Day of Infamy

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A Day of Infamy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tisha B’Av

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Biggest Mistake (Sin) in Jewish History

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

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

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

“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors … They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day … I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

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

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

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Later, this same Jesus, born a Jew told his Jewish disciples (and the whole world), “…This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:20).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

I love the Jews and I love Israel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part II

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Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Biblical Prophecy Reaches Flash Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twelve Modern-Day Flash Point Prophecies

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

In a moment we’ll look at six more flash point signs of the last days, beginning with one of the most well-known passages in Scripture … Jesus’s Mount of Olives prophetic disclosures to his disciples: “And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:6-8).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earthquakes increase graph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Ten: False Messiahs & Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part I

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Look Up, Redemption Is Near

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Three: Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number Four: The 3rd Rebuilt Temple

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

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

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

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

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Temple Mount

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

Number Five: Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments

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

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

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

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Terraced Vineyards, just like Amos predicted!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

One Nation Under (the wrath of) God

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One Nation Under (the wrath of) God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Ramifications

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Repercussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision

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

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

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

Truth and Love

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

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

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

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

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

Institutions are characterized by and predicated on relationships.

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

The choice belongs to us.

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

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

The Ark of the Covenant … Part II

The (Lost) Ark of the Covenant

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

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

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

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

Synagogue_Modeled_On_Biblical_Mishkan_Tabernacle_Tel_Shiloh_Israel

Synagogue in Shiloh, Israel, Modeled After Tabernacle

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

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

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

Misunderstanding & Misuse of the Ark of the Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-sam-4-8-dagon

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

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

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

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

The Ark of the Covenant Returns to Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ark of the Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

Three Hundred Years Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messianic Judaism

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

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

What Happened to the Ark? Where Is It Today?

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

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

220px-Ark_of_the_Covenant_church_in_Axum_Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ark-of-the-covenant (2)

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

Christ Jesus is the ARK.

Author

Redeemer

King

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

NEW:

New

Everlasting

Way

COVENANT:

Christ

Overwhelming

Victory

Effectively

Neutralizes

And

Nullifies

Transgressions

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

The Ark of the Covenant … Part I

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The (Lost) Ark of the Covenant … Part I

Where is the Ark of the Covenant? What happened to it? Will it ever be found? Or has it already been found, having never been lost … just secretly secured for a special time such as rebuilding the Jewish Temple? How often have those questions been asked? How many religious and secular archeologists, treasure hunters, museum curators, history buffs, and amateur sleuths have spent an inordinate amount of time researching archives, watching documentaries, reading books and articles, or expending a great deal of money on archeological expeditions to faraway places in passionate pursuit of one of the greatest and most remarkable relics of all time?

Millions upon millions have been mesmerized by one of the most captivating, thrill-a-minute adventure movies ever made, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Written and produced by George Lucas, and directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rys-Davies with villains played by Paul Freeman and Ronald Lacy. Released in August, 1981, it spawned three more Ark movies with each title name preceded by its main character, Indiana Jones. But none of the sequels rivaled the original, whose real protagonist and centerpiece was the Ark of the Covenant … an archeological find that men would die for.

Who can ever forget the stunning finish in which the French archeologist Belloch, working for the Nazis, defiantly opens the Ark? Extraordinary special effects depict streams of laser-like light and underworld spirits that engulf and obliterate all those present who would dare disturb and profane this holy artifact by even staring at it. All, of course, but Indiana Jones and his lady companion, Marion.

Those of us who know most Scriptural events fairly well fully realize that Hollywood’s Bible storytelling rarely is accurate, and often exceeds even poetic license in creating a movie around a Biblical event, person, place, or thing—in this case the Ark of the Covenant. Oh, there have been a couple of exceptions, such as Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston, which is fairly true to what actually happened.

For example, Indiana Jones’ idea of not looking at the ark after it was opened apparently combined the Biblical demise of Lot’s wife when she, against the angel’s orders, looked back at the destruction of Sodom, with the divine but deadly powers that the Lost Ark contained. Obviously, the actual Ark of the Covenant, itself, did not possess mystical powers. But the Nazis didn’t know that. They believed that wielding the Ark in battle would make their armies invincible, and they spared no cost in finding it. Still, we are left wondering whether the Ark itself was capable of such power, or whether it was divine judgment that annihilated the bad guys.

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Those who have studied the Biblical account and the attributes of God fully understand that it was the God of the Ark who alone possessed divine power, the kind that would assure success for the Jews as long as they trusted and obeyed The Lord. As long as they realized that the Ark itself was not some magical chest that protected the Israelites or powered them to victory no matter whether the Israelites obeyed the Lord or not.

I suppose that Raiders of the Lost Ark could take some creative liberty with how and where the Ark was found, as today’s Ark scholars acknowledge that no one knows for sure where it is or how it got to wherever it is. And, for others, whether it even (still) exists or not. However, for the Staff of Ra (Egyptian sun-god) to be used to discover the location of the Ark in Egypt, specifically in the Well of Souls, is adding a totally pagan element to what is otherwise a sacred part of Biblical history. Though this Staff that lined up the sun’s rays created suspense, the movie totally ignored some of the more realistic places where the Ark may be kept, such as the most often suggested location … beneath Temple Mount or somewhere in Jerusalem.

But there is one spectacular scene in that grand finale of this absorbing movie that just might (accidentally … I’m sure the producer, screen writer, and director didn’t make this connection) depict or represent what happened to or could have happened to the Ark of the Covenant. I’m referring to the ark being lifted from its resting place into the sky on what was portrayed as a divine supernatural beam of light; then pausing in the air, and plummeting back to the earth at exactly the place where it had been catapulted upward, followed by the ark’s cover slamming downward in perfect place over the ark again.

Keep that thought in mind as this week’s and next week’s articles delve into the compelling and true story of the Ark of the Covenant.

The Purpose for the Ark of the Covenant

Why was it built? What was God’s plan and intended use for it? Why is it the most precious sacred object in all of Judaism? And, almost equally captivating to a great many Gentiles. Why does it still generate reverence and spellbinding intrigue with so many people, especially the Jews? Why do so many people desperately want to find it; or, at least to know that it still exits and where it might be kept? First, we need to take a look at the title of the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Perhaps the producers of this blockbuster movie, that some classify as the greatest action-adventure film of all time, elected to omit of the Covenant—after Raiders of the Lost Ark—in order to emphasize the Lost aspect of the Ark; or to make the title shorter and more marketable and appealing. Or, they may have felt it wasn’t necessary to describe it any other way except the (Raiders of the) Lost Ark. For whatever reason, they didn’t include the most important feature and Biblical significance of its description, which is: The Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant was built for and first placed in the Tabernacle, then later in Solomon’s Temple. But there are several expressions or designations in Scripture: The Ark; The Ark of the Covenant; The Ark of the Lord; The Ark of God; The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord; or The Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. But most frequently: The Ark of the Covenant. When God first instructed Moses to build this holy implement of worship, it was referred to as just an ark. But once the Lord explained the Ark’s purpose and place, it was nearly always: The Ark of the Lord or the Ark of the Covenant.

First came the construction of the Tabernacle. Here are God’s instructions to Moses: “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you” (Exodus 25:8).

This was utterly amazing!

The God of Israel (of the entire universe) had rescued his people from Egyptian bondage by magnificent miracles and supernatural power, and had led them through the wilderness in the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. But the Lord’s plan far exceeded deliverance. First, he gave them Divine Law and standards to live by. Then, God told Moses and the Israelites that he would actually live among them—in the wilderness and when they entered and occupied the Promised Land which God had already bequeathed to them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an eternal possession. Of course, the people’s sojourn in the wilderness should have lasted only a year. Because they disobeyed God by not trusting him, they spent forty long, arduous years in the desert. But God was with them the entire time.

However, the Tabernacle, a holy sanctuary was to be built for God to dwell amidst the people, to separate a perfectly Holy God from a not so holy people. Periodically, God had visited and had even spoken with a handful of his chosen people; but never before had God actually or permanently dwelled with mankind. This was an astounding development … God’s very presence within the camp of Israel.

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Note: Obviously, the Lord didn’t then nor ever will need a physical structure in which to be present with his people. God is Spirit and is Omnipresent (everywhere at any time). He did so in Moses’ time for the benefit of the Israelites, so they could better understand that he was the true and living God. A personal God who personally knew them, not some faraway detached being who was essentially oblivious to human beings. And to better comprehend and appreciate how much he cared for them and wanted to bless them … wanting the best for them. That they would literally be one nation under God, the ultimate Divine Theocracy with the perfect, powerful, but loving and benevolent Sovereign Monarch. The Lord God, himself!

Then God instructed Moses to build something even more unusual, as God’s holy presence and glory (his very essence displayed visually) must be shielded from the people, with the eventual exception of the high priest once a year and Moses, himself, whom God chose to speak with, “face to face.” Hence, the Ark of the Covenant. But even these exceptions required God to cover his glory with dense smoke or clouds. God is Light, pure light … both literally and spiritually. Which is one of several reasons he gave us his one and only Son, who took on human flesh, as the express image of God. So we can see all the attributes of God in one man—Messiah Jesus.

God told Moses: “Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold…” (Exodus 25:10-11). More instructions followed.

After the Ark was built, God said: “Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark. I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel” (Exodus 25:21-22, italics for emphasis).

Remarkable! Not only did the Ark literally contain the Ten Commandments, which were also a symbolic representation of the entire Covenant of the Law, it included a top enclosure that was called the Atonement Cover or the Mercy Seat, where once a year all of Israel’s sins would be forgiven when the high priest offered the required animal sacrifices … blood shed for remission of sins. Moreover, God, himself, was right there to accept the sacrifice and personally assure that the atonement offering was sufficient for a complete pardon that year. Most Jews still observe the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur … minus the blood sacrifices that is so all important.

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But there was more: The Ark of the Covenant had to be placed in the inner sanctuary which was so holy that it needed to be separated from the rest of the interior of the Tabernacle/Temple. It was separated by a beautifully designed and intricately woven curtain. Then God told Moses to: “Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place” (Exodus 26:33-34). The Most Holy Place is also called the Holy of Holies.

Thus, in these passages and a few others, we see the primary purpose for the Ark of the Covenant and the special sacred place where it was to be kept. (1) The ultimate place of Atonement where God dwelled among his people, faithfully bestowing his marvelous grace and mercy that forgave the sins of every individual in Israel, but also on a national level. The cover of the Ark of the Covenant was, indeed, the Mercy Seat of God. (2) The physical housing of the Ten Commandments, which was also a symbolic affirmation of the Law Covenant between God and Israel.

The Power of the Ark of the Covenant

Later the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant was carried by the Levite priests ahead of Joshua and the nation of Israel when they first crossed the Jordan River into Canaan. What happened during this crossing was a miracle every bit as impressive as the splitting of the Red Sea that enabled the Hebrews to escape the Egyptian onslaught. With one major difference: During the parting of the Red Sea, God’s presence and power was symbolized by Moses’s staff and the divine cloud and pillar of God. With the triumphant passage through the Jordan River and glorious entrance into the long-awaited Promised Land, it was the Ark of the Covenant that represented God’s presence among his people and assurance of victory over their enemies.

Let’s read the phenomenal account: “So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away… And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho” (Joshua 3:14-16).

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After all the people had crossed and even more time elapsed to build a stone memorial to this stupendous event, the priests finally stepped out of the dry riverbed. “As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before” (Joshua 4:18). Once again the passage mentions the Ark, this time, The Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, to emphasize and spiritually clarify the fact that it was the Lord their God who did all this, not merely the Ark.

Which is the real essence of the Ark of the Covenant … it was not some magical chest that contained mystical power. Rather it was the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant that God had sealed with Israel, and all the blessings and promises that the Covenant provided.

And who doesn’t remember what happened just a few days later: Sing the tune in your head or aloud: And the walls came tumbling down! It was one of the most lop-sided battles, one of the most providentially guaranteed victories of all time. Yes, the Israelites had to some fighting, but the implication is very little combat, as the battle was all but over when the inhabitants of Jericho witnessed their indestructible walls falling like dominoes all around them. All the Israelites had to do was walk around the city … good exercise don’t you think!

I’m sure the Israelites and even Joshua were perplexed at their “marching orders.” But they listened to and obeyed the Lord without question. They trekked around the city for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. On cue with the blare of the trumpets, they gave a loud shout to end all shouts.

“…Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it” (Joshua 6:20).

But we sometimes forget a vital part of the story; once again the Ark of the Covenant was carried by the priests and prominently displayed both to the Israelites and to their enemy. The battle of Jericho is found in Joshua Chapter 6 and the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned no less than nine times, most often referred to as, The Ark of the Lord. This to underscore that the Ark was more than just the Ark of the Covenant; it was a tangible illustration of the Lord, himself … his provision, protection, presence, and most of all in this instance, his awesome power.

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To me, an even more remarkable event took place just before the Battle of Jericho. We read it in the last verses of Chapter Five. “When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, ‘Are you friend or foe?’ ‘Neither one,’ he replied. ‘I am the commander of the Lord’s army.’ At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. ‘I am at your command,’ Joshua said. ‘What do you want your servant to do?’ The commander of the Lord’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did as he was told” (Joshua 5:13-15).

Incredible! I firmly believe that this man was none other than the Pre-Incarnate Messiah … one of several Pre-Incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. We know he was (is) God, because he told Joshua the same thing that God the Father told Moses from the burning bush—take off his sandals, for this was holy ground. What (Who) made it holy? Answer: God’s very presence. What did the Commander of the Lord’s army require of Joshua? Only one thing: To remove his sandals which was obedient recognition that he was in the presence of God (through the Pre-Incarnate Christ); therefore, that God was with him and would win the battle for Joshua and all of Israel. With supernatural power no less than demonstrated against Pharaoh and the Egyptians; as God, from the holy ground of the burning bush, told Moses would happen.

From that point on, the Ark of the Covenant was seen by Israel as not only where the presence of God dwelt (in the Tabernacle), but as a source of divine power … particularly in battle. So much so, that, as Israel began to fall away from the Lord to the extent of worshiping false gods, they wrongly and foolishly concluded that as long as the Ark of the Covenant was with them, God would be with them. The legend of the Ark of the Covenant became so well-known that even Israel’s mortal enemy, the Philistines, believed that the Ark contained mysterious powers that equaled or surpassed their own gods.

But lest we think that this was just an ancient superstition that has long since faded, the Third Reich of the 20th century went to great lengths searching for religious objects the world over that could help them win the war. With the warped idea that (their equally perverted version of) God would be on their side. First and foremost among these relics was the Ark of the Covenant. In that regard, the agenda of the Nazis and the French Archeologist, Bulloch—finding the Ark of the Covenant in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark—was an accurate depiction of what was taking place before and during World War II. That alone highlights the intensity of those who seek the Ark of the Covenant, both bad guys and good guys.

What Happened to the Ark of the Covenant?

In next week’s article we will examine more history of the Ark of the Covenant, including its capture by the Philistines, recovery and removal of the Ark to Jerusalem, incidents in which improper and unauthorized contact with the Ark resulted in the death of Israelites, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the mighty Babylonian Army. Which is essentially the last we see or hear about the Ark of the Covenant.

We will also look at theories about where the Ark of the Covenant was taken and kept to this very day.

When the Romans destroyed Herod’s Temple in 70 AD, the Jews lost the all-important sacrificial system that was such an integral part of the Covenant of the Law, epitomized by the Ark of the Covenant. What has Judaism done or become to compensate for such a heart-rending loss?

Please refer to the Eye of Prophecy three-part series entitled, Where is the Temple? Published 11-29-14, 12-6-14, and 12-13-14, respectively. These articles present this profound question for and dilemma of the Jewish people. And then provide the reason why their all-important sacrificial system (along with the Ark of the Covenant as covered in this current two-part series) is gone; and, accordingly, was not meant to be permanent because of the New Covenant prophesied by God through his prophets.

Today in the 21st century, the passionate anticipation of the Jews for the coming Messiah is reaching a fever pitch. As is their ardent desire to rebuild the Temple, and return the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful resting place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Included in that earnest expectation is the belief by many observant Jews that the Ark of the Covenant still exists and that its location is known by some.

The Jews have anguished over the loss of the Temple for nearly 2000 years. Likewise, with the Ark of the Covenant, because the two are virtually inseparable. If one doesn’t concur with the incredible impact and importance of the Temple and the Ark of the Lord, they only need look at what is going on in Israel today. Among all the differences between the Arabs and the Jews, the most conspicuous and insurmountable difference is Jerusalem. Even more so, Temple Mount. Observant Jews are determined to rebuild the Temple, reinstitute the sacrificial system preferably with the Ark of the Covenant. The Arabs are equally set on making sure that this doesn’t happen.

So what happened to the Ark and where is it today? Very few, if any, believe it was destroyed or lost … meaning so lost that no one will ever find it. Most, especially observant Jews, believe that it still exists, with many saying it remained in Jerusalem … hidden in some secret cave or vault beneath the city. Can it be found? Still others say that question doesn’t need to be asked or answered; because they are absolutely positive that the Ark of the Covenant is resting in a secure place and will be restored to the 3rd rebuilt Temple.

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Things to Ponder:

As a prelude to Part II of this two-part series, we need to consider that if the ark had been hidden and protected in a safe place, then certainly Scripture would have mentioned that in some fashion, i.e. that the Ark of the Covenant had been preserved from destruction by the Babylonians. In no less fashion than the Bible telling us that Moses died, but that God buried him and no one (to this day) knows the location of Moses’ grave.

The Ark of the Covenant is such a monumentally significant and integral part of the Old Testament, it’s unthinkable that the Bible would not inform us as to its disposition. If not its location, then at least evidence that it was not destroyed or lost.

Also, we must ask ourselves this probing question: If the ark had been secured, then why wasn’t it brought to and placed in the 2nd Temple, which was built just some seventy years after Solomon’s Temple was destroyed? That’s only one generation. Some Jews of that generation would have known where to find the Ark. But the fact remains: The Ark of the Covenant was never placed in the Holy of Holies of the 2nd Temple.

This makes it very difficult to accept the prevailing consensus that the location of the ark is known by a few and will be placed in the rebuilt 3rd Temple. The 2nd Temple stood for over 500 years, without the Ark of the Covenant. Why wasn’t the Ark ever returned to the Temple, no matter where it had been taken?

Yet, Scripture doesn’t leave us completely clueless. There are two passages, one Old Testament and one New Testament reference, that gives us indirect; but nevertheless, logical, feasible, and deductively conclusive evidence. So much so that I am going to announce a very startling premise:

Premise: We can, with a great deal of Biblical certainty, know what happened to the ark and where it’s located!

But you’ll need to tune in to next week’s Eye of Prophecy article to find out.

I’ve already given you a strong clue … the movie scene in which the Ark of the Covenant rises above the earth, then sets down again.

Jerusalem … A Capital Without a Country?

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Jerusalem … A Capital without a Country?

Or is it: Israel … A Country without a Capital? It’s a shame that either of these two concepts should even be in the form of a question. But they are, and they must be faced head-on and answered. Any response depends entirely on whether a sovereign nation possesses the inherent right to choose its own capital; which is a reasonable presumption, or it should be. So we’ll begin with both barrels blazing and boldly assert: Of course, a sovereign state has that right! For Israeli Jews, the answer is as obvious as it would be to an American citizen who would never question whether Washington D.C. is the Capital of the United States of America … Jerusalem is the (eternal) capital of Israel.

Yet, the United States and virtually every nation on earth does NOT recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Instead, they have placed embassies in Tel Aviv; thereby, telling Israel that Tel Aviv is its seat of government, not Jerusalem. So drop the capital and the issue actually becomes: Jerusalem, a City without a Country? That is precisely how the US President and his staff, as well as most governments, classify Jerusalem—which reduces it to the same status as the Vatican … a city-state inside a country but without a country.

I wrote about this in an Eye of Prophecy article, entitled, Jerusalem … City of Peace? Published 12-27-14. That article originated from a November, 2014 agreement by the United States Supreme Court to review and rule on a decade old (lower) court struggle of whether the passport of a 12-year old Jewish boy, Menachem Zivotofsky, born in Jerusalem—whose parents (Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky) are American Citizens—could list Israel as his place of birth, rather than just Jerusalem. As indicated in that prior article, the crux of this conflict has far-reaching repercussions beyond one passport of one Jewish boy, although the issue was of vital personal importance to the Zivotofsky family.

Just this past Monday (June 8th), the Supreme Court reached its final decision, one that took longer than any other Supreme Court decision from its initial review to its final ruling (about seven months). Here are some of the headlines the day after, June 9th, 2015:

USA Today: Supreme Court sides with Obama in Israeli dispute

WND, through Prophecy News Watch article: U.S. Supreme Court Turns Its Back on Israel – Rejects Jerusalem Passport to List Country as Israel

Breaking Israel News: US Supreme Court Sides with Obama in Denying Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Hayom: United Jerusalem is eternal capital of the Jewish people

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Aerial View of The Knesset … Israel’s Seat of Government Located in Jerusalem

Exactly What Did the Supreme Court Rule On?

According to U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, who commented on the ruling: “The decision was not about whether Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It was solely about the separation of powers between the executive branch (the president) and the legislative branch (the Congress) of our government, and which branch has the right to recognize foreign governments and their capitals … US policy on Jerusalem was not decided by today’s ruling. That policy has been the same under every administration since 1948—namely that the status of Jerusalem has not been decided and must be determined by negotiations.”

I beg to differ. The Supreme Court decision had everything to do with Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Shapiro was merely (barely) technically correct by saying the Supreme Court’s review was to determine whether the U.S. Congress or whether the Executive Staff has the (legal) authority to recognize foreign governments and their capitals. But that was only a derivative academic offshoot of the original case, which was the issue of the passport that was directly connected to the dispute of whether Jerusalem is Israel’s capital; or whether it is an international city that is not part of any country. There’s no getting around it. To say that the Court’s decision was “solely” about the separation of powers (Executive Branch versus Congress) is a deflection, distortion, and denial of the real controversy.

The Supreme Court ruled (6-3) in favor of the Executive Branch, despite a law passed by Congress in 2002 that required the State Department to recognize “Jerusalem, Israel” or just Israel as the birthplace on passports … for Americans born in Jerusalem (of which there have been approximately 50,000 since Israel became a State). In so doing, that Congressional act effectively recognized Jerusalem not only as an Israeli city, but also its capital.

Why can I, with a great deal of certainty, say that Shapiro was wrong when he claims that the court’s decision was solely over the quarrel of whether the Congress or the President has the greater (final) authority to recognize sovereignty of foreign countries; in this case specifically applying to passports of a U.S. Citizen born in Jerusalem … dual citizenship? Although the passport problem precipitated this extraordinary review by the Supreme Court; the long-term, overriding issue is not just about passports.

The underlying motive for the US Supreme Court’s decision to review the case, then rule on it, was all about Israel’s historical and contemporary right to declare Jerusalem as its capital. If it wasn’t about that, then why does our State Department stipulate that Jerusalem must be listed on such passports, not Israel? What difference would it make otherwise? Why would they care, unless “Israel” stamped on a passport signifies and validates Jerusalem as a (the capital) city within Israel’s national borders? Meaning if you are born in Jerusalem, then you are born in Israel.

Six members of the Supreme Court accepted the President’s position on the matter, based on an Executive brief to the Supreme Court that recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel, “…would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”

How much clearer can this be? President Obama and his staff fully intend that a Palestinian State will be created and that Jerusalem (at least the eastern half of Jerusalem) will be the capital of this state. In order for that to happen, the United States Executive Staff and now the Supreme Court has overruled the U.S. Congress (who is empowered to make such laws, with the main role of the President to enforce those rulings). At the time the bill was passed, US President George W. Bush actually signed it into law but never really enforced it, nor has President Obama. Both Presidents Bush and Obama considered the congressional act to be more of a recommendation, not the law. Really? I guess even Presidents make mistakes!

But concerning the possibility of a Palestinian State, all of this is really a moot point. Because of one monumentally significant truth and fact: Israel will never ever allow Jerusalem to be divided into two capitals. In that context, why can’t Ramallah in the West Bank be the capital of any future Palestinian State? That is the current headquarters of the Palestinian Authority. Or any city in the Gaza Strip, current headquarters of the governing authority, Hamas? I’ll tell you why. Because the Palestinians do not want Israel to exist at all, and certainly not Jerusalem as Israel’s God-given capital.

It’s equally clear that the Supreme Court’s decision was immensely influenced by and primarily predicated on the status of Jerusalem itself, not on whether the US Congress or the Executive Staff has the authority to declare recognition of foreign nations or passports. Frankly, I’m amazed that the Supreme Court even agreed to take this case in the first place. But once they did, they missed a golden opportunity to acknowledge and affirm the right of Israel to determine its own capital. In fact, some members of the Supreme Court gave away their true intentions early on by voicing their real motives when they agreed to review the case.

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Inside the Knesset

Evidence Confirming the Real Reason for the Supreme Court’s Review and Decision

The following is a quote from my previous article in which I refer to Justice Elena Kagen, one of the liberal members of the Supreme Court. In light of the ruling, it’s quite evident that five other members shared her sentiments to some extent or another … as shown in the recent 6-3 decision. As noted, this observation of Ms. Kagen reveals the (hidden) agenda that most members of the Supreme Court had when they ruled in favor of President Obama’s viewpoint and effectively against Israel and tens of thousands of American Jews born in Jerusalem. With the ultimate consequence of once again denying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Said Justice Kagen several months ago soon after the Supreme Court agreed to review the case:

“Right now, Jerusalem is a tinderbox. History suggests that everything is a big deal with respect to the status of Jerusalem.”

Her rationale reverberated and regurgitated what the State Department had said in that same brief to the Supreme Court, “…a simple passport alteration could provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”

God forbid that the Arab Muslim world should be provoked like that!

She made it clear that her vote (it’s obvious now, but even then, that she had already made up her mind) would be conditioned on the politically correct need to elude any further strife in the Middle East; which, in essence, would trump the real issue of whether Israel had the right as a sovereign state to declare Jerusalem as its capital. Thus, a vote to support the Congressional Act in 2002 would be tantamount to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which would only make things worse in the Middle East.

The politically correct world view of six Supreme Court justices and their ensuing decision hinged on one perceived urgency: Whatever it takes, don’t increase the tensions in the Middle East that already exist.

Here is an excerpt of my response to her observations as quoted from the previous article, Jerusalem … A City of Peace, which is even more pertinent now that the decision is in.

That part, she got right … mostly. Jerusalem is a big deal, unlike any other city in the world. But when in our time was Jerusalem not a tinderbox? I can tell you with a great deal of historically factual evidence to back me up: NEVER has Jerusalem since Israel’s rebirth in 1948 not been a powder keg ready to explode.

If anyone carefully examines the wars that Israel has fought since her national birth, the incidents of intifada terror that has killed and maimed thousands of Israelis, or just the daily stream of hate-filled verbiage from the mouths of Muslim leaders and much of the Palestinian people, they would realize that the level of tension really can’t get any higher. Meaning that when Muslim armies, terror groups, and lone wolf assassins decide it’s time to strike, that’s exactly what they do. They may cite a particular incident or problem, but it’s always just an excuse to do what they were going to do anyway. The balloon is always full of enough air to burst. The string is always tight enough to break.

I also said: Why is Jerusalem disputed as part of Israel … as Israel’s Capital? More specifically, who or what entitles the United States State Department or the Supreme Court or any other country or even global institutions like the United Nations to determine whether any city of any country qualifies as its Capital? Isn’t that the inherent sovereign right of a nation … to choose its capital?

…Jerusalem was the headquarters (Capital) of the ancient kings of Israel, and the self-governing land (State) of Israel was given to the Jews by God, himself. That is reason enough.

But there’s also a modern-day affirmation when the United Nations voted in November, 1947 to grant statehood rights to Israel; then later recognized the sovereign State of Israel after her declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948. Even though east Jerusalem and the so-called West Bank was under Jordanian jurisdiction in 1948, all of Jerusalem was captured in the remarkable Six-Day War victory of Israel over the same nations that tried to annihilate Israel and the Jews in the brutal attack on Israel on May 15, 1948—the day after Israel became a nation.

What if all the nations on earth (or just one of those countries) refused to recognize Washington D.C. as America’s Capital? Choosing, for example, New York City because the United Nations is headquartered there. What do you think our President and the State Department would do about that? Or Congress, or the Supreme Court?

Again, I must ask: Since when does the world family of nations (most practically represented by the United Nations) dictate to individual countries which city will be its Capital? Isn’t that the exclusive right of the nation itself? What if the United States decided that it would no longer recognize London as Great Britain’s Capital, but chooses Manchester instead? Or Marseille instead of Paris? St Petersburg instead of Moscow? Barcelona over Madrid? Most likely, those nations would immediately sever diplomatic relations with America.

But that’s exactly what our Executive Branch through the State Department has done with Jerusalem. They have refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital; choosing instead by official state policy to consider Jerusalem as a city unto itself. A city that, for all practical purposes, belongs to the world; or at least to the world’s three main religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A city that is still up for grabs (literally), with its destiny to be determined by … by who knows what. By another failed peace plan, by another war, by unilateral declaration from the Palestinians that Jerusalem belongs to them, by Israel’s (rightful) annexation of the Temple Mount and all of East Jerusalem?

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Temple Mount

Let’s return for a moment to Ambassador Shapiro’s statement that the Court’s decision was “solely” over whether the State Department or the US Congress has the authority to: recognize foreign governments and their capitals. Do you see the fallacy in his conjecture? When he said, “recognize foreign governments”, he should have stopped there. But he went on to say, “…and their capitals.”

Since when has the United States ever recognized the sovereignty of a foreign nation without accepting whatever city the nation designated as its capital? I haven’t looked it up, but believe I can say with a great deal of certainty: NEVER. Except, that is, for Jerusalem. When Israel became a sovereign nation in 1948, she chose (reaffirmed the historical record) Jerusalem as the capital of the reborn Jewish nation; even though part of eastern Jerusalem was conceded to Jordanian regulation, including Temple Mount.

If Palestinian Arabs had any historically viable religious or political attachment to or concern for Jerusalem, then why is Jerusalem not once mentioned in the Koran? Any former Arab association with Jerusalem (during the rise of Islam) was to make sure the Jews didn’t live there (in great numbers) or claim it as the Holy City of Israel. That’s why they built the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple once stood.

The US Executive Staff Refuses to Acknowledge the Real Issues

President Obama will not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because he contends that Jerusalem must be part of the negotiations for a Palestinian State. Knowing full well of Israel’s solemn promise to her people … that Jerusalem is the ONE thing that cannot be negotiated. That Jerusalem always has been and always will be Israel’s undivided capital city, not just West Jerusalem. In actuality, there is no such thing as West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem … that is what the rest of the world thinks and refers to. Some Israelis refer to east and west Jerusalem only because virtually the entire world does so.

Thus, President Obama and many heads of states are simply refusing to accept Israel’s right (as a sovereign nation) to name Jerusalem as its capital. As said earlier, what would our President do if, for example, France refused to accept Washington D.C. as America’s capital? Do you think we would permit France to place their embassy in New York City? Or meet with their ambassadors in Boston? I think not. But that is exactly what our State Department expects of Israel. It gives a whole new meaning to the term, Double Standard.

And let’s not forget the Jewish family involved in this historical Supreme Court decision. What a heart-breaking result for them. The family’s attorneys said: “Presidents (US) have been permitted by American public opinion to maintain, as American foreign policy, the absurd position that no country is sovereign over Jerusalem, and that no part of the city, including the western portion of Jerusalem, is in Israel.”

Then a statement directly from the Jewish boy’s father Ari Zivotofsky: “We are truly disappointed and surprised. The ruling is significant, because it reveals U.S. policy—it doesn’t consider even west Jerusalem to be part of Israel. It greatly disturbs us that the U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel.”

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Menachem Zivotofsky and His Father, Ari

Followed by Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Ekin’s comment: “United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and will remain so forever. I call on the (Obama administration) to adopt the congressional legislation, a simple fact that is the cornerstone of Jewish heritage.”

And then Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat: “Just like Washington is the capital of the U.S. and Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of Israel.” (Which is the analogy I used in my previous article).

This last quote should preclude anyone, especially a U.S. citizen, from an overreaction to what they might consider the brash, unwarranted (who do you think you are) statement from Zivotofsky’s attorneys when they said that U.S. Presidents (based on public opinion) had adopted the “absurd position that no country is sovereign over Jerusalem.” I suppose the statement could have been toned down a bit. Yet the attorney was simply telling the truth by inferring that the American public (and so should our Presidents) would not tolerate and would consider it absurd if other nations decided that Washington D.C. was not the sole, undivided capital of the United States. Conversely, that the United States should extend individual and national diplomatic courtesy by recognizing Jerusalem as the (undivided) capital of Jerusalem.

Following the American Civil War, can you imagine that, after winning the war, the United States (northern states) agreed to cede the southern half of Washington D.C. to the Confederacy as the Confederate capital? For that matter, to even allow the Confederate States to exist as isolated states in a separate Union? Or for the first United States Congress or Executive Staff to do the same with Great Britain after their hard-fought victory in the Revolutionary War? Would the word, absurd, come to mind?

But that is exactly what the United States expects of Israel. I repeat for emphasis: Exactly.

The question of whether the Congress or the President has rightful authority over diplomatic recognition of foreign nations (and their capitals … which is the same thing as the nation itself), is mostly irrelevant. I personally believe Congress has this prerogative, but I wouldn’t take much issue at all over the dissenting opinion that this right belongs to the Executive Branch. Instead, the fundamental and destiny-determining issue before the United States Government, nations the world over, and you and me is the right of Israel (not US constitutional rights) to declare Jerusalem as its capital … seat of government.

What about Israel’s rights?! Or the right of any foreign nation to name its capital? That’s the decisive and divisive issue in front of us.

But since the Supreme Court has sided with the Presidency, then what about the fact that no sitting U.S. President has ever recognized a foreign country as a sovereign nation, without (default) acceptance of that nation’s capital. For that reason alone, Jerusalem is unprecedented in the annals of U.S. foreign policy; thus, the Supreme Court shouldn’t have been involved in such a decision. Particularly, when the United States Congress passed a law that granted Israeli citizenship and passport rights to Americans born in Jerusalem. By constitutional mandate, the US President is obligated to enforce this law (any law) passed by the Congress which represents the people of the United States of America.

In fact, that’s pretty much what Chief Justice John Roberts, one of the three dissenting votes, said. I quote: “Today’s decision is a first. Never before has this court accepted a president’s direct defiance of an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs.”

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United States Supreme Court Justices

Summary

So if the Supreme Court is going to evade the real reason for their review and decision (status of Jerusalem), the least they could have done was to acknowledge the fact that the ruling should have been whether the Executive Branch can refuse to uphold a law enacted by the Congress of the United States. (Either they do or they don’t). Or, putting it another way: Does the President have the right to ignore, circumvent, or defy an act of Congress after the fact? Because the fact is: President George W. Bush didn’t veto the bill. Rather he signed it, with the implicit understanding and obligation that the Executive Branch would enforce it.

Thus, the problem isn’t who has the authority to recognize foreign nations (save that for another bill for another day). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court ruled that this Congressional Act was unconstitutional; despite the fact that President Bush signed it into law. It’s like the Supreme Court was protecting the Executive Branch from itself … from a poor decision to approve an Act of Congress!

God bless the USA should be followed by, God help this country.

The actual argument is what the case was all about in the first place … Jerusalem as not only a city of Israel, but also its capital. Does Jerusalem belong to Israel?

If anyone, including presidents, prime ministers, parliaments, congresses, and individuals on the planet say No, then they are denying one or more of the following: (1) that all Sovereign Nations have the inalienable right to declare any city in its borders as its capital. (2) Jerusalem is legally and territorially part of Israel, a Sovereign State with boundaries that border Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt; as opposed to non-existent internal boundaries with an equally non-existent Palestinian State. (3) That Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in which she regained control (control, not ownership—as Jerusalem already belonged to Israel) was invalid. Meaning that Israel had no right to defend herself or recapture and assume control over a city that belonged to them in the first place.

(4) Most important of all: The ancient, but timeless promissory covenant deed initiated by the one true God for the Jews. That Israel (much larger than modern-day borders) would be given to the Jews as an everlasting inheritance. Non-negotiable!

“After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, ‘Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession … Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you’” (Genesis 13:14-17). Later, these boundaries were specified in more than one Bible passage, including an amazing detailed description requiring seven chapters (Joshua 13 through 19).

Three thousand years ago, King David made Jerusalem what we in modern terms call the capital of Israel. There are many Bible passages that undeniably show Jerusalem as the geopolitical, cultural, and religious center of Israel … thus, its capital. Jerusalem and its companion name, Zion, can be found hundreds of times in Scripture. Whereas, Jerusalem is not mentioned even ONE time in the Koran. That alone should tell us to whom Jerusalem belongs, and who has the right to declare it their capital.

How strange: If children of American Jews were born in any other city of Israel, their passports would show, Israel, as their place of birth. For that matter, other than Jerusalem, what other passport the world over shows just the city of birth? Easy answer: None. It’s always the country (including the state if a USA passport) of birth. My passport shows, Kansas, USA. When I displayed my passport to Israeli officials during my trip to Israel in 2006, no one asked me what city of Kansas I was born in.

How ironically repulsive: the stamp of Jerusalem on a passport for someone born in Jerusalem is both a real and symbolic denial that Israel’s Holy City is even part of Israel, let alone its capital.

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Example of USA Passport for Someone Born in Jerusalem

Things to Ponder

A little history lesson: “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob (Israel) is the allotment of His inheritance … He encircled him (Jacob or Israel), He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of his eye” (Deuteronomy 32:8-10, NASB, italics for emphasis).

*Note: The italicized words in the Complete Jewish Bible are translated, “…according to Israel’s population.” This means that God—in his infinite wisdom, plan, and fairness—selected a very small part of the earth for the Jews (Israel), based on what he knew would be a (comparative) proportion of Israel’s population to the rest of the world.

And a reminder that the following will take place (soon) when Messiah returns to rescue Israel and Jerusalem … to protect the pupil (apple) of his eye:

“Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city … After a period of glory, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me (Messiah) against the nations who plundered you. For he said, ‘Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. (NASB reads, touches the apple of His eye) I will raise my fist to crush them … Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.’ The Lord says, ‘Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me (Messiah) to you.’ The land of Judah will be the Lord’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:5-13).

ISRAEL

Click on the video. Clap, move, dance, rejoice with Jerusalem. The chorus contains, kulano b’simcha, which means, “all of us in joy.”

Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation

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Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation

Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color. This was the title of a newly televised two-part, four-hour documentary shown this past Sunday on the History Channel 2. Around ten thousand photographs were taken by photo journalists during the greatest struggle our nation has ever faced—one that pitted Americans against Americans, brother against brother, father against son. Considering that photography had only been around for about twenty years, the sheer number of photos was an amazing accomplishment. As reflected in the title, one of the main features of the film was a digital conversion from black and white to color prints.

This well-made and skillfully interview-narrated documentary displayed dozens, if not hundreds, of photographs, many of which had never been shown before. Most of them had been colorized to enhance what were already high quality photographs. The clarity of many photographs was stunning—pictures of ordinary citizens, of slaves, of Union and Confederate soldiers, officers, and generals. Of President Abraham Lincoln. And, yes, of death and destruction as graphically portrayed with the corpses of soldiers that littered the battlefields and with the rubble of southern cities.

In terms of sheer numbers, the Civil War eclipsed all past and future American wars. With a total of some 620,000 Americans killed (some estimates go as high as 700,000), the death toll exceeded the combined total of Americans killed in World War I & II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.

Which leads us to the next phase of this article: The abysmal number of casualties suffered by the human race during wartime in just the last one hundred years. We won’t even include regional wars or any number of sectarian or ethnic conflicts before, during, or after World War I and II, such as the Ottoman Turk onslaught against the Armenians, the Korean War, Bosnia-Serbia, or Vietnam (including the French Indochina war before that).

World War I was nicknamed, The Great War. For two primary reasons: (1) it truly was the First World War, involving multiple nations that formed two main coalitions, one against the other. Never in the history of mankind had such a war been waged with such modern and massive weaponry, with unequaled destruction and cruelty, including the use of poisonous gas. (2) The atrocious death toll: A total of nearly 17,000,000 deaths, military and civilian … in just 4-5 years of fighting. Unheard of … an impossible number to consider (at the time).

It was also labeled, The War to End All Wars; because it was simply inconceivable that the nature of man would ever again harbor such hatred, let alone express (act on) this hostility knowing what another world-wide war could do to the human race. The staggering loss of life and ongoing suffering of millions more wounded would preempt any notion of another world war. The League of Nations was formed to ensure that this was the War to End All Wars.

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Alas! Apart from God and his salvation, the human race doesn’t grasp nor really wants to come to terms with just how evil people can be. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The answer to that question is all too experientially evident … meaning it’s bad. Some worse than others, but bad is bad. Which is why there will never, I repeat sadly—never be peace on this earth until the Prince of Peace returns to make all things right.

Incomprehensibly, in less than thirty years, another World War began and ended, with unimaginable bloodshed. Moreover, the ultimate conclusion to this war was apocalyptic in scope … the atomic bomb. The results of Japanese casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, indeed, horrific, but all the experts agree: Not only would American casualties have been extraordinarily high (hundreds of thousands) but also the Japanese would have suffered even more deaths and injuries from protracted American assaults on the shores of Japan.

Some Sobering Statistics

Heads of state and people the world over were appalled at the shocking scale of fatalities and injuries inflicted during the Great War. Yet, the deplorable death and repulsive ruin of the First World War pale in comparison to World War II. Though the numbers vary, a fairly reliable figure places the total number of dead at 72,468,900. Let’s write this out and read it that way: Seventy-two million, four hundred sixty-eight thousand, and nine hundred.

Absolutely staggering! That’s over four times the number of dead in The War to End All Wars. It borders on the unbelievable. The number exceeds the population of most nations of the earth. As gut-wrenching as it was to lose nearly 405,000 Americans in this devastating war, that was only slightly more than 1/2 of 1% of the total fatality count.

It wasn’t just the stunning scope of World War II compared to the First World War; it was also the detestable increase in civilian casualties that shocked the sensibility and scarred the psyche of the whole world. It doesn’t matter that reasons can be provided for such carnage. For example: indiscriminate bombing by the Axis powers, carpet bombing by the Allies, slaughter of a vast number of Chinese civilians by the Japanese, and, of course, the horrendous extermination of some 11,000,000 non-combatants by the Nazis, six million of whom were Jews.

Of the approximate 17 million killed in the First World War, only 5% were civilians. The ugly fact of WWII is that civilians comprised 67% of the 72+ million killed. With regard to the Axis powers, particularly Germany and Japan, killing of civilians was often deliberate, disgraceful, dreadful, and depraved (diabolical if you will) and was sometimes done after they conquered a territory, or nation, or ethnic group. With respect to the Allied nations, civilian casualties were mostly inadvertent because the enemy had refused to surrender even when it became clear that neither Germany nor Japan could win the war. War is war, and War is Hell, but the treatment of enemy civilians partly defines the difference between waging war justly and unjustly. Still, the loss of so many civilians was poignantly tragic in the Second World War.

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Though hundreds of thousands all over the earth have been killed in subsequent wars and sectarian conflicts, and (ever so sadly) millions more by political purges, such as Russians killed by Stalin and Chinese by Mao tse-tung; it’s highly unlikely that the overwhelming figures of World War II will ever be repeated.

That is, until the Great Tribulation.

Incredibly, not just repeated, but exceeded in numbers that are mind-bending. Numbers that we simply cannot wrap our minds around. Numbers so great that they are indigestible … mentally, emotionally, and physically. The enormity of which could/should make us sick to our stomach. Not unlike the author of Revelation, John, who savored the pleasant taste of the scroll in his mouth, but which turned sour in his stomach while digesting it. (Revelation Chapter 10). This occurred with one Trumpet and all seven Bowl judgments still remaining. The scroll tasted good because it represented God’s final plan to eliminate all war and evil, a plan that was approaching its awesome conclusion and fulfillment. But the scroll was bitter to digest because of the countless number of deaths and extreme desolation still to come.

Just how bad will it be? “For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:21-22).

These are the words of Messiah Jesus, himself. And there’s no exaggeration for effect in his ominous apocalyptic warning. Through (world) war, famine, natural disasters, and disease, Jesus is saying the entire human race would cease to exist unless God directly intervenes. Further, this intervention is specifically on behalf of the chosen ones … Israel and the Jews. Not the Church, as all born-again believers will have already been taken from this earth in the glorious event of the Rapture. Let’s look at another passage (of many) in which the Lord announces to Israel and the whole world what to expect when the end of this age is upon us:

“Listen to me, my people. Hear me, Israel, for my law will be proclaimed, and my justice will become a light to the nations. My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way. My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to me and wait in hope for my powerful arm. Look up to the skies above, and gaze down on the earth below. For the skies will disappear like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing. The people of the earth will die like flies, but my salvation lasts forever. My righteous rule will never end!” (Isaiah 51:4-6, italics for emphasis).

Notice how sweeping and all-encompassing this magnificent prophecy is. It includes God’s judgment on the nations, but also salvation and mercy. It entails devastation on the earth, but also God’s righteous rule (of peace and justice) that will never end. And this Kingdom of Heaven, this Kingdom of God on earth will be centered in a New Jerusalem, on a New Earth, with New Heavens above (See Revelation 21:1)!

But in keeping with the theme of this article, most of all notice the italicized words of this passage: The people of the earth will die like flies. That is as graphic and ghastly as it can get. When God, himself, uses such strong words to depict the dreadful death and wreckage taking place in the Great Tribulation, all of us—both believers and unbelievers—would do well to listen. For believers to warn unbelievers, but in love and humility. For unbelievers to heed these warnings as they are from the true and living God. Time and time again throughout Scripture and throughout history, we see Bible prophecy coming to pass. What God says he will do, he does. What he says will happen, happens.

The Mind-Numbing Numbers

There are approximately 7.3 billion people on the planet. This number doesn’t escape my attention, nor should it elude your interest. Why? Because seven is an extraordinarily significant number in Scripture … in God’s creation of the world, interaction with mankind, and especially in the (soon-to-come) awesome Day of the Lord, that commences with the Rapture, then the Great Tribulation.

In fact, the seven plus three-tenths (7.3) adds additional impact, as the number three is also a substantially important divine number.

If the Rapture were to occur today, it’s entirely feasible that one out of every seven people on the earth would be taken … again, in deference to the divine implication and consequential meaning of the number seven. I realize this is speculation (1 of 7), but it’s what we might consider as sanctified or spiritual speculation! It’s not just some off-the-wall unreasonable conjecture.

This would include children of believers under the age of innocence. If you haven’t yet (or if you have, to refresh your memory), I would encourage you to read the first five articles published in the Eye of Prophecy website nearly two years ago, on the What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture. That some children will be taken and some children will be left behind at the Rapture, the fourth article on the Who of the Rapture will provide more Scripture, rationale, and commentary to support this premise.

Let’s do the math: 14.3% (1 in 7) x 7.3 billion =s 1.04 billion, or 1 billion, 40 million. (A little over one billion).

Thus, 6.3 billion people would be left behind. But one billion people who were suddenly gone is a substantial number, certainly enough to create instant confusion, chaos, and consternation throughout the entire earth.

But this is only the beginning. Let’s turn to book of Revelation which provides some facts and figures that are infinitely incomprehensible. They defy the definable; they annul the ascertainable; they cancel the conceivable.

Who among us has not heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? They are a symbolic representation of the horrible reality that the earth will experience soon after the Rapture. They are the first four of the seven seals broken by Messiah Jesus early in the seven-year Tribulation. When Christ breaks the seals, it is effectively a release (God’s permission for this great time of anguish to begin) of the nations of the earth to begin what will be World War III, culminating in the greatest and most decisive battle of all time … Armageddon.

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In order, the four horses and their riders represent Conquest (beginning with peace, but the kind of cold-war peace (in our time ) that erupted in World War II, e.g. Chamberlain’s pathetic agreement with Hitler; War & great slaughter; Famine of epic proportions; Death itself from any and all sources that cause people to die in large numbers. Here is the gruesome result: “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal … I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals” (Revelation 6:7-8, italics for emphasis).

This fourth horse and rider represent Death and the Grave, which is a composite result of the first three horseman accomplishing their horrifying agendas … massive death by war, famine, disease, and even by the animal kingdom. What is the sickening consequence? One-fourth of the world’s population will die.

Once again, let’s do the (awful) calculations: 25% x 6.3 billion people =s 1.6 billion (rounded off) dead on this planet. Which leaves roughly 4.7 billion survivors. Thus, in all likelihood, more people will die in a relatively short time than the number taken in the Rapture.

Although we’re certainly beyond the beginning phase of the Great Tribulation, it’s far from over. Let’s examine the next huge loss of life which is from a different source of terror, with the four horsemen depicting death and destruction at the hands of man, himself.

“And the voice said to the sixth angel who held the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great Euphrates River.’ Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were turned loose to kill one-third of all the people on earth. I heard the size of their army, which was 200 million mounted troops” (Revelation 9:14-16, italics for emphasis).

Time/space does not permit in this article, except to say that I and several other Bible prophecy scholars firmly believe that these “mounted troops” (which is a natural expression to describe what are otherwise supernatural beings—meaning fallen angels or demons—as they are led by four angels who had been restrained and then released just for this purpose, at a very specific time during the Great Tribulation). How ironic that there are four of these evil angels, to rival the number of the four horsemen, which represent men and nations. In other words, demonic angels—those who are part of Satan’s rebellious kingdom—themselves will be released and given permission by God to wreak havoc and death on the earth. How many will they kill?

One-Third! This is a higher percentage than died during the oppressive onslaught of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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Again, we must bite the bullet and do the cruel computations. Recall that there were about 4.7 billion left on the earth after the first four seal judgments. Thus, 1/3 x 4.7 billion =s 1.6 billion killed. The demonic army killed a higher percentage than the four horsemen killed, however, the same number died, 1.6 billion (rounded off); but only because there were fewer people left on earth when the demonic hordes began their killing spree.

How many people are left? Simple, but literal subtraction of these alarming figures shows us that there are now only 3.1 billion souls left on planet earth. That’s less than half of the world’s remaining population (6.3 billion) after the Rapture takes place: 49.2% to be exact.

The numbers are utterly shocking: 50.8 % of the earth’s population (3.2 billion) from virtually every nation on earth, dying in just these four seal and one trumpet calamities. I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot process those numbers, either emotionally or mentally. If you think you can grasp these numbers, then stretch your imagination with the domino phenomenon. First locate, then line up and lean three billion, two-hundred million dominos one against another, and see how long the line is. Hint: Think circumference of the earth at the Equator which is 24,901.5 miles. Then push the first one and see how long it takes for all of them to fall.

Or test your cognitive capability, your endurance, and your patience by counting to 3.2 billion. How long before you give up? Or if you don’t give up counting, how long would it take you counting one number per second? If my math is correct, I’ll tell you how long: Too long! Seriously, it would literally take (more than) a lifetime: 102 years to be exact! Does that help to better understand 3.2 billion? And, we’re talking about people, not dominoes or dollars or seconds. What a titanic tragedy the Tribulation will be.

But They Would Not Repent

But it’s not by any means over yet. Remember, there are three more seal judgments, six more trumpets, and all seven bowl judgments in which more people will perish. Millions of tribulation saints will be killed by Antichrist and his followers. Hundreds of millions of unbelievers (and other believing tribulation saints) will succumb from the supernatural and natural catastrophes which God will inflict on a violent and wicked generation of earth’s inhabitants.

Beginning with “a great earthquake” which causes the sun to become, “…as dark as black cloth, and the moon … red as blood … the sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places” (Revelation 6:12-14).

At this point, earth’s inhabitants, from the greatest to the least, will at least recognize that God, himself, has begun to administer divine justice. Here’s what is said by the “kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person,” after experiencing the sixth seal that was just quoted, which is the first judgment directly from God: “And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive’” (Revelation 6:15-17).

Does this acknowledgment of Divine sovereignty lead to global repentance (a change of mind and heart regarding God)? Not even close. Obviously some will believe and choose the true Messiah throughout the Tribulation period, but most will not. Let’s return to the sixth trumpet judgment, in which the demonic horde led by the four evil angels kills some 1.6 billion people. All seven seals had been broken and five trumpet judgments had already taken place. By this time, you would think that the vast majority of survivors would willingly and desperately turn to God and His Messiah.

Although many the world over will have conceded the reality that God is now releasing his righteous wrath on the world’s wickedness, both directly and indirectly by granting authority to Satan to unleash his forces, they continue to defy their only source of salvation. Here’s the hard-hearted reaction by most of the world: “But the people who did not die in these plagues (caused by the 200 million demons) still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons … And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).

Astonishing! Does that tell you how incredibly foolish (stubborn) people can really be and get. In the face of overwhelming evidence of who is God and who is not, they loved their perverted lifestyle and pleasures more than everlasting life in heaven. One more trumpet judgment and four more (of the seven) bowl judgments later, we see the same obstinacy that is every bit as hard-hearted as Pharaoh who thumbed his nose at God until it was far too late.

“Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, causing it to scorch everyone with its fire. Everyone was burned by this blast of heat, and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory” (Revelation 16:8-9). This is the ultimate solar flare!

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Astounding! Not only do they not say, “Okay, Lord, we’ve had enough. We’re sorry. Please spare and save us.” Now they actually begin cursing God.

The Grand Finale

Although all of the apocalyptic events allowed or caused by God are exceptional, none more so than the final earth-shattering demonstration of God’s power. Every time I read it, I shake my head in disbelief. I repeat the words, but they still do not compute. My imagination lags far behind the stunning reality of it all. A comparative image comes to mind; however, I realize that it is a fully inadequate analogy. I’ll mention it anyway—in order to gain a partial perspective and picture of how the final bowl judgment of God will surpass of all the catastrophes preceding it. The imagery that comes to mind is that of a lengthy fire-works display that culminates in the greatest, most magnificent grand finale ever seen. But the resemblance is similar only in form, certainly not in substance. Here is God’s final Tribulation judgment:

“Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple saying, ‘It is finished!’ Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck—the worst since people were placed on the earth. The great city of Babylon (Rome) split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble … And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled. There was a terrible hailstorm, and hailstones weighing seventy-five pounds fell from the sky onto the people below. They cursed God because of the terrible plague of the hailstorm” (Revelation 16:17-21).

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Once again, absolutely incredible! Not just cities all over the earth crumbling into rubble, or every single island—think of the Hawaiian Islands—completely disappearing (giant tsunamis that not only inundate but sink the islands), and all of the earth’s mountains flattened into level plains. No, that isn’t what causes the unrepentant who are left on the earth to curse God once again. It was the giant hailstones that obviously were even more devastating than the other colossal calamities. The disaster depicted in the recently released movie, San Andreas, is nothing more than a tiny dot on a Seismograph compared to this unbelievably powerful world-wide earthquake, its aftermath, and the hailstorm to follow in this final and most fearsome judgment of all.

Deferring again to the number seven: It’s entirely plausible that only one billion people will be left on planet earth by the time the Tribulation comes to an end. That was the population of the earth in the year 1800. In the year 1900, the world’s population was 1.6 billion. Where have we seen that number before? That’s right: the 1.6 billion killed by the Four Horseman or the 1.6 billion by the demonic army—each would have wiped out the population of the world in 1900. It would be like preparing for the Tribulation by lining six people up at a time, and telling them, “Sorry, but five of you are not going to make it.” (Starting with 6.3 billion after the Rapture)

Wouldn’t a reasonable conclusion be: If you’re going to die (or live), then why not die (or live) for Christ, instead of Antichrist or yourself? One leads to everlasting life, the other to eternal death.

Things to Ponder    

How does anyone process these unfathomable events, these astronomical numbers? You don’t. You can’t, not really. Both emotionally and mentally, they are too vast to contemplate. But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the totality and enormity of what Scripture is telling us.

“It is finished.” These were the very words of Jesus, the Lamb of God, as he died on that old rugged Cross. These words meant that God had finished pouring out his wrath on his beloved Son, who died in our place for all the wrong things we’ve done. To pay and satisfy the debt for our sin by setting aside God’s verdict of guilty which is: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

As we have seen, these same words will be spoken from the throne of heaven (I’m sure by Messiah Jesus, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the King of all kings) as God finishes pouring out his wrath on those who belong to the world; those who reject God’s pardon by refusing to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. That is the way of it. That is true justice.

“And I heard a voice from the altar, saying, ‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just’” (Revelation 16:7).

It really is quite simple. Don’t wait until it’s too late … when you meet Christ as your judge. Meet him now as your Savior!

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, italics for emphasis).

“The Lord … is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9, NASB, italics for emphasis).

Repentance means to change one’s mind about God and say, yes, to God’s invitation and promise: “…Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31).

Divine Consequences of Iran’s Arrogance (Part II)

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Great Pride Leads to a Great Fall

Most Iranian Persians have never met a Jew, nor have the masses of Arabs in nations surrounding Israel; nor even have many Palestinians living in Israel crossed paths with an Israeli Jew. Nor the vast majority of Russians, Europeans, Orientals, or Africans. Yet individuals and nations the world over inexplicably denigrate and demonize Jews, and disparage Israel. How is it that anyone can harbor such hate for a race of people, against someone (anyone) they know little about? How can anyone like or dislike someone they’ve never met?

There are no rational or realistic answers to these questions. Which, I suppose, constitutes the very definition of Anti-Semitism—a baffling, bizarre, and blind animosity that goes well beyond passive intolerance. Even for those who have only a moderate dislike for the Jews, for those whose mindset is normally that of live and let live, there is a sense that something must be done about them. Wherever you look the evidence is unmistakable: Anti-Semitism is on the rise again.

Long ago, God predicted this would happen. With such detail that precise passages of Scripture have been repeated virtually word for word by those who have never read any part of the Bible. Indeed, by those who hate the Bible, the God of the Bible, and the people of the Book … both Jew and Christian. When the prophetic words of Scripture are mouthed by international leaders who detest Israel, then we can know beyond any doubt that the end times are upon us.

Listen to the words of the Psalmist written some 3000 years ago: “O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God. Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies? Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up? They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence’” (Psalms 83:1-4).

In last week’s article, six quotes from high-ranking Iranian officials, including the Ayatollah, were listed (there are many more than six); all of which arrogantly bragged in one way or another that Israel would be eliminated from the face of the earth. But they brazenly carried it to a new level: Iran has divine permission to lead the world in such a worthy mission. Here is yet one more repugnant boast:

“The Zionist regime will soon be destroyed, and this generation will be witness to its destruction.” (Hojatolesiam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guard, 2014).

I selected this quote because of the ominous overtone that Iran intends to carry out this diabolical agenda soon, in this generation.

To demonstrate that Iran is absolutely serious about this malicious objective, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently warned that the Islamic Republic of Iran was (imminently) ready to annihilate Israel and possessed the capability to do so because of thousands of missiles in its arsenal.

Here’s what he said: “The Zionists and the US are aware of the power of Iran and Hezbollah, and they know that over 80,000 missiles are ready to rain down on Tel Aviv and Haifa; Iran is a powerful country which will give a crushing response to them. The Zionists have many problems and they know that Iran is too powerful for them to contend with.”

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But he didn’t limit Iran’s purported power to (easily) squash Israel. Here are more taunting threats from Safavi: “Our response will be crushing not just to the Zionist regime, but to any other aggressor who intends to take action against us.”

In last week’s Part I article, two historical precedents were presented to show what God has done (and, therefore, will do) to nations that haughtily and deliberately defy God, and challenge him or Israel to prove that the true and living God is greater than the might of those leaders and nations. Now we’ll look at another remarkable event to validate (1) that God will, in fact, directly intervene when his Divine red line of authority and sovereignty has been crossed; and (2) why he providentially silences the schemes of certain nations.

“Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth” (Psalms 83:18).

Sennacherib and Assyria

First, we need to remember that God’s hand of judgment was sometimes just as heavy against his own people, as it was against Israel’s enemies. With one major difference: Time and time again, the Lord told his people that he would (supernaturally) preserve a remnant of Jews and ultimately bring the Jews back to Israel to possess the land promised to them forever by God. Contrasted to utter destruction and disappearance of several Gentile nations that oppressed and suppressed the Jews, especially those nations that brutally conquered Israel.

But when the Jews listened to, obeyed, and followed God, the Lord was always with them in good times and bad times, most prominently during times of war. More often than not, the Israelites had to follow the natural course of things, and defend themselves … fight for their freedom and security. However, no matter the odds—if God was with them, no one could stand against them.

The extent of God’s support of Israel during wartime was completely up to God and his divine purpose and plan, both short-term and long-term. Whether it was a hard-fought battle with substantial Jewish casualties, or whether it was 300 Jews under Gideon defeating a vast Midianite army against insurmountable odds, they were predictably victorious when God was with them.

But there was one stupendous victory in Israel’s history of warfare that defies all natural or logical explanation. It was accomplished by God’s direct divine intervention that resulted in a humiliating defeat of the greatest nation on earth at the time … Assyria. This happened in 701 B.C. during the reign of Israel’s King Hezekiah and Assyria’s King Sennacherib. The resounding rout over Assyria occurred when this mighty empire was at its zenith; moreover it was a direct result of Sennacherib’s (Assyria’s) audacious arrogance toward Israel and spiteful pride against God, himself.

Keep in mind that Assyria had previously vanquished the ten northern tribes of an already divided Israel, in 722 B.C. God had not only predicted this horrible event would take place, but had actually used the Assyrians as an instrument of his judgment against Israel. But God’s prophets had also prophesied the inevitable destruction of the southern tribes of Israel; with, however, one major distinction. It would not be Assyria that would conquer Judah … it would be Babylon. The reason it wouldn’t be Assyria is because Assyria, by that time, would be utterly destroyed by Babylon!

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All of these events were foretold by God through his prophets before they happened. Both Biblical and secular history attest to the fulfilled accuracy of many amazing prophecies. Note: Nowhere in the Koran do we find any prophecies as such, let alone those naming future people and nations and actual events in astonishing detail. That alone should tell us who is God and who (Allah) is not.

Well, it’s too bad that Sennacherib had ignored these prophecies and instead had gloated in the knowledge that God had used Assyria to discipline northern Israel (the ten tribes). Yes, it’s evident that Sennacherib knew this, but then decided that he would misuse this information to justify attacking Judah. Essentially then, he twisted what God had said and God’s plan for southern Israel, which was to give Judah much more time to repent and turn back to God. In fact, it would be over one hundred years before Judah would finally fall to Babylon.

Listen to these boastful words of the Assyrian King delivered to King Hezekiah through a messenger: “What’s more, do you think we invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it’” (Isaiah 36:10). As indicated, that was a distortion of what God had done through the Assyrians, i.e. that Assyria was used only to punish the ten northern tribes.

Sennacherib went on to say: “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?” (Isaiah 36:18-20, italics for emphasis).

Why did I italicize two of the sentences in the above passage? Read them again. First, Sennacherib made a big mistake by saying, did any god rescue Samaria from my power? Samaria, as you may recall, was the capital of the ten northern tribes of Israel. Thus, the Assyrian king deliberately included God, himself, as just another one of the gods who were powerless to resist the might of Assyria … while conveniently forgetting that it was The Lord who empowered Assyria in the first place to discipline (northern) Israel. Sennacherib was obviously talking out of both sides of his mouth.

God’s Divine Red Lines

Then he hurls an even bigger insult by saying: So what makes you think the Lord can rescue Jerusalem? Huge mistake! There are some things you just don’t say about or against the true and living God. Just ask Goliath, who taunted Israel, and (against all odds) was killed by an upstart Jewish boy; but a boy who knew and loved and was backed by the true and living God. David rightfully accused Goliath (who was speaking on behalf of the entire Philistine nation) of not only mocking Israel but speaking words of defiance against God. Listen to David’s bold but truthful indictment against Goliath:

“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel … that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (I Samuel 17:45-47).

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Once again, notice the choice of Sennacherib’s words: He didn’t insult Hezekiah by asking whether the Lord would rescue Jerusalem. Rather, he said sarcastically: “what makes you think the Lord can rescue Jerusalem.” His mockery was crystal clear: the Lord God of Israel couldn’t deliver Jerusalem even if he wanted to. Why? Because Sennacherib and all of Assyria made the same mistake that other nations have made down through the generations, including modern-day Iran. Which is that the God of Israel is not really God. That they and their (false) god or gods are supreme and they have, therefore, the divine right to annihilate Israel.

It get worse. In a second dispatch to King Hezekiah, Assyria’s arrogant king goes one step further by telling Hezekiah that the God of Israel mislead them. Here are his words: “…Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 37:10). Then the message goes on with rhetoric that repeats what was said in the first message. Really big mistake!

When Sennacherib accused the Lord (the God of all truth who does not lie) of deceiving Israel, he sealed his fate and the fate of the Assyrian army which had besieged Jerusalem into near starvation. Enough was enough. The rest of the story shows that God through the prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah not to worry about the Assyrian king’s “blasphemous speech against me…” That Sennacherib would soon return home and be killed with a sword. Hezekiah also pleaded with God to spare Jerusalem, and God answered his prayer.

What happened that made Sennacherib suddenly pull up stakes and head for Assyria with the proverbial, “tail between his legs.” For those who may have forgotten, let’s examine the account:

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. One day while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons … killed him with their swords…” (Isaiah 37:36-38).

You think?! The stunning overnight loss of 185,000 soldiers would make any king lose his taste for war and conquest.

You read that right: 185,000 troops killed by just one of God’s angels. Not a spear thrown, or arrow shot, or sword thrust by an Israeli soldier. The victory was resounding and complete and all at the hand of God. There wouldn’t have been one surviving Assyrian soldier who would have dared to fight against Israel any longer; for to do so would have been to fight against the God of Israel. They had seen what happens when their king defies the true and living God by making himself greater (more celestial) that God, himself.

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How divinely and prophetically ironic! Not only did this egotistical king of the most powerful nation on earth die exactly as God predicted, but he did so at the hands of his own sons, and while worshipping what he assumed was a divine god. Which in realty was a worthless, useless, impotent, false, man-made god that couldn’t even protect Sennacherib from his own sons.

Yes, God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, not only to rescue Judah, but in order that (as he always does in these kind of supernatural interventions), “…all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God” (Isaiah 37:20).

Iran and all peoples who worship a false god or gods should heed the following challenge of the God of Israel, who is also the God of all Jews and Gentiles who believe and receive his Son, Yeshua:

“Present the case for your idols, says the Lord. Let them show what they can do, says the King of Israel. Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen. Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us. But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves” (Isaiah 41:21-24).

This also applies to prophets of false religions. “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer and Creator: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth? I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers. I cause the wise to give bad advice, thus proving them to be fools. But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again.’ And to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt; I will restore all your ruins!’” (Isaiah 44:24-26)

The Ultimate Battle with and Defeat of Iran (and Russia)

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written about the coming Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, spearheaded by Russia; to include other prominent nations, the most vicious of which is Iran. Thus, this article will be confined to two essentials of this incredible prophecy found in Ezekiel 38 & 39.

First: God, himself, will once again directly and divinely intervene on Israel’s behalf, much like he did against the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians. It’s clear in these passages that Israel does virtually nothing (undoubtedly because of the overwhelming forces attacking Israel) in her defense. God does it all, through such means as: turning the Gog forces against themselves, supernaturally unleashing natural forces of, “torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur.” Also, “mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth.”

According to Ezekiel, Israel’s only contribution to this devastating defeat of the vast hordes from Russia, Iran, and smaller nations will be to pick up their enemies’ weapons from all over the land. And, that it will take Israel, “seven months for the people of Israel to bury the bodies and cleanse the land. Everyone in Israel will help, for it will be a glorious victory for Israel when I demonstrate my glory on that day, says the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 39:12-13, italics for emphasis).

The italicized phrase depicts the second reason and purpose for God’s magnificent victory over what would otherwise be an enemy far too strong for Israel. As with the stunning display of true heavenly power by the one and only God in our examples of Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria; so, too, will Russia and Iran’s crushing defeat during the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel prove who is Divine and who is not.

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“…Then all the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:16).

Again God declares: “…I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).

But also, Israel, will truly know and understand. “In this way, I will demonstrate my glory to the nations. Everyone will see the punishment I have inflicted on them (meaning God and Magog) and the power of my fist when I strike. And from that time on the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. The nations will then know why Israel was sent away to exile—it was punishment for sin, for they were unfaithful to their God. Therefore, I turned away from them and let their enemies destroy them” (Ezekiel 39:21-23).

Yes, most noble Ayatollah of Iran and your invincible Republican Guard … you and your allies like Russia would be wise to take heed of the ignoble and demoralizing defeat of your ancestors in the Persian Empire, and of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. And don’t forget about the once mighty Roman Empire. But you will forget, you will ignore. Yet your inglorious demise will not come at the hands of the United States or even from Israel, though they may soften you up with deadly preemptive strikes. No, your final defeat will come at the hands of the Almighty God of Israel, the Lord of all who believe in his Messiah, who have been redeemed by his great sacrifice for the human race.

Last week’s article closed with, “When that moment of truth comes, we’ll see who has Divine permission and who does not.”

We can amplify that by rhetorically asking: When the moment of truth comes, who will wipe whom off the face of the earth? Who will crush whom beyond all recognition?

Things to Ponder

The end of this age is near, very near. The soon return of Messiah Jesus, our Great God and Savior, is at hand. The balloon of boasts from nations like Iran and from people the world over against Jews and Christians is too full of hot air (rhetoric) not to burst. Something has to give. And when it does, Christ will intervene. And when he does, “The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations” (Psalms 22:27-28).

“…He will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1).

“The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies” (Isaiah 42:13).

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

“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 wine-press. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:15-16).

“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that 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 2:9-11).

“I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty. I will make people scarcer than gold … For I will shake the heavens. The earth will move from its place when the Lord of Heaven’s Armies displays his wrath in the day of his fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:11-13).

And yet God’s judgment of the nations aligned against Israel will serve his ultimate purpose, which can be summarized by this passage:

“In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land (Israel) where he lives will be a glorious place” (Isaiah 11:10).

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Divine Consequences of Iran’s Arrogance (Part I)

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Pride Goes Before a Fall

What did Israel ever do to Iran that would generate such hostility of virtually an entire nation, especially high-ranking government and religious officials, against Israel? You can search every historical archive on this planet and end up with the same answer to this question: Nothing, absolutely nothing. No military attacks on Iran, no anti-Islamic propaganda, no racial profiling, no border disputes (because there is no border between Israel and Iran) … nothing. Of course, Israel has taken military action against Iran’s terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, but only in self-defense. And Israel may have no other choice but to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, but only because Israel’s very survival is at stake.

Persia became Iran in 1935, but it wasn’t until the Muslim Shi’ites took over the country from the Shah in 1979 that Iran decided to align with other Muslim countries in their collective scorn of Israel and the Jews. To be sure, Iran is at odds with several Arab nations; but when it comes to the Jews, they all share a common ground—hatred of Israel.

There was no war by or against the Jews when ancient Persia defeated Babylon and, thereby, assumed control of Jews wherever they had been exiled. Not long after Persia conquered Babylon, the Persian King Cyrus issued an edict which allowed many Jews to return to Israel, first to rebuild the Temple and later King Xerxes permitted them to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. One of the most amazing prophecies in Scripture is God identifying and naming Cyrus and what he would do against Babylon and for Israel, some 140 years before Cyrus was even born! (See Isaiah Chapter 45)

The Persians and the Jews have not interacted for nearly 2,500 hundred years. Thus, Iran’s irrational and illogical animosity toward the Jews and Israel is nothing more than another expression of anti-Semitism, which is straight from the gates of hell. Meaning that the source of this malevolent hatred is Satan, himself. How ironic that Iran calls the United States the Great Satan and Israel, the little Satan; when Iran is the very expression and embodiment of Satan’s kingdom.

More senseless is the fact that Iran is not even an Arabic country. Thus, it is not the age-old rivalry between Arabs and Jews. Iranians are Persians who speak Farsi; but the majority are also radical Shi’ite Muslims. Therein, lies the root of the problem. It is the god and religion of Islam against the God of Israel. Allah, the man-made god of Islam, has mandated the destruction of both Jews and Christians, whom the Koran calls infidels. Iran considers the United States a Christian nation and Israel a Jewish nation; so, both must be conquered. Regarding Israel, it’s more than just subjugation; it’s elimination from the face of the earth.

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In a Stand for Israel article this past March, a total of seventeen quotes from high-ranking Iranian officials calling for Israel’s destruction was published. And those quotes are only from the year 2000 to the present. Obviously, there are more than seventeen. In this article I will quote just six, as a lead-in to another Iranian boast that was uttered a few days ago:

“If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime … if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” (Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran, 2000).

“With God’s (Allah) help the time has come for the Zionist regime’s death sentence.” (Yahya Rahim Safavi, former Revolutionary Guard commander, 2008).

“The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed.” (Ayatollah Khamenei, current supreme Ruler of Iran, 2012).

“This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” (Khamenei, 2014).

“Today we are aware of how the Zionist regime is slowly being erased from the world, and indeed, soon, there will be no such thing as the Zionist regime on Planet Earth.” (Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, 2014).

“The Revolutionary Guards will fight to the end of the Zionist regime … We will not rest easy until this epitome of vice is totally deleted from the region’s geopolitics.” (Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard, 2015).

Two of the seventeen quotes included reference to the Koran or to Allah (god’s help), both of which are listed above. In no uncertain terms, it’s the god of the Koran (Allah) pitted against the God of the Bible. There’s simply no other way to get around this issue of which god is God.

United States President Barack Obama and Islam

As alluded to in recent Eye of Prophecy articles, United States President, Barack Obama, refuses to acknowledge the obvious: That radical Islamic regimes such as Iran and militant Muslim terrorists organizations such as Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS are not merely an aberrant deviation or distortion of Islam. On the contrary: They are simply putting into practice what the Koran orders its adherents to do. They are reclaiming and activating the Jihad rights of Islamic conquest, which is to rid the world of any people or religion that would dare oppose Islam. Foremost of these infidels are Jews and Christians. It’s vitally important to recognize that the so-called militant Muslims of today’s world (including entire nations like Iran and Syria) are really mainstream Muslims because they are doing what is commanded in the Koran.

It has become equally clear that President Obama’s affinity for Islam—that trumps any ostensible empathy to the Christian faith—has shaped his world-view of and foreign policy toward Islamic nations. Here are three of many quotes attributed to Barack Obama concerning Islam (with some following commentary):

“Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” (Yes, of course … it must have been some “sacred text” other than the Koran that requires Jewish and Christian infidels to be hunted down and killed)

“Islam has always been part of America.” (Really? Where, by whom, and when did it become part of America? That is, until 9/11)

“The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” (Such a tolerant thing to say! So, if based on the Bible, the Word of the true and living God, I maintain that Mohammed is neither a prophet of God, nor that the Koran is divinely inspired, it would appear that I have no future anywhere on this planet)

The god of the Koran, or the God of the Bible?

Multiple passages of the Bible irrefutably show that God protected and defended the Jews and Israel, until his people abandoned him and turned to pagan gods. Some of these gods were forerunners of gods worshipped by Arabs until their founding prophet, Muhammad, decided the only way to compete with the Jewish and Christian God (monotheism) was to choose one of these gods to rival and replace the God of Israel and the God of Messiah (Yeshua, who is, himself, God). And, so, Muhammad selected the moon-god, Allah.

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Flags of Libya (top) and Iran, showing crescent moon symbol and emblem representing the name Allah (Iran’s flag).

As indicated, Allah commands Muslims to persecute and kill Christians and Jews who refuse to submit to Islam and even fellow-Muslims who violate the strict edicts of the Koran, especially those who leave Islam to follow Jesus. The God of the Bible is clearly called the God of Israel … the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. More than that: He is the God and Father of all who place their faith in his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. (John 1:12).

The point is: the god of the Koran (Allah) is not and cannot be the same God of the Bible. There’s absolutely no way they are both God. There are far too many differences. Several past Eye of Prophecy articles have explained some of these distinctions, but that is not the main purpose of this article. Rather, we want to demonstrate what the God of the Bible has done in the past and will do in the future to entire nations that blatantly defy him. That claim the right to eliminate Israel and the Jews by whatever means possible, including genocide.

Biblical history backed up by secular records show us that some nations and rulers have crossed the Divine red line of proud boasting or arrogant actions against Israel or God or both. As a result, God directly intervened with a supernatural display of power that crushed those who would dare challenge their very Creator. “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance’ … It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall” (Psalms 75:4-7).

Which brings us to the latest tirade by a top Iranian official who said: “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel … the Noble Koran permits … Iran to destroy Israel … Even if Iran gives up its nuclear program, it will not weaken this country’s determination to destroy Israel.” (Mojtaba Zolnour, a Khamenei representative in the Revolutionary Guards, italics for emphasis).

Divine permission? Ultimate divinity belongs only to God, and the God of the Bible declares unequivocally, “…I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future” (Isaiah 44:6-7).

first last redeemer

This is just one of many passages in Scripture where God states emphatically that there are no other gods. If Islam claims Allah as the only God, then where are the fulfilled prophecies and the miracles in the Koran? Where is the love? Where is the salvation that comes only through the redemptive sacrifice of God’s Son? The god of the Koran demands submission, subjugation, through force if necessary. The God of the Bible allows all individuals to make a choice—everlasting life through His Son, or eternal separation from God in hell.

God declares through Isaiah, “Who but a fool would make his own god—an idol that cannot help him one bit?” (Isaiah 44:10).

For Iran to claim divine permission to destroy Israel is a conceited “in your face” threat against not only Israel, but the God of Israel. And I’m convinced that God will deal with it just as he dealt with Pharaoh and Egypt, with Belshazzar and Babylon, and with Sennacherib of Assyria, as well as other rulers and nations who have crossed the divine line of God’s tolerance. Just as he will deal with the Gog/Magog alliance that dares to attack Israel, a campaign that will take place not long after the Rapture, which could happen any day now. Iran is part of this ungodly arrogant coalition which will be led by Russia.

What is important to grasp here is that Iranians are using their god Allah and the anti-Biblical text of the Koran as a divine justification to destroy Israel (the Jews) and eventually the United States. In fact, just a few days ago, Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami (who has previously threatened Israel with annihilation) included the United States as a future victim of Iran’s superiority. He boasted: “We welcome war with the Americans … The Americans should compare their past military victories over feeble armies … with the outcome and consequence of confronting the great (ness) of Islamic Iran.”

The words, “Islamic Iran” make Iran’s diabolical scheme a “battle of the gods.” It’s Islam against Judaism (and Christianity). It’s Allah against Yahweh (I AM), the God of the Bible.

Let’s take a brief look at what can happen to nations and rulers who deliberately confront the true and living God, who would dare to destroy what The Lord calls his, “special possession,” Israel.

Pharaoh and Egypt

Most of us know the story of God’s sovereign deliverance of the Israelites from their cruel bondage in Egypt. But what we sometimes overlook is that, although the Egyptians worshiped many gods, they had one god that was supreme over all … Ra, the sun-god who was the creator of all things. Moreover, Pharaoh, himself, was considered to be a god, virtually equal (regarding affairs of the empire) to any other god in Egypt. Thus, when Pharaoh repeatedly refused to listen to Moses to let God’s people go, he was denying and defying God; by asserting his perceived god-like power, which was really stubborn pride that made his heart as hard as a rock.

Before even one miracle was performed, here is what God said to Moses and Aaron: “But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces—my people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 7:3-5).

We have two significant things going on here: (1) A ruler and nation who would dare oppose the true and living God. (2) God’s decision to personally intervene by bringing his fist down on Egypt, with the ultimate purpose to show that, “I am the Lord.”

Ten horrific plagues later, with the final judgment more devastating than anyone could have imagined (death of all the firstborn males of all Egyptians), then final destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, we see the collapse of the greatest nation on earth at that time. By the time God was through with her, Egypt would never regain the supremacy it once flaunted under the Pharaohs.

10-Plagues[1]

Babylon and King Belshazzar

“The handwriting on the wall,” is an expression that has traveled all the way down through the ages to our post-modern world. When something profound and often ominous has just happened, we still sometimes say, “I saw the writing on the wall.” As some know and some may not know, this expression came directly from a spectacular event in 539 B.C., the night before the mighty Babylonian Empire would be dramatically destroyed by the ancient Persian Empire.

You remember: Babylon’s King Belshazzar threw a huge party for his wives, concubines, and 1,000 of his nobles. Nothing different here, as palace feasts were commonplace in such empires. But this time Belshazzar decided to do something different: He ordered that gold and silver cups transported to Babylon by former King Nebuchadnezzar be brought to the feast so he and his guests could drink from them. So, was that a problem? Answer: Yes, a huge problem.

These cups had belonged to Solomon’s Temple and were used exclusively during Temple worship by the Levitical priests. They were ordained and consecrated (set apart) just for that purpose, as previously instructed by the Lord during construction of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple. Although Nebuchadnezzar had claimed these sacred cups as spoils of war, it’s evident that he had enough respect for the God of Israel not to irreverently use these cups. From the account in Daniel, the obvious inference is that these cups had not been used at all; instead they had just been part of the royal Babylonia artifact treasury.

Equally evident is Belshazzar’s motive for using these cups: An in your face defiance of God by exalting the gods of Babylon above the God of Israel. “While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone” (Daniel 5:4). The account continues:

“Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him” (Daniel 5:5-6).

Seriously, what would be your reaction? No Hollywood production with special effects. No sleight of hand (pun intended) practical joke by a member of the king’s court who may have had a death wish. We’re talking about an actual human hand, unattached to a human body.

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I’m sure many know the rest of the story. None of the king’s astrologers or fortune-tellers, “…could read the writing or tell him what it meant” (verse 8). Only Daniel, prophet of the Most High God, was able to read the inscription and impart the meaning … because God gave Daniel the interpretation.

We know that the handwriting on the wall was a brief, but powerful indictment against Belshazzar and a prophecy that Babylon would be vanquished. And so it happened. That very night Darius the Mede (ruler of the Medes and Persians) conquered the city and subsequently destroyed the Babylonian Empire.

Of paramount significance is the ultimate reason why God directly intervened in the destiny and demise of Babylon. First Daniel gave Belshazzar a little history lesson by reminding him that it was the Most High God who had given Belshazzar’s predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, “sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor” (Daniel 5:18). But when Nebuchadnezzar’s, “…heart and mind were puffed up with arrogance, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory” (Verse 20).

Then Daniel proceeded to tell Belshazzar why God was about to administer the same divine punishment against him. Said Daniel to Belshazzar: “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you … But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!” (Daniel 5:22-23).

Wow! That says it all.

Don’t miss next week’s Part II article, when another amazing example from Scripture will demonstrate what happens to a nation that arrogantly takes on Israel and the God of Israel, no different than what Iran is doing right before our 21st century eyes.

Things to Ponder

So, Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel? Really?

It’s too bad that the Koran doesn’t include the histories of Egypt and Babylon. The Iranians (all Muslims) could use such an object lesson before they act on their devious plan to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

What about the divine permission given through divine promises of the God of Israel to, for, and about his people? Such as the following passage, one of many that speak of Israel’s victories over nations aligned against them in the end times, made possible by Messiah’s return to fight for and with Israel.

“Judah is my bow, and Israel is my arrow. Jerusalem is my sword, and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks” (Zechariah 9:13, the Greeks are representative of all Gentile nations in this verse).

And, “Now many nations have gathered against you. ‘Let her be desecrated,’ they say. ‘Let us see the destruction of Jerusalem.’ But they do not know the Lord’s thoughts or understand his plan. These nations don’t know that he is gathering them together to be beaten and trampled like sheaves of grain on a threshing floor. ‘Rise up and crush the nations, O Jerusalem!’ says the Lord. ‘For I will give you iron horses and bronze hooves, so you can trample many nations to pieces…” (Micah 4:11-13).

And, “The people of Israel will stand up to their foes, and all their enemies will be wiped out.” (Micah 5:9).

One more: “The Lord will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah. 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 12:7-9).

Now then: What is it that Iran will do to Israel? When the moment of truth arrives, we’ll see who has Divine permission and who does not. And which god is God.

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