Replacement Theology (Part I)

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REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY (Part I)

As a young man I had the pleasure of reading all seven novels that make up the timeless story of redemption so profoundly crafted by C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. Millions of others have also read one or more of these books, or have heard about them, or have seen the movies based on three of the books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Many books, articles, and commentaries have also been written about the novels.

As expected in a series that consists of seven individual books, there are numerous plots, subplots, adventures, and stories; but one way or another they all relate to the Divine rescue and subsequent reign of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve. To replace, to substitute, to exchange is the overriding theme of these novels, as so beautifully expressed in the Christ-like character of Aslan … the original Lion-King. When Edmund, one of four Pevensie children, betrayed his brothers and sisters and all of Narnia with his Adam-like disobedience of what he knew to be good and true and right, Aslan understood there was only one remedy. And that was Aslan’s own personal sacrificial death at the hands of the evil Queen of Narnia … an unmistakable representation of Satan.

The Queen demanded (rightfully so) the death of Edmund for his treason, but she was forced to accept Aslan’s offer to replace Edmund … a righteous and flawless substitute in exchange for a fallen son of Adam. But neither the fictional Queen nor the real Satan understood that when a perfectly just and sinless person (Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man) takes the place and bears the penalty of those who have sinned—every person who has ever lived—by shedding blood and dying, that the perfect sacrifice, Aslan (Christ), would be raised from the dead.

Replace: “To restore to a former place or position; to take the place of as a substitute or successor; to put something new in the place of. Synonym: Displace, Supplant, Supersede…” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1980).

Using this definition, think about the greatest replacement and exchange gift of all time. When Jesus died a horrible death on that cross and then arose from the dead, he restored us to our former place and position as innocent sons and daughters of God, exactly the way Adam and Eve were created by God. He took our place as a substitute and successor to put something new in the place of the original sentence of death and hell … eternal separation from God. All we need do is to agree with God that we are sinners in need of this substitutionary sacrifice and believe in/on Christ as the one who exchanged his precious blood and life for our terrible sins and the just penalty for those sins.

God IS love. But he is also righteous; and that holiness demands justice. As clearly as we understand substitutionary replacement, we also understand justice. If someone assaults and robs you, or harms or even kills a loved one, it’s morally right to demand that, “justice must be served.” That’s exactly what Jesus did when he died on the Cross for our sins. He satisfied God’s demand for justice, then pardoned all those who believe and accept what Christ did on our behalf. Without justice, there would be complete chaos and anarchy … which we have all too much of as it is.

So many Bible passages explain this incredible trade provided by God through Jesus, who was not only the Son of God, but God the Son. But none more so than: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21, NASB).

If It Doesn’t Work, Trade It In or Get Rid of It

I would think this generation would comprehend better than past generations what it means to replace something or someone with something or someone better. Among other things, we have been called: The disposable generation!

Sometimes when cars, televisions, dishwashers, or toys break down we get them fixed. But not always and not indefinitely. Sooner or later—oftentimes sooner—we simply discard that old computer and replace it with a new one. We’ve become experts at: Out with the old, in with the new. Unhappily, this all too often and too easily applies to friends, wives, and husbands. Just check out the 20th and 21st century divorce rates for confirmation.

We are constantly and many times flippantly, causally, and whimsically replacing old things with new things, old relationships with new ones, and more so than ever before, old (but time-tested) truths for a new truth of today. In fact, we’ve gone much farther than that: we have begun to trade truth for lies, good things for bad, right for wrong. “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” (Romans 1:25, italics for emphasis). Traded means replaced or exchanged, but it doesn’t necessarily mean an equal exchange. There are good trades and bad trades. Trading God’s truth for lies is as equally bad as God’s trading the precious blood of his Son for our transgressions is good.

This has been an age-old problem, but according to Scripture the inversion of right and wrong will intensify to a magnitude unparalleled in history during the end-time last days as described by Scripture. Of course, it’s fun and exciting to exchange that old clunker for a brand new car, or that ultra-slow computer that took three seconds too long between clicks for a sleek, supersonic, speed-of-light computer. I’m not knocking new just because it’s new. Look at the spectacular New Covenant that was given to us because of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. The new way is God’s matchless irreplaceable grace to forgive our sins simply by trusting in what Jesus did for us. And it’s so much better than the old way of trying to vainly and unsuccessfully please God by keeping the law.

But with the breath-taking, hard-to-keep-up-with, warp-speed developments in technology (especially in the last 70 years), we’ve learned consciously and subconsciously that the only permanency is change itself. Subtly, slowly at first, we adapted to advancing technology; but in the last two decades or so we’ve been bombarded with changes so abrupt and rapid that we really don’t have or take the time to consider the consequences … whether the change is really an improvement or not.

Even more of a phenomenon is the impact that material changes have exerted on our spiritual life. Material things come and go so fast, that many people 40 years old or more couldn’t tell you how many cars they’ve bought and sold. This disposable mentality seeps and creeps into the spiritual and emotional dimensions of our life, to the extent that we sometimes shed our values, ethics, and morals much like an old worn-out pair of jeans. We find ourselves, “…tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching…” (Ephesians 4:14). And all we really need do or say in defense of lowering our standards of morality and spirituality is: “Well, this is the 21st century” For those reading this article over the age of 14, you or your peers might have said, “Well, this is the 20th century.”

Do you get the drift? Every person in every generation in every century going back as far as you like, could have and probably did say the same thing. As if the current generation is always the most enlightened; therefore possessing the right to redefine morality or set brand new standards that replace honored truths of the past. Which is another reason that many people cannot abide or tolerate even hearing the name of Jesus Christ in today’s society. Because, for one thing, Jesus Christ is the, “same yesterday, today, and forever.” When the name of Jesus is mentioned in Scripture or by his followers, his name embodies all that he is, does, and will do. Including, but not limited to all of the truth of Scripture that he either taught himself or is taught about him throughout the Bible. So, we can safely and equivocally maintain that God’s truth, morality, and values are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Whether material or spiritual, if we mess around with the laws of physics and the truth of God … if we play with fire we’re going to get burned, physically and spiritually. (See Lake of Fire in Revelation 19 & 20).

When we try to compare or relate material technological advancements to values and morals and truth itself, we are truly making apples into lemons. But that doesn’t seem to bother very many people in today’s world. So, when it comes to open or tacit support for abortion or homosexuality or sexual promiscuity, or cheating on income tax, all one need say is: “Come on … this is the 21st century.” And all the relativism and secular humanism that goes with that amoral mindset.

Thus, there is great heartache, danger, and eternal consequences when we begin trading in God’s truth as found in the Bible in favor of any number of religious or irreligious man-made systems. For the most part it’s not all that difficult for a born-again Christian who wants to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to recognize, for example, the vast difference between the god of Islam (Allah) and the God of the Bible. Or to understand that Biblical Christianity is the only “religion” in which a pure substitutionary sacrifice made it possible to exchange the penalty for our transgressions with an everlasting pardon that profoundly alters God’s divine verdict from guilty to innocent.

What is confusing, if not deceptive is when a (small) portion of the Bible is made to stand alone as a doctrinal truth that contradicts other truths/facts found in Scripture with regard to that particular subject; or passages that are misapplied because they are not placed into a broader context of the whole counsel of God, i.e. the entire content of Scripture. Replacement Theology is one of those half-truths that cleverly discounts, distorts, ignores, and even rejects the Big Picture of God’s purpose for and destiny of Israel.

So What Is Replacement Theology?

By now we should have a foundational grasp of the Replacement part of this term. Theology is simply a study and working knowledge of God—including his attributes, interaction with the human race, and the fundamentally important truths that he has shared with mankind. Many theologians call these truths, Doctrines. I encourage you not to shudder at that term or otherwise brush it off as irrelevant or overbearing or whatever you think of it. In today’s world many people, including some Christians don’t like to use the word, as it carries the connotation of something absolute or something too hard to understand; that it unnecessarily interferes with today’s emphasis on unity and love at the expense of Biblical truth. After all, the term is periodically used for such secular things as describing government policy. For example, The Truman Doctrine, named after President Harry Truman.

Biblical doctrine or dogma is simply the end product of accurately describing and consolidating Christ’s teachings and life into categorical terms that define who he was and what he did, equally as God and as man. So we have the marvelous (doctrinal) truths of Justification, Sanctification, Glorification, Reconciliation, Propitiation, and others.

Previous Eye of Prophecy articles have periodically touched on the treacherous theory of Replacement Theology, but this article and the next are written exclusively on the subject. In a nutshell, Replacement Theology maintains that the Christian Church has symbolically and, therefore, has spiritually (actually) replaced Israel in ALL of the Biblical prophetic passages pertaining to Israel, beginning with the Church’s inception at Pentecost. This includes hundreds of Old Testament predictions about Israel’s future troubles and restoration as found in end-times prophecies. Shrewdly, this symbolic spiritual substitution then becomes a literal transfer exchange of all of God’s promises for the nation of Israel to the Church. Ironically, none of those who shamelessly embrace Replacement Theology will talk about, let alone acknowledge, the Biblical passages in which God disciplines Israel.

Sorry, but they can’t have it both ways. If they’re going to substitute Israel with the Church in the good, positive blessings prophesied for Israel, they must be consistent and also replace Israel with the Church concerning negative things that will happen to Israel in the last days … just before the people, the nation, and the land of Israel are finally restored, both physically and spiritually. Next week, we’ll refer to a few Bible passages to show how ludicrous and indefensible this premise is.

By and large, proponents of this deceitful theology are Christian in name only, comprise a majority of Catholics, found in some of the more liberal Protestant denominations such as mainstream Presbyterian or Lutheran or United Methodist, or some, or all of the above.

Tragically, however, even some Evangelical Christians can be found lurking in the camps of Replacement Theology. Even more heartbreaking: the notion and impact of Replacement Theology was fostered and fueled by one of the most influential Christians in all of history: Martin Luther.

Millions of people world-wide, both believers and unbelievers, know at least something about this Catholic priest who dared confront his colleagues and superiors in the Catholic Church … fellow priests, bishops, cardinals and especially the Pope. Much like the apostle Paul who (literally) saw the light of Christ and the amazing grace of God expressed through the New Covenant; Martin Luther experienced a radical transformation when he fully realized that the extra-Biblical Catholic doctrines (especially that of purchasing indulgences … buying with money one’s salvation) were nothing more than a perversion of God’s grace. Grace that shows us that salvation is freely given through faith in Jesus Christ, and him alone.

“The just shall live by faith,” claimed Luther, was the only way of permanent redemption and reconciliation for mankind. Primarily through the Book of Romans, he finally understood that the religious hierarchy of the Catholic Church was misleading millions of their followers by asserting that baptism and membership in the Catholic Church followed by keeping dozens of man-made rules and regulations were the only way to gain God’s favor and escape the judgment of hell.

God took hold of Martin Luther with such verses as: “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood….” (Romans 3:25). Without doubt, the Catholic Church constantly presented the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (for example through Mass) as a cornerstone doctrine of the Church. But they failed miserably to explain that one must personally believe and receive (by faith) this substitutionary sacrifice in order to be made right with God. Instead the clergy of the Catholic Church, much like the priests and scribes of Israel in Jesus’s and Paul’s day, imposed keeping of sacraments (with the Jewish religious leaders, it was complete obedience to the Law of Moses) as a legalistic requirement in order for one to achieve and maintain a right standing with God. Their deception was: Good Works to obtain salvation, not the Biblical way that good works follows salvation. As Jesus said, paraphrasing: The inside (the heart) must first be changed, then the outside (conduct and behavior) will change. (Matthew 23:26).

Thus, Martin Luther, with great courage and boldness, confronted the Catholic clergy with the real truth of salvation such as: “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are” (Romans 3:21-22, italics for emphasis to demonstrate that even religious leaders need God’s forgiveness for their self-righteousness).

Speaking directly to the Jews in Rome (and everywhere) Paul said: “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit….” (Romans 2: 28-29).

This is what Martin Luther proclaimed to the Catholic Church … that a change of one’s heart (no matter if that heart was basically good or demonstrably bad) because all have sinned against God, was the only way to salvation. That a true Christian is one whose heart has been transformed by the grace of God, not through the ceremony of baptism or membership rights in the Catholic Church.

Luther’s Tragic Mistake

Despite all this, despite being used mightily by God as a spring-board to the greatest turnaround in Church history that historians have now called the Reformation, this great man of God made a mistake that is normally made by those religious leaders who seek to lead (mislead) others by promoting traditions over the Bible, or emphasizing out-of-context Scriptural passages, or distortion of pivotal truths of the Bible by means of deliberate or sometimes inadvertent exclusion of other key passages relating to that doctrine. Yes, Luther made the same error that Jesus accused the Jewish Sadducees of when they tried to spring one of many traps against Jesus.

Jesus told them, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Context is always important in Scripture, but in this case Jesus’s statement was somewhat universal; meaning it could have been and, in fact was, applied to several other situations in which the Pharisees or Sadducees attempted to trap Jesus into saying or doing something that would enable them to arrest Jesus, or at least show him up in front of the common people. There were many such events and not once were they successful. We constantly read that the response of Christ amazed and astonished both the religious leaders and the people. And often his disciples!

It’s crystal clear that Martin Luther’s born-again salvation experience took place while he was, of all things, a Catholic priest. And this change from spiritual darkness to light was a direct result of knowing and believing exactly what true salvation is: God’s righteousness imputed to anyone who believes and receives his Son, Christ Jesus—apprehended by faith, not by good works or ritualistic performance of whatever the Catholic Church demanded. Specifically, for Martin Luther, his “seeing the light” came principally from the first eight chapters of the Book of Romans.

And, it’s true, the most important theme of the Bible is that of salvation … freely given by God because Christ purchased our pardon with his death and resurrection. When Martin Luther fully realized then proclaimed this, under the threat of “ex-communication” by the Pope, the true universal church (which is not the Catholic Church) has never been the same since the first and second centuries. His protest became the root word and meaning for Protestant, though even the Protestant movement has unfortunately compromised many core truths of Scripture as seen in some of the contemporary Protestant denominations.

When it comes right down to the absolute basic tenant of the Christian faith, salvation by grace through faith, that is ultimately all we need to know … in terms of our eternal destiny. On the other hand, God has given us so much more truth about so many more things that he wants us to know and absorb and apply; things that will shape our world view and enable us to grasp and more fully appreciate the deep riches of knowledge and wisdom in his Word.

So, what part of Scripture did Martin Luther make a mistake in not knowing, or perhaps not applying? It was none other than God’s two-part plan; one plan for a spiritual merging of both Jew and Gentile into one new Man, which is the Church, the body of Christ, composed of individual born-again believers. He got that part, as summarized in the follow passage: “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promises to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3: 28-29). The promises here are not referring to the aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant in which the actual land of Israel is given to Abraham and his descendants (Jews) forever. The promises that Paul is talking about are all the blessings given to the Gentiles through Isaac, the promised child, who is a prototype of the Messiah and through whom the Messiah would come.

This mysterious but wonderful truth is exclusively spiritual in nature and impact, unseen by the human eye as opposed to material things that can be seen. We walk by faith, not by sight. For example, for a Gentile free man to be one in Christ with a Jew, or a slave, or a female certainly doesn’t mean physically, via blood line or by marriage. It is by a spiritual adoption. The marriage and “one flesh” unity of a wife and husband comparison used in Scripture is only for the marriage of one man to one woman. The key phrase in this verse is, in Christ. Everyone is sealed by the Holy Spirit when they believe and receive Jesus. Thus, they are one in Christ.

The second plan is for a physical remnant of Jews and the actual physical nation/land of Israel from where the Son of Man in bodily form will rule and reign forever. This is what Luther missed or at the very least wrote off as being unimportant in God’s economy as Luther saw it.

Ironically, another passage, one of the previously quoted verses in Romans was undoubtedly a stumbling block to Luther, in that he used it against the Catholic Church (rightfully so, with its intending meaning), but also against the Jews—in gross error to rationalize and support his biased view of the Jews which came later in Luther’s life. “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents…” (Romans 2:28).

Obviously, Paul’s purpose here is to show that simply being a Jew doesn’t guarantee entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, i.e. automatic birth status into God’s family. Yet, it’s evident that Luther used (misused) this passage and a few others to mistakenly conclude that the Church had replaced Israel and the Jews as the people that God would, from now on, exclusively acknowledge as children of God who would inherit eternal life, but also to include every single one of the prophetic passages that clearly refer only to the Jews and to Israel.

Things to Ponder

Hundreds of years later, this Replacement Theology would be used by Hitler and the Third Reich’s propaganda machine in an even more distorted, depraved, and despicable way to justify eradication of all of the Christ killers from the face of the earth … the Jews. Obviously, Hitler’s reference to Martin Luther wasn’t the only warped justification offered to Germans (or any other people that hated the Jews) to begin his campaign of genocide; but it certainly contributed to the perverse thinking of those who wanted to believe the racial superiority propaganda disseminated throughout Europe.

It is probably the single most horrendous example of what can happen when even true Christians do not know the whole counsel of God’s Word and/or deliberately misuse what they know by omitting a large portion of Scripture that would otherwise put these misused passages into the proper perspective and context.

Next week’s article will continue with examination of other passages that have been erroneously isolated to justify the concept of Replacement Theology; with, of course, Bible verses that clearly show us that Israel had and still has a glorious future. We will also look at more devastating results of this devious doctrine in today’s world.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

Bible Trivia games can be fun, stirring the interest of the most ardent of Bible students; and sometimes stimulating spiritually those who have only a marginal interest in such things. Nothing wrong with Bible Trivia, as long as we don’t trivialize and play games with the Word of God itself. Whether in casual conversation, or in a Sunday school class, or a mother lovingly training her child in the Scriptures with an easy question to answer, most believers and even some unbelievers have asked or been asked, “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” Many times down through the 67 years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve heard this cute little question.

Yes, I’m asking you! Agreed, a pretty easy question for some, unless you’re not all that familiar with Scripture. Answer: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

As long as we’re on the subject, how about a slightly more difficult question: What was the occasion that caused Jesus such deep sorrow, so profound that even the Son of God (though he was also fully man) broke down and cried? Nearly every time I read this passage, I’m no less impressed that omnipotent, omniscient Divinity would shed tears of grief, especially in public for all to see. Though Jesus was also the Son of Man, and cared deeply for the physical and spiritual welfare of both friend and foe; as the Son of God wouldn’t he set aside personal feelings, and rise above the grief-stricken moments of life that so many people dread and seldom discuss … such as death?

This question is only a little more difficult than the first, because many of you know the answer. The setting was the death of Jesus’s close friend, Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha, also dear friends of our Lord. But think about it: Jesus knew that Lazarus had died before he was even told. In fact, at first he was only told that Lazarus was very sick. He also knew the purpose for the untimely passing of Lazarus … so that Jesus could demonstrate his mighty power over death itself, by raising someone who had been dead four days—something that had never been done before. (The Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha and then Jesus had raised people from the dead, but very soon after they had died … before they were buried).

Jesus knew all of these things, but still he wept openly. And what was the reaction of those who saw him weeping? “The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But some said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’”

Had I been there, I suppose one of these reactions would have been mine. I’d like to think my response would have been with those of the first group … to discern that Jesus’s acute anguish was because he loved Lazarus. Which would have been the right response. Of course, Jesus loved his friend.

But he loves us all equally. And the Bible teaches us that his love is unconditional, a love that no one can totally grasp or entirely appreciate; a love that drove him to the Cross where he voluntarily allowed cruel, evil men to torture him, spill his blood, and crucify him. And yet we know full well: We all nailed him to that Cross. Might, then, there be another reason why Jesus was so passionately upset?

Let’s answer that question with a question that is more difficult than the first two, a question that I think not too many could answer off the top of their heads … without referring to the passage itself. In addition to deep sorrow and grief, did Jesus express any other emotion when he saw Mary “…weeping and saw the other people wailing with her….” If so, what were those spontaneous reactions? And were these strong feelings expressed before or after he wept?

If you said, yes—then you’re right. There were other things going on in Jesus’s mind and heart than just grief. What were they? Let’s read the text: “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (John 11:33, italics for emphasis). Anger is self-explanatory, but note that it was deep (unfathomable, bottomless) and it welled (gushed, flooded) up (in his soul and heart). Deeply troubled depicts frustration, disturbance, aggravation. And these overpowering feelings were expressed before he wept. But also after … at least the anger. “Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance” (John 11:38).

Progressively, we’ve now reached a tougher (perhaps for some a very tough) question. Beyond the deep sorrow, why or at what was Jesus angry and troubled? If we look only at the passage on Lazarus’ death and Jesus raising him from the dead, we would need to speculate a bit to answer this question. But when we examine other episodes in Jesus’s life and teachings, the explanation becomes very clear.

Some Things That Troubled Jesus (Significantly)

It’s unmistakably evident in the gospels that Jesus was greatly disturbed—sometimes to the point of anger—over the appalling effects of sin in the human race. The consequences of this dreaded disease that affects all of mankind is nothing short of devastating, including physical death itself. Even worse, spiritual death which is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. But it didn’t have to be this way. All Adam and Eve had to do was to believe God, listen to and obey the one command he gave them. Had they done that, they and their descendants would have lived forever, including Jesus’s dear friend, Lazarus. And, Jesus need not have died a horrible death on a Cross for our sins.

Jesus was equally furious with the religious leaders in Jerusalem and throughout Israel who were as he described them, “The blind leading the blind.” Most recall Jesus’s righteous anger when he overthrew the tables of the money-changers in the Temple, and actually drove them out at the end of a whip. These self-righteous double-dealers couldn’t have cared less about the sanctity of the Temple and those who were there to truly worship the Lord. These charlatans cared only about money, power, and prestige.

Many Pharisees and Sadducees had personally witnessed or were told first-hand about numerous miracles performed by Jesus, not the least of which was Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but they still rejected him and his claim to be their Messiah, the very Son of God. He lashed out at their hypocrisy, but he didn’t condemn them, as such, for their many sins (because their very sins had already sentenced them to everlasting judgment); rather he convicted them for their unbelief, for their stubborn refusal to see and believe that he was their Messiah Redeemer. Their mind was made up: No amount of miracles or words of truth would soften their hardened hearts. They refused to believe that they even needed personal salvation. Only “sinners” needed to be forgiven; and they certainly were not sinners!

He blasted them as hypocrites, as “sons of the devil” because they had elevated man-made traditions above the law of Moses, all the while thinking and preaching that righteousness (right standing with God) was only possible by keeping the law of Moses and following dozens of additional rules and regulations, which no one had ever done or could do, including the religious among them. Tragically, many do this to this very day, through religious systems that deem man-made traditions equal to or even greater than the Bible, the very Word of God. (See my Eye of Prophecy articles on the Woman and the Beast, or the Wiles of the Woman).

Thus, Jesus, in a brief sweeping panoramic moment of heartache over the tragic condition of the human race so agonizingly exemplified in the death of a close friend, wept. He wept in sorrow, and he wept with anger. Jesus knew what he was about to do … raise Lazarus from the dead! Still, for a moment … in the moment, the horrible consequences of man’s sin and rebellion against his very Creator, overwhelmed our Lord with grief, anger, and exasperation beyond our finite ability to fully understand or empathize.

It’s apparent that the Lord was even a little bit miffed at Martha, who had just a few moments earlier agreed with Jesus when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this, Martha?” ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him…’” (John 11:25-27). Because, when Jesus told them to roll away the stone, “…Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.’ Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?’” (John 11: 39-40). I’m positive, however, this was a loving, gentle reprimand, unlike his righteous indignation against the religious leaders.

And then we’re told exactly why Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, in Jesus’s prayer to the Father just before he commanded Lazarus to, “Come out.” The reason: “…so that they will believe you sent me” (Verse 42). And isn’t that the reason we believe in Christ to this day? Or the reason that anyone who really cares and is searching for truth and answers and who truly wants to live forever in heaven should believe in Jesus?

Raising Lazarus from the dead is a breath-taking example of God’s love for the individual, for every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. “For God so loved the world…” (Meaning every person ever born).

Now, let’s take a look at Messiah’s unsurpassed love and unequaled compassion for an entire nation.

National Security?

Can you think of another incident in which Jesus wept? Where and why? Is it when he uttered the words which are the title of this article, O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem…? No, it isn’t, but we’ll get to that passage later on. Sorry, space is short, so I needed to be more abrupt here!

Before we examine the other scene in which Jesus wept, and clearly see that Jesus was also referring to the holy city of Jerusalem in the holy land of Israel, we need to grasp the fact that neither in the ancient past nor in the contemporary present has God ever set aside or chosen a specific (race of) people or a nation or a land to be his people or his special possession other than Israel … the Jews. Of course, he has called out and saved (redeemed) individuals from all languages and nations to be the sons and daughters of God; but the Church is not spiritually or symbolically Israel. Never was, never will be. God has two distinct plans in simultaneous operation: One for Israel, nationally as the sovereign land of Israel; the other for the Church, composed of all individuals, both Jew and Gentile, who have placed their trust in Jesus sacrificial death on the Cross.

To be sure, there are some universal principles in Scripture whereby God relates to and deals with nations in similar fashion as he does with Israel. For example, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalms 33:12). With the obvious reverse connotation: Any nation whose corporate leaders and national laws deny, distort, diminish, or even trivialize God’s spiritual and moral laws will be a nation that God will leave to itself. The worst thing that can happen to any city, state, or nation that deliberately turn their back on God is that the Lord will withdraw his blessings and protection. It is said: Be careful what you wish for! If by our words and actions we respond to God’s Word of truth, life, justice, and peace, with, “No thanks, we’ll do it our way;” then that’s precisely what will happen. He’ll give us our own way. Then look out: We’re on our own!

Of course, that’s perfectly okay, if citizens of a country place their trust and confidence in their political, social, and economic leaders! To the extreme of making all things secular and shaping that secular humanism into a godlike status. What’s to worry? The State or Federal government will take care of us! Our military will save us! Scripture is clear on that, too. Without God’s sovereign guidance and protection, all the military might in the world is futile. God’s own chosen people did that and look what happened: Total destruction of Israel and exiled captivity at the hands of their worst enemies.

Obviously, I’m referring now to this great country called the United States of America. I only hope it’s not the late great country. But in the grand scheme of things, this wonderful Republic is just one of many nations on earth, all of which will be ultimately judged (as a nation) by our treatment of Israel and/or our expulsion of God from every facet of our society. If we ever become a godless nation, we will go the way of other once mighty kingdoms who have fallen into ruin, or have become a shell of what they once were, or have ceased to exist altogether.

Israel, and only Israel, was given through Abraham the awesome covenant promise that the land of Israel belongs exclusively to the Jews, and will remain forever as their land. With Jerusalem, itself as the ultimate dwelling place of the Most High God. And that God’s Messiah (his very Son) will rule and reign from his throne in Jerusalem as promised through the covenant promise with King David, the mightiest king in Israel. Until that is, Christ returns as the King of kings. Last but not least, the words of Jesus, himself, when he said, “…salvation comes through the Jews” (John 4:22). There are several other promises unique to Israel, but these three are top of the list.

And, I’m certainly not belittling America or demeaning any other nation. She was founded by men and woman who acknowledged the sovereign providence of God, many of whom were born-again believers in Christ. This nation has seen millions upon millions of people come to faith in Christ; a direct result of the unabridged freedom of worship and liberty to pursue life and truth and peace unparalleled in the annals of human history.

I am as patriotic as anyone I know (of). I still get chills when I hear our National Anthem. I still shed a tear or two when I hear songs like, God Bless the USA (Lee Greenwood). Go, ahead, you know the melody. Sing the chorus aloud, or to yourself if you’re (for example) in a library or on a plane while reading this!

That I’m proud to be an American,

Where at least I know I’m free.

And I won’t forget the men who died,

Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,

Next to you and defend her still today.

‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,

God bless the USA.

But we mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that this country has been and still is beyond God’s discipline and even withdrawal of his protection, especially if we oppose Israel or even ignore her. Or, if we continue to remove God and the name of Christ from our governments, schools, public squares, and military. I mean, even military chaplains can no longer pray, “In the name of Jesus.” God help us.

The Second Weeping

Messiah Jesus loves each person who ever lived, enough to die for us. But the Lord also loves Israel as a nation, with a unique love that is special to/for her people. So much so, that he wept a second time (on Palm Sunday) five days before he was crucified and eight days before he arose from the dead.

“But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people (meaning his very own chosen people by birth/blood) would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation’” (Luke 19: 41-44, italics for emphasis).

The New American Standard Bible translates the last part of this passage, “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Both versions are saying the same thing: In spite of overwhelming evidence then—and even more so after Jesus arose from the dead—Israel deliberately and (some) out of ignorance refused to recognize and acknowledge that their Messiah (Immanuel, God with them) had come to Israel at the appointed time, prophesied to the very day by one of their prophets. God, himself, through the Son of God, Jesus, had visited his people and lived among them, urging them to turn from their sins, call upon the Lord and be saved. But they did not accept their opportunity for salvation.

This broke Jesus’s heart. And, he wept.

He knew this from the beginning, which is why he knew that he must fulfill his very purpose on this earth—an unbelievably cruel death on a Cross—for the sake of the Jews first, but also for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). He knew that his people would not heed the plea of God Almighty when he said long before “…O Israel, if you would only listen to me!” (Psalms 81:8). And when God told the disciples (and the whole world) on the Mount of Transfiguration, “…This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5, italics for emphasis).

This was not the first time Jesus agonized over Israel. Earlier, some Pharisees (of all people) who apparently had listened and were at least half-way receptive to what Jesus was teaching and doing came to warn him. They said, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!” (Luke 13:31).

I love the Lord’s reply: “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. Yes, today, tomorrow and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!” (Luke 13: 32-33). Astounding! Profound! But everything Jesus said and did was off the mind-boggling chart.

So, you didn’t think Jesus could be sarcastic if he wanted to? But the sarcasm was reserved expressly for Herod and the religious leaders who would later demand his crucifixion. Imbedded in his reply was a prophetic reference to his resurrection on the third day—to accomplish his majestic, but spiritually and physically painful purpose for coming to earth as the Son of God, but also the Son of Man.

Next comes an even more starling response, which is an abrupt change in his words and emotions. But nevertheless a continuation of his train of thought regarding Jerusalem … as represented by the all-powerful, highly respected, seldom questioned or challenged religious leaders … but even to include many common people, who would later join their pious leaders during Jesus’s trial, sentencing, and death.

“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 you will never see me again until you say, “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13: 34-35).

I have learned the Hebrew expression for that last sentence. Baruch, haba, beshem, Adonai. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Though Scripture doesn’t record that Jesus shed tears when he uttered these heart-rending words, he may have. At the very least, he vented his incredible passion and compassion for Israel and for Jerusalem. So great a love, and so great a salvation that most of Israel missed during his first visit to this beloved land, and city of Jerusalem that many call: The center of the universe.

As Jesus solemnly predicted in both passages: Forty years later Jerusalem would be sacked by the Romans, the Temple demolished with not one stone remaining on another, and the Jews exiled to the four corners of the earth.

Does the story end there? Not on your life. Or the life of any Jew today. Jesus said they forfeited peace when they wouldn’t let him bring them together and show what he would do for them … by believing and receiving him as Messiah and as God. To this very day, Israel still longs for that peace. To this very day, her enemies have sworn not to seek peace with Israel, but to destroy her. Many of my Eye of Prophecy articles have touched on that subject.

But soon, very soon, there will come a day when Messiah Jesus declared that the surviving remnant of Israel 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” (Zechariah 12:10).

But when mercilessly attacked by their enemies, they will also fight alongside of Messiah: “On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David…For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12: 8-9).

And on that day Israel will shout from the rooftops in unison, with hearts of gratitude and gladness: “Blessed is he (Jesus) who comes in the name of The Lord (God the Father)!”

Things to Ponder

Who do you say that Jesus is? Is he just one of a few great men and/or teachers who ever lived? How will you answer his question, his challenge directed specifically to his disciples, but also universally to every individual … to you?

“Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:15, italics for emphasis). Amazingly, his question contains the answer … I am? That was the sacred name God gave to Moses (Yahweh).

Can you, will you say what Peter said in response? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Verse 16).

Jesus doesn’t merely show us a way to God. He IS The Way.

He doesn’t just give us truth. He IS Truth.

He doesn’t only explain what life is all about. He IS Life.         (John 14:6).

See the Eye of Prophecy blog site page entitled, God’s Plan of Salvation.

 

 

 

 

Prince of Peace

PRINCE OF PEACE

I had hoped and prayed that last’s week article, Bring Back Our Boys, would end happily, with the safe return of three Jewish boys kidnapped by the terrorist group, Hamas. Sadly, that is not to be. Just this past Monday, June 30th, the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar were found by the Israeli Defense Force buried in a pit in a small town near Hebron, Israel. Because of the condition of their corpses, it was clear that they had been killed shortly after they were abducted on June 12. I know all we who cherish life and support Israel can say with righteous anger and deep sorrow, “This is wrong. This is so wrong.”

They were found eighteen days after they were unjustly abducted and ruthlessly murdered. The number eighteen bears great significance with the Jews: It is the number that represents life. As expressed by the indomitable Jewish spirit, life will go on despite horrible tragedies and atrocities inflicted on the Jews for centuries; and will continue until the Prince of Peace returns and puts a stop to the brutal wickedness that has plagued the world for time immemorial, but especially in the last one hundred years, and particularly to the Jews.

The triumph of life over death will be majestically displayed at the Rapture, with the resurrection of the dead in Christ (those who have been redeemed by believing and receiving Jesus); then throughout out all eternity by those of us who have been given the free gift of everlasting life by our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Even amidst the recent unspeakable tragedy in Israel, life both literally and symbolically rules over death with the extraordinary arrival of three babies. Just this week a Jewish woman gave birth to triplet boys, and she named them after the three Israeli teens! What a remarkable timely event to help with the healing of three families whose sons were violently taken from them, and the recovery of an entire nation who lost three of their own boys. The fact is: The way this atrocity occurred, the timing of it (soon after the unlikely merger of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority), and the arrogance of those who approved of this horrific crime has galvanized Israel into a near unprecedented backlash of solidarity so poignantly expressed in the massive search and rescue operation called: Brother’s Keeper.

And as said in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, often Israelis will extend aid to their enemies even during times of war and attacks on innocent civilians. During the very time that the three boys were being abducted and murdered shortly thereafter, the wife of Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, was undergoing surgery in a Tel Aviv hospital! Unimaginable! The height of irony! Yet, it was the full expression of the heart and soul of Israel … in stark contrast to the appalling spirit of hate harbored and expressed by those who would seek to destroy them.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis, both observant (religious) and secular came from all over Israel—young and old—to share in the grief of the boy’s families and to pay their respect as the boys were laid to rest, side by side, in the Modi’in cemetery. Their bodies were wrapped in Star of David Israeli flags. As journalist Atara Beck in an article for United for Israel web posting observed, “Indeed, it felt like one large family mourning for their beloved boys.”

Words of Consolation

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres stated, “We are an ancient people, united and deeply rooted. Our story is full of tears but the soul maintains the Torah. These three boys exposed the depth of our people and the heights it can reach. A nation with a soul that years. A nation which demonstrates resilience like no other. A nation that even its years of exile never lost its way.

“All of Israel bows its head today. For 18 days we hoped and prayed with one voice that we would find the boys safe and well. With this bitter news, all of Israel mourns their deaths … and we will ensure that murderous terrorism of this sort will not dare to rear its head again.”

Peres concluded: “Gilad, Naftali, Eyal … Wonderful boys, sons of the whole nation. Rest in peace. We will bow our heads but our spirit will not break.”

Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the boy’s families: “The nation understood immediately the depth of the roots and the strength of spirit you possess. The whole nation stood together and received a reminder—who are we? Why are we here? The entire nation cries and embraces you.”

The Prime Minister also said: “In the last 18 days the figures of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were carved on our hearts. We were charmed by the magic of their smile, their kindness, their joy of youth. Today became a day of national mourning. The moral chasm that separates us from our enemies is deep and wide. They revere death and we life. They revere cruelty and we, pity. This is the secret of our strength, it is also the base of our unification.”

Earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu had these words to say during an emergency meeting with his Security Cabinet: “They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals.” He then quoted Hebrew poet Haim Nahman Blalik, “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created.” Followed by Benjamin’s take on this saying, “Neither has vengeance for the blood of three pure youths, who were on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them anymore. Hamas is responsible—and Hamas will pay. May the memories of the three boys be blessed.” The Prime Minister was expressing Israel’s sovereign and moral right to dispense justice to those responsible.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett responded to the news that the bodies had been found: “The murder of children is unforgivable. Our hearts are with the families right now. Now is the time for actions: not talk.”

Finance Minister Yair Lapid said: “To bury a child is an unnatural act. Parents are not meant to march at their children’s funerals. It is supposed to be the other way around.”

There are so many quotes that could be shared in this article, but there simply isn’t time/space. Thus, just one more will be offered. It comes through a joint statement from Robert Sugarman, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “…It is time that the world stand in unity against those who advocate and execute, as well as justify, the murder of innocent young people who are brutally butchered in Israel or anywhere. It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy. For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop.”

What to Make of This Tragedy … Is it just another blip in the grid of Middle East turmoil?

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Just what the magnitude of Israel’s military response will be to this horrendous crime is yet to be seen. However, in addition to my heartfelt dismay and even despondency over these senseless deaths, my head is telling me that Israel may have reached a point in which their tolerance for this or any kind of terrorism has been irreversibly breached. It is a line not crossed since Egypt and Syria attacked the Jews without warning on Israel’s most holy day … Yom Kippur in 1973.

In some ways this latest incident is not that much different from any senseless random murder anywhere in the world. Yet, it is so different that the concerted reaction of Israelis resembles in many ways how Israel would respond to a full-blown military assault against the entire nation. I believe Israel may have reached the point of no return. No longer will the Jews allow these acts of barbarity to continue, without the severest of retaliation against those who would seek to destroy Israel; whether by isolated kidnappings and killings of Israelis or a vast military strike against Israel. There could be retribution that will not stop at merely capturing or killing the men directly responsible, which would be the normal reply. There could very well be a strike at Hamas’ jugular or at least a severe wound to the violent head of this terrorist cell; one that will silence terrorism for years to come, or one that could erupt into a full-scale conflict in the Middle East.

Already, many in Israel, including members of the Knesset, are calling for massive strikes on Hamas, some even suggesting that Hamas and all terrorist organizations in Israel be dealt a death-blow. The repercussions of which would be far beyond anyone’s capability to predict or even control. Combined with the regional conflicts currently underway in Syria, Iraq, and the powder-keg, tinder-box condition of so many other Middle East countries, we could be on the brink of the apocalyptic last days spoken of by the prophets and graphically depicted in the books of Daniel and Revelation.

The end-time prophecies clearly portrayed in Scripture are irreversible, once they begin. And they were propelled into motion the moment of Israel’s rebirth as a nation on May 14, 1948. Much has been said about these prophecies in several Eye of Prophecy articles, and, of course, by several other Bible students of prophecy. Daily events all over the world is—particularly in the Middle East—that have prophetic repercussions are rapidly increasing in intensity and number to the point where something has to give. It is equivalent to the fury of an avalanche on Mt. Everest.

Thus, not to take away from the need to mourn for a while longer with Israel, and to regenerate and renew our hope for our future (those of us who belong to Messiah), and for Israel’s future, the remainder of this article will be devoted to Scripture itself, particularly those passages that tell us about the ONLY PERSON who can possibly heal the hardened condition of the human heart and, thereby, bring real peace to this earth. He is: THE PRINCE OF PEACE. (Isaiah 9:6).

Although these are just a handful of the hundreds of magnificent promises found throughout the Bible, they nevertheless represent the persistent undeniable hope of Christians (born-again Jews and Gentiles) and Jews all over the world.

Most Messianic prophecies apply exclusively to Israel and the Jews, but some are blessings that extend to those Gentiles who have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Jesus on the Cross. Those who were, “branches from a wild olive tree, that have been grafted in” (to the promises made to and destiny of Israel, Romans 11:17).

What Does Scripture Say?

Let’s begin with one of those sweeping promises as proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29: 11-13). A promise like this lifts us above the tough day-to-day burdens of life and the periodic tragedies of death, especially the untimely gut-wrenching loss of our children. If we seek the Lord sincerely with our whole heart, he will reach back to us. We will find him because he promised that we would. He is a faithful God … always has been, always will be.

In the very next chapter of Jeremiah we find a prophecy that applies only to Israel, one that will be completed upon the glorious appearing of Jesus the Messiah at the end of the tribulation period, which commences soon after the Rapture. Note the reference to the “time of Jacob’s trouble” in the first two sentences of the following passage, which is how some translations render it. The reference to, “in all history there has never been” refers to the final mass persecution of the Jews, which was not the Holocaust, as horrible as that was. Rather, it will take place during the 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation, as documented in Daniel and Revelation and Zechariah.

“In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved! ‘For in that day,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will break the yoke from their necks and snap their chains. Foreigners will no longer be their masters. For my people will serve the Lord their God and their king descended from David—the king I will raise up for them. So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ says the Lord. ‘For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them’” (Jeremiah 30: 7-10, italics for emphasis). Such an encouraging promise in light of the deaths of the three Jewish boys at the hand of terrorists.

Now let’s turn to a prophecy from Ezekiel made specifically against the nation of Edom, but it’s the second declaration against Edom found in Ezekiel, and the second prophecy will also be generally applied to all of Israel’s enemies in the last days. In addition to Edom, other nations that Ezekiel prophesied against earlier in the book of Ezekiel were Ammon, Moab, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. In part, these are ancestor nations/peoples of the current countries that surround Israel, and to some extent includes Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whether literal descendants or figurative of all those who dare take on God’s special possession, Israel.

An Ominous Warning for Israel’s Enemies

Warning! You are about to read graphic language straight from the mouth of the true and living God, the God of Israel, and the God of all who have put their trust in his son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ). But these harsh future judgments to be inflicted by God against Israel’s enemies (and there are many such passages in Scripture) reveal to us the serious consequences and destiny of those who seek to destroy Israel and the Jews. In our day that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, possibly Jordan, and other more distant nations such as Turkey and Russia (the Gog/Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 & 39). And all other nations or individuals that are in complicity with those who seek to curse, not bless Israel, will pay an enormously harsh price for their animosity toward Israel and the Jews. (See the often quoted verse of Genesis 12:3). Even the United States is not exempt from this solemn promise of the Most High God.

“Again a message came to me from the Lord: ‘Son of man, turn and face Mount Seir, and prophesy against its people. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: ‘I am your enemy, O Mount Seir (Edom), and I will raise my fist against you to destroy you completely. I will demolish your cities and make you desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Your eternal hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, since you show no distaste for blood, I will give you a bloodbath of your own. Your turn has come! I will make Mount Seir utterly desolate, killing off all who try to escape and any who return. I will fill your mountains with the dead. Your hills, your valleys, and your ravines will be filled with people slaughtered by the sword … Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will pay back your angry deeds with my own. I will punish you for all the acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will make myself known to Israel by what I do to you” (Ezekiel 35: 1-11).

Israel’s Final Restoration

The final stage of Israel’s restoration will begin with a widespread spiritual turnaround described by Ezekiel as follows: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36: 26-28).

At the conclusion of the time of Jacob’s troubles—the end of the Tribulation period—the redeemed remnant of Israel and all of the tribulation Christians will see what John saw in his stunning vision of the final battle to end all battles—Armageddon. They will watch in awe as what John saw comes to pass:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19: 11-16).

Soon afterward, the Antichrist beast and his false prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and Satan will be bound in the Abyss for a thousand years, which begins the Millennial Reign of Christ and the host of heaven.

Then another prophecy of Ezekiel will come to pass: “My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever. And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever. I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the Lord, who makes Israel holy” (Ezekiel 37: 24-28).

Amazing! Astounding! Jesus was also given the title name of Immanuel, which as many of you know means: God with us. Indeed, God was with us in the form of the Son of Man who was equally the Son of God for some thirty-three years on this earth. Once again this mighty Son of God, Son of Man, and Son of David will return to the earth and will, make his home among them. God with us, literally on the earth, in the holy city Jerusalem of the holy land of Israel, forever and ever. It simply doesn’t get any better than that!

Let’s examine another passage: “Sing O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, ‘Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!’ For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3: 14-17).

Finally, all mourning in Israel will cease. No fear, no terror, no worry whether the children will return home.

Imagine, Jesus, himself singing songs of rejoicing! I can’t wait to see and be part of that!

Things to Ponder

Think about it. Read about it. All other gods are man-made, including the god of Islam. Why can anyone make such a bold statement as this? Because only the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his Messiah, can and have predicted the future. Not just once, but hundreds of times. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled. Many more will come to pass precisely as found in the Bible.

The Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom) will indeed establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It’s just a matter of time, but I’m fully persuaded that the time is soon, very soon. But to be part of that kingdom of real peace and justice, to be part of the family of God, to avoid God’s final judgment and justice that will separate believers in Christ from those who defy and reject their only hope for salvation and everlasting life, we must first find peace with God, himself.

How is that possible?

Let’s read: “And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 4:22-25, Romans 5:1, italics for emphasis).

It was the greatest sacrificial peace-offering of all time.

The Righteous (One) for the unrighteous.

The Just (One) for the unjust.

The Holy (One) for the unholy.

While we await his glorious return, may we continue to:

Sha’alu Shalom, Yerushalayim. (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem).

Bring Back Our Boys

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Bring Back Our Boys!

This is the urgent cry reverberating throughout the land of Israel—by way of massive prayer rallies at the Western Wall, from daily television and radio broadcasts, through nonstop articles by Jewish (and Gentile) journalists, and by continuous speeches from Israeli politicians led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bring back our boys! It’s a poignant refrain much like the heartfelt plea of parents and wives and husbands who desperately long for the safe return of their children and spouses from war.

Why? For what reason have six million Israelis citizens focused near unprecedented attention to what many in the Western world consider just another act of terrorism in the boiling cauldron of the Middle East?

If you haven’t heard, on June 12th three Israeli boys were kidnapped on their way home from high school. Their names: Eyal Yifrach, age 19; Naftali Frenkel, age 16; Gilad Shaar, age 16. All three youths are Israeli citizens; however, Naftali holds a dual citizenship with another country. Might you guess what country that is? It is the United States of America. For those who don’t know a lot about dual citizenship—It is perfectly legal and, in fact, thousands upon thousands of Americans are citizens of one of more countries in addition to their birth citizenship in America.

The massive search and rescue effort by Israel involves the IDF and virtually every law enforcement and security agency in the country. It’s been given an operational code name normally reserved for military operations, and much larger ones at that. The Israelis call it: Operation Brother’s Keeper. Such a relevant and appropriate name, bringing to mind Cain’s elusive response to God when God confronted him about Cain’s brutal murder of his brother, Abel. The chosen name for this campaign sends a crystal clear signal not only to fellow Jews but to the terrorists: Unlike their enemies, the Jews value the sanctity of human existence and care deeply for every Israeli life.

They even respect the welfare of their enemies, which is why the Israelis go far out of their way (sometimes to the point of endangering their own soldiers) to avoid civilian casualties during military operations; and treat wounded enemy soldiers and Arab civilians (both wounded and ill) in Jewish hospitals.

So say the Jews; so say we who care: We are our brother’s keeper!

As of a few days ago, 1800 locations (mostly buildings) had been searched with some 360 Palestinians arrested, 269 of which were Hamas and 57 released prisoners during the 1000 to 1 prisoner exchange in 2011 for IDF solider Gilad Shalit. Purpose of these arrests varied, but they all pertained to on-going terrorist’s plots or recent actions, such as launching more rockets into Israel. And, of course because some of those arrested probably know where the three Jewish boys are being held captive.

Actually, it’s amazing that more Israelis haven’t been kidnapped. I make that observation in the context that 64 planned abductions have been thwarted by Israeli police or IDF or Shin Bet since the beginning of 2013.

World Reaction to the Kidnappings

As anticipated, world reaction has swung from one end of the pendulum (helpless horror that terrorists within Israel itself would/could successfully kidnap innocent Jewish civilians); to abject apathy and even support for such a hideous crime (as demonstrated by militant Palestinian Muslims who gave candy and presents to their children in celebration of the kidnapping, and even an Arab member of Israel’s Knesset who shamelessly denies that the boys were kidnapped); to a somewhat neutral, impersonal attitude that, nevertheless, favors the so-called plight of the Palestinians to reclaim land that rightfully belongs to them … which, of course, it doesn’t if you know anything at all about Israel’s history. To these folks, kidnapping three Jewish boys is to be expected. It’s the risk of living in Israel. Besides, it’s only three boys and there’s no evidence yet that they’ve been murdered. In fact, the EU, the UN, and even the United States has cautioned Israel to act and react with caution and some degree of restraint! Incredible! Astonishing! Does any nation, including the US, think that Israel doesn’t know how to respond to such attacks and assaults on their people?

In that regard, Israel is an expert on these matters, as they have experienced more incidents of both successful and unsuccessful strikes (per capita) against innocent Jewish men, women, and children than any country in the world. Not just during war, but during times of peace between wars. Actually, the world has been giving Israel this kind of advice for decades that essentially boils down to: No matter the horrendous nature of the attacks by your enemies, it’s Israel’s duty to exercise the appropriate degree of response or retaliation.

What about the numbers? For those of us who are deeply concerned about these matters, one kidnapped child is one too many. For those who think numbers matter, at least a little, let’s put this into context. There are approximately six million Jews in Israel. Also rounded off, there are some 300 million Americans in the United States. If we were to proportion these figures on a per capita basis, three Israeli teenagers would be equivalent to 150 American teenagers, should a Muslim terrorist cell decided to kidnap our children. What would be the reaction in this country if 150 of our boys or girls were kidnapped by a terrorist group, Muslim or otherwise? Pure outrage! Followed by an intense search and rescue mission never before seen in this country. It would give Amber Alert a whole new meaning.

What if we had this same mindset in America, expressed by so many world leaders … meaning a teaspoon of sadness over the kidnapping mixed with thirty-gallons of lukewarm indifference, i.e. well, that’s life in Israel! What if we got to the point where it was fashionably rationalized that Muslim terrorists in the United States had some sort of defensible right to kidnap American citizens or to kill them in random acts of terrorism? After all, Muslims are being oppressed all over the world, right? They are unfairly profiled just because they follow Islam, thus we should consider the source of the extreme behavior of the militants among them, because it doesn’t really represent or reflect moderate Islam which is essentially a religion of peace! At least we should try to better understand why they do such things, and not be so quick to judge. I wonder: do many in America have this same mindset? I hope not, but at the very least we’re becoming more and more desensitized to Islamic strategies (whether violence or infiltration) to subjugate the entire world. Make no mistake; that is exactly their stated objective, whether their radicals speak or their moderates speak.

Or we should cut them some slack when they commit horrible atrocities all over the world, even against each other such as in Syria and Iraq. After all, they believe so passionately in their causes. Most Muslims would have us believe that their cause is freedom from Israeli occupation, a state of their own within Israel, freedom of self-government … on and on. When, in fact, the majority of Arabs in Israel do not actually want a separate Palestinian state (see my Eye of Prophecy article entitled, A Palestinian State? No, say many Arabs, published 1-11-14). At the last statistical poll, a full 70% of Palestinians said they do not want a Palestinian State in Israel. Why is that?

Primarily, because they have a much better way of life and much higher standard of living as citizens of Israel. They fully realize how much better off they are as a citizen of Israel or even as a Palestinian in the West Bank receiving free electricity from Israel … free only because they refuse to pay for it! What happens in America if we don’t pay our electrical bill? Try it for 3-4 months and see what happens; that is, if you can see in the dark!

Okay, enough cynicism for one article; however, millions of Muslims all over the world actually believe in the right to do whatever it takes to further their cause, including, but not limited to, kidnapping innocent people. If the kidnapped are Jews or Christians, such as the 200+ girls kidnapped by the Nigerian Muslim group Boko Haram, so much the better. Of course there are many Muslims who would never participate in these kind of crimes, but how many followers of Islam have you heard or read about, who actually expressed deep remorse over the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly three thousand Americans? Or the massacre during the Boston Marathon last year? To the contrary even moderate Palestinian Arabs danced in the streets in celebration of both of these massacres.

Because I intently follow several news and web sites that frequently deal with these issues (but also through the giants of the publishing industry, such as the Washington Post) I can tell you how many high-ranking or low-ranking Muslim leaders and followers actively denounce the brutal atrocities of their militant brethren: Precious few. If I and others are wrong about this conclusion, then why hasn’t the world heard from many more Arab leaders to the contrary? Why haven’t they spoken out against such cruel barbarity? Anyone with any common sense understands the principle that near total silence is morally equivalent to condoning terrorism, sometimes even complicity.

The fact remains: The vast majority of Muslims the world over accept whatever it takes to accomplish the ruthless goals of Islam, including Jihad. And, for the time being, there are enough Muslim militants to do the job; which is why most Muslims don’t actively participate in or pursue violence to further their cause. And, of course, there are some who genuinely want to live in peace with their Christian and Jewish neighbors.

Some of us fully comprehend the primary motive for these random, yet ceaseless attacks on Jews whether in Israel or across the globe; which is the ancient animosity and historical hatred that Arabs harbor against the Jews … all the way back to Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac. We also understand the Palestinians do not really want a state of their own, or even more land. At least twice in the past twenty-five years, the Palestinian Authority has rejected incredible offers from Israeli Prime Ministers, such as 93% of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip and other generous offers that no nation that I know of would ever make; especially for territory won in battle, such as the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Whether a thousand square miles or one square mile of Jewish land does not matter to the Arabs. They want it all. No, they want even more than that: They want every square foot of the land without one single Jewish foot in the land. Just read the charter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) or the Hamas charter to see the chilling statements that basically call for the utter destruction of Israel and return of a land that they never had rights to in the first place.

Other Responses

Thus, it’s good to hear from the good guys such as United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) expressing his deep concern, and representing the voice of many Americans, when he said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three Jewish teenagers, two Israelis and one American, who have been kidnapped by radical Islamic terrorists. This atrocity against both our nations reminds us that we face a mutual enemy who attacks us because of our shared commitment to the basic principles of freedom.”

He then directed some comments to our President with these words, “This act of terrorism should also alert the Obama Administration to the fact that working with, recognizing, and/or funding any ‘unity’ government that includes those that seek the destruction of the Jewish State is naïve and foolish. Such legitimization of the enemies of Israel and the United States only invites more violence.”

Senator Cruz continued: “As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, ‘You remember that Israel warned the international community about the dangers of endorsing the Fatah-Hamas unity pact.’ The dangers of that pact now should be abundantly clear to all,” the senator added.

Senator Cruz, of course, was referring to the recent (just a few days before the kidnappings) unification “merger” of the Palestinian Authority that controls the West Bank with Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip territory of the Palestinians. That despite the United States legal Congressional act to defund any terrorist group (Hamas is considered a terrorist organization), this country not only recognized the merger, but agreed to continue hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to this half “moderate” half terrorist union. I suppose it’s the moderate half that the US is still funding. If so, the least we could do is cut our aid in half!

Ted Cruz’ comments were welcomed by all who support Israel. Particularly in light of US Secretary John Kerry’s “strong response” that wasn’t made until several days after the kidnappings and failed to acknowledge any need to discontinue the funding or to rescind the United States recognition of this unity pact. Instead, Kerry commented that Hamas, “is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.”

Do you see what I mean: Even our Secretary of State concedes that the kidnapping of these three boys is nothing more than a predictable, even expected tactic of Hamas. As though that rationale was enough to continue the US recognition of this so-called unity pact. The only union accomplished was the union of moderate hatred (Palestinian Authority) of the Jews with violent, irrational, pure hatred from the more radical Palestinians …Hamas.

But just how moderate is President Mahmoud Abbas leader of the Palestinian Authority? Let me share some startling, but disgusting figures to show that crime in Israel actually does pay; and then you decide. The PA actually pays monthly salaries to their terrorist’s sons and daughters who were apprehended by the Israelis for successful or failed attempts to kidnap or kill Jews. Depending on the length of the jail sentence, up to $3,500.00 per month is paid to the families of those incarcerated … more if the heroic prisoner has children. In the years 2011-2012, approximately $150 million dollars was funneled to these families! And it’s no secret to anyone who knows what’s going on, that much of these monthly stipends is subsidized directly by US aid to the PA.

As Israeli Columnist Isi Leibler said in a recent article written for Israel Hayom: “Since the creation of the state (meaning State of Israel), we have endured endless terrorist acts targeting innocent Israelis of all ages. The global media has portrayed the kidnapping as an attack on “settlers.” This is especially ironic given the history of Gush Etzion—from where the teenagers were abducted—a settlement bloc founded by the children and survivors of a community destroyed and razed the ground during the 1948 War of Independence. In this context, we must come to terms with the reality that the world is indifferent to what happens to Israel, as exemplified yet again by the EU failing to make a formal statement for five days. When it did, the statement was not signed by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who never misses an opportunity to release immediate statements in her own name condemning Israel for construction in east Jerusalem Jewish suburbs.”

Leibler continues: “Ironically, as the kidnapping saga is unfolding in Israel, in New York there has been furious debate surrounding the Metropolitan Opera production of Death of Klinghoffer, a vile drama based on the callous murder of a crippled Jew on a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists which seeks to rationalize and humanize the terrorists and rationalize their motivations. The major problem today is that the international community denies the barbaric nature of Islamic fundamentalism…”

Identification with Israel

My main purpose for this article is to once again express my heartfelt love and empathy for the Jewish people and the daily risk they’re exposed to simply because they are Jews and live in Israel. It shouldn’t be that way. How many must die before their children and children’s children can live in safety. So they can play in the streets and parks, and ride buses without dread of being blown up, and eat bagels in a café, and walk to school and back home again, without fear of being forced into a passing car at gunpoint? To listen with a sympathetic and saddened heart as Naftali Frenkel’s mother addresses the United Nations and tells them, “Doesn’t every child have the right to come home safely?”

It was good that the UN extended an invitation to Naftali’s mother, but the overall reaction by those in attendance wasn’t much more than a neutral, knee-jerk response that essentially said, “Well, we are sorry to hear about this.”

Once or twice in past Eye of Prophecy articles, I have quoted former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, who said, “We will have peace only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews.”

Sadly, very sadly, I can also tell you what millions of Muslims, especially those belonging to terrorist groups such as Hamas would say (probably have said in so many words) in response to Golda’s perceptive statement. They would say, “There will be no peace until there are no more Jewish children.” Which fits precisely with their avowed diabolical intention of killing as many Jews as possible and kidnapping other Jews who might serve a better purpose—such as a totally unbalanced prisoner exchange like the one a few years ago, i.e. a thousand Palestinians prisoners for one Israeli soldier, Galid Shalit.

I can’t tell you enough, how very disheartened I am that the Jewish people must still live their daily lives at great risk, in harm’s way, simply because they are Jews. It’s the irrational, illogical, senseless Anti-Semitic hatred of the Jews that defies all that is right, decent, moral, and good. And yet the perplexing dichotomy is that the nation of Israel is still just as safe as any large city in America, especially for tourists. I know, I’ve been there, just a few years ago.

The very reason that Israel exists today through a miraculous rebirth is linked directly to the greatest bloodbath that one nation ever inflicted against a race of people, just because they belonged to that race. I’m, of course, referring to the Holocaust.

Never again, the Jews said. Never again, can anything like this happen. We must have a place of our own. And through God’s sovereignty and providence, just three years after WW II ended, Israel was reborn as a nation. In a land that belonged to them for thousands of years, long before the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and British exercised control over Israel … a land given to them by God, himself, as an everlasting promise.

Through the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust in which six million Jews were kidnapped from their homes, from their places of work, from their synagogues, from their schools, from each other; interned in ghettos, then hauled away in cattle trains to concentration camps to be systematically slaughtered in gas chambers, the Jews have finally returned in great numbers to THEIR land. And that they currently number six million in Israel, the same number that was exterminated by Hitler and his Third Reich, is no coincidence.

*News Flash! Two days ago (6-26-14), The Israel Security Agency also known as Shabak (Shin Bet) confirmed that two members of Hamas activists from Hebron were responsible for the kidnappings. Their names are: Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Eisha. For the sake of all that is right and good, we ask you, Marwan and Amar: Release Eyal, Naftali and Gilad back to their families. Then turn to Messiah Yeshua for forgiveness and salvation. In Christ you will find true peace and love, perhaps even for the Jews.

Pray with me and thousands of others for the soon return of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad. All of Israel longs for their safety. Their parents and siblings so want them back, as would any family who cherishes their children; who values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Things to Ponder

The facts are clear: There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Prince of Peace returns. There is far too much malice in the Muslim heart and mind toward the Jews to concede even one square foot of the Promised Land … the Land promised to the Jews by the one true and living God. Or to concede the right to life for even one Jew. It’s not just terrorism that needs to be stopped; it’s the shocking condition of the human heart that needs to be changed … for everyone, both Jew and Gentile. Who is it that can change the human heart?

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9: 6-7).

“I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace (Shalom) to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

**Some remarkable photos and videos below:

(Please click the link below to watch a short, but heart-rending interview of Naftali’s mother)

http://breakingisraelnews.com/16609/mom

(Click on this link to a beautiful song composed for Israel and for their boys. You will hear the name Hashem in this song, which means, The Name. Most Jews prefer not to verbalize the sacred name of God, so they refer to the Lord as Hashem)

http://unitedwithisrael.org/video-israelis-use-music-to

(Please click below to view some remarkable photos of Operation Brother’s Keeper)

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/16727/pictures

The Two Witnesses (Part III)

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THE TWO WITNESSES (Part III)

Last week Elijah. This week Moses!

Once again, it’s important to grasp the astounding fact that Moses (and Elijah) accompanied Jesus on the mountaintop in person, with their actual earthly bodies given to them at birth. They did not yet inhabit the eternal bodies that all believers will someday be given at the Rapture’s resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15). If you like, please revisit the first five articles on the Eye of Prophecy blog site, pertaining to the What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture.

How, then, was it possible for Moses to appear in bodily form with Jesus and Elijah if he had already died? We need not ask that question of Elijah because he was taken to heaven without dying, as last week’s article probed in some detail. To solve this perplexing puzzle, let’s begin with a few verses in the last chapter of Deuteronomy that record the death of Moses.

“So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever” (Deuteronomy 34: 5-7).

Does anything in this passage strike you as just a bit unusual? If we were discussing these verses in person or by phone, I’d pause here and give you a few seconds to think about what was just read. But since most people continue reading whatever they’re reading, I’ll get right to the point; unless, you want to stop here and chew on the passage for a couple of minutes … then, by all means do so!

First, in all of Scripture or in the chronicles of mankind, where else are we told that God, himself, buried someone?! Quick, easy answer: Nowhere else. Secondly, not only did the Lord bury Moses, he also concealed the burial site. Why wouldn’t God have allowed Moses to be buried the traditional way in a conspicuous tomb where all of Israel could visit and venerate the burial site, much like Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, or Joseph’s graves?

Thirdly, the text strongly implies that Moses was still in good health. This inference is conveyed by the physical description of good eyesight and a (still) strong body. No reading glasses, no hearing aids, no disease, no crippling injuries, no excessive wear and tear on this rugged body of a great prophet who had wandered the Judean wilderness for some forty years … beginning at the age of eighty! When some folks tell you how old they are or how old a good friend is, they often will say, “She’s 80 years young.” And we get the picture, even if the person has wrinkles within wrinkles. Not so with Moses: when Scripture says he was as strong as ever, it means Moses was, in fact, 120 years young!

Not only that, the preceding verses of this passage tell us that Moses’ death had been planned by God for that very hour and in the exact place where God told Moses to go. If you recall the story, Moses and Joshua—and by implication the tribes of Israel—knew why Moses climbed the mountains of Moab … to see the Promised Land that he would never enter, but also to die.

Why such a mysterious passing? Why so secretive? What does it have to do with Moses reappearing over a thousand years later with Elijah and Jesus—though time in heaven is on a different measuring scale altogether … a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. (II Peter 3:8).

It’s good that you’re asking these questions! Because there are answers. And the key is found in one of most obscure, enigmatic passages in all of Scripture … one verse that has baffled even the most astute Bible scholars and students. The understanding of this passage only “came to me” (which is another way of saying that the Lord graciously disclosed it) during the enormous amount of study, research, preparation, and analysis during the writing of my book, Out of the Abysscan the number of the beast be solved, 666?

Though I have seldom quoted from this book in the forty-seven articles written to date for the Eye of Prophecy blog site, I’d like to refer to some paragraphs from Out of the Abyss pertaining to the subject at hand. But first we’ll begin with the verse in question, one that presents a very brief but riveting scene involving two powerful angelic beings and a mighty prophet whose body was the topic of a high level earthly and/or heavenly debate. Incidentally, there’s nothing symbolic whatsoever about this passage. We see two real angels engaged in a real-life quarrel over the disposition of a real prophet’s dead body.

“But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you’ (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses body.)” (Jude, verse 9).

Excerpts from Out of the Abyss, Chapter 25: pages 243-246):

“Why on earth, or under the earth, or above the earth would Satan argue with the archangel Michael over Moses body? What was it Lucifer disputed?”

I then go on to answer this question.

“At this point in Biblical history, it had been the destiny of every person on earth to die, except Enoch. Man’s sin resulted in the curse of death … At the time of Moses, there had not yet been any physical evidence of bodily resurrection from the dead … the fact was then, and still is today: a person’s body stays in the grave and decays. Not until the Rapture of Christians and the subsequent Great White Throne Judgment of all unbelievers, will there be a permanent bodily resurrection from the grave….

“Why was Satan so bent out of shape over the body of Moses? The only rational, logical explanation is that Michael, on orders from God, had arrived to take the body of Moses directly to heaven. In fact, can you think of any other reason? This may also explain why no one knew where God had buried Moses. For that matter, how often does God directly bury someone himself, let alone conceal the burial site?

“Moses would be raised from the grave with his original body intact, and this didn’t set well with Satan. As we’ve seen, Satan can and does confront God, i.e. the story of Job and the temptation of Jesus. Arguing with the archangel Michael is no problem for Satan. It is entirely credible that Satan reminded Michael (and God) that the curse of sin was physical death and bodily decay. God had no right to make an exception to this rule, as it was God’s decree in the first place that Adam and Eve would surely die if they sinned.

“In no uncertain terms, Michael reminded Satan that God is in control; God has the final say in all things. If the Lord wanted to take Enoch from the earth directly to heaven and later Elijah, then the Lord would do just that. Same thing with Moses; the only difference is that Moses had died, but that’s a mere technicality with God.

“Remember, too, the Mount of Transfiguration … Since Christ had not yet died and arose from the grave, neither Elijah nor Moses would yet possess the resurrected new body given to all believers. The only explanation is that both prophets still inhabit their original bodies, albeit through some special divine preservation, not known to us this side of eternity. Actually, if a thousand years is a day in heaven, then no preservation is needed! Moses has been in heaven a little over three days; Elijah has been there approximately two and a half days.

“Thus, a strong case could be made that God, through the Archangel Michael, took Moses bodily from the grave. Whether God restored him to life before, during, or after his escort from the grave … well those of us going to heaven can ask Moses when we get there. Why else would only God know the exact burial-place of Moses in Moab?”

Moses & Elijah as the Two Tribulation Prophets

By now, I trust that God’s appointment of these great prophets to be the two witnesses of the Great Tribulation is self-evident. But to put the finishing touches on some of the most intriguing passages in the Bible (concerning the two lampstands, the two olive trees, the two heavenly beings, the two prophets, the two witnesses … all designations of Elijah and Moses), let’s briefly review the two heavenly beings who, “stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth (Zechariah 4) and the two prophets who “stand before the Lord of all the earth,” (Revelation 11) as introduced in Part I of this three-part series.

If Moses and Elijah are, indeed, the two heavenly beings and the two prophets that stand before the Lord of all the earth, then we might pose the question: Are there any other Biblical references to these two heroic prophets that would further validate and qualify them as the Two Witnesses during the Great Tribulation? I must say: I hadn’t thought of searching for additional documentation until writing this article, Part III of the series. I was and still am convinced that evidence presented thus far sufficiently stands alone as res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). Mostly out of curiosity I reviewed more Scripture that records the remarkable lives of these two great men of God. What I found was nothing short of astonishing.

Moses: Most of us remember Moses and the burning bush. “When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ ‘Here I am!’ Moses replied. ‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…’” (Exodus 3: 4-6, italics for emphasis).

Where was Moses? What was he doing? Answer: he was standing on Mount Sinai in the very presence of the Lord. Only the Lord of all the earth could ignite a bush and keep it burning indefinitely. Moses was, therefore, standing before the Lord of the earth!

Another spectacular scene: “The Lord replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.’ Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you … But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.’ The Lord continued, ‘Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen’” (Exodus 33: 17-23, italics for emphasis).

What an awesome privilege for anyone, even for Moses, to STAND before the true and living God! In fact, especially for Moses, who had fled from Egypt for killing an Egyptian; and then had tended flocks of sheep and goats for forty years on the back side of the desert. From a humble Shepard to a mighty Prophet … just like that!

Elijah: “Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain’” (I Kings 18:1).

Accordingly, Elijah sought out Obadiah–an official in charge of Ahab’s palace–to arrange a meeting with the king; which later led to Elijah’s confrontation with King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Obadiah pleaded with Elijah to excuse him from this dangerous mission. If you’re curious as to the reason Obadiah was afraid, please read verses 7-14 of this first chapter.

Obadiah concludes his desperate appeal to dissuade Elijah with these words, “Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me” (verse 14).

Now then, if I could pause this article and insert a video or even an audio of a drum roll, I’d certainly do so! Why? Because Elijah’s reply is yet another perfectly placed thread that would later be woven into the majestic tapestry of God’s prophetic sovereignty! Of the countless possibilities of what Elijah could have said or how he could have responded to Obadiah, here is what he said:

“…I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day” (I Kings 18:15, italics for emphasis). Amazing! This is much more than just a figure of speech. Elijah was telling Obadiah and all readers of the text exactly what the Lord revealed to Zechariah and later to John of Revelation: Elijah (like Moses) had the unimaginable privilege of standing before the Lord of all the earth. Literally!

Which gives us a whole new understanding of why the Lord initially answers Zechariah’s question with a question. Zechariah asked the Lord, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches….?” (Zechariah 4:11-12). To which the Lord replies, “Don’t you know?” Zechariah answers, “No, my Lord.” (Verse 13). Then the Lord answers Zechariah’s question: “They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth” (Verse 14).

My first thought when I studied these verses in preparation for these articles was: The Lord’s question was much too hard, bordering on unfair. (It’s evident that this wasn’t a pass/fail test question from the Lord, or even that Zechariah was absolutely expected to know the answer). Nevertheless, the question was asked. How in the world could Zechariah know the answer to such a question? But he could have known! And probably did know … but not then and there off the top of his head, particularly in the context of this overwhelming scene in which the Lord is showing him these mysterious prophetic visions.

How/why could Zechariah have known? Because, as a prophet, I’m sure he was well versed in those Scriptures already written by Moses and those written about Elijah, enough to make a connection (with plenty of advance notice) between the symbolism of the two olive trees/lampstands and their actual correlation to Moses and Elijah’s standing before the Lord. Yet, no one, including the best of Bible scholars and including Zechariah, can come up with a Biblical answer to a tough question all the time at any given time … just like that!

Right then and there Zechariah didn’t put two and two together to realize that Moses and Elijah were these two olive trees … heavenly beings.

And once again for emphasis: what two men stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Summary

Throughout Old Testament history, we often read about encounters between faithful true prophets of God and deceitful false prophets of Israel, pagan prophets of other gods, or kings—both Jewish and gentile. One example is another remarkable incident involving Elijah; which, to me, is just as impressive as his confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. It’s found in the first chapter of II Kings. If you have time, please read it.

A brief summary will show that Israel’s King Ahaziah needlessly sacrificed one hundred of his soldiers on the altar of pride … they were incinerated by fire from heaven called down by Elijah. All of them would have been spared and Ahaziah could have survived injuries sustained in a fall, if the king had only humbled himself just a little and politely asked Elijah to prophecy whether the King would live or die. Instead, Ahaziah first sought the advice of a non-existent pagan god; then later tried to force Elijah (have him arrested) to speak to the king. Moral of the story: There is only one true and living God, who listens and responds to the humble, but resists the proud.

Why should the Great Tribulation be any different? The absolutely unique and providential last moments of Moses’ and Elijah’s time on this earth can be attributed to the fact that God had chosen them—in addition to their monumental deeds on the earth during their time of service—to represent the Lord in a titanic battle against Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet during the last days.

When evil rears its ugly head to the extent that the wicked perpetrators claim to be divine rulers; and when they perform signs and wonders to deceive those who follow them and those who don’t; and when the havoc they wreak and atrocities they inflict begin to spread exponentially; but most of all when they claim universal authority as a god or even as God, then enough is enough. God will intervene with miraculous power that will indisputably demonstrate who is God and who is not. There are numerous examples of this in Scripture, not the least of which are Moses vs. Pharaoh and Elijah vs. prophets of Baal.

In the context of all of the natural, supernatural, and otherwise apocalyptic Tribulation happenings, especially the seal, trumpet, and vial judgments, followed by the majestic return of Jesus Christ, I believe three of the most enormous events will be: (1) the amazing reappearance of the beast (Nero) from the underworld, with millions upon millions of those left behind giving him their complete allegiance, and eventually worship. (2) The authority given to the False Prophet to perform miracles (to deceive) on behalf of the Antichrist. (3) The 3 ½ years of colossal miracles and devastation administered by Moses and Elijah to rival and trump the accomplishments of the unholy trinity.

For a brief moment, God allows the Antichrist to finally defeat the Two Witnesses, over which the entire world gloats; even to the extent of giving gifts to each other to celebrate the death of, “…the two prophets who had tormented them” (Revelation 11:10). But this wild reveling will last all of three and a half days. After that period of time, “…God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets. ‘Come up here!’ And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched” (Revelation 11:11-12).

Try that on for size, Mr. Six Hundred and sixty-six! Duplicate that, O False Prophet! Top that, Satan!

What do you mean, you can’t! Run out of miracles, have you? Had enough? Ready to stand down? No? Then prepare yourselves unholy trinity for a crushing defeat in that great and terrible day of the Lord. In that day you will unwittingly fulfill the words of the prophet: “Say to the nations far and wide: Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack … Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley. Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There, I, the Lord will sit to pronounce judgment on them all” (Joel 3: 9-12).

Heed the word of the Lord’s prophet: “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. The sun and the moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake….” (Joel 3: 14-16).

On that day, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2: 10-11). Yes, ungodly, counterfeit trinity … that includes you!

Things to Ponder

Moses and Elijah will experience yet another divine transportation and entrance into heaven. This time it will mirror the Rapture that several years earlier had taken hundreds of millions from the earth. This time their prophetic mission on earth will be complete. This time they will finally possess the everlasting glorified spiritual bodies that they were promised, and so patiently waited for.

One day soon, I and, I hope, you and millions of others (the host of heaven) will praise and worship our wonderful Heavenly Father and his Messiah, our redeemer who will rule and reign from Jerusalem. And we will have all eternity to listen to the same mighty deeds and even more stories from Moses and Elijah and David and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel and Ezekiel and Noah and Paul and John and…

The Two Witnesses (Part II)

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THE TWO WITNESSES (Part II)

Other than the magnificent return of Jesus Christ to rescue the world from annihilation and to set up his kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace, one of the greatest showdowns ever witnessed by mankind will pit the Antichrist and his false prophet against two mighty prophets of God… Moses and Elijah. Just as the Antichrist beast of Revelation (Nero) and his statue will spellbound those left behind at the Rapture by his improbable return from the grave, as the world will see it (he actually reappears from the Abyss); so, too, will the Two Witnesses dumbfound billions with their incredibly mysterious return from the ancient past. Just as the False Prophet will amaze and intimidate the earth’s population with powerful signs and wonders; so, too, will Moses stun the world with miracles not seen since the Exodus or since Elijah soundly defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.

With the Scriptural documentation presented in last week’s article that focused on the astonishing correlation between what the two witnesses of Revelation 11 will do and what Elijah and Moses did during their prophetic service for God thousands of years ago, I believe we have established a near irrefutable premise THAT these two extraordinary prophets are, in fact, the two witnesses of Revelation. Now it’s time to provide evidence demonstrating WHY Moses and Elijah will be God’s choice as the two lampstands, the two olive trees; indeed, the two witnesses/prophets that will do supernatural battle with Satan’s dynamic, but totally depraved, duo. Let’s begin with:

ELIJAH:

It’s one of the most fascinating and well-known events of Scripture, one that is taught in Sunday school classes all over the world … at least it used to be taught! To what do you think I’m referring—pertaining to, of course, Elijah, and more specifically his final days on earth? My guess is that some readers already guessed it. But, if not, then here we go:

“Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River. Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground! When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’ ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah replied. ‘If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t’” (II Kings 2:7-10).

*Note: The text clearly tells us that Elijah already knew what was about to take place. And the preceding verses inform us that Elisha and dozens of other Jewish prophets also knew that Elijah was to be taken (although they didn’t know when or how it would happen or where Elijah would be taken or what would happen after that) by the Lord.

Sure enough. Right then and there it happened!

“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11).

All of God’s miracles are awesome, but a handful are off the charts. Elijah’s extraordinary exit from this earth may just be one of those top ten. Now that we’ve been reminded of this real life beam me up spectacle (for the very young readers … refer to Star Trek), there are some relevant questions to ask and answer and observations to be made:

A Better Understanding of Elijah’s Departure from the Earth

The first question and answer will be presented by quoting an excerpt from by book, Out of the Abyss. “To what destination was Elijah transported? Correct: to heaven … Moreover a flaming chariot carried him. Obviously this was a heavenly chariot and heavenly team of horses capable of transferring Elijah to heaven … Talk about a joy ride! Beats any roller coaster, race car, speed boat, supersonic jet, or spaceship known to man. As is said, ‘What a way to go!’”

It may surprise you to know that many Christians, even those who read the Bible on a regular basis, have difficulty answering—off the top of their head—the question of Elijah’s ultimate destination, including me many years ago; even though it should be fairly obvious. They’re very familiar with the story of how he was taken, but aren’t sure exactly where Elijah ended up in/with the chariot of fire. If you know where he was taken, then say it aloud right now. If you don’t, then read the passage again, or simply refer to the quote from Out of the Abyss in the preceding paragraph.

Yes, Elijah was taken to heaven. Before you say, “duh,” think about the implication of someone, anyone transported to heaven in that fashion—or any manner in which there are dozens of witnesses. If you do, the first thing that might come to mind is that such an event is unusual … to say the least. More like, “are you kidding me!”

Next question: Was Elijah alive or dead when he was whisked away to heaven? Okay, I realize that’s not only an easy question; it borders on being mundanely simple. But I ask it to emphasize what’s taking place here: the fact that the prophet Elijah was transported to heaven in his earthly body! Not only is the event itself a mind-boggling miracle, so is the very idea of someone leaving this earth without experiencing death. And, we’re not talking about a space flight to the moon!

Although it’s obvious that Elijah was removed from the earth alive, physically intact, I’m underscoring how often something like this doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s never occurred before or since, except for one time. Do you remember who else was taken (also to heaven) without dying? Correct: Enoch … see Genesis Chapter 5 and Hebrews Chapter 11.

Concerning Enoch, some Bible scholars and students believe he will be the other Revelation 11 witness/prophet alongside Elijah, for the very fact just covered … they both were taken from the earth without dying. Time/space does not permit in this article, except to say the following about Enoch, compared to Moses and Elijah as the two appropriate choices.

- Unlike Moses and Elijah who were prophets (as are the two witnesses), Scripture does not indicate that Enoch was a prophet, in the context of how prophets are defined and described in Scripture.

- Moses and Elijah were the two men who attended and spoke with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, not Enoch. This is tremendously significant, as I believe (and will demonstrate later in this article) the very fact that it was Moses and Elijah with Christ on the mountaintop further validates them as the two Revelation witnesses.

- Enoch is the one exact, exclusive prototype of born-again believers who will be taken in the rapture, prior to God’s second judgment of the earth during the Great Tribulation. Enoch was taken from the earth prior to the first monumental judgment of God … the Great Flood.

- And, of course, as explained in last week’s article, the God empowered miracles that Moses and Elijah performed while on the earth are identical to the magnificent exploits of the two witnesses for 3 ½ years during the Tribulation.

Back to Elijah. Let’s examine an astounding phenomenon that I alluded to earlier: The fact that Elijah (and Moses) appeared in bodily form with Christ … as the disciples Peter, James, and John watched in utter amazement. I can assure you both from the text and the context of this remarkable event, that Moses and Elijah were NOT spirits. None of the gospel accounts indicate in any way, shape, or form that Moses and Elijah appeared as spirits. In fact, how could Elijah be merely a spirit if he left the earth in his physical body? And later on we’ll see how that applies also to Moses, even though he died!

Plus, departed spirits of human beings cannot, therefore, do not reappear on the earth. This is God’s chosen way of things pertaining to the multiple dimensions he’s created, as well as his template for the human race following Adam and Eve’s disobedience which resulted in both spiritual death and physical death (separation of soul/spirit from the body). But God didn’t leave man is such an eternal mess, that we’ve made for ourselves. Through believing and receiving his Son, Messiah Jesus, all those who die will one day be reunited body and spirit, into a whole new glorified spiritual body (I Corinthians 15). For now, however, we humans are confined to the dimension of space and time as they exist on this earth. Angels (and demons who are fallen angels) have access between physical earthly dimensions and heavenly/spiritual zones.

Spirits and Ghosts

Nowhere in Scripture do we find evidence of anyone returning to earth as a spirit … a ghost. It just doesn’t happen. Sorry, Casper; no matter how friendly of a fictitious ghost you were, there will never be any “real” ghosts on this planet … not the kind that is someone’s disembodied apparition. Those kind of things must be relegated to science fiction and/or Hollywood, such as the movie Ghost, with Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore.

That also applies to Samuel, as King Saul observed the departed/dead prophet as a man with a body, not as some eerie phantom. Samuel’s physical appearance is even described by the witch of Endor to Samuel. You might want to glance I Samuel 28: 11-14, to see first-hand how stunned the witch of Endor was at the actual physical reappearance of Samuel; which, in and of itself, is a rare exception allowed by God, concerning reappearance of someone who has died. Plus, the Lord didn’t (permanently) raise Samuel from the dead at that time.

The witch was accustomed to seeing spirits; however, these spirits were not actually human beings. They were demons. When the witch saw Samuel, she described him to Saul as a god. She simply didn’t know how else to explain what was happening. I’ve often wondered if this witch gave up witchcraft after experiencing the real thing … meaning an actual person and his body (temporarily) returning from the dead, rather than demonic spirits imitating someone who had died.

In that regard, I do believe that demon spirits (fallen angels) can and have occasionally taken the form of a person, whose family/friends wanted to communicate with, via occult séances and the like. But, it is not the person they’re seeing … it’s a demonic impersonation. A good example is the story of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, both of whom had died. Even though the rich man presented a perfectly logical reason to return to the earth (to warn his brothers about hell), he was not allowed to do so in any form—physical, spiritual, or otherwise.

When those who believe in Christ (including those who believed in the promise of his coming before he came to earth as the chosen Messiah) die, their spirits immediately go to heaven; awaiting the Rapture resurrection of the dead and a glorified body equipped to live in Heaven for all eternity. Sadly, for those who refuse to accept Christ as their personal Savior, their spirits go to Hades (hell), also awaiting resurrection at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20) and then everlasting banishment to the Lake of Fire. But departed spirits of believers or unbelievers do not remain on or roam the earth or return to the earth. That simply cannot be found in Scripture.

So, if anyone tells you they’ve actually seen a ghost, please don’t tell them not to worry, or be afraid. They have every reason to be concerned. Because if they truly did see an apparition, you can bet it was a demon trying to or actually taking the (rough) form of someone who has died. Satan and his demons have this kind of limited power … for now.

The Resurrection of the Dead

To further understand the shocking implication of the bodily appearance of Elijah and Moses with Christ, we need to remember that the glorious transfiguration of Jesus took place before he arose from the dead after his cruel death on the cross. Scripture is crystal clear that Jesus would be and actually was the very first to arise from the dead, with the new, eternal resurrection body that would last forever. I italicized the last portion of this statement to emphasize that there were a handful of others who were raised from the dead by Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and of course, Jesus. But those raised from the dead (at the time) did, in fact, die again. In other words, they were raised with their earthly bodies and then died again with those same bodies. Not until the sacrificial death of Christ would anyone be raised from the dead with everlasting bodies like our Lord possesses in heaven right now as we speak.

Mostly, this will take place at the Rapture; however, the gospel of Matthew indicates that some arose from their graves in Jerusalem immediately after Christ died on the cross. Once Christ died, the resurrection was a given … as declared by the Scriptures and as purposed by God from the beginning of time. That doesn’t make the resurrection any less spectacular and supernatural. It’s just that when Christ (who is God) said he would be tortured, crucified, buried, but rise the third day … that’s exactly what he meant and that’s precisely what would and did happen!

Thus, there’s no way that Elijah or Moses could have been spirits or have appeared in their eternal resurrected bodies on the Mount of Transfiguration, as Christ hadn’t yet died and arisen from the grave. In fact, both Moses and Elijah are still awaiting (as are all believers in Christ, both dead and alive) their new, everlasting “spiritual bodies.” Please see I Corinthians Chapter 15 for Paul’s amazing explanation of the different types of bodies throughout God’s creation.

Which totally qualifies Elijah and Moses as two heavenly beings who stand before the Lord of all the earth, as recorded by Zechariah and then by John in Revelation. The reason this appellation of heavenly beings is utilized is because the two olive trees (as symbolically portrayed by Zechariah and John in Revelation) have resided in heaven, but in their original earthly bodies!

They are heavenly beings because they currently dwell in heaven, but are (human) beings still in possession of their original body. And the reason the equally unusual designation of the Lord of all the earth is employed, relates to the power that Christ has over death and life on the earth; to the extent that he can make supernatural exceptions to the normal cycle of life and death, and provide a special place in heaven where Elijah and Moses exist in their earthly body until their appointed time to return during the Great Tribulation.

Thus, Christ is Lord of the earth when it came to taking Elijah from the earth without dying, and, as we soon shall see, reviving Moses after Moses died! Yes, you read that right. In next week’s article we’ll discover just how that happened by examining two other mysterious Biblical passages to support the choice of Moses, as one of the Two Witnesses, alongside Elijah.

Things to Ponder

“But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless … And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (I Corinthians 15: 12-20).

“On the way they were asking each other, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! … Now go and tell his disciples….’” (Mark 16: 3-7).

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

The Two Witnesses (Part I)

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THE TWO WITNESSES (Part I)

Of the dozens of remarkable prophetic visions experienced by John, author of the book of Revelation, one of the most fascinating is found in the first fourteen verses of Chapter 11. Most Bible commentators simply refer to this passage under the heading of, The Two Witnesses. In the previous Eye of Prophecy articles entitled, The False Prophet (Parts I and II), we introduced these two witnesses who are also referred to as prophets; and we identified them as Moses and Elijah, who will take on the False Prophet and his boss, the Antichrist.

Moses and Elijah are the most popular and logical choices; but are they, indeed, the two witnesses? What is the nature and extent of Biblical evidence to support these selections over other Old Testament prophets or over two modern-day men whom God might choose? And, what is the practical significance of identifying these two prophets as Moses and Elijah? In other words, what difference will it make who they are? Let’s see if we can answer those questions, thereby, elevating your interest and excitement for the return of our Lord to an even higher level!

Although Revelation Chapter 11 is, by far, the most well-known passage—to some the only source—that announces the incredible arrival and accomplishments of these two men, there is another mysterious Biblical scene that first introduces these mighty prophets of God. Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Zechariah presents a startling portrait of these two men, by referring to them as “two olive trees,” and then explaining that the two trees, “…represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.” Let’s read Zechariah’s intriguing description:

“Then the angel who had been talking with me returned and woke me, as though I had been asleep. ‘What do you see now?’ he asked. I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it … And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.’ Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these, my lord? What do they mean?’” (Zechariah 4: 1-4).

Note: The angel, who is the Lord (pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, because Zechariah addresses him as Lord), doesn’t actually answer Zechariah’s specific question; instead the Lord talks about Zerubbabel and the Temple. So once again Zechariah inquires:

“Then I asked the angel, ‘What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?’ ‘Don’t you know?’ he asked. ‘No, my lord,’ I replied. Then he said to me, ‘They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth’” (Zechariah 4: 11-14).

Why or how can we match these two olive trees with the two witnesses of Revelation 11? And why did the angel designate these two men as heavenly beings? And not just heavenly beings, but “the two heavenly beings.”

Comparing Zechariah 4 with Revelation 11

Now let’s read a portion of Revelation 11 to verify that the two witnesses or prophets are, in fact, one and the same as the two heavenly beings described in Zechariah. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1260 days. These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth” (Revelation 11: 3-4).

First, the terminology of olive trees and lampstands in Revelation precisely fits the descriptive language used by Zechariah. Secondly, the angel in Revelation is telling John that these two men, are “the two olive trees and the two lampstands…” with a reliable contextual and grammatical deduction that the men are the two olive trees, meaning the two men (heavenly beings) alluded to by Zechariah, in one of the many end-times prophecies recorded by Zechariah. The is a definite article that refers to something or someone already identified, presuming to exist, and separated from any and all other similar objects or people. To support what I’m saying, let’s refer to Webster’s Dictionary for one of several definitions and uses of “the.”

“Used as a function word to indicate that a following noun or noun equivalent is definite or has been previously specified by context or by circumstance … to indicate that a noun is a unique or a particular member of its class.” (Italics for emphasis).

Secondly, if the two prophets of Revelation had not already been referenced in Scripture, then John would have said: “These two prophets are two olive trees and two lampstands…” And, he probably would not have even used the modifier two; because if these prophets of Revelation were being introduced for the first time, it would be misleading to utilize the definite article or the adjective two. But John doesn’t say that; rather he states, “The two olive trees and the two lampstands.” Do you see the difference?

Thirdly, both passages declare that these two men (called heavenly beings, witnesses, prophets) “stand before the Lord of all the earth.” Prior to Revelation 11, where else in Scripture do we find a reference to anyone standing before the Lord of all the earth? Nowhere else in Scripture do we find two men or beings or anyone else standing before the Lord of all the earth, except in Zechariah Chapter 4. The significance of this: It further narrows down and links the two passages one with the other, to the point that it would be extremely difficult not to make a connection. In fact, it would be a huge oversight … tantamount to literary neglect if no correlation was made.

Revelation Chapter 11 uses the same symbolic analogy as does Zechariah by referring to the two witnesses/prophets as olive trees. However, Revelation also tells us that the prophets are “two lampstands.” Although Zechariah employs the symbolism of a lampstand, he doesn’t metaphorically call these two men lampstands. Does that create a problem with the otherwise clear premise that Zechariah and Revelation are referring to the same two people? No, I don’t believe it is an issue. Why? Because, as will be explained in just a short while, the use of the terms olive trees and lampstands are, in fact, symbolic … meaning they are allegorical representations of (in this case) real people. Those (two) real people are called: witnesses and prophets in Revelation and heavenly beings in Zechariah.

As most readers know: any time symbolism through metaphor or simile or hyperbole is used in literature or language, its fundamental purpose is to enhance or magnify the impact of the person, place, or thing … the subject of the sentence or passage. In other words, lampstand and olive trees help us to better grasp the character, function, and purpose of who they represent.

Some Bible commentators identify the two olive trees in Zechariah as Zerubbabel and Jeshua; however, there is a problem with this application. First, Jeshua isn’t even mentioned in the Zechariah Chapter 4 vision. Rather Jeshua is introduced in a completely different scene as found in Zechariah Chapter 3, with a different meaning and future application. One that involves none other than God’s, “servant, the Branch” who will, “remove the sins of this land (Israel) in a single day” (Zechariah 3: 8-9). The Branch is none other than Messiah (Jesus).

Next, Zechariah Chapter 4 references only Zerubbabel (not Jeshua), but it doesn’t say that Zerubbabel is an olive tree (one of the two olives trees). The Lord didn’t speak about Zerubbabel as a symbolic representation of the two heavenly beings; rather the Lord spoke to Zerubbabel. And the subject of this message specifically concerned the rebuilding of the second temple.

Lastly, neither Jeshua nor Zerubbabel were Old Testament prophets, as prophets are characterized and defined in the Bible.

Why is this mysterious term heavenly beings utilized? I say, mysterious, because nowhere else in the Bible do we find this term used, precisely as we find it in this passage from Zechariah.

What the two heavenly beings are not.

They are not angels. Again, nowhere in Scripture do we find angels actually described as or called heavenly beings. Certainly, they are special beings created by God and their primary residence is with God in heaven, but angels are angels; not some enigmatic “heavenly being” such as identified by the angel in this very unique circumstance recorded by Zechariah. And, angels are never referred to symbolically as lampstands or olive trees, which is the allegorical description found in both Zechariah 4 and Revelation 11. In Zechariah, we are then told that the olive trees/branches symbolically represent the two heavenly beings. In Revelation these two olive trees and lampstands (same descriptive analogy used in Zechariah) are, in fact, the two witnesses or prophets. Although they have various functions, such as ministering and protective spirits, angels are simply referred to as angels (God’s messengers) throughout Scripture.

Nor are these heavenly beings two of the four living beings or two of the twenty-four elders that John saw in his first vision after being summoned to heaven by Christ, who spoke to John and said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this” (Revelation 4:1). Instantly John saw a throne in heaven, and the one sitting on the throne, “…was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them” (Revelation 4:3-4). John continues with this spectacular vision: “…In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back” (Verse 6). After John presents more details as to the appearance of these four living beings, he tells us, “…Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (Verse 8).

There are twenty-four elders and four living beings, whereas there are two heavenly beings in Zechariah. There would be no reason whatsoever for two of the twenty-four elders or two of the four living beings to also be the two heavenly beings … the term used in Zechariah. Nor is there any designation of the living beings and elders representing lampstands or olive trees.

Incidentally, most Bible scholars (I concur) accurately explain the imagery of the lampstand as representing light, which is the truth of God’s majestic plan of salvation for mankind that produces light and life for everyone who places their trust in the crucified and resurrected Son of God. Moreover, the branches of the olive trees that produce oil represent (power and presence of) the Holy Spirit. Thus, these two heavenly beings (witnesses, prophets) will proclaim the truth of God and do so by the power of the Holy Spirit. The heavenly role/purpose of the four living beings and the twenty-four elders are varied as depicted in Revelation, but they are not prophets or heavenly beings who stand before the Lord of the earth, as such. Though they are obviously endowed with power and position, neither the four-living beings nor the twenty-four elders perform miracles as do the two witnesses/prophets who are referred to as heavenly beings in Zechariah.

Not only is the enigmatic description of these two men (by process of elimination and by default they must be men) unique but so is the fact that they stand before “the Lord of the earth.” Once again we see a title that is not used of God or Jesus much at all in Scripture. Often we read about the Lord of Hosts or as the NLT translates it, “The Lord of Heavens Armies,” but Zechariah says the two heavenly beings stand in the presence of the Lord of all the Earth. Why the distinction between the normal language that our Lord is the Lord of Heaven (which he certainly is) and the Lord of the Earth—which he also certainly is although he has given Satan temporary limited authority to rule over the earth, i.e. the world system of godless governments down through the ages.

More Comparative Evidence

Once again, many students of Scripture and Bible prophecy are convinced that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are and will be Moses and Elijah. And, I heartily agree. By far the most common—and often the only—reason given is because of the supernatural similarity between the power given to and miracles performed by Moses in his time and Elijah in his time, and the two prophets of Revelation. Moreover, Old Testament prophets would sometimes prophesy in burlap clothing, which Revelation 11 tells us is worn by the two witnesses. A modern-day man would not wear burlap. And if he did, while preaching the truth of God, most would consider him as an imposter, trying to mimic Old Testament prophets. But if Moses and Elijah actually appeared (in burlap), well … a lot more people will listen and take heed!

Let’s read again about the colossal feats ascribed to these two witnesses: “These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have the power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish” (Revelation 11: 4-6).

Let’s look at the extraordinary correlations between this passage and the accomplishments of Moses and Elijah. And in so doing, to remember the purpose behind these marvelous demonstrations of authority: to get the attention of those being afflicted, ultimately for their own good. With the end result of listening to God, acknowledging his sovereignty, and doing what must be done. Such as turning—from destructive, ungodly behavior as described in Revelation during the Great Tribulation, i.e. sorcery, thefts, sexual immorality, and murders—to the true and living God and His Messiah, Christ Jesus. (See Revelation 9:20-21).But also, to demonstrate the awesome power of the true and living God and His Messiah toward and against those who arrogantly defy their Creator by vainly making themselves equal with God—by creating their own morality and serving their own gods, which most often are themselves.

Moses:

-  Nearly all who have read or heard about the ten miraculous plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians through Moses, know about the first one: turning the Nile River into blood. During a 3 ½ year display of dynamic and dramatic power, not just one river will be polluted by blood, but several/many, “rivers and oceans” will be contaminated by the two Revelation prophets.

-  Nine more plagues followed in the Exodus story, each more devastating than the former, until all the firstborn male children, including Pharaoh’s child, died in a single night. Revelation 11 tells us that these two prophets (most likely Moses in this case) will, “…strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Thus, instead of a few weeks of successive plagues during the softening of Pharaoh’s ever-hardening heart, Moses (and Elijah) will dispense plagues for 3 ½ years!

Elijah:

- Please refer to I Kings Chapter 18 for the astounding confrontation between Elijah and 850 so-called prophets hired by Ahab and Jezebel to lead the Hebrews away from God and toward false, non-existent gods such as Baal. Many know the story. But to condense this amazing incident for purpose of this article, suffice to say that the prophets of Baal could no more persuade Baal to consume the prepared sacrifice with fire than could Ahab or Jezebel themselves. When it was Elijah’s turn, he simply prayed a short prayer to the Lord, and God completely consumed the sacrifice; thus validating Elijah’s bold claim that the God of Israel was the only true and living God.

- Let’s read the shocking results: “Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God’” (I Kings 18: 38-39).

Another supernatural comparison between Moses/Elijah and the two prophets can be made: Pharaoh had the power, opportunity, and means to have Moses and Aaron put to death at any time during the sequence of plagues, but he didn’t. More like, he couldn’t! Why? Because God divinely protected Moses as his chosen prophet/witness to Pharaoh.

Likewise, with Elijah. At any point in time, Ahab could have ordered Elijah killed. In fact, both he and his wicked wife, Jezebel, had been vainly searching for Elijah to do just that—kill him. Instead, Ahab allowed Elijah not only to go through with this great test/demonstration as to who exactly was God and who was not; but Ahab also stood by while at least 400 prophets of Baal were slain by Elijah and the people who turned back to God.

Compare the sovereign protection of Moses and Elijah to the two witnesses. As indicated earlier, the two prophets of Revelation who are the same two heavenly beings of Zechariah, are indestructible until their God-given mission is accomplished.

Do you see what’s happening here? For all intents and purposes, these two mighty men of God will be untouchable by the False Prophet and the Antichrist, until their 3 ½ years of proclaiming God’s truth is finished. Then, and only then, will God allow the beast of Revelation (Nero) to kill them. But even that won’t be anything close to permanent, as confirmed by a spectacular event 3 ½ days later.

(That gives a whole new meaning to a Witness protection program! Sorry, I couldn’t resist the analogy).

“But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, ‘Come up here!’ And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched. At the same time there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city (Jerusalem). Seven thousand people died in that earthquake and everyone else was terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11: 11-13).

So, too with Moses. He survived Pharaoh’s wrath and certain destruction (along with the Israelites who faithfully followed him and God) at the Red Sea … by God splitting the sea into dry land. He survived forty dangerous years in the harsh Judean wilderness, and forty days and nights without food on Mt. Sinai (twice, or was it three times?). He died directly at the hands of his loving God at the ripe old age of 120; yet the circumstances surrounding his death and burial are still a mystery to this day. (More on that in next week’s article).

So, too with Elijah. He not only was spared providentially from Jezebel’s decree of death for him, he was told by the Lord that 7,000 others in Israel also followed the Lord, who had, “…never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (I Kings 19:18); to assure Elijah that he was not alone … nor the last true prophet in Israel at the time. Strange or ironic that 7,000 will die in the earthquake immediately after the two prophets are raised from the dead, 3 ½ days after they are murdered by Antichrist. Undoubtedly many, if not all, of these 7,000 who die had already taken the mark of the beast and/or had bowed to the statue of the beast. And it takes the prophets 3 ½ years to, “complete their testimony” (Rev. 11:7), approximately the same amount of time Elijah stopped the rain in Israel.

We have forty days that Elijah also fasted; then later God spoke to him on the very spot where Moses fasted and received the Ten Commandments, Mt. Sinai. Who else fasted for forty days and nights in the Judean wilderness several hundreds of years later? Too easy of a question: Messiah Yeshua. Another easy question: Who was it that met and spoke with Jesus on another mountaintop in Israel? Answer: None other than Moses and Elijah!

Things to Ponder

There’s more! But you’ll need to wait until next week’s article to discover extra amazing things about Elijah and Moses. Scriptural facts that will (1) further validate them as the two witnesses of Revelation. (2) Provide near irrefutable evidence that they alone are qualified to be the heavenly beings who witness and prophesy for the Lord during the Great Tribulation. In doing so, we’ll examine in more depth why they are referred to as heavenly beings and why they stand before the Lord of the earth.

Just a sampling: Elijah and Moses appeared with Christ in bodily form! They were not spirits. Keep that in mind as we continue this captivating back to the future journey. (Next week).

The False Prophet (Part II)

THE FALSE PROPHET (Part II)

To be sure, the scarlet beast of Revelation who would dare to be Anti-Christ will garner most of the Tribulation headlines. He will dazzle the world’s Post-Rapture population through his remarkable return to the earth from the Abyss; although the world will see this reappearance as a miraculous resurrection from the dead … not a release from the bottomless pit normally reserved for wicked, fallen angels. The world will worship Satan and the Antichrist, as though they had performed this miracle of recovery from a mortal wound; when, in fact, it was Christ who providentially struck down Nero, then revived him and banished him to the Abyss, to be freed at the appointed time.

But there is another prominent, malevolent figure who will accomplish as much or more than the Beast himself. In last week’s article we examined exactly what it is the second Beast, known as the False Prophet, will do, “on behalf of the first beast.” (Revelation 13). Of special interest, however, is that this man is not labeled as a false prophet until much later in the Great Tribulation. Let’s read what will happen in the last few days before the magnificent return of Christ.

“And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty … And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Revelation 16: 13-16).

This final call that galvanizes even the enemies of Antichrist against the true Messiah occurs after the 6th (next to last) bowl judgment, which obviously is near the end of the Great Tribulation. Only then will the world, by and large, realize that this man is a false prophet—as well as the first beast a false messiah and Satan a false god. By then it will be too late. The vast majority of the world’s population will understand that they have been duped, when Jesus Christ begins to soundly defeat them in the greatest battle of all time. Great only in terms that the armies of the entire world will be aligned against Christ Jesus; not in the actual disposition of the battle … which borders on being anticlimactic.

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies” (Revelation 19: 19-21).

When this false prophet initially arrives on the scene (early in the Tribulation), he is simply called, “another beast” who “exercised all the authority of the first beast.” (Revelation 13: 11-12). He is the False Prophet, but the world sees him as a true and powerful prophet (the image of a beast for both the Antichrist and the False Prophet is used to convey power, terror, and ability … to destroy). Not until their fate is irreversible—when billions have taken the mark of the beast, which is his name or his number 666, and their two magnificent leaders are unveiled for what and who they really are—will people lament their tragic but deliberate decision to follow the Antichrist and his (false) prophet.

Who or What is the (a) False Prophet?

First, a reminder that Scripture not only permits identification of the Antichrist, but actually encourages the unveiling of the “mystery of the beast with seven heads and ten horns….” (Revelation 17:8). In fact, during the first introduction of the beast (Antichrist), the angel challenges John and, therefore, all readers of Revelation with the following examination: “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Revelation 13:18).

Can we do the same with the False Prophet? Can we determine who he actually is/will be by name? No, we can’t, because Scripture doesn’t give us any clues as to his actual identity. However, we do know that he will be a modern contemporary man born through a natural birth (beast that arises from the earth); and he will rocket to fame when he dramatically asserts himself as a prophetic representative of and spokesman for the first beast … Antichrist.

Can we, at least, determine the origin or nationality of the False Prophet? The answer to that is, Yes … with a great deal of confidence, but with a disclaimer that it is not an absolute certainty. As always, we will let Scripture do this for us. Regarding the identity of Antichrist, Scripture and history eliminates virtually all speculation as to his identity and his origin … none other than Nero Caesar, the fifth Roman Emperor of the first century. (See my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666?) Concerning credentials of the false prophet, Scripture reduces suppositions and speculations, and enables us to narrow down the candidates.

The best and most (historically) accurate way to characterize and ascertain a false prophet, including The False Prophet, is to first define a true prophet. That’s why the Bible identifies some prophets as false; because they distort, modify, subtract from, add to, and otherwise falsify the truth. All real truth comes from God, because He IS Truth. By definition, a prophet is false if he declares or prophesies something on his own … not directly from God. Moreover, if the prophecy (meaning with a 100% standard of fulfillment) does not happen, that prophet is a false prophet, not sent by God. (See Deuteronomy Chapters 13 & 18).

Many know about the (true) prophets of God, such as Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zechariah and Malachi. All prophets proclaimed the truth, most predicted the truth of future events, some did both, and others actually performed miracles, such as Elijah and Elisha. They came from all different backgrounds, and served in different times over hundreds of years. But they had one thing in common: Beginning with Moses, whether they prophesied to the Jews or to the Gentiles, they were all Jewish prophets. God would not choose a gentile, pagan prophet any more than he would select a gentile to be a king or priest in Israel. Likewise, with the prophesied Messiah … he must be a Jew from the tribe of Judah, from the lineage of King David.

That’s what the nation of Israel is all about: To disclose to the world the one and true living God, and to give to the world God’s truth through his Word, which becomes light, life, and salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. The final, ultimate light was Jesus of Nazareth, the very living Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, italics for emphasis).

During the last half of the Great Tribulation, I’m convinced that Moses and Elijah will be the two prophets (witnesses) boldly serving the Lord for 3 ½ years with mighty miracles and judgments to rival or exceed those of the False Prophet. Moreover, I believe these two great prophets will go face to face, toe to toe with the False Prophet in a titanic struggle over the allegiance and very souls of millions on the earth. Who will the people choose: Christ or Antichrist? Whose miracles will be believed—those of Moses and Elijah or the (counterfeit) miracles of the False Prophet?

Will they believe the lie that Nero arose from the dead on his own, with a resurrection power given to him by Satan; facilitated and proven by the miracle of the talking statue and fire brought down from heaven by the False Prophet? Or will they fall back in shock and awe, and respond with a righteous fear of Almighty God and turn to his Messiah, Jesus Christ, when confronted by God’s two commanding witnesses who will, “prophesy during those 1260 days” (Revelation 11:3).

Will they choose Christ over Antichrist when they see the awesome power displayed by Moses and Elijah? Will they even acknowledge that these two men from the ancient past have returned to the earth to testify and, “stand before the Lord of all the earth” (Revelation 11:4)? Will people watch in dismay, the death of anyone who dares oppose these two prophets who are granted divine power by means of, “…fire (that) flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies … they have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophecy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish” (Revelation 11: 5-6)? Or will they harbor fear of the False Prophet as the greater prophet?

(Scripture warns us that today is the day of salvation. It’s far better to choose Yeshua now while there is time. When you die it’s too late. If you are left behind at the Rapture—which could happen any hour of any day—it will be much too hard to choose. Many (most) will choose Antichrist and the False Prophet to avoid deprivation, hunger, and death. If you choose Christ then, you will be put to death for refusing to take the mark of the beast. You will not be able to remain neutral … if you don’t choose, then Antichrist and the False Prophet will choose for you).

What Do False Prophets Have in Common?

Time/space does not permit the dozens of references in the Old Testament that tell about prophets who claimed they were sent by or spoke for God or references in general about false prophets. Except—for purpose of this article—to state that these false prophets also had a common denominator: In addition to being FALSE, they were also Jewish. Or, if they might have been pagan Gentiles (such as some of the prophets of Baal in the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel), they still served and prophesied to/for Jewish kings, such as the wicked King Ahab and his equally wicked wife, Queen Jezebel; who was not Jewish, but, co-reigned because her husband was a Hebrew.

The evidence here is leading to what I believe is a Biblically and historically supported premise: The End-times Tribulation False Prophet will be a Jew.

Because I love the Jewish people, the land of Israel, and the holy city of Jerusalem, I am loath to say that a prominent Jewish politician, priest, or rabbi will most likely assert his popularity, prestige, position in embracing the reappearance of a late/great pagan Roman Emperor. But why not? We’re talking about more than just political expediency; we’re looking at the compelling incentive to acknowledge, esteem, serve, support, and even worship a man who has returned from the dead! Many Jews will be astounded but nevertheless deceived (indeed, people the world over) by the incredible return of Nero Caesar. Many more will be deceived by one of their own, a prominent Jew who will persuade both Jews and Gentiles that Nero is Nero arisen from the dead, not some imposter who thinks he’s clever enough to convince even the intellectuals that he should be worshipped as the Savior of mankind.

Which is why billions left behind (after the Rapture) will not flinch at all when Nero hurls one blasphemous insult after another at the true and living God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ. (See Revelation 13: 5-6). Nor will they blush with embarrassment at trying to cover up or explain away the technological special effects that would normally be necessary in order that a monumental statue to/of/for Nero could talk. They won’t have to find excuses because this statue will actually speak and will order the death of all who think otherwise, i.e. that the statue isn’t actually alive, or that Nero isn’t truly Nero, or that the False Prophet doesn’t really have power to inflict serious harm (and death) on those who resist these diabolical emissaries of Satan. (See Revelation 13: 13-15).

*Note: According to Jesus, there would be false messiahs and false prophets who would deceive many in the end-times (see Matthew Chapter 24). Likely, a few of these prophets will be Gentiles; however, I’m convinced the majority will be Jews, especially THE False Prophet. Let’s read the words of Jesus to support my premise: “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:24, italics for emphasis—some translations read, elect).

The chosen ones identified by Christ are, beyond reasonable doubt, his chosen people, the Jews. For the following reasons: (1) the context of this passage refers primarily to Israel and the Jews, i.e. the sacrilegious object that desecrates the (rebuilt) Temple signaling the immediate need for, “…those in Judea must flee to the hills” (Verse 16). Also, “…pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath” (Verse 20, italics for emphasis). (2) When the phrase chosen ones is used, it refers to God’s chosen people, the Jews. (3) As indicated throughout Scripture, it is the Jews who need/want signs and wonders to validate their belief, not the Gentiles. (4) To a Jew (or even to a Gentile Christian) a prophet isn’t really false unless that prophet is a Jew; because, by definition, a pagan prophet is not even a prophet. Of course there are so-called priests and prophets in other religions, but they represent man-made gods that don’t exist. Thus, the prophecies of those would-be prophets who don’t exist by definition are meaningless. Or, saying it another way: They may call themselves prophets, but because they are pagan, they are presumed to be incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial when it comes to prophesying; therefore, they are not genuine prophets and don’t even merit classification as false. (5) Whenever God warns about false prophets, whether in Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or anywhere else in Scripture, he is referring to false prophets in/among the Jews. Many of them are identified by name throughout the Old Testament.

Certainly none of the observant/religious Jews in Israel or anywhere in the world, and definitely not very many secular Jews will acknowledge, let alone worship, so-called miracles performed by a Muslim or Christian (in name only as the true Christians will have been taken from the earth in the Rapture) or Hindu or Mormon, or any other religious figure, other than from or on behalf of Judaism. But they would gladly and quickly respond to one of their own, even if that “brother” is promoting a Roman Emperor! If their Jewish prophet can perform such miracles as described in Revelation 13, why shouldn’t/wouldn’t they believe in and surrender to a messiah that the False Prophet endorses?

The Woman and the False Prophet and the Beast

There’s more. As previously demonstrated, the woman (that great city of Rome represented now by the Vatican) will endorse the Antichrist beast. As a result, she will also reach out to the Jewish prophet who performs miracles in order to further convince and subjugate all doubters that Nero is for real. It will be an alliance never before seen on the earth and (thankfully) never will again. It’s quite likely that the Holy sites of Jerusalem will be shared by the Vatican and by orthodox Jewish groups. Through the political and religious alliance of the Antichrist, False Prophet, and the Woman (Rome), even Muslims will be coerced to cooperate; to the extent that a third Jewish temple will be erected on Temple Mount alongside of the Dome of the Rock … or perhaps even in place of it!

The current dialogue, negotiations, and intensified cooperation between the Roman Catholic Church and Jewish officials is a precursor to these remarkable end-times events. Both Catholic and Jewish leaders will give their allegiance to the resurrected beast. So will leaders of Islam, but more reluctantly. And, of course: where leaders lead, followers follow.

However, Nero will overcome Muslim resistance by acknowledging Islam’s god, and even feign worship of Allah. (Refer to Antichrist’s worship of “the god of fortresses” in Daniel Chapter 11, as explained in my book, Out of the Abyss). In the godless period of the Great Tribulation, there will be little problem in reconciling or blending the beliefs of the False Prophet with the Antichrist with the Catholic woman on the beast. Eventually, all of these “religions” will be swept aside in favor of unadulterated worship of a man who has, “no respect … for any other god” (Daniel 11:37). A man, who will proclaim himself as both God and Messiah.

Though there will be national, international, racial, religious, and political liaisons never before seen, this doesn’t mean a one-world religion or one-world government will arise. There will still be many dissenters, especially the Kings of the East. A one-world government means exactly that: All nations of the earth will yield to and participate in a global alliance, which is simply not found in Scripture. A cross-section group of people from all races, languages, nations will blindly follow Antichrist and the False Prophet, just like they follow Jesus Christ, the true Messiah in today’s world; but not necessarily entire governments. Remember there are only ten kings who yield their kingdoms (nations) to Antichrist and his prophet as found in Revelation Chapter 17 … and three of those nations will be forced to surrender (see Daniel 7). On the other hand, Antichrist will have many enemies and dissidents. This is clearly presented in Daniel Chapter 11.

Not until the very last part of the Great Tribulation will the Kings of the East join with Antichrist and his ten-nation confederation, but only for the purpose of doing battle with Jesus Christ, with the Kingdom of God versus the kingdom of Satan at stake.

Summary

What then is the role of the False Prophet? What will he accomplish that no false prophet in Israel’s history or the history of the gentile nations has accomplished? As summarized in Revelation Chapter 13, this False Prophet will validate the identity of the beast (Nero) and help consolidate the (temporary) alliances between the Antichrist’s ten-nation confederation and the Vatican. Because he is Jewish, the False Prophet will persuade Israel to allow Nero to assume control over the outer court of the Gentiles in the rebuilt Temple (Revelation 11:2). This will lead to the cessation of Temple sacrifices half way through the Tribulation, followed by Nero’s desecration of the Holy of Holies near the end of the Tribulation.

Furthermore, the False Prophet will be permitted to perform miracles that no Old Testament false prophets could do, such as calling down fire from heaven. His miracles will further enhance and validate the original miracle that captivated and amazed the entire world … the resurrected return of an ancient Roman Emperor. Most Jews, particularly observant Jews, understand to varying degrees the difference between their true and false prophets as recorded in the Tanakh (the Old Testament). They remember that the 850 prophets of Baal were no match for God’s true prophet, Elijah.

Which is why the False Prophet will so successfully deceive and persuade millions of Jews (probably the same 2/3s of Jews who will be cut-off according to Zechariah 13:8), before the Antichrist breaks his treaty, turns on the Jews, and begins an all-out war against them. How sad … that so many will believe the False Prophet rather than Moses and Elijah.

But it won’t be a cakewalk for this unholy, ungodly coalition. In addition to oriental countries like China and Japan (Kings of the East), other nations such as Egypt, and the two witnesses who will pose a formidable opposition to the Antichrist and his prophet, there will be a continual succession of divine judgments never before experience by mankind. These seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments will disrupt and disprove and erode the power claims made by Nero and his false prophet, as well as the Roman Catholic Church—to the point that the beast and the false prophet will turn on and destroy their Catholic ally. Thereby, revealing their true agenda which has been Satan’s warped, unattainable goal from the beginning: To be like the Most High God by replacing the Kingdom of Heaven with Satan’s kingdom on earth ruled by Satan’s messiah and prophet.

Things to Ponder

You might want to read for yourself the amazing and utter destruction of the Woman (that great city) as explicitly depicted in Revelation Chapter 18. And the precursor of that destruction, vividly described by these graphic words: “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. For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out his purposes. They will agree to give their authority to the scarlet beast, and so the words of God will be fulfilled. And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:16-18, italics for emphasis).

What is God’s purpose? His words that will be fulfilled?

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: ‘The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15).

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens: ‘It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ….’” (Revelation 12:10).

IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME. AND THAT TIME IS VERY SHORT!

“Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” (Hebrews 12:25).

The False Prophet (Part I)

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THE FALSE PROPHET (Part I)

Last week’s article on the Vatican’s designs to take over the building that houses King’s David Tomb highlighted the growing influence of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church in Israel and in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Would Papal jurisdiction over a site sacred to both the Jews and Christians (the upper room) have any future bearing on the religious and geopolitical interaction between the beast of Revelation, the woman who sits on that beast, and the ruler of Daniel 9 (the beast) who orchestrates a seven-year treaty with Israel? Let’s take a look at some crucial prophetic passages in Scripture to answer this question. Along the way, we’ll discover a second end-times Tribulation beast; a figure who wields a great deal of authority and power

First, let’s once again establish the identity of the (first) beast of Revelation and of the woman who sits on the beast. If necessary, please refer to my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666? Also Eye of Prophecy articles entitled: Modern Day Antichrist; Antichrist … Is He Alive Today; Reappearance of the Beast (the most popular of the forty-three Eye of Prophecy articles posted to date, in terms of number of visits); The Number of the Beast; The Beast and His Name, posted 9-7-13 through 10-5-13, respectively. All past articles can be accessed through Eye of Prophecy archives.

These sources provide an abundance of Biblical and secular historical evidence to accurately identify and name the Antichrist. As astonishing and unfathomable as it may seem, the supporting facts will, I believe, conclusively demonstrate that the man of lawlessness of II Thessalonians, the king/ruler of Daniel 7 & 9, the king/beast of Revelation 13 & 17, and the Antichrist of I John is none other than the ancient Roman Emperor, Nero. The mystery of the beast is distinctly and emphatically revealed in Revelation 17:8. This beast that John saw, “was once alive but isn’t now” … meaning at the precise time in the first century when John observed the beast from the isle of Patmos. Furthermore, the beast who had already died before John saw him (the beast is a man) will reappear from the dead to the amazement of the entire world!

The mystery of the woman on the beast is also clearly disclosed in Revelation Chapter 17. Concerning the identity of this woman, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles entitled: The Woman on the Beast (Parts I through VI), posted 10-12-13 through 11-16-13, respectively. Again, you’ll discover ample proof that the woman who is identified as, “the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18) is none other than Rome (Roman Empire) the great city of its time when Revelation was written.

During the rise, but particularly after the fall of the mighty Roman Empire, another city gradually, but inexorably assumed the mantle of “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World” (Revelation 17:5). This city continued the dominance of the ancient Roman Empire, but in a different form and with diverse methods of influence and intrigue. That city is none other than The Vatican, headquarters of the Holy See, of the Roman Catholic Church … which still exerts tremendous authority and political power through religion, i.e. The Holy Roman Empire.

On the final stage of history, just how will these players interact with one another, thereby, acting out their roles that will—for all intents and purposes—complete God’s final plan to judge the world and usher in the Millennial reign of His Son, our Messiah Jesus? To answer that question, we must include the second beast of Revelation, a man who will tip the scales in favor of the beast’s (Antichrist) inescapable 42-month Great Tribulation dominance over the woman and over Israel.

Antichrist Review

Before we take a look at the False Prophet, we need to again clarify some misconceptions about the first beast of Revelation who arises from the sea, which is the Antichrist. Modern scholars attribute much more credit to this beast that the Bible does … meaning the contemporary notion that the Antichrist will be an extraordinary political, economic, and military genius equipped with an unnatural, mystical ability to persuade billions with his oratory—far exceeding, for example, that of Adolph Hitler. This is a speculative presumption simply not found in Scripture; although this characterization of Antichrist at face value is logical, considering the world-wide impact he will have on the earth. In fact, I held to this view for many years, i.e. that the beast of Revelation would (naturally) be a modern-day man with super impressive skills.

What the Bible does say is this: “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 for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13: 3-4).

What is the miracle that, “the whole world marveled at,” and for this reason, “gave allegiance to the beast”? What was the power given to the beast by the dragon (Satan)? The text is crystal clear as to exactly what that miracle is and is not. “This miracle” is the recovery from a fatal wound. Followed by a return from the abyss as is later reinforced by Revelation 17:8 that says, “…The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit … and the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of the beast who had died.” Contextually the passage in Revelation 13 is equally clear that the power given to the beast by Satan is the same thing that the world marveled at … the phenomenal ability of the beast to recover from his mortal wound.

But the fatal wound is not inflicted after the Antichrist (Nero) returns; since he will have already recovered from that mortal wound before he (re)appears. How do we know that beyond any doubt? Because of the fact that the beast (Antichrist) had already died before John even saw him in the vision. That, and several other reasons as documented in my book and articles, is why the Antichrist simply cannot be a modern-day ruler. And why Nero fits every passage in Scripture that deals with this depraved man.

There is absolutely no other reference point or subject matter in Chapter 13, or Chapter 17, that causes such amazement and worship of the beast other than his recovery and return from the dead. There is no indication, either stated or implied, that people, “from every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7) will follow the beast for any other reason than this resurrection miracle … as they will see and consider it to be. The authority and power given to him (by Satan, as allowed by God) over tribes and nations does not originate from any inherent or innate mega personality attributes possessed or expressed by the beast.

The world isn’t astonished at nor worships the Antichrist because of his superior statesmanship or magnetic speaking ability or charisma or any other attractive trait common to a few dynamic world leaders. That’s the most common misunderstanding of the Antichrist even by astute Bible prophecy scholars. Instead, the world will be utterly mesmerized by a man (well-known and remembered down through history) who reappears when the world needs and wants him the most … a time of complete chaos, confusion, and consternation over the disappearance of a whole lot of people from the earth. (Rapture)

Consequently, billions will yield their allegiance because of one thing and one thing only: They will see the reappearance of the beast as a supernatural return from the dead … a resurrection to equal or exceed that of Jesus Christ. Which is why Nero will be hailed as a messiah, or even The Messiah. “Who is as great as the beast,” or who could possibly, “fight against him.” Meaning how could anyone (if they didn’t believe it was actually Nero and/or chose to oppose him whether he was a resurrected Roman Emperor or not) possibly resist, or kill, or even consider assassinating a man who was invincible … by virtue of returning from the grave. How can you vanquish a man who had already died some 2000 years ago! Forget it. Give up, give in, and take his mark!

This won’t be some imperishable, everlasting Mummy from some silly Hollywood movie! This time it will be as real as the reality that hundreds of millions of people have vanished from the earth.

The False Prophet

Another reason that the Antichrist (Nero) will not be the superman depicted by many prophecy scholars: Without another beast to assist him, not nearly as many people will yield their full allegiance and devotion. Other than the spectacular return from the Abyss, it is not the first beast (Antichrist) who performs miracles and signs or commands that a statue be erected for him; or that everyone must receive his implanted name or number. Rather it is the second beast or the False Prophet who does these things.

Let’s read the description: “Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth … He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. He was permitted to give life to the statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die” (Revelation 13: 11-15).

It’s the False Prophet who demands that the first beast be worshipped and the text states again the reason: because of the fatal wound that had been healed. Further, that a statue must be erected and worshipped because the first beast who had been fatally wounded had come back to life.

How do we reconcile this with the Apostle Paul’s description of what the man of lawlessness will do? Listen to his words: “This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them” (II Thessalonians 2: 9-10, italics for emphasis). Notice that “this man” (who would later be called the beast of Revelation and the Antichrist) comes to do the work of Satan, “with” signs and miracles.

The passage doesn’t actually say that the Antichrist will be the one performing the signs and miracles; rather, that he will do the work of Satan with signs and miracles … meaning that the counterfeit miracles will come along side, be part of, accompany, or contribute to the power wielded by Antichrist. If this passage specifically stated that the man of lawlessness (Antichrist), himself, would perform miracles, then it would conflict with Revelation 13; which explicitly identifies who will handle the miraculous signs, why, and for whom.

As indicated, it’s the beast who arises from the earth (meaning through a natural birth, as opposed to the first beast literally ascending from the sea/Abyss, which is anything but natural) who performs these miracles, “on behalf of the first beast” (Verse 14). The ultimate power possessed and expressed by Antichrist will be directly and exclusively linked to his revival from the dead and return from a 2000-year old grave—actually from the Abyss which is not Hell or the grave, as is thoroughly explained and documented in my book, Out of the Abyss.

The False Prophet will enhance the power and authority of the Antichrist by demonstrations bordering on the supernatural to/for all those who oppose Nero and to those who simply doubt Nero’s actual identity. If people continue to resist worship of this evil man or his statue, they will be put to death. (Revelation 13:15).

The perceived oratorical skills attributed to the Antichrist are pretty much confined to arrogant boasting against and blasphemy of the true and living God and the one and only true Messiah, Jesus Christ. (See Daniel Chapter 7 & 11 and Revelation 13 for details). Otherwise, the Antichrist (Nero) will be mostly a behind-the-scenes dictator, much like he was as Emperor in the first century Roman Empire. The False Prophet and the statue erected by the False Prophet will do most of the talking for Mr. Six Hundred, Sixty-six. Yes, the statue speaks! And I seriously doubt it will do so merely by special effects. Unless you consider demons as special effects!

Of course, there’s one other huge accomplishment that will ingratiate Antichrist to many of those left behind after the Rapture: The Seven-Year Treaty (Daniel Chapter 9) with Israel, and the implied result of a rebuilt 3rd Jewish Temple. In fact, a treaty between Rome and Parthia arranged by Nero Caesar catapulted his popularity into the stratosphere, and endeared him not only to the common Roman citizen but also to the powerful Roman Senate. That treaty was probably his biggest accomplishment during his tenure as Emperor … his main claim to fame (at the time).

Interaction between Antichrist, the False Prophet, the Woman, and the Ten Kings

How then does the recent news of Israel’s potential release of King David’s Tomb to Vatican jurisdictional control in particular and the Roman Catholic Church’s influence in the Holy Land in general fit with the (temporary) alliance of the woman—the great city, which is the Holy Roman Empire’s contemporary replacement of the ancient Roman Empire—and the beast who returns from the Abyss? How might the dynamic duo of the two beasts of Revelation use the power and presence of the woman to accomplish their satanic objectives?

Conversely, how does the woman use the miraculous reappearance of the beast and the equally astounding statue that speaks for the beast, to gain even more prominence throughout the world, especially in Israel? Why does the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the ten kings who give their kingdoms to the beast turn on the woman and destroy her? And, in keeping with the main theme of next week’s article, who is, or from where does the False Prophet originate?

Don’t miss next week’s Part II article for more details!

Things to Ponder

(1) Do you find it pretty amazing that the Antichrist and his entourage will dare take on Christ, himself? But that’s exactly what he, the False Prophet, the Woman, the ten kings, and, of course Satan will do. The ten kings will agree to surrender themselves and their kingdoms to the Antichrist. “Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him” (Revelation 17:14).

That’s right folks. We, who have been redeemed, who will meet our Lord in the clouds at the Rapture, will return with the Lord when he victoriously defeats this unholy, ungodly, and seemingly indestructible force assembled by, “…the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14). Such a foolish thing for thus diabolical trinity to do … wouldn’t you agree? But then, that is the mystery of iniquity. Though Satan knows full well who will win, that won’t stop him from vainly trying to reach his ultimate goal of being like the Most High God. And, of all things, to use an Anti-Christ to accomplish this warped, but unattainable objective.

(2) I’d like to ask you to “wait and see for yourself” whether or not Nero is, in fact, the beast of Revelation and the Holy Roman Empire is the woman who uses and, in turn, is used by the beast. But I won’t do that; because if you would be watching those things unfold, you will have missed the Rapture. Believe me, you don’t want to be left behind. Please click on the Eye of Prophecy page entitled, God’s Plan of Salvation for detailed information on how not to miss the Rapture!

King David’s Tomb

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The Vatican in Jerusalem!

News Flash! “Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says police have ‘stepped up’ patrols and surveillance across the country, and that thousands of police officers will be deployed during the pope’s visit to ensure it goes smoothly.” (Source: Israel Hayom, May 14, 2014). Rosenfeld’s statement was in direct response to the Roman Catholic official in charge of the Vatican’s properties in the Holy Land, who urged Israel to protect Christian holy sites including churches and monasteries in Jerusalem that had recently been vandalized. And to please do so before Pope Francis’ visit to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) May 24-26.

The very fact that Pope Francis will travel to Israel is remarkable. I make that observation in the historical light of estranged relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Israel as represented by both its (secular) government and religious observant Jews that has existed off and on for decades … indeed, for hundreds of years. However, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis I have reached out to one another in an effort to reconcile differences. Whereas a papal visit to Israel is definitely newsworthy, it is also something to be expected in today’s ecumenical and politically correct world of strange bedfellows.

Totally unexpected and even more amazing than the Pope’s brief tour of Israel (including a visit to the Western Wall) is a recent report from reliable sources that Prime Minister Netanyahu is interested in transferring Jewish administrative control of the Tomb of King David to the Roman Catholic Church! Aren’t there enough Christian holy sites in Israel under the jurisdiction of either the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox clergy? The answer to that is a resounding yes, dozens of them … such as the (most well-known) Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Why then give a revered Jewish site to the Roman Catholic Church in general and specifically to the entity known as “Custody of the Holy Land.” What is this Holy Land Custodianship all about?

Custody of the Holy Land?

Straight from Wikipedia, we read: “The Custodian of the Holy Land … is an officer of the Franciscan order, appointed by the General Definitorium of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, with the approval of the Pope and the Holy See. The Custodian … is the head of all Franciscans in the Holy Land. On 15 May 2004 Pierbattista Pizzaballa was appointed Custodian of the Holy Land, succeeding Giovanni Battistelli, who held the office for six years. On Friday, June 28, 2013, Pope Francis confirmed that he (Pizzaballa) would continue as Custodian for at least a further three years.”

Wikipedia’s article continues: “Today, the jurisdiction of the Custodian covers Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt…. The Custody has about 300 friars and about 100 sisters in these countries. The Franciscans serve the principal Christian shrines, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth.”

Another excerpt: “The Franciscan order owns a great deal of property in the Holy Land, second only to the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem … The Custodian also cares for 74 shrines and sanctuaries throughout the Holy Land….” Because the entire history of the Holy Land Custodianship is far too long for this article, suffice to say that it began in 1217, and has gone through several changes (supervisory control and face-lift) over the years, including a Vatican papal liaison position called Grand Master of the Order. The most recent Grand Master, Archbishop Edwin Frederick O’Brien, was appointed by the previous Pope (Benedict XVI) in August, 2011.

According to the Wikipedia commentary, “The Order (of Grand Master) is a member of many international bodies and has observer status at others (such as the United Nations). The Grand Master is a papal viceroy who assists Vatican diplomacy with procedural support for making motions, proposing amendments and requiring votes in the sphere of international diplomacy.”

In other words, both the Grand Master and Custodian wield enormous religious, and diplomatic influence (some might even say power) as official representatives of the Pope and the Vatican. With the ultimate goal of maintaining a presence in and control of as many “holy sites” in Israel and surrounding countries as possible. And, from the recent breaking news, it’s apparent that they want to add at least one more: The Tomb of King David, the most famous king in Israel’s history. Furthermore, it’s no small coincidence that the pontiff belongs to the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church! That’s why he took the title of Pope Francis.

King David’s Tomb … where is it?

Where was King David buried? The main reference found in I Kings reads: “Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David” (I Kings 2:10). Other than the general area in Jerusalem known as The City of David, the exact position of King David’s tomb has never been unequivocally confirmed, at least not in modern times. However, archeologists are fairly certain that the tomb is located just outside what today is the Old City of Jerusalem.

Frankly, for most Jews and for many Christians, that’s close enough! Whether the current site is the actual location is important but not imperative; however, based upon a 12th century report by Benjamin of Tudela, the authentic tomb was discovered during renovation of a church on Mount Zion. Not until Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 did Mount Zion—just a short distance from the Western Wall and from Temple Mount—come under Israeli control; and not until the 1967 Six-Day War did the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish Temples, revert back to Jewish jurisdiction.

It’s much like the burial-place of Jesus Christ, before he arose from the grave. The Roman Catholic Church and the Greek (and Russian) Orthodox Church identify the Church of the Holy Sepluchre as the burial site; whereas, evangelicals and most mainline Protestants believe the Garden Tomb is the real location. I’ve been to the Garden Tomb, and it certainly could have been where Jesus was placed after his death on the Cross. Not only is the tomb representative of descriptive 1st century Jewish graves, it is extremely close to Golgotha, where Christ was crucified. The Apostle John tells us that there were only two men who took Jesus down from the cross—Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus; therefore, these two men would have been able to carry the body of Jesus only so far. How far? Not very according to John: “The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before … and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there” (John 19:41-42).

Yet, either site is a valid historical location given their proximity to where the entire Passion of Christ took place. For that matter, any grave like that of Joseph of Arimathea’s where Christ was buried (hewn out of solid stone) would be a legitimate candidate for the burial site of Christ. Thus, both the Holy Sepluchre and the Garden Tomb would qualify. Personally, I opt for the Garden Tomb for several reasons, not the least of which was the extreme difficulty for Joseph and Nicodemus to carry Jesus much farther than the Garden Tomb. Could they have used a donkey and cart? Yes, but there’s no indication that they did. Plus, John said the tomb was, “close at hand.”

David’s tomb is situated on the ground floor of a three-story building, a former Byzantine church dating to the 4th century; and, as indicated, refurbished in the 12th century, then again in the 14th century. This church was constructed on/in/around a synagogue called Hagiya Zion built at the entrance of the structure considered historically to be David’s tomb. The tomb is now believed to be in a sarcophagus built by the Crusaders, although the contents of this sarcophagus have never been examined to confirm if there’s even a body inside. At one time or another Jews, Christians, and Muslims have exercised control over this edifice. Currently, the building is part of the Diaspora Yeshiva complex.

Amazingly, all three major religions currently maintain occupancy in this ancient building: Jews on the 1st floor where the actual tomb rests; Christians on the 2nd floor because this is the reported site of the Upper Room Last Supper, and Muslims on the 3rd floor that includes a minaret from which Muslims are summoned to prayer.

Once again, the ultimate importance and strategic significance of David’s tomb doesn’t necessarily hinge on its exact whereabouts. Rather, it is the identification—symbolically or factually or both—of the most likely historical site that Jews (and Christians if they choose) can visit, worship and pray to the same God that David worshipped, and otherwise reminisce about the glory days of Israel’s past … with equal attention and hope for Israel’s future. For Christians who really care about their past and future, David was the ancestor of Messiah Jesus, who was born from the Tribe of Judah.

More Details of the Reported Transfer

According to reliable sources, Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef advised a Member of the Knesset that Benjamin Netanyahu and/or his staff officially requested permission to reassign administration of King David’s Tomb and even all of Mount Zion to the Roman Catholic Church. Also, in preceding weeks there had been constant rumors of negotiations between the Israeli government and the Vatican regarding such an agreement. Apparently, a journalist who writes for/about the Vatican said the deal was almost complete.

It’s no secret that the Vatican wants to assume administrative control over more “holy” sites in Israel; however, these sites are historically Christian. To want control over a sacred Jewish site is unprecedented; even more so if Israel’s Prime Minister is agreeable to such a move!

Information just a couple of days ago from Israeli News sources, Arutz Sheva and Jewish Press, indicate that Prime Minister Netanyahu has denied rumors that Israel would bestow David’s tomb to the Vatican. To the contrary, however, Rabbi Yaakov Sevila, an activist for King David’s Tomb, told Arutz Sheva there is, in fact, a deal in the works. This arrangement might also include giving Temple Mount to the Muslims … meaning complete control Unthinkable!

It is not a well-kept secret that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, months ago proposed the idea of some type of international control—especially by the Vatican but also Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey—over certain religious sites in Jerusalem. This scheme has been kept on a back burner pending better progress in pre-negotiations for a two-state solution and territorial exchanges by the Israelis and Palestinians, but mostly concessions from Israel.

Pope Francis’ visit will be substantially different from the previous visit of Pope Paul VI in 1964, as the pontiff in 1964 did not meet with Israeli leaders, nor was there any dispute or controversy over Mount Zion or King David’s Tomb at that time. Subsequently, neither Pope John Paul II in 2002 nor Pope Benedict XVI pilgrimage to Israel in 2009 involved any special interest in and certainly not discussion of the Last Supper Room—2nd floor of the building that also contains the royal gravesite. This pending visit is dissimilar mostly because Pope Francis is a member of the Franciscan bloc of the Catholic Church; and his scheduled celebration of Mass at the site of David’s Tomb (even though presumably it’s the Upper Room where Mass will be held) could challenge or at least question Israeli sovereignty over the site—in the eyes of observant Jews and Knesset Members, whether a MK is conservative or not.

As reported in the Jewish Press, “As a result, Vatican sources have said they would like Israel to cede control of the site, a request to which some Reform groups have said would be a meaningful ‘gesture’ towards peace and reconciliation with the Church.”

But to illustrate just how volatile such a concession would resonate with (especially) orthodox Jews, here is a quote reported in Arutz Sheva from MK Tzipa Hotovely (Likud party, which is Benjamin Netanyahu’s own party): “It is inconceivable that this place will be transferred to foreign hands, so that the Torahs and the Star of David will be swallowed in a sea of crosses. Transferring the rights to the gravesite of David to Christian hands would be similar to Moshe Dayan’s decision to entrust the keys to the Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf.” Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook declared that such a transfer would be a, “national disgrace.”

Israel’s and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Interaction with Christianity

Personally, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is a consummate statesman, leader, and champion for Israel when it comes to the right of Israel to exist as a nation and the Jews to live in peace as a people in the Promised Land given to them by God, himself. He fully understands the ominous threat Iran poses; hence, his constant warning to his people and to the whole world that Israel cannot condone a nuclear armed Iran. He knows full well what Israel must do to survive external threats like Iran and Russia, but also internal threats from terrorists groups like Hamas. Accordingly, he never compromises on issues of national security and rarely on religious matters that affect the long-standing history, tradition, and integrity of the (Jewish) people of The Book (Bible). If Netanyahu stays in character, he (theoretically) would not agree to abandon King David’s Tomb to the Roman Catholic Church or to any other group, religious or political.

Thus, I would disagree with him if he is, in fact, actively promoting or even silently endorsing the idea of relinquishing the historical site of the Tomb to the Vatican. Yet, it remains to be seen whether or not Prime Minister Netanyahu is the driving force behind what still seems to be more of a rumor than fact.

If, however, the Prime Minister has approved or will approve this transferral, what might be his motive? Although any specific reason at this point would be speculation, it’s safe to generalize by referring to Netanyahu’s stated desire to build a bridge of reconciliation between the Jews and Christians. He also grasps, at least in principle, the difference between Protestant Christians (primarily represented by evangelicals) and the Roman Catholic Church. He has acknowledged and frequently expressed his appreciation for the enormous support extended by evangelical Christians all over the world, especially in the United States, such as Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

As far as I know, Benjamin is not a Messianic Jew, which is defined basically as a Jew who believes in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and Savior. Thus, he would not quote from the New Testament other than for historical reasons. However, he studies the Old Testament on a regular basis, and he recognizes the umbilical cord connection between Judaism and its offspring … meaning New Testament born-again believers in Christ. He astutely comprehends the reason behind the genuine Christian love for Israel—because evangelicals acknowledge their debt to the Jews for bringing God’s written word and the Messiah to the Gentiles. As expressed in the Old Testament, the Jews were to be a light to/for the Gentiles.

As Christians, we believe this light is consummately expressed in and by the Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the living Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NASB). Jesus himself said that, “…salvation comes through the Jews” (John 4:22). Then he also told that same Samaritan woman, “I AM the Messiah” (John 4:26). And to make sure that there was no misunderstanding as to who Jesus was, is, and always will be, he said to all who would listen: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The Roman Catholic Church, however, is a whole different matter, due to the long-standing rivalry and animosity between the Holy See and the Jews, as tragically exemplified by the Crusades, the Inquisition, the relative silence of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, and other more isolated, but frequent persecution of the Jews by the Catholic Church throughout the ages. To our shame, certain Protestant groups also have persecuted the Jews periodically, but nothing on the scale of the Holy See.

It’s equally clear that Pope Francis wants to extend an olive branch to Israel and the Jewish people; while at the same time expanding the influence and presence of the Roman Catholic Church in Israel itself. What better way than transference of the complex that houses King David’s Tomb back to on-site, hands-on Catholic (specifically the Franciscan order of the Holy See) control? Which I’m convinced is the main reason that Pope Francis has planned to conduct Mass in the building that includes David’s tomb.

Why Hand Over Mt Zion and King David’s Tomb to the Vatican? Possible Benefits….

Whether Benjamin Netanyahu is behind this transfer conspiracy or not, I’m fairly certain he has contemplated potential benefits if Israel (and it’s a mighty big if) does yield administration of David’s tomb to the Catholic Church. For example, there could be an exponential increase of Catholic support of Israel … diplomatically, politically, and perhaps even economically; not only from the Vatican hierarchy, but conceivably by hundreds of millions of Catholics all over the world. And a corresponding proportional decrease in Anti-Semitism from within the Catholic Church and from without the Church due to the influence wielded by the Vatican in/through the governments of many nations that have large populations of Catholics. Diminished Anti-Semitism can translate into fewer incidents of Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) against Israel and a much more accurate and balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to counter a prevalent world view that erroneously blames Israel for nearly all the Palestinian angst—sometimes to the extent of falsely accusing Israel of being or becoming an apartheid country.

Even the US Secretary of State, John Kerry brazenly predicted that Israel would deteriorate into an apartheid nation if the Jews couldn’t reach an agreement with the Palestinians for a two-state solution, or at least continue the peace talks. Not long afterward the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank reached a tentative agreement with Hamas of the Gaza Strip to reconcile their differences and unite as one representative of the Palestinians Arabs. That act alone negates all prior peace talks and virtually eliminates any possibility of negotiations for the present. Even the United States concedes that point, as we still classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

It’s even possible that the insidious, anti-Biblical, non-Christian view of Replacement Theology held by several mainstream Protestant denominations such as the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches (and to a lesser but nevertheless treacherous extent by the Roman Catholic Church) could be weakened by what many would consider a peace-offering from Israel, even though the offering is essentially in reverse. Meaning it should be the Catholic Church that offers something of equal or greater value considering their historic mistreatment of the Jews. But then, the Catholic hierarchy and I suppose many governments all over the world believe that the Pope’s willingness to travel to Israel and meet personally with Benjamin Netanyahu is, in and of itself, a peace-offering. Such a generous gesture should merit Roman Catholic control of King David’s Tomb!

Things to Ponder

Would Israel’s concession to the Vatican be more of an unfortunate misguided compromise than a mutually beneficial conciliation? Yes, it probably would. But whether short-term and/or longer-term advantages or not, I believe that the eventual repercussions will become all too apparent. It will be the politically correct calm before the storm of the ungodly ecumenical, anti-Christ spirit of intolerance that will blindly bind unlikely bedfellows together as they stand with the beast or under the statute of the beast and worship him or his statue. And anyone who refuses to worship, “must die.” (See Revelation 13).

I’m referring to the Big Picture as found in the Biblical prophetic context of the scarlet beast, the woman on the beast, Babylon (Rome), the False Prophet, the seven-year treaty with Israel, the desecration of the rebuilt Temple and other end-times peripheral events—some of which are rapidly unfolding before our very eyes. Although the current dispute over and potential disposition of King David’s Tomb is not specifically mentioned in Scripture, it nevertheless is an inclusive depiction and development of the players involved in the days just before and after the Rapture and the Great Tribulation to follow.

Check out next week’s Eye of Prophecy article and we’ll discuss in more detail these players and events.

Click on below for photographs and additional information on David’s Tomb.

http://biblewalks.com/Sites/DavidTomb.html

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