Age of Grace (Part I)

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The New Covenant … A Much Better Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Way … A New Covenant!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out with the Old, In with the New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly What Is Grace?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modern-Day Rebirth of Israel and Resurgence of Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

Kingdom of God

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Kingdom of God

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

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

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

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

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

The Fate of Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nation against Nation, Kingdom against Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jewish Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Final Kingdom of God on Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gateway to the World

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Gateway to a World of Peace

Have you ever opened a gate and passed through to the other side? Or entered an already open gateway or archway to get to your destination, to see the sights beyond? Of course you have. Gates come in all shapes and sizes; and I would dare say that anyone over the age of five has been through one kind of gate or another. There are ordinary gates that will allow access to someone’s front yard, or parking lots, or airplanes, or animal grazing pastures. There are famous gates that can yield admission to historical monuments, to beautiful estates of the rich and famous, to splendid castles of kings and queens, and to fascinating worlds of enchantment.

Some folks—like thieves, trespassers, and those up-to-no-good—don’t like the idea of locked gates and doors. Even some of our Old West (and modern-West) heroes such as the Cattle Ranchers had an aversion to fences and gates, except the archway that led to their home.

For most of us: gates, gateways, doorways, arches, portals … provide both literal and symbolic entrance to exotic places, interesting people, and special things (to see, hear, do, touch, and experience). We often brim with excitement when we pass through a gateway, because we’ve gone from being an outsider to being on the inside of wherever and whatever the gate brings us.

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Brandenburg Gate, Germany

Disneyland? Paramount Studios? Downton Abbey? Golden Gate Bridge? Brandenburg Gate? India Gate in New Delhi? Graceland Estate (Elvis Presley)? Have you been through one or more of these famous gateways or others? How about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri? Soaring 630 feet in the air, it is the tallest monument in the United States.

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Entrance to Graceland Estate

Born in Lawrence, Kansas, and living many years in the Kansas City, Missouri area, I sometimes traveled across the state to take in the sights, including a trip or two to the top of the Gateway Arch. It is an awesome view from up there! In America’s days of progressive expansion, St. Louis, Missouri was considered: The Gateway to the West. And the nearby Mississippi River separated the east from the west, literally and figuratively. Technically, when someone in my current state of Arizona tells me they’re from “back east,” I take that to mean east of St. Louis.

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Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri

Or the historical Jaffa Gate, one of the gates leading to/from today’s Old City of Jerusalem? Including several other memorial sites during my 2006 trip to Israel, I rode in a car through the Jaffa Gate, then walked back out of Old Jerusalem through the same gate. I’ll never forget the experience … for many reasons but mostly because of the ancient and modern significance of Jerusalem.

Built in 1538 by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Jaffa Gate is one of, if not the most used entrance to Old Jerusalem, with six of the other seven gates dating back to Biblical times. However, in Biblical days (for example during the time when Nehemiah wrote his Old Testament book in the 5th Century B.C.), there were twelve gates in Jerusalem. There are eight gates in today’s modern Jerusalem, but only seven are open. What about the gate that is not opened? Why is it closed? What is the mysterious significance of this gate? Will it ever be opened again?

The other seven gates: The Zion Gate, Dung Gate, New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod’s Gate, Lion’s Gate, and (the focal point of today’s article), The Eastern Gate.

The Enigmatic Eastern Gate

Don’t think of a gate on hinges that is shut and locked. Or a gate that rolls back and forth in place when you press a remote control pad. This incredible gate is not only closed, it’s sealed … actually imbedded into thick stone walls on either side. In my estimation this unused, inactive, seemingly irrelevant gate was the most significant gate ever built; the most prestigious ever to be closed; and, one day soon, will be the greatest gate to ever be reopened.

Yes, I’m referring to the Eastern Gate, also called the Golden Gate, the Mercy Gate, and often referred to in ancient times as The Beautiful Gate. It is the oldest of the current existing gates in Jerusalem’s Old City Walls, having been built around 520 AD by Justinian I or perhaps (no later than) the 7th Century by Byzantine artisans. However, the current Eastern gate was built on ground level (obviously) over the remains of the much older gate, dating to the times of the second Temple (Herod’s Temple) which, of course, was built over the original Solomon’s Temple.

Eastern Gate because it’s located on the eastern side of the Old City of Jerusalem. And what is the significance of the eastern side? Just keep reading and you’ll find out!

Golden Gate because of the sometimes golden glow and hue cast by the rising sun on the eastern wall and gate. Beautiful Gate in very ancient times because it was just that, both literally and figuratively considered the most sacred or holiest of the ancient gates of Jerusalem. Mercy Gate because Jews used to pray for mercy at this gate, in fervent anticipation of the coming of Messiah through the gate, which would lead to the restoration of the Shekinah Glory of God in the rebuilt Temple. For it was from the Eastern Gate that the glory of God left the Temple and through which God’s glory will return.

The Jews are absolutely correct that Messiah will triumphantly enter Old Jerusalem (which is really the historical heart of even modern-day Jerusalem) through the Eastern Gate. But other than Messianic Jews, they haven’t yet grasped or accepted the reality that Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) is the Incarnate Glory of God himself, because he is God … The Son of God and God the Son! “…While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13).

I vividly remember standing on the Mount of Olives gazing across the Kidron Valley at the eastern wall and the Eastern Gate; trying to envision our Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords commanding the gate to open and majestically striding into the Holy City of the Holy Land given by the very promise of God to his chosen people.

Let’s take a look at the remarkable historical and future significance of this unique gate, built near the very center of the eastern wall of Jerusalem … the only gate that led directly to the Temple on Mount Moriah. The double-arched edifice that protrudes from the main wall contains two gates, side by side. The southern arch is the actual Gate of Mercy. The northern arch (to the right when facing the gate complex) was called the Gate of Repentance, the closest entrance to the Temple of Solomon.

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Eastern (Golden) Gate of Jerusalem

As a reminder, God’s glory dwelt in Solomon’s Temple until a short time before the Temple was destroyed. When Scripture speaks about the glory of God, it refers to God’s very essence, his attributes, who he is and what he’s like … as much as we can comprehend. The Shekinah glory represented and contained God’s very presence over the Ark of the Covenant in the inner sanctuary of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. In fact, as soon as the Levitical priests had carried the Ark of the Covenant into the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s newly built Temple and placed it beneath the wings of the Cherubim, they, “…could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple” (I Kings 8:11).

Tragically, after Solomon’s reign ended (actually a few years before he died), Israel slowly then more rapidly began to abandon their Sovereign Lord and worship false, man-made, non-existent gods. To the point where God’s warning through Moses hundreds of years earlier—that God would abandon them and withdraw his protection—finally came to pass in 722 BC when Assyria conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel, then Babylon defeated the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah in 586 BC, including the sack of Jerusalem and complete destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Ezekiel was given a phenomenal real-life vision of God’s glory (God himself) actually leaving the Temple. Based on Ezekiel’s description, this was a literal, physical departure that even included how and where God left the Temple. Let’s read what happened.

God’s Departure From and Return to the Temple & Jerusalem

“Then the glory of the Lord moved out from the door of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the Lord’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them” (Ezekiel 10:18-19). Then a few verses later: “Then the glory of the Lord went up from the city and stopped above the mountain to the east (Mount of Olives)” (Verse 23).

Although Ezekiel’s vision took place after the Jews were conquered and exiled to Babylon, we know that God withdrew his presence from the Temple before it was destroyed, because the Temple was still intact when Ezekiel observed this extraordinary event. Moreover, it’s decidedly significant that God left the Temple through the Eastern gate built into the mighty stone walls that surrounded the Temple. Because just as Messiah Jesus ascended back to heaven from the Mount of Olives (visible from the Eastern gate) after his spectacular resurrection, he will first set foot on the Mount of Olives when he returns to planet Earth (Zechariah 14:4), from where it is certain he will enter Old Jerusalem through the Golden (Eastern) Gate.

When Christ Jesus enters Temple Mount through the Eastern Gate, he will dramatically fulfill Ezekiel’s subsequent prophecy that the Shekinah Glory of God (God himself in the forever Incarnate Son of God) will return to Jerusalem. On April 28th, 573 BC, some twenty years after Ezekiel witnessed God’s withdrawal from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, Ezekiel was given an equally astonishing vision of the third Temple, even before the second Temple (called Herod’s Temple) was rebuilt and then destroyed. For many more details on the 3rd Temple, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles entitled, A Third Jewish Temple, Part I & II, published 4-26-14 and 5-3-14, respectively.

Read with me from Ezekiel: “After this, the man brought me back around to the east gateway. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with his glory. This vision was just like the others I had seen, first by the Kebar River, and then when he came to destroy Jerusalem. I fell face down on the ground. And the glory of the Lord came into the Temple through the east gateway (the Eastern Gate). Then the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner courtyard, and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple” (Ezekiel 43:1-5, italics for emphasis).

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Just Inside the Eastern Gate

Let’s match this incredible last day’s prophecy with the magnificent return of Messiah, as described by Messiah Jesus himself: “For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:27).

Here, Jesus is not referring to the Rapture of the Church, which is a totally different event (see my series on The Rapture … What, Why, When, Who & How, published 7-26-13 through 8-24-13, respectively). Rather, he is describing his majestic return at the end of the Great Tribulation, which will usher in the magnificent Millennium. Later in this same chapter, Christ declares: “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth (including the Jews … Zechariah 12). And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). There will be global grieving and remorse; for most people alive at that time, it will be too late. They will have already chosen their eternal destiny by following the one who would dare to be Antichrist, taking his mark, and joining him in the futile battle against the true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

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

All these things are the Tribulation’s last day’s beginning of the end of this age … with the beginning of the beginning of the end taking place at the Rapture of the Church—followed by seven years of global cataclysmic and catastrophic calamity never before experienced (nor ever again) by mankind. And the last of the last days begins when Jesus steps foot on the Mount of Olives, then enters Old Jerusalem and Temple Mount through the Eastern Gate. Jesus is the Son of God, but also Son of Man (God incarnate); thereby, is the express image of God and his glory. (See Colossians 1:15-20). It is he who fulfills God’s prophecy through Ezekiel: the return of God’s glory (his very presence) to the earth, specifically in Jerusalem.

But Ezekiel also gave us another astounding prophecy, one that we’ve already touched on. After Ezekiel had the awesome privilege of receiving all the meticulous plans of the distant future rebuilt Millennium Temple; then watched the (future) glorious entrance of God (Messiah) through the Eastern Gate, this is what he was told: “Then the man brought me back to the east gateway in the outer wall of the Temple area, but it was closed. And the Lord said to me: ‘this gate must remain closed; it will never again be opened. No one will ever open it and pass through, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered here. Therefore, it must always remain shut’” (Ezekiel 44:1-2).

AND SHUT IT IS!

The Kingdom of God through the Eastern Gate … Not Once, but Twice!

In Israel, as I stood and stared from the Mount of Olives, I saw the Eastern Gate. Look again at the photos of the Eastern Gate. What do you see? You see two side-by-side gates that are as sealed as any gateway could be.

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Eastern Gate of Jerusalem

Of course the Eastern Gate was opened in the time of Christ Jesus, because it was through the Eastern Gate that the first part of Ezekiel’s prophecy would be fulfilled … the triumphant Palm Sunday entrance of Jesus through the Eastern Gate into Jerusalem. Do you remember what happened? Read with me: “Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, ‘Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!’” (Mark 11:8-10). Ever so sadly, many in this same crowd who hailed Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, would shout again within the week … this time to crucify him!

Yes, the Glory of God had returned to the Temple through the Eastern gate; only to be snuffed out by cruel, hard-hearted religious leaders, a mob who saw him only as a deliverer from Roman oppression, and Roman soldiers who took pleasure in their crucifixion death squads. He arrived not as the mighty Messiah Lion from the Tribe of Judah (that will come later); rather as the Suffering Servant Messiah (Isaiah 53) who first came to deliver them/us from sin.

But we know what happened next, the rest of the story! In three days, Messiah Jesus arose from the dead, which ushered in the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men and woman and children the world over—to all who believe and receive him as personal Savior. To one day (soon) bring the Kingdom of Heaven physically to this earth, with the Messiah King of all kings ruling from Jerusalem.

For hundreds of years, I’m certain some Christians and Jews wondered about Ezekiel’s closed Eastern Gate prophecy. ALL of God’s prophecies as found in Scripture have or will come to pass. Some immediately … others a few days, weeks, months, or years afterward. And still others, hundreds of years later.

After the year 1541, they need wonder no more. The same Ottoman Sultan who built the Jaffa Gate and rebuilt some of Jerusalem’s walls and other gates, Suleiman the Magnificent, also sealed off the Golden Gate. And so it remains to this very day.

Why did this Ottoman Turk Monarch, endorsed by Arabs and Muslims the world over then and now, seal the Eastern Gate and then build a cemetery for Muslim graves in front of the gate? Answer: To prevent Elijah, the anticipated forerunner to the Messiah, from passing through the Eastern Gate, thus precluding the Messiah from coming and entering this same gate. Of course, Suleiman didn’t know or understand the Bible much at all. He had not a clue that John the Baptist was the foretold prophet who would literally fulfill the role attributed to Elijah—paving the way for one much greater … Messiah (Jesus). Even the Jews of the time and today, expected Elijah himself to return. And so, he will, but as one of the two witnesses during the Great Tribulation as found in Revelation Chapter 11. (See Eye of Prophecy articles for some amazing details about the two witnesses, the other being Moses, entitled The Two Witnesses, Part I, II, & III, published 6-7-14, 6-14-14 & 6-21-14, respectively).

Do you think Jesus Christ will be deterred from entering the Eastern Gate by a few graves or by the sealed gate itself? Hardly. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life as he boldly, but lovingly confirmed to Martha while she grieved over the death of her brother, Lazarus—just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to prove to the whole world that Jesus had power over life and death. (See John Chapter 11). Later affirmed even more amazingly, by his own resurrection from the dead.

Since the Eastern Gate was sealed tight in the 16th century, the nearest it came to possibly being reopened by force was during the British campaign against the Ottoman Turk Empire (ally of Germany) during World War I. After a series of campaigns, British General Edmund Allenby (under whom T.E. Lawrence—Lawrence of Arabia—served by unifying Arab tribes to victory over the Turks in other battles) reached the walls of Jerusalem. He had been given orders to capture Jerusalem; thus, he was ready to do whatever necessary to take the city from the Turks, even if it meant heavy bombardment.

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General Edmund Allenby

By the providence of God (Allenby was a Christian who knew both Biblical and secular history of Israel and the Middle East), the British didn’t need to fire a single shot to finally capture Jerusalem. Instead, the Ottoman commander surrendered the city, with one reason given that he didn’t want to see religious holy sites destroyed by a British attack on and Ottoman defense of the Holy City. In the process, the Eastern Gate was protected from damage through potential breach of the walls and gate to access the eastern side of the city.

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General Allenby Entering Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate

But such is the sovereignty of our great God. What he says will happen, happens. What he declares will not happen (opening of the Eastern Gate until Messiah does so himself) will not happen. What he says he will do, he does. There is no one like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. None but he can declare the end from the beginning.

Things to Ponder

Jesus will again enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate as a great Warrior King; but also as the Prince of Peace, the only one who can bring true and lasting peace to a hopeless, helpless world of evil and strife.

He not only enters through the Golden Gate; Christ Jesus IS the gate.

“But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:2-3).

Then the Apostle John records: “Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved … I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep’” (John 10:6-11).

How good it would be for each one of us who know Christ, who are the sheep of his pasture, to be a gatekeeper to those around us. When the opportunity presents itself, to open the gate and show them the way to Christ. Or to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem and give our support to Israel and the Jews who have returned to the land given to them by the true and living God.

The next time you open a gate or walk through an archway or pass through a portal, remember that Jesus is The Gate. He is the only Gateway to peace on this earth and everlasting life with him and the host of heaven.

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!

To the Lion from the Tribe of Judah!

To the Great Shepherd who is the Gate of Salvation!

Gog, Magog and Leviathan

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Gog, Magog, and Leviathan

Given the exceptionally small size of Israel—roughly equivalent to the land mass of America’s State of New Jersey—the heretofore scarcity of natural resources that supply power and fuel for Israelis (and Palestinians) and the dependence upon foreign countries for these resources, who would ever imagine an Antitrust action against an Israeli company in a nation of some 8 million citizens (roughly six million Jewish Israelis, two million Arab Israelis).

What gave rise to this Anti Cartel type of challenge is yet another amazing piece of the Biblical prophetic puzzle that has recently fallen into place—the impending Gog/Magog invasion of Israel as vividly portrayed by the prophet Ezekiel. Of which many books, articles, and commentaries have been written by Bible scholars including me in a few Eye of Prophecy articles. Ezekiel identified the end-times nations of Russia and allied countries such as Iran and Turkey. Let’s examine part of this remarkable prophecy again:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. You will say, ‘Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence! I will go to those formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations. I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now. They think the whole world revolves around them!” (Ezekiel 38:10-12).

Let’s first look at what this antitrust action in Israel is all about, which also includes a large United States company; then place it in the context of the Gog-Magog assault against Israel, which is shaping up to be all the more imminent … things are falling into place on almost a daily basis.

From an article in Israel Hayom dated December 23, 2014, we read: “Antitrust Commissioner Professor David Gilo on Tuesday informed Israel’s Delek Group and Texas based Noble Energy of his decision to revoke the licensing agreement pertaining to their holdings in the Leviathan offshore gas field. The companies, which also control the Tamar, Tanin and Karish gas fields, have effectively formed a cartel (allegedly), which the Antitrust Authority said it seeks to dissolve.”

Noble Energy, headquartered in Houston, also discovered Israel’s first offshore crude oil reserve, called Mari-B.

The article goes on to say that David Gilo met with attorneys for the two companies to inform them that both the Delek Group and Noble Energy would have to sell the majority of their holdings in Leviathan.

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Leviathan Natural Gas Reserve

Note: It’s curious that an industrial enterprise in Israel and a foreign (to Israel) companion company in Texas, would be taken to task over offshore (natural) gas drilling when they are merely trying to compete with world monopolies, like the Arab Cartel—to find and give Israel, surrounding countries such as Jordan and Egypt, and even the United States another source of fuel. But I suppose that is the positive nature (as long as it’s within reason) of a democracy, i.e. to publicly oversee and regulate industries that might otherwise become a monopoly. And Israel is the only democratic (a parliamentary representative union of at least ten political parties) nation in the Middle East.

Not so with the Arab Cartel that is the single largest monopoly in the world. They come and go as they please; they supply much of the world’s crude oil/gas and charge what they will. It is through recent increases in America’s production of gas and oil like the shale oil reserves in North Dakota; and what could be Israel’s contribution to the global fuel supply that self-regulates energy prices, through free market enterprise and competition. (I’m convinced that the Israeli company and its Texas affiliate will be able to overcome this temporary setback).

What is (a) Leviathan?

In ancient literature and oral tradition, and as occasionally referenced in Scripture, Leviathan was a large mythical sea creature or even a real-life behemoth that was virtually indestructible by man or nature or anything except God himself. Not unlike the modern-day Loch Ness Monster legend.

The prophet Isaiah refers to this monstrosity by its name, and what will happen to it in the last days, telling us that, “In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan … He will kill the dragon of the sea” (Isaiah 27:1). Whether this creature actually existed is not the issue; rather the emphasis is on its symbolical representation (depicted in ancient Aramaic literature as a seven-headed monster) of all that opposes God.

From Ezekiel and other prophets we learn that this opposition will be a Satanic led coalition of nations as presented in the Gog/Magog invasion and subsequently in the ten-nation confederation that gives itself wholly to the Antichrist. The emphasis in the symbolism of Leviathan is that of: ENORMOUS. I’m certain the name of this natural gas field was chosen with the idea of sheer size; however, in light of the Bible’s negative allusion and connotation to this ancient creature that will represent modern-day alliances against Israel, I question the owner’s choice of Leviathan! On the other hand, it is an extraordinary correlation to Biblical prophecy.

Although there will be any number of nations aligned with Russia (the passage also states “many others”), there are seven specific names of nations or regions specified in the Gog/Magog prophecy of Ezekiel: Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah. There is an eighth, but that is essentially the head of this coalition, which is Gog or the Prince of Rosh (Russia). Or if a scholar insists on eight nations identified, the imagery still fits with Leviathan which has seven heads but is also an eighth, which is the composite beast itself.

Though a totally different beast for a different event, the imagery is remarkably identical to the seven-headed beast of Revelation 17, which represents seven kings and also an eighth king which comes out of and is one of the seven heads (kings). The eighth king is none other than the beast of Revelation, the Antichrist. Thus, the (seven-headed) Leviathan mentioned by Isaiah and other passages of Scripture embodies the two massive coalitions against Israel that will take place after the Rapture … Gog/Magog fairly soon afterward and the Antichrist beast near the end of the Great Tribulation.

The mammoth natural gas field dubbed Leviathan is one of four main offshore finds by the Delek Group and Noble Energy after several years spent and some six billion dollars invested. Leviathan was discovered in 2010 some 80 miles west of Haifa, Israel and contains an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The other discoveries named Tamar (about 50 miles west of Haifa), and Tanin and Kadesh—often referred together due to their close proximity to each other, some 74 miles from Haifa— hold an estimated 8.4 trillion cubic feet and 1.3 trillion cubic feet, respectively. Thus, the Leviathan reservoir holds nearly three times the natural gas of the other three offshore sites combined. The Delek Group and subsidiaries control fifty-three per cent of the offshore ventures, with Noble Energy comprising the remaining forty-seven per cent.

World-Review-Increasing-Isolation-of-Israel-in-Region-May-Hamper-Any-Gas-Export-Potential-530x353

This article is not about debating the pros and cons of whether these two companies have created a monopoly; although no other companies have invested anywhere near the six billion exploration dollars to find these huge natural gas fields. Moreover, they are separate entities with each company independently owned, one from the other. They are not subsidiaries, one of the other. From my limited understanding of monopolies; that, in itself, creates a healthy check and balance system.

The discovery of these gas fields off the coast of Israel is nothing short of amazing. For several reasons, two of which are: (1) Proceeds from the sale and distribution of these natural gas fields could increase Israel’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) substantially. In the eyes of global economic powers including the Arab Cartel, it could level the playing field to the extent that Israel would become self-sufficient in natural gas consumption while cutting into the proceeds of surrounding Arab countries. It could change the financial dynamics of the entire Middle East, by making Israel a major player in the competitive field of energy production.

(2) It provides and confirms the Biblically predicted incentive for Russia and select Russian allies to launch a colossal campaign against Israel as found in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Before discovering and developing these natural gas holdings, Israel offered a variety of exports to maintain a favorable trade surplus, but nothing like what these natural gas fields could accomplish. And, thereby, attract the attention of other nations, both friend and foe.

Currently, Israel’s main export products include: Cut diamonds (already mined elsewhere), pearls, and other precious metals (31% of Israel’s exports); electrical machinery/equipment, appliances, sound & TV recorders, computer equipment (18%); pharmaceutical & fertilizer products (13%). Much of Israel’s non-tangible goods income is derived from tourism, but that is not an export, as such.

Yet none of these products and certainly not tourism would generate nearly enough appeal for Russia to risk an invasion of Israel. But, now, with these gas fields, Russia has an ultra-strong motive to take over Israel … more natural gas!

Despite the fact that six of the twelve largest natural gas holdings in the entire world are found in Russia which boasts 17% of the world’s natural gas reserves (under, incidentally a conglomerate called GasProm which is a real-life monopoly … producing 83% of Russia’s natural gas), Russia lost some of her oil/gas reserves to the now sovereign nation of Turkmenistan and other former Soviet Union satellite countries. Plus, western coalition sanctions against Russia for her illegal activities in Ukraine have begun to exact a heavy toll on the Russian economy. But even before those sanctions, Russia was not faring well with its relatively new capitalism slash socialism regime. The Russian Bear needs and wants all the energy reserves it can get … whatever it has is not enough to satisfy its ravenous appetite for domestic and export fuel.

Leviathan was the world’s largest offshore discovery (2010) since around the year 2000. Combined with the other three fields in the same general vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea, what nation wouldn’t covet such a splendid fountain of wealth? Putting this into perspective, however, Russia produced approximately 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2011 alone. Theoretically, the Israeli gas fields would (if Russia were in control of them) provide only 1-3 years supply, but that’s only if Russia had the capacity to extract the gas to the same extent it has in its own country. Which it undoubtedly wouldn’t; because men and equipment are limited on an offshore rig. Thus, Leviathan would be a supplementary source of natural gas for years to come, even for Russia.

Which leads to a secondary but equally significant motive for Russia to overrun Israel with Muslim countries in tow: First, take Israel. Second, take over your Arab or Persian allies and their oil and gas fields! It’s a classic historical paradigm in which a strong country sometimes will turn on its confederates, after the ally helped the host country defeat its enemies and/or after a treaty was signed. In fact, that’s exactly what will happen between Russia and her allies (read all of Ezekiel 38 & 39); only they will turn on each other BEFORE they accomplish their diabolical objective. They won’t know until it’s too late, but the Gog/Magog campaign will be: Mission Impossible! But not until they utterly terrify Israel with one of the most massive invasions ever attempted. A Leviathan attack!

The Real Enticement for Russia’s Invasion of Israel

Let’s read again what exactly it is that appeals to Russia enough to actually strike Israel. Listen to the boast of Prince Gog from the land of Magog to his cronies and against the true and living God: “I will go to those formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations. I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now….” (Ezekiel 38:12, italics for emphasis).

First: As most know, the Jews have returned to Israel from exile in great numbers. This has been emphasized in several Eye of Prophecy articles as well as a myriad of other articles by both Biblical and secular scholars and journalists. Indeed, it is a matter of common knowledge to anyone who knows just a little about what’s happening in Israel and the Middle East.

Second, what does Scripture say that Gog/Magog will covet in Israel? Livestock … perhaps literally but more so figuratively representing the prosperity of a nation. But even more so, Russia, Iran, and other nations in this evil, greedy confederation will crave a vast amount of gas and oil and other tangible goods that are by-products of hydrocarbon fuel … vast amounts of plunder, other possessions, including silver and gold purchased with the currency of such wealth.

Until recently, Russia wouldn’t have thought twice about Israel’s possessions. In the past, Russian officials rarely said anything about Israel and certainly didn’t go out of their way to court Israel as an economic or political neighbor. However, they could always be counted on to vote in favor of whatever sanction of the day against Israel had been proposed by countries of the United Nations hostile toward Israel … of which there are many (most). By and large, however, Russia’s animosity toward Israel remained relatively silent and unobtrusive. Until now.

In just the past few weeks, Russian President Vladmir Putin has begun to openly criticize Israel, siding with the Palestinians on such issues as the building of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The existence of so-called Jewish settlements (which is simply building of houses and apartments on land previously purchased and zoned for residential construction) is a long-standing issue which would require several articles to address. The focal point of this article is that of Russia’s President jumping on the international bandwagon of vilifying Israel under the pretense of championing the so-called unjust treatment of the Palestinians. For example, Putin said: “The humiliation and the oppression that the Palestinian are going through are a source of danger and destabilization, and every step must be taken to eliminate the humiliation and oppression.”

In fact, the real humiliation is repeated defeat of Hamas and Hezbollah when they constantly force Israel to respond to hundreds of missile attacks, kidnappings of Israeli soldiers and civilians, and savage murders of Israelis—all of which are a matter of record. What oppression is Putin referring to? The Israelis evicted their own people from Gaza in 2005 and relocated them throughout Israel; furthermore, Israel has allowed both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza Strip, respectively, to operate independently of Israeli administration. The only Israeli intervention or intrusion comes when its people are attacked, or sometimes in the form of a preemptive strike when Israel has well documented evidence of a looming assault on Jewish civilians and soldiers.

Yet the height of irony, if not hypocrisy, is that Russian political and economic officials have been subtlety and secretly (as much as some things can be secretly suppressed) reaching out to Israel with proposals of mutual benefit to both countries, particularly economic benefits. Why is that? The consensus answer from political and economic experts seems to focus on only one factor: Russia’s keen growing interest in the vast gas and oil reserves recently discovered by Israel, especially the offshore findings!

Behind the scenes overtures from Russia have apparently been significant enough for Israel to at least listen to these proposals (whatever they are), to the extent that Israel even refrained from condemning Russia (to the consternation of the United States and other Western allies) for its intervention in the Crimean crisis … which was and still is part of the Ukraine problem. In my opinion, whether Russia had approached Israel or not, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff would have remained neutral on the Crimean conflict. However, the very idea that Russia has in a clandestine manner (while openly criticizing Israel with regard to the Palestinians) made certain gestures to gain Israel’s favor is, at the very least, intriguing. Yet Israel’s leaders are shrewd, in the sense of astute, discerning … but also crafty when necessary. I’m sure they have a purpose for listening to whatever propositions might help them continue with a strong and vibrant economy.

A Phenomenal Link to Ezekiel’s Prophecies

Which brings us back to Ezekiel’s extraordinary prophecy of what exactly it is that will entice Russia and her Gog/Magog allies such as Iran (which only became bedfellows with Russia some two decades ago) to, as Putin said, “every step must be taken to eliminate the humiliation (of the Palestinians)…” followed by his equally brazen statement that Israeli settlements are, “a cause increasing tension in the Middle East.” Putin’s words of every step must be taken is the kind of language that prominent national leaders use and understand to include military options.

Folks, this is another modern-day development that is unprecedented even for the 20th & 21st centuries, which have seen dozens of surprising developments, not the least of which is the return of Jews to their land, the land of Israel. Which is the first condition identified by Ezekiel; that not unless the Jews are back in the land will the last days or end-times Gog-Magog campaign begin.

Most likely this alliance and invasion could be, probably will be, under the guise of protecting the Palestinian cause. With the ultimate purpose fully disclosed as they march to Israel, i.e. usurping control over Israel’s recently discovered natural fuel and mineral reserves, but also assuming authority over Arab oil fields by establishing a strategic military and economic foothold in the Middle East.

I believe the evidence is compellingly clear: The plunder and acquisition of Israel’s “other possessions” as described by Ezekiel is none other than the coveted fields of fuel previously unknown to Israel or the world, discovered seemingly out of nowhere (in the Mediterranean Sea tens of miles from the coast of Israel) in a relatively short period of time (as oil and gas explorations go). Why else would Russia suddenly adopt a two-faced strategy with Israel? (1) Verbal sanctions against Israel relative to the Palestinian issue, by siding with world opinion. (2) A Machiavelli style solicitation of Israel’s favor in order to…. To what? I believe the answer is all too evident: To someday (soon) take what they really want from Israel—its natural gas deposits and its strategic geographical location in the Middle East.

To further support the premise that Russia will launch a multi-national military campaign against Israel under the initial pretense of liberating the Palestinians, let’s read again Ezekiel’s words, this time concentrating on another phrase: “…I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now. They think the whole world revolves around them!” (Ezekiel 38:12, italics for heavy emphasis).

Did you catch the meaning and impact of the italicized words? Essentially what Gog—the leader of the land of Magog (Russia) and their allies such as modern-day Iran, Turkey, and Libya—will use as a reason (excuse) is the blatant but believable (to all peoples who hate Israel and the Jews) lie that the Jews are an arrogant people and Israel is a conceited, egotistical nation that seeks to “humiliate and oppress” the poor Palestinian people. That the Jews are so superior and overconfident that, “they think the whole world revolves around them!”

These type of accusations and this kind of irrational, unwarranted, inexplicable animosity toward the Jews is the underlying reason for and expression of Anti-Semitism especially in today’s world … stemming primarily from envy of what the Jews have accomplished down through the ages.

All one need do is to read and listen to the continuous stream of condescending, haughty, self-centered, conceited, smug, vain, and threatening verbiage from Arab and Muslim nations, and even European leaders whose entire goal in life seems to be that of lashing, bashing, and thrashing Israel. None of these nations would do anything whatsoever to prevent (in fact some will join) the Magog alliance (and later the Antichrist and his coalition) from not just bashing Israel, but smashing her to pieces with the tail of Leviathan.

So, once again, we see the breath-taking succession of events that have propelled us into the last of the last days as depicted by Scripture.

If you like, please refer to many more details of the Gog-Magog invasion in prior Eye of Prophecy articles entitled, The Omega Generation (published 2-15-14); Beware of the Bear (3-22-14); Alliances Against Israel (9-20-14); and Russia Iran Versus Israel (10-4-14).

I like how Myles Weiss, the host of the Zola Levitt television program and contributing editor of the Levitt Letter, puts it: Instead of the usual (but still applicable) phrase, Signs of the Times, Myles refers to the astonishing convergence of current events connecting to Biblical prophecy as: Times of the Signs!

Things to Ponder

At the time that I clicked publish, and sent this blog article through cyberspace, the Rapture had not yet occurred. But that could change any day, any minute.

When Jesus answered his disciple’s question, “…What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3); he gave a captivating list of indicators. During the course of this lengthy message, he said, “But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:8). Much of the more to come is already here, as elaborated by other passages of Scripture, and as confirmed by current events.

The birth pangs are much closer together; the pain much sharper.

The birth of the Day of the Lord (which begins with the Rapture) is at hand.

Heed the words of Christ: “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28).

Are you ready?

Jerusalem … City of Peace?

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All Eyes Are on Jerusalem

Who has not heard of Jerusalem? Who, but the most callous and violent among us does not long for peace? How perpetually ironic that the very name of this great city means peace? How very sad that peace has been as elusive as this city is old. Since Israel’s King David made Jerusalem the Capital of Israel during its glory years, it has been torn by civil strife among the twelve tribes of Israel, conquered and divided by the Babylonians, Ptolemaic Egyptians, Seleucid Greek Syrians, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, and British.

In today’s Israel, Jerusalem remains divided between east and west (Jerusalem). Temple Mount, the most holy Jewish site in the most holy city of the Promised Holy Land, remains under administrative control of a foreign nation, Jordan. The recent lone wolf attacks against innocent Jewish civilians by Palestinian Arabs living in East Jerusalem were ostensibly carried out to “prevent Jewish contamination” of the Temple Mount, incited by malicious rhetoric from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to the prophetic words of Scripture, the problematic position of Jerusalem among the great cities of the world would only become more precarious during the last days that lead to the end of this present age. Listen to the fateful words of the Prophet: “This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the Lord: ‘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).

Seemingly, all it takes is for the Jews to once again return to their ancient homeland and dare to be a sovereign nation. For Jerusalem to be considered, let alone restored, as Israel’s eternal Capital makes many heads of governments and their constituents frustrated, even furious. Nations hostile to Israel and even elements (such as the Presbyterian Church) within neutral or friendly countries constantly harangue Israel with belligerent boycotts, sanctimonious sanctions, callous criticism for alleged disproportionate defense of its people against acts of terror, and threats of extermination that sound ominously familiar to Hitler’s Third Reich?

This, too, was predicted long 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).

Hardly a day goes by without Israel and Jerusalem riveting the focus of global media attention. A constant stream of oratory, some for, but mostly against Israel flows from heads of state in the United States, Russia, Iran, Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, China, all Muslim countries, and other less involved nations; and from International Organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. Not only from executive and legislative divisions of national governments, but also judicial bodies such as the World Court and, just this past November, from the United States Supreme Court!

The entire population of Israel is less than many of the world’s major cities; yet, this tiny country and its capital, Jerusalem, has been thrust under the magnifying glass of world scrutiny like no other place on earth. The inordinate and disproportionate attention afforded to Israel and Jerusalem, relative to the size, population, and otherwise insignificant position of this country and city among the nations and cities of the world is indeed incredible.

How Can Just One Jewish Boy Create Such Controversy!

It is a remarkable story that led to the Supreme Court’s review of a case that ordinarily wouldn’t merit even a State or Federal District court’s attention. Let alone a dispute over citizenship, a passport, and diplomatic recognition over someone’s place of birth; when, in fact, there are hundreds of citizenship passport problems handled globally in any given year without any court action at all.

An article published on November 4, 2014 in USA Today begins with: “The Supreme Court was as divided over a 12-year old Jerusalem native’s passport Monday as Israelis and Palestinians are on the broader issues dividing the Middle East. Roughly half of the justices defended Congress’ declaration in 2002 that Americans born in Jerusalem should be able to have ‘Israel’ listed as the place of birth on their passports. The other half vehemently defended the State Department’s right to ignore that law and set foreign policy, including which countries to recognize. To label Jerusalem part of Israel when the matter is in dispute, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, would be ‘asking the government to lie.’”

With such pressing domestic issues as abortion, the gay agenda, state’s rights, immigration, and other milestone judicial reviews and decisions, why on earth would the Supreme Court take time from their busy docket to review a quarrel over an Israeli passport? The passport in question belongs to a 12-year old Jewish boy named, Menachem Binjamin Zivotofsky born in Jerusalem. His parents, Ari and Naomi, want their son’s passport to show Israel, not Jerusalem, as his place of birth. To me, that seems like a most reasonable request. Passports show the nation of one’s birth or citizenship; for US passports also the state of one’s birth, but not city. Passports are needed to cross national borders, not city boundaries.

It’s clearly understood that this Jewish family has nothing against Jerusalem. I’m sure they love what they consider to be the Holy City of the Holy Land, and its Capital from ancient times. The problem is that with a Jerusalem passport instead of an Israel passport, young Menachem is not technically considered an Israeli Jew or a citizen of Israel. Rather, he is a citizen of Jerusalem. What precisely is it that causes division in all three branches of the United States Government over a birth certificate and passport?

To answer that, I’ll repeat the essence of the conflict as summarized in USA Today’s article: “To label Jerusalem part of Israel when the matter is in dispute….”

Say what? 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 … A Capital City without a Country?

In my trip to Israel in 2006, I drove and walked the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, including a visit to the United States Embassy … even spoke briefly with one of the American embassy guards. Do you know which city I was in when I set foot on Embassy grounds? Hint … A country’s embassy is located in the host nation’s Capital. Is this a trick question? Regrettably, it is. Yes, the United States Embassy is in Tel Aviv. I say, regrettably, because 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.

Yet, virtually every nation on earth, including the United States, does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Rather, they have chosen Tel Aviv as the governmental command center. 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?

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?

Thus the State Department’s official policy as stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual is: “For a person born in Jerusalem, write JERUSALEM as the place of birth in the passport.”

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.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan belittled the 2002 Congressional declaration by calling it, “a very selective vanity-plate law,” suggesting that Congress would not have passed such a law if, for example, Palestinians born in Jerusalem wanted their passports to say, Palestine.

Why would a Supreme Court Justice, who paradoxically is Jewish, say such a thing? Because many, including some Jews (an US Supreme Court Justice at that) truly don’t understand the real issues in or the authentic history of Israel and the Middle East. Their politically correct world view and corresponding decisions apparently hinge on one urgency: Whatever it takes, don’t increase the tensions in the Middle East that already exists.

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.

Palestinian … What’s in a Name?

Technically, legally, and historically there is no such thing as a Palestinian … not really. Because there is no such thing as Palestine … nor the State of Palestine. The very name of the nation of Israel was changed to Palestine by an ancient Roman emperor who hated the Jews, and so named the land to mock the Jews with a name that sounded like and reminded them of an ancient enemy, the Philistines. From that time until 1948, Palestine has been nothing more than a region or territory all the time inhabited by at least a remnant of Jews, who subsequently outnumbered the Arabs in population. In fact, before 1964, if anyone used the label Palestinian, they were referring to the Jews (of Palestine)! Nor has there ever been a Palestinian language. Only Hebrew and Arabic.

Not until the 1960s did Arabs living in (occupying … as the Arabs are the real occupiers by virtue of Israel being a state) the West Bank or Gaza Strip begin calling themselves Palestinians. We can thank Yasser Arafat for that. Why? Although hundreds of thousands of Arabs applied for and were granted Israeli citizenship, even more Arabs refused under any circumstances to be a citizen of Israel in the ensuing years after Israel preserved her statehood freedom in the War of 1948. In order to differentiate themselves from their Arab brothers who became citizens, they decided to identify themselves as Palestinians. This was also a form of protest over the solemn fact that much of the regional territory called Palestine formerly divided and controlled by Jordan, Egypt, and Syria was now the sovereign state of Israel.

In fact Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who along with Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives on the bench appeared to side with Congress by scolding the State Department accusing them of trying to, “make nice with the Palestinians.”

But for the foreseeable future, Jerusalem remains a city unto itself, or a city-state in the eyes of the entire world. Much like Vatican City in Rome. Which begs another question: Other than the desire to appease Palestinians (those Arabs who live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and parts of East Jerusalem and who are not Israeli citizens), is there another reason not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s (eternal) Capital? The answer is found in my analogy to the Vatican.

The fundamental reason why the United States and nations of the world refuse to consider Jerusalem as part of Israel proper (its geographical borders) let alone its Capital, is because of the ancient and modern phenomenon of all three of the World’s major religions essentially laying claim to the City of David. That reason (excuse) is absolutely the height of irony and even hypocrisy. Why would I say such a thing? Because other than Muslim dictatorship countries, virtually every nation in the world operates on the fundamental premise of church and state separation. Many to ridiculous extremes … like what is happening in America today. A complete distortion of that concept, which isn’t even found in our constitution. But that’s another subject for another day.

The point is, as represented by the rift in our own country over the status of Jerusalem: Our very government which goes to sometimes absurd extremes to (normally by bowing to the definition of church-state separation that comes from our far left) maintain separation of church and state, has recognized Jerusalem as a city unto itself for RELIGIOUS reasons. This despite Israel’s seat of government in the Knesset and its Military in the Israeli Defense Force headquarters (much like our Pentagon in Washington D.C.), both located in JERUSALEM.

What the Supreme Court Justices and others who support the State Department’s view of Jerusalem don’t comprehend is that the Palestinian Arabs in Israel (for sake of argument and because that is how the world now perceives them, we can concede the appellation of Palestinian) do want peace, but not the kind of peace the world wants. They want a piece of Israel here, a piece there, until they have all of Israel; until are the Jews are gone—preferably in a permanent eternal sense (dead).

The Real Issues

Thus, the real dispute and tensions caused by that clash isn’t over who has how much land, or whether there should be a Palestinian State. In fact, the majority of Arabs who are Israeli citizens and even a good number of Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza prefer all the benefits of Israeli administration. It’s just that they don’t want the Jews! Go figure! Actually, it’s not that hard to figure out. Because it’s historically ingrained, genetically computed into the Arab psyche that one Jew on this earth is one too many. How sadly tragic. But that, too, is part of the Biblical record of animosity between Abraham’s Promised Son, Isaac, and his step-brother Ishmael, who God said would not be the promised heir to Abraham and, accordingly, whose descendants were not to inherit the land of Israel.

Getting back to Justice Elena Kagan, the US Today article went on to quote her: ‘Right now, Jerusalem is a tinderbox,’ Kagan said, referring to daily strife between Palestinians and Israelis over the Temple Mount. ‘History suggests that everything is a big deal with respect to the status of Jerusalem.’

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. Regional wars and strife in areas like Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Sudan, and other hot spots garner world headlines periodically, but not like Israel. ISIS is the new terror bully on the block and is a formidable threat to Christians, so-called moderate Muslims, but especially to Jews. Because the sworn objective (as quoted in a previous Eye of Prophecy article) of this self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate is the utter destruction of Israel as they march through Iraq and Syria on their way to Jerusalem.

Where is all this leading? Fairly easy answer: To Armageddon. And Armageddon is only a short-time missile launch away from the Rapture of the Church, which can happen at any moment. The daily intensified efforts of the world’s nations to do something about Israel is an exact fulfillment of prophecy like never before. Jerusalem is, indeed, a heavy (stone) burden that even powerful nations like America have no real clue what to do about. If our leaders knew their Scripture, they would understand that God is the Creator of all things, of the entire earth. That he has the divine right to declare boundaries for the nations, to give a tiny portion of the earth to Israel as their everlasting possession—which is exactly what he had said and done.

World leaders need to fully grasp the fact that Arabs in nations surrounding Israel, nations that have thousands of times the land space of Israel—that these Arab countries have refused to accept Palestinians into their country, have refused to grant them citizenship, and, for the most part, have declined to help their fellow Arabs economically. That after the start of the 1948 War of Independence in which five Arab countries attacked Israel the day after it was reborn as a sovereign state, tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel fled the country or moved into ghettos at the request, then demand of Arab leaders—not the Israelis. Israel begged Arabs to stay in Israel and work together as co-citizens of Israel.

Globally, most people including many Americans are under the totally mistaken impression that Israel is occupying (in the bad sense of the word) Palestinian territory instead of the other way around. They are erroneously told and believe the only solution is a Palestinian State in which Israel must return to pre-1967 Six Day War boundaries, which were established through an international truce (not a treaty as the Arabs didn’t want an agreement that would make anything permanent) in order for Israel to defend herself. Without those natural boundaries, Israel would be indefensible against a Palestinian and Muslim enemy who has sworn to drive them into the sea and eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.

Summary

There are formidable obstacles to a so-called two state solution proposed by the United States and other prominent nations at one time or another. Issues such as return of the so-called Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian State; Israel’s return to and relinquishing of vital strategic pre 1967 Six-Day War territorial lines that will make Israel vulnerable, even indefensible, such as the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley; release of more Palestinian prisoners; access to Temple Mount; and others.

But removal of one or more of these barriers will not solve the dilemma of a divided Jerusalem—which is the ULTIMATE PROBLEM.

Whose capital will it be? Will it remain as the non-capital Capital of Israel? Can one city be the capital of two nations? Can there be two Jerusalem’s? The Palestinians want all of what is currently considered East Jerusalem that includes Temple Mount. Understandably, the Jews cannot and will not allow their beloved Jerusalem to be forever divided; a Capital in what essentially could become a foreign nation. Or Temple Mount without a temple (which someday will be rebuilt). That would be unthinkable No, it’s more than that. It’s impossible!

Just three days ago I read an article from the online newspaper, Israel Hayom, which quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I’m inserting his quote at this point in my article so you can match his words to the above paragraph in which I commented on Jerusalem’s future in the eyes of Israelis.

Said Netanyahu: “I heard there are some people willing to give Arabs a capital in Jerusalem. I heard some guy and some woman say that the Western Wall will remain in our hands. How will it remain in our hands? As an enclave in Arab territory? And how will we get there? In convoys of armored personnel carriers? By helicopter? We did not return to the Western Wall after 2000 years to get there on armored personnel carriers. The Western Wall will remain in our hands, and all of Jerusalem will remain in our hands always—united forever under Israeli sovereignty.”

THAT, says it all! Amen!

Along with the Prophet Isaiah, I and many others who believe in the true and living God; who have been or will be (hopefully many) redeemed by the sacrifice of God’s Messiah, boldly and passionately declare:

“Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory….” (Isaiah 62: 1-2).

Will you, with me, be on guard and repeat with Isaiah: “O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7).

Do we fully grasp what God has supernaturally begun to do with and for the miraculously restored nation of Israel and her eternal Capital, Jerusalem? What you are about to read next is happening and will continue to happen right before our contemporary, modern-day eyes:

“Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The Lord has sent this message to every land; ‘Tell the people of Israel, Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’ They will be called ‘The Holy People’ and ‘The People Redeemed by the Lord.’ And Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Desirable Place’ and ‘The City No Longer Forsaken’” (Isaiah 62:10-12).

I have driven the modern highways of Israel. There are no boulders to avoid, the roads are smooth and fast. I have seen the flag of Israel all over the land; it flies in many embassies throughout the earth. Before the 20th century, there was no flag of Israel. I have read numerous Bible passages that promise that our Savior is coming (again). That all of Israel will be redeemed (Romans 9, 10, & 11) by that Savior. That Messiah will fight for Jerusalem and all of Judah.

“On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord who goes before them! For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-9).

Things to Ponder

This seemingly minor problem of a Jewish boy’s passport, which progressed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, demonstrates once again how current events are—one after the other—fulfilling Biblical prophecy in methodical detail. It is nothing short of astonishing. Bewildering, yes; but all part of God’s marvelous providential plan for the nations, especially for Israel and Jerusalem.

No matter what the official policy of our State Department has been, or the posture of any government in the world: Jerusalem IS the Capital of Israel. So resolved by God, so ratified by the leaders and people of the Sovereign State of Israel, so recognized by all those who trust the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, everlasting Word of God.

One day (soon) the Prince of Peace will rule and reign from that city. Because Jerusalem is and always will be the City of God.

What say you about Jerusalem?

Merry Christmas … What’s It All About?

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Merry Christmas … It’s Your Birthday, Jesus!

Jesus is the Reason for the Season. It hasn’t been all that long since this catchy saying found its way into the mainstream of American and global conscience, particularly with those who cherish the ultimate purpose to celebrate this remarkable time of the year. But why is it necessary to defend the honored time-tested tradition of keeping Christ as the very heart of Christmas; not only in what we believe, but nowadays even in what we say and how we say it?

What’s so wrong with Happy Holidays as the new standard salutation in a season that past generations have treasured for one reason and one reason only—the birth of Jesus Christ? What’s wrong is that the question itself is as rhetorical as any question can be. How can anything or anyone be so obvious? The very reason for such a season is, in fact, someone’s birthday. Not the birthday of an ordinary person like you or me. Not just a conspicuous person like a President, Prime Minister, Chancellor, King, or Queen. Nor esteemed scientific, social, economic, athletic, or film icons. And certainly not a religious figure like Mohammed or Buddha from man-made religions.

Not even a significant, momentous event such as the Jewish Maccabees amazing victory over the Seleucid Syrians in 167-166 BC, and the liberation of the 2nd Jewish Temple to include the equally astonishing eight-day burning of the Menorah candles with only one day’s supply of oil—which generated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Pronounced and spelled properly as Chanukah (hard “ch” sound), the actual date set aside by the Jews was the 25th day of the month of Kislev. Some even call or consider it as a Jewish Christmas, which it is not … just ask any Jew who knows anything about Chanukah at all. But as significant as this special day in Jewish history was and still is, it does not compare to the astounding event of Christ’s birth that has impacted billions of people from every nation, race, and language all over the world.

In fact, if you examine other religions you will find, for the most part, they are indigenous to race and geographic areas in the world, i.e. Islam mostly for Arabs in the Middle East, Buddhism for Orientals, Hinduism for India, Judaism for Jews. Not so with Christianity. It is truly global.

Historical figures, nations, and events other than Christ Jesus and Christmas have their own recognized anniversaries. Does anyone demand that observance of these special occasions be religiously generalized and socially or politically expanded to embrace other religious or national figures or events, so as not to be inclusive of just one person? So as not to offend those of other faiths or ideological persuasions?

Even an ordinary birthday or event merits the minimum consideration of that day belonging to an individual or a city or a nation and, therefore, acknowledged as such. What would you think if I refused to wish you a Happy Birthday because I didn’t want to offend someone else who wasn’t born on the same day, and who didn’t share the same enthusiasm for your birthday? Or who believed differently from you, or belonged to another race, or was left-handed? Ridiculous? Of course. It’s your special day. So Happy Birthday already! I mean that sincerely … unless it’s not your birthday!

Should we no longer acknowledge President’s Day in February, because so many other American presidents were not born in that month? Or because some think it’s unfair to give preferential treatment to a United States President over common citizens?

Should we stop reveling in America’s birthday on the 4th of July in deference to those whose native country originated on a different day of the year; or someone who is from a nation that has never been democratically free? Or anyone who might take offense that Americans believe their independence and heritage is something to be proud of, to celebrate the very day when freedom began?

Might we be more politically correct never to say Happy Thanksgiving? After all, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is much closer to Thanksgiving than it is to Christmas. Shouldn’t it be: Happy Thanksramadan?!

Perhaps we should no longer wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day in case they take an exception to anyone who has as Saint in front of their name? It is Saint Valentine isn’t it? Might we say, “Happy Heart Day” or “Merry Chocolate?”

Stay with me; you know what I’m saying. It isn’t whether we use the word happy or merry. It’s that word, Christmas that causes all the fuss. Shhh … not so loud.

More than that: it’s the name Christ that gets so many people all up tight. That’s right … all it takes is a mention of his name. That is, unless it’s used as profanity … no problem then. A person is compelled to say something meaningful when they hit their thumb with a hammer. Right?

Why? Because His name is who he is (Yeshua in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek/English, both mean Savior), and a lot of folks just can’t handle that. They don’t want or need a Savior. Certainly not one who claims that he is the Son of God, that he alone is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” (John 14:6). How exclusively narrow-minded can anyone be? The fact that he was born of a Virgin, performed amazing miracles, and then arose from the dead to validate his claim as Messiah who alone can redeem, can forgive sin; is an affront to those who maintain that self-enabled good works and innate self-worth is the only way to God.

PC is the Password

It’s easy to see where we’re headed with this. No other holiday causes anything close to the angst experienced and consternation expressed by the secular among us or those of another religion who take offense at hearing the very name of Jesus or even a special representation of his name—Christmas. What relevance does the birth of a Savior (no man-made religions have a Savior … did you know that?) any longer have to the last holiday of the year? In fact, the very name of Christ and Christmas is an embarrassment to many. It’s just not politically correct.

So, for many PC folks out there, it’s not even Happy Holiday. Rather, it’s Happy Holidays. Plural, as in the first holiday is on par or a less than par lead-in to New Year’s celebration. According to those who dislike, even detest the name of Jesus Christ, or perhaps the less adamant who, nevertheless, don’t want to offend anyone else of a different religion, wouldn’t it be better just to omit any reference to Jesus Christ during Christmas? (Shhh … not so loud).

Do Muslims or non-Muslims whisper when they say Mohammed or Ramadan? Jews or non-Jews when they utter Moses or Hanukkah? Since whispering doesn’t fit with all the sights of Frosty the Snowman, smells of roasting chestnuts, and sounds of Jingle Bells, many simply change the real meaning of and reason for Christmas not necessarily by speaking softly and carrying a big peppermint stick. Rather, by replacing a simple but intensely meaningful, joyful, and hope-filled greeting with a ho-hum, humdrum, monotonous, “Happy Holidays.” We have no problem with Happy Valentine, but Merry Christmas creates real issues. (I know … not so loud).

Simple solution isn’t it: Just say Happy Holidays. And presto, no more infringement on all those who champion the cause of tolerance, of broad-mindedness, of acceptance. Oops … except for the Christians. But then, non-Christians have no obligation whatsoever to be tolerant of Christians. After all, aren’t Christians the most intolerant people ever to walk the face of the earth? They are so inconsiderate because they believe that Christ came to this earth to die for their sins, to save them from hell; that he arose from the dead to prove that he was telling the truth—that he is the majestic Son of God—that only he can bring light and peace to a dark and troubled world? That’s about as exclusively one-sided as you can get.

But no more narrow-minded than if someone discovered the one and only all-time cure for cancer, offered that cure to the whole world, then was shunned and rejected because that was the only cure offered. Both Scripture and human experience testifies to this fatal fact: Sin is a deadly cancer of the body, soul, and spirit?

Yet, the only way a tolerant person can be truly tolerant is to first be selectively intolerant of whoever or whatever they think is intolerant. Did you get that? If not, who can blame you? Because that is how intolerably unenlightened the logic is of those who contend (pretend) that tolerance should trump all other world views no matter that tolerance in the extreme leads only to intolerance. Meaning that if just one person or group of people disagrees with you; then for the sake of tolerance at all costs, you must make an exception and be intolerant of those dissenting views. If someone didn’t get that, then they’re not as tolerantly open-minded as they think.

What’s the use … I give up. I’m going to be PC and wish you a very Happ….

Wrong. Make that a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

For you see

It occurs to me

That we can make something else

Of this thing called PC.

Positively Christian!

And, Happy New Year! No problem with that one, huh?

A Birthday for All Time, For All People

We’re talking about the greatest birthday ever known. A birth that changed the very keeping of time. A day remembered and adored by more people, by far, than any other anniversary ever recorded. An amazing arrival and appearance in which God, himself, came in human form as Immanuel … God with us.

A child whose birth was prophesied hundreds of years before … exactly how he would be born (of a Virgin), where he would be born (Bethlehem), when he would be born (before the 2nd Temple would be destroyed), and how and why he would die. A birth accompanied by a guiding star and glorious angels. A name given to the child that means salvation itself. A life full of tremendous teachings, marvelous miracles; but also of suffering unto death … a death that would pay for the penalty of all the wrong things we’ve done, and give eternal life to all those who believe and receive this God-man. Above all, a mighty resurrection and ascension to heaven, from whence he came. And more: A soon to be glorious return of the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man.

It’s a true story. How long has it been since you’ve heard it? How long since you’ve read the greatest story ever told? It begins with:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, wanted to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel … God with us’” (Matthew 1:18-23, NASB, italics for emphasis).

Without Jesus, is there really any reason whatsoever to celebrate Christmas? Without Christ, what’s Christmas all about? Why bother to put Christmas lights on something once known as a Christmas tree? Why take the time to fight the crowds in order to do something as frustrating as Christmas shopping? Why on earth would anyone want to send greetings of good will and cheer on something as archaic as a Christmas card? Who is their right mind would be so cheeky as to sing irrelevant Christmas carols like Joy to the World, when Frosty the Snowman can accompany us all the way to our Holiday shopping spree and back. Who would take the time to wrap gifts for precious loved ones or sit around that Christmas tree and watch with love and joy while their children brimming with excitement open Christmas presents? Oh, many say, we can still do those things. And they would be right, but for all the wrong reasons. Because now it’s a holiday tree. Now we sing holiday songs. We give holiday gifts. We send holiday cards. We wish everyone Happy Holidays.

For that matter, what other religious figure is celebrated during the month of December, specifically December 25th? Do Muslims remember Mohammed or Jews revere Abraham or Moses during this time? Yet, strangely, people all over the world still give and receive gifts during Christmas time. Even atheists and agnostics! It’s the giving of gifts that most profoundly represents the essence of Christmas.

So, let me get this straight: It’s still (PC) appropriate to give and receive gifts, but don’t say Merry Christmas to the clerk who just wrapped the gifts you purchased for your children and your spouse. After the sale, be polite and wish her Happy Holidays; which is what she said to you after taking your money. And when opening the gifts under the Holiday tree, certainly don’t wish your child a Merry Christmas. He could get the wrong impression: that the gift opened might just represent and be in remembrance of the greatest gift of all time—God’s own son as a ransom for our redemption. We can still put up lights … preferably holiday lights. But no nativity scenes anywhere in public places. God forbid: Someone might be offended or get the wrong impression that this Holiday is truly holy… instead of just another holiday.

Sorry, did I say God forbid. How careless. You know what I meant to say: Would the man upstairs please overlook my outdated, irrelevant, presumptuous, intolerant notion that Christmas ever existed in the first place. Or if it did, it has no relevance whatsoever in today’s post-modern existential, expedient, politically correct society that tolerates anything and everything except one thing: The Name of Christ or anything or anyone that bears His name. Whatever is thought, said, or done: don’t say that name or anything that reminds the world who he is.

Why must Happy Holidays replace Merry Christmas? As indicated, the only other religious remembrance at this time of year is that of Hanukkah … with this year’s celebration beginning this past Tuesday, 12-16-14. So, why must everyone be politically correct and wish someone Happy Holidays? If I know a person is Jewish, then I’ll say Happy Hanukkah to them. If I don’t know or think they may not be Jewish, it’s Merry Christmas. If they are Jewish and say Happy Hanukkah, that’s fine with me. All is well! What’s the problem? No harm, no foul.

I happen to love Israel, love the Jewish people, and love the Jewish Savior who is Jewish through and through. But even if I didn’t, I have no problem with Happy Hanukkah. I do, however, have a problem with Happy Holidays. It’s more than just semantics. It’s a deliberate politically correct, socially expedient substitution for the very essence of my faith and the faith of millions of others who have trusted in what God’s Son did for us and the whole human race; starting with his miraculous birth (Christmas), culminating in his miraculous resurrection from the dead (Easter resurrection day).

For one thing, we have plenty of Happy Holidays throughout the year.

What’s so wrong with the one time of year that incorporates the very best of all those holidays into the most precious, powerful, and profitable sequence of events ever to hit the human race: The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus.

Jesus is the Reason for Every Season!

New Year’s: An exciting time for all to contemplate a new start … to be better, to do better.

Jesus, himself, the giver of second chances, of a new beginning, a new life … everlasting. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17). In the next to last chapter of the Bible, God said to John: “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

Martin Luther King Day: A champion of racial equality, of equal opportunity for all.

In Christ, all are equal. There is absolutely no discrimination by Christ. Yes, his salvation is exclusive, because he is the only way to God and everlasting life (Acts 4:12). But he and his message are also unconditionally inclusive to ALL who believe and receive him. “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26 & 28).

Valentine’s Day: Love makes the world go around. “Would you be my valentine?” we plead.

Concerning true everlasting love and life, we need only ask, “Jesus, would you be my Savior?”

God IS Love. “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).

President’s Day: Recognition of the immense, lasting contributions made by two of America’s most prominent leaders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

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

He also is: “Lord of all lords and King of all kings” (Revelation 17:14). One day he will return in power and great glory.

St Patrick’s Day: When all is said and done, we really don’t need the luck of the Irish, do we? How lucky have they been anyway? Nothing derogatory here … just asking. I like the Irish and I love their music. We don’t need to wish someone, “Good luck.” Does that really work? Besides, St. Patrick’s claim to fame was that he led thousands of pagans to belief in Christ; therefore, it’s difficult to explain how such a revered life could result in such a wild modern-day celebration! Nevertheless, it is a time of jubilation.

For those who have been redeemed by Christ, we have every reason to rejoice. We have a sure hope in the Bible and in Christ. “…And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4).

Memorial Day: Brave men and woman fought and gave their lives to help us preserve freedom from tyranny and oppression.

Christ gave his life to free us from sin which produces tyranny and cruelty and all that is wrong with the human race. “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).

And so we remember what Christ said and did: “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘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 22:19-20, italics for emphasis).

Independence Day (4th of July): A constitutional body founded on the profound principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We salute a flag that symbolizes a vibrant government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Even greater is the body of Christ, as Paul writes to the believers in Corinth: “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:12-13).

Christ has great power to change the world, one redeemed heart at a time. Listen to the Apostle Paul, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself” (Ephesians 1:19-23).

Labor Day: Each year we set aside this day to rest from our weary labor that provides for our families.

But Christ is our ultimate rest … a respite from the unnecessary struggle to gain salvation through good works. From the guilt of sin, from the uncertainty of death. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Armistice/Veterans Day: A great day when, at the time, the War to End All Wars ended. For a while there was peace on the earth. But mankind never could and never will be able to maintain peace on his own. History has proven that beyond any doubt.

Only Christ can bring such a peace. He authored the greatest treaty of all time: Reconciling man to God.

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims and founding fathers were immensely grateful to God for his providence and provisions in sustaining them through troubled times of testing and trials.

Without Christ’s willingness to come to this world he created, take on human form, and then die for the horrible things that everyone has done (some more than others but God doesn’t grade on a curve), we all would be helpless and hopeless.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NASB, italics for emphasis).

Christmas: Ah, yes … Christmas. Not just a holiday. A true Holy Day.

And don’t forget Easter. For those who place their trust in Christ, that day represents the first day of the rest of their lives … life that goes on and on and on, ad infinitum. Unless Christ rose from the dead, there would be no hope of our resurrection from the grave. And a Merry Christmas—any kind of Christmas—would have no meaning at all.

Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Pick a holiday … any other holiday not listed here. And you’ll find that Jesus can also be the reason for that season.

Things to Ponder

The word holiday is a secularized derivative of Holy Day. It’s true: Holy means set apart for a special purpose. But it also carries the distinct connotation of something Divine or Sacred. The 4th of July is a great holiday, but it’s not sacred as such. Not like Christmas. That is until the 20th and 21st century. For many, Christmas is just another holiday.

Santa Claus was the original (first) politically correct substitute for the real deal, Jesus Christ. But even Santa Claus believes in Christmas! “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Think about it, and lighten up!

“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 2:10-11).

“But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved….” (Joel 2:32).

Now is the time for salvation. We all have a choice: Meet Christ now as Savior, or later as Judge.

What say you about Christ?

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Where is the Temple? Part III

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Where Is The Temple? (Part III … A New & Better Way)

As a rule, most people respond favorably to challenges in their life; as long as they are able to unscramble, manage, and otherwise adjust to whatever consequences or variations the challenges might bring. Whether adapting one’s lifestyle to include a new spouse, managing a sudden decrease in income, or just handling an unannounced visit from relatives, life is full of tests and tasks… of changes and conflicts.

The intriguing question posed in this article and the past two Eye of Prophecy articles relating to the fate of the Jewish Temples is designed as a challenge to explain what happened to them and why. To stimulate reflection about the repercussions of such a devastating time of Jewish history. To investigate the staggering impact on the entire Jewish faith WHEN Solomon’s Temple, then (hundreds of years later) Herod’s Temple, was destroyed. But also Gentile participation in this history pertaining mostly to religious systems that, to varying degrees, were patterned after and around the Mosaic Laws.

To once again come to terms with the rolling Premise of these articles: No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.

(1) Solomon’s Temple: God removed his very presence from this magnificent Temple; therefore, from among his people. Some six years before King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and tore down the Temple, Ezekiel witnessed God’s glory depart from the Temple. “Then the glory of the Lord moved out from the door of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the Lord’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them” (Ezekiel 10:18-19). A short time later, “Then the glory of the Lord went up from the city and stopped above the mountain to the east” (Ezekiel 11:23).

The mountain to the east of Jerusalem is none other than the Mount of Olives. Amazingly—beyond mere coincidence—this is exactly where Messiah will step foot upon his spectacular (return) appearance to rescue Israel from annihilation during the Great Tribulation (Zachariah 14:4). Prophetically, Messiah will enter Jerusalem by the same Eastern Gate, currently sealed and impassable, through which God withdrew his presence. Thus, the Glory of the Lord that temporarily returned to the 2nd Temple in the form of Messiah Jesus will reappear permanently to Israel and the whole world.

(2) Herod’s (the 2nd) Temple: When this temple was razed to the ground by the Roman Legions, the Mosaic Covenant Sacrificial System ceased to function as the ongoing source of redemption.

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Depiction of Temple Worship & Offerings (Can you guess which Temple?)

The loss of God’s glorious presence among his people followed by removal of sacrificial shedding of blood for atonement of sin dealt devastating blows to the heart of Judaism and the soul of the Jewish people. By and large, they have never recovered from this dual discipline; administered as a result of their continuous disobedience to God and denial of their Messiah sent by God to reconcile and restore them back to God. But one day (soon) all that will change!

They will recover and rejoice, because all of Israel will be saved … individually and nationally, physically and spiritually.

Speaking to the Gentile believers in Rome, the Apostle Paul cautioned them optimistically: “I want you to understand this mystery … so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, ‘The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins’” (Romans 11:25-27, italics for emphasis).

Please remember … Paul was a Jew, who’s zealous die-hard ambition to defend the Judaic Law of Moses had consumed him. That is until Messiah Jesus supernaturally appeared to Paul (Saul), and challenged him to explain why he was persecuting the Christians, which was a direct attack on Messiah Yeshua, himself. Paul’s heart, life, and destiny miraculously changed. Then, Jesus consumed and compelled him. As is sometimes said: The rest is history.

Concerning the Jewish Temples, the historical evidence is undeniable: Since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, God’s Shekinah glory (his majestic presence) had been glaringly absent from the Temple. Then, the essence and substance of God’s forgiveness through the Atonement Sacrifices abruptly ceased with the loss of the 2nd Temple. According to the Law of Moses—which to varying degrees is still practiced or at least recognized by millions of Jews the world over—without the God-ordained place and procedure for shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin … no acquittal for the penalty for sin.

Where, then, is the Temple?

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Depicts Destruction of Herod’s Temple

Is There a Replacement Remedy for the Absence of a Temple?

God, in his supernatural sovereignty, would see to it that destructive removal of both Temples would be replaced with something and someone even better. Indeed, that was God’s plan from the very beginning—to provide a Messiah Savior who would restore the glory and presence of God because he, himself, is God. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

As the King of all kings, he would reestablish King David’s dynasty. “His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity….” (Isaiah 9:7).

And, as we shall soon see, he would assume the High Priestly Order of Melchizedek by offering himself as the final, perfect sacrifice for all mankind. Thus, the lamentable loss of both Temples was—like an intricate tapestry—providentially woven into God’s stunningly brilliant plan for his chosen people AND for Gentiles, who were not originally God’s people, but would become his people; Jew and Gentile … one new creation, one new man. A new universal Temple built by God himself, in the hearts of men, women, and children from nations the world over.

“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

In this passage, God’s holy people are the Jews … with the word holy meaning set apart for a special purpose. We are his house (dwelling place) means both Jew and Gentile (We). And this new dwelling place is built equally on the foundation of the (Old Testament) prophets and (New Testament) apostles. Moreover, Messiah Jesus is the CORNERSTONE of this incredible building. This sensational spiritual structure has become a (the new) holy temple for the Lord. Both Jew and Gentile are part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

In times past, only the Jewish High Priest could approach God once a year in the Temple’s Inner Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies. A Gentile could never enter the Temple itself; only in the Court of the Gentiles. But with the New Covenant God graciously changed all that: “Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other (between Jew and Gentile) was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:16-18).

This is all possible because the Old Covenant configuration of sacrificial atonement that took place in the earthly temple was completed, perfected, and replaced by the New Covenant’s heavenly standard whose Temple and ultimate sacrifice is Messiah himself.

The Perfect High Priest, After the Order of Melchizedek

We find only a brief record of Melchizedek in the book of Genesis, but a detailed account of this mysterious man in the New Testament. The book of Hebrews daringly, but logically explains how Jesus ultimately fulfilled the priestly order of the first High Priest, which was Melchizedek, not Aaron. How and why Yeshua was qualified to become and remain the Eternal High Priest.

It’s also vital to understand that Hebrews was written by a Jew (as were nearly all of the New Testament books) who fully understood and accepted the fact that, “…We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands” (Hebrews 8:1-2).

The Jewish writer of Hebrews unveils the mystery of this extraordinary Priest/King: “Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle. Now the Law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel, who are also descendants of Abraham. But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God. And without question, the person who has the power to give a blessing is greater than the one who is blessed” (Hebrews 7:4-7).

The author of Hebrews then contends, “…Melchizedek is greater than they are, because we are told that he lives on “(Verse 8, italics for emphasis). From all the Scriptural evidence about Melchizedek, but especially this verse, many Bible scholars and commentators (including me) firmly believe that Melchizedek was not only the ultimate prototype of a High Priest and King, but that he was actually the pre-Incarnate Messiah (Jesus), who made several appearances before his actual birth in Bethlehem.

Listen closely as the writer of Hebrews contests the enduring effectiveness of the Levitical system by clarifying the contrast between the Aaronic priesthood and the Priestly Order of Melchizedek: “So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law is based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11).

Then the author presents a conclusive challenge that justifies a New Covenant and a different, superior Mediator of that Covenant: “And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe. This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, ‘You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’” (Hebrews 7:12-17). Psalms 110:4 is quoted here.

Next, “The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever” (Hebrews 7:28).

The author of Hebrews then explains the responsibilities of a high priest and The High Priest; why the functions of the earthly priests were meant only to be a shadowy prelude to the real (ideal) model. “And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning, ‘Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:3-5).

Thus, it’s profoundly clear that the original Tabernacle, then the Temples were types or shadows patterned after the perfect Temple in heaven. A Temple not built by human hands; rather the Temple of God, himself, contained in the very body of Yeshua … the Incarnate Messiah. “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6).

In the following passage, we once again see the incomparable excellence of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant, the new Temple over the Old Temple, and the new Sacrifice over the old sacrifices.

“That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:23-26).

AMAZING! Permanent removal of sin, not just perpetual partial covering of sin. No need for continued animal offerings, nor an earthly temple in which to perform those sacrifices.

So, you see: God made something ultimately good and lasting out of the two greatest tragedies that ever befell the Jewish people … the horrific, humiliating destruction of the Temples. But that was his plan all along.

Why a New Covenant … A New Temple?

Because the Lord knew that his people (all people) never could and/or never would keep the first covenant at all times in all points. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious and holy standards and requirements (Romans 3:23).

The Lord fully understands the natural bent of mankind: That of trying to earn God’s favor, trying to merit salvation and eternal life by performance, by innate worth, by good works; instead of simply agreeing with God and accepting his grace … the wonderful, matchless gift of God’s own Son as a substitutionary sacrificial payment for all the wrong things we have done.

Thus, God gave the Law for two reasons: (1) as dependable as the conscience of man can sometimes be, it is not constantly adequate or endlessly reliable to unerringly distinguish right from wrong. Hence, it was necessary to establish universally objective moral and spiritual laws (summarized in the Ten Commandments) so that no one would excuse immoral behavior by saying they didn’t know it was (for example) wrong to steal. (2) To give men and women every chance possible to earn their salvation by obeying these laws perfectly. But because no one has ever kept the Law in every point, the Law ended up sentencing us to everlasting death.

How sadly ironic: the only thing earned is physical and then spiritual death (separation from God forever). “For the wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23a).

As asked and answered by Paul, “Why, then was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised….” (Galatians 3:19) Paul goes on to identify this ultimate child of promise as Messiah Jesus.

Listen again to the words of Hebrews: “If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said (Then the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34): ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Hebrews 8:7-10, 12).

A New and Better Way

What about this New Covenant, which was announced by the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah just a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple? Has the New Covenant arrived? If so, when? How? By whom?

Listen to these penetrating words spoken by Jesus to the Jewish Pharisees: “And haven’t you read in the Law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Matthew 12:5-8, Jesus quoted from Micah Chapter 6).

Astounding! Jesus refuted the unfounded allegations of the Pharisees that the disciples were breaking the Sabbath by eating some heads of grain still on the stalk … through the Pharisees legalistic interpretation that the disciples were harvesting the grain. With divine authorized authority, Jesus declared that he was greater than the Jewish Sabbath, greater than the Temple, greater than the Law of Moses. Jesus IS the Sabbath. Jesus IS the Temple. Jesus IS the Living Word of God (John 1:1).

There’s more: In answer to an argumentative question from the Jewish religious leaders as to who gave him the authority to drive out the money changers from the Temple, Jesus replied, “…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of his body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:19-22, NASB).

Remember the startling statement by Jesus at the last Passover supper with his disciples. He announced that the New Covenant was about to begin.

“After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘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).

Here, I would like to quote an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss (pages 66-67).

Jesus proclaimed this unparalleled new covenant from Jerusalem, the God-ordained location of annual Passovers. In no uncertain terms, Christ explicitly announced that he himself would be the blood sacrifice required by God to start, satisfy, and seal the very covenant predicted by Jeremiah … The Son of Man who spoke these words would soon be nailed to a cross as the ultimate sacrificial Passover Lamb, exclusively selected and sent by God to redeem Israel and the whole world.

While he hung on the cross, the very Temple curtain that separated the sacrificial inner sanctuary (Holy of Holies) from the rest of the Temple was inexplicably ripped apart. Three days later Jesus arose from the dead to forever ratify the total efficacy of so great a sacrifice and so great a salvation that he purchased with his life’s blood. Those who have accepted his sacrifice and redemption can freely enter the very presence of God at any time from any place in the world. For not only is the Temple curtain gone, so is the Temple itself. Until the return of Messiah, the Temple of God is now the body of Christ. God the Holy Spirit resides in the heart of every believer. Those in Christ are the body and Temple of the living Triune God.

We love you Lord, because you first loved us! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!

Some thirty years later, the Apostle Paul would write his last two epistles to Timothy. In keeping with the main purpose of Paul’s writings—to encapsulate the entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus into the eternal tenets of the Christian faith—he states: “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

Hence, we have the incomparable, immeasurable, and irreplaceable New Covenant of Grace. “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:7).

Christ became the Temple of the Living God. We, who have placed our trust in his awesome once-for-all atoning sacrifice, need not search for a temple built by human hands. For we are part of a better Temple. Listen to this affirmation from the Apostle Peter:

“You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (I Peter 2:4-5).

Equally remarkable are Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (I Corinthians 3:16-17).

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Temple Mount Today, But No Jewish Temple

Summary

Where is the Temple? The question must be answered because to dismiss it, to ignore it, to pretend that it doesn’t matter is to maintain that a person’s self-enabling obedience to God’s laws, meriting God’s favor through good works or charitable activities as the means of salvation, and earning a destiny in heaven can be achieved WITHOUT the parallel and equally significant mandated remedy for atonement of sin through the sacrificial offerings required by Almighty God. You simply can’t have one without the other.

So, does the question even have an answer? The answer to that question depends upon whether anyone earnestly and honestly searching for the truth will agree that a New Covenant is necessary and is in place. For, without the sacrificial offerings, the Law can only judge. Without a replacement to the Old Testament system of Atonement that ended with destruction of the Temple, the Law can only condemn.

However, for all who agree that Jesus is the Messiah who arrived on the scene of history as Biblically prophesied hundreds of years earlier saying Messiah would come before the (2nd) Temple would be destroyed; that he died and rose again as the ultimate perfect sacrifice for their sins; then place their complete trust in his redemptive atonement thereby entrusting their eternal destiny to his finished work on the cross, they will have positively answered the question.

The New Temple is Christ and Christ is in every person who accepts him as personal Savior.

Let’s get personal: If you prefer to stake your eternal destiny on your ability to keep the law, then you still haven’t answered the question. Indeed, there is no answer to your dilemma. Why? Because the Law of Moses demands perfect compliance—with continual sacrificial offerings as a divine solution for noncompliance, either willfully or carelessly.

Which is why, “…the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath, but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him, ‘The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God” (Hebrews 7:18-22).

Things to Ponder

God still gives us free will, the option to choose. But concerning atonement, redemption, salvation: forgiveness is available only through the shedding of blood. The Old Covenant was a temporary shadow. It is gone, along with the Temple. Will you choose the Old or the New?

Then: The Presence of God only in the Temple; withdrawn before the Temple’s destruction, because of disobedience.

Now: The Kingdom of Heaven residing and reigning in the hearts of believers in Yeshua.

Soon: The Kingdom of God resting and reigning on the earth from Jerusalem, with Yeshua, himself, living among his people.

Where is the Temple? Can you answer? Will you answer?


Answer to Photo Question: Solomon’s Temple, because God’s Shekinah glory is still present as shown near the top of the picture

Where Is The Temple? Part II

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Where is the Temple? … Part II (Israel in Denial?)

Have you ever thought or said, “I feel so bad for her, she just can’t seem to accept reality.” Or, “he’s in complete denial.” Have you ever been in denial yourself? At one time or another, to varying degrees, I suppose we’ve all rejected the harsh reality of traumatic events or difficult times. We do our best (or worst) to suppress feelings that we don’t want to deal with … only to realize that the pain just won’t go away. The distressing death of a loved one, the lamenting loss of a job, a pitiful plunge into bankruptcy, or a brutal betrayal by a spouse or close friend. Things that are too agonizing to even think about.

Is it possible for an ancient race of people miraculously reborn as a modern nation to be in denial? For an entire religion to rationalize the reasons for and results of the foundational fragmentation of their faith?

That is exactly what has happened to the Jewish faith and Jewish people. Down through the centuries, even the most astute Rabbis and dedicated teachers of the Law have not been able to fully clarify why or how the God-given requirements for the sacrificial shedding of blood was so abruptly halted when the Romans ruthlessly destroyed the 2nd Temple. The most common substitutionary explanation for the loss of life-giving sacrificial atonement is that perhaps God would accept those who strive to be worthy of redemption, who faithfully recite the Sh’ma (Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One), and who commit to God’s commandments as faithfully as possible, including observance of Sabbath and Annual Festivals. In denial, however, that even the first High Priest, Aaron, had to offer sacrifices for his own sin before he could mediate between God and the people.

As detailed in last week’s article, the Law of Moses constitutes the heart and soul of Judaism. Yet, the Mosaic Law was based on two equal, co-existing foundations: (1) the laws, decrees, and regulations given by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as represented by and summarized in the Ten Commandments. (2) The Levitical Sacrificial System so absolutely vital for atonement and redemption. Had the Jews been able to keep God’s commandments, there would have been no need for the shedding of innocent animal blood as an atoning sacrifice for their sins.

Before Moses died, he predicted that his people would (soon) disobey and turn from God individually and as a nation; which is precisely what happened. Other than the Reign of King David and the early years of King Solomon, this departure from God became progressively worse until they fully exhausted God’s patience. First, the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians; then the southern kingdom of Judah and the Temple were destroyed by the Babylonians.

Two Reasons for Building the Tabernacle, Then the Temple

  • A dwelling place for God’s glory, for his very presence among the Jews. First the Tabernacle: “Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34). Then, the Temple: “…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).

Obviously, God did not need an earthly dwelling place built by man. His principal abode was and always will be Heaven. His presence in the Temple was for the benefit of the Jews; to demonstrate that he was able and willing to live among his people. Not unlike when God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This is exactly what Messiah did when he came to this earth as a man; he tabernacled (dwelled) among his people. Immanuel … God with us! And will do so again at his magnificent reappearance on the Mount of Olives to rescue his people from annihilation. Then to set up the Kingdom of God on earth.

  • The prescribed place for daily, monthly, and annual sin and peace sacrifices as a redemptive offering for the sins of the individual and the nation; culminating in the Yom Kippur sacrifices (Day of Atonement) once a year. Although sacrifices were permitted in designated places throughout the Promised Land, the Tabernacle and then the Temple were the ultimate, central sites for offerings. Also, the men of Israel were required to attend three of the annual festivals in Jerusalem, all of which involved sacrificial offerings.

“Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front it … Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites” (Leviticus 16:15-16). Then in Verse 34: “This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the Lord once each year.”

To repeat the basic premise as set forth in last week’s article: No Temple, no sacrifices. No sacrifices, no forgiveness of sin. No forgiveness of sin, no redemption.

And, we can include one more principle: No redemption, no right relationship with God.

Jewish Adjustment to Loss of the Temple (Sacrifices)

Since the devastating destruction of their 2nd Temple and the disastrous Dispersion of Jews throughout the world, they have been trying to figure out a way to deal with and compensate for the required atonement offerings that were such an integral component of their faith in and relationship with the Lord God. Consequently, even more sects of Judaism have developed since the basic Biblical division between Pharisees and Sadducees.

To a large degree, today’s branches within the Jewish religion are predicated on diverse reactions and adjustments to the loss of the Temple.

In Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Judaism, the Temple is frequently and fervently mentioned in their services and writings, including passionate preparation for the rebuilding of the third Temple.

Conservative Jews periodically talk about the Temple and its’ restoration, but pretty much exclude any reference to Temple sacrifices.

The Reform Movement of Judaism downplays the significance of the Temple and the need for any such thing as sacrificial shedding of blood.

Many liberal Jews actually resist the idea of a rebuilt Temple, citing adverse political and social repercussions with Arabs, but even among Israelis.

Likewise, the tenets of the Jewish faith expressed primarily through Halakha (the Jewish law, and the right paths to walk in that law) vary in intensity and observance based on the sect of Judaism. However, the common thread is that Mitzvah or good deeds through keeping Torah commandments revealed by God and Rabbinical interpretations and application of those instructions as found in the Talmud and Mishnah is really the only way to approach, appease, and otherwise please God. Yet, many laws pertaining to the Old Testament rules for holiness and purity are no longer practiced; because the Temple no longer exists and (therefore) neither do the Sacrificial Offerings that were irrevocably and unequivocally required by God, as the only means of cleansing and forgiveness—both ceremonially (externally) and spiritually (internally … the heart).

The 9th of Av

What happened on the 9th of Av, which is mid-July to mid-August on the Gregorian calendar? It is the exact day that Solomon’s temple was callously destroyed by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. AND, it was also the same exact day that the 2nd Temple was systematically demolished by the Romans under General Titus in 70 AD. The fact that the two worst events of Jewish history occurred on the same calendar day does not escape their contemplation and certainly not their attention.

Ironically, nearly all Jews are aware of and some 75% of Jews solemnly observe Tisha B’Av (literally the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av) in varying degrees of reflection and meditation. Thus, they are not so much in denial of the indescribable loss of the Temple itself; as they are in denial of the incredible consequence that cessation of the Temple sacrificial offerings caused in their relationship with God. There’s no getting around it: The individual and national Jewish interaction and standing with God was dramatically altered when the very presence of God left Solomon’s Temple; then the sacrificial altars and instruments were destroyed along with the entire 2nd Temple. Preceded by the mysterious, miraculous splitting in two of the Holy of Holies curtain as a Jewish Rabbi died on a cross just outside of Jerusalem.

Destruction of Jewish Temple

Destruction of the 2nd Temple

There are other catastrophic occurrences in Jewish history that took place on the 9th of Av or days very close to that date. For example, the return of the 12 Jewish spies sent by Moses to check out the Promised Land of Canaan; only for ten of the spies to adversely persuade the Israelites to disobey God and Moses by not entering the land out of fear of the enemy. In short, they simply refused to trust the same God who had already performed mighty miracles in their deliverance from slavery and escape from Pharaoh’s pursing army. God’s ensuing punishment included 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, one year for each day the spies were in Canaan.

On the 9th of Av in 1941, SS Chief, Heinrich Himmler, received approval orders for the Final Solution of the Jews, which began the worst genocide of all time … the Holocaust. Likewise, on that date in 1942, Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto were deported to concentration camps.

The point is: Even Jewish Rabbis, especially rabbis, recognize God’s hand of discipline and punishment in these events. How could they not? As difficult as the concept is to grasp and accept, the fact remains that God, himself, predicted and authorized severe judgment on his people if they failed to obey his laws and keep the Sabbath or Sabbath years of resting the land, and also the sacrifice of innocent animals without true repentance of the heart.

This dire warning from God actually came first with the Mosaic Law cherished so deeply by the Jewish people. Still, hundreds of years of Jewish disobedience elapsed before God’s patience finally ran out. Please refer to the entire chapter of Leviticus 26 for a step-by-step description of the progressive phases of Israel’s discipline, culminating in being conquered by and exiled to foreign pagan nations.

These prophetic warnings were summarily repeated by God to Solomon after Solomon built the magnificent Temple. This Temple was one of the ancient wonders of the world. God said to Solomon:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart” (II Chronicles 7:12-16).

Then God imposed legitimate and reasonable (from a human viewpoint, as God’s stipulations are always reasonable!) conditions on the continuance of Israel’s Davidic dynasty of kings and the continued existence of the Temple. Said God to Solomon:

“As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshipped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them’” (II Chronicles 7:17-22).

The “One” descendant of David who (someday) will always (forever) rule and reign over Israel, indeed, the entire world, is Messiah. When he returns, he will bring the heavenly Temple with him … himself. Though temple sacrifices resumed when the 2nd Tempe was rebuilt, the Shekinah Glory of God never returned. That is, until the essence and image of God’s glory was placed in and on God’s Son, Yeshua HaMashiach—who walked, taught, prayed, and healed others in the 2nd Temple. When Jesus returns he will come in power and great glory (Luke 21:27). There will be a 3rd Temple in Jerusalem before Christ returns, but Messiah himself will be the center of attention and attraction.

Nearly all Jews, both religious and secular, long for the coming of Messiah. In fact, many Jews believe that the 3rd Temple won’t be rebuilt until Messiah appears. Orthodox Jews long for the resumption of redemptive sacrifices in the Temple, and return of the Shekinah Glory of God to the Temple. Even the Reform movement within Judaism recognizes that without a rebuilt Temple, the very essence of sacrificial atonement for sin has been compromised, if not lost entirely. Thus, they and the more liberal Jews downplay the importance of a rebuilt Temple; because to overemphasize the Temple’s significance would be to endorse the need for divine rescue from sin, which has been replaced almost exclusively with keeping the Mosaic Commandments as the only means of right standing with God.

Location of Third Temple

Preview of 3rd Temple on Temple Mount

Summary

The question must be asked and answered: If anyone’s belief system and life conduct is predicated on earning God’s favor or forgiveness by adhering to the Law of Moses (to whatever degree it is followed), then the ENTIRE Mosaic covenant must be kept. This includes animal sacrifices to cover sins and ensure an ongoing relationship with God. There’s no indication, whatsoever, in the Mosaic Law or anywhere else in Scripture that the Law itself could save even those who did their very best to keep it. Thus, God’s remedy of the shedding of innocent blood for remission of sin is the only answer to breaking God’s laws.

Yet, as we’ve seen, God, himself orchestrated the destruction of the Temples, just as he told Solomon he would do, and as he warned Israel through other prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

When the first and then the second Temple was destroyed, it’s conceivable the Jews could rightfully plead that the only recourse left to them was trying to do the best they could; hopefully God would accept good deeds over the wrong things they had done. But to fall back on that rationale is to deny the very reason that the Solomon’s Temple was destroyed: Israel’s “detestable sins” as so graphically depicted in Ezekiel Chapters 8 & 9.

Why would God drastically change the pathway of atonement and salvation that he made even before the foundation of the world, to accommodate the loss of the Temples? The fact is: He didn’t. What he did replace was the temporary, on-going covering of sin by the innocent blood of animals, with the actual removal of sin through the permanent, once-for-all greatest Sacrifice of all time: The shed blood of God’s very Son … The Perfect Sacrifice by the Perfect High Priest.

For those Jews who understood and accepted the reasons for destruction of the first Temple, the obliteration of the 2nd Temple was virtually unfathomable. Explanations such as disunity among 1st century Jewish groups, or a premature, poorly planned uprising against Rome led by disorganized zealots are frequently cited as reasons that led to the heart-rending loss of their 2nd Temple. Worse: the expulsion of Jews from Israel, scattered to the four-winds, living under suppression and oppression of Gentile nations for nearly two thousand years. With complete denial (Messianic Jews excepted) that this destruction was predicted by Jesus, himself, less than forty years before it happened. That this Great Dispersion was a resumption of God’s discipline of Israel, this time for rejection of her Messiah.

Still today, other than tens of thousands of Messianic Jews all over the world, Jesus is not recognized in Judaism as the Messiah. This, despite dozens of Old Testament prophecies that were meticulously fulfilled with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua. One of these prophecies spectacularly announces that Messiah was to arrive before the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Moreover, this amazing prophecy came from Daniel before the 2nd Temple had been built!

Read with me this phenomenal prediction: “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple” (Daniel 9:26a).

This verse and others in Daniel have been the subject of several past Eye of Prophecy articles, focusing primarily on the ruler whose armies would destroy the Temple. Here, the emphasis is on the Anointed One (Messiah) who would be killed (with obvious implication that he was alive) BEFORE the Temple was destroyed. The very birth of Jesus Christ separated time itself (BC … AD); then his death and resurrection around 32 AD, some 38 years before the Temple was utterly demolished by the Roman legions … which had been ordered specifically by the ruler (Nero) to crush the revolt in Israel.

Sadly, so many Jewish rabbis and teachers of the law have missed, dismissed, minimized, ignored, or denied these historical facts. Yet, if Messiah didn’t arrive when Daniel said he would, then the 2nd Temple wasn’t destroyed. It would still be standing. To say that the Temple is still with us would be an obvious illogical denial of what actually happened or that the Temple was even built in the first place. Which, in turn, would be a complete denial of Biblical, historical, and archeological evidence. Jewish scholars are among the best in the world. They see things that many of us don’t see. But when it comes to Jesus, they can only twist and turn the Torah to fit their ancient and modern rejection of Jesus as Messiah.

If they would only read the New Testament with an open mind, then match it and history with so many Old Covenant prophecies of Messiah. Then, as gut-wrenchingly difficult as it would be: To somehow set aside the horror of the Crusades, Inquisitions, and Holocaust—perpetrated not by true believers in Jesus; but by those who diabolically used the name of Christ or Christians to achieve their warped goal of persecuting and destroying the Jewish race or by replacing Biblical promises made exclusively to Israel with the Church.

Things to Ponder

Anyone who has read my books or Eye of Prophecy articles, will clearly see that I love and support Israel and her people. But in the vein of the Apostle Paul, this love for the Jews compels me to ask this poignant and probing question. Unless it is answered by both Jew and Gentile, the Jewish faith and trust in the Mosaic Law remains incomplete; indeed, inadequate to accomplish the ultimate goal of a redemptive relationship with God. This, of course, is also true for all peoples, but it was the Jews who were chosen by God to be a light to the Gentiles. As Jesus said to the Gentile Samaritan woman: Salvation comes through the Jews. (John 4:22).

Where is the Temple? Where is the God-ordained place of sacrificial atonement for the sins of the people and nation of Israel, for the whole world?

Would God allow the Temples to be destroyed and, thus, the very means of sacrificial redemption to be abolished, without remedy? To leave the Jews and all men and women without hope of eternal salvation?

Stay tuned for next week’s article. These questions will be answered by considering the following:

  • The sacrifices of animals was not designed to remove sin, only to cover it day-to-day and year to year.
  • The Tabernacle and later the Temple was a prototype reflection of the heavenly pattern, a temporary means to prepare the way for the real heavenly Temple.
  • There would be a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31) to replace the old. A new and much better way of redemption … a once for all permanent removal of the penalty of sin.

In short, to fully realize that there was a Divine purpose, a providential sovereignty in making something good (better) out of something so devastating as the very destruction of the Temple and subsequent loss of half of the Mosaic Law … the means of atonement for sin.

The Old Covenant has been replaced by a New Covenant!

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

AMEN!

Where Is The Temple? Part I

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Where is the Temple? Part I (Why This Question Must Be Answered)

Last week’s brutal killing of four Jewish Rabbis and an Israeli Druze policemen by two Arabs living in East Jerusalem generated outrage and condemnation from Israelis and from citizens and leaders of nations throughout the world. It was the subject of news reports and articles from a myriad of sources, including the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, And Justice for All. Sadly, the murders also produced celebrations by thousands of Palestinians who praised the killings and the killers.

In a general historical context, this merciless atrocity was yet one more manifestation of the deep hatred harbored by Arab Muslims in Israel and by Muslims the world over for the Jews, and for the very existence of a Jewish nation. Yet, there was a narrower purpose behind the murders. Like several other Palestinian lone wolf attacks against Jews in recent weeks, it’s all too clear that the incitement instigated by Palestinian leaders, not the least of whom was the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, motivated the assassins to strike.

Ostensibly the attack on the Har Nof Synagogue worshippers was in retaliation for the death of a Palestinian bus driver, because of lies disseminated throughout the West Bank and Gaza that Jews killed the man. This despite overwhelming evidence that the driver committed suicide. But there was a deeper underlying motivation: None other than President Abbas’ not-so-veiled threat against the Jews—by encouraging all Palestinians to do whatever possible to counteract Jewish “contamination” of the Al-Aqsa mosque complex on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Equally evident is that Israelis have absolutely no interest in setting foot inside the Dome of the Rock or otherwise contaminating Muslim shrines.

Abbas knows this; thus, his bellicose statement was intended to incite Palestinians to harass and even prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount for any reason whatsoever, certainly not to pray or worship. Despite recapturing all of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of June, 1967, the Israelis gave supervisory administration of Temple Mount back to the Jordanians, who detest any Jewish worship or prayer on this Jewish holy site.

For Americans reading this article, especially Texans, can you imagine Sam Houston, after reclaiming the Alamo, giving it back to Mexico for administrative purposes or any other reason? But even more presumptuously … Mexican authorities refusing permission for Americans to set foot in the Alamo? I think not!

Under those conditions why does any Jew, even the Orthodox, bother to set foot on Temple Mount? Their second Temple was destroyed long ago by the Romans. When they finish their ascent to Temple Mount, all they see are Muslim shrines. Even some Israelis including leading politicians discourage Jews from visiting Temple Mount, to appease those who seek their very destruction. Yet, the question is rhetorical: The religious and national heritage established and perpetuated by this ancient sacred site of the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temples is reason enough.

Neither is Abbas oblivious to the ongoing movement of the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful and other organizations that have gained momentum in recent months to reclaim this ancient Jewish Holy Site as belonging exclusively to the Jews. Knesset Members are listening more intently to those calling for annexation of Temple Mount as part of Jerusalem proper … with the ultimate goal of rebuilding the Third Temple.

Some Tough Perplexing Questions

Some, including me, have championed the Israeli/Jewish right to the Promised Land and also their authority to rebuild the most sacred edifice ever erected in Jewish history—Solomon’s Temple. Plus the Biblically predicted fact that a Third Temple will one day be rebuilt. Please see Eye of Prophecy posts, A Third Jewish Temple, Part I & Part II, published 4-26-14 and 5-3-14.

But with this article, a reverse twist meant to dutifully challenge (with consideration, courtesy, respect, and even reverence) the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with a poignant but probing question: Where is the Temple?

What happened to it? How can any Jew embrace and practice Judaism without the ancient sacrifices, which is the fundamental reason the Tabernacle and then the Temple was built in the first place? Did the loss of the Temple affect the very core of the Jewish faith? If so, how and to what extent? In light of clear Scripture evidence that God, himself, orchestrated the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (through a pagan nation, Babylon, to punish Israel for their grievous transgressions … likewise Roman demolition of the 2nd Temple because of Israel’s unbelief), has God also done away with the very heart of his redemptive plan for mankind through Israel—reconciliation and salvation by the sacrificial shedding of blood?

Please continue with me today and for the next two articles. I believe you’ll find this to be a fascinating journey beginning some thirty-three hundred years ago at Mount Sinai. We will closely examine and follow the hallowed unerring map of Scripture that will lead us to our destination. Then decide for yourself if the question has been answered and what it really means.

But first an (obvious) disclaimer: The question, Where is the Temple, isn’t meant to be answered by a literal location. Because we know that the Temple isn’t (anywhere). It’s gone. But why? Was there a more far-reaching purpose why God allowed the Temples to be obliterated? What was/is God’s ultimate purpose for the Temple? Can that purpose be fulfilled if there is no Temple? Who, if anyone; or what, if anything, has replaced the Temple for two thousand years?

In short, how can the Jewish faith function without adhering to the entire Mosaic Law; which clearly was an equally balanced two-tier foundation of: (1) Obedience to God’s Word … pillars of laws, commands, decrees, regulations. (2) Sacrificial Offerings … the cornerstones of atonement by, blessing from, and relationship with God. Moreover, the God-ordained location for the animal sacrifices was first the Tabernacle and later the Temple, which were built on Mount Moriah, the ancient site of today’s Temple Mount. Among other requirements, only the physical entrance into the inner sanctuary (Holy of Holies) once a year by the High Priest would ensure God’s ultimate forgiveness of Israel’s sins, individual and national.

Putting it bluntly: Keeping the Ten Commandments and other regulatory decrees is only half of what is required by the Law of Moses. There must also be strict observance of the Sacrificial System as a means of reconciliation to God for breaking his law. How can God remove or even cover sin without the required sacrificial offerings commanded by God through Moses? If the Temple is rebuilt, will the reinstated burnt offerings once again certify forgiveness of sin and restoration to God?

The entire Jewish faith hinges on the Law of Moses. But without the Sacrificial System that reached its annual peak on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to include the sacrifice of one goat in the Holy of Holies within the Temple itself for forgiveness of sins; then the release of the second (scape) goat into the wilderness to symbolically carry away the sins of the people, how can a Jew or anyone be reconciled to God.

Regarding the Day of Atonement: “On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins” (Leviticus 16:30). Then a few verses later: “This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the Lord once each year” (Leviticus 16:34).

We will, therefore, begin with the basic premise of the Mosaic Law: No Temple, no sacrifices. No sacrifices, no forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness of sins, no redemption.

In the Beginning

God activated his extraordinary plan of salvation for the entire human race immediately after Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden. Because God is omniscient, he knew that the man and women he created would misuse the free will he gave them, by deliberately choosing to disobey him; thus, he conceived a remarkable remedy that would satisfy his attributes of holiness and justice. Because the very life of mankind is sustained by blood, the sacrificial substitutionary shedding of blood would be the source of a redemptive purchase from the penalty of sin … of restoration to God.

Many know the story. Shamed by the guilt of their sin, Adam and Eve suddenly realized they were “naked.” Before they ate the fruit of the one tree that God forbade them to touch, they thought nothing of wearing only their “birthday suit” in the Garden. But when they took the fruit from the tree and ate it, “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves” (Genesis 3:7).

But from God’s vantage point, Adam and Eve’s choice of fig leaves or any other botanical covering was totally inadequate to hide their nakedness, which now was a source of culpability before God. Meaning that their nakedness was a whole lot more than skin deep. Their very soul and spirit had been exposed before God, an exposure that revealed the ugliness of their sin and accountability for their rebellion.

Do you remember what the Lord did? First, he pronounced the penalty on Satan, then Eve, then Adam. Only after sentencing Adam and Eve did the Lord make both a literal and symbolic provision to cover their dishonor and disgrace. “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (Genesis 3:21).

As many Bible commentators and teachers have correctly said: In order to provide the animal skins, God had to kill (shed the blood of) innocent animals. Thus began the fundamental source of and prerequisite to man’s redemption, which would subsequently become an essential, eternal life-giving principle and practice that began in the time of Moses—the substitutionary shedding of innocent blood in exchange for forgiveness of sin.

Not the warped child sacrifice that some depraved ungodly people have practiced down through the ages; rather the sacrifice of otherwise innocent animals. An absolutely vital truth that would eventually culminate in the greatest sacrifice of all time; one that would forever bridge the unbridgeable chasm between man and God. The sacrifice of lambs, goats, and bulls was only a temporary prototype depicting the once for all atonement of the Righteous for the unrighteous, the Just for the unjust.

“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Why shedding of blood? Because God through Moses said: “…the life of the body is in the blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible” (Leviticus 17:11).

First, the (Ten) Commandments

The entire Levitical sacrificial system was an inseparable facet of the meticulous Tabernacle design, construction, and function imparted by God to Moses. But first came the Ten Commandments … then more commandments, decrees, and regulations. Followed by detailed instructions of what to do about violations, both intentional and inadvertent, of these moral, spiritual, social, and ceremonial laws. Thus, the shedding of the blood of innocent animals accompanied with true heartfelt repentance of wrong things done constituted the remedy … the ongoing solution for breaking God’s laws.

If asked how and when the Ten Commandments were first given to the Hebrews, many Jews and even Christians who read the Bible on a regular basis would answer that the Commandments were written by the hand of God on two solid stone tablets during Moses’ forty day sojourn on Mount Sinai. And they would be correct. Well not quite, but almost!

No, it was not when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the stone tablets, then smashed them on the rocks in anger at what some of the people had done in his absence … the golden calf. Only to return to the mountain for a second set of tablets. It was before that.

“Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai … Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians … Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. This is the message you must give to the people of Israel’” (Exodus 19:1-6).

Moses then relayed God’s words to the people who agreed that they would, “…do everything the Lord has commanded” (Verse 8). But then God did something entirely unexpected. Up to this point, God had spoken audibly only to Moses.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you’” (Verse 9). Moses then relayed specific instructions to the people to get them ready for this spectacular encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the true and living God.

“On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply” (Exodus 19:16-19).

“Then God gave the people all these instructions: ‘I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind….’” (Exodus 20:1-4).

The passage continues with God’s majestic powerful voice naming each one of the Ten Commandments. Thus, the Israelites first received the Commandments directly from the voice of God. What was their reaction?

“And they said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!’” (Exodus 20:19).

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” (Verse 20).

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: You saw for yourselves that I spoke to you from heaven’” (Verse 22).

Following the Ten Commandments, many more instructions concerning their relationship with God and interpersonal relationships with each other were given to Moses.

“Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the Lord had given him. All the people answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded’” (Exodus 24:3).

All of God’s Covenants have been sealed with blood, including the Covenant with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. So, too, with Moses and the Hebrews. “Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, ‘Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions’” (Verse 8).

Another incredible thing happened: “Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders climbed up the mountain again. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!” (Exodus 24: 9-11).

Amazing! More than once in Scripture, we are told that no one can look upon God and live. In this case, the Lord made an exception. However, I’m convinced that this face to face encounter with the living God was possible because God appeared in the form of the pre-Incarnate Messiah, the second Person of the Godhead, who made other appearances before he actually came to this earth, born of a Virgin.

Only after all these remarkable events did Moses actually receive the Ten Commandments in written form … the tablets. “Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:18).

Then the Tabernacle

Not until the Law was given to Moses, then to the people, did God issue orders to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Yet even the Covenant of the Law had to be ratified with blood. This Mosaic Law was and still is the bedrock core essence of Judaism. It is practiced with a good deal of diligence and passion in today’s world, especially by Orthodox and Conservative Jews. Even liberal Jews innately recognize that being a Jew is more than genealogical; it’s identification with and (to varying degrees) participation in these sacred beliefs that ultimately define them as Jewish.

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Photo Depicts Temple Mount. Plenty of Room for 3rd Temple!

The written Law of Moses is of vital importance to the Jewish faith; it is the heart of the Torah … the first five books of the Bible. Indeed, the Ten Commandments provide the most excellent moral foundation known to mankind. Strategic, enforceable laws are built on it. Time tested values and customs thrive on it. Healthy family and social relationships depend on it. But without the ensuing Festivals and particularly the Sacrificial Offerings, any spiritual interaction and relationship with God was impossible. Because no one could or can keep every point of the Law. You break one law, you break them all.

Then the Temple replaced the Tabernacle as a much larger, more glorious, permanent building in Jerusalem; that nevertheless possessed the same blueprint design consisting of, for example, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.

But the question cannot be skirted or flippantly brushed aside: Where is the Temple? Which then begs the question: What happened to the Sacrificial Offerings sovereignly instituted by God?

If a Jew or if any Gentile is going to stake their eternal destiny on successfully keeping/following the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments, or even related man-made moral/religious rules of conduct, then they must comply with two cornerstone requirements articulated and demonstrated throughout Scripture by the true and living God who issued these decrees.

  • The laws must be kept perfectly and continually, without exception. (God’s Holiness)
  • If anyone sins by breaking even one law, then they must internally—from their heart— confess their sin, ask for forgiveness; and externally demonstrate their repentance by an appeal to the High Priest for a substitutionary shedding of innocent blood to remove the guilt and stain of these sins. (God’s Grace and Mercy)

In other words, the Law without Grace can only condemn. It cannot save. Right standing with God comes only through faith in God’s sacrificial provision for every man, woman, and child.

Anticipating the Hebrews’ questions on who would succeed their High Priest, Aaron, God told Moses: “In future generations, the purification ceremony will be performed by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to serve as high priest in place of his ancestor Aaron….” (Leviticus 16:32).

But there was a High Priest who predated Aaron and Moses by hundreds of years—Melchizedek. A priest who gave Abraham the first High Priestly blessing ever given, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:18). A priest who was also a king, which superseded the Aaronic priesthood; because after Moses’ time priests could not be kings, nor could kings be priests.

Eventually there would come a High Priest who was sinless, who didn’t need to make a sacrificial purification offering for himself. Indeed, this High Priest was a descendant from the tribe of Judah because he is also the King of Israel, who would sacrifice himself for the sins of the people … ALL people, Jew and Gentile alike.

“And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God who said to him, ‘You are my Son, Today I have become your Father … You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’” (Hebrews 5:4-6).

Things to Ponder

Because the Temple and, therefore, the sacrificial system of sin and peace offerings were eradicated by the Romans in 70 AD, Halacha (keeping the Jewish law, the complete body of rules that Jews are bound to follow, including biblical and rabbinical commandments and binding customs) is the only viable facet of Judaism applicable to contemporary Jews.

But according to the Scriptures (Torah itself), this is not enough. God knew that no one could ever keep the law in its entirety, because every person is born with a sin nature and a nature to sin. Thus, the law was not meant to be the source of salvation. It was intended only to show us God’s perfect standard of righteousness, and how no person ever has or ever will live up to that standard. That trust in God’s marvelous plan of substitutionary sacrifice (first with animals and finally, for all time, with his Son) was the only way of salvation.

This was true long before God gave the Law and the Sacrificial Offerings to Moses and the people. “And Abraham believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6, italics for emphasis).

And Justice For All

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And Justice for All

“Get down,” Doran pleaded with the people. They kept running. He trained his weapon on the terrorist, looking for an opening in the crowd.

“Allah Akbar!”

“No!” Doran screamed at the diabolical words, straight from the gates of Hades. His finger covered the trigger. Doran fired.

With exact duplication of time and space, the mujahedeen answered.

The detonation leveled nearly everything and everyone in a thirty-yard radius. Doran and his driver remained untouched. Many of his people had blocked the blast, absorbing it with bodies shredded by deadly shrapnel.

Dazed by the explosion, Doran slumped to the seat of his jeep. Within a few seconds his head cleared. His ears opened to the horrific screams of the injured. He stood and stared at his men as they approached the dead and dying with weapons raised. His eyes drifted to his hands, which still clutched the gun. His gut twisted at the blood and body tissue splattered on his hands and arms. He frantically wiped his hands on the seat of the jeep.

The haze of smoke and human debris settled over the ghastly killing field. He fell to the seat again, looked at his driver, and mumbled, “This is wrong. This is so wrong.”

Doran Zimmerman is an Israeli Defense Force Captain who and whose men were unable to prevent the 12th and final terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Some of the previous (planned) assaults had been thwarted, but not this one. Dozens of innocent Israeli civilians died in these horrific attacks. Stunned by the savage enormity of such evil, all Doran could think and say was that this inhumane cruelty was wrong, so very wrong.

Sometimes that’s all any of us can say. How else can we express our horror and sorrow for the brutal shootings, knifings, bombings, and ramming of cars into bystanders taking place in Israel on a far too regular basis?

The gruesome scene just described to you took place at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, it is fictional … as depicted in one of the early chapters of my first book, a novel entitled, O Israel … the end is the beginning for those left behind. (Published 2007, Pages 49, 50).

Unfortunately, what you just read is an all too real illustration of life in Israel, something that has taken place much too often in the market places, streets, schools, homes, and just recently synagogues of Israel. The fence barriers and increased security at Israeli checkpoint crossings have greatly diminished the incidents of suicide bombings, but terrorists determined to kill and maim totally innocent people are adept at adjusting and improvising. And missile launchings continue periodically from the Gaza Strip.

Permit me to quote another excerpt from O Israel; this from one of the main characters, Avram Levitt, a Jewish scribe; in one of his seven global email messages addressed to, All Who Have Eyes to See and Ears to Hear:

…May I begin with a tough question? What is it that drives someone to strap explosives around his waist, push a button, and detonate himself into eternity in order to maximize the killing of those who may look, think, and believe differently?

How can a mother proudly celebrate the death of her child who has taken his own life along with the lives of innocent people? Is it because her child has graduated from terrorist training and been given the label of shahid in order to accomplish shahada, the so-called sweet death for Allah? Or is it a demonstration of how much hatred the human heart can hold and parcel out through incomprehensible actions that only the hard of heart would not consider evil? (Page 57).

Fiction Becomes Frightening Fact

Fast forwarding to the news source, Ynet; which earlier this week reported a direct quote from parents of the two terrorists who stormed into a Jewish synagogue this past Tuesday (11-18). Said the parents in praising their sons who had just murdered four Jewish Rabbis and one Israeli Druze policemen and wounded (some seriously) other Jewish worshipers who were in the midst of morning prayers at the west Jerusalem Har Nof synagogue:

“They are both Shahids (martyrs) and heroes.”

One of the terrorist’s cousins, Allah Abu Jamal boasted, “This act occurred because of pressures exerted by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people in general, and a prolonged harming of the al-Aqsa mosque…. We responded with cheers when we heard of their death. People offered candy to those who came to visit us, and there was happiness for the Shahids.”

Shocking. Appalling. Grisly. Repugnant. Sickening. There aren’t enough adjectives in any language to describe the macabre mentality of a religion and people of that religion who express glee at the death of innocents and happiness at the loss of their sons and daughters who murdered the innocents.

What pressure is Abu Jamal referring to? What prolonged harming of the Temple Mount mosque is he describing? Those of us who keep our thumb on the pulse of Jerusalem and Israel and the Middle East, who know anything at all about the history of Israel, who know what’s really happening can say with a great deal of certainty and accuracy:

There is no pressure, but the pressure built by the Muslims bent on Israel’s destruction, on elimination of every single Jew in the Promised Land. There is absolutely no harm done to the Muslim Mosque on Temple Mount by the Jews. There is, however, a great deal of harm inflicted by Muslims to Jews who visit this Holy Site of Temple Mount, which has belonged to the Jews from Biblical times as given to them by God himself. Lately there has been a surge of rock throwing, Molotov cocktails, beatings, riots, perpetrated by Muslims on Jews who ascend Temple Mount.

A New Breed of Killers

Early Tuesday morning, two cousins from East Jerusalem, Ghassan and Oday Jamal shamelessly slinked into the Jewish synagogue and mercilessly killed the rabbis and policeman with a gun, ax, and meat cleaver. I wanted to include photographs of the bloody crime scene in this article, but decided at the last minute not to. The words of dismay and revulsion expressed in this post are enough.

What makes this assault and other recent incidents different from past homicide bombings or missile attacks is that the attackers were Arab residents of East Jerusalem. Whether they were actual Israeli Arab citizens is unclear, but East Jerusalem residency allows for many of the same privileges afforded to Israeli citizens … municipal voting rights, access to social security benefits and state health care, and issuance of Israeli ID cards. They were not Palestinian Arabs occupying the West Bank proper or Gaza Strip.

The recent weapons of choice have been cars slamming into children; knives and screwdrivers plunged into unsuspecting men and women; axes and meat cleavers butchering rabbis praying to God … the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

These lone wolf attacks are extremely difficult to predict, prevent, or defend by even the IDF. Now days, it’s nearly impossible for a Palestinian from the West Bank or from Gaza to enter Israel carrying wrap around explosives or high-profile weapons. But not so with Israeli Arabs and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who enjoy the liberty so cherished in Israel—a great deal of freedom to travel through Israel as they choose.

We’re not talking about undocumented immigrants or unauthorized personnel walking the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or Nazareth while stalking their Jewish prey. Now we have Arabs who possess some or all the rights of Israeli citizenship; using their freedom of movement and privacy to pounce on unsuspecting men, woman, and children. Innocent human beings who only wanted to accomplish their tasks for that day, go home to the welcoming arms of their family, and prepare for another day of the precious existence given to them by their Creator and their Country.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—snuffed out in a moment of indescribable horror. Their very presence on this earth unlawfully, immorally, unjustly, indiscriminately, and unfairly taken away by the hands of another. There aren’t enough adverbs in any language to express the wicked depravity of such men and their deplorable deeds.

This is wrong, it is so wrong.

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Israeli Mourners for the Slain Rabbis

A Disgusting Celebration

What makes this horrendous crime different from any mass murder in the United States or anywhere else in the world is that thousands upon thousands of Arab Palestinians proceeded to celebrate the death of the innocent victims. And it’s understood that many Arabs who did not overtly celebrate, gave tacit approval to the carnage and death. Of course there are murderers all over the world. But do their relatives, friends, and compatriots rejoice over the death of the victims?

Just as Palestinians danced with delight in the streets over the shockingly unjust murder of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11, so there was rejoicing by both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs in Israel over the death of four Jews and the maiming of several others. They celebrated the brutal death of Rabbis, Moshe Twersky, 59; Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; Kalman Levine, 55 (all three US-born citizens who moved to Israel). Plus a British born Jewish Rabbi, Avraham Goldberg, 68. Together, the four left four widows, a total of twenty-six children, and multiple grandchildren to grieve forever over their loss. And not to forget the Druze policeman, who later died from his wounds.

Rabbi Kalman Levine grew up in Kansas City and moved to Israel in his twenties. His father, Bernard Levine still lives just south of the Country Club Plaza.

Born in Lawrence, Kansas and a resident of Kansas City, Missouri for many years, I have shopped at and driven through this plaza often. I’m sure I’ve driven by the Levine house on or near Ward Parkway hundreds of times. For all I know, I may have seen Kalman (formerly Cary) Levine outside his home at one time or another. This makes his and the violently tragic death of all who were slain even more (personally) heartbreaking.

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Photo of Rabbi Levine

Revolt with me in indignation at the vicious words of “praise” for the deaths of more Jews and “victory” of the Muslim “martyrs,” Again quoting the terrorists’ cousin, Allah Abu Jamal who claimed that the family was unaware of the men’s intentions: “The terror attack was a big surprise for us. Praise Allah, a man dying a Shahid is a great thing.” In the context of adulation for his cousins, Jamal’s choice of words “terror attack” was either a slip of the tongue or facetious sarcasm to mimic or scoff at, or a parody of the true nature of the crime, which indeed is terrorism—cold-blooded random murder of innocent victims.

Or the expected, but nevertheless insensitive, inconsiderate, and cruel statement of Hamas spokesman, Mushir al-Masri, who called the attack a, “heroic action.”

Palestinian social media has already been inundated with cartoons and graphics celebrating the murders and calling for other such actions. These malicious, hateful taunts followed a Palestinian song urging further use of their cars for terror attacks in what they are now labeling, Car Intifada or Autofada. Or social campaigns using animation to promote the murder of Jews in any fashion and with any weapon imaginable. To be more creative in killing Israelis.

Says another Hamas spokesman, Husam Badran, to all Arabs: “…Turn your weapons against your enemies and ours. Write your names in the true list of honor.”

Honor? Justice? Righteous Acts of Violence? I think not and so do you or anyone who embraces true honor, who longs for real justice, who understands that authentic righteousness precedes and follows Peace, not murder and mayhem of innocent people.

No place is a place for murder. But in a synagogue? At the most holy moment of the prayer service … Amida, the central prayer to God. Wrapped in their talits (prayer shawls) that would in a moment of terror be soaked with their life’s blood. I shed tears of sorrow, sympathy, and wrath as I write these words. And I’m a Gentile.

This is wrong; so very, very wrong.

What is God’s View?

Here is what the Sovereign Lord of Scripture says about murder: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6, NASB). This reference is to premeditated murder, not to the self-defense justified killing of someone to protect life. Or even the killing that goes with war.

Though God cannot tolerate any kind of sin, Scripture tells us that he particularly despises the following: “There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family” (Proverbs 6:16-19, italics for emphasis).

Muslim terrorists and the political and social leaders who support them (or any terrorist or murderer, but the vast majority of global terrorists are, in fact, Muslims) frequently plot evil and lie about anything and everything to achieve their warped goals. This includes rewriting Israel’s history, pouring out lies to the world about their rights to the Temple Mount and who instigates the violence there and elsewhere, and by inflaming their people, for example, to: “Keep the settlers and the extremists away from Al-Aqsa and our holy places.” (A recent quote from the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen).

Indeed, it’s the so-called moderate leader of the West Bank that has recently turned radical to ingratiate himself with his chief rival, Hamas of the Gaza Strip; who has incited the recent lone wolf attacks with such rhetoric as, “We will not allow our holy places to be contaminated. Keep them away from us and we will stay away from them, but if they ever enter Al-Aqsa, we will protect Al-Aqsa and the church and the entire country.”

Their holy places! Really? Says who? The Koran? Not hardly. The Koran doesn’t even mention the city of Jerusalem … not once! The Bible references Jerusalem hundreds of times.

Holy places contaminated? What Jew would ever think or want to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque? Abbas is really saying that the Jews are contaminating all of Israel, a land that the Palestinians claim is rightfully theirs. But they have no ancient or contemporary deed to the land.

And just how do Arab Palestinians interpret these warnings from Abbas? No less than by entering a Jewish synagogue and murdering Rabbis at prayer. Is that how they keep the Jews away from the Arabs? Is that how they stay away from Israelis … by slaughtering them? Is that how they are supposed to protect Al-Aqsa and the entire country? Whose country is it anyway? There is no Palestinian State and never has been. There is no Palestinian people … only Arabs. There is no Palestinian language and never has been … only Arabic. The Arabs were not there first. The Jews were; at least 2,500 years before. Originally, Palestinians were Jews. Arabs didn’t refer to themselves as Palestinians until Israel became a State in 1948. Actually, not until the Palestinian Authority in the 1960s.

No, the Palestinian Arabs do not want peace, or to be left alone, or to co-exist with the Jews. They want one thing and one thing only: To be rid of all Jews in Israel and the entire world. That is precisely what is propagated in the Palestinian Charter.

Where is the Justice?

As in a previous Eye of Prophecy article, Bring Back Our Boys (published 6-28-14), this blog post contains some harsh language regarding Muslim atrocities in the name of Islam or Allah. Yes, I am angry over the needless, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking slaughter of innocent Jews—in our time and throughout the annals of human history. And, in more general terms, for all innocent people whose precious lives were extinguished by their fellow human beings for a myriad of motives; but particularly because of their race and beliefs. This also includes arbitrary killing of Jews and Muslims by the Crusaders, who were not true believers in Christ, but Christian in name only.

Is mine a righteous anger? Is yours? I’d like to think so … I believe it is. But only because my righteousness is God-given, imputed through and by the righteousness of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have no innate righteousness of my own. I have been declared righteous because of my trust in Yeshua as Savior. So, too, do I strongly believe in justice. As do many people throughout the world for thousands of years.

Yet, those who have not accepted the redemption found through Christ—purchased through his death, burial, and resurrection—often think more in terms of revenge than justice. The Bible speaks of justice in dozens of passages, and tells us that God loves justice … a pure justice. Indeed, that is one of his many attributes. Frequently, Scripture declares that God will avenge (with a holy, righteous justice) the innocent. Such as:

“For, I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed” (Isaiah 61:8-9). God’s love of justice is a universal, perpetual truth applicable to all peoples and situations. But the passage is also referring more specifically to the nation of Israel, to the Jews.

There is a special favor from God to those who pursue justice. “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

The two assailants that murdered the rabbis were shot and killed by Israeli police, who had no other choice in order to save more lives. And rightfully so … that was justice. It is also justness for the Israelis to demolish the houses of the terrorists, if for no other reason that a stern lesson and deterrent from future attacks. In some countries, particularly Islamic governments, the immediate family of the offenders might have been arrested, imprisoned, or even killed out of retribution. Thus, additional measures by the Israeli government are mild in comparison.

As in my follow-up article to Bring Back Our Boys, entitled Prince of Peace (published 7-5-14), I want to reaffirm that I (and I hope all who are believers in Christ) will not direct my reactions and emotions to hatred of the assassins; rather, only loathing of their actions. For one thing this deplorable behavior of terrorists and murderers all over the world is only an extreme expression of the sin that we all are capable of. This statement in no way condones what they have done. Rather, it simply highlights the fact that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. As John Newton said, “I am a great sinner. And Christ is a great Savior.”

To once again emphasize that there will not be any real peace, no pure justice until Messiah Jesus returns to this war-torn, evil preoccupied, worn-out earth to establish his Kingdom of Righteousness, Justice, and Peace.

Listen to these majestic words of prophecy concerning the glorious second coming of Messiah Jesus: “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction” (Isaiah 42:1-4, italics for emphasis).

Not crushing the weakest reed or putting out a flickering candle refers to the poor, weak, downtrodden of the earth who, in spite of all their trouble, truly seek God. Messiah will treat these folks with tenderness and love. He will right all the wrongs that have been done to them.

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Funeral Procession for Three of the Slain Rabbis

Things to Ponder

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Despite several recent legal challenges, one Nation under God, has withstood the misguided efforts to remove God from the US Flag salute. But I fear that one day, under God will be legally removed from this honored salutation, and perhaps from our seats of government and halls of justice.

I firmly believe that unless we and our leaders at least acknowledge the sovereignty of Almighty God in creating and blessing this great nation, there will no longer be liberty and justice for all. In fact, liberty and justice is already being twisted and tainted in, of all places, our courts of law. Judges are overturning referendums and laws passed by majority of citizens in several states on important moral issues such as marriage and abortion.

We all need Jesus in our hearts, lives, and relationships with family, friends, community, state, nation, and the world. Only the Prince of Peace can bring true justice and peace to this world.

“But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds. For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer” (Psalms 9:7-12).

WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.

Jesus is right, so very right.

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