the subsequent complete and seemingly never-ending exile at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. It was unthinkable that after nearly 2000 years, a people no longer a people, a nation no longer a nation, a language no longer a language could possibly and virtually overnight be restored as a people, reborn as a nation, and revived as a language. It was unprecedented, but it happened, nevertheless! The following passage is one of hundreds that virtually no one, not even the most observant Jews, really believed would ever take place.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west. I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth” (Isaiah 43:5-6).

Then the Lord through Isaiah prophesied to the Gentile nations: “Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?” (Verse 9).

*Note: The formation of the United Nations is a direct result of “gathering the nations together;” of “assembling the peoples of the world.” But as the Lord also said: none of the idols or so-called gods, or psychics, or fortune-tellers, or sorcerers, or pretend prophets of these nations could possibly predict such a phenomenal event as the rebirth of Israel and return of Jewish exiles from all over the earth.

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It was absolutely no coincidence that the United Nations was established in October, 1945, just 2 ½ years before Israel’s proclamation of Statehood in May, 1948. Furthermore, it was the United Nations which passed the November, 1947 resolution granting Israel the right to become a member of the family nations of the earth, of which there were fifty-one when the UN was formed. Now there are 193 nations.

More Contemporary Reason for Jews Returning to Israel

Returning briefly to the previously mentioned Parshan family and their oldest daughter whose example her parents followed by moving to Israel.

Here is what Shira Parshan told CBN News: “You know Mashiach is coming. I know that Israel is the place to be and I made Aliyah when I was 17 years old.”

Astonishing! Not only to leave her family and move to Israel at the age of seventeen; but to boldly and unashamed tell reporters that her burning passion to be in Israel was fueled by her desire to be there when Messiah comes. With the all too clear inference that she was expressing the shared enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of Jews, both Sabras (native-born Israelis) and immigrants: Messiah’s appearance is so very near!

Although there are subsidiary reasons why the substantial return of Jews to Israel continues to amaze me and others who are genuinely interested in contemporary parallels between what is happening in and to Israel and fulfillment of last day’s prophecies, the appearance of Messiah is undoubtedly the most compelling correlation. With no better representation or convincing testimony than that expressed by Shira Parshan.

The Jewish Agency is, by far, the largest organization that facilitates the transition of Jews to Israel, but not the only one. Another agency, Nefesh B’Nefesh is one that works closely with the Israeli government and specifically with the American, Canadian, and British governments to bring Jews to Israel. Since its inception in 2002, this organization has been responsible for bringing some 45,000 Jewish immigrants from these three countries to Israel. In fact, this is the agency that coordinated the Aliyah of the group mentioned in this article.

Said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, cofounder of Nefesh B’Nefesh to the group and to reporters: “We don’t want the immigration from America to be an Aliyah of necessity, of running away from something, of distress, duress, persecution. You don’t want that. The beauty of North American immigration is that people are choosing to come.”

This statement is a precise, poignant, and powerful explanation of another, even more pressing, motive for Jews (especially those who have left a comfortable lifestyle) to move to Israel: Because they want to. And, as indicated, one of the overwhelming reasons that they want to is because—no matter whether they are religious or secular—they passionately believe that Messiah will soon appear and MAKE ALL THINGS RIGHT!

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They know he will arrive (Messianic Jews agree with Christians, it will be Messiah’s return or second appearance) in Jerusalem. They want to be in Israel when that happens!

More Amazing Correlations and Discoveries to Indicate Messiah’s Imminent Arrival

Just two weeks ago, the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Great Expectations for Messiah was published. In general it was a sequel to the two-part series of Look Up, Redemption is Near. More specifically, it was written to demonstrate that the very same level of high expectations for Messiah’s appearance expressed by Jews in the first century BC is taking place in our generation, particularly in the past decade or so. The Great Expectation article began with:

“What does Aliyah, the blood moon tetrad, the Shemitah, hidden Bible codes, the third Jewish Temple, a red heifer, and Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison have in common, one with the other? If you desire a short easy-to-remember response to that question, then the answer is: Israel’s Redemption Is Very Near. If you prefer a one-word explanation for the common-ground connection between these seemingly diverse subjects and events, we can do that too: MESSIAH!

I went on to explain each of these events in more detail; however, that article also made it clear that these occurrences individually—remarkable as they are—do not necessarily reflect specific Biblical prophecy as such … with the exception of Aliyah that is clearly predicted in Scripture. Rather, as indicated, the purpose for tying these subjects together was to show that many Jews today collectively correlate signs of Messiah’s coming to events that are happening with increasing frequency.

I also said in that post that many more things would undoubtedly be seen in the very near future as evidence that Messiah’s glorious appearance is right at the door. Accordingly, it was not my intention to write another article on these type of parallels for at least several weeks or months.

Yet, that’s what this article is mostly about. In light of what I’ve read and seen in just the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t resist sharing these stories, most of which come from the Internet site of Breaking Israel News, which is a companion offshoot of Israel 365. Certainly these are not the only websites that focus on current world events, most of which pertain directly to Israel, as seen in the light of Old Testament Biblical prophecy. (Israel 365 and BIN are not Messianic sites). However, these two internet sites place a great deal of emphasis on Israel’s ultimate redemption particularly in the light of how Messiah will bring about that final restoration.

So what else has transpired and what other observations have been made? Let’s take a look at three—no, let’s make that four—notable connections as proposed by some Jewish rabbis or Jewish prophecy enthusiasts. (Italics for emphasis because it’s an expression from Proverbs Chapter 30 used as a summary to last week’s post, Four Locust Kingdoms … which I’m bringing up only in case you haven’t read that article yet!)

Hebrew Gematria Pointing to Messiah in the Pending Jewish Year 5776:

To expand further on one of the seven indicators cited in the Great Expectations for Messiah article, I will quote directly from an August 20th, 2015 article written by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Breaking Israel News:

“In an interview with Christian filmmaker Richard Shaw, director of the film Torah Codes: End to Darkness, prolific author and Bible Codes expert Rabbi Mattiyahu Glazerson demonstrates how multiple Hebrew phrases hint that the Hebrew year 5776 (2015-2016) will be a significant year for the appearance of the Messiah. Hebrew years are counted from Creation and begin on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, which always falls in September or October in the Gregorian calendar. As of sundown on September 13, 2015, the new Hebrew year will be 5776.”

Ms. Adler then explains that it’s necessary to at least partially understand the significance of numbers through the system of gematria; that each letter or word or phrase of the Hebrew language bears a numerical value. She goes on to say:

“In the video with Rabbi Glazerson, he translates eight Hebrew phrases and sentences which all have the numerical value of 776. The English translation of the eight Hebrew phrases that Glazerson mentions are:

“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob = 776

The kingdom of David will be eternal = 776 (The Messiah will be a descent of King David.)

Come back to Me and I will come back to you = 776

God says, “I will do for Myself. For Myself I will do.” = 776

Come back to Me like naughty children = 776

Your kingdom will be forever = 776

The last kingdom = 776

The final one is the most fascinating. The coming of Messiah = 776.”

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Ms. Adler concludes by saying: “When questioned by Shaw, Glazerson explains why the numerical value of all these phrases is 776 and not 5776, which is the full number of the upcoming Hebrew year. ‘Because you see, according to our (Jewish) tradition, Messiah will come in the millennium—in the sixth one. This is why the numbers don’t have the 5 here, because it’s self-understood that when you speak about Messiah, you relate to 5,000, the sixth millennia.’”

Before we continue with three more examples, it’s imperative we realize that these things are not specific Bible prophecies. However, I personally afford a great deal of significance to Hebrew gematria, if for no other reason than it is a vital tool in the decoding of the identity of Antichrist found in Revelation Chapter 13. As those know who have read my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666, the challenge issued by the author of Revelation for believers to ascertain the identity of the beast can be accomplished through gematria … by figuring out his number, six hundred and sixty-six. Several other passages of Scripture also clearly point to Nero as this man (the Antichrist beast), but Revelation 13:18 does so by the use of gematria.

Quite likely then, the impact of Hebrew gematria can also be related to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The Shemitah Cycle as Related to the United States:

Once again we’ll refer to an article in Breaking Israel News by Rivkah Lambert Adler, posted on August 24th. Citing other Jewish rabbis and a previous article in BIN, Ms. Adler writes: “Taken together, four recent and upcoming events make a compelling case for imminent and dramatic messianic advancement. The four events are the end of the Shmittah year on September 13, the shaking of the world economies last week, numerical hints that abound in the Bible Codes, and the final Blood Moon of the current tetrad on September 28.”

[For those interested, two other meaningful things will happen in September: (1) Pope Francis address to the United States Congress (a first). (2) The US Congress vote on the Iran deal.]

She goes on to say, “…there is a well-established pattern of connection between the end of a Shmittah cycle and a downturn in the US economy. This has happened at or near the end of the last seven Shmittah cycles.” (Note: Ms. Adler and a handful of others spell this Hebrew word as Shmittah; however, this article will use the more common and accepted spelling of SHEMITAH, when not directly quoting her articles).

Continuing with the thematic purpose of this week’s article which is the extraordinary emphasis being placed by Jewish Rabbis and a good deal of the Jewish population on the imminent appearance of the Messiah, let’s continue with Ms. Adler’s article. She then quotes end-times author Rabbi Pinchas Winston who said:

“Why should the end of a Shmittah cycle affect the economies of the world? Even today, when the keeping of Shmittah is rabbinical in nature, it still transmits a Torah message, and that is that God runs the world and provides everything in Creation with its livelihood. The fact that billions of people do not believe this or think about it does not change the fact … It has occurred over the millennia with uncanny consistency, and one need look back only a few decades to see how true this is, and to know that bracing oneself for financial upheaval this September is a word to the wise and financially prudent.”

What was expected in September AFTER the shemitah has actually begun in this month of August, although there has been a very recent resurgence of the stock market just before today’s article was published.

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Ms. Adler defers to whom she terms, End of Days blogger Tomer Devorah, who also used Hebrew gematria to provide a possible, perhaps plausible explanation to the recent Stock Market Crash. Quoting Ms. Adler’s article, she writes:

“…The Dow fell more than 1,000 points. Some say it’s just a normal market correction. End of Days blogger Tomer Devorah has a different way of understanding the numbers. In the system of gematria … the numerical value of the word Mashiach (Messiah) is 358. On Thursday, August 20, the US stock market fell 358 points. The next day, Friday, August 21, the US stock market fell another 530 points. Together, 530 and 358 equals 888.

“This is significant because the number 8 represents God, who is above nature. As Tomer Devorah writes, ‘The number 8 is also connected to the revelation of Mashiach (Messiah).’ She (Tomer) explains that the number 7 is associated with completeness in nature—the seven days of Creation, the seven days of the week, the seven colors of the rainbow, etc. The number 8 is above nature. The Messianic era is also represented by the number 8 because, during that time, our souls will transcend nature and will experience a higher level of understanding God.”

Once again a disclaimer for clarification: Although there is some accuracy in what they say, I am not categorically endorsing Ms. Adler’s or Ms. Devorah’s summary conclusion as to the correlation of these numbers to such things as, our souls transcending nature. Biblical numbers are extremely significant as is, to a lesser degree, Hebrew gematria; but both must be examined as an integral part of the entirety of Biblical prophecy. As reflected in the Eye of Prophecy articles, I prefer to rely heavily on Scripture itself, including what the Bible says will happen just before, during, and after Messiah’s appearance.

Purported Correlation between Syria’s Demise and the End-Times Messiah & Antichrist:

Actually this connection goes all the way back to a 2nd century Jewish Rabbi, Shimon Bar Yochai whose writings are part of the Midrash. While hiding in a cave, Rabbi Bar Yochai allegedly heard from an angel who told him: “And it is a sign for you, when you see that an Eastern Nero has fallen, that in Damascus has fallen the Bnei Mizrach kingdom, then will sprout the salvation of Israel, and Mashiach ben David comes and will ascend to Jerusalem.”

It was the aforementioned blogger, Tomer Devorah who thinks that this end-times Nero of the East is or could be Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad; that his shaky hold of the Syrian government could collapse any day now.

Most likely, Rabbi Bar Yochai made the connection that the destruction of Damascus is one of the end-times prophecies that will dovetail with Messiah’s arrival. This one is directly from Isaiah. “This message came to me concerning Damascus: Look, the city of Damascus will disappear! It will become a heap of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1).

There are three applications that can be made to any given prophecy. (1) The prophecy has already been fulfilled in Biblical times; (2) the prophecy will come to pass during the last days; (3) the prophecy was fulfilled then and will be fulfilled again during the end-times. Regarding Isaiah’s prediction, I believe it was fulfilled when Assyria conquered Damascus in 732 BC; because a few verses later Isaiah also said: “The fortified towns of Israel will also be destroyed, and the royal power of Damascus will end. All that remains of Syria will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory, declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Verse 3).

Just ten years later, Assyria conquered the ten northern tribes know as Israel … Syria will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory.

The glory of Israel began to be restored in 1948 and is in high gear in the 21st century. It’s a much better fit to conclude that the destruction of Damascus predicted by Isaiah occurred when the northern kingdom of Israel was also destroyed within a span of ten years.

The word “disappear” used in the New Living Translation is translated, “removed from being a city,” in the NASB. These and other translations essentially mean that Damascus would no longer function as a viable city, let alone the capital of Syria.

However, it’s certainly possible that Syria and Damascus will once again be vanquished. As will many nations and cities during the Great Tribulation. If so, we don’t know if the ruin of Damascus will occur before the Rapture or after the Rapture. Moreover, it would only be one of dozens of other end-times prophecies that will take place during the soon-to-come Day of the Lord.

What does grab my attention is this second century Rabbi’s reference to the Eastern Nero which can also read, Nero of the East. Why would he even mention Nero or equate the proposed end-times Syrian ruler with this malevolent Roman Emperor? Those of you who have read my book, Out of the Abyss and/or several Eye of Prophecy articles on the Antichrist, know that a ton of Biblical and historical evidence leads to (what I think is overwhelming evidence) the conclusion that the Antichrist is none other than the return of the Roman Emperor Nero. Furthermore, that Nero’s revival was a widely held belief by secular Romans, by early Christians, and I’m sure by many Jews during the first four centuries or so. It was even given a name: Nero Redivivus Legend.

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(Read all about this in the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, The Legendary Return of Nero, published 4-4-15. It was a sequel summary to the series of articles named, “A Beast by Any Other Name … Part I, II, III, published 3-14, 3-21, & 3-28-15).

Thus, it’s evident that Rabbi Bar Yochai combined the Old Testament prophecy of the fall of Damascus with the end-times appearance of Messiah, then connected both of those events to the Syrian monarch who would be a representation or counterpart of the wicked ruler Nero.

Little did he know that there would be no counterparts of or to Nero? Rather, it will be Nero himself who will appear from the Abyss and boast that he is the risen Messiah and the only God to be worshipped.

Interesting! No? Yes?

Israeli Mystical Rabbi Warns of Imminent Attack on Israel:

This fourth and final example of the extraordinary emphasis and enthusiasm over current events as precursor evidence of Messiah’s soon appearance is ominous, to say the least.

Recently, Rabbi Amram Vaknin, who allegedly receives periodic revelations from heaven—sometimes from the prophet Elijah—announced that: “The Muslims are going to contaminate the water, the fruits and vegetables. They are going to damage the electricity. And there are going to be people dying in the streets, thousands of people all over Israel.”

He specified further than this attack was being planned by current Arab Knesset Member, Hanin Zoabi (who is a known adversary of Israel even though she is member of the Knesset) as a spy for ISIS and Hamas. According to Rabbi Vaknin, God will permit this atrocious attack unless Israel does teshuva … which means to repent. Gil Nachman, a student of Rabbi Vaknin, said that this repentance must be for individual inner sins and dishonoring of parents, of not always telling the truth (lying), and about not being your real self (hypocrisy).

Comment: I’m certainly not endorsing or agreeing with this Rabbi’s predictions for several reasons … too many to list and elaborate on in this article. Nor is there time/space to challenge what Israelis individually and Israel nationally should repent of. Except to say that under the New Covenant, the fundamental repentance (change of mind) necessary is to allow God to change one’s heart (Jew and Gentile alike) through the awesome redemption purchased for us by Messiah Jesus. Essentially, it is to repent of unbelief in the final atoning sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross. Simply put, it’s saying, “Yes,” to God by believing and receiving God’s gracious gift of his Son.

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Repentance from what is an incredibly important question. Whether Messiah’s appearance (return) is predicated on Israel’s teshuva is a monumentally significant issue and dilemma to the Jewish people, especially the Orthodox among them. The answer is found in the difference between the Old Covenant through Moses and the New Covenant through Messiah Jesus. It’s also found in the prophecies of Old Testament prophets, the words of Jesus while on the Mount of Olives, the book of Revelation, and the Apostle Paul writings on the Rapture and the Antichrist.

The primary purpose for including this questionable yet startling and gloomy prediction is in keeping with the main theme of this article. Which is the amazing frequency of rabbinical predictions of and correlation with what is happening in the Middle East, especially Israel, to the passionate and persistent anticipation for Messiah. It is nothing short of incredible. Though many of these associations may not be accurate, the sheer number of them create a modern-day sensation that is unrivaled since the time of Christ … his first coming to the earth.

Things to Ponder

The whole world is watching, wondering, and wavering whether the apocalyptic beginning of the end has begun. Who is Messiah? When and where will he arrive? What exactly will he do? Except for the exact time of Messiah’s glorious appearance, many passages in the Bible have answered these questions.

Listen to the word of the Lord through the Prophet Micah:

“Yes, says the Lord, I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt. All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the Lord will do for you. They will be embarrassed at their feeble power. They will cover their mouths in silent awe … they will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence. Where is there another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago” (Micah 7:15-20).

Based on Scripture and unfolding events in today’s world, I can say with utmost confidence: God’s discipline of Israel through Gentile nations ended in 1967. His compassion for his special possession Israel has returned in active form. He will forgive their sins and pardon the guilt of the remnant. That remnant began in 1948 at the magnificent rebirth of Israel as a nation, of the Jews as a people. It will be refined even more … down to those who will gladly recognize and receive Messiah Yeshua as their God and Savior.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!

Four Locust Kingdoms!

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Locusts, Gentile Kingdoms, and Israel

Several numbers in the Bible bear a great deal of meaning. Although it may seem so at first, this article is not mainly about the fascinating subject and study of numbers in Scripture. However, we are going to see how the number four relates to and explains a huge portion of Israel’s history; in the context of God’s providential direction for the Jews and their interaction with mighty Gentile nations.

The number four derives its significance from God’s creative work especially pertaining to the earth, including God’s dealings with and disposition (rise and fall destiny) of nations. It is the number of wholeness, totality, entirety, and summation. It is a number concept that would be completely incomplete if we eliminated just one of the component parts of any given foursome.

If we want to move from one place to another, we must go forward, backward, left or right. Up or down doesn’t count; if we go beneath or above the earth, we must then travel in one of four directions. For example, try to imagine if there was no direction of west on the compass. I would need to travel east from my home city of Phoenix, Arizona to get to Los Angeles, California! I suppose I’d get there eventually, but….

Yes, there are four seasons, four primary lunar phases, and four sides to what is probably the most perfect geometric object we can think of … a square. And many more fours:

  • On the fourth day God created the material universe—the sun, moon, planets, and stars. To give us light, to distinguish day from night, and enabling us to tell time.
  • Each day has four component parts: Seconds, minutes, hours, and day. One day is cyclical … it begins, ends, and starts all over again. Weeks, months, and years are linear, continuous.
  • Four basic elements comprise material creation: Earth, fire, air, and water.
  • In the Ten Commandments, the fourth is to keep God’s Sabbath day of rest, which is an integral part of the creation week.
  • Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—each emphasizing a distinct characteristic of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our Jewish Messiah—Son of David; God’s suffering servant; Perfect Son of Man—to both Gentile and Jew; and Son of God, respectively.
  • Messiah Jesus is a direct descendant from the fourth tribe, Judah, (son) of Jacob.
  • There were four rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden.
  • Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation Chapter 6).
  • Four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds (Revelation 7:1).
  • Four angels released at the Great Euphrates River (for that hour, day, month, and year) who will lead a demonic army that will kill one-third of the earth’s inhabitants (Revelation 9:13-16).
  • The angels for the fourth trumpet and the fourth bowl judgements change the physical laws of heavenly bodies, including the sun—all part of the fourth day of creation (Revelation 8:12 & Revelation 16:8).
  • Four mighty cherubim, each with four faces and four wings (Ezekiel Chapters 1 & 10, Revelation Chapter 4).
  • Four major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
  • Fourth Book of the Bible is (none other than) the Book of Numbers!

Lions, Bears, Leopards, Terrifying Iron-Tooth Beast (and Locusts) … Oh My!

Alright, I agree … not the best takeoff of the Wizard of Oz. But the story did have four main characters: Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. Let’s shift to the Bible and continue with two more sets of four; with the first four creatures listed above most likely tweaking your memory. Or if you know nothing about them, sparking your interest in the four amazing beasts seen by Daniel in his incredible vision recorded in Daniel Chapter 7; and earlier depicted as four parts of a magnificent statue seen by King Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in Daniel Chapter 2.

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But what about the locusts? It’s like, what do locusts have to do with the number four and with four mighty Gentile nations that shaped the course of Israel’s destiny and world history. From a divine perspective, these (grasshopper) nations rose and fell according to God’s providential plan and purpose for Israel; specifically through divine discipline that would lead to purification and restoration of God’s chosen people, the Jews. Which also exerted a direct impact on the rest of the world … past, present, and future.

Prosperity & Punishment for Israel

First, let’s begin with a Biblical statement of fact, one that will clarify and correct a common misunderstanding of a good many Bible scholars: In Scripture there are four and only FOUR Gentile kingdoms that are identified; attached and relating to Israel’s prophetic destiny, beginning with Babylon. Not seven, as the seven kings of Revelation 17 are just that … kings, not kingdoms. They are not to be equated to any of the four kingdoms listed in Daniel. Please read my book, Out of the Abyss, for complete clarification.

To be sure, there are other Gentile nations prophetically referenced directly or indirectly in Scripture, such as Russia, Iran, and Turkey in the Gog/Magog attack on Israel. But all of these countries are mentioned in the context of Israel’s final time (last days) of turmoil just before Messiah returns. They are nations bent on Israel’s destruction AFTER the Jews fulfill God’s providential plan for their return to Israel, which is underway as we speak.

God explicitly and exclusively used these four Gentile empires to execute his warnings to Israel first given through Moses before the Hebrews even entered and possessed the Promised Land. Whereas, The Lord promised bountiful blessings to his people if they would keep the Covenant he made with them (Mosaic Law), he also gave them powerful warnings of punishment should they break the covenant by worshipping false gods (idols); by deliberately and continually turning from and abandoning the Lord their God. You can find a detailed description of the distressing consequences in Leviticus Chapter 26 and a recap review by Moses in Deuteronomy Chapter 28. But, in summary, the ultimate and, by far, most devastating penalty is expressed in the following passage:

“If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me, then I will give full vent to my hostility. I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins” (Leviticus 26:27-28, italics for emphasis).

This was the fourth (there’s that number again) set of seven times over consecutive and uninterrupted periods of punishment Israel would undergo, with the fourth and final set culminating in something the Jews couldn’t possibly imagine would happen. Even though the Lord God told them: “I will scatter you among the nations … Your land will become desolate, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then at last the land will enjoy its neglected Sabbath years as it lies desolate while you are in exile in the land of your enemies…” (Leviticus 26:33-34).

Defeat in battle by siege and by the sword is one thing. To be torn from their land and carted off to a foreign country was the ultimate disgrace and desolation for Israel.

I say periods of punishment in the literal application of actual time or years of Israel’s history. Because that’s exactly how the Lord applied this discipline … initially through the Babylonian destruction of Israel and Solomon’s Temple followed by a seventy-year exile in Babylon. Although the Jews partially returned to Israel, they never really returned to God. We know beyond any doubt that the four consecutive sets of seven times over (meaning years) resumed after the Babylonian captivity, as the Jews were once again conquered, this time by the Romans … with that Diaspora exile lasting an agonizing 19 centuries.

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*Note: If you want to see some amazing details of this prophecy, please read the Eye of Prophecy articles entitled, Seven Times Seven (to the 4th power), Parts I, II, & III. Published 1-25-14 through 2-8-14, respectively. Then the summary article, The Omega Generation, published 2-15-14. There you will find that seven times over (7 x 7 x 7 x 7) translated to years (which was the basis for God’s measuring out of his discipline) lasted exactly until 1967; the remarkable year when Israelis once again assumed control of the Holy City of the Holy Land in the Six-Day War of 1967. Thus, ending Gentile domination of Israel, referred to as The Times of the Gentiles.

Covenants, Conditional and Unconditional

Scripture is exceedingly explicit that God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants (the Jews) was unconditional. It was God’s eternal promise to the Jews, one that would ultimately result in perpetual possession and occupation (in the positive connotation of the word) of Israel. However, God’s covenant with Israel through Moses was conditional; obedience to and exclusive worship of God was necessary for the Jews to remain in the Promised Land—until God’s final plan for all mankind was fulfilled. It was from Israel that the Jews were to be a blessing and a light to the Gentile nations by teaching them the Word and Attributes of the true and living God.

In our day, in this generation, the Abrahamic Covenant is finally being fulfilled, by the commencement and ongoing return of Jews to Israel from nations the world over. And the covenant with King David will be fully accomplished when Messiah (King of all kings) returns to the Mount of Olives and rescues the Jews from the onslaught of the ten-king federation led by the Antichrist.

But there is another Covenant that God struck with Israel and also the Gentile nations … the New Covenant announced by the prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 31). A covenant that most Jews refused to recognize as it was accomplished by Jesus Christ. Only Messianic Jews embrace Jesus as Messiah; however, there are tens of thousands of those Jews the world over.

It’s of vital importance to understand that when it comes to salvation for all peoples, as specifically purchased by God’s Son, Christ Jesus, as well as selecting Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants (the chosen people) specifically through King David to bring us Messiah, it is God who took the initiative. It’s very evident in Scripture that God loves Israel, those whom he calls his special possession. It’s equally clear that his sovereign choice had nothing to do with any self-worth or intrinsic value that the Jews may have otherwise possessed.

In fact, just before the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, Moses told them: “After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people! No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land…’” (Deuteronomy 9:4-5)

Through Abraham, God began a certain race of people to one day give birth to Messiah, the Son of Man and the Son of God. Which is why the Virgin Birth of Christ was both natural and supernatural. He did this because he knew (and so do we) that not a single person on earth ever has or ever will be without sin; thus qualified to live forever with a loving but Holy God. Only God’s Messiah could and would do this, which is so poignantly described in the song; which, in turn, is a superb summary of so many passages in the Bible.

“Amazing love how can it be, that you my God should die for me.”

Yet, before the first advent of Jesus Christ, there were long periods in which God was either silent or, because of Israel’s disobedience, issued stern warnings of punishment unless they listened to and obeyed him. What parent would not first warn his or her child of the consequences of disobedience, and give that child reasonable time to respond favorably? With God, we’re talking about hundreds of years of patience.

Four Hundred Years

Here again we see the number four, multiplied to the sum of four hundred (years).

Four Hundred Years in Egypt: Through Joseph, the son whom Jacob’s other sons had sold into slavery, God rescued Jacob and his family from a great famine in Israel. Most of us know this incredible account in Scripture. But it was not God’s intention that the Jews remain in Egypt. They could and should have returned to Israel, especially after Joseph died. Their choice to remain in Egypt resulted in both physical and spiritual servitude.

We most often think in terms of their physical bondage, but that came many years later. During their four-hundred years of what turned into captivity and slavery, they also began to worship some of the false, man-made Egyptian gods. They forgot about and abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moreover, there is no indication, whatsoever, that they would have voluntarily made any effort to once again seek their true and living God. Thus, the Lord took the initiative to deliver them; not just from bondage to Pharaoh, but from spiritual slavery to false gods.

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Four Hundred Years of Forewarnings: From the time that King David’s reign of glory ended and about half way through Solomon’s reign (the latter part of his kingship resulted in Solomon, himself, and Israel beginning to turn away from God) to the time of the Babylonian captivity was about four hundred years. To be sure the ten northern tribes were conquered and exiled to Assyria after only 250 years; however, the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin (the heart and soul of Israel if for no other reason than Jerusalem as their Holy capital) were spared from God’s punishment for nearly four hundred years—right up to Babylon’s final conquest of Judah.

Once again, God took the initiative to return his people to Israel by providentially causing Babylon to fall to the Persians; with none other than Cyrus, the King of Persia, issuing an edict that the Jews could return to Israel. Still, many Jews refused to make the journey. Although some who did return under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah were those who rebuilt the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, by and large, they continued to time and time again depart from the Lord.

Four Hundred Silent Years: Therefore, in less than one generation (using 70 years as a generational measurement) God suddenly stopped all communication with his people for four hundred years. With the same sovereign purpose: to get the attention of his people, this time through silence, so that they would earnestly and enthusiastically seek and love the Lord their God. But they didn’t.

*Note: One of my favorite verses is Amos 3:7, which says, “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.” Which means that anything pertaining to God’s plan for Israel and Gentile nations as they interface with Israel has been proclaimed by his prophets! Did you know that God announced this period of silence with Israel ahead of time? I certainly didn’t until just recently, when I read again and this time realized the following passage says exactly that. And from the same prophet no less!

“The time is surely coming, says the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from border to border searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

Messiah!

When God ended his silence, he did so in an astounding way that would forever change the course of not only Jewish history, but the history of the entire world. Messiah Jesus came to earth. He was the express image of God, the Father. The Jews needed to search no more for the word of the Lord. Jesus of Nazareth was the living Word of God!

Speaking of Messiah Jesus: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

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But sadly, ever so tragically, the religious leaders of Israel and most of the people rejected Jesus as Messiah. The disastrous result of this denial was that the seven times over discipline of Israel would continue and even intensify in duration and magnitude; beginning in 70 AD with the utter destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and near complete exile of Jews to what would be virtually every nation on earth. Although the Gentile domination of the Jews ended in 1967, the Aliyah ingathering of the Jews is still in progress, and the Temple has yet to be rebuilt.

But that will all change and soon! It will all come to a magnificent climax when Christ Jesus appears to totally redeem the remnant of Israel … all those who will believe and receive him as Savior and Lord.

The Four Gentile Kingdoms

Now let’s examine the four kingdoms that God specifically utilized to accomplish a good part of his plan for Israel and for all peoples. These nations were identified through a spectacular vision that the prophet Daniel experienced when he was well into his 60’s. The four nations were metaphorically portrayed in the form of beasts. The first three beasts were personified by an animal, with each animal the (historical) symbol of that nation. By referring to other passages in Daniel and as easily confirmed by world history, the four nations were:

Babylon: “The first beast was like a lion with eagles’ wings…” (Daniel 7:4).

Mede-Persia: “Then I saw a second beast, and it looked like a bear…” (Verse 5).

Greece: “Then the third of these strange beasts appeared, and it looked like a leopard…” (Verse 6).

Rome: “…I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devoured and crushed its victims with huge iron teeth and trampled their remains beneath its feet. It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns” (Verse 7).

As alluded earlier, there is a distinct reason why there are only four kingdoms revealed by God to Daniel: because each of these nations were used by God to accomplish his prophetic purpose for Israel. Directly, this plan involved God’s discipline of Israel in order to return them to himself. Indirectly, but nonetheless dramatically and effectively, to fulfill God’s plan for all peoples. Not the least of which was Messiah’s death on the (four-pointed) cross during the ascendancy of the Roman Empire, to redeem every person who would accept him as their personal Savior.

God withdrew his protection and blessings from Israel enough to allow Israel’s enemies to conquer and/or control them. But he never completely abandoned them during their long period(s) of oppression while in their land or during their exile in other lands. There was a mixture of retribution and rescue; of reprisal and redemption. As follows:

Babylon: It was the first kingdom to conquer the remaining tribes of Israel. Assyria’s deportation of the northern tribes was intended to be mostly a serious wake-up call to God’s chosen people. Had the southern tribes heeded the example of the ten northern tribes and warnings that the same thing would happen to them, they would not have been exiled to Babylon. But God was merciful in his discipline of Judah, by allowing his people to return to Israel after seventy years. During the relatively short exile in Babylon (in comparison to the lengthy period of captivity under the subsequent three nation beasts), the Lord graciously caused King Nebuchadnezzar to show periodic favor on his Jewish captives, as epitomized by his treatment of Daniel. Also, God took this opportunity to demonstrate to mighty Babylon that he was the one and only powerful God of the universe, through up close and personal encounters with King Nebuchadnezzar. But overall, this captivity invoked times of great hardship and misery and sporadic episodes of hostility such as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace.

Persia: God caused this nation to rise in power in order to end Israel’s exile in Babylon, by crushing the once mighty Babylonian empire. Once again there were good times and bad times for the Jews under Persian domination. Extremely good, when God caused Cyrus to permit all Jews to return to Israel. And a really bad time: So much so, that were it not for God’s direct intervention through Queen Esther, the Persian King’s edict falsely procured by the lies of the wicked official Haman would have resulted in genocide of the Jewish people. Which is why the Jews to this day celebrate the Feast of Purim.

Greece: Israel’s discipline continued through the world-wide conquest of Alexander the Great and subsequent division of his kingdom into four world empires. Although Alexander, himself, was mostly kind to and considerate of the Jews, his successors were not. Particularly the Seleucid ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes IV. By God’s miraculous intervention through the Maccabees, Israel was rescued from what would have been even more massive destruction and death at the hands of this evil ruler, one who is identified as the prototype of Antichrist in Daniel Chapter 11. To this day, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah.

Rome: Here the metaphorical comparison of the first three kingdoms changes from an animal to just that of a Beast. But with obvious implication that this beast was greater and more terrifying that the three predecessors. However, this time there would be no physical rescue, either natural or supernatural, of the Jews from their captors. From God’s perspective, that’s one of the reasons why the Roman beast was different from the previous kingdoms.

Instead, God would for the second time take the initiative by ending his four hundred year silence. This time to spiritually deliver his people from their sins, through the incredible birth, life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of the long-awaited Messiah. But not just the Jews. This time God’s salvation was for Gentiles, too. Which had also been promised by the Jewish prophets long before. The New Covenant had arrived!

The New Covenant fulfilled and replaced the Mosaic Covenant. Because for hundreds of years—before, during, and after their Babylonian exile—God’s people time and time again demonstrated that they could not and would not keep their part of the Covenant. They were continually disobedient to God and deceitful with each other, especially the religious leaders toward the common people.

But sadly, God’s people rejected their very Messiah, who was the Mediator, Author and Finisher of the New Covenant. Which led to their near annihilation by the Romans and second exile, this time much more severe and longer in duration. Which is why the Jews to this day mourn during the 9th of Av, the same Jewish calendar date when Solomon’s Temple, then Herod’s Temple were destroyed by Babylon and Rome, respectively.

The Four Locusts

Did you think I had forgotten about the grasshoppers?! Not hardly. So we’ll wrap this week’s article up with a hidden gem of prophecy that is a short, veiled counterpart to Daniel’s vision of the four beasts. In fact, the actions of the four locusts strikingly represent the characteristics of the four world kingdoms. Let’s look at the (locust) passage from one of the so-called Minor Prophets (all of them are major to me!):

“The Lord gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel. ‘Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation. After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!’”(Joel 1:1-4).

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This is as abrupt an event (which is also a prophetic image) that you’ll find anywhere in the Bible. Only four lines telling the Israelites about four kinds of locusts that have (will) devastated the land. After this vivid description of locusts demolishing the land, Joel immediately begins to warn Judah that the Day of the Lord will come upon them.

Joel is writing exclusively to the southern kingdom of Judah. Consequently, the severe attack of the locusts does not include or involve Assyria as the instrument nation God used to punish the ten northern tribes.

Many prophets combine current events in Israel when they were written with future (prophetic) events. Isaiah often does this. Not only end-times events, but things that took place dozens or hundreds of years later; that are, nevertheless, historical to us. The destruction of Tyre comes to mind: begun by Nebuchadnezzar and completed by Alexander the Great. Thus, the locust plague could very well be a metaphorical analogy that can be applied or equated to actual armies of nations that would subsequently conquer and control Israel. The imagery of fire, flood, and locusts are used in Scripture to represent great armies of nations pouring through the peoples they defeated.

The dramatic and traumatic magnitude of this locust onslaught strongly indicates that the locusts are much more than just insects that may have ravaged the land in a one-time plague. Such as, “in all your history, has anything like this happened before?”

Therefore, even if Joel is referring to a serious plague of locusts that actually took place in his time, the ultimate long-term reference is the incredible (historical) things that would happen to Israel and the nations in the future, including mighty armies that would overwhelm Israel.

I have read the book of Joel several times, indeed, all of Scripture. I do this in my personal time of Bible study with the Lord. But also in the writing of two books and (now) over a hundred Eye of Prophecy articles, I’ve had need to read and study hundreds, if not thousands, of Bible passages. In all my readings of the book of Joel, I couldn’t figure out why the Lord would tell Joel to write about four different types of locusts to describe what every other Bible passage that refers to locusts does so as just a one-time (whole) swarm of locusts. That is until now! It hit me that the four locusts are one and the same as the four beasts of Daniel Chapter 7 (which are the same four nations of Daniel Chapter 2).

In other Bible translations you’ll find different adjectives to describe each kind of locust, but they all are very similar. But when I learned the Hebrew meaning for each kind of locust listed, I was even more convinced that Joel’s prophecy is a precursor allusion to and confirmation of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel’s four world empires vision.

Here are the Hebrew definitions.

Cutting locust: It means “shearer.” (Think of shearing wool from a sheep).

Swarming locust: It means just that, “swarming.” Or covering densely.

Hopping locust: It means “lapper.” (Or leaps and bounds … think of a gazelle or frog).

Stripping locust: It means “devourer.”

Although I don’t believe we absolutely need to know the Hebrew amplified meaning of each type of locust, the meanings do help us understand how each of the four Gentile kingdoms dealt with Israel.

Babylon: They summarily cut the people and property from the land, shearing (cutting down) the Temple and removing all instruments from Temple Mount.

Persia: No cutting or removal here. Instead they swarmed over the empire of Babylon; thereby, enveloping all of the Jews held captive in those lands. The Mede-Persians were noted for their massive armies. They would send wave after wave of soldiers that would “swarm” over their enemies.

Greece: Alexander the Great’s amazing four-year campaign that conquered much of the civilized and uncivilized world was accomplished in blitzkrieg fashion, i.e. by hopping and lapping and skimming rapidly over and through other peoples and nations, including Israel.

Rome: The Roman Empire stripped Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple like never before. Rome’s destruction of Israel and the Jews was even greater than Babylon’s. Itdevoured everyone and everything that resisted its relentless conquest for world dominion. In fact, the same word devour is used by Daniel to describe the fourth beast (Rome), when he says, “…It devoured and crushed its victims…”

Rest assured, the story didn’t end there.

“The Lord says, ‘I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts … and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced'” (Joel 2:25-27).

As we watch with eager expectation, this powerful promise of God is taking place in our generation. Soon, very soon, Israel’s physical and spiritual restoration will be complete. Never again will the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be cut away from or stripped of their God-given inheritance … the glorious land of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem.

Soon, even sooner, the Lord will rapture born-again believers, Jew and Gentile alike, from an earth that is lapped by terror and covered with evil.

Things to Ponder

“There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman” (Proverbs 30:18-19).

There are several verses in Proverbs 30 that begin with the observation, there are three things—no, four….

It’s a poetic way to highlight the number four, but also to suggest that there are even more than four things that amaze … or whatever.

And so I will close by saying: There are three things about The Lord that are precious to me—no, four:

His Protection.

His Promises.

His Patience.

His Presence.

One World Religion?

One World Religion?

After Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, and especially when Israel recaptured their Holy City Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967, we’ve witnessed a remarkable revival in the interest of Biblical prophecy, not experienced since the first century AD. We’ve seen an explosion of sermons, articles, CDs, DVDs, movies, documentaries, and books on the second coming of Jesus Christ including a vast array of material on the subject of his antithesis, the Antichrist. The Rapture, the Great Tribulation, Israel’s restoration, the mark of the beast, the Gog/Magog assault against Israel, the Millennial Reign of Messiah, and all matters pertaining to end-times events have been talked about more in the past 50 years than in the preceding 1900 years.

I agree ardently with those who say that we are living in the final generation that will experience the glorious return of our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus … what I prefer to label as the Omega Generation. Although I concur with some 90% of the prophetic puzzle that has been skillfully assembled by several modern-day students of Bible prophecy, there are a few pieces that have not been fitted accurately. Such as: whether we can know the identity of Antichrist—based on the premise of whether he’s a contemporary man born in this final generation or the more Biblically correct explanation that he is a man who will suddenly appear on the scene from the Abyss, having been there for nearly 2000 years.

For detailed documented answers to these and other questions, please read my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved? Or, refer to Eye of Prophecy articles under the category of Antichrist. And for a more exact and comprehensive explanation of the imminent snatching away of believers in Christ, please refer to the five-article series about the Rapture, published in July and August of 2013.

In this amazing resurgence of Biblical prophecy enthusiasm, there are two significant topics that seem to surface frequently: (1) One World Government; and, (2) One World Religion. The greater majority of prophecy scholars have endorsed the theory that these two global entities will be established by the Antichrist and the False Prophet, respectively. But is that really what Scripture is telling us? If not, then what is the importance of a corrected understanding of just what will take place during the Great Tribulation? What exactly will the Antichrist and the False Prophet do or attempt to accomplish during their brief time of tyranny on the earth?

One World Government

This subject has already been addressed in the Eye of Prophecy article under the same title, published 2-28-15. Detailed evidence from Scripture was presented to (I believe) convincingly demonstrate that there will NOT be a One-World Government established by the Beast of Revelation. I think it would be beneficial for you to read or review that post as it dovetails with today’s article. Here are some italicized excerpts from that post, beginning with the underlying misconception that even the most well intending Bible students sometimes get caught up in: The need or tendency to detect some sort of extraordinary global conspiracy in which nearly every person on earth will voluntarily or involuntarily submit to a universal government and religion.

*Note: The following excerpts are italicized for purpose of this article. The words in bold print were actually italicized in the article (One World Government) being quoted.

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!

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.

*Note: In the One World Government post, I explain that the often used phrase, every nation, tribe, language, and people does not mean all peoples from every nation on earth. Rather, it signifies a cross-section of peoples all over the globe. There will be many individuals and entire groups of people and national governments that will oppose Antichrist and the False Prophet.

Continuing with the excerpts, the following example (one of many) is provided:

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).

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.

Back to today’s article.

So What about a One World Religion?

As indicated, the plurality of Bible students who specialize in end-times prophecy endorse the concept of a one-world religion alongside of a one-world government. They derive this conclusion almost exclusively from the same chapter (Revelation 13) in which they attempt to show that the Antichrist will establish a global government; with the False Prophet setting up and enforcing a world-wide religion. But they differ concerning whether one of the world’s existing religions will dominate the earth’s population, or if this world religion will take another form and evolve into a whole new belief system under the control of the False Prophet.

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(*Note: You might also consider reading the informative two-part Eye of Prophecy series entitled, The False Prophet, published 5-24 & 5-31-14. Followed by the three-part series of, The Two Witnesses, posted 6-7, 6-14, & 6-21-14).

Several places in Revelation we see the phrase, “all the people who belong to this world.” This terminology definitively describes those left behind after the Rapture of believers in Christ. It’s equally clear that millions will (most I believe soon after the Rapture) turn to Christ and accept him as the true Messiah who alone can save them spiritually. We refer to this group of people as Tribulations Saints (see Revelation 6: 9-11 & Revelation 7:9-17).

Yet the people who belong to this world will persistently deny that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah; instead giving their body, soul, and spirit to the Antichrist because they will believe the lie that he (Nero) is God and/or their messiah. Among these people will be all those who are basically non-religious … those who don’t believe in the God of heaven; or for all practical purposes, live as though God doesn’t exist. But billions left behind will, in fact, belong to one of the world’s predominant religions … Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, or Islam.

All of these mega-religions and several smaller cults have one common denominator that true Christianity does not have or need: Whether a religion believes in some form of salvation or eternal destiny or not, they all believe that human effort and/or human self-worth is necessary to appease their version of God (or gods). Or to attain a mystical, highly elevated god-like status of human existence.

Conversely, the God of the Bible tells us over and over: The surest way to end up in hell and then the lake of fire alongside of Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, and billions of other human beings is to try to earn salvation by keeping the requirements and rituals of religion; attempt to please God through self-effort; and somehow get to heaven by (just) enough good works to outweigh the bad. Nor will making one’s self a god through occult New Age mantra cut it with God.

True Biblical Christianity says that God did all the work. All we need do is believe what Christ did for us … what we could not possibly do for ourselves and certainly not for God.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Some say the New Age movement will be this one-world religion during the Great Tribulation. Whereas, the occult will be a sinister force to be reckoned with, it, too, will not globally dominate the post-Rapture society by means of a universal institutional hierarchy or center of power or sphere of influence. Any more than the pervasive, but nonetheless partial, influence that the underworld had on Germany’s Third Reich. The fact remains that Germans were enthralled and captivated by one man, Adolph Hitler, to the point of unapologetic adoration and devotion. For the most part, the populace of Germany set aside whatever religious differences they had in favor of following a man who would lead them to a glorious thousand-year dominion in Europe … and ultimately the whole world.

A New Age type of occultism will only be one of many evils that will inundate Post-Rapture society. “And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:21).

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Satan and his entire kingdom defines what is occult and vice versa. But it’s not a matter of establishing a religious-like system that Satan and his two cohorts will pursue. Rather, it’s unadulterated allegiance to and worship of Satan and the Antichrist, themselves, regardless of any belief system a person might otherwise maintain. It’s elevation of Satan and his man of sin to a status equal to and even greater than the true and living God and his Messiah.

Which is why it’s extremely important to understand WHY the Antichrist and False Prophet have such great authority and HOW they use this power over a large portion (but certainly not all) of the world during the Great Tribulation. When we comprehend why a cross-section of people from many nations and ethnic groups give their complete allegiance to and place their fateful destiny in the hands of these two megalomaniacs, we’ll then see that neither a one-world government nor a global religion will materialize. In fact, neither of these are even necessary for Satan to (try to) accomplish his devilish agenda.

Before we again (in addition to the prior article One World Government) look at some key verses concerning today’s subject, it’s beneficial to begin by repeating the Premise: There is no Biblical support of a One-World Religion, any more or less than a Global Government.

There is no evidence in the book of Revelation or any other book of the Bible to conclude that one of the current world religions will exclusively dominate the relatively short seven-year period of the Great Tribulation or that a new universal religion will emerge.

However, there is Biblical support to show that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will use, misuse, and abuse three religions to accomplish their satanic objectives. The following passage graphically depicts Lucifer’s insidious, but unattainable, goal from the beginning: “…I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

Satan’s twisted objective is to usurp God’s celestial position as Creator of all things and the Lord’s divine right to rule over all nations of the earth, indeed the entire universe. Just like God has given the nations to his Son, Jesus Christ, to rule and reign that will in actuality soon take place; so will Satan (by permission from God) bestow whatever power and authority he has to Antichrist Nero and to the False Prophet.

Let’s examine the three religions that Satan and his two cronies will pretentiously recognize and cunningly use in order to achieve their wicked goal … to be like the Most High God. Indeed, to take the place of God.

Roman Catholicism

As thoroughly documented in the Eye of Prophecy series entitled, The Woman and the Beast, Part I – VI (published 10-12-13 thru 11-16-13), I fully subscribe to this correlation of the Woman (the great city) to Rome and, more specifically, to the Vatican. Although this Holy Roman Empire (the Vatican) will initially align with and support the Antichrist Beast, Revelation 17 clearly confirms that the Beast, the False Prophet, and their ten-nation coalition will turn on the woman and utterly destroy her.

Thus, the problem with posturing a one-world religion and that the Roman Catholic Church will be that global religious system is that the Antichrist will destroy the infrastructure of the Catholic Church, including Vatican City and quite likely the Pope and many cardinals, bishops, and priests sometime during the Great Tribulation … most likely at or just after the half-way point. “The scarlet beast and his ten horns all hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire” (Revelation 17:16).

What would be Satan’s reason and, therefore, the purpose of the Antichrist and False Prophet to consolidate a universal (Catholic) religion, only to cut off its head in a few short years? Once again, nowhere in Revelation (or any part of Scripture) do we find evidence of the whole world converting to one specific religious system.

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To be sure: at the outset the Pope and the Roman Catholic hierarchy will align with and assist the Antichrist and False Prophet in their (mutual) global scheme; as the Holy See currently (and will do so during the Tribulation) exerts a great deal of religious, cultural, and political clout the world over.

Judaism

“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 9:27).

You probably recognize this famous verse as the sole source for Biblical understanding that the Tribulation period will last seven years. But for purpose of today’s article, we need to focus on the fact that the ruler (Antichrist Nero) will also defer (in the beginning) to the Jews and Judaism by incredibly negotiating a seven-year treaty with them that will include rebuilding the holy Jewish Temple and reinstituting the sacred sacrificial system. Only to turn on the Jews 3 ½ years later by putting an end to this deceptive treaty. There’s absolutely no indication that Nero will attempt to make Judaism the world’s religion. Rather, in principle, he does the same thing here that he will do with the Catholic Church. In this case to solicit Israeli cooperation to establish an unheard of peace agreement between Jews and their Muslim rivals. Absent this (short-lived) treaty there would be no other way for Israel to rebuild its Temple in today’s world without all-out war declared and waged by the Muslims nations against Israel.

Islam

Once we look at how the Antichrist also uses the Muslim religion in his evil endeavors, we will see that not just one of the world’s three most prominent religions has been tapped and trapped by the terrible trio of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet, but all three of them. I do not include Christianity (meaning true born-again believers in Christ) in this group as a religion. First, because it is NOT a religion. Second, because born-again believers won’t even be around when these terrible Tribulation events begin to unfold. Thank you, Lord!

Let’s turn again to the book of Daniel to demonstrate that Antichrist will also invoke and use Islam. In the same context and meaning of the word, i.e. being used or taken advantage of in a similar fashion of recognizing the Vatican (Rome) and Jerusalem (Israel) as the ecclesiastical centers of Catholicism and Judaism, respectively. But with the god of Islam, Antichrist will do something different. In contrast to his venomous blaspheming of the God of the Bible, Antichrist will display (feign) esteem for the god of Islam, Allah.

“The king (Antichrist) will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed … He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew…. Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses…” (Daniel 11:36-39).

In these verses, we will also get an up close and personal view of Antichrist Nero’s real persona, agenda, and motives that includes disdain for religion, for all gods—particularly for the true and living God, himself. However, he will pragmatically (temporarily) enlist the backing of a god that his (Nero’s) Roman ancestors never knew, one that didn’t even exist when Nero was emperor of Rome. As explained in Out of the Abyss, I firmly believe this god is none other than Islam’s god, Allah, that can best be described as a god of fortresses and war … as explicitly depicted in the Koran and as exhibited in Islamic Jihad which is in full stride again in this century (see ISIS and all the other Muslim terrorists groups and terrorist nations like Iran). Although it would be another article for another time, I also believe that the Arab Confederation—comprised of several Arab nations—will be one of the ten kings (kingdoms) that yield their allegiance and power to the beast (Revelation Chapter 17 & Daniel Chapter 7).

Because the first part of this passage obviously indicates that the Antichrist deplores all other gods, and, thereby, loathes religion of any kind, we can easily infer that his “worship” of Allah is a feigned and pretentious means of getting many Muslim nations to buy into his diabolical scheme of being recognized and worshipped himself—as the only real god on earth (and in heaven). Likewise, we again see no evidence at all that he attempts to make this “foreign god” (foreign to him and his Roman ancestors) or the religion of this god supreme over the earth.

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No one-world religion here either.

The One Thing That Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet Will Require and Pursue (it isn’t a world government or world religion).

The idea and tactics of Satan’s real underlying agenda throughout the ages will be exponentially foisted on a world in chaos soon after the Rapture. Moreover, he will come perilously close to accomplishing this warped, wicked, and woeful objective.

Before we look at more passages, we need to once again comprehend that there are no Scriptural references that state or imply a one-world religion or government. Part of this understanding is to fully realize that whenever the words, all the people or the whole world or something similar is used, it is not referring to every person or to all peoples of an entire nation on earth. This is fully explained in the prior article, One-World Government. Instead, these phrases refer and are limited to what the Beast or the False Prophet attempt to do. Such as, “He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead” (Revelation 13:16). A requirement doesn’t mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that the requirement was totally achieved.

Instead of a one world government or religion, here is what will actually transpire during the Great Tribulation:

“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. They worshipped 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).

Also, “And all the people who belong to this world worshipped the beast…” (Verse 8).

And, “He (the False Prophet) was then permitted to give life to this statue (of the beast, who is Nero) so that it could speak. Then the statue if the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die” (Verse 15).

The italicized words in each of these verses tells us all we need to know about Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet, in terms of their supreme objective: That Satan and his man of sin would be worshipped instead of God and his Messiah.

Worship is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as; “to regard with great, even extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.” And Webster stipulates that this worship is normally given to someone or something divine. There’s nothing that the Antichrist will want more or would please him more than to be called, Divine.

What is the one and only one thing revealed in the early part of Revelation Chapter 13 that compellingly convinces many in the world to actually worship Satan and his protégé, the Antichrist beast? The answer is that the world, marveled at this miracle. And what is the miracle that will stun the Post-Rapture world? Answer: the fatal wound was healed. Which later in the chapter is unequivocally clarified as the beast who, came back to life. This is accomplished when Nero returns suddenly from the Abyss after dying in the first century. I have covered this extensively in Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles found in the category of Antichrist.

In the very next chapter, we see an astounding event, three times over, that God supernaturally employs to refute the terrible trio’s claim to fame. The Lord actually sends angels, “…carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to the world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. ‘Fear God … give glory to him … Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7).

Then the third angel shouting a loud warning to the earth’s inhabitants, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger…. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb” (Verses 9-10).

Summary

Although Satan has deceived people for eons through religion, false gods (including man, himself), and occultism, his ultimate objective is to replace God as the object of mankind’s allegiance and worship. This is what the epic battle between good and evil is all about. Will people acknowledge their Creator, receive the Creator’s remedy for the fallen human race by believing and receiving God’s precious Son as their Savior; thereby, worshipping the true and living triune God alone? Or will people go their own way; deliberately or ignorantly end up choosing the Dark Side … Satan and the man of lawlessness.

That’s what the Tribulation is all about. All gray areas and fence-riding will be removed during the Tribulation. The overriding purpose of the Great Tribulation is for God to get the attention of every unbeliever on the earth. To make them realize the reason they were created, the very purpose for their existence: to know and be with the true and living God. Which is only possible if they have been redeemed by the once and for all greatest sacrifice of all time … the blood and life of Messiah for our sins and the penalty of those sins—eternal separation from God. After the Lord takes his people (Rapture) to spare them from the most terrible time of human history, he will permit man to bring himself and the earth to the precipice of annihilation.

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Sadly, many will still refuse to turn to God.

When they see the unbelievable destruction that man will wreak on the earth during the Tribulation; when they witness the massive devastation inflicted by the judgements of God, there will be absolutely no misunderstanding of what is happening. There will be no hesitation or difficulty in grasping the fact that an eternal choice must be made by every person on earth. They will clearly see the hand of God in the supernaturally caused natural disasters. They will indisputably comprehend that Satan and the Antichrist and the False Prophet are enticing them to make an alternate choice. Choose them and you will be ushered into Utopia, a Pax Romana peace that the Roman Empire never quite achieved. Worship the beast, take his implant in your hand or his mark on your forehead, and you realize all your dreams. Or, so they will say.

Unlike now when you can come up with all kinds of reasons not to make a decision between eternal life and death, you will have no other choice but to choose during the Tribulation. God intended it this way. Because it will be God’s final appointed time for men and women to come to their spiritual senses; to finally fathom that it’s time to come to terms with their God and with their eternal destiny.

It’s not about religion. It’s God versus Satan, Christ versus Antichrist. The False Prophet against God’s two mighty Prophets of Revelation Chapter 11. It is everlasting life in heaven (with the Lord) OR everlasting death in hell (separation from God). Forget about religions; they will be a non-issue during the Tribulation. Don’t bother with a one-world government; that will never happen until Messiah Jesus finally puts an end to the man-made carnage perpetrated on the world by Antichrist and his enemies, the kings of the east. There will no waffling back and forth about what you believe, no study of comparative religions to decide which one might better fit your goals and lifestyle. You either worship Satan and the beast or you worship God and Messiah.

Period. End of story.

Things to Ponder

If someone maintains that unequivocal worship of Satan and Antichrist will be equivalent to a (world) religion, then I wouldn’t take issue with that definition. That’s all the False Prophet requires. There’s no complicated set of religious rules or rituals whatsoever. Bow down before Nero or his statue. Take his mark and all will be well with you … for a very short time.

But remember: God loves you (John 3:16).

Also know that God is, “…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

Hear the powerful but comforting words of Messiah Jesus, God’s only Son and man’s only Savior:

“…Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17)

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Great Expectations for Messiah

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Great Expectations for Messiah … Then and Now

What does Aliyah, the blood moon tetrad, the Shemitah, hidden Bible codes, the third Jewish Temple, a red heifer, and Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison have in common, one with the other? If you desire a short easy-to-remember response to that question, then the answer is: Israel’s Redemption Is Very Near. If you prefer a one-word explanation for the common-ground connection between these seemingly diverse subjects and events, we can do that too:

MESSIAH!

Jews all over the world, especially observant Jews in Israel, are becoming exponentially excited over Israel’s redemption. They see this restoration as both physical—rescue from and protection against their enemies—and spiritual … individual and national return to God through renewal of the sacrificial system lost to them when the second Temple was destroyed. No matter what form this revival takes and no matter whether a Jew is religious or secular, there is one prevailing and passionate premise: Messiah will make all these things happen upon his glorious appearance.

For most Jews this will be the first arrival of Messiah. For born-again believers, Gentiles and Messianic Jews alike, this will be the majestic return of Messiah (Jesus Christ).

Two Eye of Prophecy articles entitled Look Up, Redemption is Near (Part I & II) were recently published on 7-11-15 and 7-18-15, respectively. In these articles, we looked discerningly at twelve unmistakable signs of the 20th & 21st centuries showing that Biblical end-times prophecy has been and is being fulfilled in one generation alone. In the second article, these signs were itemized for quick reference. They are as follows:

  1. Rebirth of Israel as a Sovereign Nation, 1948
  2. Recapture of Jerusalem in the June, 1967 Six-Day War
  3. Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations
  4. The 3rd Rebuilt Temple
  5. Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments
  6. Modern-Day Alignment of God/Magog Nations against Israel
  7. National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries
  8. Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters
  9. Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians
  10. False Messiahs & Prophets
  11. Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information
  12. Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the World

In this 107th article, which is also the 3rd post in the 3rd year since this project began in late July, 2013, it’s fitting to quote the subtitle of the Eye of Prophecy website which is: “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (Revelation 19:10). The very center of Biblical prophecy, Jesus Christ, is what this ministry is all about. I trust that the articles have been true to and accomplished that objective. Thus, considering that the numbers seven and three are directly related to and reflective of God’s divinity and sovereignty, it’s also fitting that this week’s article focuses on this Messianic fervor that is sweeping over Israel.

Although most of the topics listed in the first paragraph of this article are not specific Biblical prophecies as such, they are, when combined together, amazing evidence that the time of Messiah is near, so very near. Why can we say that? Because the last time that Israel and even surrounding Gentile nations were so zealous about the arrival of Messiah, that’s exactly what happened! Jesus Christ appeared on the scene of history fulfilling dozens of Biblical prophecies that he was, in fact, the Messiah … with an abundance of documentation, the greatest proof of which was his resurrection from the grave!

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Messianic Expectations at the Time of Jesus Christ

Scholars differ in opinion as to the extent of Messianic anticipation found in the first and second centuries before and after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. But when you include Biblical historical accounts with Jewish writings, it’s hard to escape the (clear) evidence that many Jews in Israel were eagerly looking for Messiah to arrive any day. This was especially evident during the rise of the Roman Empire and certainly when Rome added Israel to its conquered territories. The more the Romans exercised control over Israel, the greater was Israel’s longing for Messiah’s coming. The vast majority of Jews believed that only the Messiah could free them from Roman subjugation and restore Israel to the glory days of King David. There were numerous examples of this increasing hope for Messiah’s imminent appearance, none more so that an entire segment of Jewish society known as the Zealots.

Evidence from Jewish Rabbinical Writings: In a well-documented and written on-line article posted in 1996 by Glenn Miller, entitled, Messianic Expectations in 1st Century Judaism, he reaches the following conclusion: “So, it is very easy to document a wide range of Messianic expectations and, judging from the explosion of messianic materials in the period 200 BCE-200 CE and the wide acceptance of popular messianic leaders, it is very easy to conclude that messianic expectations were widespread.”

The messianic materials referred to by Glenn Miller were primarily the Jewish Talmud which consists of two component parts: The Mishnah and the Gemara. The Talmud was a first and second century written compilation of thousands of rabbinical oral teachings and opinions that the Jews felt were necessary to successfully defend and maintain Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the second Temple. Miller also included findings from the Jewish Midrash, Targums, Dead Sea Scrolls (the Essenes), Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha books such as I Enoch and 2 Esdras.

Biblical Evidence: The following examples include but are not limited to the strong evidence that some Gentiles and many Jews believed the Messiah would appear in their (1st century BC or AD) lifetime:

  • The Magi: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem asking, “Where is the new-born king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).

We then read that Herod was “deeply disturbed” about this news and asked the religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born. They replied by quoting Micah 5:2 … the ruler (Messiah) would be born in Bethlehem. In the context of this article, there are two distinct things going on here. First, most scholars (including me) believe these wise men had hailed from either Babylon or Persia or both. That they had read the prophecies of Daniel who was well-known to their ancestors. How else would they have known the approximate time and signs of Messiah’s arrival? The star was a supernatural means God used to guide them to Jerusalem, just a few miles from Bethlehem. What they didn’t know was exactly where the Messiah would be born. It took the Jewish religious leaders to search the Scriptures to locate the prophesied birthplace of Messiah.

Ironically or conveniently the Jewish religious leaders would later (during Christ’s ministry and when they had him crucified) decline to check carefully where Jesus was born. Instead they regarded him as simply a man from Nazareth who was impersonating the Messiah. But it stands to reason that these Magi were not the only Gentiles who realized that Messiah’s time was at hand. Undoubtedly, there were others who didn’t make the trip to Israel to find the King Messiah and worship him.

  • The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Priests: Although the pious leaders of Israel refused to believe the incredible miracles that Jesus performed, his amazing teaching with great authority, and his claims that he was not only Messiah but the Son of God, it’s very interesting that they didn’t refute the fact that they and many of their compatriots fully expected Messiah to appear on the scene during their time on this earth.
  • John the Baptist: John knew full well his purpose in life—to prepare the way for God’s Anointed One. He and his followers were altogether aware and eagerly embraced the evidence that Messiah would and then did arrive on the scene. In fact, John recognized Jesus as their Messiah when he said, “…Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • Simeon’s Expectation of and Encounter with Messiah: “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!’” (Luke 2:25-32, italics for emphasis).

For me this is one of the most precious and astounding accounts in the Gospels to demonstrate how God fulfills prophecy, in this case the preparation of both Jews and Gentiles for the magnificent and appointed time of his Son’s arrival on earth. Note the italicized portion of this passage: Simeon had been waiting (with obvious implication … a long time) enthusiastically for Messiah to come and rescue Israel. There is an obvious implication that Simeon was only one of many Jews who had this same expectancy, at some level or another. But Simeon’s passionate anticipation was intense and God rewarded him by letting him hold Messiah in his arms before Simeon passed from this earth.

Immediately after this scene with Simeon, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, an old woman named Anna was also rewarded for her faithfulness in believing that the time of Messiah had arrived. After seeing Jesus and also realizing who he was, she praised God and, “…talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38, italics for emphasis).

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Regarding Simeon, also note that he totally understood Messiah’s real purpose for coming (the first time), when he said, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.”

Not only for Israel, but Jesus would be a light to the Gentile nations. Sadly, those who denied Jesus, a rejection that led to his crucifixion, couldn’t and wouldn’t see who Messiah ought to be. They had not carefully studied their own prophets, especially Isaiah, who spoke of Messiah as the suffering servant of God, one who would be, “…pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins” (Isaiah 53:5).

Yes, Messiah would rescue Israel, but it would be a spiritual liberation. Said the angel to Joseph: “… do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

God knows all too well what is best for us: Unless the human heart is radically changed, there can be no peace with God and between peoples.

Both Biblical and secular history is crystal clear: A vast cross-section of Jews and a few Gentiles in the first centuries BC and AD fully expected, some with ardent anticipation, the advent of Messiah. This was not a coincidence and certainly not by accident. And so: Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, lived, taught, performed great miracles mostly in Galilee, and ultimately died for the sins of the whole world on a cross near Jerusalem. But then he rose from the dead, ascended back to heaven from the Mount of Olives. And from that very spot he will return in great power and glory, this time as the King of kings and Lord of lords. (See Acts 1:9-11 & Revelation 17:14).

Now let’s look at some very contemporary things taking place in Israel that once again validates the soon return of Messiah. The twelve prophetic signs previously alluded to are more than sufficient to demonstrate that the Rapture is very close at hand. However, when we see how the incredible expectancy for Messiah has captivated attention of Jews all over today’s world, we can compare that phenomenon to the same first century passionate eagerness for Messiah’s arrival to save Israel. But the question then: Save them from what?

For those of us, Jew and Gentile, who have been redeemed by Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross, it will be the glorious reappearance of our Lord. For the greater number of Jews in Israel and world-wide, they believe of course, that it will be Messiah’s first advent. But during the time of Jacob’s trouble (the Great Tribulation) they, too, will fully realize that Messiah and Jesus are one and the same.

For now, suffice to say that Jews (particularly rabbis) are seeing Messianic connections between seemingly unrelated events. With the exception of Aliyah, the following list of correlations made by mostly Jewish Rabbis is not a fulfillment of specific Biblical prophecies as such. However, I firmly believe that when Jews, especially Rabbis, begin making these associations in such large numbers and to such a level of intensity; this is God’s sovereignty in action … by planting the seed of Messianic passion within the hearts and minds of his people just as he did before Christ came the first time.

Seven Messianic Correlations Being Made by the Jews (there are more)

Aliyah:

Literally this Hebrew word means going up (to Israel) or the ingathering return of Jews all over the world to Israel. The following Bible verse is one of many that predict this phenomenal event hundreds of years before the Jews were conquered and expelled from the Promised Land by the Romans in 70 AD, labeled the Great Diaspora by Jews and Gentiles alike: “For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land” (Ezekiel 36:24).

This is the first of the twelve milestones (listed earlier in today’s article) discussed in Look Up, Redemption is Near, Part I & II, under the heading: The Rebirth of Israel…: that Messiah’s appearance is very near.

God through Ezekiel goes on to say: “…I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms … I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd … They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived…” (Ezekiel 37:21-25).

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Thus they completely comprehend that, when Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948 and especially when Jerusalem was recaptured in 1967, the Biblical prophecy of Jewish exiles returning, as recorded in the book of Ezekiel (and other Old Testament prophets), is being fulfilled in this generation. Both observant and secular Jews realize resolutely that they are living in a historical time of Israel’s restoration and redemption. That the heart and soul of this ingathering return to Israel will be Messiah (my servant David … only one shepherd) uniting and leading them.

Now let’s examine some more recent incidents that have made headlines in certain Jewish circles. Whether any of these happenings have any specific connection to Messiah’s actual appearance is not the point. The real consequence is that the Jews are viewing them as evidentiary signs that Messiah’s arrival is drawing ever so near. I’m sure there will undoubtedly be more events in the near future that will bear Messianic significance to the Jews.

Specifically, we’ll look at comments or views from different Jewish Rabbis on these recent signs to show the totality of what’s happening in Israel and the world over, all of which can be boiled down to one common contemporary belief and premise that is sweeping over the Jewish community: Messiah will soon appear.

Blood Moon Tetrad:

The final of the four-part Blood Moon Tetrad (cycle) that began last year will occur in a few weeks … September 28th, 2015. I devoted one entire Eye of Prophecy article to this subject, entitled Blood Moons, published 4-19-14. I would encourage you to read that article, to better put this subject in a Biblical perspective.

But for purpose of today’s article, let’s listen to a quote from a rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, in a recent message delivered on the subject of Blood Moons that have occurred on important Jewish festival dates (Passover and Sukkot … Feast of Tabernacles). Said Rabbi Kessin: “Every time a blood moon happens (on a Jewish holiday tetrad), there is a messianic advancement … we have now entered the countdown to the messiah, which is unbelievable. Based on the (verse from the Book of Joel), based on what’s happening, something awesome seems to be in the works. Fascinating!”

Although the main topic of Rabbi Kessin’s message was the blood moon phenomenon, he also referenced the Shemitah and Iran’s menace to Israel as other events that will usher in the Messianic age.

Shemitah, the Sabbatical Year:

“For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the Lord’s Sabbath. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during that year” (Leviticus 25:3-4).

Although there were other reasons that the Lord eventually disciplined Israel that ultimately led to their 70-year Babylonian captivity, violation of the seventh year of leaving the land fallow (Shemitah) was the reason cited by God for the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. I believe the reason for God specifically naming this violation is that Israel (at the time) fully understood that they had failed to keep this important law, one that assured God’s blessing on their land. Israel disputed the other obvious wrong things they had done, which are time and time again listed by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and other Jewish prophets. Of course God was right and his people were wrong, but the one thing they couldn’t take issue with is failure to keep the seventh Sabbatical year (Shemitah).

But now, in our time, Israel is once again keeping the Shemitah. Nearly all Israeli farmers have allowed their farmland to remain uncultivated this past Shemitah which began in the Jewish calendar year 5775 (last year) and ends in the next few weeks on September 13th. (The Jewish calendar year begins on Rosh Hashanah, which is the 1st of Tishrei … this year on September 14th, 2015.)

In the Babylonian Talmud (referenced earlier in this article), there is clear understanding that Messiah will come in the year following the Shemitah. Here is a quote from the Talmud: “As it is written, in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. Our Rabbis taught: in the seven-year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come—in the first year, this verse will be fulfilled.”

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Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a highly respected rabbi among Orthodox Jews recently encouraged Jews from all over the world to return to Israel (Aliyah) as soon as possible, saying: “or there won’t be enough room on the airplanes.” He made this startling statement specifically in the context of the soon to end Shemitah, as well as all of the other signs that seem to be aligning with Messiah’s arrival.

Hidden Bible Codes:

Beginning two-three decades ago, books were published and articles written on the astounding discovery of current (20th and 21st century) events unfolding based on hidden texts found mostly in the first five books of the Torah (Old Testament). Although the stir created by these hidden codes has dissipated in the past few years, once again a Jewish Rabbi has purportedly found a hidden code in the book of Daniel that, through the use of Gematria (numerical values assigned to the Hebrew alphabet, i.e. counting in Hebrew) shows that the time of Messiah is upon us.

Time and space doesn’t permit in this article, so suffice to say that Rabbi Mattityahu Glazerson ascertained a numerical (gematria) connection between events in the book of Daniel, the Messiah as the Son of David, and the current Shemitah, followed by the next Jewish year. The calculations resulted in Rabbi Glazerson suggesting that, “the time of the end” phrase in Daniel will coincide with the conclusion of the Shemitah in the Jewish year 5775 on September 13th. But mostly importantly with the beginning of the next Hebrew year of 5776. That Messiah should come sometime during this coming Hebrew year beginning September 14th, 2015.

*Note: Personally, I’m not sure what to think about these hidden codes of Scripture, except to say that there is more than enough evidence in the actual text of the Bible to narrow down the “season” of the Lord’s return. I have written about this generational time-frame of the Lord’s return in several Eye of Prophecy articles, with the most representative of these being, The Omega Generation, posted on 2-15-14.

Jesus, himself, said that no one can know (predict) the day or hour of his coming. But we can and should carefully examine the seasonal signs; meaning the approximate time-range and window of opportunity when the Rapture will occur, followed in seven-years by the glorious return of Messiah Jesus to Planet Earth.

The Third Jewish Temple:

Many Jews don’t necessarily consider the Third Temple as a prophetic phenomenon; rather, they view it as a matter-of-fact individual and national necessity, both literally and symbolically, as a precursor to Israel’s redemption. They even disagree whether rebuilding of the Temple will be launched by Messiah or by orders and initiation of observant Jews.

Recently, much as been written (including several Eye of Prophecy articles) about the incredible emphasis on and enthusiasm over the Third Jewish Temple. Nearly all, if not all, of the Temple furniture and utensils have been finished, including the menorah and sacrificial altar itself. Descendants from the tribe of Levi have been identified (that can actually be done through DNA evidence!), selected, and trained as future priests.

The intensity of observant Jews over the possibilities of their rebuilt temple has reached unprecedented and unparalleled proportions in the past few years. Even secular Jews are beginning to accept the reality of a rebuilt Temple.

The Red Heifer:

According to Jewish members of The Temple Institute, the only missing piece for resuming the Levitical sacrificial system lost when the 2nd Temple was destroyed, aside from the Temple building itself, is the breeding of the required red heifer for one of the all-important sacrifices. (See Numbers Chapter 19). Says Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, “Our immediate goal is to produce the first kosher red heifer in 2,000 years.”

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This breeding program began just a few weeks ago and could take three years or so to produce the perfect (red) heifer. It’s yet another example of what is taking place in Israel that is part of the end-times scenario. Biblically, however, it’s obvious that a red heifer does not actually have to exist before the Day of the Lord begins (with the Rapture).

Jonathan Pollard’s Release from Prison:

For those who may not know, Jonathan Pollard was convicted in 1985 of being an Israeli spy for disclosing US military secrets to Israel. He was sentenced to life imprisonment subject to a 30 year review for pardon. He was recently pardoned and will be released on November 20th, 2015, exactly 30 years later. It’s a well-known fact that several former CIA and FBI chiefs believed his life sentence was excessive, far exceeding Pollard’s treason in comparison to similar acts of espionage by other spies. The implication was that the sentence was so harsh because he was a Jew.

But in context of this Eye of Prophecy article, the most remarkable feature of Pollard’s recent pardon is that Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who died in June, 2010, developed a close and supportive relationship with Pollard that lasted for some 20 years. After the rabbi’s death, Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther made public some intriguing messages from Rabbi Eliyahu, published by The Yeshiva World News on June 11, 2010. Among these writings, the late Rabbi predicted that Jonathan Pollard’s eventual release from prison (even though he didn’t know for sure that Pollard would ever be released) would be directly connected to the final redemption of Israel, of the Jewish people … brought about by the Messiah. Listen to these remarkable words from Rabbi Eliyahu speaking about Jonathan Pollard:

“You are a cosmic key to the redemption of the Jewish people. Your release is synonymous with the release of the Shechinah (the Divine presence) from galut (exile). Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David’s (Messiah, son of David) return to the Land. Your release is bound to the redemption of the land and people of Israel.”

As already indicated in citing this and the previous listed events or signs that many rabbis have considered imminent precursors to Messiah’s arrival; none of them individually may be, in fact, directly associated with Messiah. But taken as a whole, the pattern demonstrated indisputably reflects the same kind of Messianic fervor that preceded the arrival of Jesus Christ, which resulted in a partition of time itself … from BC to AD.

Moreover, did you catch one amazingly crucial word in Rabbi Eliyahu’s statement? I don’t know if Mordecai Eliyahu was a Messianic Jew or not. Most likely he was not, as very few modern-day rabbis are; or if they do believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they’re not making it public.

Please read his statement again and see if you can find the one word that might suggest he had possibly considered that Jesus of Nazareth was/is the Messiah. Did you find it? Did you even look?!

If not, this is the word: RETURN.

That’s right. He said, “…with the Moshiach (Messiah) Ben David’s return to the Land.” With what could very well mean just what the rabbi meant to say: That Messiah had already appeared to Israel … in the Land. Messiah (Yeshua) is now ready to return, and usher in Israel’s redemption—symbolically represented by Pollard’s release from prison.

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The main point: Virtually every recent significant event that involves Israel is being compared and connected directly to the end time arrival of Messiah! Just like what happened the first time that Christ came to this earth, born in Bethlehem of a virgin—the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man. The first time as the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world. And soon, very soon, to return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rescue Israel from total annihilation, to prevent the world from self-destruction, and to complete Israel’s redemption so that all of Israel (the remnant left from the Great Tribulation) will be saved, physically and spiritually.

Things to Ponder

When Messiah returns in power and great glory, all Israel will know that he is Jesus of Nazareth. They will rejoice like never before; they will fight ferociously alongside him while he leads them to a resounding victory over their enemies. But first they will mourn greatly, because they will fully realize that it was they who nailed Jesus to the Cross; no different than their ancestors and no different from all of us whose separation from God compelled Christ to redeem us by paying the penalty for our transgressions.

“…They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died. The sorrow and mourning in Jerusalem on that day will be like the great mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:10-11).

Soon, I will turn 69 years of age (September 28th … day of the blood moon). Thanks to our Lord and Savior, my destiny in heaven is assured. My prayer and hope is that I will arrive there along with millions of believers taken in the magnificent Rapture. But if my translation to heaven is by way of death, then so be it. I will humbly say what Messiah Jesus said to God, his father, a short time before giving up his life for me (for you):

“…Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39).

ISRAEL

A Deal That Will Live In Infamy

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A Deal That Will Live in Infamy

I suppose there are other titles that could be used for the subject of this week’s Eye of Prophecy article. But since it follows on the heels of last week’s post entitled, Day of Infamy that dealt with the Jewish 9th day of Av—a date on which two titanic tragedies and other ominous events struck Israel—it’s appropriate to describe the recent nuclear arrangement with Iran in the same fashion.

This deal with a nation that is an avowed enemy of Israel and the United States is eerily comparable to and just as menacing as the day that England’s Neville Chamberlain signed a pact with Hitler. An agreement that not only didn’t guarantee peace in their time, but actually intensified the winds of war that led to World War II.

Deal? A very loose term at best. Agreement? I suppose so if they mean that the P5+1 nations agreed to everything Iran demanded. It just may be the most one-sided bargain of all time. No level playing field. No equal benefits for both sides. Picture a teeter-totter that won’t move up and down, with Iran grounded securely below and the P5+1 nations dangling in the air above … hung out to dry. Or a merry-go-round with Iran standing and smirking nearby as they watch the United States on the carousel going round and round at a maddening and dizzying pace. What makes it even more mocking is that the United States begged Iran to meet them on the playground in the first place.

The imagery of a playground is suitable because the leaders of the United States and of other powerful nations on earth are playing with the lives and destiny of millions of Jews and Arabs and Persians in the Middle East.

Oh, there was give and take. The United States and other P5 nations did all the giving and Iran did all the taking. In doing so, our Presidential Staff apathetically ignored the warnings of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his stirring address to the United States Congress on March 3rd, 2015. Much was written about the speech that President Obama and Secretary of state John Kerry refused to attend, including the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, A Modern Day Esther, posted this past March 7th.

Here is a brief piece from that article:

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.”

Now that this infamous deal is done, it’s all too clear which path was taken.

This deal has been in the making for nearly two years. Many of us hoped (wishful thinking) that the P5 +1 nations, which include the United States, would see through Iran’s deceitful agenda. That we would come to our collective senses, and fully realize that you cannot deal with a rogue nation—an enemy which before, during, and after the negotiations continued their tirade that calls for the humiliation and destruction of both Israel and the United States.

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Before we examine some of the threatening repercussions of this atrocious Joint Comprehensive Agreement, the most flagrant of which is an undeniable endangerment to the nation of Israel, I’d like to go back nearly 20 months to another Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Let’s Make a Deal, published 12-14-13, written about this deal in the early stages of negotiations. That column was as relevant today as when it was posted, and exposed the deplorable fallacy and imminent danger of what we can now label, A Deal with the Devil. That could also be the title of this article.

Sometimes I will quote from prior Eye of Prophecy articles, but normally only a sentence or two or perhaps a few paragraphs. In this case, I believe it will be beneficial if we review a good portion of the Let’s Make A Deal post to fully grasp the ugly reality regarding the why, what, and wherefore of this terrible deal. We’ll then try to put these things into perspective pertaining to end-times prophecies and Biblical principles that provide warnings to nations that turn on Israel. In particular, we’ll take another (brief) look at the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, of which Russia and Iran are the two main aggressors.

Excerpts from Let’s Make A Deal, published December 14, 2013. (Note: All paragraphs from this prior article will be placed in italics. Any excerpts that were in italics from that article will be placed in bold print).

About three weeks ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced to the Iranian people: “Israel is doomed to failure and annihilation.” That, “Zionist leaders cannot be called human.” A short while before that, Khamenei said, “The Zionist regime is a rabid dog.” There were other words of hatred directed against Israel. But the irony of this menacing message is that it was delivered disrespectfully just a short time before the G5+1 (United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) completed negotiations with Iran in a November 24th interim deal called a “Joint Plan of Action”—to ease economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for a “slow-down” of Iran’s nuclear enrichment of uranium.

Would you make a deal with someone whose main purpose in life was to destroy you and members of your family or your best friend? 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? What do you say? How sure can you be? Why are you even there in the first place? But none of these questions seemed to bother the G5+1, with perhaps the exception of France.

“Suppose, we can reason with them?” 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 (mutual) agreement. 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.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to this menacing pact was to label it an, “historic mistake.” He should know. For the same 34 years, Israel has lived under the constant threat of Iranian terror exported to Syria and Lebanon, especially through Hezbollah. Because Israel understands her enemies far better than the United States under the current administration, Netanyahu also 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.” And, “As to the (Iranian) actual threat, we will act against it in time if need be.” These quotes are part of a speech given during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent visit to Rome.

Note: Later in today’s article we’ll look at one of the unbelievable clauses in this nuclear agreement that very well could pit the United States and other nations directly against Israel, should Israel take action on its own against Iran.

Continuing with the prior article:

Regardless of your view on the right or wisdom of Israel to act independently of the US, or the G5+1, or the entire world, I would again ask: Would you sit down at the table with an enemy who has sworn to do anything and everything they can to terminate your existence on this earth? And keep in mind that Iran has not only threatened to wipe Israel from the global map, it has also avowed to destroy the “Great Satan.” That’s right. Iran refers to America as the Great Satan; Israel is only the “little Satan.” We should be so honored?!

In that context, how America and the other G5 superpowers would seemingly ignore (except for a few innocuous words to chastise Khamenei’s condemnation of Israel) Iran’s in your face tirade at the outset of these “historic” talks is simply inconceivable. And that’s not all. Listen to what Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently said during his 8th trip to Israel (9th trip by the time this article is published; reminiscent of Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy in 1973 … so much so that Kerry answered the media’s serious inquiry about the number of trips to the Middle East, with the quip, “It’s a commute, folks”): Kerry boasted, “We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Not now, not ever.” Really? What about the red line that he and President Obama emphatically said would be enforced in Syria? For all intents and purposes, it has become a yellow line of an overtly cautious, but potentially lethal compromise; indeed, a line of retreat—if not surrender. Oh, not the kind of surrender found in actual war; rather, the kind of up-front pacification that sweet-talks the enemy with, “We’ll play fair if you will.”

Fortunately, many members of the Senate and House of Representatives including some democrats have seen through the White House’s tactics, and have reminded Secretary Kerry and President Obama that the sole purpose of sanctions against Iran was to pressure them into absolute abandonment of their nuclear ambitions; not to entice this evil regime into diplomatic dialogue with a misguided hope that we could persuade Iran to listen to world opinion. We can only hope that the Senate and Congress exhibit the courage and tenacity to reinforce the sanctions. Why is this fortitude so vitally necessary? Because the evidence is all too clear: A nation like Iran doesn’t know the meaning of fair play. No more so than did Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. And how did we deal with Hussein? Well, we all know how that story ended.

Did the United States negotiate with Hitler and his Third Reich, or with the Emperor of Japan, or with Mussolini? A thousand times, No! We fought to the bitter end … one that had no other possible option but unconditional surrender of our enemies. What makes us think that Iran is any different, when their blatant ambition to destroy Israel and America is no different that Hitler’s malignant plan of conquering Europe (and eventually the U.S.) and of eliminating all Jews from the face of the earth?

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Just a pause here in today’s article to remember Israel’s daring and successful aerial attack against and destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor plant near Baghdad on June 7, 1981; that all experts agree thwarted the inevitable manufacture of nuclear weapons by Iraq. Ironically, other than Israel, the nation that benefited the most from this preemptive strike was none other than Iran. Why? Because on September 22, 1980 (just nine months earlier) Iraq invaded Iran which launched a horribly destructive war that lasted until 1988. Had Iraq developed nuclear armaments, they probably would have been used against Iran. And, of course, not even a whispered, “thank you Israel,” from Iran. Actually, I may be wrong about the thank you. As Iran could be saying, “Thank you Israel, now we get to destroy you.”

Back to the Let’s Make a Deal Article

*Note: At this juncture in the Let’s Make A Deal article, attention is shifted to another potential deal in the making at the time that article was written … negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for a Palestinian State within Israel. But even before the Palestinian Authority would agree to sit down at the bargaining table, Israel had to agree to release dozens of Palestinian prisoners, including murderers and terrorists; which Israel began to do, in three stages. As Israel expected, the Palestinians refused to begin negotiations. Thus, Israel halted the phased release of these prisoners, but only after dozens had been freed.

Let’s Make a Deal continues:

I’m sorry; as much as I love my country and want to respect and support a President (just because he is our President, but whose actions and programs seem to undermine the very nation he leads), I must issue a challenge: Would the United States agree to liberate hundreds of the worst criminals from their jails just to get “peace talks” underway? I think not. But then, the United States didn’t need to make such an unfathomable concession. Instead, we asked Israel to do something this country wouldn’t think of doing: comply with the PLO’s incomprehensible and reprehensible demand to release their terrorist sons and daughters back to them.

Admitting that Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign nation is the bedrock foundation before any compromises whatsoever are considered. Incredibly, Israel is willing to make who knows what concessions just to be recognized as a people and as a nation. Can you imagine any President, including the current administration, needing to seek recognition as a nation before the United States would enter into negotiations or sign a treaty or pact?

President Ronald Reagan comes to mind: He couldn’t have cared less whether Mikhail Gorbachev’s Russia didn’t like America or if the Soviet Union had refused to (symbolically or literally) accept the very existence of this great nation. But the Israelis have been compelled to guard their security and very survival with an opening statement that would be unthinkable for any other nation on earth: We’ll give you some of what you demand, but first you must consent to the existence of Israel.

To Be or Not To Be? (That is the question)

Unless the Palestinians make some sort of declaration that (at least in principle) acknowledges the geographic, national, political, cultural, and racial existence of the Jews, then all of the other points of negotiation are essentially meaningless. Such issues as: return of Arab refugees, control of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), control of the border crossings especially between Jordan and the West Bank, return of the Golan Heights to Syria, and the actual geographical boundaries of a Palestinian State.

When in July, 2000 at the Camp David Summit arranged by President Clinton, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat rejected an astonishing offer by then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak … to assume control of up to 92% of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip, and all of East Jerusalem except for the Western Wall—that said it all. The Palestinian Arabs are not interested in “sharing” the land. They never have and probably never will. They want it ALL. They want Jews out. Why a whole bunch of people world-wide, including some Christians, fail to grasp this is beyond me.

So Israel mulls over a practically hopeless situation: how to work reasonably with those who demonstrate virtually nothing but irrational hatred and hostile behavior toward you? The Jews rightfully ask: How can you make a deal with someone who doesn’t even recognize that you exist? When they look at you, you are, for all practical purposes, invisible. You are a nonentity. You don’t have a birthright (right of birth) and you aren’t even qualified to belong on the map. You don’t belong here or anywhere, because your rebirth (1948) was entirely illegitimate. 

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Summary

Never before in history has the entire world been so focused on one little nation inhabited by a mere six million Jews. And yet that’s exactly what the Bible predicted. In addition to several million Arabs in Israel, surrounding Arab countries number in the hundreds of millions, with land space that dwarfs Israel; enough land to accommodate millions more Arabs. But oddly and unfortunately many of these nations fight among themselves (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon).

Even more nonsensically, they blame the Jews for their misfortunes. However, they do have one basic mindset: They detest Israel. I suppose if they ever agree on how best to govern themselves (Sunni or Shi’ite Muslim law), then they might (God forbid) agree on how to best destroy Israel. Or perhaps they think and hope that Iran will do that for them. Personally, I don’t dislike the Arabs or the Persians. I sometimes pray for their salvation, as I often do for the Jews. I will do my best to pray equally for both peoples. But the aforementioned observations are a matter of historical record and current events.

Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens, Heads of State the world over are under the influence of the “intoxicating” effect that Israel has exerted on the entire world. (Read Zechariah 12:2-3). Nations are stoned from an overpowering elixir to find a solution to the problems in and surrounding this tiny country. To their detriment, many of these nations point the finger of blame at Israel; but seem to do so in a senseless, illogical drunken stupor caused by consumption of too many “spirits” from Arab, Muslim, Russian, South American, and European winepresses. And, I’m beginning to be concerned about America’s sudden taste for this wine that can only lead to the pouring out of God’s wrath through His winepress (Revelation 14:19).

In addition to God blessing his “special possession”, Israel (Psalms 28:9), it is a wonderful thing that God has extended his salvation to all Gentiles. But first and foremost, God’s Messiah was sent to save his own people, the Jews. The Savior to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16) is, in fact, a Jewish Messiah … born a Jew in Bethlehem, lived as a Jew in Nazareth and Galilee, died and raised from the dead as a Jew in Jerusalem, will return to the City of David on the Mount of Olives as King of the Jews, and shortly thereafter will fight for all of Israel as “The Lion from the Tribe of Judah.” He Is: “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”

There is, however, a dreadful risk for every person on earth who rejects Messiah Jesus as personal Savior and every nation that refuses to accept the very existence of and purpose for Israel, as clearly set forth in Scripture.

Personal Rejection of Messiah: “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36). National Rejection of Israel: “The day is near when I, the LORD, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads. Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history” (Obadiah 1:15-16).

It’s really easier than one might think (even for a Palestinian). Just repeat after me: “The State of Israel.”

Back to Today’s Article (Placing the Iranian Deal into Perspective of Biblical Prophecy)

Undoubtedly, many reading this article have read or heard the component parts of this infamous deal with Iran. Thus, I’ll simply summarize the main points. Beginning with four primary problems identified by Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, as condensed in an article written by Max Gelber, posted 7-16-15 on the United with Israel website, who extracted some of his material from a Washington Post column published the same day.

  • First, the agreement allows Iran to maintain virtually its entire nuclear plant/facility infrastructure.
  • Second, the limitations imposed on Iran’s nuclear projects are merely temporary, with the most binding restrictions lasting only ten years.
  • Third, other nations in the Middle East fully comprehend that this agreement still paves the way to a nuclear-armed Iran, and will accordingly join the race to buy or manufacture nuclear weapons of their own. (Saudi Arabia and Turkey come to mind).
  • Fourth, to the tune of some $150 billion dollars, Iran’s assets will be unfrozen and the money released to Iran’s banks. Economic sanctions will be phased out. With no secret whatsoever, that these funds will be used to resume (to a much larger extent) Iran’s subsidization of its terrorist affiliates like Hezbollah and Hamas. As well as acceleration of subversive activities in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Ambassador Ron Dermer was quoted, “…any one of these problems would be sufficient to make this a bad deal. But all four make this deal a disaster of historic proportions.”

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Photo of Heavy Water Reactor at Iran’s Arak Facility (Just a few days ago, two weeks after the deal was finalized, Iran announced plans to build four new nuclear plants!)

Next is a summary of other negatives for Israel and the P5 +1 nations and positives for Iran, referenced by Max Gelber in his article.

  • First and foremost, the deal does not halt Iran’s nuclear programs, as it allows Iran to (more slowly, but nevertheless continually) enrich uranium far beyond its civilian needs. Which means the only other use for all this surplus uranium or plutonium is unmistakably military.
  • The agreement doesn’t come close to sufficiently curtail Iran’s nuclear research and development capabilities, certainly not enough to delay the time needed to manufacture a nuclear bomb to the point where preemptive action could be taken.
  • The agreement severely cripples embargoes and sanctions previously imposed by the United Nations Security Council to restrict Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • Monitoring of Iran’s compliance is virtually a sham. The 24-day warning of an impending inspection would allow Iran more than enough time to hide, cheat, and lie about what they’re actually doing. All of which they’ve done repeatedly in the past.

As summarized by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly what Iran’s President Rouhani said today, ‘the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear program.’”

I’ll throw in my two cents worth and put it this way: “The Iranians are laughing all the way to the bank, while their centrifuges continue to spin and their leaders continue to grin.” (You can quote me on that one!)

But the most unthinkable feature of this disastrous deal is a tiny clause in the agreement that nations signatory to the pact will defend Iran against any subterfuge that might interrupt or shut down Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ostensibly this was designed to enable Iran to continue with its purported program of commercial nuclear developments for peaceful civilian purposes only. Right? No, it’s as wrong as anything can be.

What the stipulation actually does is to obligate the United States and other involved countries to intervene no matter if a nation (Israel, who else?) attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear substructure—whether through a military strike or cyber-attack—for the much more truthful reason of preventing this reprobate nation from developing nuclear weapons.

It’s simply inconceivable and mind-boggling that the United States would agree in any way, shape, or form to actually come to the aid of an enemy who continually chants, “Death to Israel. Death to America.” It is pure lunacy. And immoral madness at that.

Immoral, because it’s no different than, for example, the United States making a deal with Hitler during World War II in which Germany would agree to stop the production of self-propelled rockets (for say, 3 years) but they could continue to carry on the war as they saw fit. Moreover, we would actually defend Germany’s war making facilities for all other hardware, just not rockets. Knowing full well that it’s the same machinery that manufactures all of the armaments. Moreover, this absurd deal took place after it was clear that Germany was losing the war. (Just like it is unquestionably evident that the heavy economic sanctions against Iran were taking their toll).

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Nearly 3,000 of These V-2 Rockets Produced by the Third Reich

No matter how extreme or far-fetched you think this analogy might be, ask yourself just how radical this deal with Iran is. You only need look at the totally one-sided concessions made by the P5 + 1 to see that Iran comes out smelling like a rose (a rose-tipped nuclear warhead).

It give a whole new meaning to: We’ve got you … just where you want us.

Putting These Things into Perspective

At first glance and at face value, this ill-conceived, misguided, and grossly imbalanced “deal” indeed places Israel in grave peril. From public reaction, especially in the United States, it’s evident that the majority of people realize that Israel gets the short end of the stick. They comprehend the all too obvious fact that Iran cannot be trusted, AT ALL. And they rightfully challenge the authority of the US government to make a deal that puts Israel directly in the scope of Iran’s nuclear trigger point.

In fact, a very recent poll disclosed that over 50% of Americans believe that Congress should annul the deal with Iran, which would subsequently require a 2/3 majority of Congress to override what would be a certain veto by President Obama. If Congress listens to us, they should overturn this dastardly deal.

Although Arab Gulf States like Egypt don’t really care what happens to Israel, they, too, fear a nuclear-armed Iran. Thus, US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East (once again) to promote the agreement and attempt to alleviate the apprehension of these Arab countries. But Kerry’s itinerary does not include Israel. In response to this (yet another) snub, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “He (Kerry) really has no reason to come here.” That the Iran deal, “has nothing to do with us, and has no influence on us. We’re not at the table (meaning the negotiating table). We’re one of the main courses on the menu itself.”

Though (justifiably) sarcastic, Netanyahu’s response says it all.

Yet, here is where a better grasp of Biblical prophecy helps us put contemporary developments like this into a much clearer context. To that end, I’m going to refer again to the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel as predicted through God’s prophet, Ezekiel. Several prior Eye of Prophecy articles have been written, partially or completely on this astounding attack on Israel in which a coalition spearheaded by Russia (to include Iran) is soundly crushed by God, himself … via direct divine intervention.

Please refer to such articles as, The Omega Generation, published 2-15-14; Beware of the Bear, published 3-22-14; Alliances against Israel, published 9-20-14. But for purposes of today’s topic, most specifically to, Russia & Iran Versus Israel, published 10-4-14.

When correlated to other prophecies in Scripture, all of the evidence found in Ezekiel Chapters 38 & 39 leads to the viable conclusion that this invasion will take place soon after the Rapture, during the first part of the Great Tribulation. Furthermore, it will entail a vast “horde” (armies) that swoops down on Israel from the north. The undeniable conclusion is that this is a massive but conventional assault against Israel that does not include nuclear weapons. For one thing, Israel is completely victorious in this military campaign against her, but not through Israel’s effort. Nor is there any indication that Israel suffers even minimal casualties. In fact, it is God who will employ “weapons of mass destruction” against Gog/Magog … meaning supernaturally orchestrated natural disasters inflicted on the invading troops.

The applicable inference and significance of what is happening in this Gog/Magog invasion is that there will be no nuclear war between Iran and Israel before this Biblically prophetic attack occurs against Israel. There couldn’t possibly be, because just one nuclear warhead detonated over the tiny State of Israel would cause devastating damage of staggering proportions. I’m not saying that Israel won’t launch a preemptive strike against Iran prior to the Great Tribulation, but an all-out war between Iran and Israel won’t take place until the Gog/Magog invasion. If it did, there wouldn’t be any need for Russia, Iran, and their allies to invade Israel; as Israel would have already been brought to her knees, if not virtually eliminated from the face of the earth.

And, I can say with absolute Biblical certainty, THAT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!

Things to Ponder

Israel is here to stay; now and forever more. We can take that to the bank, deposit it, and watch the interest (blessings to the rest of the world) grow with leaps and bounds.

For Americans, the real concern of this deal that will live in infamy is or should be the very idea that the United States would seemingly take on God, himself. To ignore, dismiss, deny, and even reject God’s ultimate warning concerning international treatment of Israel. God will take to task those individuals and nations who blatantly snub, endanger, hold in contempt, or harm Israel in any way.

The verse has often been quoted, but The Lord’s warning to those who seek to disparage Israel bears repeating: “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).

The time of reckoning is drawing very near. Unfolding events are fitting into Biblical end-times prophecy on a dizzying daily basis. And what does God say about such things:

“At the time of those events, says, the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem (which is happening before our very eyes today), I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2).

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31, NASB).

Day of Infamy

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A Day of Infamy

Most Americans (those that got at least a “D” in history!) probably know who coined the phrase on which the title of this article is based. To this day we still pause annually to remember what happened on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Although Hawaii didn’t become a State until 1959, it had been an American annexed territory since 1898, with the US Pacific Naval Fleet subsequently headquartered in Honolulu.

The day following the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave what many consider the most famous address of all time to the United States Congress and to the American people. Excerpts of this video have been replayed countless times in movies and in television documentaries. But did you know that the expression, day of infamy, were not the actual words spoken by President Roosevelt. Somehow his words have been changed or misquoted down through the years; to the extent that if you looked them up on the internet you would find websites entitled, Day of Infamy.

Here’s what Franklin D. Roosevelt really said to begin his speech: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…” (Italics for emphasis).

Is it really that important to correctly distinguish what President Roosevelt actually said? Yes, for two reasons: (1) a statement of this significance should be historically accurate no matter how many times it is repeated. (2) Historians tell us that Roosevelt chose these words very carefully, as he wanted to emphasize December 7th (1941) in order to memorialize the specific date, as opposed to merely recalling a past event when a foreign nation launched the deadliest attack on American military forces in our nation’s history.

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Subsequently September 11, 2001 (referred to simply as 9/11) became another tragic date of American history, a date that partially shifted American defense focus from rival nations to international terrorism. It was a deadly attack that brought back memories of the dreadful onslaught against Pearl Harbor. Both events will forever remain seared on the American psyche as the most infamous dates in US history.

When it comes to gut-wrenching, heart-rending (man-made) disasters experienced by nations of the world, I suppose that many countries have their own date which will live in infamy. But no country can even come close to the nation of Israel, whose people can point to a specific date on the calendar for not just one, but two colossal calamities. And not just two epic tragedies; also other less traumatic, but nevertheless ominous occurrences on that same date. It is a coincidence that is no coincidence. It is nothing short of an astounding phenomena that can only be explained and understood through the providential sovereignty of Almighty God, whether people believe God was involved directly or indirectly or not at all.

Tisha B’Av

This Hebrew phrase simply (literally) means the 9th of Av; a date in history that, indeed, will forever live in infamy with the Jewish race. The Jewish calendar month of Av encompasses the last part of July and first part of August on the Roman calendar. This year Av began on July 17th and will end on August 15th, 2015. All of the Eye of Prophecy articles (this is the 105th article) are posted on Saturday. Obviously the subject of this article was meant to coincide with the aforementioned catastrophic date of Jewish history; but it is especially relevant, if not intriguing, that this Saturday’s post (July 25th) just happens to be … you guessed it … the 9th of Av.

For those of you who may not know or have forgotten or want to know more about what happened on the 9th of Av; rather than me introducing the origin of this dreadful day in Jewish History, I will instead quote from an article written by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, published this past Sunday (7-19-15 or the 3rd of Av) in the online site of Aish.com, entitled: The Iran Deal and the Hebrew Calendar.

Said Rabbi Blech: “Jewish tradition acknowledges that God makes his voice heard in many different ways. One of them is by way of the connection between events and the calendar, between the linkage of a day’s meaning to its historic significance.

“…Jews around the world will be observing Tisha b’Av, the fast of the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. It is a day of tragic remembrance. On that day the first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. That alone would have been enough for it to become marked as a day of fasting and mourning. But history reconfirmed Tisha b’Av’s tragic reality five centuries later. When the Romans approached the second temple and put it to the torch, the Jews were shocked to realize that their second temple was destroyed on exactly the same day as the first.”

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Rabbi Blech continued: “Jews are meant to understand that history has divine meaning and incorporates heavenly messages. Coincidence is a concept utterly foreign to those who believe that God governs the universe.”

Rabbi Blech then goes on to identify other catastrophic milestones of Jewish history that took place on the 9th of Av. Such as the Romans final massacre of Jews on Tisha b’Av following a last-ditch rebellion led by the Jewish zealot, Simon bar Kochba in 135 AD. The few Jews left in Israel participating in this revolt believed Kochba to be the long-awaited Messiah.

Rabbi Blech also cited other painful misfortunes suffered by the Jews on the 9th of Av, such as the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 AD and the banishment of Jews from Spain by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 1492, giving the Jews until the 9th of Av to leave the country. And World War I (which some historians believe was just a prelude to World War II) began on that ominous Jewish calendar date, which was the beginning of more intense persecution of the Jews.

There are a couple more 9th of Av Jewish tragedies not listed by Rabbi Benjamin Blech. Such as commencement of the First Crusade in 1096 that would result in the subsequent slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews throughout Europe and in Israel. Also the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 that accelerated exponentially their mass extermination in concentration camps.

As gleaned from the article’s title, Rabbi Blech begins by correlating the final date when the P5 + 1 nations (United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) recently reached a “nuclear deal” with Iran on July 14 (27th of Tammuz on the Jewish Calendar) which is in the middle of the three-week period of mourning that begins on the 17th of Tammuz (this year … July 4th) and culminates in the milestone date of the 9th of Av.

During this three-week period, Jews in varying degrees—depending on how observant they are— refrain from activities that are considered joyous, including weddings. Jews cannot marry during this time. They often sit on the floor (a sign of mourning and sorrow) and read from the book of Lamentations.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech writes, “That (17th of Tammuz) was the day on which the walls of Jerusalem were breached. That was the beginning of the end—and the sages were smart enough to recognize that the wise mourn the imminence of a catastrophic event even before its actual occurrence…”

Thus, Rabbi Blech is very perceptive in his identification of and warnings about the significance of events leading to the two greatest tragedies of the Jewish race, the first and second destruction of Jerusalem and the temples, but also successive events throughout history. But one thing he doesn’t explain (most likely because of the limited topic of the 9th of Av itself, but also because it is still a contentious subject to Jews the world over) is why these horrible events occurred, let alone on the same date.

It’s important that peoples from every nation take the time to remember historical dates that are both good and bad in terms of what happened and why it happened. Hence, America celebrates our independence and freedom from tyranny on the 4th of July. But we also solemnly recall the viciously evil attack by Japan on December 7th. With either event, we are concentrating on something we all know to be true … freedom is not free.

It is one thing for the Jews (or for anyone) to set aside time to ruminate about their past and realize they must never forget some things (which is why Jews the world over continually say, “Never again,” in reference to the Holocaust). Whereas, it is quite another matter to fully comprehend why tragedy struck them any time of the year, let alone on the same date. If they or we ignore the reasons or just don’t bother with anything other than the remembrance itself, then is there really any purpose for remembering the 9th of Av? Or any other date of infamy?

Why the Destruction of the Temples and Why on the Same Dates?

Why did God through his providential sovereignty allow these disasters to fall on Israel? God frequently answers that question through his prophets, especially Ezekiel. The phrase, “Then they will know that I am the Lord,” or “Then you will know that I am the Lord,” occurs 65 times in the book of Ezekiel. Thus, the primary purpose of God’s punishment for both Israel and the nations was to remind them that he alone is God. That he alone knows what is best for them, for us; that the Lord will use whatever means it takes to get that point across. It is literally a matter of life and death, both physical and spiritual.

“Then this message came to me from the Lord: ‘Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel: The end is here! Wherever you look—east, west, north, or south—your land is finished. No hope remains, for I will unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins … Then you will know that I am the Lord … Disaster after disaster is coming your way!’” (Ezekiel 7:1-5, italics for emphasis).

Often, in the midst of God’s prophetic warnings of judgment, we find Biblical promises of hope and restoration for Israel, final fulfillment of which began in the 20th century. Isaiah, in particular, provides one prophecy after another that encompasses short-term and long-term prophetic events all wrapped up in the same proclamations. Until recently, I hadn’t really grasped the significance of one of these prophecies, which fits with the main subject of this week’s article. When placed in the context of the two most devastating tragedies in Israel’s history, the prophecy is remarkable. Here it is:

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.(Isaiah 40:1-2, italics for emphasis).

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The twice over is not merely a symbolic reference to the severity of God’s punishment. It is a literal time-sensitive expression that references the actual destruction of both Temples. Which is also why the word comfort is repeated. According to Moses with regard to promises of blessings if Israel followed the Lord and discipline if she abandoned God, the ultimate punishment was being conquered by her enemies, expelled from the Promised Land, and banished to foreign nations. Historically we see that this is exactly what happened to Israel. Not once, but twice … Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple were destroyed, and the Jews exiled to gentile nations. The first time for only seventy years, the second time for some 1,900 years. Let’s examine these two horrendous calamities a little closer.

Solomon’s Temple & the First Captivity of the Jews:

Why was Solomon’s Temple destroyed and the Jews conquered, with the survivors exiled to Babylon? No one needs to wrestle with or agonize over this question, as the answer is absolutely crystal clear in Scripture. Furthermore, religious Jews down through the centuries, especially Rabbis, as well as and the majority of contemporary Jews who are even partially observant of the Jewish faith fully comprehend why Israel was conquered first by Assyria in 722 BC (ten northern tribes), then by Babylon in 586 BC (two remaining southern tribes).

Hundreds of verses, indeed, entire chapters, in many of the prophetic books—particularly Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—tell them and us the reason why the Jews were expelled from the Promised Land and the (what they thought would be) indestructible Temple built by Solomon utterly destroyed by a foreign nation. And, don’t forget, there are many passages that also list the destruction of Gentile nations and the reason for their demise … a combination of ungodly defiance of the true and living God, and either participating in or condoning and rejoicing over the destruction of Israel.

The Jews knew the reasons before, during, and after they were conquered by Assyria and especially by Babylon. Time and time again they violated the Mosaic Covenant of the Law; and time and time again God warned them about the consequences. Not just the greater populace of Israel, but also their religious and governmental leaders were guilty of gross immorality plus the depraved worship of idols and practice of astrology. Several prophets record this, as represented in the following passage spoken by God through Jeremiah just a few short years before Jerusalem fell.

“For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning—its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have. Even the priests and the prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple, says the Lord … For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the Lord have spoken!” (Jeremiah 23:10-12, italics for emphasis).

This passage not only is representative of hundreds of other verses warning Israel of her imminent ruin; it also contains an extraordinary phrase that gives us insight into God’s meticulous timetable for fulfillment of prophecy, both ahead of time and in hindsight; to demonstrate that certain dates of history were selected by God to fulfill a precise prophecy. One of the most astonishing of these is the 483 years (173,880 days on the Jewish calendar) prophesied by Daniel from the time that rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem began to the actual time that Messiah would be revealed … the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

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I believe that, the time fixed for their punishment is even more specific than we might otherwise infer from this verse. Meaning that God is referring not just to a future general period of time, but a precise FIXED date when his punishment would take place. Space does not permit extensive documentation in this article; suffice to say that the concept of fixed relates to actual calendar dates. For example, all of the Jewish festivals listed in the book of Numbers are to be celebrated on select days of the year … which were tantamount to fixed or appointed days. (See Numbers 20: 1-2). Moreover, this fixed time of punishment applied not only to Solomon’s Temple, but to the subsequent and even more severe (long-lasting) dispersion of the Jews in the first century, when the 2nd Temple was demolished.

Destruction of Herod’s Temple and the Great Diaspora of the Jews until the 20th Century:

About six hundred years after the second temple was built, it was destroyed and the Jews were vanquished and exiled, this time to nations all over the earth—culminating in the most tragic event of all … the Holocaust. How could any of this be possible? Unlike the first destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Roman conquest of Israel was completely unexpected and even worse than the first, with regard to the scope of defeat and the duration of exile.

The Jews lamented that there were no warnings from God’s prophets. Didn’t God claim that, “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Wasn’t it totally unfair for God not to give his people another chance to come back to him before he allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and demolish the rebuilt Temple? In fact, hadn’t they returned to the Lord upon their homecoming from Babylonian captivity? What had they done to deserve such discipline? They had already admitted all of the wrong things they had done leading to the Assyrian victory over Samaria and later the Babylon conquest of their beautiful Jerusalem, and eternal Temple. But even that was only a 70-year captivity in the land of their conquerors.

What exactly had they done wrong in the first century or any century between the Babylonian captivity and the Roman destruction of Israel… bad enough to deserve so great a punishment? The more time that went by, the more poignant and intense these questions became. By the time the Holocaust ended, most Jews gave up any hope whatsoever of finding answers, either human or divine. In fact, many became atheists. There was no God. How could there be a God who would allow six million Jews to be murdered? Or for that matter even permit a second world war? What crime of the century had the Jews committed that would demand such a disproportionate penalty? Some concluded that it wasn’t God’s punishment; but at the very least, God had abandoned them. At the very, very least, God had withdrawn his protection from their enemies.

In the aftermath of the Roman Empire’s violent conquest of Israel, it was absolutely inconceivable that the Lord wouldn’t have warned his people; to give them a chance to repent and turn to him, if they had sinned against the Lord. After all, they had disposed of their idols; and, as much as they thought was possible, resumed the keeping of the Law of Moses, as epitomized by the Pharisees and Sadducees—who emerged during the post Ezra and Nehemiah age beginning in the 4th century BC.

Once again, space doesn’t permit. Read the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, for partial answers to these questions concerning the spiritual condition of Israel, through a dialogue of questions and answers between God and his people. The book ends with God’s promise that he would send the prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of his people. Then God was silent for four hundred years. There were no more prophets to lead, guide, and warn the people of God’s intentions.

(*Note: There didn’t need to be, because God had already announced his magnificent plan to bring Messiah to the world. There are hundreds of prophecies to this effect in the Old Testament, every one precisely fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. The prophet Daniel even gave the exact period of time when Messiah would arrive!)

Ah, but there were prophets to warn them in the first century! Two mighty prophets to be exact, but one much greater than the other, greater even than Moses and all of the prophets after him. These men were contemporaries in the first century AD. One of them was John the Baptist (symbolically representing the return of Elijah), whose sole purpose was to pave the way for the greatest prophet, priest, and king of all time.

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The Biggest Mistake (Sin) in Jewish History

Through the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and especially Jeremiah, God had clearly promised his people that a New Covenant would be implemented between God and his people, a covenant that would be extended to all mankind.

“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David … and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey…” (Isaiah 55:3-5).

“I will make a covenant of peace with my people…” (Ezekiel 34:25).

“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 … 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 … 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” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Long before that, God had promised through Moses that another prophet would come in response to the people’s request to Moses that God not appear to them like he did at Mount Sinai when they were terrified of his voice and blazing fire. But Moses said to the people about this coming prophet (with obvious implication that this prophet would be greater than Moses, himself), “You must listen to him.” And that God would, “…personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.” (See Deuteronomy 18:15-20).

Now let’s listen to what God said about Jesus of Nazareth, when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration: “…This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).

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Later, this same Jesus, born a Jew told his Jewish disciples (and the whole world), “…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).

A few days before that Jesus told the religious leaders of Israel, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39).

And shortly after that, Jesus prophesied again concerning the pending and imminent destruction of the Temple, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” (Matthew 24:2).

For many years, their Messiah was right in front of the Jews. He walked and talked with them. He healed the lame, the sick, and the terminally ill among them. He changed water into wine and walked on water. He silenced storms and fed thousands of people with just a few fish and loaves of bread. He raised the dead!

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Repeatedly, Jesus told them that he spoke the words that God, his Father, had given to him … just like Moses said would happen. He claimed to be God, by telling them he existed before Abraham (see John 8). He told them that if they didn’t believe his words, then believe his miracles as proof positive that he was who he claimed to be. He told them that Moses, himself, would condemn them for not believing that Jesus was the Messiah.

Yes, the evidence was irrefutable. So much so, that the religious leaders had no basis to argue with him or dispute his claims, though they tried. So much so, that the only recourse open to them was to silence him because he claimed to be God and Messiah.

Thus, they turned him over to the Romans to be crucified. Even when Christ arose from the dead, they still wouldn’t believe in him! However, this was God’s plan from the start. When Jesus arose from the dead, he validated and sealed the New Covenant between God and man. For the next few decades, the Jews also rejected the writings of a former Jewish Pharisee, Paul, who had been miraculously redeemed and changed by the living Christ. Jewish apostles Paul and John and Matthew and Peter wrote about the great love and grace of God. They confirmed that Jesus was the final Prophet of God, the ultimate High Priest who is the mediator (go-between) of the New and better Covenant, and who will return as the King of all kings to save Israel from their enemies and from themselves.

And still, God’s people said, “No.” They would not listen.

The Real Reason for the Second 9th of Av Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple

It’s so lamentably sad, so unnecessarily tragic. Had God’s people accepted Jesus as their Messiah, the Kingdom of God would have been established right then and there in Israel. But as only God can do in making all things work together for good, the Kingdom of Heaven was established in the hearts of men and woman all over the world, both Jew and Gentile. However, by refusing to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, Israel rejected the New Covenant promised to them through their own prophets. As a result, the Lord permitted his people to continue under the Mosaic Law, even though that Covenant had been replaced. Even though the Temple Curtain in the Holy of Holies had been supernaturally ripped apart while Jesus was still on the cross.

In fact, the only thing left of the Old Covenant were its clauses of punishment, which included God’s withdrawal of his protection.

Therefore, once again the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple took place on the 9th of Av. But the story doesn’t end there.

Once Israel was reborn as a sovereign nation in 1948 and then recaptured Jerusalem (1967), no longer would she be under Gentile domination. Both the physical and spiritual rebirth of the Jews has begun, with the spiritual restoration currently lagging behind the corporeal existence and prosperity of the Jews as a nation. But it was the Lord who initiated this revival and restoration of Israel by bringing the Jews back a second time, not his people; just as God commenced the twice over discipline of his rebellious people.

Read Ezekiel Chapter 34 where God says that Israel’s religious leaders (shepherds) neither could nor would lead the chosen people. So, God himself would, “search and find my sheep.” And he would give them a “covenant of peace” with one Shepherd (Messiah) to watch over them.

Then and now God’s people could not and would not see who Jesus really was/is. Thus they were not only stunned that the 2nd temple was destroyed on Av 9, but that the temple was even destroyed at all, to include the absolutely horrific result of the Jews expelled from Israel and exiled all over the world, not to return for nearly 2000 years.

Most Orthodox Jews acknowledge that the Diaspora and even the Holocaust could have been prevented by God; therefore, there must have been a reason. But they attribute this to several factors, none of which include rejection of Jesus Christ as the Mediator of the New Covenant of Grace and as their Messiah. Thus, they still discard the real reason for the destruction of the 2nd Temple, which Jesus, himself, predicted.

Nevertheless, there are thousands of Jews the world over who have recognized Jesus as Messiah and Lord. They understand that most of their ancestors (and gentiles as well) rejected Yeshua as prophet, priest and king. They understand that God turned this denial into the greatest life-giving, life-saving sacrifice of all time … the blood of Messiah poured out to save us from our sins. They understand that all it takes is to believe in Christ and receive him as personal Savior. But they also understand that during the last two millennia, that God allowed his people to make this choice to go their own way, to deny Jesus as Messiah, to spurn the New Covenant … which kept them under the discipline imposed by God (as given by Moses long ago) for not listening to his prophet (Jesus), who also is God’s very Son.

Things to Ponder

I love the Jews and I love Israel.

Twice God imposed punishment on his people to bring them to their spiritual knees and purify them.

Twice the Lord rescued them from exiled captivity and returned them to the Promised Land, the first time from Babylon and Persia, the second time from nations all over the earth … this time to remain forever in the land.

Twice God freed them from bondage. First through Moses who delivered them from human bondage in Egypt. Then spiritually, from slavery to sin, through the Cross of Messiah Jesus who delivered them and all who believe and receive him as their personal Savior. This second deliverance will be consummated when Christ transforms both the dead and living believers at the Rapture. Then the Kingdom of God will be established forever when the entire remnant of Israel—every man, woman, and child—is rescued physically and born-again spiritually at the glorious return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

May our heart’s desire and prayer be that of the Jewish Apostle Paul: “…the longing of my heart and prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved” (Romans 10:1).

Hear the passionate plea and loving invitation that God, himself, extends to his chosen people:

“…O Israel, if you would only listen to me!” (Psalm 81:8).

Please take a few more minutes to listen to Amy Grant’s beautiful rendition of El Shaddai, originally written and composed by Michael Card. The song is set in the backdrop of film clips from The Ten Commandments & Passion of the Christ.

Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part II

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Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part II

Flash: “To appear suddenly … to move with great speed … to break forth or out so as to make a sudden display.” These are some of the meanings found in Webster’s Dictionary. Flash is often used in our conversation and writing, such as: flash of lightning, news flash, flash mob, flash sales, and flash floods. For purpose of last week’s and this week’s article, another flash phrase will help illustrate that Biblical end-times prophecy is in flash-mode throughout the entire world.

Flash Point. Defined by Webster’s Dictionary as what happens when a, “combustible substance ignites.” But what began as mostly a scientific term has morphed into a personal and social dynamic of what Webster’s describes as, “a point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being.”

Just recently I watched a few episodes of a television series by that name, Flash Point that aired in 2008 on Canadian TV. Subsequently, the program was transferred to the ION TV Station and ended in December, 2012. Flash Point was based on a fictitious elite SWAT- like police squad called the Strategic Response Unit … SRU. The scripts were well written and acted, with some pretty intense drama mostly about rescue of hostages and response to bomb threats. The producer of the series wanted the show to take viewers to their, “own personal flash point.”

As applied to the contemporary unfolding of Biblical prophecy, that’s not a bad idea. When it comes to suddenly bursting on the scene and igniting the highly combustible components of current events, we could Biblically consider and call what’s happening in today’s world, Flash Point Prophecy.

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My intention here is not to coin a new term or otherwise pigeon-hole Scriptural prophecy into an oversimplified expression. Indeed, Biblical prophecy is absolutely sweeping in its scope and impact, with various predictions fulfilled in a matter of days, weeks, a few years, or hundreds and even thousands of years after the prophecy was given. But when current events begin to unquestionably match up and catch up with Biblical forecasts and warnings, we need to upgrade them to the level of flash point.

God has graciously and generously provided us with many prophecies. In fact, all of God’s plans to accomplish his purpose for the human race have been given to us ahead of time as conveyed by these striking words from Scripture: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, italics for emphasis).

A careful study and comparison of Scripture to World History will show that the rise and fall cycle of mankind itself, of Israel, of key Gentile empires all hinge on God’s majestic plan for the human race … salvation through God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. With the triumphant result of that salvation to be realized through the resurrection of the dead in Christ and transfiguration of the living in Christ to new glorified everlasting bodies at the Rapture. Followed by God’s judgment and vanquish of evil during the Great Tribulation leading to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth with the purest form of justice and peace.

Whereas, most Old Testament prophecies pertained directly to Israel, several others concern Gentile nations (applicable also to the United States of America) in terms of the general principles involved … both positive and negative. For example, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalms 33:12, NASB). And, of course, the opposite of that would be true: nations that abandon the Lord, that mock and defy him will certainly not be blessed.

Also, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalm 37:3-4). Conversely, if we don’t trust in the Lord and do what is right, then our land and well-being are in danger. If our personal and national pursuits exclude God in every way, then the things that really matter may never be achieved.

When Biblical Prophecy Reaches Flash Point

For hundreds of years, God’s patience permitted Israel ample time to change, to repent, and return to the true and living God. But as Israel became more and more disobedient, the intensity of the warnings increased through God’s prophets. To the point where the prophets solemnly cautioned the people that God’s judgment would fall upon them soon, any day. Thus, by the time we get to Jeremiah, barely twenty years elapsed from the beginning of his forewarnings to the first Babylonian assault on Israel and forty years to the final attack, when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and most of the people killed or taken captive to Babylon.

Then came Ezekiel who, as a captive himself, prophesied to the exiles taken to Babylon in 605 and 597 BC, but his warnings also applied to Jews still in Israel. Less than ten years later, the final Babylonian sack of Israel took place in 586 BC. Right up to the time that Jerusalem finally fell and the Temple was demolished, the Jewish leaders were still spurning and blaming Jeremiah and Ezekiel for telling them what would happen. They simply couldn’t and wouldn’t grasp the fact that God would punish them in this way. Why? Because they refused to acknowledge two things: (1) that they were even sinning, let alone the despicable nature of the transgressions that included child sacrifice. (2) That God meant what he said in all the prophecies given hundreds, then dozens, then only a few years before the great and tragic fall of Israel.

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That is when prophecy reached the flash point stage. The kind that Jesus described of the last generation when he compared them (us) to Noah’s and Lot’s day. Folks, we are irrefutably smack in the middle of Biblical end-times flash point prophecy. Like bolts of lightning from slow to fast gathering thunderstorms, Biblical prophecy has burst on the 20th & 21st century one flash after another.

In today’s world there are two general reactions to modern-day fulfillment and unfolding of prophecy: (1) With a combination of scorn and a large global yawn, people think and say in some fashion or another what was quoted in last week’s Part I Article: “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (II Peter 3:4). It’s a big, so what response that merges a deliberate defiance of God with a disdain for anything that would dare interrupt their pursuit of pleasure, comfort, and self-indulgence.

(2) Or, many people become numb to the incessant media sensationalized depictions of crime, terror, political corruption, scandals, roller coaster economic fluctuations, and international events such as the recent historically bad nuclear deal between the more powerful nations of the world and Iran.

Fortunately, a handful pay attention to what is happening; to the point (some not all believers) of realizing that the end of the age is near and (some unbelievers) looking for answers. In fact, there’s an increasing number of unbelievers that are searching for something deeper, more lasting, more meaningful. It’s just that they’re searching in all the wrong places … the occult, the New Age mantra, the paranormal, science-fiction, social feel-good Christianity, quick-fixes through political and economic changes, and the like.

We are bombarded with these searches through books, articles, movies, television, and the internet.

But the bottom line is that believers and unbelievers alike tend to minimize, if not ignore, the profound parallel between global events and last-days prophecies; thereby, missing the flash point impact that God intended for his prophetic Word to exert on people, especially those living in the final generation … the Omega Generation.

Twelve Modern-Day Flash Point Prophecies

Last week we identified fulfillment of six prophecies. All of them have taken place in a generation’s time, no matter whether that generation meets the one hundred year or seventy-year parameter as established in Scripture. All six relate directly or indirectly to Israel and Jerusalem.

In a moment we’ll look at six more flash point signs of the last days, beginning with one of the most well-known passages in Scripture … Jesus’s Mount of Olives prophetic disclosures to his disciples: “And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 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).

Nearly all unbelievers and even some Christians react to this prophecy (and others like it) by saying something to the effect, “We’ve had wars and rumors of war and natural disasters from time immemorial. So what makes the 20th and 21st centuries any different? What makes our generation the final one?”

Christ answers that question in this same passage, but his explanation is often overlooked or minimized or even disregarded. The Lord says two things that puts all of his end-times prophecies (as well as the predictions of the prophets) into perspective by using an analogy, then confining that comparison to one generation.

First, Jesus uses metaphorical imagery to dramatically illustrate that when his and all Biblical prophecies reach the stage of critical mass or flash point, things will develop so rapidly that it will be like birth pains of a woman in labor. “But all this is only the first of the birth pains…” (Matthew 24:8).

But then he narrows down the parallel to demonstrate that the progressively painful labor time of a pregnant woman is likened to one generation when he says, “…this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34).

Or another way to understand the comparison is to equate the nine months of pregnancy to the 1900 years from the time that the final prophetic revelation of Jesus Christ and the end times was given in the Book of Revelation to this final generation. Once the signs of the end-times begin, it is precisely like the birth pains of a woman about to deliver her child. Meaning, things will take place with exponential speed and strength, i.e. number and severity of labor pains (spasms of the last days). That’s how we can identify and isolate the events of this generation from all generations before us.

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It’s like the first 8+ months of a woman’s pregnancy that involves mostly just discomfort; but turns into outright anguish during labor. As a man I can only imagine; I would never claim to know the pain that a woman goes through during childbirth. But the gestation period that leads to delivery can be compared to what people of this earth have gone through for some nineteen centuries; with the actual birth pains beginning in the 20th century, then intensifying in frequency and severity to this very day.

Scripture is explicit that God has given us this time for three primary reasons: (1) to allow people the God-given privilege and right to exercise free will, for mankind to choose between good and evil. (2) That true righteousness (right standing with God), perfect justice (for all), and real peace (with God and among people) cannot be achieved through human effort, be it political, cultural, economic, scientific, or even religious … especially not through religion. Rather the realization for our very existence and purpose in life comes only through the change of the human heart, accomplished by believing and receiving Christ as personal Savior. (3) So that a lot more people will experience the new spiritual rebirth in Christ that will enable them to life forever with God and the host of heaven.

Let’s examine the remaining six developments that have occurred or are unfolding in the last one hundred years, but especially in the past seventy years.

Number Seven: National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries

The number and severity of ethnic conflicts and national wars beginning with World War I have easily surpassed all of the previous wars and rumors of wars since the last book of the Bible was written. In fact, we could accurately point to World War I as the first flash point labor pain of Jesus’s analogy of the beginning of the end. Space in this article will permit some statistical documentation, but not a lot. For some grim statistics on World War I, WWII, and the coming Tribulation, please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, published 6-6-15.

The very fact that World War I was the first (labeled the War to End All Wars) international conflict that involved multiple nations of the earth was a monumental milestone that Jesus’s words of “nation against nation and kingdom (ethnic groups) against kingdom” had reached a flash point of fury never before experienced… the commencement of the final generation’s birth pains. Then World War II brought that to a whole new level of horror which made Jesus’s prophecy all the more relevant to this generation. Plus, the sheer number of smaller national wars and ethnic battles in the 20th & 21st centuries are absolutely staggering compared to what went on in the first 1900 years since Christ came to this earth.

Number Eight: Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters … Famines, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Plagues, Tornadoes, Volcanic Eruptions, Hurricanes

Our Lord mentions just two (famines and earthquakes), but the implication is unmistakable that he is referring to natural disasters of all kinds. The unbelievable increase in the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes in the last hundred years far exceed proportionally what happened in the nineteen centuries before that.

In general (all kinds), five of the top ten natural calamities of all time have occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries. That’s fifty percent in the last one hundred years alone! Likewise, five of the top ten earthquakes through the ages have occurred in the 20th & 21st centuries. Or expanding that to the top twenty-five deadliest earthquakes of all time, fourteen have taken place in the last hundred years or so. Of the ten deadliest tornadoes recorded, eight have occurred in this and the last century.

Yes, it’s true that there are more people now and the death toll would accordingly increase, but that’s not the whole story. Not only has the severity increased, but also the frequency. Although the Richter scale wasn’t invented until 1935, four of the top ten measured earthquakes have taken place just since 2004. Also, geologists can pretty accurately estimate the magnitude of earthquakes before the Richter scale.

Look at the charts below: The first chart shows the year to year number of earthquakes with a 6.0 magnitude since 1970. The second chart displays the number of earthquakes above 6.99 magnitude lumped into four time-frame categories since 1863. The numbers speak for themselves and further corroborate that this is another indisputable sign that the flash point contractions are increasing in quantity and seriousness.

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Earthquakes increase graph

Number Nine: Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians

First, the words of Christ Jesus: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other … Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:9-12).

Although there was great persecution of Christians during the first three centuries, it is a known fact that more Christians have been killed in the last couple of centuries than in all the years before that. In the Far East, in Africa, in Central and South America, and most recently in the Middle East through terrorists groups, particularly ISIS, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been slaughtered for one reason only … their belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind.

And, of course, the Jews—God’s chosen people to bring Messiah and salvation and light to the whole world—have been oppressed and murdered in shocking numbers, particularly during the Holocaust of the 20th century.

Fortunately, in Western nations such as the United States and Europe, Christians have not yet suffered death. But the changing tide in all other facets of life clearly confirms that Christians are the target of increasing verbal, social, and legal attacks; by court decisions, by illegal and misguided separation of church and state agendas, by ostracizing, censuring, and discriminating in the military and on college campuses, and any number of other ways that we see and read about almost daily.

Next, the words of the Apostle Paul: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (II Timothy 3:1-5).

So much could be said about this end-times warning. Personally, it would probably take me two articles to do justice to this passage. Thus, suffice to say in this article (as the main purpose is to list six more milestones of the final generation): Paul’s description of those living in the last days can unmistakably be seen in and applied to a cross-section of people all over today’s world. From politicians, to Hollywood celebrities, to professors, to economists, to the military of many nations, to sports figures, to the average person on the street, we can see the dissimilarity from just the past 50 years or so in the exhibition of any and all of the specific areas of behavior cited by Paul.

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All of us could list examples of this conduct, as the contemporary symptoms are legion. Just one instance, which I’ve encountered several times and I’m sure is repeated in many places: The other day as I entered a mall, I walked past (walking slowly then stopped as I was in no hurry) a group of 5-6 teenagers who were engrossed in what teenagers do best … talking and seemingly all at once. But the thing that caught my attention was the language. Every other word was a four-letter profanity that for all practical purposes dominated and drowned out the actual topic of conversation. If the conversation was about something traumatic that had just happened or if one or more of the teenagers was angry about something, I suppose the language might have been a little justified. But from what I could gather, they were just carrying on a normal, everyday conversation. When I was growing up as a kid, you would never hear this kind of profanity on a routine basis.

I’m certainly not picking on or indicting today’s kids. Frankly, that’s not my thing. In fact, they were simply doing what came natural to them, acceptable in the context of today’s questionable morality, or lack thereof. Swearing is actually a relatively mild symptom of what is taking place in this post-modern world. Read again the words of Paul regarding the really bad and serious stuff that characterizes the age we live in. Anyone who is at least of Baby Boomer age (like me) can clearly see the difference in the decency of just five to seven decades ago compared to today’s morality. For someone to say there is no change (decline), is to be blatantly oblivious to what is taking place.

Number Ten: False Messiahs & Prophets

“Jesus told them, Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). Also, “And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people” (Matthew 24:11). And then, “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:24).

Christ is (mostly) referring to messiahs and prophets who will surface in the last days from religious sources, such as the many cults and false religions in today’s world. For example, Muslim leaders in several nations (especially Iran) have been telling the world that the 12th Imam is about ready to leap onto the stage of history. In fact, that’s why Islam is in the midst of launching a world-wide Intifada; as they believe their messiah won’t appear until such an uprising begins.

But I believe that Jesus is not referring only to religious leaders who claim to be a messiah or that their messiah will soon appear. The great signs and wonders and deceit of these Messiah imposters can and does also apply to world leaders of the 20th & 21st centuries, who arose to power on the premise that they would rescue or save or liberate or enhance the lives of their people. In ancient times both good and bad monarchs didn’t rise to prominence on a platform of saving their people from this or that. They were simply part of an ascension to power that represented and reflected the emergence of an empire, such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Ottomans, Holy Roman Empire, British, and others.

Not so in the last one hundred years. For example, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao Tse-tung (China) soared to power largely through grandiose promises to save their nations from economic, political, and military ruin. They were messiahs to their people, particularly Adolph Hitler, who even mislead thousands upon thousands of Christians. The same is true of several contemporary African and Arab rulers, whether Muslim or not. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is seen in a messianic light by tens of millions of Russians. With the preliminary prototype exception of Napoleon, we had not seen such a rise of messiah figures until the 20th and 21st centuries.

The underlying motive and method of all of these false prophets and made-up messiahs is that of deceit. None more so than the final and most obvious would-be messiah of all time, the Antichrist.

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Number Eleven: Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information

Let’s now go to a famous prophecy from the prophet Daniel: “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).

In a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles, I’ve gone to great lengths to explain what is meant by sealing of Daniel’s prophecies. See in particular, The Seal of Approval … Identity of Antichrist, published 11-15-14.

Several passages in Scripture both state and imply that the last days actually began with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus. But the final Day of the Lord (as it is termed in the Bible) and other references to the end times that clearly depict the last days of the end times—the signs given by Jesus in Matthew 24 and by most Old Testament prophets—will begin with the Rapture and continue with the Great Tribulation and then the glorious physical return of Jesus Christ to usher in the millennium.

Daniel’s prophecies were unsealed partially during Jesus lifetime, then the following years of the epistles and finally with the book of Revelation. The increase of knowledge and transportation (rushing here and there) took place gradually in the succeeding centuries after Daniel’s prophecies, particularly during the apex of the Roman Empire. But when placed into the context of today’s spectacular advancement in all forms of transportation and communication, it’s quite evident that Daniel’s prophecy fits into the same category as the flash point prophecies given by Jesus to his disciples.

Thus, the absolutely stunning technological accomplishments of the 20th & 21st centuries which enable us to fly across the world in a few hours and for knowledge to double in scope every few years is off the charts. In fact, many Bible scholars point to this one prophecy as the only one needed to prove we are in the last of the last days. But when you factor in the other eleven markers, someone would be foolish and would give a whole new meaning to ignorance not to see the correlation. However, I think it’s mostly apathy.

Number Twelve: Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the World

“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

I believe all twelve indicators are of paramount importance, but if I had to select one above the others it would be this one. Why? Because Jesus, himself, said that when this sign was manifested, “the end will come.” That alone is reason enough.

When Jesus refers to the whole world, he doesn’t necessarily mean every single person on earth, or even every tribe or ethnic group of every nation in the world. For clarification on Scripture’s terminology of all peoples or the whole world, please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, One World Government? published 2-28-15.

In fact, he actually says, the gospel will be preached throughout the whole world, which is not the same as to the whole world. For example, the New American Standard translation says, “in the whole world.”

The emphasis and implication here is that the Gospel will be disseminated on a global scale by means of advanced transportation and communication (Daniel 12) that would be unrivaled by anything before that time. And that is exactly what is taking place as we speak. Once again, time and space does not permit a lot of statistics. You can look them up if you’re interested. Suffice to say that the translation of the Bible into hundreds of languages and dialects, and myriad outreach ministries available through radio, television, and the internet have propelled the Gospel all over the world during the past few decades.

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*Here I would like to interject a personal note. This Eye of Prophecy post you are reading is the 104th consecutive weekly article posted since this website began … exactly two years ago. I take no personal credit; all praise and gratitude goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without him I can do nothing (right). With him all things are possible.

But some time ago I noticed a remarkable correlation. Around the 70th article or so, I happened to count the nations of the world from which one or more people had visited the website. The number of countries matched exactly the number of articles. As the weeks have gone by the number of nations continues to equal the number of articles. And yes, this week the 104th nation (Poland, if you’re interested) showed up in the WordPress statistics available only to the administrator. Plus, the flag of each country is displayed. Cool!

As indicated, it’s personal, but to me that is a tremendous blessing from the Lord. I have no idea how long this might continue, but if it ended next week, that’s okay. It will always be an intriguing but astonishing association to/for me.

Things to Ponder  

I’m going to conclude by saying something a bit unexpected, something that at face value may seem contradictory to the flash point theme of this article.

All of these twelve indicators, including the restoration of Israel as a nation, could have developed and taken place in the first century or any century thereafter. For example, the transportation and communication advances have been relative to each generation … progressively expanding in quantity and quality. The reason that all of these things could have been in place is that Christ could have returned at any time in history, what we call the imminent return of Messiah.

What is different now from then is that all twelve have synchronized with a frequency and magnitude never seen before. With intensity that really can’t get much more extreme or enhanced than it already is. Together they have formed a combustible concoction ready to spontaneously ignite. The accumulative impact of these flash point prophecies fits precisely with the Lord’s comparison to childbirth, all in a generation’s time.

Here is the list of the twelve in a handy concise format. Check each one to see if they either have been fulfilled or if they have reached or nearly reached their optimum and maximum flash point.

  1. Rebirth of Israel as a Sovereign Nation, 1948
  2. Recapture of Jerusalem in the June, 1967 Six-Day War
  3. Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations
  4. The 3rd Rebuilt Temple
  5. Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments
  6. Modern-Day Alignment of God/Magog Nations against Israel
  7. National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries
  8. Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters
  9. Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians
  10. False Messiahs & Prophets
  11. Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information
  12. Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the World

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:11-13).

Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part I

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Look Up, Redemption Is Near

Life goes on. Business as usual. Another day, another dollar. Let’s party this weekend, and next weekend and the one after that. Despite the ominous developments and fateful events taking place all around us, people in this country and the world over seem to live for pleasure more than ever before. We work five days a week in order to play, to party hard whenever we can. Isn’t that what life is all about: eat, drink, and be merry. Don’t bother us with all of that talk about the last days, the end-times, the second coming. Christians have been saying that forever and nothing has happened.

The Apostle Peter counters that live for now mentality: “Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created’” (II Peter 3:3-4).

Listen now to the words of Jesus Christ: “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. And the world will be as it was the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be business as usual right up the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).

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No, believers have not been forever saying that the end of the world will come soon. Actually, it’s only been in the last few decades that students of Scripture in general and prophecy in particular have been taking notice and commenting on world events; beginning with the miraculous rebirth of Israel in 1948, then accelerating in scope and intensity after the Six-Day War of 1967.

In summary of his dramatic description of the last days, Jesus said something stunning, words that refute the idea that all of these end-times developments and events will go on indefinitely. It is a promise that narrows down considerably the time-frame of his glorious return: “In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:33-34).

In several prior Eye of Prophecy articles, we have looked at various signs and indicators of the last days, but only one or two at a time. We have also examined the Biblical definition and duration of a generation … 100 years and 70 years. (See The Omega Generation, published 2-15-14).

With six events in this week’s article and six more in next week’s article, we will examine twelve prophetic milestones that have either taken place or are taking place before our very eyes in this age; no matter whether we use a seventy-year or a hundred-year definition of a generation. This week we will look at prophetic fulfillment that pertains directly to Israel. Next week’s list will be global events relating primarily to Gentile nations that are unfolding exactly as the Bible said they would. This list of twelve may not be all-inclusive, but it contains the most significant developments that Jesus and many Old Testament prophets pointed to as trust-worthy markers of the last days. With the exception of the first event listed, they are not necessarily shown in order of importance. In fact, they all bear a substantially equal standing.

Number One: Rebirth of Israel as a Sovereign Nation, 1948.

There are hundreds of Old Testament passages that speak of the miraculous return of the Jews to Israel, from the four-corners of the earth. Most of them correlate this stupendous achievement with the Day of the Lord, i.e. the last days that include the New Testament description of the Rapture, followed by the Great Tribulation or Old Testament Times of Jacob’s Trouble. Israel’s regeneration is the cornerstone catalyst to many of the other events that must come to pass. The physical return of the Jews to Israel will lead to a complete spiritual restoration, as their redemption draws near and then is consummated.

“…This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land…’” (Ezekiel 37:12-14).

“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home” (Isaiah 60:4).

“Before the birth pangs even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment?” (Isaiah 66:7-8).

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On May 14, 1948, Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Israel as a Sovereign State. Previously this decision had been approved by the United Nations in November, 1947. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever: this was the wonderful fulfillment of prophecies proclaimed thousands of years earlier. But it was also the beginning of birth pains for Israel and the Jews that will continue throughout the Great Tribulation. That’s what is so remarkable about Israel’s rebirth as a nation. First came the birth, then came the birth pangs … just the opposite of how other nations came into existence. That’s exactly what God said would happen, and that’s precisely how it happened.

Number Two: Recapture of Jerusalem in the June, 1967 Six-Day War

Although it was the formation of Israel as a State that captured the attention of the entire earth, especially those interested in end-times prophecy, not until the Jews recaptured the Holy City of the Holy Land in 1967, did the interest of last days prophecies explode with kaleidoscope chain-reaction force not seen or experienced since the first century passionate expectancy of the Lord’s return.

Though not necessarily in large numbers, Jews from all over the world accepted Christ as their Messiah and Messianic ministries began to sprout up in many places, particularly in the United States but even in Israel itself! Books on prophecy began to roll off the presses. Articles inundated the Internet. Sermons were preached, new praise and worship songs composed and sung, radio and television stations broadcast Christian programs in significantly increasing numbers. This Messianic fervor continues to this very day.

Hundreds more passages in Scripture declare that Jerusalem would be restored as the geographical and spiritual center of Messiah’s reign on the earth. Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. It is the City God loves above all other cities. It is where his very presence dwelt in Solomon’s glorious Temple on what today is called Temple Mount. The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem just across the Kidron Valley is where Messiah Jesus will first step foot upon his glorious reappearance on this earth. According to the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel and from Jesus himself, a third Temple will be rebuilt, but not until Jerusalem is ultimately controlled by the Jews. Israel’s dramatic reinstatement as a nation in 1948 was not complete until Jerusalem became part of the land, which took place in 1967.

God declares that: “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).

Here we see one of many Old Testament passages that combines and condenses hundreds of years into one sweeping event. The righteous descendant of David has, indeed, been raised up. He was born of a Virgin, raised as a Jewish child in Israel, and raised again from the dead after dying for the sins of the every person on earth, as the perfect Lamb of God. One day soon, so very soon, he will return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rescue Jerusalem from utter destruction and save the remnant of Judah (Israel). And then Jerusalem and all of Israel will live in complete safety and security.

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Famous photo of Israeli Soldiers at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Six-Day War of 1967

We can’t emphasize enough that even though Jerusalem is still disputed by many nations as Israel’s capital, the fact remains that Jerusalem has once again been restored to the ultimate control of God’s chosen people. Thus, it is a vital piece of the prophetic puzzle that God has providentially put into place to accelerate and complete all that is necessary before the Rapture, which propels the world into the Great Tribulation and then the Millennium.

Number Three: Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations

“This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the Lord. This message is from the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit. ‘I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves’” (Zechariah 12:1-3).

Other Bible translations call the “immovable rock” a burdensome stone or heavy stone. Whatever imagery is used, the idea is the same: Jerusalem (Israel) is a stumbling block to virtually the entire world. International leaders have become perplexed, troubled, and even irrational (intoxicated with the implication of losing all sense of rational control) over Jerusalem.

This message from the Lord to Zechariah is an end-times prophecy because it refers to, “on that day,” which is a phrase frequently used as in connection to the last days. Although the nations will stagger (as though being drunk) when they actually send their armies (meaning the final assault on Jerusalem during the series of battles known as Armageddon), the common sense application of the analogy is that the nations will first need to get drunk. It’s the same concept used in Revelation and some Old Testament prophecies in which the nations (begin to) drink from the cup of the wrath of God.

What we read and see daily in the media is a mind-numbing, illogical, and unreasonable response from nations all over the world. The kind of reaction one expects from someone who is getting inebriated, who acts absurdly and stammers: At all costs we must do something about Israel and Jerusalem? When, in reality, nothing needs to be done with or about the only democratic, freedom-loving nation in the Middle East.

Likewise with the immovable rock. The prophetic picture is that of someone trying to move or remove a huge stone in order to gain access to something or build something in its place. But the boulder is just too heavy for the intellectual or technical ability of those who want something done about this burdensome stone. In varying degrees and with different agendas both Western and Middle-East nations either want the rock removed or at least cut down to size.

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That’s exactly what is happening in today’s world. To wit:

  • Leaders of many Muslim nations, primarily Iran, have sworn to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. To assume complete control over Jerusalem; or at the very least to divide it between Jews and Arabs.
  • To that end, Israel has had to fight four major wars since it became a nation: the War of Independence in 1948, the Suez War of 1956, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Several other smaller and more isolated wars were fought with the terrorist groups of Hezbollah (Lebanon and Syria), and Hamas (Gaza Strip), the most recent of which was just last year … Operation Protective Edge. And, of course, the periodic launch of missiles and mortars into Israeli towns and alarming increase of lone wolf attacks throughout Israel.
  • The growing global movement of BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel from nearly all Muslim countries, from many European nations, and from certain groups in many nations including three prominent Protestant denominations in the United States … the Presbyterian, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ. This is the beginning of the “siege” of Israel and Jerusalem by economic deprivation, which will expand to actual military assaults against Israel.
  • The exponential increase of Anti-Semitism the world over, particularly in European countries, but also in the United States … notably in churches and on many university campuses. And now the Roman Catholic Church has joined the ranks (not really surprising considering the long history of animosity of this religious empire against the Jewish people) of nations, peoples, and organizations aligned against Israel, by the Vatican signing a treaty of recognition for a Palestinian State within Israel.

Indeed, the nations of the world are wringing their hands, scratching their heads, and shuffling their feet trying to figure out what to do about Israel. But then, that’s exactly what the Lord said would happen in the last days.

Number Four: The 3rd Rebuilt Temple

The passionate desire of mostly Orthodox Jews to rebuild the Temple on Temple Mount is absolutely off the charts. Here I would like to quote excerpts from a previous Eye of Prophecy article, entitled: Third Jewish Temple, Part I.

How important is the Temple Mount to the Jews and to Israel? I’ll tell you how priceless and precious it is. Although President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has imposed several conditions on the Israelis before he will even sit down at the negotiating table, Prime Minister Netanyahu has imposed only one condition: Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. And, incorporated in that stipulation is the implied and default component that Jerusalem is Israel’s undivided capital. Virtually all other issues are negotiable to the Israelis. But Jerusalem will not be divided between east and west, and the Temple Mount must not be (permanently) annexed by a people who aren’t even citizens of Israel.

But the recent and renewed interest in the Temple Mount is not just based on an increasing discontent with these restrictions. I firmly believe the primary reason for this resurgent passion toward Israel’s revered and venerated holy site has much more to do with the crescendo of enthusiasm over the coming of Messiah. An integral part of this desire for His appearance is the eagerness to rebuild the Temple. There are several organizations in Israel whose members are devoted to this 2000-year old dream, none more so than The Temple Institute.

In the introductory pages of their website, The Temple Institute states, “THE SCHOLARS OF THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE have dedicated their lives to raising public awareness of the importance of the Holy Temple in the life of all mankind, both Israel and the nations of the world. The Institute seeks to disseminate this knowledge, rekindle the desire and yearning for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, and help to prepare as much as possible for the actual rebuilding.”

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Temple Mount

Hardly a day goes by without global media coverage on Israel, most of which pertains to Jerusalem, and much of that focused on Temple Mount. The latest incident is that all Jews were forbidden to ascend Temple Mount during the recent Muslim month of Ramadan. Thus, the resurgent attention on the Temple Mount is yet another clear signal that the Day of the Lord (rapture, tribulation, and then millennium) is at hand.

Number Five: Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments

Through the ages, the fulfillment of so many Biblical prophecies about Israel and her (our) Messiah has become a matter of historical record. But what we sometimes overlook or minimize is the astonishing details of so many of those prophecies … big ones and little ones. People, places, events, all prophesied and fulfilled with meticulous minutiae. One that many scholars have not paid much attention to (including me) is the transformation of Israel from an empty wasteland to a virtual Garden of Eden. The rebirth of Israel has led to the abundant blossoming and growth of trees, vineyards, gardens, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as Scripture said it would.

“The time will come, says the Lord, when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine! I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and garden; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never be uprooted from the land I have given them says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:13-15).

*Note: There are other Biblical passages just like this one. For example, see Ezekiel Chapter 36.

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Terraced Vineyards, just like Amos predicted!

Once again, that’s exactly what has occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries. God has providentially planted the Jews in the land he gave to their ancestors. And the people have responded with a planting and harvesting not seen since before they were exiled to Babylon in 586 BC. It is absolutely extraordinary. Such as:

  • Trees & Bushes: About 150 years ago, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once took a trip to Israel. Several things impressed him including the scarcity of people, the very small size of Jerusalem, and the barrenness of the land. I can tell you from my personal visit to Israel in 2006, all that has changed. The Israeli organization Jewish National Fund alone has sponsored the planting of 250 million trees in the last one hundred years. In a land that has mostly a desert or arid climate, this is a staggering accomplishment.
  • Vineyards: In that same trip to Israel, my sister and I drove past several of dozens of vineyards throughout Israel. With hundreds of wineries, Israel produces over ten million bottles of wine a year, much of which is exported. Israelis invented and perfected drip irrigation which is essential for vineyards but also for other agricultural products. Major counties of the world, including the United States, have implemented water irrigation strategies conceived and practiced in Israel.
  • Fruits & Vegetables: With a land mass equivalent to the State of New Jersey, the Jews produce 95% of its own food requirements. What makes that so amazing? Only 20% of that land is arable! They need to import only a handful of food items, such as coffee and sugar. Conversely, they export billions of dollars’ worth of fresh produce to many nations of the world, including the United States. Their citrus fruits demand a high price on the world market because of the near perfect texture and taste. Israelis have invented many high-tech methods of growing and improving produce. For example, one Israeli developed a slow-maturing very delicious strain of tomatoes that increases its shelf-life dramatically. This reduces the spoilage which is a huge problem for growers and wholesale and retail outlets.
  • Flowers: Israel is one of the largest growers of all kinds of flowers, with a large export base. They even export flowers to Holland!

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Number Six: Modern-Day Alignment of Gog/Magog Nations against Israel

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have included partial reference to this end-times assault against Israel and a couple have dealt with it almost exclusively. Each article has presented this titanic battle from different vantage points, i.e. why the attack on Israel; what will happen (God, himself, with intervene and fight for Israel, leading to total destruction of this Gog/Magog alliance); when it will take place (soon after the Rapture); and the apocalyptic results—both Israel and the nations fully realizing that God is in control and will defend Israel. In this article the emphasis is on the nations themselves; that they have only recently risen to power and developed alliances that puts everything in place for this huge assault on Israel.

Russia: In just the last one hundred years (one of the Biblical definitions and parameters of a generation), we have seen the rise, fall, and rise again of Russia, the land of Magog as termed by Ezekiel. Before the first ascent to world power, Russia was a prominent country ruled by the Czars, but nothing like the colossus she became when the Communists under Lenin and then Stalin took over the country. Though Russia suffered the greatest casualties in World War II, by far, it rose to great heights under Communist dictators. It was a very real threat to the United States and the entire world.

But then something completely unforeseen happened. In the early 1990’s the mighty Soviet Union unraveled and then disintegrated, as the Communist Party lost its stranglehold on the people. This is explained in some detail in the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Beware of the Bear, published 3-22-14. Here are some excerpts from that article.

Some of you may remember: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The Russian President complied, resulting in the reunification of East and West Berlin; also, the end of Soviet dominance of East Germany, which had become like a vassal state to Russia. Soon to follow was the break-up of the Soviet Union, in which most of the 14 satellite states that comprised the Russian Sphere declared their independence from the mother land. By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union was no more.

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

Students of prophecy shook their heads in disbelief, questioning whether their analysis of the Ezekiel 38 & 39 Gog, Magog attack on Israel could possibly be accurate. Had they been wrong all this time?

We see, now, that the Bear was not dead, but in a state of prolonged hibernation. Due mostly to the leadership of one man, Vladmir Putin, the people from the mother land of “the distant north” once again proudly wave the Russian flag.

Iran (Persia): For thousands of years the country of Persia was a non-plus factor on the world scene. Not until the 1930s did this Persian speaking people begin to once again appear on the world stage as a major player. But it wasn’t until 1979 when the current Islamic regime took over and has now begun to develop nuclear energy with its obvious objective of creating a nuclear bomb. Our headlines have been full of hardly anything else these past weeks, what with the Iran negotiations becoming a daily news item. All of this has occurred within a span of some 70 years, another generational time-frame mentioned in the Bible.

Turkey: The vast and powerful Ottoman Turk Empire was soundly defeated and ceased to exist during World War I. It was from this empire that Israel, then called the territory of Palestine, was liberated by the British. The Jews were allowed to officially return to and settle in Palestine by virtue of the Lord Balfour declaration (the British Mandate over Palestine) in 1917.

The Turks officially threw off Ottoman domination by abolishing the Sultanate and declaring itself to be The Republic of Turkey in 1923. But only in the past two-three decades has Turkey risen to prominence among the more recognized nations on earth, and is also in the international headlines on a frequent basis.

There are other nations in the Gog/Magog coalition, but time/space doesn’t allow more details in this article. Suffice to say the three nations listed are the most prominent members of this unholy, ungodly alliance. But the most startling thing about Russia, Iran, and Turkey is this: not that many decades ago they were rivals, each against the other. Today, Russia and Iran are bosom buddies. Turkey is warming up to Russia as noted by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s friendly visit with Russian Prime Minister Putin in 2009. Although Turkey and Iran don’t see eye-to-eye, both governments are controlled by Muslims; they both want ISIS removed from Syria and Iraq. But, all three have one diabolically depraved agenda in common (along with all the Islamic nations): They all hate Israel. They would do anything to remove this heavy stone.

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When it comes time to march against Israel, Turkey and Iran will set aside any differences and join with Russia to accomplish the united goal of eliminating Israel from the map.

Things to Ponder

I believe the value of combining these twelve end-times prophecies into two articles is so that believers can refer to a handy checklist with the prophetic last-days signs listed point by point, as evidence and encouragement that the second coming of Jesus Christ is, indeed, very near. And, hopefully, that unbelievers will see just how incredibly accurate the Word of God is when it comes to the fulfillment of prophecies.

“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28, NASB).

Be patient we say. All in good time. But according to Jesus that time is just one generation.

I’m convinced that the milestone event (the first of any significance for the Jewish people in hundreds of years) of Balfour’s Declaration of 1917 was the beginning of the first and longest definition of a generation in Scripture … 100 years, as applied to these end-times prophecies. That the rebirth of Israel (1947-1948) was the second monumental landmark that signifies and represents the second generational time-frame … 70 years. And that the absolutely historic recapture and liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 (as well as the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula) was a year of Jubilee, with the next Jubilee beginning to unfold … in 50 years.

All of these take us to the Roman calendar year of 2017 or using the Jewish calendar—up to the first few months of 2019. To repeat what was said in a previous article: I’ll be surprised if the Rapture doesn’t occur by the year 2020.

One Nation Under (the wrath of) God

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One Nation Under (the wrath of) God

Have we slipped over the edge and fallen into the Abyss? Did we cross a line that should never be crossed? Is enough … enough? Did we tip the scales? Have we passed the point of no return? Have we gone too far? These are idiomatic expressions in the form of questions that demand a response to the dismal decision rendered by the United States Supreme Court to approve same-sex marriage. When, in fact, the very concept and institution of marriage bears a built-in natural and supernatural definition that needs no prefix or any other modifier or reason to define or otherwise explain it.

Marriage is between a man and a woman … period. Same-sex matrimony is not marriage … period. There is no such thing as same-sex marriage. In reality there’s also no such thing as “traditional” marriage. Is the institution of marriage a (long-standing) tradition? Of course it is: the most enduring custom of the human race. So much so, that we should never need to refer to it as traditional marriage. We do so only in rebuttal to those who claim that there is an alternative to conventional (conservative, orthodox, straight) marriage.

God created man, then he created woman from man to be with the man. When Adam saw Eve he said, “At last! … This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Genesis 2:23-24).

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No other explanation is needed. It’s totally understood and accepted that the uniting of a man and woman constitutes marriage itself … a union between man and woman. Any other relationship, other than between a man and a woman, is not a marital union. Rather it is an unnatural, abnormal, and ungodly (a deliberate distortion of and deplorable deviation from God’s original creation); therefore, a perversion of God’s prototype and purpose for the human race.

To pervert (verb) is defined by Webster’s dictionary: “…to overturn, corrupt … to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right … to divert to a wrong end or purpose. Misuse: to twist the meaning or sense of…”

There are some timeless precepts that simply cannot be changed or discarded. There are polar opposites that do not mix … light and darkness, right and wrong. Yet Scripture tells us that one day good would be called evil, and evil would be seen as good. Well folks, that day has come. If we can redefine marriage, we can reconfigure the intrinsic meaning of any clear self-defining concept that doesn’t fit with our belief system or lifestyle. We can change the meaning of terrorism, greed, adultery, lust (and love), truth, polygamy, bigamy, incest. We can even redefine God, by making him in our image … whatever we want him to be. Actually, we’ve already done that; which is why we think that we can reconstruct marriage.

“What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

We think that by reinterpreting or changing or nullifying laws we can place a legal stamp of approval on our own concept of morality (what is true and right) and alternate lifestyle choices. We deceive ourselves into thinking that the highest court in our land has the ultimate right to tell God that he is outdated, that his Word and Laws are no longer relevant. We appeal to the highest court of our country to endorse all those, including our leaders (President, legislators, judges, officials) who, “…plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one” (Psalms 2:2). We say with them, “Let us break their chains … and free ourselves from slavery to God” (Verse 3).

We refuse to accept God’s truth that acknowledging, seeking, and following him is the path to true liberty … freedom from sin that is the cause of all of society’s woes.

Response of Two Supreme Court Justices to a Stunning but Ominous Decision

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court decided that the very form and substance of God’s ordained institution of marriage is no longer valid, no longer appropriate or relevant to our post-modern society of relativistic morals and truth. (What’s true and morally right is determined by the individual; moreover, what’s true for one may not be true for another … there is no longer any such thing as absolute truth).

But something startling happened after this historical decision. Two of the dissenting judges made some astonishing post-decision comments, the essence of which I don’t ever recall reading or hearing a Supreme Court Justice(s) make after a vote.

Said dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia: “To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation … no social transformation without representation.” In other words, we have a Justice who adamantly believed that this issue should never have been decided by the Supreme Court.

Listen to an even more penetrating observation from Chief Justice John Roberts immediately following the Higher Court’s landmark decision on June 26th, 2015. In my opinion he answers the questions posed at the beginning of this article, i.e. have we gone too far?

Said Justice Roberts: “The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia…” Then he dramatically dropped a bombshell in the form of a rhetorical question: “Just who do we think we are?” Once again: This shocking indictment came from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Exactly! Who do they think they are? But at least the Chief Justice was bold and honest enough to acknowledge (challenge) that even the Supreme Court didn’t possess the legal or moral right to decide such an issue. But it’s a question that is pertinent far beyond the Supreme Court of the United States. We all must ask the same question. Who do we think we are? What right do we have to change not just a family and societal institution that has existed from the beginning of the human race, but a moral, spiritual, and physical precept and standard that was created by God, himself? One man, one woman … united in God-given pleasure to express and share the love they have for one another; and, in doing so, to continue the human race.

Ah, but isn’t the whole rationale for same-sex marriage based on love? Why can’t two people of the same-sex be given the same rights of marriage as heterosexual couples are afforded, as long as they love each other? This question will be addressed later in this article; insightful I trust, but only in summary fashion, as it is a subject that would require two or more articles.

It’s fundamentally clear that Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia firmly believe that the US Supreme Court didn’t have the right to vote on, much less overrule the inherent legal and moral premise of marriage itself. Once again: marriage is one of those rare concepts that defines itself. Much like truth is defined in the Bible as God’s truth; which is truth itself. Any man-made deviation from or distortion of that truth is a deceitful lie. There are physical laws and spiritual laws established by the Lord. Marriage is a fixed model that is a law unto itself; it was so from the beginning. Nor more or less than the law of gravity, it doesn’t need to be, nor should it ever be altered.

Webster’s Dictionary defines institution as: “something that serves to instruct (serves as an example or model of).” Also, “a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture.” It even cities marriage as an example of an institution!

Not that we need Webster’s definition of institution to prove that God established marriage exclusively between a man and a woman. It was absolutely a foregone conclusion that intimate relationships involving sex and (obviously) procreation was to be between a man and woman in and through the institution of marriage.

Legal Ramifications

Justices Roberts and Scalia stated and implied that any such decision or legal interpretation (which should never be needed in the first place) of what constitutes marriage or who may be legally married should be a matter of state rights. There must be representation of the people in such decisions. In that context, it’s all too clear in the last forty years or so that the Supreme Court has (in my opinion and the opinion of many others) far exceeded the intended authority prescribed for them when our Constitution was put into place and the three branches of government were established, Executive, Legislative, Judicial.

I realize that even the Supreme Court struggles with the kind of cases that it reviews or doesn’t review, or just how it’s supposed to function as a judicial check and balance between the President and Congress. However, if the very members of this highest court of appeals—particularly the Chief Justice—tell the citizens of this country that the Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds, it doesn’t take an expert in jurisprudence to confirm what some of us have thought for many years … that they, in fact, have gone too far. Consequently, they have created an imbalance of power that, for all practical purposes, gives the Supreme Court final (God-like) authority over both legal and moral issues in this country.

Actually, I believe this imbalance began with the monumental Roe vs Wade decision of 1973. That’s another article for another day, except to say that murder of a human being is forbidden by God as first written in Scripture. This country and every country on earth has made this a legal law, violation of which requires punishment. But not the Supreme Court, not when it comes to the licensed killing of babies. What’s the difference? Sorry, but no argument on earth can convince me and many others that an unborn child in its mother’s womb is not a human being. I’d like to see a Supreme Court Justice argue that point with God. Furthermore, my belief is based on Scripture, which makes it much more than just an opinion (see Psalm 139).

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Back to the gay marriage decision. It was a 5-4 vote. Think about it: Based on ONE (more) vote, the very institution of marriage has been altered for a country of over 300 million people! The moral compass and very destiny of this nation could hinge on this one vote. I’m sorry, but there is something wrong, so very wrong with this kind of justice. That’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, himself … as well as three other members of the Court. I’m certainly not suggesting that we abolish the Supreme Court. But it does need some major renovation to return it to the original model established by our Constitution.

For example, couldn’t the Supreme Court establish the following criteria when the case clearly involves a significant moral question or law: Just like a twelve person jury must be unanimous in their verdict of guilty, so, too, should the Supreme Court’s ruling on certain issues be unanimous … all nine must agree.

Moral Repercussions

I fully realize and understand that homosexuality has been around for a very long time. But so have all the other transgressions against God’s laws and standards, i.e. adultery, stealing, murder, lying. We all do wrong things and all too frequently. Obviously, even Christians sin. For that reason, we don’t or shouldn’t judge the sinner, only the sin. God can separate the two and so should we as believers. God is Love, but God is also holy. He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. He loves the sinner (all of us) so much that he gave us a whole laundry list of offenses that he knows will bring us nothing but harm and destruction. But he has done so much more than that. Because of his great love, he provided a magnificent remedy for sin and the penalty of sin, which is Christ’s death on the Cross. God’s instructions for right living is for our own good, but most people just don’t see that. Actually, they don’t want to see it.

Concerning the subject at hand, here is what God says about it:

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools … So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshipped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” (Romans 1:21-27).

Later in this passage, the Apostle Paul includes examples of other gross conduct of those who refused to acknowledge God, with a cutting accusation: “They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too” (Romans 1:32).

As for me, I can’t see the Supreme Court’s revision of the institution of marriage—exclusively between a man and woman—as anything but an “encouragement” to exchange the truth about God for a lie.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we see that homosexuality was every bit as much of a problem then as it is now. But the Roman Empire didn’t approve or enact same-sex marriage laws. Even the pleasure-seeking Romans would have considered such a legalization as having crossed the line of society’s moral boundaries.

Scripture is clear that God has authorized city, state, and national leaders to enforce laws of the land and impose punishment on those who break the law. Otherwise there would be anarchy and chaos. Society deals with these offenses on a human and temporary basis … in this lifetime. Other sins against God and people that may not technically violate a statutory law will still be dealt with by God now and/or in eternity; and is a matter between the individual and God. As long as governmental leaders (executives, legislators, and judges) realize and accept this Biblical standard, God will continue to relate to society on mostly an individual basis.

But here’s the thing: When people permit and even promote defiance of God’s laws on a sweeping, broad-based, and national basis, then God will deal with the entire nation. This is a fundamental principle of Scripture seen time and time again with Israel and Gentile nations. Often, we read that God’s short-term and then long-term judgments will fall more harshly on a people when the leaders flaunt sin and evil by making it even more socially acceptable, through executive laws or judicial decisions that clearly conflict with the spiritual, moral, and physical standards established by Almighty God.

Recently, I decided to watch a video of a so-called gay-pride parade that was endorsed by a leading business in this country. It was sent as an email attachment by a Christian organization who was warning believers that this prominent retail business had sponsored the parade, along with many other aspects of the gay agenda. I think the parade was held in New York City, but I don’t recall for sure. I managed to get through about 45 seconds of the video (parade), at which time I had to turn it off. I don’t consider myself prudish in any way, shape, or form. But what I was watching was flat-out disgusting. About the only thing being paraded were nearly naked men gyrating on several floats, with a clear inference that it wasn’t love that motivated their gay agenda; it was arrogant pride and lust. Moreover, there were children watching this parade.

That’s the graphic nature of what Paul is saying in the book of Romans. God’s tells it like it is. He gets to the core of the matter. Paul was alluding to Sodom and Gomorrah stuff. The depravity of what was taking place in these cities is explicitly depicted in the scene where men from all over Sodom attempted to rape the two angels who were sent to rescue Lot and his family prior to utter destruction of these wicked people. It’s obvious that city officials completely condoned this depraved behavior, as there were no restraints of any kind to prevent such a thing from happening. They didn’t love or respect the guests in Lot’s house, they lusted after them.

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Having said that, I say again: God’s judgment belongs to God alone. Ultimately God will deal with each person on earth based on whether they accepted Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice for their sin(s). That if we believe and receive Christ as personal Savior, we will be saved from God’s wrath and from an eternity in hell.

But if the leaders of an entire nation sanction (parades) a lifestyle that is unquestionably an aberration of God’s institutional law of marriage and an abomination in God’s eyes (Leviticus 18:22); and does so in the form of a final decision by our nation’s Supreme Court, then God will deal with this on a national basis. Legally, the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals. Morally, however, there is a much higher court: the throne of the Most High God.

More Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision

Let’s examine again Chief Justice John Robert’s scathing response that the Supreme Court had the audacity to “order the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia…” In that statement, he accurately reflected God’s priority design for God-ordained institutions of the human race. In the following order of rank and importance: Family; then communities that make up society; then nations to provide boundaries and sovereign unity for its people. And finally governments, both local and national (and in the unique paradigm of America, states within a nation) to serve and protect its citizens at various levels. But it all starts with the family. And the family begins with a union of one man and one woman in holy matrimony!

The implication of Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia’s statements are profound. Both of them strongly suggest that the Supreme Court has too much power; that this kind of power was not intended by our founding fathers. Chief Justice Roberts carried it one step further. The Supreme Court had absolutely no right to “invalidate” the universal institution of marriage that has been in place the world over from time immemorial.

The Supreme Court’s decision has potentially staggering repercussions. If they can decide that marriage should also include same-sex couples, then what’s to prevent them from endorsing incestuous marriages? Or polygamy? Or bigamy? As long as, for example, a sister and brother (or even first cousins) love each other, why can’t they get married? If a man loves five women and they all love him, why shouldn’t they be able to get a marriage license. They are absolutely, beyond any doubt, the same thing as gay marriage. None of them fit the God ordained purpose and parameters of marriage. All of them claim the same rights based on love; that is, their version and definition of love.

Truth and Love

“Pilate said, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus responded, ‘You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.’ ‘What is truth?’ Pilate asked…” (John 18:37-38).

We see two things happening in this crucifixion passage: (1) Jesus explaining his mission on coming to this earth … to testify of the truth. Earlier in his ministry he had said that he, himself, was The Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He also said the truth would set us free, meaning himself. God’s truth for mankind is that his Son is the only Way to God, his son is Truth itself, and his Son is Life (salvation that comes from God’s great love for the human race which leads to eternal life, John 3:16). (2) Pilate diverted and deflected Messiah’s declaration and explanation of truth by facetiously asking, “What is truth?” With his clear inference that truth is relative to anything and everything; what is true for one isn’t true for another.

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Many people (particularly unbelievers and especially those who practice or promote homosexual behavior and/or assert equal rights to a marriage license) claim that love trumps everything else, including truth. Of course it would, because there is no longer any such thing as absolute truth, i.e. given to us by God, himself as found in Scripture, the very Word of God. They refuse to consider real truth; accordingly, they really don’t understand what love is.

First comes truth, then comes love. Scripture tells us in no uncertain terms that it is the Truth that sets us free, not love. Without universal divine truth as found in Scripture, we simply cannot and do not understand what love is. We confuse it and substitute it with passion or at the very most, a deep brotherly type affection that is good among people, but apparently not enough to overcome the racial, political, cultural, and religious differences among people, including men and woman.

In fact, marriage is the least likely relationship in which the basic motivation and subsequent words of, “I love you,” or “I promise to love, cherish….” will stand the test of time. The 50% plus divorce rate should tell us that much. We are much more likely to say and mean those same words to a brother, sister, child, parent, or friend forty years from now than a spouse.

Institutions are characterized by and predicated on relationships.

The fundamental components of any relationship are love, honor, and respect; but here we must defer to Scripture’s definition of love and how that love determines the boundaries of relationships, particularly marriage.

In the English language the word love is used for just about anything and everything that we cherish, adore, admire, esteem, or really like. For example a woman can say, “I love my husband.” Or, “I love my brother.” Or, I love Sandra, my friend.” Or, “I love chocolate ice cream.” We pretty much understand the difference in the degree of love she has for each of these. Obviously, she doesn’t love chocolate ice cream in the same way she loves her husband, or even her brother. At least we hope that she doesn’t! It’s also clearly understood that the woman’s love for her brother or female friend should not—by God’s laws and the common sense moral laws of the human race—be expressed sexually, to any extent, in any manner, for any reason … and certainly not marriage. That is exactly what the Word of God is telling us.

The original text of the New Testament is from the Greek language. There are three basic Greek words for love that more accurately and definitively convey the different levels of love … how and when they are expressed in the dynamics of human relationships.

  • Agape: This word is used to define and express unconditional love of the highest order. This is the Divine standard and example for ultimate display of love, through the heart and spirit of one person to another or for God, himself. It is the love that God has for every man, woman, and child. He demonstrated this great love by giving his only Son as a sacrificial redemption for our sins and the penalty of those sins. This grace-filled love is greater than any sin ever committed. All three kinds of love are expressed in action, but none more so than this one.
  • Phileo: To like, to treat with affection, to appreciate, to befriend, i.e. kindness, fondness. It is what we call brotherly love, for one’s brother or sister or friend.
  • Eros: Physical passion … sex. Speaks for itself. According to God and his Word, the only setting (institution if you will) where all three types of love can and should be expressed is through marriage; which by divine, but also innate, definition is between a man and a woman. Whether Agape or Phileo, a man can love another man, a daughter her father, a mother her son, a woman another woman. But this love is never to be conveyed through physical intimacy, i.e. sex. Even the God-given pleasure of sex between and man and a woman is to be through marriage. And only between a man and woman.

Thus, to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples is NOT discrimination. Because there is no such right to begin with. Instead, it’s just the opposite. Whether from a spiritual, moral, and/or physical vantage point, same-sex intimacy and marriage are flat-out wrong. It’s non-spiritual, immoral, and unnatural. Furthermore, deep in our conscience, soul, and heart, we know that.

Things to Ponder

Like never before, the United States of America has defied God himself, by effectively saying that the Word of God is a lie. That has become the real battleground in this country … the absolute, timeless truth of God against the relativism of truth and morality in our post-modern culture.

“…For they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:24, NASB).

Will this be One Nation under God? Or will our country be One Nation under the Wrath of God?

The choice belongs to us.

And we believers should be reminded of our past, of what Christ has done for us:

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—‘When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit … Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life’” (Titus 3:3-7).

The Ark of the Covenant … Part II

The (Lost) Ark of the Covenant

Where on earth might the Ark of the Covenant be? For over 2500 years the question of the Ark’s existence and location has perplexed theologians, rabbis, archeologists, and students of Scripture the world over. In the 20th and 21st centuries, theories of and interest in the Ark of the Covenant accelerated in scope and intensity even among secular historians; as reflected in movies, television documentaries, articles, and books. Some say that its discovery would be the single greatest archeological find of all time.

Before we examine some location theories about the Ark of the Covenant, let’s look at more Biblical history of this sacred object that was the centerpiece of the Holy of Holies—first in the Tabernacle, then in Solomon’s Temple. Combining Scripture with a healthy dose of rational common sense deduction, I believe we’ll develop a better understanding of the purpose and importance of the Ark … what it was meant to be but also what it was not supposed to be or do.

But also to convincingly confirm last week’s daring premise: “We can, with a great deal of Biblical certainty, know what happened to the ark and where it’s located!”

Following the spectacular Battle of Jericho in which the Ark of the Lord played a powerful part in the victory by symbolically portraying the protection, provision, presence, and power of God for his people, the next conspicuous reference to the Ark is found some two hundred years later—after the birth of the great prophet Samuel. Let’s pick up the story during one of many battles between Israel and her archenemy, the Philistines. At that time, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant rested in Shiloh, a city about 25 miles north of Jerusalem.

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Synagogue in Shiloh, Israel, Modeled After Tabernacle

“The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle. And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel. At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines … The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines? … Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies’” (I Samuel 3: 21 & 4:1-3, italics and bold for emphasis).

Even without the bold print and italics, it’s hard to miss what is happening here. What was it that the people were placing their hope and trust in, after a shameful defeat that they simply couldn’t comprehend? The text is crystal clear: The leaders of Israel believed that the Ark, itself, would bring victory … nothing more than a superstitious reliance on the presumed power of a sacred object that was designed by God to (at this point in Israel’s history) remain in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle where God’s very presence dwelt.

Samuel was the last of several judges appointed by God over Israel, with each judge used by the Lord to bring his people back from disobedience and abandonment of the Lord. But Samuel was more than a judge; he was also the first notable prophet since Moses. God used Samuel to give the people what they didn’t need, but wanted anyway … a King to rule over them. Over the ensuing 450 years nearly all of Israel’s and Judah’s kings were evil; thus, it was necessary for the Lord to bring one prophet after another to warn Israel that their allegiance to God would determine blessings or curses as so meticulously explained by Moses before he died.

Misunderstanding & Misuse of the Ark of the Covenant

With this unfathomable defeat at the hands of the Philistines, it was obvious that God had again withdrawn his protection from Israel. Once again the leaders of Israel were blind to their spiritual condition. Instead of calling directly upon the Lord for restoration and rescue, they decided that it was time to bring out the Ark of the Covenant and carry it into battle. Their misguided mindset was all too clear: It was the Ark of the Lord that brought the walls of Jericho down. It worked then, it would work again. There wasn’t time or the need to repent and return to the Lord their God. Just bring out the Ark and God would (was obligated to) fight for them.

“When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!” (I Samuel 4:5).

So, too, were the Philistines familiar with the presumed legendary power of the Ark of the Covenant.

“What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. ‘What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?’ When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. ‘The gods have come into their camp!’ they cried. ‘This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness’” (I Samuel 4:6-8).

The Philistines knew something about Israel’s history. But like other pagan nations they attributed Israel’s might to the Ark of the Covenant and to gods (plural) of the Ark, not the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To them—sadly even to the Israelites—the Ark of the Covenant was a mysterious object that possessed magical, cryptic clout. The army that carried it into battle would be invincible. But this was not just some ancient fantasy that would be considered absurd in today’s ultra-modern civilization. This same perverted belief drove Hitler and the Third Reich to extreme measures to try to find and wield the Ark of the Covenant in their conquest of Europe and eventually the world.

But the Philistines mustered their courage and shouted, “…Stand up like men and fight! So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day … The Ark of the Covenant was captured…” (I Samuel 4:9-11).

Without first seeking the Lord their God, Israel’s defeat was even more devastating when they carried the Ark into this battle.

The rest of the story shows that the Philistines took the Ark of God as a trophy and placed it in their own temple. Big mistake!

When the Philistines placed the Ark next to their chief god Dagon, it smacked of presumptuous sacrilege against the God of the Ark. And they would pay a heavy price. First, however, God would toy with them, displaying a sense of humor by causing the mighty god Dagon to fall flat on his, “…face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord!” (I Samuel 5:3).

The Philistines did what any “reasonable” people would do for an idol that depicted their god of fertility and harvest; “…So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold” (I Samuel 5:3-5).

You don’t want to get crushed by a falling god!

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How horrible. Poor Dagon … a god without hands or a head! That must have been worse than a modern-day person losing their god of fortune (stock market crash), or their god of fame (sudden rejection by their followers), or their god of pleasure (perhaps through a debilitating STD).

But then the Lord stopped playing with the Philistines and their pathetic god(s) and took some serious action. “Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors. When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, ‘We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god’” (I Samuel 5:6-7).

You think! Apparently they were already tired of putting Dagon back together again, Humpty, Dumpty style.

Didn’t take them long to fully comprehend that it wasn’t the Ark that would destroy them; rather it was the God of Israel. They went from gods of Israel (plural) that delivered Israel from the Egyptians, to a personal pronoun, “He,” (is against us). He, singular … as in the one and only God. And the Bible tells us that one day all nations and peoples will acknowledge the true and living God and his Son, Messiah Jesus.

The Ark of the Covenant Returns to Israel

In a foregone conclusion, the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel, specifically to the Jews of Beth-shemesh who were overjoyed to get it back. So much so that they, too, forgot God’s solemn instructions as to how the Ark must be handled reverently and treated respectfully; including only Levites carrying it … which was done upon its return. But that no one must look inside the Ark, which some of the Israelites failed to obey. The Lord would not permit even his own people from misusing the Ark of the Covenant; to flippantly disrespect and disregard the holiness and sanctity that the Lord had placed on the perfect purpose and proper position of the Ark—God’s very presence above the Ark of the Lord in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle.

The result: “But the Lord killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Lord. And the people mourned greatly because of what the Lord had done. ‘Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?’ they cried out. ‘Where can we send the Ark from here?’” (I Samuel 6:19-20).

Indeed, it was a severe object lesson. But it got the attention of the Israelites and soon afterward they turned back to the Lord through Samuel who said to the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines” (I Samuel 7:3).

That’s exactly what Israel did and from then on they experienced one victory after another against the Philistines under Samuel’s leadership, then through most of King Saul’s reign and all of King David’s rule… without the Ark of the Covenant going before them.

The Ark was eventually taken to a small community called Kiriath-jearim where it remained until King David attempted to transfer it to Jerusalem. But the Ark of the Lord was not returned to the Tabernacle which was moved to Nob during Saul’s reign, then Gibeon during the governments of King David and King Solomon.

On his second attempt, David finally brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem where it remained until Solomon built the Temple of God. Many remember what happened during King David’s first effort to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He failed to review the Torah to make sure how the Ark should be transported. This wrong (disobedient) method of carrying the Ark on an ox cart is why Uzzah was struck dead by God when Uzzah touched the Ark trying to keep it from falling off the cart. It was another (deadly) serious object lesson of God’s holiness; that his scrupulous standards for managing the Ark were an expression of his sovereignty and sanctity.

Ark of the Covenant

Although the priests and Levites brought the Tabernacle Tent and all the sacred items within to the dedication of the newly built Temple, all of the furnishings and furniture of Solomon’s Temple were newly built (not reused); even the golden Cherubim which hovered over the Ark were newly fashioned for the Temple. With one significant exception: The Ark of the Covenant. There would be no duplication of or substitution for the original Ark of the Lord.

What a celebration it was, the dedication of the majestic Temple. “There, before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count! Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple—the Most Holy Place—and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim” (II Chronicles 5:6-7).

Then the people, “…raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful loves endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (II Chronicles 5:13-14).

A little later, Solomon delivered a lengthy but magnificent prayer and praise of dedication to God and his Temple. I want to focus on just two portions of this tribute. (1) Solomon’s wisdom to recognize the limitation of the Temple: that it was ultimately for the benefit of Israel, not a place that God needed to dwell on earth. Said Solomon: “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Nevertheless … May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place” (II Chronicles 6:18-20).

(2) The true significance of the Ark: “And now arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting (dwelling) place, along with the Ark, the symbol of your power…” (II Chronicles 6:41, italics for emphasis).

Three Hundred Years Later

For over three hundred years virtually nothing is mentioned about the Ark of the Covenant. In 722 BC, Assyria conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel and dispersed the Jews to foreign lands. God’s patience for the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin continued for more than a century, until they finally crossed the divine line of God’s forbearance. It was King Manasseh of Judah who stretched the chain of God’s tolerance to the breaking point. Enough was enough. What he did as king was appallingly incomprehensible. He had plunged Judah into the depths of depravity and taken the people to the point of no return.

“He built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord … He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens (meaning the occult powers behind worship of the stars, sun, and moon) in both courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. Manasseh also sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of Ben-Hinnom. He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the Lord’s sight, arousing his anger” (II Chronicles 33:4-6).

Toward the end of a painfully long reign, Manasseh briefly repented and turned back to God, but it was too late. His loathsome practices had irreversibly influenced the people of Judah to continue their unholy and ungodly worship of false gods and child sacrifice and any number of other despicable sins.

In 640 BC, Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, began to rule (fifth to the last king of Judah) and for one last shining, but brief moment in Judah’s evil decline, he and the people returned to the Lord. Jeremiah was God’s main prophet to Judah at that time.

God told Jeremiah to tell the people: “…Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, ‘The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!’ But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds…” (Jeremiah 7:3-5).

And, “Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, ‘We are safe!’—only to go right back to all those evils again” (Verses 8-10).

*Note: We see again that the people are back to the idea that the Temple (including the Ark of the Covenant) alone would ensure safety, peace, and indefinite protection by God from their enemies … no matter what they did. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

No different, I might add, than the United States using, for example, the Statue of Liberty as a symbolic representation of America’s democratic principles and military might to indefinitely preserve freedom, protection, and prosperity no matter how far this great nation declines morally and spiritually. Repeat with me: Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

As indicated, King Josiah did lead his people back to the Lord for a couple of decades. In the year 622 BC, he reinstated the Passover celebration. In fact it was such an incredible observance of this once significant festival (High Holy Day of the Lord) that the Bible tells us, “Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel” (II Chronicles 35:18).

In preparation for this Passover remembrance, “Josiah also assigned the priests to their duties and encouraged them in their work at the Temple of the Lord. He issued this order to the Levites, who were to teach all Israel and who had been set apart to serve the Lord: ‘Put the holy Ark in the Temple that was built by Solomon son of David, the king of Israel. You no longer need to carry it back and forth on your shoulders. Now spend your time serving the Lord your God and his people Israel’” (II Chronicles 35:2-3).

By inference, it’s evident that the Ark of the Covenant was not always kept in the Temple. In all likelihood, Manasseh (or King Ahaz before him) had ordered the Ark of the Lord to be removed from the Holy Place along with other sacred items; in order to set up his own profane instruments of worship. And/or the Ark was still used periodically during battles with Judah’s enemies. But at this time, King Josiah ordered that the Ark of the Lord be placed permanently in the Most Holy Place and left there … which is where it should have been kept in the first place.

Messianic Judaism

But when Josiah died, the people once again ignored God and went their own way. In less than two decades, Babylon would begin its first of three military campaigns against Judah, culminating in complete sack of Jerusalem, destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and final exile of the Jews to Babylon in 586 BC. Just prior to the beginning of the Babylonian assaults against Judah, the Ark of the Covenant is not mentioned again in the Old Testament.

With one notable exception! We’ll get to that shortly.

What Happened to the Ark? Where Is It Today?

As indicated in last week’s Part I article, the majority of Jews and most Gentiles, who are interested in the Ark of the Covenant’s disposition, maintain that the Ark was kept intact and still exists to this very day. The primary (by sheer numbers or strength of argument) places where the Ark of the Lord is said to be located and safeguarded are in the following order:

  1. Remained in Jerusalem (view held by most observant Jews, especially Rabbis as found in much of the rabbinical literature). More specifically, somewhere beneath Temple Mount.
  2. In the Church of our Lady Mary of Zion, located in Axum, Ethiopia. Guarded by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
  3. Mount Nebo, having been transported there by the prophet Jeremiah, who also took the entire Tabernacle, and altar of incense. This can be found in the writings of 2 Maccabees which states that this hiding place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together.
  4. Taken by the Lemba people of South Africa and Zimbabwe to a cave in the Dumghe Mountain range,
  5. Taken to Arabia (Saudi Arabia).

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Church of our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia (Reported location of the Ark)

But What Does the Bible Say Directly and by Logical Implication?

“The king (Nebuchadnezzar) took home to Babylon all the articles, large and small, used in the Temple of God, and the treasures from both the Lord’s Temple and from the palace of the king and his officials. Then his army burned the Temple of God…” (II Chronicles 36:18-19).

First, if the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Babylonians, it’s unimaginable that Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Daniel, who were prophets just before, during, and after the final Babylonian victory over Judah, would not tell us that the Ark was captured among the treasures taken from the Temple, or destroyed, or possibly hidden by Jews. However, Nebuchadnezzar and kings from other nations knew of Israel’s history, of her God, and certainly about the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, “The Lord gave him (Nebuchadnezzar) victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God…” (Daniel 1:2). I suppose it’s possible, but highly unlikely that (if the Ark was still in the Temple) Nebuchadnezzar would dare risk transportation of the Ark, knowing its legend.

Secondly, if Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Ark to Babylon, it would surely have been among all the other sacred objects of the Temple captured by the Medes-Persians when they conquered Babylon. In fact, King Cyrus of Persia issued a decree that the Jews could return to Israel and rebuild their Temple, taking with them all the articles of the Temple. Cyrus ordered that all of these items be counted, the categorical list of which is found in Ezra Chapter 1.

In the book of Ezra, The Temple of God or God’s Temple is mentioned at least 57 times (at least, because I only made one count and may have missed a couple, but also I omitted slight references to the Temple, such as “servants of the Temple”). Not once is the Ark of the Lord mentioned and, of course, it was never placed in the rebuilt Temple. It’s simply inconceivable that Ezra would not have returned the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple if its whereabouts were known to him or someone else. Ezra was a priest, but also a scribe (historian). If anyone knew anything about the Ark’s location, he would have retrieved the Ark, put it in the rebuilt Temple, and recorded this in his book.

One could even make the argument that Biblical silence about the Ark of the Covenant is so deafening that God may have instructed select prophets, priests, and scribes (if they knew the Ark’s whereabouts) not to record their knowledge of or anything more about the Ark.

Thirdly, if the Ark was hidden and still exists today, why did Ezekiel not make any reference to the Ark of the Covenant in his stunning introduction and prophetic description of what will be the 3rd rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem? Nor will there be any curtain in that Temple that separates the Holy Place from the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. Instead, there will be two double doorways, each with two swinging doors (Ezekiel 41:23). In my Biblically based opinion, there’s no way that Ezekiel’s description of this future Temple would exclude the Ark of the Covenant from being placed in the Holy of Holies, if it exists on earth when this future Temple is built.

Summary Conclusion

Which leads us to the last reference made of the Ark of the Covenant that comes from the prophet Jeremiah, who prophesied from 627 BC until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC. Many of Jeremiah’s prophecies pertained to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem and the Temple. But like the other major and minor prophets he also tells us about end times events in which Israel will be redeemed and restored as a nation.

Here’s the last known reference to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament:

“And when your land is once more filled with people, says the Lord, you will no longer wish for the ‘good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark” (Jeremiah 3:16, italics for emphasis).

Read the verse again. I believe it is as plain as it can be, but you need to think carefully about what he is saying. Jeremiah says that (in the last days which are the years just before, during, and for a thousand years after the seven-year tribulation … the Millenium), there will be no reason, whatsoever, to rebuild the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, the Jews will hardly give the Ark of the Covenant a second thought. Conversely, the obvious insinuation is: if there was a desire for the Ark, they would then need to rebuild it. The stated reason why the Ark won’t be rebuilt is because the people won’t miss it or want it back. But if they did, then the Ark would need to be rebuilt.

Putting it another way: Why would the Ark be rebuilt unless the original was no longer available? You don’t rebuild it, if it still exists. If the Ark of the Covenant remained on the earth, there would be no reason to replicate (replace) it. You simply place the original Ark of the Covenant in the new Temple. But you don’t build another Ark.

That should, beyond any doubt, tell us that the original Ark of the Covenant was either destroyed OR taken to a place totally inaccessible to anyone on this earth. And, I strongly believe that it was not destroyed.

Possible … No, Let’s Make That Probable Location of the Ark of the Covenant

“Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm” (Revelation 11:19). Incidentally, this is the 7th Trumpet Judgement. Wasn’t it the 7th time around Jericho when the Shofars were blown? (Mmmm)

Time doesn’t permit to explain that the original Tabernacle and its furnishings were patterns of the heavenly Temple. That this heavenly Temple in Revelation is the ultimate and actual dwelling place of God. That the entire heavenly Temple is, in effect, heaven itself; the Most Holy Place … also the dwelling place of those who live in and actually are the temple (born-again believers, see Revelation 13:6).

But I’m confident that the Ark of the Covenant seen by John is the ORIGINAL Ark of the Lord!

ark-of-the-covenant (2)

If God could take Elijah directly to heaven in a chariot of fire, without dying, he certainly could have taken the Ark of the Covenant to heaven at any time just before, during, or after the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem.

Can I be dogmatic that the Ark of the Covenant seen by John is the original? No. However, the Tabernacle and everything in it were replaced with the Temple and new furnishings. All but the Ark.

On the other hand, I can say with total certainty that the original Ark of the Covenant is gone from the earth.

Why? Because of what Jeremiah tells us: there will be no desire to rebuild the Ark. With the decisive deduction that if, for some reason, there was a longing for the (an) Ark, it would have to be rebuilt … because the original Ark was no longer available.

Things to Ponder

What is the all-inclusive reason why the Ark of the Covenant will not be rebuilt?

Answer: Because there would be a New Covenant that Jeremiah, himself, announced (Jeremiah 31:31-34). That New Covenant arrived when Messiah Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose from the grave. Read Hebrews Chapter Nine for extensive details of the New Covenant replacing and surpassing the Old Covenant, including reference to the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant.

The curtain that separated the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant, indeed, the entire Temple is gone from the earth. What’s left is something, someone far superior.

It’s like Jeremiah was telling future Ark-seekers: “Stop your search; it’s irrelevant!” Seek the Ark of the New Covenant.

Christ Jesus is the ARK.

Author

Redeemer

King

He is the Ark (Author, Redeemer, and King) of the NEW COVENANT.

NEW:

New

Everlasting

Way

COVENANT:

Christ

Overwhelming

Victory

Effectively

Neutralizes

And

Nullifies

Transgressions

Messiah’s death on the cross was the ultimate once for all time redemptive sacrifice!

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