Israel’s Government in Limbo … Unprecedented!

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No, I’m not talking about Knesset members in Jerusalem doing the Limbo. An acrobatic dance to see how low one can go by bending over backwards, while passing under a horizontal pole low enough to step over.

Lately there has been very little bending over backwards of Israel’s leaders. Or for that matter leaders of virtually every country on earth, what with the pitiful polarization of people between and from within nations.

I’m referring to that other kind of limbo, defined by Webster’s Dictionary: “a place or state of restraint or confinement; an intermediate or transitional place or state.”

For the first time since Israel was reborn as a sovereign Jewish State in 1948 and following unscheduled mid-term elections just three months ago, the Israeli Knesset failed to establish a majority coalition.

Nonetheless, despite the (sometimes) perplexing parliamentary paradigm of Israel’s government and election process, it truly is one of the most democratic systems in the world. Reason: It combines the best of pure democracy and a representative republic by giving voice to many more platforms than those nations which have just two parties, or even three or four.

When Israelis participate in national elections they vote for a party, not for an individual. Parties that garner the minimum number of votes required (which also determines the number of Knesset representatives) then decide which of their associates will serve in the Knesset. The ruling coalition, which can consist of several blocs, must have a minimum of 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. Israel’s Prime Minister is the recognized leader of the largest party of the majority coalition. In this case, it would have been a reelected Benjamin Netanyahu.

(Interior of Knesset)

(The graph on the left represents the 20th Knesset before mid-term elections were held this past April. With the 61 Knesset members to the right on that graph part of the Likud-led majority coalition)

You may not know about this situation in Israel. Or, if you do, you may not be familiar with the details, some of which will be provided in the context of today’s focus: the prophetic destiny of Israel’s national redemption and restoration. And how that destiny will determine the fate of the entire world.

I’d like to begin with an excerpt from my first book—a novel entitled O Israel. Which was also quoted in a prior Eye of Prophecy article: The Jewish Dichotomy In & Outside Israel (posted 6-20-18). It summarizes the intriguing divergence of the Jewish people (unity despite disunity) as seen through the eyes of one of the main characters—Avram Levitt, a Jewish Scribe:

Avram marveled at Israel and its people. For a country not much larger than the state of New Jersey, with a population smaller than many of the world’s cities, Israel’s cultural, religious, and political diversity equaled that of many larger countries. No better expression of variance could be found than in the two cities that characterized Israel: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They balanced on the distant points of the cultural and religious pendulum, yet both cities were distinctively Jewish.

…It was Tel Aviv that best expressed and defined Israel’s remarkable progress: …beautiful galleries, grand theatres, contemporary concert halls, modern restaurants, seaside skyscrapers, and luxurious beach hotels…

Jerusalem was always the “ancient city.” Here you will find the long, storied past of Israel, with its patriarchs, judges, prophets, kings, and divinely appointed destiny of land and people.

…If a citizen of Israel preferred the label of Israeli, there was a good chance that person lived in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem or surrounding towns, residents embraced the time-honored appellation of Jew. After all, the word Jew originated from Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob and ancestor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Any Jew who had read the Torah, attended synagogue, or passed bar mitzvah, knew that Jacob blessed each of his twelve sons. For Judah, the blessing included two remarkable predictions. Like a lion, Judah would defeat its enemies. And “the scepter will not depart from Judah … until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom the nations will honor.”

In Israel, the majority of Jewish Israelis agreed they were either hiloni (secular) or masorti (traditional). For Jacob’s descendants who practiced Judaism, whether conservative, orthodox, or ultra-orthodox, Jerusalem was the main attraction. The secular, the atheistic, and the liberals preferred Tel Aviv. For the reformed, either city would do.

But all Israelis passionately exhibited one unifying trait and defended one ultimate purpose: the survival of Israel as a people, as a sovereign democratic state, as a nation reborn from the floods of dispersion and from the fires of Nazi death camps.

Jews synthesized over another common denominator, which Avram had not been afraid or embarrassed to articulate: “an enemy who wants to reduce them to ashes, to drown them in the sea, to erase Israel from memory, from all maps of the civilized world.” (Pages 15-16).

In the article referenced above, I wrote:

In much larger geographic and demographic nations like the United States of America (population 327 million) you’d expect a wide range of political, social, economic, cultural, and religious diversity. But with only 6.6 million Jewish citizens of Israel and only 14+ million Jews on the planet you would anticipate fewer differences and certainly not such dramatic dichotomies within Israel nor among Jews throughout the world.

At the same time, both Israelis and Jews outside of Israel are an extraordinary example of a cohesive dichotomy (an oxymoron) unparalleled on Planet Earth.

Nevertheless, differences between Jews themselves can be troublesome, especially when the Jews as a people and Israel as a nation have so many adversaries….

Though there is significant solidarity of Jews within and outside of Israel, there are three basic Jewish dichotomies.

I went on to identify those dichotomies, with the most noticeable difference between secular and observant Jews, which will be the prominent point of this week’s post.

A Remarkable Turn of Events

On April 9th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party received enough of the popular vote to guarantee 35 seats. But with the same number of seats voted to the (newly formed just for this election) opposition party, Blue and White; co-led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and head of another party (Yesh Atid) that joined Blue and White—Yair Lapid. However, Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing alliance won the election with a coalition total of 65 potential Knesset seats, four more than the required minimum. Or, so everyone thought.

(Leaders of the Blue & White Party, the name of which represents the blue and white Star of David Israeli flag, Left to right are: Moshe Ya’alon; Benny Gantz; Yair Lapid; Gabi Yshkenazi … Gantz and Lapid are the two main representatives)

By Israeli Law, the winning coalition—comprised of smaller parties that unite with the leading vote-getting party—must formally structure a majority government, which is normally not that difficult. This must be done within 42 days after an election, which includes a two-week extension granted by the President (more of a ceremonial position in Israel, but important during the election process) if necessary. In this case, President Rivlin gave Benjamin Netanyahu one more week … to May 28th.

By the time of the extended deadline, the Likud party and its supporting factions could muster only 60 seats—a deadlock. Consequently, the 21st Knesset voted to dissolve itself and schedule another snap election on September 17, 2019.

Why did that happen?

Answer: Even though there were smaller parties supporting Likud (35 seats) with a total of 30 additional would-be Knesset representatives, it took just one party and its leader to dissolve the new Knesset, an unparalleled event in Israel’s modern history. The party: Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home). Its leader: Avigdor Liberman. I mentioned him in Eye of Prophecy article: Peace Between Israel & Judah … Then World Peace! (Posted 12-8-18).

As a background, here is an excerpt from that article:

About three weeks ago, another crisis developed in Israel’s government.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned his post (in protest over the government’s alleged lack of toughness with Hamas’ launching of some 450 rockets into Israel as well as the now eight-month Palestinian rioting at the Gazan border with Israel) and withdrew himself and his coalition party…. Thereby, reducing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition from 67 to the bare minimum of 61 seats.

Shortly thereafter, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (leaders of the Jewish Home Party—8 Knesset seats) threatened to exit the majority coalition government if Netanyahu didn’t appoint Bennett to Defense Minister to replace Lieberman.

If Bennett and Shaked didn’t back down, then the regular election scheduled for November 2019 likely would have taken place in 2-3 months. Netanyahu called the bluff of the Jewish Home party and Naftali Bennett withdrew his demand.

However, as a result of other developments—of which Liberman was the main catalyst—the Knesset ended up scheduling a mid-term election anyway (for April 9th, 2019). In principle, both Lieberman and his party had agreed to back the Likud. As a result of the April 9th election, his party was reduced from six to five Knesset members; still resulting in a convincing mandate of 65 seats for the majority coalition. Yet, they reversed their support after the election.

This abrupt turnaround came with an ultimatum imposed by Liberman, summarized in this quote from a June 4, 2019 Associate Press article reposted in the online news source World Israel News: “After appearing to win April 9 elections, Netanyahu was blocked from forming a government coalition by his political ally turned rival Avigdor Lieberman, who insisted on passing legislation that would require young ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted into the military like everyone else.”

This issue of observant Jews serving in the IDF has been controversial for years; it is one of the two main platforms of Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Even though this debate and/or passage of a law one way or another could have waited for official establishment of the 21st Knesset, Lieberman insisted that legislation be passed immediately that would force ALL Orthodox Jews to serve in the military (there are some who voluntarily report for duty). At the very minimum he insisted that the new government must make an advance commitment to mandatory service for the Orthodox.

Liberman further dug in his heels when he learned that Bezalel Smotrich of the United Right Party (ultra-Orthodox) was being considered as the next Justice Minister. Said Liberman:

“To my sorrow, the State of Israel is going to elections (again in the same year). We are natural partners (but only under his terms) in a right-wing government; we won’t be partners in a halachic government. The Likud failed in this work of building a coalition (thanks to Liberman’s rigid and impatient position) … and they and the Haredim are to blame for Israel going to elections” (emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

(*Note: Haredim is a term applied to observant Jews, particularly the Orthodox … in contrast to secular Jews, who far outnumber their religious kindred. Halachic is a Hebrew expression from the root word, halacha. Which means, “the way” or the “way of walking” or path. It encompasses the Torah commandments from God plus additional man-made rules added by rabbis over the centuries. Also, oral traditions handed down through the ages. In short, it’s the idea of an entire community or even a nation—as a whole, majority—following the instructions of the Lord in all areas of life … including politics. We’ll get back to that a little later.)

Although not nearly reason enough to join the Likud-led conservative coalition, liberal Jewish politicians also adamantly oppose any thought that Judaism would be the (a) governing base for the State of Israel. Said left-wing Meretz party member Tamar Zandberg, “It is clear that there cannot be a justice minister serving in Israel who wants to establish a theocracy.”

Which is, in fact, what ultra-Orthodox Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich proposed when he said: “The State of Israel will be run, God willing, as it was run during the days of King David and King Solomon—according to Torah law.”

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is passionately patriotic about Israel and gives considerable weight to Jewish tradition and the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that he often reads; he, too, does not favor what would be tantamount to an Israeli version of a State Church or Church (Synagogue) State. Said Netanyahu in a terse response to Smotrich: “The State of Israel will not be a halachic state.”

When there was some talk that the 21st Knesset might consider the possibility of a 60-seat Likud coalition (instead of the majority of 61 seats) even though it had been dissolved, Liberman again said: “A government of 60 is not a right wing government, but an ultra-Orthodox government that, instead of preserving Israel as a Jewish state, will change it into a theocracy.”

For now, the Knesset remains suspended with the Executive Staff of Israel’s government still intact (on an interim basis). However, no new laws can be introduced or voted on until the 22nd Knesset is formed. Elections are still scheduled for September but not merely because of what Liberman said. Which, in and of itself, is inaccurate, i.e. a 60-seat (or however many seats) Likud coalition government would in no way be an ultra-Orthodox government.

(Avigdor Liberman)

It’s nothing short of amazing that Israel’s dichotomy between secular and observant Jews is, in unparalleled fashion, the overriding reason that this mid-term election (April) did not result in a new government. Instead, another mid-term election is forthcoming. Of all the variables that could have blocked Netanyahu’s Likud-led government from being reinstated (renewed), it was Liberman’s party withdrawal from the conservative bloc that reduced the majority from 65 seats to a deadlock of 60 seats. Moreover, this withdrawal was driven by fear that the Israeli government would be heavily influenced, if not dominated, by the religious minority.

Even to the point of a Theocracy!

A Theocracy?

Should there be a theocracy in Israel? Yes!

But not the kind that many equate with a man-made Church State or State Church system. A hierarchal system such as found with the Roman Catholic Church which dominated many European kingdoms (nations) for hundreds of years, until the Reformation and Renaissance took hold. Or the past and threatening present-day geopolitical/religious Islamic Caliphate sought by both radical and moderate (if there is such a thing) Muslims. Or the antithesis of a government run by a religion (the true Christian faith is NOT a religion but a personal relationship with Messiah Jesus), found in agnostic state secular systems like Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and the like.

Which is why the Crusades, the Catholic Inquisitions, or Muslim conquest of much of the Middle East in the 20th & 21st centuries and a part of Europe hundreds of years ago bear absolutely no resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Simply put: God graciously gives us his precepts as the source of light and life for individuals and for nations, but he NEVER forces anyone or any government to trust and obey him. That’s why he gave us free will. To choose him because we want to, because we love him and are immensely grateful for the salvation freely given to us through his Son.

The following is an excerpt from Part II of, A Religion of Peace? (posted 4-18-15):

…Then by guilt through association, the observable connection between political and religious Islam and Muslims. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to separate the two; because the Koran doesn’t distinguish between Islamic political and religious decrees or demands. Although the number of Islamic militants (including the actual terrorists among them) is relatively small, the prevailing belief of Muslims the world over is that the Koran not only encourages submission to Islam by force if necessary, but actually demands it.

The practical painful result of this religious government can vividly be seen in the Middle East through brutal enforcement of Islam by terrorist atrocities; and to a lesser (in terms of the level of violence) but nevertheless large-scale implementation of Sharia law by national governments, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria. And Turkey is becoming more and more Islamic in its daily administration of national affairs.

Only Messiah Jesus can and will one day establish an absolutely Divine Government on this earth, one that will bring universal peace and prosperity. Indeed, he will administer the Kingdom of God on the earth, and the entire world will be the better for it.

Read with me the inspiring prophecy from Isaiah: “The government will rest on his shoulders … 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).

This magnificent Kingdom will be in its purest form a Divine Monarchy, based on God’s truth and justice. But until that time, Jesus, himself, recognized the necessary distinction between governmental administration and personal belief and conduct; between man’s individual interaction with God and his collaboration with the lawmakers and law enforcers of the land, when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:14, NASB).

This was an amazing response (one of many) given by Christ. The implications include acknowledgment that God is ultimately in control, but that he allows and even ordains that men shall be governed by higher authorities. With the strong inference that (given the fallibility of man) governments and administrative authorities cannot successfully legislate morality or spirituality, nor should they try. Meaning the Ten Commandments, as an illustrative example, came directly from God, not from a king or human ruler or government official or even a constitution. A constitution can and should reflect divine values from the true and living God of the Bible and enforce the legislative laws of the land; but a constitutional government of any kind (monarchy, parliamentary, democratic or representative republic) should not dictate its own (dictatorial) scruples, whether religious or secular, whether godly or ungodly. That belongs to the individual, and that person’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Almighty God.

Scripture is fundamentally clear that it is impossible for man (without God’s direct and personal authority through Messiah Jesus) to establish and execute a governmental system built on and from a religion, which is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church and the Islamic Caliphates have attempted to do down through the ages, often with tragic results. Even the Mosaic and Levitical laws (decrees, regulations, commandments) handed down by God to the Israelites were designed for two purposes: (1) A God-like high standard of excellence for human interaction, but also (2) to demonstrate to the Jews and all of mankind that they could not effectively keep God’s laws, either individually or nationally. That only Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law and, thus, qualified as God’s divine sacrificial offering for the sins of every man, woman, and child.

In this context, here is an excerpt from Part I of A Religion of Peace? (4-11-15):

The contextual, historical comparison that needs to be made between God’s instructions to the Israelites to vanquish some of the original tribes of Canaan and the commands from the god of Islam found in the Koran is this: The Old Testament provides an account of a particular historical episode at a specific time in Israel’s (beginning) history, for a precise duration of time, for a special purpose. The Israelites were to be the instrument of God’s judgment on a very perverse people while taking over a relatively small portion of the earth (all of which belongs to God in the first place) to live and serve God. Whereas, the Koran’s instructions to all Muslims is a perpetual edict (to subjugate Christians and Jews and kill them if they don’t submit) that has no historical parameters, no national boundaries (world-wide), and is to continue indefinitely. It is, in effect, an unlimited Koranic license to suppress and kill infidels, i.e. all who refuse to become Muslims. There is a world of difference between these antithetical models.

The State of the State of Israel

What we see taking place in Israel is of Biblical proportions! It is yet another dynamic prophetic development in these last days. It is a dispute between religious and secular Jews in Israel serious enough to temporarily topple a democratically elected government. Unwittingly, both sides are preparing themselves and the nation of Israel for the glorious return of Jesus of Nazareth, their Messiah and Savior.

He is the Jewish Messiah who will first bridge the gulf within Israel and between Jews everywhere. When that takes place, then:

The Orthodox among them have rekindled a burning desire to acknowledge the God of Israel in the affairs of state. This is generally good. What is not so good is that the religious Jews are still in denial that their Temple is gone and with it the all-important Levitical Sacrificial system for atonement of sin. They have refused to accept the reality that the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah to replace the Old Covenant of the Law came to pass when Messiah Jesus died on the cross for their sins (and of the whole world) and rose from the dead to prove that he is God’s own Son.

King David himself recognized that God has a Son, and this Son was also David’s Lord! (Psalm 2 & Psalm 110).

What the Jewish Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago still applies today. Especially now that Israel has been reborn, and observant Israelis once again are able to freely practice their version of the Law of Moses (minus the sacrifices):

“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my 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).

On the other hand, many secular Jews or those just partially observant possess a passionate hope for Messiah to arrive. Even though they know little of their own Scriptures, they have as much or more desire for Israel’s place in the family of nations that affords at least a measure of peace and security, than many observant Jews do. This perplexes the Haredim as their emphasis is on a Messiah who they say will not come until Jews begin to return in greater numbers to halachic (the practice of) Judaism, i.e. keeping of the Torah.

The following are the opening words from Eye of Prophecy article: Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here? (posted June 2016):

Globally, especially in Israel, both religious and secular Jews are longing for redemption.

Yet, they do not all agree on the scope of this redemption. Will it be individual, national, or both? Will it be physical, spiritual, or both? Orthodox Jews, particularly Rabbis, contend that penitence is a prerequisite to their redemption. But they differ on what constitutes repentance … to what degree or for what exactly should they repent. Most Jews simply don’t know what’s expected of them, if anything.

Tens of thousands of Messianic Jews have embraced Jesus as Messiah; they have accepted Scripture’s claim that only he can redeem individuals and nations. They believe (along with their Gentile believer counterparts) that redemption is precisely what the Bible and Jewish tradition says it is: a purchase or buy back from slavery. Which is, Biblically, first and foremost an enslavement to sin and its consequences—eternal separation from God.

It is what Webster’s Dictionary defines as: “to free from captivity by payment of ransom.”

The Bible says: “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins, says the Lord” (Isaiah 59:20).

…Isaiah is referring to the initial appearance of Messiah for individual salvation; but also, his return to accomplish Israel’s national redemption.

Many Jews see redemption almost entirely from a more secular meaning of the concept:

“To free from what distresses or harms; to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental; to change for the better; to get or win back.” (Webster’s Dictionary).

Thus, redemption to them means freedom from the constant distress and brutal harm from Palestinian terrorist attacks. They long for peace to overcome and replace the incessant detrimental threats of entire Muslim nations seeking Israel’s annihilation. They seek to exchange the relentless BDS actions against them for a better life of personal and national well-being and security. Some want to get back all the land that has been given to them by God, himself, some 4000 years ago—the entire Promised Land of Israel, including but not limited to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Prophet, High Priest, and King

Returning to the statement made by the ultra-Orthodox politician Bazalel Smotrich: Israel should be, run as it was run during the days of King David and King Solomon—according to Torah law.

Is he right about the reign of King David and his son Solomon, according to Torah law?

In all due respect to his honorable intentions, he is not correct. Why? Because he’s not factoring in all that happened in Israel’s ancient history, including the glory years of David and Solomon.

For that matter, there was a marked distinction between the roles of executive leaders (beginning with Moses) and the mediators (beginning with Moses’ brother, Aaron—the High Priest) who offered sacrifices for themselves and the people when they broke God’s laws given to/through Moses and other national leaders. Whether guided by the mighty prophet Moses, then the warrior-leader Joshua, followed by several judges (like Gideon), and finally kings, Israel’s government wasn’t run by the Torah as such, on anything approaching a consistent basis. Not even during the reign of King David and King Solomon. Time/space doesn’t permit citing several examples.

A true theocracy? It should have been, but it wasn’t.

Why?

God through Moses answers that question:

(New Living Translation: Four times the word choose, or choice is used!)

Who is the Lord addressing here? Israel’s government? No, there was no government as such then. He was speaking directly to the people, every individual. Did he say that his instructions would be forced on them one way or another—by a judge or a king or a prophet or a government? (Note: I’m not referring to the enforcing of ceremonial or civil or criminal laws; that’s not the main point here). No, it must be from their heart. A willing choice to love and obey Him. From the inside out, not outside in.

Though both sought God’s wisdom and counsel to govern Israel, neither King David nor King Solomon made keeping of the Torah compulsive. They knew that the best they could do was to seek and love the Lord themselves, follow his instructions, and be an example to their people. In today’s terminology, they didn’t legislate morality (or godliness). Rather, they endeavored to exemplify God’s standards of righteousness and holiness. But even they failed from time to time.

God’s main purpose for choosing David was threefold: (1) To unite the 12 tribes of Israel into one cohesive nation—Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital. (2) to complete the task that even Joshua didn’t—that of conquering parts of the Promised Land that God had given exclusively to his people. (3) Through David, a King would come who could and would do things even David couldn’t do. This King would redeem and restore Israel to God’s original plan for his special possession … Israel and the Jews. That of being blessed internally and an external blessing to the nations.

Although it was God’s preference not for Israel to have a king, he gave his people what they wanted. But he is omniscient, and he knew full well that His Law given through Moses wasn’t the problem. Rather it was the deliberate disobedience of his people. This is expressed explicitly and frequently in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. For example, in Psalms 78:

“…for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them” (Psalm 78:22).

“But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him” (Verse 32).

And, “Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant” (Verse 37).

Again, “But they kept testing and rebelling against God Most High. They did not obey his laws” (Verse 56).

Thus, invariably and inevitably, it was the preponderance of the people that determined their fate—individually and nationally. Because God has given them/us free will to decide right from wrong, good from evil, he wants everyone to willingly and eagerly choose him and his life-giving salvation. Accordingly, the Lord struck a balance between a nation’s government (governing officials) and its spiritual (Biblical) leaders. He doesn’t want kings (today’s Presidents and Prime Ministers) or their governments to assume the role of ministering to the people as do synagogue or church leaders. And vice versa.

Which is why a priest could be a prophet (example, Ezekiel) and a king could be a prophet (King David). But a priest could never be a king; nor a king be a priest.

Look no further than Judah’s King Uzziah, who for the most part, “…did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight…” (II Chronicles 26:4). But later in Uzziah’s reign, he entered the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple to personally burn incense; thereby, arrogantly assuming the role and audaciously acting on behalf of the priests.

Big mistake! God struck him with leprosy while he was still in the Temple.

Government leaders are to administrate to/for the outer needs of the people. Spiritual leaders are to minister to the inner needs of people. Neither in terms of time nor talents, should one role assume the other. Am I, as a born-again believer in Messiah Jesus, suggesting a separation of Church and State? Yes, but not as perceived by the secular liberals among us, who want all vestiges (even symbolic ones) of God removed from government or public places. That is missing the point ENTIRELY! For a more detailed presentation of this topic, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles, Separation of Church & State … For or Against? Part I & II (4-2 & 4-9-16).

(President George Washington often prayed in public, before people. Is that a lack of separation of Church and State?!)

Things to Ponder

The Lord doesn’t want his Word and the truth/source of redemption therein that produces eternal life, as well as the powerful promises and precious provisions for everyday living—no matter the kind of government—to be forced (legislated) on the individual or the nation. Even by or through a ruler and/or government whose intentions may be good, but whose faults and frailties and failures will sooner or later lead to laws and enforcement thereof which are detrimental to the greater populace. Producing the opposite effect to which they were intended.

He wants people to seek and serve him because they love and fear him (hold in awe, respect). The more of these people there are in a nation, the greater the Lord will bless that nation (Psalm 33:12; II Chronicles 7:14).

There’s only One Person—he who was, who is, and who is to come—who has accomplished and will one day soon completely fulfill for individuals and nations the redemptive role and governmental authority of Prophet, Priest, and King. He is, MESSIAH JESUS.

The prophet Zechariah spoke of him: “…Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between the two roles” (Zechariah 6:13).

“…For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established. 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 the 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 9:9-12, italics for emphasis).

In closing here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Kingdom of God (posted 1-17-15):

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.

Will Believers Go Through The Great Tribulation? (Part II)

“Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up!”

What father wouldn’t want to hear those words from his son? Or from his daughter, “Daddy, I’m going to marry a man just like you.”

Or a mother whose daughter praises her: “I hope I’m as good a Mom as you.” Whose son hugs her and beams, “You’re the best Mom ever.”

Precedents, prototypes, patterns, parallels, models, blueprints, and examples; both positive and negative. We recognize them. We relate to them. We learn from them. We literally and figurately build on them. World views and lifestyles are influenced by them.

How many times have you read, heard, or said: “For example…”?

One of several definitions in Webster’s Dictionary of example: “one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated; a parallel or closely similar case … when serving as a precedent or model.”

Precedent: “an earlier occurrence of something similar; something done or said that may serve as an example … or justify a subsequent act of the same or of an analogous kind.”

“Have you ever seen anything like that. It’s unprecedented.” Or: “They have a perfect marriage.” Or: “This is a pattern you want to follow.” And: “That’s a blueprint for success.”

On the other end of the spectrum: “What a terrible example.”

Even many unbelievers know that the first book of the Bible is called Genesis—the very name of which means beginnings. In it we find the (unprecedented) origin of all things, the epitome of which is life itself. With the embodiment of God’s masterpiece: creation of man and woman, husband and wife. And, ever so sadly, Adam and Eve’s introduction of sin through disobedience to God’s one and only command not to do something. With devastating results, the most tragic of which is death.

It is a model that has been physically reproduced and spiritually replicated in every person because we all are born with a sin nature, molded by our original parents and inherited from them. A paradigm that has produced all the ills of humanity. A pattern that can only be changed by God himself, by making all those who believe and receive His Son, Messiah Jesus, into new creations. A new beginning; a changed heart and life; a permanent right standing with God; a different eternal destiny (heaven).

This new life begins the moment we consciously accept Messiah Jesus as our Savior. Notice the present tense action (italicized for emphasis) in the following verses:

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36).

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (I John 5:11-12, emphasis added).

This new life will one day soon bring about an extreme make-over of our bodies, the astonishing result (completion) of being born again spiritually. Spiritual Bodies! (I Corinthians 15:44).

“…For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:52-53).

Christ Jesus came to earth as a human being, born of a Virgin—fully God and fully man. His sacrificial death purchased our salvation by the highest price ever paid. But then: HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD! Death could not defeat him. The grave could not hold him. The gates of hell will not prevail against him nor his redeemed followers.

He was the first to rise with an everlasting body. His is the unprecedented prototype. He is our living model and perfect example of what’s in eternal store for all who have believed and received him as Savior. Which will (begin to) take place at the Rapture.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Last week’s article provided direct Scriptural corroboration of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This week we’ll focus on what might be called indirect proof; nonetheless, evidence just as convincing because it includes Biblical examples and precedents.

Here is an excerpt from the previous post in preparation for this week’s article:

Biblical Precedents, Parallels, Prototypes, & Patterns

Virtually everything that happened during early New Testament times and those that will take place in the end-times of the last days (in which we are living), has an Old Testament forerunner—in terms of both correlation and contrast.

In the Old Testament we read: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants his prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Those plans include specific people, places, and events obviously relevant to Old Testament times. But also:

“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (I Corinthians 10:11).

This is God’s way of preparing New Covenant believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to fully grasp the promises that are part and parcel of the New Covenant of Grace. Not the least of which is the Rapture and its two-fold purpose: (A) Resurrection of dead believers followed by their transformation (along with living believers) to our imperishable spiritual bodies equipped to live in heaven forever. (B) Sparing living believers from the Great Tribulation by removing us from the earth.

All of which validate the oft-quoted axiom:

There’s a multitude of Old Testament people, places, events, or things that possess and preview the most prominent and powerful promises of God’s Word the Bible: (1) Individual redemption both spiritually and physically through Israel’s (Jewish) Messiah. (2) National restoration of the Jews to Israel followed by, “And so all Israel will be saved… And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).

Such things as the Old Covenant Tabernacle, then the Temple in which God’s presence dwelt among his people. Giving way to the New Covenant in which the Lord would dwell in the hearts of men and women. Even the furnishings of the Tabernacle were shadow types of the real thing. For example, the Menorah lampstand representing the Messiah.

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

And the seven Jewish Festivals, four of which have been fulfilled literally by the First Advent of Messiah Jesus beginning with Passover. The remaining three to be fulfilled when he returns, the last of which is Sukkot, the Festival of Shelters. “…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).

The writer of Hebrews compares the Old Covenant with the New: “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.’

“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. 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: ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah’” (Hebrews 8:5-8, the writer then quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Scripture is replete with precedents of something or someone that would be a foreshadow pattern of those things that would take place at the end of the age … The Day of the Lord that would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Such as the parallel pattern of Joseph and his brothers that prophetically portrayed the first coming of Messiah. Were it not for Joseph’s forgiveness of what his brothers did to him, they would not have been saved from famine (starvation).

Jesus proclaimed: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). And, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).

Or King David’s prototype eternal dynasty bequeathed to him by God; to be triumphantly restored upon the soon-to-be glorious return of his descendant, Jesus of Nazareth; who is also David’s Lord (Psalm 110).

Like Joseph’s brothers and their father Jacob were exempted from the massive seven-year famine (no coincidence that the Great Tribulation is also seven years in length) of their time, there are other Old Testament events to show that believers will be spared from the Great Tribulation to come.

Let’s begin with one that nearly all students of the Bible agree constitutes the most prominent prototype. In fact, it’s referred to it as an Old Testament Rapture.

First Example: Enoch

Both the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version read as follows: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

From the New Living Translation (which I quote from most of the time): “When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah… Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared because God took him” (Genesis 5:21, 23-24).

I’m fairly certain that one of the reasons the NLT translators/commentators chose disappeared was to match the prevailing premise that the Rapture will take place in “the blink of an eye. With the derivative presumption that believers will suddenly disappear without the left behind unbelievers knowing or seeing what happened.

As detailed in three prior Eye of Prophecy with a magnifying glass scrutiny of I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15, it’s impossible for the entire sequence of the Rapture to be over in a nanosecond. Only the actual bodily transformation of dead and living believers will take place in the blink of an eye. With the entire episode of the Rapture itself requiring several minutes.

Please see articles: How the Rapture? (Posted 8-24-13); The Shout Heard Around the World (4-2217); A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture! (4-20-19).

Whether in the more traditional translations of the Bible or the relatively newer (easier to read contemporary language) translations like the NLT, nowhere in this passage is it stated or even implied that Enoch’s departure from the earth was not witnessed by someone. Or that he was alone at the time. Others certainly saw Elijah taken away.

It’s certainly logical and reasonable to conclude that when God took Enoch it happened quickly, perhaps even, “here one second, the next second gone.” But we shouldn’t presume that no one saw him disappear. Those who assume he did are making a retroactive (reverse) analogy that raptured believers will instantaneously vanish based on that assumption. That’s effectively arguing in a circle. It’s using one presupposed feature of Point A (Enoch) to prove all facets of Point B (Rapture of believers) to further prove Point A.

In fact, Enoch as a composite preview prototype of the Rapture breaks down at this point. Why? Because there are none of the Rapture events described in I Thessalonians 4 that fit with Enoch’s example, excepting that he was taken to heaven while still alive.

Which is why the older translations better reflect what took place. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

How he was taken and whether anyone saw what happened (“He was right beside us. Where did he go?”) is unknown.

If Enoch is, indeed, a foreshadow of raptured believers (and he is but in limited way) there’s only two reasons that God would take him from the earth: (1) For the sake of precedence itself. (2) To spare Enoch from God’s first global judgment of the earth … The Great Flood. As a preview of living believers taken out of harm’s way before God’s 2nd and final judgment of the earth … The Great Tribulation.

Time/space doesn’t permit presentation of the calculations. But based on life expectancy (up to a thousand years) in the pre-Flood world, Enoch very well could have been alive when Noah’s Flood began. Would he have been spared? Of course, for the same reason Noah was delivered. But that’s not what God wanted us to see and know. He wanted New Testament believers to fully realize and marvel at the awesome privileges we have as his sons and daughters in Christ. Which among a plethora of promises is that of being spared from his final judgment of this wicked world.

Thus, Enoch is the optimum example of the Rapture, in terms of why believers will be taken from the earth and when (Pre-Flood and Pre-Tribulation, respectively).

Second Example: Noah

“When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous…. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created” (Genesis 7:1 & 4).

Here we have another prototype parallel to the Rapture, but only in terms of preserving Noah from the lethal result of God’s first global judgment. It further establishes that New Testament events (linked to the First & Second Advents of Messiah Jesus) including the Rapture, are at the very least generically rooted in Old Testament paradigms.

As stressed in last week’s Part I article: of paramount importance is that God’s judgment of the earth during the Great Tribulation is ONLY on and against the unsaved. So, it was when Noah’s flood occurred. Consequently, Noah (and by God’s merciful exemption of Noah’s family—for his sons and their wives to repopulate the earth) was spared because of his close relationship with God.

“…By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world (condemned because they didn’t believe God or in God), and he received the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7, parenthesis mine).

This was exactly how and why the Lord declared Abraham righteous (in right standing with God for eternity … Genesis 15:6). Since Messiah Jesus’s death and resurrection, people’s faith must now be placed directly in his substitutionary sacrificial death—paying the penalty of our sins to be made right with God. There’s absolutely no other way (John 14:6; Romans 3:21-26, and many other passages).

Obviously, Noah and his family weren’t taken from the earth (to heaven). But they were taken off the earth (on top of the water that covered the earth)! No matter the nature and extent of their departure, they were spared from God’s global judgment. In that respect, they were examples of believers taken out of harm’s way at the Rapture.

Third Example: Lot

“The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. Abraham approached him and said, ‘Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? … Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked… Should not the judge of all the earth do what is right?’” (Genesis 18:22-23 & 25).

“Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation” (Genesis 19:24-25).

This is also one of the most well-known events recorded in the Bible. Beginning with the Lord’s disclosure to Abraham: Sodom (and surrounding cities) were about to be destroyed because, “their sin is so flagrant” (Genesis 18:20).

Then Abraham’s amazing negotiation with the Lord, commencing with his statement of the obvious: the Lord is the righteous judge of all the earth. Surely the righteous wouldn’t be obliterated with the wicked. Abraham began his intersession with a plea for the Lord to spare the cities if 50 righteous people could be found. Six requests later, it was all the way down to 10.

As it turned out, there weren’t even ten. Only 4 escaped this monumental judgment—Lot, his wife, and their two daughters. And as many know, Lot’s wife didn’t make it all the way.

Although the destruction of these wicked cities was regional (as opposed to a global event), it was nonetheless massive … engulfing the plains.

Followed by a few others recorded in Scripture, such as one angel annihilating 185,000 Assyrian soldiers before they could attack Jerusalem … without even one Jewish casualty (II Kings 18 & 19). And who knows how many incidents since the Canon of Scripture was closed with the 66 books of the Bible. For example: I’m convinced that most natural disasters are a direct result of the steady deterioration of and disturbances in the earth; but there are those in which God has directly intervened (caused) to get our attention. We can speculate which ones are which, but we don’t know for sure. However, Tribulation unbelievers will know beyond any doubt when God’s judgements begin.

The dynamics of this ancient yet timeless event is another illustration of God’s perfect justice. Had there been but six more who believed in and trusted the true and living God, all the cities would have been spared. That’s grace and mercy at their divine best. Plus: “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person (in this case Abraham) has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, parenthesis obviously mine).

However, the sins of the inhabitants of these cities was “so flagrant” it was time for the Lord to intervene. Not only to deal with an out-of-control wickedness so perversely detestable that the men of Sodom intended to rape the two strangers (angels of the Lord no less); but as an object lesson for millennia to come.

Some synonyms for flagrant: blatant, brazen, scandalous, shameless, and glaring. The fact that the population of entire cities had openly committed such vile and reprehensible acts was a contemptuous red line crossing of God’s tolerance.

While preparing for this portion of today’s article, there was something I hadn’t considered before.

As we know, the Lord removed Lot from the pending disaster. Which is another forerunner Rapture-like action on the part of God to spare believers from enormous destruction. Like Noah, Lot and his daughters weren’t taken from the earth; however, the practical result was the same.

But I don’t think Abraham anticipated that Lot would be spared, if the Lord carried out his verdict and sentence. Here’s why:

When Noah pleaded with God to spare these cities, they finally agreed on ten. “…And the Lord replied, ‘Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten’” (Genesis 18:32).

There’s no direct or even indirect indication that Abraham expected his nephew (and family) to be spared from this judgment unless there were a total of ten. If there were ten, then no one would be destroyed. Conversely, it’s evident that Abraham confidently anticipated that there would be at least that many. Thus, he didn’t specifically add to his request that the Lord spare the cities, if there were, for example, five.

Then we read: “Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).

Surely, Abraham was distraught at what he saw. Not just because the cities had been destroyed, but also because he assumed that Lot had not been spared. Even though Abraham had reminded the Lord that He was the righteous judge who would (should) not condemn the righteous with the wicked, Abraham didn’t know for sure what would happen. For one thing, he knew all too well that his nephew Lot had made a bad choice to live in Sodom in the first place.

In the very next verse: “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain” (Genesis 19:29).

Since Abraham had not specifically asked that Lot be spared regardless of the outcome, the convincing conclusion is that the Lord listened to Abraham’s heart’s desire (unspoken request) to keep Lot safe. A vivid Old Testament precedent of not only removing him from disaster in Rapture-like manner, but also validated in the New Covenant promise:

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Fourth Example: Elijah

“When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’

‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah replied. ‘If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.’

“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:9-11).

This stunning scene is another renowned event in Scripture. Elijah and his amazing transfer to heaven while still alive is also a (partial) preview of the Rapture. However, in a different way and for a different purpose.

Elijah was taken to heaven without dying. Which fits with living believers caught up in the Rapture. With, however, one major distinction as covered extensively in my second book, Out of the Abyss, then again in Eye of Prophecy trilogy, The Two Witnesses (Posted in June 2014); and Moses and Elijah vs. The Antichrist and The False Prophet (2-10-18). That variance is Raptured believers will ascend to heaven with our transfigured eternal bodies.

The Lord’s reason for taking Elijah became evident when he and Moses met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. In that riveting scene, we know both prophets are in their original bodies. Why? Because Scripture is crystal clear: Jesus would be the first to rise from the dead in a glorified eternal body. Not until he was transfigured permanently at his resurrection (Mount of Transfiguration was a preview of coming attractions!), would or could Old and New Testaments saints receive their transformed bodies.

*Note: Time/space doesn’t allow today; thus, refer to the above articles for dramatic details and compelling commentary that Moses was revived shortly after he died and was buried by God himself.

The above referenced articles also provide elaborate evidence from Scripture coupled with correlative commentary to demonstrate that Moses and Elijah are the two powerful prophets (witnesses) who will return to the earth a second time during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11). For 3 ½ years they will perform mighty miracles which will hold Antichrist and his confederation at bay—for a while. During that period, God will make them untouchable.

Yet, when the time comes, the Lord will allow Antichrist to kill both Moses and Elijah. Which is also why we know that they return to earth (a second time) with the same bodies in which they left the earth. If they were in their new eternal bodies, they would have been indestructible.

As we know, they will be raised from the dead after 3 ½ days. That’s when they will be given their resurrected spiritual bodies.

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Will All Children Be Taken in the Rapture? (2-23-19). Part of the evidence/rationale presented in that article includes reference to Elijah. As follows:

…Elijah was taken in preparation for his return in his earthly body to Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation, for the express purpose of doing battle (alongside Moses) with the Antichrist and the False Prophet.

However, both Elijah and Moses will be raptured after their spectacular service to God and dramatic defense of Jerusalem. Their sudden transportation to heaven will vividly depict and convincingly demonstrate to the world how and why believers, both dead and alive, were taken earlier from the earth.

The how of their ascent to heaven was in full view of those left behind. The why was to protect them from the Great Tribulation, equivalent to that of Raptured believers a few months earlier. In other words, their resurrected transference (with eternal spiritual bodies) to heaven will be a Post-Rapture reminder (after the fact) of what the left behind unsaved missed.

You may be asking: “How will/could Moses and Elijah be spared from the Great Tribulation; when, in fact, they’re right in the middle of it and they will be killed?”

Good reasonable question.

Answer: During their 3 ½ years in Jerusalem, they suffer no harm, though it won’t be for lack of intent and action on the part of Antichrist and his followers. Instead, Moses and Elijah will, unscathed, demonstrate and dispense God’s awesome power during their appointed time.

“And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:5-6, NASB).

As I’ve written before, the plagues they inflict on a wicked and rebellious world closely resemble some of the judgments in Revelation.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Major Earthquake in Israel … When & Where It Will Strike (posted 11-25-17). In italics:

Revelation Chapter 11 begins with an (interlude) introduction to the two witnesses; however, it also chronologically continues the set of trumpet judgments ending with the 7th trumpet. Because the two witnesses are killed after 3 ½ years of their time on earth and this occurs between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, I believe we can determine what part of the Great Tribulation during which they testify.

I would encourage you to read Eye of Prophecy article, Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, recently posted on 11-4-17. As explained in that article: Based on the chronological sequence and evidence of all twenty-one judgments (actually twenty plagues as the 5th seal depicts slain tribulation saints, not a judgment as such) in Revelation, we can accurately estimate the approximate time duration of or gap between the judgments. The projected time between a preceding and successive judgment will be 4-5 months. Because the two witnesses are killed (and come back to life 3 ½ days later) between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, that would place their time of death at 48-50 months into the tribulation. They would have begun their mission 3 ½ years earlier (42 months) or about 6-8 months after the tribulation begins…

If their 3 ½ years on earth fall within the above period of the Tribulation (which I believe it will approximate), then they, by virtue of being taken to heaven after they arise from the dead, will miss the horrific final eight judgments. That’s as Rapture-like as you can get, considering that they also will not be subject to any of the Revelation plagues while on the earth. Instead, they will themselves dole out some of the punishment!

Killed at the hands of the Antichrist is NOT commensurate with going through the Great Tribulation as such and suffering all the horrors thereof. Rather, their deaths mirror the deaths of the Apostles Paul and Peter as a result of their heroic service for Christ. Ironically, both Paul and Peter were killed by Nero—during his tenure as Caesar before his return from the Abyss as the Antichrist beast.

Things to Ponder

Will Believers Go through the Great Tribulation?

On the authority of Scripture, No. Repeated for emphasis: No way!

In last week’s article we examined several passages to conclusively demonstrate that God’s final judgement of the earth during the seven-year Great Tribulation is directed only against unbelievers.

Consequently, the Rapture will occur BEFORE this great time of anguish takes place. By transporting living believers directly to heaven—after they have been transformed into eternal bodies, along with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already died.

Believers who will go through the Tribulation are commonly referred to as Tribulation saints. Many (most) of them will be killed by Antichrist Nero. They are not spared from this great time of anguish because they were unbelievers when the Rapture takes place.

Those passages directly declaring that believers will be exempt from the Great Tribulation are affirmed by more indirect evidence, in the form of examples found both before and after the Rapture occurs … as we looked at in this week’s article.

Once again quoting Paul who summarized the Day of the Lord with these stirring and encouraging words written specifically within the context of God’s anger released during the seven-year Tribulation.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us (during the Great Tribulation)” (I Thessalonians 5:9, parenthesis mine).

Will Believers Go Through the Great Tribulation? (Part I)

Necessity as the mother of invention has produced unprecedented technological wonders through the ages, especially in the 19th, 20th, & 21st centuries.

The list is long.

We all have our favorites—unrivaled innovations most of which are followed by immense improvements; not just in the side-benefits thereof, but of advances in the invention itself.

What would be the favorite on your list: electricity, radio, the automobile, the airplane, television, the computer, or the smart phone (sure choice of Millennials!)? I’m sure one invention is on everyone’s list—the Microwave!

My choice is mega-ton ships. Oh, I know and at least partially understand Archimedes principal of water displacement, etc. But come on… huge aircraft carriers or titanic cruise ships (lower case “t” so as not to bring up bad memories of that capital “T” ship) are simply stunning. And submarines … above and below the water!

However, when thinking of things that can change not just the external world, but the significantly more valuable internal dimension of our life’s experiences, let’s briefly consider the most remarkable and unparalleled event of all time.

Prefaced by first remembering King Solomon’s astute observation that: there’s nothing new under the sun. He was referring to the basic stuff of life as he penned in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, including true wisdom and its divine source. Then the pleasures and problems encountered in work, recreation, creativity, wealth or lack thereof, human intimacy, and a host of other pursuits.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

The essence of which has little or nothing to do with technological achievements and the like. The core of which is meaningless unless we consider Solomon’s final conclusion: “Fear (respect, hold in awe) God and obey his commands (the last and most important of which is expressed through God’s New Covenant with mankind), for this is everyone’s duty” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, parenthesis mine).

Some 300 years later, God announced this New Covenant through Jeremiah, one that was without precedent for Israel.

This astonishing New Covenant would be accomplished by and through Israel’s prophesied Messiah, born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14), God’s very Son (Psalm 110). He would die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53 + a plethora of New Testament passages). In unprecedented fashion (resurrection from the dead), Messiah Jesus would bring about a once and for all right-standing with God that would guarantee resurrection and eternity in heaven for those who believed in Him (Psalm 16, Luke 24, John 11:25-26). Moreover, he would be the only Way to God (John 14:6). When his mission on earth was complete, he would ascend back to heaven (Daniel 7:13-14 & Acts 1).

Finally, Jesus as King of all kings will one day rule the nations in the Kingdom of God on earth upon his return to establish that Kingdom (several passages).

Do you believe that? Then say, “Yes,” to Messiah Jesus. If you do:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ…” (II Corinthians 5:17-18a).

The soon-to-come end-times events that comprise the Day of Lord begin with another first-time occurrence in its scope and nature; but not one without a prototype or pattern. Which is referred to as the Rapture of all those who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior.

Although many believers firmly believe that the Rapture will precede the Great Tribulation, there are more than just a few who maintain there’s no such thing as the Rapture; or it won’t take place until the end of the Great Tribulation. Which implies that the Rapture and the physical return of Messiah Jesus to earth are virtually simultaneous.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same Or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16.

What is of more concern is their contention that believers must go through the Tribulation.

Consequently, we’re going to examine:

Biblical Evidence to Confirm That Believers Will Not Experience the Great Tribulation

There are two template-like sources in Scripture to demonstrate decisively that the Rapture will occur and when. Not “when” in terms of the time/date (setting). As you may know, Jesus himself said three times that no one knows the day or hour of his return. He was explicitly referring to the Rapture phase of His Second Coming. Thus, we’ll examine when the Rapture will take place in juxtaposition to the Great Tribulation.

Those two sources are:

(1) Actual Biblical Passages: Discussed in this week’s Part I post. They will be separated into two main components:

(A) Passages cited by those who place the Rapture half-way through or at the end of the Great Tribulation; thereby, concluding that believers will experience the Tribulation either partially or in its entirety. Yet, this deduction is derived from a misunderstanding or misapplication of tribulation in the lower-case (general) meaning of the word contrasted to the upper-case Tribulation, which is the one-time series of events taking place in a designated period.

(B) Companion passages stating succinctly that believers will be spared from the Great Tribulation. That God’s wrath during this 7-year calamity will be directed only to unbelievers.

To that end, we’ll focus on not only the text, but the context of these passages; which is critical to understanding the on-going tribulation, trials, and testing of believers. Contrasted to the specified apocalyptic episodes completely unparalleled in human history, in terms of scope and severity—the Great Tribulation.

Then in next week’s Part II article, we’ll scrutinize another significant paradigm of Scripture. Which will present more convincing evidence that the spectacular experience of the Rapture will precede the Tribulation.

With just a brief overview in this week’s article, I’m referring to:

(2) Biblical Precedents, Parallels, Prototypes, & Patterns

Virtually everything that happened during early New Testament times and those that will take place in the end-times of the last days (in which we are living), has an Old Testament forerunner—in terms of both correlation and contrast.

In the Old Testament we read: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants his prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Those plans include specific people, places, and events obviously relevant to Old Testament times. But also:

This is God’s way of preparing New Covenant believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to fully grasp the promises that are part and parcel of the New Covenant of Grace. Not the least of which is the Rapture and its two-fold purpose: (A) Resurrection of dead believers followed by their transformation (along with living believers) to our imperishable spiritual bodies equipped to live in heaven forever. (B) Sparing living believers from the Great Tribulation by removing us from the earth.

Biblical Text and Context

The Bible is replete with universal truth of and from God concerning the epic matters of creation, sin and its penalty, salvation only through God’s Son, eternal destiny (heaven or hell) and more. There are several stand-alone precepts in which the context is important and interesting, but not necessarily crucial to the truth announced. Such as the most well-known and oft-quoted verse in the Bible:

“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).

This powerful life-changing promise could be placed in the framework of virtually any passage of the Bible. That verse and many others like it can be and are reasonably cited independently of the setting or situation, without affecting the essential meaning of the statement whatsoever.

However, of interest and even intrigue about the scene in John Chapter 3, is the fact that a Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus—a member of the elite Jewish Sanhedrin of the 1st century—came to Jesus to find out for himself who Jesus was/is … especially in light of the miracles Jesus had already performed. As well as the way in which Jesus taught, i.e. with power and authority. Quite unlike any of the religious leaders, including Nicodemus himself.

Jesus knew why Nicodemus was there and that even (especially) a Jewish religious leader needed to realize what and who it was that could permanently reconcile him to God, the result of which would be everlasting life. Thus, the first words out of Jesus’s mouth were: “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

On the other hand, background is of paramount importance for many Biblical truths.

To the extent that if the verse or verses are “taken out of context,” or if the context is simply discarded or misunderstood, it could and sometimes will distort the intended purpose and meaning of the message. Also contributing to this error is failure to correlate any given passage with others on the same subject in order to gain a proper perspective on the matter at hand, i.e. the whole counsel of God. Another error is that of skimming over key modifiers, e.g. adjectives, adverbs, definite vs indefinite articles. In short, simply not scrutinizing the text/context with any degree of diligence.

Thus, let’s look at the text/context regarding Points A & B, listed earlier.

(A) Passages Cited to Infer a Post-Tribulation Rapture vs Pre-Tribulation

There are a couple of prominent passages cited by those who contend that born-again believers will go through the Great Tribulation. We’ll examine them in and with their contextual meaning; followed by other passages (also in context) which irrefutably confirm that believers will not be subject to or physically present when God’s Wrath is poured out on a wicked world during the Great Tribulation.

First Passage: You may want to read the entire 16th Chapter of John, the setting of which is just a few hours before Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion. The final three verses are:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world’” (John 16:31-33, NASB, emphasis added).

The Greek word translated “tribulation” in this passage is: Thlipsis.

Synonyms for tribulation: affliction, distress, trouble, persecution, and anguish. Also, trials and sorrows which are the words used in the New Living Translation of this passage.

Note that Jesus told his disciples, “in the world you have tribulation.” He’s clearly speaking in general terms regarding the troubles that believers in Jesus would experience. This is evident by the present tense dynamics of his words … you have tribulation. Meaning now and continuing throughout their/our life as we follow and serve the Lord. The NLT reads, “you will have tribulation.” Which is saying the same thing, i.e. now and throughout our lives. However, note that there is no definite or even indefinite article or modifying terms. Which, conversely, are attached to and expressly define the Great Tribulation—as we will soon see.

In the immediate context, the tribulation described by the Lord is plainly generic.

This foregone conclusion of generalized tribulation for born-again believers (including suffering and persecution) is prevalent in Paul and Peter’s epistles, and to a lesser extent in the book of James. As Christ suffered, so will his born-again followers. To some degree or another, at one time or another—individually or collectively as the body of Christ—anyone who speaks out or lives for the Lord (even sporadically) will experience some measure of rejection, derision, ostracism, or even hostility.

However, thlipsis also entails all of life’s negative experiences, e.g. distress, trial, sorrow, and just plain ole trouble.

In this passage, Messiah Jesus is NOT referring to the Great Tribulation, which is part of the Day of the Lord and will take place between the Rapture and His Millennial Reign. In fact, Jesus had already told his disciples about that coming great time of anguish and did so in dramatic detail, to include the (Pre-Tribulation) Rapture and his (Post-Tribulation) Second Coming … Matthew Chapters 24-25. We’ll get to that in a moment.

So, too, do several Old Testament prophets warn of that great and glorious (for believers) but terrible Day of the Lord (for unbelievers), particularly those who have and will continue to persecute God’s chosen people, the Jews, during the Great Tribulation.

Such as: “At the time of those events, says the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat (which means valley of decision). There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession (Israel), for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2, parenthesis mine).

The time of those events leads us to the 2nd passage sometimes referred to by those who claim that believers must go through the Great Tribulation. Which is found in the 24th & 25th chapters of Matthew, just referenced.

Second Passage (A combination of two passages): In addition to misidentifying the generalized tribulation/trouble that believers face during our time on this earth with the Great Tribulation, another error made by the Mid or Post-Tribulation viewpoint is mistaken identity of the elect.

Said Jesus: “For then there will be a great tribulation (as opposed to general tribulation), such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, NASB, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

If the elect are all believers who enter and experience the Great Tribulation, as proposed by the Post-Tribulation Rapture hypothesis, why would this great time of anguish be cut short just for them? I pose this question in the light of: (1) most of the Tribulation saints (believers in Christ AFTER the Rapture) already have been killed by the Antichrist by the end of the Tribulation … Revelation 7 & 20. (2) For reason #1, if so many of them had already died, the idea of for the sake of the elect is anticlimactic. By and large, it would be too late (for them) when Jesus returns. The massive damage (death) had already been done.

Although I’ve written about this in a few prior articles, time/space in this article doesn’t permit extensive discussion (passages and commentary, much of it from the Old Testament) to demonstrate that “the elect” are God’s chosen people, the Jews. Except to say that when Jesus physically returns to earth, his primary purpose is to rescue Israel and the Jews from annihilation at the hands of Antichrist’s confederation (Daniel 11, Zechariah 12 & 14, and other passages).

After seeing a great crowd of (post-Rapture) Tribulation saints, John was asked, “…Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” Because John didn’t know for sure, he replies, “Sir, you are the one who knows” (Revelation 7:13-14).

If these believers had entered the tribulation (without there being a Rapture yet), he certainly would have known from where they came and why they were there. They would have been born-again believers still in the Church age (body of Christ) alive when the Tribulation began. But John didn’t know, because these saints had been redeemed after the original set of believers in the (our current) Church age were no longer on the earth. It’s a foregone conclusion that John already knew about the Rapture, as it was disclosed not only by Jesus, but by Paul many years earlier. It’s just that neither John nor other believers yet knew—until the book of Revelation was written—that there would be those (post-Rapture) born-again after the Day of the Lord began.

The following is another reason why the Rapture will most assuredly precede the Great Tribulation.

After describing those (birth-pain) Pre-Tribulation events and then the Tribulation itself (explained in much more detail in the final Revelation of Jesus Christ as recorded by John of Revelation), Jesus returns to a description of the days leading to God’s first global judgment of the earth—Noah’s flood. Then he makes a compelling comparison to the unsaved world’s ignorance of and willful oblivion to the 2nd and final of God’s wrath poured out on the earth.

“In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:38-39).

Then, immediately after conveying the apathetic condition of humanity just before the Day of the Lord begins, Jesus reveals something utterly remarkable:

“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left” (Verses 40-41).

In Luke’s Gospel, we read of a third example Jesus presented: “That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left” (Luke 17:34).

Then, of course, the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 4 describes the entire sequence of the Rapture.

This sudden and unexpected taking or catching up (Greek term harpazo in I Thessalonians 4) of some on the earth (believers) right in front of unbelievers is in stark contrast to Messiah’s physical return to the earth, preceded in time and space by signs and wonders during the Tribulation. Not the least of which was: “the sign that the Son of Man is coming…” (Matthew 24:30). Unbelievers, as well as surviving Tribulation believers saved after the Rapture, will have plenty of time and indicators—not the least of which is the linear sequence of the seven seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments—prior to the physical return of Christ to earth. With Jesus first stepping foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Although the physical return of Messiah Jesus to earth will be an awesome event and will stun many, especially the unsaved, it won’t be sudden in the sense of being totally unexpected.

Not so, the Rapture. It will dramatically catch everyone off guard (believers included, but in a good and joyful way).

*Note: When Jesus spoke of his “return”, he was referring to the composite scope and entire length of the Day of the Lord, that begins with one person taken, the other left … the Rapture. Then the agonizing time of anguish (tribulation) to follow. Mercifully ending with his glorious physical return to establish the incomparable Kingdom of God on earth. However, Jesus mixed these stages of his return together, as his greater emphasis was “get ready.”

These three phases are then expounded sequentially by the Apostle Paul and by John of Revelation. Thus, Jesus’s sweeping disclosure of these stunning events is better understood in the context of Paul’s and John’s exposition (I & II Thessalonians and Revelation, respectively). Which, in turn, helps to identify which of the three phases Jesus is describing in the Olivet Discourse.

(B) Direct Text/Context Confirmation of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Apostle Paul’s first letter (epistle) to believers is found in the book Galatians. Shortly thereafter (A.D. 51-52), he wrote I & II Thessalonians; both books speak of the suffering and persecution that believers in Christ were already undergoing throughout the Roman Empire.

At that time, the persecutors were almost exclusively the religious Jews. In fact, Paul himself had been a devout Pharisee who tormented Christians, imprisoning many and even participated in killing them. That is, until he had a life-changing, destiny-altering encounter with the risen Jesus (Acts 9). Gentile persecution began several years later with the brutal murder of thousands of Christians at the hand of Nero Caesar.

James was the first to remind his brothers and sisters in Christ that they would undergo testing, trials, and suffering. In effect, James was echoing Jesus’s words that we looked at earlier … in the world you have tribulation.

Wrote James: “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return… You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near…. For examples of patience in suffering … look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (James 5:7-8 & 10).

Next, Paul, then Peter wrote extensively about persecution that they and other believers were experiencing and would continue to endure. All three men addressed this fact in the context of their eager expectation that Jesus would return very soon—in their lifetime.

However, the Apostles Paul and Peter made it crystal clear that believers alive just before God’s final wrath was poured out on the world would not have to go through that terrible time of terror. This in keeping with Jesus’s startling revelation to his disciples (Peter was obviously present during that discourse), that believers would be taken out of harm’s way.

For it was this great time of anguish that Jesus was warning about, as well as the world’s indifference when it struck. In other words: if believers were meant to go through the Tribulation, then there would be no reason for them to be abruptly removed from the earth, let alone for Jesus to reveal that fantastic fact.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered!

The Apostle Paul writes:

What a magnificent promise! One made in the past tense with a future tense application, which indisputably demonstrates that believers had already (the moment they were born again) been spared from the coming judgment before it even occurred. It was a done deal! Believers had not only been saved from the penalty of their sins (eternal separation from God) in advance. So, too, had they been delivered in advance from the coming Great Tribulation.

Furthermore, this “coming judgment” is clearly referring to and in the immediate context of the seven-year Great Tribulation followed by the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

It is NOT referring to the Great White Throne Judgment which takes place soon after the Millennium. For one thing, that applies only to the raised-from-the-dead unbelievers and their final sentence (doom) to the Lake of Fire because they refused to believe and receive God’s Son as the only source of their salvation. (Revelation 20:11-15).

After Paul discloses the sequential details of the Rapture itself in I Thessalonians 4, which is an elaboration on what Jesus had already revealed, he expounds even more on the return of Messiah Jesus in Chapter 5. It’s vitally important to grasp that he’s still talking about the Day of the Lord, having already announced the resurrection of dead believers, transfiguration of both dead and living believers into our eternal indestructible bodies, and being caught up to heaven.

Then Paul writes: “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectantly, like a thief in the night (referring pointblank to the Rapture that he had just revealed). When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape” (I Thessalonians 5:2-3, parenthesis mine).

The people referred to by Paul are obviously unbelievers who will be totally unprepared, both physically and spiritually for the Rapture. Then Paul puts the contextual finishing touches on the entire sequence of events by making this astounding statement of security for believers in Christ:

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever” (Verses 9-10, emphasis added).

God’s anger referenced by Paul unmistakably pertains to God’s final wrath poured out on the world as also prophesied by several Old Testament prophets.

Then again in II Thessalonians, Paul decisively declares by default deduction that God’s (Tribulation-time) judgment applies only to unbelievers. Why? Because Jesus takes believers home to heaven.

“And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven…” (II Thessalonians 1:7a). This “rest” is in the immediate context of the Day of the Lord theme that dominates the last two chapters of I Thessalonians and the first two chapters of II Thessalonians.

It would be the Rapture that would provide rest for them (generation of believers alive) when God’s 2nd and final global judgment of the earth commenced. The word rest also includes the idea of rescue, security, and safety.

Of course, they didn’t know for sure, but Paul and believers in the 1st century eagerly expected that Jesus would return in their time. This rest would be from their present-day sufferings for Christ plus out-of-harm’s-way rescue from the Great Tribulation. A seven-year period (Daniel 9) that would begin when the Antichrist beast (man of lawlessness) would return from the Abyss (Revelation 17:7-8). Which believers weren’t aware of until later, when John saw incredibly detailed visions of the Day of the Lord.

Continuing in the passage: “…He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power” (II Thessalonians 1:7b-9).

The “flaming fire … judgment” is a direct allusion to the Tribulation judgments of God, which are graphically depicted in Revelation. The eternal destruction is a reference to the final fate of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire.

Of paramount importance: God’s anger that will be unleashed on a corrupt and violent world is a specific time-dedicated series of events relayed as a prophesy. As opposed to generic tribulation (troubles) that believers were already experiencing. AND, as Paul explicitly specifies: this final judgment would be only on the unsaved … not believers. God’s way of totally protecting believers from his global wrath is to remove us from the earth. And while he’s at it, the dead in Christ are resurrected and both dead and living believers are transfigured into our spiritual bodies!

As is said: It doesn’t get any better than that!

Will there be believers during the Tribulation? Of course. However, that fact was not revealed until John wrote the book of Revelation. Neither Paul nor any of the Christians (including John the author of Revelation, until the angel told him) knew that would be the case. Which also confirms that the Rapture would take place before the Tribulation began.

One more passage to cement the unmistakable Biblical evidence that pre-Tribulation believers will be taken out of harm’s way, as God’s judgments are directed only at unbelievers.

This time from the Apostle Peter: “And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire (instead of a flood as with God’s first global punishment). They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (II Peter 3:7, parenthesis mine; italics to emphasize that the day of God’s final wrath is only for/against the unsaved).

Summary

Think about it once more: It would make no sense for the Rapture to be one and the same as Messiah’s physical return to the earth as some speculate. What purpose would it serve for the Lord to abruptly take believers home to heaven after they had gone through (the survivors) the horrific Tribulation? The entire reason for Jesus and Paul to remind believers (encourage them because they would be taken out of harm’s way) and warn unbelievers (to take heed and accept Jesus as their personal Savior) is to prepare for the coming judgment.

Summarized in the words of the song, “People get ready, Jesus is coming, to take from the earth his own.”

Here is an excerpt from the Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & The Rapture … Same or Separate Events? (in italics):

Although the Biblical evidence is conclusive, we can also rely on the common sense of it all. Or in reverse, the nonsensical notion of being caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds/air, only to immediately go back down to the earth with the Lord to dispense the final wrath of the Lamb at the final battle of Armageddon.

All phases of the Second Coming of Christ will take place in real time and space (place), not virtual time or reality. Among other things, how is it possible for the wedding feast with our Savior to take place before we return with Christ at the final battle of Armageddon, if we’re caught up to heaven at the same time Christ is coming down to the earth? Revelation is crystal clear that believers will celebrate the wedding feast with Messiah BEFORE Jesus returns to do battle at Armageddon.

Believers will not meet Christ going (up) and coming (down) all at once. That makes no sense at all. That would be like an elevator full of employees going up to meet their boss with the unmistakable understanding that he is waiting for them in the Penthouse Suite having prepared a great Christmas party for them. Only for the boss to change his mind after they arrive, and then take the elevator back down with all the guests, to first “take care of business” below.

Praise and thanks to God … born again believers will sit out the tribulation! There will be seven years between our elevator rides!

Things to Ponder

In addition to misapplying Biblical passages that describe the general suffering and/or persecution of believers during their life on earth to the Great Tribulation, I’ve also heard and read such things as:

“Why shouldn’t Christians go through the Tribulation? We’re not better than non-believers, just different.”

I totally agree with the second part of that statement. Believers are not innately or intrinsically better than unbelievers, for God loves everyone the same.

But we are (far) better off, by virtue of our irrevocable adoption as God’s children with an unprecedented inheritance that Christ will share with all believers. With spectacular promises such as eternal life, resurrection of the dead in Christ, along with living believers at the Rapture to be transformed into eternal spiritual bodies. And that most assuredly includes being spared from God’s 2nd and final global judgment.

“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (Romans 5:9).

From the whole counsel of Scripture, we know that God’s condemnation entails two distinct events and times: (1) Wrath of God during the Tribulation; (2) Sentencing of unbelievers to the Lake of Fire at the beginning of Eternity.

“We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18).

There would be no encouragement whatsoever if believers in what we call the Church Age of Grace were required to go through the Tribulation. Instead, the comfort comes from knowing that we will be sovereignly spared from the greatest time of calamity ever experienced by humanity.

Great is our God and His Messiah, and greatly to be praised!

Why The World Idolizes Antichrist & How It Reacts To The Tribulation

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“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

This powerful and precious promise (and many others like it) is available only to those who have accepted Messiah Jesus as personal Savior. We who have been given new and everlasting life in Christ Jesus, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

That’s not to say believers don’t sometimes ask the same probing questions posed by unbelievers when things go terribly wrong. Especially at the wrong time, which is pretty much every time!

Such as: “Why Lord?” Or, “Why me. Why now?” Or, “How much longer will this go on?” And, of course, “When it rains it pours!”

Trials and heartaches reach the saved and the unsaved alike.

However, believers realize that we live in a fallen world. A Planet engulfed in pride, greed, immorality, corruption, crime, violence, rebellion, poverty, famine, disease, natural disasters, and (often untimely) death.

The whole world seems to be spiraling out of control. The difference is that believers know that our Great God and Savior is sovereignly spinning the world under his control.

And so, while we wait patiently and watch eagerly for the resurrection of the dead in Christ and their tremendous transformation into eternal spiritual bodies (along with believers still alive) at the Rapture, we continue to rely on the truth of such passages as: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).

Most believers have family or friends who haven’t fully grasped that they must make a personal decision for Jesus Christ (John 3:16). The unsaved look around them, and surmise that billions of others appear to be in the same boat. They contemplate: Wherever I go after death, there should be a lot of people there. So, what’s the big deal? Isn’t church membership; infant baptism; religious rituals; or doing more good things than bad, enough to merit God’s acceptance? Aren’t there many paths to God? Or to some enlightened state of being.

Some doubt, that God even exists. Other have fashioned their own gods, such as the moon-god called Allah.

Biblical Salvation: Inclusively Exclusive

Then there is the 20th and 21st century politically correct dogma (for that’s exactly what it is … a belief system) of tolerance and inclusiveness at all cost.

However, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, only the Biblical Christian faith is considered an enemy of these two post-modern pillars of secular humanism. Not even Islam. For if someone cites the glaring facts of Muslim terrorism and the intolerant and suppressive tenets of both Sharia and Sunni Islamic law, they are branded Islamophobic. Shame on them for quoting statistics and telling the truth.

Unbelievers fail to realize or refuse to accept that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all-inclusive. But to be inclusive, it must first be exclusive. All-encompassing, because a pardon for the penalty of our sins and eternal life is offered to all who believe and receive the One whose substitutionary death paid that penalty. Exclusive because Jesus himself tells everyone that he alone is, The Way, the Truth, and the (everlasting) Life, no one can come to God the Father except through him (John 14:6).

They also deny the obvious (see Romans Chapter 1): God is God and we are not. As Creator, he has the right to make the rules and set the standards. He alone has provided the solution to the horrendous problem of sin and its ugly consequences. And he has done so with unconditional love and grace.

And, yes: God has given people the freedom to choose His Way or their humanistic highway.

If they want to make their own rules, they can. But at such a cost! It’s costly to them (eternal separation from God) because they reject what it cost God to justify them … just as if they had never sinned. No less than the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid—the life blood of His very Son. And then Jesus’s resurrection to prove that He is who He said He is: Son of God and Son of Man.

Everyone needs Jesus. Those with good hearts as well as those with bad hearts.

Commonly referred as the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

God wants all people to carefully comprehend: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 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. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).

The Irony of the “Progressive Elite” During the Tribulation

The prejudice of the liberal progressives among us is now and will be even more so during the Tribulation as evident as day is from night. Their (false) accusations that Judeo-Christian values are intolerant is, itself, an expression of bias and intolerance.

The following is an excerpt from my second book Out of the Abyss commenting on this hypocrisy. After discussing Romans 8:28 (verse quoted to begin today’s article) and the sometimes incomprehensible ways in which God can and does, “circumvent the innumerable bad decisions that we all have made, not to mention the evil in the world to accomplish his purpose,” I went on to write:

…If we could wrap our finite minds around his infinite omnipotence and omniscience, I suppose that we would be God.

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

Okay, a little sarcasm here. And I don’t mean to unduly pick on the scientific, academic, philosophical, political, cultural, and social elite; through they carry a lot of weight and exert a significant influence on the common person. Ultimately every man and woman must choose what they believe, and to whom or what they will listen and follow. As Joshua said, “…choose today whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15).

Make no mistake; we all believe in something and we all follow someone or an ideal, even if it’s ourselves. This will be vividly exemplified in the final days of this age, when the rich and the poor, the rulers and those ruled, the intelligentsia and the uneducated alike will enthusiastically (some reluctantly) surrender all they have and who they are to one man known as the Antichrist. This commitment will be no different than the liberated modern man’s disdain for anyone who would give up their mind, heart, and soul to God; or those who, in their opinion, would use Christianity as a crutch by surrendering their entire life to one man, Jesus Christ (Pages 22-23).

God’s justice will be on full display against the arrogant boasting and audacious blasphemy of Antichrist during the seven-year Great Tribulation. And of the multiplied millions who, despite knowing full well their impending fate, will remain defiant to the bitter end. A rigid rebelliousness that defies reason and belies responsibility. One that has been prevalent throughout history, but not in the sheer magnitude exhibited during the Tribulation. A defiance mentioned several times in Scripture, personified by the Antichrist man of lawlessness and his followers as summarized succinctly in the following verse:

“He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them” (II Thessalonians 2:10).

The result: “Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (Verse 12).

A Review of Antichrist’s Life/Death & Reappearance

Out of the Abyss, and most of the 58 articles to date in the category of Antichrist provide extensive Biblical and historical evidence that the identity of the Antichrist can be known. This man—called a little horn, ruler, king, man of lawlessness, beast, and Anti-Christ—is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero.

We’ll look at his 1st century biography (existence), his reappearance at the outset of the Tribulation, the world’s reaction to him, his actions, and then the world’s unbelievable response to the Tribulation judgments.

Revelation 17:7-8

Revelation’s author, John, had already seen the beast arise from the sea (Revelation 13); however, he is given a second vision, this time with a woman sitting on the beast.

The purpose for this second image is quite evident in the text: to further enable John and all believers to accurately decode the identity of the (Antichrist) beast. With strong clues—each one of them convincing on its own merit—previously provided to John in Revelation 13 and a few years before that to the Apostle Paul in II Thessalonians 2. Even hundreds of years earlier to the prophet Daniel in Chapters 7 & 9.

*Note: The reason that the angel encrypted the Antichrist’s (symbolized as a beast) identity instead of simply naming him was to protect believers from even more persecution than already experienced—that began with Nero himself. Most in the Roman Empire, especially the common people, still adored Nero and wished that he would reassume the throne. In fact, many Romans believed he would return, i.e. Nero Redivivus Legend.

Thus, the angel reveals the “mystery” of the beast and woman, which is tantamount to discernibly disclosing their identity. The woman is the great city (Rome) of the Roman Empire when Revelation was written and would morph into the Holy Roman Empire (Vatican) of the last days.

Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17); Cunning Makeover of the Great City; Humiliating End of the Great City, posted 5-26, 6-2, & 6-9-18.

(The Vatican … Among Antichrist’s alliances will be the Roman Catholic Church. Ironically he will destroy it … Rev. 17:16; then Rome itself will be devastated in God’s final judgment, the 7th Bowl … Rev. 19:17-21)

Although the angel provides more clues of the beast’s identity in Revelation 17:9-11, we’ll examine just the initial unveiling of the beast.

“…I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (abruptly, at any point in time) come up out of the bottomless pit… And the people who belong to this world (those left behind at the Rapture) … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:7-8, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

Although all Bible passages on the Antichrist are extensively detailed in my book Out of the Abyss and elaborated/expanded in Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist, the passage we just read kick-starts the refitting of the prophetic puzzle, concerning Antichrist.

To wit: Although a natural and normal conclusion, the Antichrist is NOT a modern-day man born before the Tribulation. Yet, beginning with the Rapture, nearly everything that takes place during the Tribulation is neither natural nor normal.

Here is an excerpt from near the end of my book Out of the Abyss (in italics):

The beast had already died before John received this revelation. How else can this passage be understood? …If some can’t let go of a contemporary Antichrist, then what will they do with these verses … and all the other passages that help refit the prophetic puzzle?

John didn’t see the vision in the future; he saw it in the present—that hour of that day. The beast is past tense … no longer alive when John saw the vision. The beast isn’t born and doesn’t die in the future; he’s already dead. When will the beast become future tense? Correct: When he reappears from the Abyss. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the world will be amazed at the reappearance of the beast that had died. Will the beast die during the Tribulation? No, he died even before John saw him from Patmos (Page 271).

Revelation 13:3-4

After John describes his first vision of the beast arising from the sea (literal … think Mediterranean Sea), with the dragon giving the beast his own (Satan’s) power and authority, John immediately describes the world’s reaction to the beast’s sudden and different (Daniel 7) arrival (reappearance, Revelation 17) from the grave (Abyss, Revelation 11 & 17).

“I saw that one of the heads of the beast (the Antichrist is the composite beast but also one of the seven heads, i.e. Roman emperors—Revelation 17:9-11) seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshipped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13:3-4, parenthesis mine).

We’ll stop here before getting to what the beast does.

What is it that, on a global scale, compels people to give their allegiance to the point of worshipping the beast? What persuades people to both revere and fear him? Is it because he’s a consummate genius, an eloquent orator, a powerful politician, a superb military strategist, a charismatic leader, or that he exhibits other appealing characteristics commonly attributed to a dynamic world leader?

Did you read that in the passage? No, you didn’t, because it’s not there; nor in any other passage on the Antichrist. There is ONLY ONE reason why so many people will marvel that much and surrender their loyalty and lives to him. It will be shock and awe over just one thing. The verses clearly tell us what that is: “The whole world marveled at THIS MIRACLE” (emphasis added).

What miracle?

Answer: Return from the grave as the world will see it/him (actually from the Abyss, which is a separate place from the grave/hell); repeated twice more in Revelation 13 and twice in Revelation 17.

On behalf of and in divine deference to this man, the False Prophet, “…ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life” (Revelation 13:14, emphasis added).

To those left behind, it will be a supernatural event to rival and even surpass that of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. Hence, who can fight against the beast? You can’t kill a man who already had been killed and then came back to earth some 2,000 years later. Forget it. Even for those reluctant to yield themselves to anything or anyone, their response will inevitably be: if you can’t beat him, join him.

Keep in mind that Revelation 13 is a progression of events beginning with the beast’s arising from the (Abyssal) Sea, concluding with the angel’s stimulating challenge to John and all readers to solve the meaning of the number of the beast (verse 18). Which is expressly equivalent to identifying the man himself. Thus, the initial reaction of the world still reeling from post-Rapture shock is that of absolute awe over the return of a 1st century Roman Emperor.

Nero will capitalize on such global attention by first orchestrating a treaty between Israel and Muslim nations. A peace treaty that the world (even now) will consider to be an impossible feat.

(See Eye of Prophecy article, Two-State Solution & The Seven-Year Treaty … Impossible? Posted 1-26-19)

After convincing the relatively few who doubt that he really is the 1st century Caesar and, thereby, consolidating his ten-nation confederation, Nero will begin to rage against God like no one ever has or ever will (be permitted) again.

Antichrist’s Barefaced Blasphemy Against God, Revelation 13:5-6

Immediately after John explains the world’s reaction to the stunning reappearance of the beast, we read:

“Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:5-6).

In its most deplorable demonstration, Nero’s taunting of God will begin at the half-way point of the Tribulation—after he breaks the treaty with Israel and when he is given the greater extent of his authority. No other autocrat in history has come close to such conceited arrogance toward and diabolical denigration of God Almighty. Though many have persecuted Jews and Christians through the ages, have you read of any of these megalomaniacs who directly took on God, to the point of saying one vile thing after another against Him?

Even with the worst of them, there was a healthy measure of restraint or reluctance to denounce God himself. They didn’t dare test their fate by perniciously and persistently berating the God of Heaven. In fact, world rulers like Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus the Great even extoled the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the true and living God. As did Alexander the Great, after a fashion.

Though many monarchs claimed to be a god or representing God on earth, they didn’t elevate themselves to the position of the only God (of the universe). Except that is for Nero.

(Other Nero coinage contained inscriptions that he was “almighty God” and “Savior”)

Antichrist’s blasphemy will be unrivaled in the annals of history for two reasons inherent in this passage: (1) the fact that God gives him permission to carry this blasphemy to such extremes; (2) by sheer emphasis in these two verses. Twice, it speaks of these tirades against God. Twice John uses amplified terms … “great blasphemies” and “terrible words of blasphemy.”

This isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill attacks on the very name and character of God. Not only will Nero’s boastful insults exceed any before him; they are shockingly despicable to the point of slandering God’s name. Webster’s Dictionary definition of slander will be multiplied exponentially when it comes to Nero’s defamation of God:

Slander: “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.” Synonym … “malign.” Webster defines malign as: “evil in nature, influence, or effect … malignant, virulent, vicious ill will … malevolent and sinister.”

The Bible’s first reference to the Antichrist (Daniel 7) also explains his actions in virtually the same terms: “…a mouth that was boasting arrogantly” (Daniel 7:8). And, “the little horn’s boastful speech” (Verse 11). Again, “a mouth that was boasting arrogantly” (Verse 20). Then, “He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High…” (Verse 25).

Daniel 7 also tells us that this king will appear “suddenly” (Verse 8). In stark contrast to a (modern-day) man who gradually rises to a position of prominence and power. That he is “different” (Verse 24) from the ten kings who will yield their kingdoms to him … during the Tribulation.

See Eye of Prophecy article: Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? (1-21-17).

Notice that Antichrist not only blasphemes God but rants against believers in heaven … recently raptured. Which include the thousands of Christians whom he murdered during his 1st century reign of terror and will resume to a far greater extent in the Tribulation.

(Depiction of Christians wrapped in pitch/tar, used as torches to light Nero’s palace garden during parties. With diabolical depravity, Nero mocked them and Christ by saying, “Now you are truly the light of the world”)

Here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss to summarize this portion of today’s article regarding Scripture’s depiction of Antichrist, in contrast to the mainstream portrayal of this loathsome man as a contemporary prodigy:

Search the Scriptures. You will not find any direct evidence that the beast is a great orator, statesman, or consummate genius as modern-day views characterize him. He is clever; he is a braggart and a blasphemer, but that doesn’t make him charismatic. Antichrist’s accomplishments and “charisma” are attributed to his miraculous resurrection, the statue, and the persuasive ability of the False Prophet, including, but not limited to “astounding miracles” (Page 249).

When Nero begins his sacrilegious slander and malicious mockery of God, everything at that point will be a flashpoint of black and white to the world. No more gray areas, no more fence-riding, no more which religion or worldview is best for me.

The choice will be crystal clear: Christ or Antichrist. Eternal security, though at the pain of physical death. Or temporary safety … a false sense thereof.

In fact, this final show-down between God and Satan, between Jesus Christ and Antichrist is how God’s providential purpose during the terrible turmoil of the Tribulation will be accomplished; that is, EVERYONE will be required to make a choice.

Although many who refuse to take the mark of the beast may not choose Messiah Jesus (especially Antichrist’s enemies like the Far-East nations), they will still have made a choice. Though this compulsion will come directly from Antichrist Nero and his False Prophet, inevitably it will serve God’s purpose to get the world’s attention like never before. To stand up and choose:

Salvation or judgment.

Heaven or Hell.

Take heed and choose well.

“For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out his purposes…” (Revelation 17:17).

Reaction of the World to the Seven Seal, Seven Trumpet, and Seven Bowl Judgments

Since the explosion of interest in Biblical prophecy began over fifty years ago—particularly after the amazing Six-Day War of 1967—the imminent return of Messiah Jesus has dominated prophetic headlines. As well it should, because the signs of the times (some are calling it the times of the signs!) are validating that we are in the last days of the end times. The Day of the Lord will commence with the remarkable resurrection of dead believers who will be raptured (caught up) to heaven with living believers.

For whatever reason (a presumption not found in Scripture), Bible scholars, teachers, students have pictured (I, too, at one time) the Rapture to occur as follows: (1) The entire sequence of events as contained in I Thessalonians 4 condensed into a nanosecond when believers will be transformed to our spiritual bodies as Paul dramatically describes in I Corinthians 15. (2) The world-at-large will neither see nor hear the events of the Rapture itself.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles: The Shout Heard Around the World (4-22-17) and a more recent article, A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture! (4-20-19). In those articles, I combined commentary analysis with several Scriptural references and real-life simulations to demonstrate that the entire sequence of the Rapture will (very likely) take several minutes. Only the bodily transfiguration of believers will happen in “the blink of an eye.”

Believers will not suddenly nor silently disappear … here one second, and (poof) the next second gone.

Instead, many of those left behind will witness the entire sequence of events.

Other than the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Rapture will be the most stunning event of all time, followed by one staggering episode after another during the Great Tribulation. In addition to the bodily resurrection of the dead in Christ, the purpose of the Rapture is to spare living believers from the final wrath of God poured out on a wicked world, eager to follow the detestable example of their Antichrist superhero.

I’m convinced that most of the Tribulation saints will choose Messiah Jesus in the early part of the Tribulation … within the first two years or so. To even include some “foxhole conversions” during the Rapture itself or shortly thereafter. Conversely, many unbelievers will immediately celebrate the earth’s cleansing of those “bigoted, intolerant” Christians. As the Tribulation unfolds, the minds of unbelievers will grow increasingly stubborn, their hearts progressively hard.

The first four seals—commonly called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—are NOT (yet) the Lord’s direct intervention into the Satanic agenda and/or affairs of mankind. Rather, they are God’s permissive unsealing of man-made catastrophes (war, famine, disease, death) on a truly global dimension. As bad as it has been throughout history and is in today’s world, between the Great Flood of Noah’s time and the Tribulation period, God has imposed a divine limit on the scope of Satanic evil and human wickedness in this world.

(The Four Horsemen … Revelation 6:1-8)

God’s direct supernatural (above and beyond natural disasters) judgments don’t begin until the sixth seal is broken. It is an extraordinary earthquake; one in which the sun will be darkened, the moon turned blood-red, the sky rolled up like a scroll, mountains and islands moved from their places (Revelation 6:12-14).

Moreover, Tribulation unbelievers will be fully cognizant of what’s happening and why.

Read with me and notice the awareness of the world that this sixth-seal catastrophe is directly from God. As opposed to natural disasters up to that time in which no one knows for sure whether God had commanded them at various intervals in history; or if they are simply part of nature’s increasing volatility (deterioration) since the Great Flood. Also note that, at this point, they express both fear of and respect for the Lord.

“Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?’” (Revelation 6:15-17).

As indicted in a few prior articles (for example, see Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, posted 11-4-17), this judgment as well as the 7th seal and 1st trumpet is strikingly similar to the disasters that God will inflict on the Gog/Magog coalition and nations that support their massive invasion of Israel.

One astounding result of God’s crushing victory over Israel’s enemies (led by Russia, Iran, Turkey): “In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).

That’s precisely the response of the unsaved world when the sixth seal is broken.

Would the World’s Deference to God Continue? Will They Relent and Repent?

Not hardly. As is said: “Dream on.”

After the subsequent 7th seal and first four trumpet judgements, each of which is clearly an Act of God, you would think that more unbelievers than not would get it. Perhaps say something to the effect: “I’m sorry Lord, what was I thinking. You are God and there is none like you. I want Jesus to save me.”

They could but they don’t. They should but they won’t.

Still, the Lord gives the survivors more chances before he unleashes his full wrath on the world in the seven bowl judgments. By this time, even angels are proclaiming God’s ultimate sovereignty with dire warnings to a world hell-bent on defiance of all that is good, right, and true. Before the seven bowls are poured out, we read the message of the first of three angels:

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

To evolutionists out there … are you listening?

To all unbelievers, especially those who have procrastinated your decision about Messiah Jesus time and again … are you listening, too? Wouldn’t it be so much better if you accepted him now as Savior, than face him later as your judge?

By and large, Tribulation unbelievers won’t listen even to angels. Instead, they become little pharaohs whose hearts will harden beyond remedy.

With one major exception. Unlike Pharaoh who finally yielded to the true and living God after the firstborn male of every Egyptian household was killed, most of the left behind unsaved will still not acknowledge the sovereignty of God Almighty and their only hope of salvation through His Son, Messiah Jesus. This despite the colossal carnage caused by people (also demons, as we will see) and justified judgments inflicted by God that will result in far more deaths than just the firstborn sons of one nation.

The following is the first reference to the world’s irreversible rebelliousness during the Tribulation, recorded after the 6th Trumpet.

“But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons…. And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).

Even more mind-boggling: unbelievers had reached this point of no return after the 5th & 6th trumpet judgments. Why is that so unfathomable? Because those two catastrophes are not direct plagues from the Lord. Instead, they are demonic hordes which God permits to be released for this precise end-times period.

The 5th trumpet was a (temporary … for five months) liberation of the embodied evil angels who had been imprisoned in the Abyss since the time of Noah’s flood. They were given power to inflict excruciating wounds (stings) on only the unbelievers (Revelation 9:1-12).

How painfully ironic!

(There are several depictions of these demonic angels, described as locusts by John. This one comes the closet to representing their features as vividly pictured in Revelation)

The 6th trumpet is much worse (Revelation 9:13-19).

More demonic hordes (numbering 200 million) are released to cause death and destruction even greater than experienced thus far during the Tribulation. To the extent that 1/3 of those still alive would be killed by this malevolent army. You would think that such massive death at the hands of their comrades in crime would make them realize that worship of not only Antichrist but of Satan himself didn’t give them a protective edge after all. Now it was the forces of Satan that were torturing and killing them left and right.

God’s direct judgments resume with the 7th trumpet and then the seven bowls, well into the 2nd half of the Tribulation.

Still, the obstinacy of unbelievers continues unabated.

Only now they ratchet up their insolence several notches. Emboldened by the brazen blasphemy of their divine Emperor we read that they actually: “…cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory” (Revelation 16:9).

This malignant malice towards God (cursing Him) takes place after the 4th bowl judgment in which God releases a massive blast of heat (most likely solar flares), “causing it to scorch everyone with its fire” (Revelation 16:8).

Then again after the 5th bowl (plunging Antichrist’s regime into total darkness for a while), we read: “…and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not repent of their evil deeds and turn to God” (Revelation 16:10-11).

Summary

And why wouldn’t they mimic and model themselves after their Antichrist cursing champion? By now, their hearts are hard as rock; their minds irreversibly warped. We have our own messiah. Who can fight against him? We’re all in. We don’t want or need the God of heaven or His Messiah.

Right up to the ever so bitter end … Armageddon. In which their superheroes, Antichrist and the False Prophet, are simply captured; but their armies continue the vain (incomprehensibly stupid) attempt to fight against the King of all kings. I mean, they will even see Messiah Jesus (and the host of heaven) descending from the sky on white horses! Wouldn’t that be cause for pause? Perhaps panic?

Nope. Just wicked willfulness. Or willful wickedness. Take your pick.

Consequently, “Their entire army was killed…” (Revelation 19:21) by Messiah Jesus. That is unequivocally the final solution to pure evil.

One more excerpt from Out of the Abyss:

When Nero reappears on the scene, he will mesh perfectly with the wickedness of the world. The world will emulate him as a leader who allows, endorses, and even initiates this immoral, ungodly, and contemptuous fist shaking at Almighty God (Page 213).

After the last and worst of these colossal calamities, the 7th bowl—a global earthquake and giant hailstones from which, “cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble … every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled…” (Revelation 16:17-21)—we read, “They cursed God because of the terrible plague of the hailstorm.”

Not the catastrophic destruction from the earthquake. No, they cursed God because of the (75-pound) hailstones. With the obvious conclusion that the hailstones were even more devastating than the earthquake.

(Only two pounds! Now try to picture a 75-pound hailstone!)

(Maybe this picture will help. Ice-balls that washed up on a Russian coastline after a large polar storm. I’m guessing the largest of these might weigh in at 20 pounds. But these ice-balls didn’t come from the sky like hailstones!)

Without meaning to be flippant: This round planet called Earth is going to be flattened. Nearly everything vertical—natural and man-made—will be horizontal. Plus, the death and destruction of the Great Tribulation will make World War II seem like a small shoot-out between two rival gangs in Chicago.

When will they ever learn? All too sadly, those who want no part of God’s Love and Amazing Grace freely and generously given through His Son, Messiah Jesus, won’t learn. Not now and not then.

However, at the final Great White Throne Judgment even the knees of raised-from-the-dead unbelievers will bend, and their tongues confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). But it will be too late then to accept Messiah Jesus as Savior or to willingly acknowledge him as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. That decision must be made while we’re alive on Planet Earth.

Things to Ponder

We who know the Lord, who have personally accepted his wonderful gift of redemption, have full assurance of our eternal destiny in heaven. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We are forever grateful for so great a salvation. Messiah Jesus doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

With love and humility, we also want those who have not yet trusted the Lord for their salvation to do so and be spared from not only the Tribulation but delivered from an eternity separated from God.

To know that: “…Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. His judgments are true and just…” (Revelation 19:1-2).

To appreciate and acknowledge that: “The Lord is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! The Lord sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy!” (Psalm 99:1-3).

Comparing A Phenomenal Prophecy in Leviticus With One in Zechariah

Most of the time, those even half-way interested in Biblical predictions (about 1/3 of the entire Bible) recognizes a prophecy when they read or hear it.

Moreover, they understand that the hundreds of prophecies fall into two categories: (1) Those already fulfilled; (2) Those still awaiting fulfillment.

However, there are a handful of prophecies that many aren’t certain whether they have come to pass yet, or if the passage is even prophetic. Such is the case with Leviticus Chapter 26.

Biblical eschatology also encompasses different forms (prototypes). Of which there are three main groupings: (1) Promises … the good news; (2) Warnings … the bad news; (3) Neutral … more matter-of-fact prognostications. Which nonetheless are as consequential as the precious promises and somber warnings of Scripture—for Jew and Gentile alike.

Sometimes all three paradigms fit a prophetic passage, as they do in Leviticus Chapter 26. The chapter begins with God’s promises to keep and prosper his people in the Promised Land of Israel if they trusted and obeyed him. Followed by warnings of hardship then eventual expulsion from Israel for their distrust and disobedience.

Yet, it is the third feature of that chapter that (others still to this day), I, too, had missed as being a precise prophecy, with a specified duration of the penalty for Israel’s rebellion. But once the discipline had ended, a resumption of God’s powerful promises to/for his people. It is one of the extraordinary handful in Scripture that contains a dedicated period (time-lapse) between the beginning and end of the prophecy.

In a revisit summary: The seven times over (in four phases) was (in reality) the uninterrupted sequence of the Lord’s on-going discipline that astonishingly applied directly to the prophetic duration … exact number of years! Which is equivalent to the Times of the Gentiles domination over Israel and the Jews from its precise beginning to its exact end.

See two-part Eye of Prophecy series: Extraordinary Prophecies w/Predicted Times of Fulfillment. Posted 3-2 & 3-9-19. Leviticus 26 is one of eight time-dedicated prophecies discussed in those two articles. Here is an excerpt from Part I (in italics):

Regarding the hundreds of Biblical prophecies, there are only a few time-capsule forecasts involving specific dates or duration of fulfillment. Which, in that context of comparison, makes these prophecies unique…. They are integral components of God’s magnificent plans for and interaction with his chosen people, the Jews; his special possession, Israel; and for all other peoples (Gentiles).

Also refer to article: Times of & Fullness of the Gentiles … What Do They Mean? (4-21-18).

(The 1st sentence in this prophecy from Jesus took place when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70 which led to the Great Diaspora of the Jews. The 2nd half of this prophecy came to completion when Jerusalem was liberated by the IDF in the Six-Day War of 1967 … no more trampling of Jerusalem! Except for a few brief weeks during the Tribulation)

Seven Times Seven (to the 4th Power)

That is the title of a trilogy of articles posted in 2014; followed by a general summary in the subsequent article, The Omega Generation. With emphasis in that article on the last day’s significance of Israel’s miraculous Six-Day War victory in 1967, resulting in liberation of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the capital of the Holy (Promised) Land of Israel.

That amazing achievement once and for all ended Gentile domination of the Jews, which was the definitive means and measure of God’s discipline of his people. For the express purpose of establishing the soon-to-come Kingdom of God ruled by his Son, Messiah Jesus from Jerusalem, upon his glorious return.

This seven-times over prophecy is being reviewed for the purpose of correlating it with another puzzling prophetic passage, concerning the scope of Israel’s (and Jews elsewhere in the world) turmoil during the Great Tribulation.

Before we tie-in these prophecies—thereby, clarifying our understanding of the extent of Israel’s suffering to come—here is another excerpt from Part I of Extraordinary Prophecies w/Predicted Times of Fulfillment. (In italics, the latter part of which is, in turn, a quote from Part II of the Seven Times Seven articles):

Although the seven times over (four times successively) prophecy in Leviticus doesn’t identify days or years as such, it is nonetheless a time-dedicated forecast of exactly how long Israel would remain under Gentile domination, to complete the Lord’s discipline of his people and nation…. I proceeded to do the math of seven times seven (four times) translated into years! Where the calculation led me was nothing short of stunning.

After inception of the Eye of Prophecy website, I consolidated this amazing prophecy and its fulfillment in a trilogy of articles, Seven Times Seven (to the 4th power), posted 1-25, 2-1, & 2-8-14. Providing detailed analysis of Leviticus Chapter 26 in conjunction with the lapse of time beginning with the rebuilt Temple in 516 B.C. … The official end of the Babylonian captivity….

I later realized that the Lord’s disclosure of the meaning or application of this phenomenal hidden gem of prophecy was in the same vein of what Sir Robert Anderson had “discovered” (discernment from the Lord applicable to Daniel 9:25-26 and later published in his book, The Coming Prince1894).

*Note: Sir Robert’s astute analysis of Daniel’s prophecy is also one of the eight time-dedicated prophecies summarized in the Extraordinary Prophecies…. articles. And, the subject of one entire Eye of Prophecy article, An Incredible Time-Lapse Prophecy (1-18-14). Plus, passing references to it in a few other of my articles.

Continuing with the excerpt:

Anderson’s insight related to the prophesied time parameters of the first Advent of Messiah which resulted in Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Whereas, the Seven Times Over prophetic paradigm pertains to the physical return of the Jews to Israel—specifically the (time dedicated) end of Gentile dominance of the Jews in preparation for the Second Coming of Messiah Jesus.

…With that in mind, there is an even stronger and more compelling reason that the seven-times over doesn’t apply to or represent in any way the severity factor or degree of punishment.

(Comment: that the seven times over represents the severity degree of God’s punishment is the general assumption, which obscures and even prevents seeing the seven times seven—four times—representing an uninterrupted sequence of time, i.e. years).

If you read the passage carefully, here’s what you will find: Each time (phase’s one through four) that God identifies the punishment to be experienced by Israel, the punishments themselves ARE more severe. In other words, the severity factor is built-in to each of the four phases of discipline, as they become progressively more severe, one through four. With, by far, the most severe that of being completely conquered, destroyed, and exiled to other countries by their conquerors in the fourth set of the seven times over punishments. With the corresponding result that there would be absolutely no purpose or reason for the Lord to metaphorically describe the successive phases of punishments in terms of seven-times over. Because the text is very clear that each discipline, in and of itself, becomes progressively worse.

So, what does the seven times paradigm represent or mean? Then it came to me; that is the Lord showed it to me. The express purpose for seven times over pertains to one and only one element: TIME. (As in chronological years of history).

I then wrote:

And, so the seven times over sequence had begun again. This time the prophetic march of time relentlessly continued unabated and uninterrupted. If, however, the seven times over to the 4th power represents a measurable period, then it must come to an end. That’s what occurred to me that night in October 2006. Although I didn’t know where it would lead me (what year in history), I realized that God was telling Moses and the people that the seven times seven model necessitated and would, in fact, unfold according to an exact prophetic timeline. Moreover, the formula was built into the prophecy: 7 x 7 x 7 x 7. When this prophetic paradigm reached its measurable deadline, Israel’s punishment would also reach its predetermined limit; and they would no longer be under Gentile domination!

Having already explained why the year 516 B.C. (completion of the rebuilt Jewish Temple) was the starting point of God’s seven-times over discipline, I wrote:

A Phenomenal Finding (Let’s do the Math)!

Calculations: 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 equals 2,401 (years). Remember the premise: This prophecy is a specific time-lapse utilization of sevens that can be measured in years, in a very similar manner to the Daniel Chapter 9 prophecy. We must now convert the 2,401 years to Jewish years.

Roman to Jewish calendar: 2,401 years x 365 Roman calendar days = 876,365 days. Dividing 876,365 by 360 Jewish calendar days = 2,434 years Jewish years. (We’re rounding this off, because we’re only interested in the year, unlike the exact day(s) of the Daniel prophecy).

Jubilee Years: Again, we need to remember that the ultimate criteria that God used to preclude or preempt any excuses or rationalization of the people was the Sabbatical rest of the land. But we also need to include all Jubilee years, which was a 50-year cycle of freedom from debt, servitude, and resting the land from crop planting… Because the Israelites also failed to keep the Jubilee requirements, this would be a central part of God’s formula for discipline.

So, we divide 2,434 Jewish years by 50 and we get 49 (rounded off) Jubilee years….

We add 2,434 years + 49 (Jubilee) years. The sum of these two: 2,483 (years).

The Astonishing Result: 2,483 years minus 516 BC (we must subtract BC years from the total) leads us to the year: 1967! Or 1,967 years AD plus 516 years BC is a total of 2,483 years.

In summary of this portion of today’s article, we need to fully appreciate the striking significance of Israel’s Six-Day War victory.

(One of several IDF celebrations of their astonishing Six-Day War victory)

(At the Western Wall, battle-hardened IDF soldiers wept tears of reverence and joy)

NO LONGER would Israel be under the thumb of Gentile nations. Although Israel won an equally amazing victory in her 1948 War of Independence, it wasn’t until 1967 that Israel reclaimed the Holy City of Jerusalem (in fact, all Israeli land) in her reestablished sovereign nation by means of a powerful military that not only could defend her people, but could (and did) take the offensive in ways not seen since the glory years of King David.

The one exception (on a limited basis) was when the Maccabees defeated Antiochus IV and his Syrian/Greek Army. Yet, not even the Maccabees of the 2nd century B.C. conquered their enemies as swiftly or soundly as the Israelis did in 1967 (and again in 1973).

The Maccabean victory was followed by the Hasmonean Dynasty in Israel that lasted for about 100 years. Only for Israel to once again fall under Gentile domination … in the 60’s B.C. to the first Roman conquest of Israel. Which eventually produced an even more devastating defeat at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D. Followed by the great Jewish Diaspora resulting in Gentile nations’ (national) control over the Jews, culminating in the worst Jewish catastrophe of all … the Holocaust.

But no more.

With Israel’s rebirth in 1948 and subsequent (slow at first) rebuilding of a potent military—on full display in 1967. Then again in 1973, and even more powerful today,

NEVER AGAIN will Israel be subjected to Gentile domination … in which the Jews couldn’t defend themselves.

Despite Biblical prophecy of Israel’s troubles during the impending Great Tribulation (commencing soon after the any-day-now Rapture), she will never again be conquered nor utterly defeated as a nation, nor suffer shocking numbers of deaths as happened with the brutal Roman conquest and then the more horrific Holocaust.

Let’s look at the Biblical reasons why Israel won’t experience that kind of horrendous suffering, though times will be terribly tough for her—indeed, for all peoples during the unprecedented Great Tribulation. With the most significant factors: (1) God has restored his providential protection of Israel. (2) Now the Jews can furiously fight back more forcefully than since the time of King David.

Two-Thirds of the Jews Killed … Past or Future?

This, too, is the title of a prior Eye of Prophecy article (posted 5-19-15). It ranks as one of my (author’s) favorites. A favorite in the context of its pathos for me (and perhaps for others). A dilemma that was settled when the Lord graciously provided another insight to me.

I’m referring to one of the more poignant, yet puzzling passages in all of Scripture. In just three verses, we find a far-reaching three-stage prophecy concerning Messiah’s death and the scattering of the sheep/lambs resulting in 2/3rds of “the people” (Jews) dying. Conventional commentary places the death of so many Jews during the end-times Tribulation period.

For years I had grappled with this conundrum—unable to process the idea that the Jews would be killed in such great numbers a second time after six million of them had been slaughtered during the Holocaust. What made this mainstream interpretation even more implausible (unacceptable) was the fact that Israel is now a nation with one of the most powerful militaries on earth, despite its small size and population. That and the fact, as already demonstrated, that God’s discipline (primarily through withdrawal of his protection) of his people ended in 1967.

First, the passage:

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs. Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die, says the Lord. But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’” (Zechariah 13:7-9).

I literally pleaded with the Lord to show me one way or the other if the prevailing application of this passage was accurate, i.e. 2/3rds of the Jews killed during the Tribulation.

Praise the Lord, he did just that; but not for several months and more “please Lord” sessions. To benefit from the in-depth treatment of this subject, please consider reading the above listed article.

Once again, I’m combining this subject with the seven times seven paradigm to demonstrate that, despite the terrible tribulation times ahead, Israel will not experience another Holocaust. God simply will not allow that to happen; not after bringing his people back to Israel in great numbers and not after giving birth to the Jewish Nation-State of Israel again (Isaiah 66).

(Israeli President Rivlin welcoming Aliyah immigrants from the USA and Canada. Most immigrants to Israel have come from Russia)

The Times of the Gentiles is no more. Israel is Israel again … forever!

Whereas, the Fullness of the Gentiles is still to come.

Here is an excerpt from the article Two-Thirds of the Jews KilledPast or Future? (in italics):

Dozens of Bible prophecies speak of the last day’s return of Jews to Israel from global exile, with the Divine guarantee that never again would Jews be stripped of or away from their Promised Land. Despite the perilous end-times turmoil that will engulf the entire earth during the Great Tribulation, including Israel—which is referred to as Jacob’s troubles—there is no indication in Scripture that the Jews will suffer the catastrophic casualties at the hands of Gentile nations that started with the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BC and the Babylonian overthrow of Judah in 586 BC. Then the even more devastating defeat of Israel by the Romans in 70 AD and their ensuing global Diaspora, culminating in the unfathomable genocidal massacre of some six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Except that is, for one passage. It is a portion of Scripture that had perplexed and troubled me for some time.

Bible prophecy, particularly those involving last day’s warnings, can be either terrifying or touching, horrifying or heartening; depending mostly on whether you are an unbeliever or believer, respectively. Even the believer can be alarmed at the enormity of, for example, death and destruction by the forces of evil in the end times but also by the wrath of God poured out on a very wicked world. As Christians, we need not be afraid of a world spinning out of control before the soon-to-come Rapture, then tilting on an apocalyptic axis and falling into the Abyss during the Tribulation. But we certainly should be motivationally moved by the apocalyptic anxiety that those left behind will experience, particularly by the tribulation saints and Jews; some of whom will be one and the same and both of whom will be relentlessly persecuted.

(Refer to article, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, published June 2015)

Continuing with the above excerpt:

Jesus referred to the scattering of the sheep as what his disciples would do when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:31); but Zechariah’s prophecy was broader in scope than that. Why? Because Jesus also denoted the Jews as the (lost) sheep of Israel. Moreover, the next line in Zechariah 13:7 reads, “and I will turn against the lambs.” …Both sheep and lambs are frequently used as a metaphorical analogy to God’s chosen people, the Jews.

The scattering of the sheep also took place when the Romans conquered Israel and destroyed much of Jerusalem including complete demolition of the rebuilt Temple in 70 AD. The scattering and the turning against the lambs signified God’s withdrawal of his protection from his chosen people for rejecting their Messiah who established the New Covenant with the greatest price ever paid … his very blood, the life of the Son of God. The Great Diaspora ensued in which millions of Jews were exiled to many nations. With, however, the greater majority of the Jewish population settling in countries of today’s Europe over hundreds of years. Also, a sizeable number ended up in Russia. Not until the birth of the United States and later the horrendous Holocaust, would more Jews live in America than anywhere else in the world. Even that has now changed, with the greatest concentration of Jews in Israel, itself … 6.3 million. (*Note: that number is now closer to 6.8 million).

In that article, I went on to explain Zechariah 13:7-9 in more detail, to include evidence that “the land” (some translations say “that land”) in which 2/3rds of the Jews would be killed was NOT Israel—which had been my assumption for many years. Rather, it was that land to which they had been scattered … predominately the European continent.

Another excerpt from that article:

What I missed was the fact that the passage of Zechariah 13:7-9 is distinctly separate from verses one through six of Chapter 13 and all the other (on that day) end-times content of Chapters 9-14, except for Messiah’s procession into Jerusalem and his subsequent betrayal. However, Verses 7, 8, & 9 of Chapter 13 cannot be separated, one from the other. They are all an integral part of a succession of three events: Messiah’s death, the sheep scattered, and two-thirds of them killed … all of which have already taken place!

(*Note: Verse nine of Zechariah 13 describes the purifying result of the Diaspora for God’s chosen people. This is also referenced in Daniel 11:33-35. Though there are more secular Jews than observant in Israel and the world over, there were three monumentally constructive results of the worse disaster to ever befall the Jews—the Holocaust: (1) Rebirth of Israel, a catalyst to the return of millions of Jews to the Promised Land; (2) Freedom of observant Jews to worship the God of Israel without fear of wide-spread and incessant anti-Semitic persecution during their exile; (3) An explosion of Messianic Jews and Messianic ministries the world-over, beginning on a burgeoning scale in 1967. This is the refining spoken of by the Lord through Zechariah, that will reach its perfect and purified conclusion when:

I then presented facts and figures in that article concerning the number of Jews in Europe (“the people in the land”) as phrased by Zechariah. With the astonishing (but appallingly sad) evidence that almost exactly 2/3rds of the Jews in Europe were killed during the Holocaust. Which leads to another remarkable reality: The Bible does, in fact, make a prophetic reference to the Holocaust, some 2,400 years before it happened.

One last excerpt from that article:

The overwhelmingly clear evidence of the Bible is that once the Jews returned from exile, they would never again be driven from the land. Their time of physical and spiritual restoration would begin. Though they will undoubtedly suffer many more casualties during the Antichrist’s assault against Israel leading to Armageddon, it will not be anything like the appalling losses suffered during World War II or before.

…A two-thirds loss of life seemed to be an incomprehensible contradiction to the wonderful blessings God would begin to bestow on Israel beginning with the regathering of the Jews from world-wide exile and the rebirth of the Jewish nation.

No longer do I need to agonize over such a contradiction. Because there is no contradiction! The two-thirds of Jews killed was horrendous. Yet, it was … as in past-tense. Never to happen again!

On the authority of God’s Word, I repeat for emphasis: NEVER.

Evaluation of Other Passages Concerning This Week’s Topic

Since the ominous presence of Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Syria that began about four years ago, Israel’s security has been threatened unlike anything since her last major war in 1973. Last week’s Eye of Prophecy article (Judea/Samaria & The Gaza Strip in Israel / Who Has Sovereignty?) began with the heading: Things Are Heating Up Again.

However, that observation was confined to another episode in the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict that resulted in Gaza terrorist cells (Islamic Jihad and Hamas) launching some 700 rockets into Israel … with substantial Israeli airstrikes in retaliation. In a broadening of that heating up, just a couple of weeks ago the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike force to the Persian Gulf in response to reports that Iran was planning an attack on U.S. military installations in the Middle East. The whole world is waiting and watching to see what may become of this sword rattling.

Like other incidents in the past 18 months or so, Israel may be involved in more skirmishes with Iran. However, as written in a few prior articles, I’m convinced that Israel will not be engaged in a major conflagration until the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel which will take place within a year or so of the Great Tribulation … following the Rapture.

Most of my articles about the Gog/Magog attack emphasize Israel’s astounding victory over this massive coalition, without the Jews needing to fight at all! It is God who supernaturally deals this ungodly confederation a devastating defeat through (among other things) catastrophic plagues, which also include nations that approve of and/or apathetically standby and watch Gog/Magog’s invasion of Israel. Those calamities are nearly identical to the sixth and seventh seal and 1st trumpet judgment in Revelation—more confirmation that Gog/Magog will be destroyed in the early part of the Tribulation.

This will be the beginning of global realization that God and His Son (Messiah Jesus) are now overtly actualizing sovereign control and completion of their providential plans concerning the destiny of individuals and entire nations, especially Israel.

More than once in Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Gog/Magog invasion), the Lord says of his people and the entire planet: “…And the nations, too, will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:7). The world’s terrified reaction (though most still do not repent and turn to God) is expressed explicitly after the sixth seal judgment (Revelation 6:15-17).

Now let’s look at three passages to both clarify and confirm the premise that Israel (Jews) will not experience another Holocaust, though they will once again be the object of persecution and attempted genocide.

In fact, the prophet Zechariah says it will be the other way around. As follows:

The gathering against Israel begins unsuccessfully with the Gog/Magog invasion, and resumes/intensifies during the last few months of the Tribulation when Antichrist’s (Nero) ten-nation coalition arrogantly attempts to accomplish what Russia, Iran, Turkey, and lesser nations couldn’t.

Zechariah 12

“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a flame that sets a woodpile ablaze or like a burning torch among sheaves of grain. They will burn up all the neighboring nations right and left, while the people living in Jerusalem remain secure. The Lord will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah. On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! …For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:6-9).

After Antichrist Nero breaks his treaty with Israel (3 ½ years into the Tribulation), he will begin to persecute the Jews. But not until the latter part of the Great Tribulation will he and his ten-nation empire invade Israel. As this passage indicates, the campaign will begin in Judah—equivalent to the land and cities outside of Jerusalem. Which makes sense, as Jerusalem is the interior heart of Israel … literally and figuratively.

Contrary to the notion that Israel will suffer horrendous casualties, it’s the Jews who will fight more ferociously and will win many battles. This will be the beginning of the Lord’s destruction of all the nations that come against Jerusalem. With two major differences than during the Gog/Magog campaign. This time the Jews will need to fight for what they will perceive as Israel’s very survival. And, the awesome arrival of Messiah (Jesus) in person, to rescue them!

Jerusalem will be secure, but only for a while. Which leads us to the next Tribulation-passage pertaining to Israel.

Zechariah 14

“Watch, for the day of the Lord is coming when your possessions will be plundered right in front of you! I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the population will be taken into captivity, and the rest will be left among the ruins of the city. Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west…. You will flee through this valley…” (Zechariah 14:1-5a).

Note: Only the city of Jerusalem is mentioned in this passage, not the rest of Israel, i.e. Judah. Whether a period of days or a few weeks, Antichrist (who has set up camp in Megiddo) will eventually get to Jerusalem and wreak havoc on the city, including rape and pillage.

HOWEVER, also note that there is no direct or even indirect indication that many Jews will die.

Instead, half the city will be taken into captivity (where held captive is not stated). Some Jews will escape to safety during this incredible battle for Jerusalem, through the valley formed when Messiah Jesus steps foot on and splits the Mount of Olives. Though speculation, they very well could join their fellow-Jews who had bolted to safety several years earlier. The event we just read in Zechariah 14 is not the same as when many Jews throughout Israel will flee and be protected for 3 ½ years (we’ll get to that in a moment). Rather, the awesome flashpoint of Messiah’s appearance on the Mount of Olives will take place near the very end of the Tribulation. Though the Israeli Defense Force will have already won several battles, eventually they will be no match for the size and strength of Antichrist’s massive assault on Jerusalem.

Then, at the right time, God will see to it that Antichrist withdraws most of his forces back to Megiddo to confront alarming news that the kings of the East are marching against him (Daniel 11 and Revelation 16). There he will meet his decisive defeat and final fate.

See Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon and Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events (Posted 2-3-18). Which explains that Jesus’s bodily return to earth is in two-phases. First on the Mount of Olives to begin the liberation of Jerusalem. That’s when the Jews will fully realize that Jesus is their Messiah. Then, after mourning deeply the fact that they and their ancestors had rejected Jesus as their Messiah/Savior, they will rally around him with great jubilation. And, they will fight even harder … weakest among them as mighty as King David.

However, the final battle in the valley of Megiddo won’t take place until (a short time) later when Jesus returns to heaven in preparation for his final physical return and victory over Israel’s enemies and evil itself (Revelation 19:11-21). This will be soon after the final and most devastating (a global earthquake unlike anything ever experienced by mankind) of all the seal, trumpet, and first six bowl judgments (Revelation 16:17-21).

(I’ve been there … 2006. And, along with the host of heaven riding white horses behind Messiah Jesus, I’ll be there again, arriving this time from heaven, not from the United States!)

Now let’s combine these passages with:

Revelation 12

After Revelation’s author John presents a short but spectacular sweeping depiction of Israel, her child (Messiah), Satan and 1/3 of the angel’s expulsion from heaven long ago, ascension of Christ back to heaven (after his resurrection), and a brief reference to the Millennial Reign of Messiah, we read:

“And the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6, parenthesis mine).

(Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: A Mysterious Sign in Virgo … What Does It Mean? Posted 9-23-17. Which provides an in-depth examination of this portion of Revelation 12, plus more).

Then later in Revelation 12—after John records the astounding fact that Satan will be thrown out of heaven for good (his first eviction was from his residency in heaven; however, he is still allowed access to heavenly places)—we read:

“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman (Israel) who had given birth to the male child (Messiah Jesus). But she was given two wings like those of a great eagle so she could fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness. There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time (3 ½ years or the 1,260 days previously mentioned in the chapter)” (Revelation 12:13-14, parenthesis mine).

Most Bible scholars believe this sanctuary of safety will be Petra in Jordan. That’s very possible, even probable. However, what is not often, if at all, addressed is who among the Jews (some or all) will be flown (think airplanes and helicopters) out of harm’s way.

Answer: Children, the aged, the disabled, and women not fighting in the IDF. Also, most of Israel’s government officials to set up new headquarters. But NOT Israel’s military, excepting a few units to protect and supply those Jews in refuge.

Why? Because they will be left to fight for and preserve their beloved Promised Land; otherwise, Revelation 12 wouldn’t track with the passages in Zechariah already discussed. Not all Israelis will choose to leave Israel (especially Jerusalem). Those who remain are the ones who will be persecuted—slowly at first but increasing as the last half of the Tribulation unfolds.

Initially, Satan (through Antichrist and the False Prophet) will be frustrated in his diabolical determination to destroy Israel. Thanks mostly to the two mighty prophets and their protection of Jerusalem and Israel (see Revelation Chapter 11). Also, Eye of Prophecy article: Moses & Elijah vs. Antichrist & The False Prophet, posted 2-10-18.

Once again, the evidence is intrinsically clear: many more Jews will survive the Great Tribulation than not; added affirmation that 2/3rds of them will not perish during the Tribulation. If that were the case, then over four million of the current 6.8 million Jews in Israel would die. The (implied) sheer number of Jews safely protected by the Lord in the wilderness (on two separate occasions) is proof positive that many more will survive than not. That and IDF soldiers in the hundreds of thousands who will not only remain in Israel to fight but will win many battles during this series of clashes with their enemies (Zechariah 12).

Things to Ponder

The Bible is incomparable. Because it’s author, the Triune God, possesses incomparable power and authority.

God’s magnificent Word about himself, the origin of all things, a panoramic picture of humanity, and much more is nothing short of spectacular.

(What did the Lord say following this verse? We read it earlier in the pictorial of Zechariah 12:2 & 3)

Whether prophetic or non-prophetic passages of Israel’s saga; the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the tremendous truths of salvation from sin and its penalty; the destiny of mankind determined by people’s decision to choose redemption through Christ or reject Him, Biblical details are mind-boggling both in quality and quantity.

There are NO other (so-called) sacred texts in any of the man-made religions or humanistic philosophies on earth that can hold a candle to the blazing light and universal truth of the Bible.

For many reasons; not the least of which is the virtual absence of prophecy or miracles in these religions. In anemic contrast to the 100% fulfillment of Biblical prophecies and the majestic miracles that God and His Son have performed and will do so (again … soon), but on a truly global scale—with unimaginable magnitude and inconceivable results.

“…Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations” (Revelation 15:3).

Judea/Samaria & Gaza Strip / Who Has Sovereignty?

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Things Are Heating Up Again

Not since Operation Protective Edge—Israel’s military confrontation with the terrorist organization Hamas of the Gaza Strip in 2014—have Code Red sirens in southwestern Israel been heard on such a massive scale.

Although Palestinian rockets have terrorized Israelis since they vacated the Gaza in 2005, not often have missiles been launched by the hundreds in just two days.

About 1/6 (1.1 million) of the Israeli population were forced to seek shelter for over 48 hours.

Compared proportionally to the USA, some 54 million Americans would be diving for cover from missiles fired mercilessly and randomly at civilian targets.

It began on Friday (May 3rd) when terrorist snipers shot and wounded two of the IDF soldiers who were guarding against Palestinian infiltration through the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel. Though Palestinian civilians have been hurling rocks, firebombs, and fire kites into Israel since this (so-called) peaceful March of Return began over a year ago, firearms are used almost exclusively by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Israel reacted by striking only a few targets in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and mostly Islamic Jihad (the smaller of the two terrorist cells in Gaza) retaliated by raining down nearly 700 rockets/mortars on a wide swath of Israeli towns outside of the Gaza Strip. Israel responded again, hitting nearly 350 targets (aggregate total) in the Gaza, all of which were terrorists’ military sites, i.e. headquarters and personnel, munitions, rocket launchers, and tunnels. Although the IDF always tries to prevent non-combatant casualties, it’s nearly impossible to do so completely when Hamas and Islamic Jihad use schools, mosques, commercial complexes, and private homes in the Gaza to hide weapons and fire missiles.

Four Israelis were killed and 145 injured, some seriously. Palestinian rockets inflicted death and injuries in a variety of ways and locations, including a synagogue, hospital, and school that were hit. Property damage is estimated at 14 million dollars.

(A direct rocket hit on an apartment complex in the Israeli community of Kiryat Malachi)

Moshe Agadi, a 58-year old father of four, was killed by a rocket that struck his house in Ashkelon. Moshe Feder (68) died when an anti-tank missile hit his car. A 21-year old Jewish man Pinchas Prezuazman (dual Israeli American citizen) perished from a blast while he was running to a bomb shelter in Ashdod. How ironically sad is that? Also poignant was 47-year old Ziad al-Hamamda who died when a missile crashed into an Ashdod factory where he worked. Poignant (ironic) because, although he was an Israeli citizen, he was an Arab Bedouin.

But then neither Hamas and Islamic Jihad of the Gaza Strip nor the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) of the West Bank really care about their own people getting hurt or killed, whether they’re Israeli Arabs or Palestinian Arabs. They don’t mourn these deaths … not really. Instead, they praise them and death in general. In fact, they bank on the idea that those deaths will generate more (unwarranted) global criticism against Israel. If an (Israeli) Arab is killed by Palestinians, then, too bad … it was for the cause. When Palestinian “civilians” are killed in the IDF’s defense of Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority tell the world they are victims of Israeli human-rights violations or war crimes.

The world-at-large only reads or cares about the (alleged) “disproportionate response” by the Israelis when more Palestinians are killed than Jews. The Palestinians sometimes inflate the numbers of civilian casualties or lessen the number of actual Hamas or Islamic Jihad members killed. The number of Gaza Palestinians reportedly killed was thirty. Reliable Israeli intelligence indicates that most of the Palestinians killed and injured were terrorist operatives, with at least ten of those Islamic Jihad.

*Note: Islamic Jihad (funded and manipulated by Iran) more so than Hamas was responsible for this latest bombardment against Israel. Nonetheless, Israel constantly reminds Hamas that they will be held responsible, as Hamas is the governing body of Gaza.

(An Israeli house in Ashkelon; shows what damage shrapnel can do from a nearby exploding missile fired from Gaza)

False Reporting / Fake News in the Palestinian Narrative

Often, Hamas lies about how some Gazan civilians die in these skirmishes. They’ll cover up the facts, until exposed by indisputable evidence of Israeli intelligence. For example, Gazan officials hurriedly announced to the world (as found in several media headlines) that IDF airstrikes were responsible for the deaths of a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 14-month old infant daughter killed in their house.

Soon thereafter, Israel disclosed evidence that it was a missile launched by Islamic Jihad which, through misfiring and/or premature denotation, struck the house. Hamas then acknowledged this mishap and described it as a “technical failure.”

As expected, one of Israel’s many critics who blasted (pun intended) the Israelis for their actions was US Congress woman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar. Chiming in with other media reports, she conveniently omitted the fact that it was the Palestinians who started the whole thing (they always do). Or that Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched nearly 700 rockets, with only token reference that Israelis were killed or wounded contrasted to full focus on Palestinian casualties.

However, the thing that got my attention was Omar’s incredibly uninformed (she doesn’t care about facts, only about her obsessive anti-Israel agenda) statement that the Gaza Strip is “occupied” by the Israelis. Here, I’m not even referring to the fact that Israel does not occupy (in the sense of being illegal) either the West Bank or Gaza Strip, as explained in a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles, including last week’s post. You can’t (unlawfully) occupy land that belongs to you in the first place.

No, I’m referring to her shockingly ignorant statement that Israel (still) maintains a presence in the Gaza Strip. Where has she been all these years? Does she not know that Israel totally vacated the Gaza nearly 14 years ago? Not one single Jew lives there. Or does she know and can lie about it because many who harbor anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments are either uniformed or wish not to be bothered with the facts.

Well, enough said about that.

Sovereignty & A “Two-State Solution”

If you already haven’t, please consider reading last week’s article, Does Israel Belong To The State of Israel? The article’s title is not a “trick” question; rather a rhetorical one, as thoroughly explained in that article, and alluded to in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles. Documented evidence and ensuing commentary were presented to demonstrate convincingly that the Jewish Nation-State of Israel is sovereign over the entirety of Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel).

Part of Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of sovereign or sovereignty: “Independent (a state); autonomy; an autonomous state.” And, “freedom from external control” (parenthesis in the definition).

External includes such entities as the United Nations and their incessant unfounded resolutions against Israel, the only democratic state in the entire Middle East. External also means any country outside of Israel’s exterior borders, i.e. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and beyond.

However, it does not mean (so-called) internal borders within Israel between the (also so-called) Palestinian Territories of the Gaza and Judea/Samaria—more often referred to by its Johnny-come-lately designation of the West Bank. With a reverse application that means the Palestinians cannot claim they have a right to freedom from Israel’s sovereignty on the (non-existent) basis that the demarcations between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel proper are external borders. They are not. At best, they are armistice lines.

A partial definition of autonomy: “A self-governing state” (emphasis added).

Repeating for emphasis and continued clarification what I (and a few others) have stressed: There never has been and is not now a Palestinian State. A Nation-State must exist before the prerogative, principle, and practice of sovereignty or autonomy is granted absolutely.

Although the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been given administrative self-governing privileges—Palestinian Authority created in 1993 by the Oslo Accords, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip by virtue of the Israelis withdrawing (nearly 10,000 Jews) from Gaza and relocated to other parts of Israel—they do NOT possess ultimate sovereignty over these regions.

(Principal participants of the Oslo Accords: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton; PLO President Yasser Arafat; one of the worst land for peace deals ever made)

It never ceases to amaze me how so many people and heads-of-state push for this two-state solution when the fact remains that the Palestinians don’t want such a state unless:

(1) There is no Jewish state—which is stated in both the PLO Charter of the West Bank and Hamas Charter of the Gaza Strip. With both groups in denial over the reality that Israel is here to stay and will fight to the last Israeli against anyone who launches an all-out assault against her. Hamas has vowed never to deviate from its sworn objective to destroy Israel; thus, they would never approve a Palestinian State unless it replaced an Israeli Nation-State.

(2) The Palestinian Authority would (just barely) consider a state of their own; however, will never back down from at least two pre-negotiated conditions: (a) East Jerusalem as its capital—in sheer spite of Israel’s heritage and self-determination that Jerusalem is an undivided capital; (b) Return of most of the five million (so-called) Palestinian refuges scattered throughout the Middle East—no matter that this status of refugee ended within one generation after 1948. For Jewish Israelis, this would be demographic disaster by virtue of the sheer number of Arabs.

(3) A Palestinian State with borders equal to the armistice lines before Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

And those factors are just the hypothetical paper-feature of such a two-state option that would not be any solution at all. Israel’s external and internal enemies have proven more than once that Israel’s giving up land to them is no guarantee of peace. What is guaranteed is that the Palestinians (and whatever allies are brought into the fold of a Palestinian State … some literally) would never cease and desist from overt hostility toward Israel.

But the day-to-day features of such a state are that much more impractical and incomprehensible than even than the paper-principal (also principle) factors.

Though I consider myself informed about Israel and what’s happening there and in the Middle East, when it comes to some of the “land logistics” (especially in Judea/Samaria), I’m no expert. However, the experts have already said that it would be a logistical nightmare to realign the already apportioned areas in the West Bank designated as A, B, & C. This is especially the case for the eastern part of Jerusalem.

But I know enough to with a great deal of certainty present the following facts on the ground obstacles to anything approaching a practical two-state option. It would be an unworkable solution to an already misunderstood problem (the root thereof) that would create a problem far greater and more dangerous than the existing status quo.

Why A Two-State Solution (Option) Won’t Work

Although there are other less conspicuous considerations, we’ll look at four prominent factors to further demonstrate why the creation of a Palestinian state in Israel is not only unfeasible but unreasonable. Particularly a second state that would itself be separated into two regions … West Bank and Gaza Strip.

(1) Judea/Samaria: As cited in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (along with his shady Fatah organization, the supposedly “moderate” voice of Palestinians), with the clear connotation that smacks both of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, has said on more than one occasion: No Jew will ever be allowed citizenship in a Palestinian State.

It doesn’t get any more glaring than that. If (and he is) Abbas is referring to his already stated condition that such a state include ALL pre-1967 lines of demarcation, then it would include ALL of the West Bank … even areas designated by the Oslo agreements for Israelis to live (area C), eastern part of Jerusalem, much of the Jordan Valley, and of course Gaza. It’s agonizingly evident that the result of such boundaries would be the uprooting of all Jews from their homes in the central part of Israel historically called Judea/Samaria.

The Israelis themselves already tried something similar by extracting nearly 10,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005, with the (misguided) motive of placating the Gaza Palestinians in exchange for peace. Did peace come? Hardly. The Jews didn’t even receive so much as a thank you from their Arab neighbors? But the Gazans did give Israel something in return: deadly rockets from the sky and terror tunnels from the ground.

(A resident of the Gaza Israeli community of Gush Katif at the time. One of the most heart-rending times in Israel’s modern history. Some Jews had to be forcibly removed by the IDF and Israeli police from their homes)

Not only would total Israeli withdrawal from Judea/Samaria be a logistical nightmare, it would enormously endanger Israel’s security … her very survival. Moreover, it wouldn’t be “just” 10,000 Jews (as if that were only a few); it would be hundreds of thousands. And that’s only one reason why a two-state “solution” is unfeasible and unreasonable.

(2) Two Dangerous Corridors in the Heart of Israel: At the closest point of a proposed Palestinian State western border, there is a strip of Israeli land only nine miles in width to the Mediterranean Sea.

And there would be another corridor (with one or maybe two highways) from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank that would also cut central Israel in half. One can imagine the repercussions thereof.

Beginning with the sovereign right of a Palestinian state to allow anyone or anything (think large weaponry) it chooses into its country. Given their affinity for Muslim terrorists and for alliances with militant Islamic nations, who do you think a Palestinian State would welcome into their nation. Does Lebanon (Hezbollah), Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Turkey (which is already spending lots of money on Muslim enterprises in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem) come to mind?

Moreover, the United Nations would be in a tizzy if the Israelis didn’t allow commercial flights from other nations (including Israel’s enemies) into a West Bank (plus Gaza) Palestinian State, though those flights would have to pass over Israeli airspace to the West Bank. Even if the Israelis flatly refused such entrance and egress to Judea/Samaria, there would still be air and sea access to the Gaza Strip, as it borders the Mediterranean.

With this highway corridor in place, Hamas could transport as much military personnel and equipment as they wanted to/from the West Bank, and visa versa for the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip. If Israel did stop such Palestinian movement by force, it would be considered an act of War on Israel’s part. Moreover, Israeli entry into the West Bank or Gaza to hunt down Palestinian terrorists who had escaped capture after attacking Israelis, would be considered a violation of international law. Palestinian extradition of these killers to Israel for trial certainly won’t happen.

(3) In-Fighting Between the Palestinians: Included in the scarcity of and distortion by media sources and world-at-large ignorance of what’s (really) happening in the Middle East is the issue of animosity (more like hatred) between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Which is as much, if not more of an obstacle to a two-state solution than are the absurd demands for Israeli concessions, such as a divided Jerusalem with two capitals.

Though the Palestinian Authority celebrated Israel’s relocation of Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005; subsequently, PA President Mahmoud Abbas (who succeeded Yasser Arafat) was in for a rude awakening when the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated terrorist group Hamas ousted Palestinian Authority officials through a bloody coup and took control of the Gaza in 2006-07.

Then later through elections called for by Abbas himself, Hamas rubbed salt into his and the PA’s wounds by winning that election. Of course, PA President Abbas and his cronies refused to allow Hamas to run the West Bank in any way, shape, or form. In fact, it was then and still is the other way around. By and large, the Palestinian Authority calls the shots regarding economic control of the Gaza Strip. It is not Israel that is causing economic hardship in the Gaza. It is Abbas himself by, for example, allowing electricity only a few hours a day in the Gaza. One disgusting result is the limited operation of sanitation facilities causing tons of raw sewage to be dumped daily into the Mediterranean Sea.

Plus, Abbas knows full well that Hamas would gladly have him killed and the Palestinian Authority replaced by Hamas in the West Bank. In fact, the only thing that prevents that from happening is Israel itself, by virtue of its military presence in the West Bank when needed. That’s the main reason that Abbas and his Palestinian police often cooperate with Israel regarding security matters.

(Bitter Rivals: PA President Mahmoud Abbas on the right; on the left is one of the two Hamas leaders, Yahya Sinwar–the other not pictured leader is Ismail Hanijeh)

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are bitter rivals. The only thing they agree on is that Israel needs to go—permanently. Yet, they can’t even settle on the best way to accomplish that diabolical goal. For the most part, Abbas uses public relations—based primarily on lies to the international community—while he and his staff speak in Arabic to his own people, assuring them that he will never make concessions to the Israelis.

Publicly, Hamas no longer makes any pretense of its avowed objective to replace Israel with a Palestinian State. Consequently, its strategy is to employ Jihad-like resistance against the Jews. The following is an excerpt from the Hamas Charter (Article 13) from which they have sworn not to deviate:

“There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except jihad. Regarding the international initiatives (think of heretofore proposed peace plans plus the forthcoming Deal of the Century to be released in June), suggestions and conferences, they are a waste of time and complete nonsense” (parenthesis mine).

How can anyone negotiate with a “partner” like that. Even if the Palestinian Authority somehow agreed to discuss their previously stated “non-negotiable” conditions, Hamas is not about to agree. This is just one of several impassable (as in improbable and impossible) issues that the Palestinians won’t come to terms on among themselves.

With whom would Israel negotiate? Which faction would sovereignly govern a Palestinian State? Would a Palestinian State soon erupt in civil war? You can mark it down.

(4) Peace in Our Time? An Example of What Would Have Occurred if a Palestinian State Had Been in Existence Last Weekend

In the (misinformed) opinion of many, a Palestinian State would solve not only the Israeli/Palestinian conflict but would bring peace throughout the Middle East. In that regard, their argument naively infers: Is it really so hard to establish another state within Israel?

Just do it! And, presto, there will be peace.

Never mind the lessons of history. See Neville Chamberlain’s peace in our time with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. See other ill-fated peace for land exchanges throughout history. See the 13-state Arab Summit in Khartoum, Sudan a little less than three months after Israel’s stunning victory in the Six Day War. The Arabs issued the now infamous three “No(s)”:

With another statement that vowed: “maintenance of the rights of the Palestinian people in their nation.”

What (kind of) rights? What nation?

Once again, national sovereign rights belong to citizens of the nation in question. The existence of a Palestinian State was not then nor is now. With, as being discussed, the creation of which would be calamitous for both the Jews and Arabs. Instead, all the Palestinians need do is apply for Israeli citizenship just as 1.9 million of their fellow-Arabs have that citizenship.

IT’S REALLY THAT SIMPLE … unlike a thorny two-state option. But inevitably, it’s a matter of the heart. Of seriously and sincerely wanting to live in peace with the Jews, not to eradicate them or eliminate the State of Israel.

For sake of illustration, let’s say that the West Bank and Gaza Strip were a (geographically two-part) Palestinian State in existence last weekend. If Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza had fired just seven, let alone 700 hundred, missiles from its sovereign state into the sovereign state of Israel, do you think Israel’s response would have been different?

If you said, yes, to that question you would be 100% correct. If you then asked how it would be different, consider the following scenerio. For those who think and have said (headlines throughout the world) that Israel’s response this past weekend was entirely disproportionate; OR for those (of which there were several high ranking officials in Israel) who said Israel’s retaliation wasn’t severe enough, both groups would be wrong … to the point of astonishment.

Had there been a Palestinian State in place last weekend, the attack would unequivocally have been considered an Act of War, i.e. one nation against another nation. No different than Israel’s previous wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973, all initiated by Arab states.

Israel’s reprisal would have been enormous in comparison to the more limited responses to local battles with Hamas and Hezbollah over the past two decades, including last weekend. Though Israel justifiably considered those prior attacks against her as “acts of aggression,” she did not declare or conduct an all-out war in the magnitude of the above listed four wars.

Israel’s objective was and still is to allow Palestinians self-governing privileges, with understanding that Israelis maintain the ultimate national right of sovereignty (in the overriding context of its security and survival) over ALL Israel, which includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Under current conditions, Israel is giving individual Palestinians the benefit of the doubt, knowing many of them are being oppressed by their own officials. Thus, even when Israel responds harshly to Hamas’s terrorism, it’s nothing compared to what Israel would do if attacked by a standing army operating from an official (sovereign) state.

Now we’re talking WAR and declaration thereof.

Annexing Judea/Samaria (West Bank)

In both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Palestinians—particularly journalists who criticize their government—have been arrested, imprisoned, and even tortured. What’s funny (facetious connotation) is that each accuse the other of these grievous offenses.

However, there is a remarkable development taking place in which a handful of notable West Bank Palestinians are challenging their people (without ostensibly confronting their government, knowing if they do there could be reprisals) to accept the reality of Israeli sovereignty over all land within the national borders of Israel.

For example: A well-known and highly respected Palestinian business owner in Hebron (which is in the southern part of Judea/Samaria), Ashraf Jabari has founded the Reform and Development party. Among other things including development of business enterprises with Israelis, he promotes the continued existence of one state, Israel. Not the proposed two-states.

From a May 5, 2019 World Israel News posted article written by Batya Jerenberg, here is quote from Jabari: “The Oslo Accords have failed. Most people realize that the economic situation was much better before the Oslo Accords. Let’s focus now on the economic track. We can deal with the political track later. The people are caught hostage to Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. The situation is very bad, and people want economic security.

“[PA President Mahmoud] Abbas recently threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority if Israel annexes the West Bank because that would mean the end of the two-state solution. That’s why we are proposing the one-state solution to Israel. We want an end to violence and blood … going on for the past 70 years.”

(Palestinian Businessman Ashraf Jabari in the center; Israeli businessman to the right)

He went on to say: “Of course, it would be better for Israel if it accepted an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders. But no Israeli prime minister would dare to accept such a solution. On the other hand, no Palestinian leader can give up Jerusalem or make concessions.”

He also said that what the “silent majority” of Palestinians really want is economic security. And, “There is no solution until we all live under the sovereignty of the State of Israel. We can live together without hatred. We have to stop, enough violence and terror. We have to continue together, shoulder to shoulder, in order to succeed.”

Of interest (to me) is that this article just happened to be published one day after my post of last Saturday, which focuses on Israel’s sovereignty (as does today’s article).

*Note: Ashwaf Jabari is not “on track” to conclude that Israel would be better off accepting a Palestinian State with 1967 borders, for all the reasons presented in today’s article and others. I’m speculating that he included that qualification so as not to offend (too much) PA officials, knowing the possibility that he might be harassed or worse. He’s being pragmatic, while at the same time using his stature among his people to propose a much better solution that two states.

Nonetheless, in virtually unprecedented fashion, he is courageously taking a position that effectively encourages his people not to be in denial any longer concerning the reality of a sovereign (he used that word) Jewish Nation-State that is here to stay. To live and work with the Jews. Working against them results in death and destruction for both sides and retards a flourishing Palestinian economy.

Not only did President’s Trump March 2019 declaration that the United States recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights generate a backlash of criticism, so did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise concerning Judea/Samaria (he successfully won reelection on April 9).

In the context of the dismal failure of total Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 that produced previously non-existent Hamas driven terrorism instead of peaceful co-existence between Israel and the Gaza Palestinians, plus the seemingly never-ending Palestinian lone-wolf terrorist attacks mostly against Israeli Jews living in the West Bank, Netanyahu promised to extend Israeli (functional) sovereignty over Area C of the West Bank in which Israeli Jews live.

Immediately most global media headlines conveyed his campaign announcement by saying that Netanyahu (Israel) was going to “annex the West Bank” … or something to that effect. That is NOT what he said, although Israel has every right to annex the entire area of Judea/Samaria if they choose, not just Area C.

Another reason for Netanyahu’s proposal to officially exercise (administrative) sovereignty over Area C is in the event (albeit remote) a Palestinian state is created, which would include the portion of this area crucial to Israeli security, especially the Jordan Valley. Nor will Israel consider dismantling Jewish communities in Area C, causing massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews. It just isn’t going to happen. Netanyahu’s sovereignty promise was a public statement of that fact.

Annexation is nothing more than an official exclamation point on that portion of Israel (like the Golan Heights annexed in 1981) already sovereignly controlled by Israel. But as indicated, Netanyahu stopped short of saying Area C of the West Bank would be annexed.

Summary

As author Victor Rosenthal recently wrote in an article posted by the online news source Jewish News Syndicate: “Netanyahu’s decision to extend Israeli law to the settlements in Area C would not have any effect whatever on Palestinians living under the control of the PA, and it does not change the status of the territories in which they are located.”

It occurred to me while writing this week’s article: In prior Eye of Prophecy posts pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I don’t recall identifying the three areas into which Judea/Samaria (West Bank) was apportioned by the Oslo Accords that began in 1993. Which included reorganizing the original Palestinian Liberation Organization (1964) that resulted in the entity called the Palestinian Authority.

Since Victor Rosenthal has done it for me, here is another excerpt from his article:

“When Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords in 1993-95, they agreed to divide Judea and Samaria into Areas A, B, and C. Area A was under Palestinian security control and civil control, Area B (much smaller) under Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control, and Area C under full Israeli control. Area C contains all Jewish communities. More than 95% of the Palestinian population lives in area A and B, where they are governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). While it is true that Israel’s security forces reserve the right to enter area A to arrest wanted terrorists, Palestinians have civil and political rights granted by the PA to vote and hold political office (such as it is … my comment). There are Palestinian courts and Palestinian police, Palestinian ministries of health, finance, labor, etc. It’s hardly fair to blame Israel for the fact that the PA is corrupt and dictatorial, and hasn’t held an election for years.”

Sadly, these thoughts expressed by Jabari and Rosenthal (and others, including me) have fallen and will undoubtedly continue to fall on the deaf ears of Palestinian officials (certainly the terrorists among them) as well as people and heads-of-state the world over. As, for example, stated by Mahmoud Abbas when he—much like a child who is denied his (against the rules) way and then refuses to “play” with you any longer—stated that he would dissolve the PA if Israel “annexed the West Bank.” Deliberately distorting two things: Netanyahu didn’t say “annexed.” Nor did Israel (or will unless forced to) assume national administrative sovereignty over the entire West Bank … only area C.

Or when Abbas said that he wouldn’t accept any of the tax money gathered by the Israelis and paid to the Palestinian Authority (also part of the Oslo Accords) just because Israel (as has the United States) said it would withhold only the equivalent amount that the PA pays to imprisoned terrorists or their families, if the terrorist is deceased … for maiming and killing Jews.

Now then, God loves all people, including the Palestinians! But, according to the Scriptures, he doesn’t appreciate (understatement) nor will he indefinitely tolerate any peoples’ (collective) persistent hostility toward the Jews or Israel.

He wants each Palestinian (everyone, including his own people) individually to reach out to His Son as the only way to God for salvation. In that regard, Scripture says that the Lord is no respecter of any one person over another.

“For God loved the world so much…” (John 3:16 the most well-known verse attesting to the truth of God’s universal love).

His greatest expression of that love was, “…that he gave us his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (remainder of John 3:16).

All that is required of people, Jew and Gentile alike, is to believe and receive Messiah Jesus as the only redemptive “way, truth, and life” (John 14:6).

God is Love, but God is also Holy. No one can be made right with God or spend eternity with him in heaven unless they, “…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Once again, that is for Jew and Gentile alike.

Things to Ponder

During the seven-year Great Tribulation the Lord will pour out his wrath for two main reasons:

(A) Wickedness not seen since before the Great Flood of Noah’s time. Plus, the obstinate, deliberate, defiant refusal of most of those left behind at the Rapture to turn to God and His Messiah. Instead, they will yield their loyalty and worship to Antichrist.

“But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God… And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).

(B) More genocidal attempts (unsuccessful but nonetheless, abhorrent) to eliminate God’s chosen people the Jews and the Sovereign State of Israel.

Those nations (their leaders and all who follow them) will be dealt with decisively, through utter defeat (many of them will die) during the Tribulation. Beginning with the Gog/Magog assault on Israel in the early part of the Tribulation (Ezekiel 38 & 39). Ending with the Antichrist led ten-nation confederation that invades Israel but meets its end at the Valley of Megiddo (Daniel 11 & Revelation 19).

God didn’t choose the Jews because they were special; this is made clear in several Old Testament passages. Rather he chose them for a special reason: to be the conduit of His Word (the Bible) and to bring Messiah to the world to solve the otherwise unsolvable problem and terrible consequences of sin. Which culminates with Messiah’s majestic return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, after rescuing Israel and Jerusalem and bringing an end to the greatest calamity ever experienced by mankind. This Kingdom will be ruled from Jerusalem, the capital of the Promised Land of Israel given to Abraham and his descendants FOREVER.

Though God had to discipline his people for their own rebellion against and abandonment of Him, the covenant with Abraham was unconditional. Which lead to a plethora of prophecies in the Old Testament declaring God’s promise that the Jews would return to Israel and Israel’s rebirth as a Sovereign nation.

Such as: “I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14-15).

There never has been nor ever will be a Sovereign greater than the true and living Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In fact, among the other titles that God ascribes to himself, is The Sovereign Lord … especially in Ezekiel.

Concerning the one reason that is greater than all others for Israeli sovereignty in all of Israel—God’s divine gift of the Promised Land to the Jews in perpetuity—the following is a quote from last week’s article:

If anyone wants to dispute this historical and (still to this day) contemporary truth, they are welcome to take it up with God himself.

I’m serious.

And they need to get serious too, because one day (soon) there will come a time of reckoning when all nations will need to give an account of their treatment of Israel.

Such as:

“At the time of these events, says the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat (valley of decision, which physically will be at Megiddo). There I will judge them for harming my people (the Jews), my special possession (Israel), and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2, parenthesis mine).

And, “The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads. Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history” (Obadiah 1:15-16).

“During the reign of those kings (leaders of nations just before and during the Tribulation that align themselves against God and Messiah Jesus and Israel), 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, parenthesis mine).

Does Israel Belong To The State of Israel?

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One reaction to the title of this week’s article might be: Is that a trick question?

Not really.

Why?

Because many have allowed themselves to be tricked (misled) into thinking that certain disputed regions of Israel do not belong to the Israelis. Or there is a legal; or, if non-legal, then at least an acceptable argument to challenge Israeli sovereignty over and Jewish communities within Palestinian territories … also the Golan Heights.

There are three groupings of people world-wide that to some extent or another participate in this debate—whether all of Israel’s borders, annexed or not, include sovereign Israeli ground within what the Israeli government recently affirmed as the Jewish nation-state. (Refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law, posted 8-11-18; which explains what this law means, what it does not mean, and the repercussions thereof).

The three groups are:

(1) Those who deliberately distort contemporary facts on the ground (reality) and intentionally dismiss or flippantly falsify (rewrite) history to promote the agenda that Jews are occupying land that does not belong to them. For the most part they are Palestinians, Islamic nations, and other national leaders and their people—most notably many western nations within the European Union.

Although non-Muslim nations occasionally express their support for the Jew’s right of self-determination and security, they (even the United States, particularly under the Obama administration) accuse the Israeli government of allowing “illegal Jewish settlements” and even of apartheid. (See Eye of Prophecy article: Israeli Occupation … Fact or Myth? Posted 5-16-15. Also, Jewish Sovereignty on Temple Mount Part I & II … August 2017).

(2) Those ignorant of or indifferent to Israel’s true history and the Middle East chronicle in general. Without bothering to become familiar with at least the basics, they blindly support the anti-Israeli rhetoric accompanied by an intersectional bandwagon approach that includes the Palestinian narrative along with other causes on their eclectic bucket list, e.g. LGBT, racial discrimination, women’s rights.

Ironically, the extremists (of group #1 above) like political activist Linda Sarsour, a “leader” of the women’s rights movement, don’t like or want other women who support Israel in any fashion as part of these intersectional movements. Even more paradoxical is that Sarsour’s strenuous support of Islam includes toleration for Islamic subjugation of women as 2nd class citizens, who have nowhere near the rights of Muslim men; nor anything resembling the liberties of western women. As is said, “Go figure.”

On the other hand, it’s easy to figure out. Everything that campaigners like Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib promote (literally for Omar and Tlaib, as each is a U.S. Congresswoman) is fueled by and couched in their innate (antisemitic) hostility toward Israel and the right of Jews to a sovereign state. Which is the ONLY Jewish nation on the planet. And the ONLY democratic nation in the entire Middle East. Yet, they and most Muslims want Israel replaced with yet another Arab nation (currently there are 22 of them) or at least an Islamic dominated nation, of which there are 57 in the world, including the 22 Arab countries.

(One Muslim nation missing, didn’t have time to figure out which one!)

(3) Those who have studied Israel’s national and spiritual heritage (Biblical and secular), keeping abreast of historical and contemporary cause and effect developments in the Middle East. I put myself in this category.

Though several Eye of Prophecy articles have dealt at length with the Palestinian/Israeli conflict generally and the disputed territories as understood (or not) by the world community specifically; it’s time to revisit this issue that has captivated global attention in an exponential fashion since Israel’s rebirth as a sovereign-state in 1948. (Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Global Obsession with Israel … In Biblical Proportions! Published 1-6-18)

From north to south in Israel those contested regions: the Golan Heights, Judea & Samaria (in the last 50 years or so-called the West Bank), and the Gaza Strip.

In this week’s post, we’ll focus our looking-glass on the Golan Heights. Next week’s article will concentrate on Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Let’s begin with a comparative overview of:

Israel / A Small Island in the Middle of an Arab Sea

Literally, Israel is to the vast land-mass of surrounding Muslim nations as the island of Cyprus is to the Mediterranean Sea … you could throw in the Black Sea, too. Actually, Israel is a smaller comparison than Cyprus, even though I’m limiting these countries to Israel’s immediate Arabic neighbors: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. If extended adjacent nations like Turkey, Iraq, and Iran are included, the analogy is inadequate. I would need to pick a much smaller island in the Mediterranean.

Israel proper where about 91 % if Jews reside (8,020 square miles, excluding West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights) most closely approximates the American state of New Jersey in geographical size. New Jersey’s population is 8.9 million. Oddly, so is the Israeli populace at 8.9 million; composed of 6.7 million Jews, 1.9 million Arab citizens of Israel, and other ethnic citizens like the Druze. Ten states the size of all Israel—including Judea/Samaria (the West Bank), Gaza, and Golan—would fit in my home state of Arizona. And Arizona is less than 1/3 the size of just one of these Muslim countries listed above … Egypt.

However, if we compare the entire sovereign State of Israel’s total square miles that includes the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights to the aggregate square miles of the Muslim nations (mostly Arab) of the Middle East that are in proximity to Israel, we end up with a comparison almost to miniscule to measure … about 1/6 of one percent.

Yet, according to the United Nations Security Council in a resolution endorsed (surreptitiously) by outgoing U.S. President Obama at the time, that’s still too much land for the Jews. See Eye of Prophecy article, United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334), posted 1-7-17.

For most Palestinians and Islamic nations, any acre of land possessed by Jews in Israel is one acre too many. However, it’s not one square mile or foot of Israel that her enemies really contest; it’s whether the (Jewish) State of Israel has the right to exist at all. Why else would the Arabs, then later the Palestinian Arabs have flatly rejected offers for their own state alongside Israel; not once, twice, or thrice … but four times.

Those four occasions: Balfour Declaration of 1917 followed by the British Mandate of 1922; UN Two-State Partition Plan of 1947; Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s (ill-advised) offer in 2000; Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s (equally ill-advised) offer in 2008.

Which makes the question posed in the title of this week’s article not at all strange or illogical.

From the vantage point of those who understand that the Jews were given the Promised Land of Israel by God himself and were there about 2,400 years before the Arabs—with the Jews in today’s Israel once again outnumbering Arabs—the article title’s question is rhetorical. Of course, all the land belongs to the Jewish nation-state called Israel, including the Golan Heights.

Israel’s Sovereignty Compared to United States’ Sovereignty (Or Any Democratic Nation)

To challenge Israel’s right to the entirety of its land is no different than someone saying that a certain area of the United States doesn’t belong to the Republic of the United States of America; including two non-contiguous states. One state (Alaska) separated by the country of Canada; another state (Hawaii) by the Pacific Ocean.

Or that some American citizens are inhabiting land that doesn’t belong to them. Citing reasons that would be just as ludicrous as the Palestinian narrative contending that part of Israel (legally) belongs to the Arabs who keep referring to Israel as Palestine. Never mind that there has never been a state of Palestine or a Palestinian language. The more militant Palestinians (like Hamas and Fatah), make no pretense in their claims that all of Israel belongs to them, a mindset harbored by many “moderate” Palestinians, though they may not voice it as loudly.

Israel legally occupies (in the original positive meaning of occupy) land that she was bequeathed by the United Nations and has purchased, developed, annexed, or won in justified wars of independence and survival. Still, a comparison with America doesn’t tell the whole story. In that regard, Israel has a distinct and superior advantage over the United States in terms of sovereign rights of ownership and possession currently and in antiquity.

America was birthed as a nation, decades after immigrants came to a virgin land that was neither titled (legally parceled) nor adequately (at first) developed politically or economically to support a free democratic society. Then we fought a bloody civil war to end slavery but also to prevent succession of several southern states from the union. Not until the Union’s victory in the American Civil War did this country truly become The United States of America.

The United States acquired much of its land through expansion, albeit with a practical geopolitical and demographic dynamic that included bordering on two sides by oceans. In all due respect to Native Americans (still rich in heritage, of whom several I’ve met and appreciate), they constantly fought among themselves for various reasons, particularly over land; with minimal resolution as to what territory belonged to which tribe.

(Westward Ho!)

Not so the Jews. They already had a border-bound, parceled-out heritage in the Promised Land of Israel. Now it was time to reclaim that inheritance.

In great numbers they returned to the land that had belonged to them far longer than the United States has even been a nation. Thus, Israel was reborn (reinstated) as a nation, and in one day! Israel is Israel again. Moreover, Israel’s status as a sovereign nation had been approved by the United Nations itself—back in the days when the UN was functioning the way it was intended. And before that by the League of Nations when the Balfour Declaration of 1917 materialized into the British Mandate of 1922.

Why did the Arabs decline statehood then and now? Is Israel responsible for that? Not even close. Not one iota.

Easy answer: The Arabs simply cannot abide the thought of a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state.

Intellectually and emotionally, they are in complete denial that Israel has decisively won four major wars started by Muslim Arab nations. For that reason alone, Israeli Jews—legally, morally, geopolitically, and demographically—have the right to claim every inch of land within Israel’s borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Including the Golan Heights, annexed by Israel.

Plus, 1.9 million Arabs in Israel have chosen Israeli citizenship in contrast to the 4.7 million Arabs (Palestinians … the 4.7 million is probably inflated because Palestinians still include those who have moved out of Israel) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip who have rejected citizenship. The privilege of which has been a standing offer from Israeli Jews since they won their War of Independence in 1948-1949.

The following is an excerpt from the earlier referenced article, United Nations Downsizing of Israel … (in italics):

On December 23rd (the beginning of Sabbath day for Jews) of last year (2016) the Security Council passed UN Resolution #2334. It was yet another motion condemning Jewish settlements in the so-called West Bank, which includes all of what the Palestinians (and much of the world) classify as East Jerusalem.

Then later in that article:

In gleeful reaction to Resolution 2334, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas presumptuously said, “We are calling for 2017 to be the year of international recognition of the State of Palestine because more recognitions will strengthen the possibility of achieving a two-state solution and real peace.”

As though Palestine was already a state, Abbas continued, “I say to you that settlements on the land of the occupied State of Palestine are on their way out. We secured a historic UN Security Council resolution, which said that any changes since 1967 to the demographic composition or land of the State of Palestine including East Jerusalem are unacceptable.”

(Comment: “Unacceptable only to Palestinians and those who support the Palestinian narrative. But certainly not illegal. Not only that: Abbas’s statement smacks hypocritically of the very ethnic cleansing and apartheid of which he falsely accuses Israel. In fact, Abbas has said on more than one occasion: No Jew will ever be allowed citizenship in a Palestinian State. Such a fair and balanced view (yes, I’m being sarcastic) considering that Israel has 1.9 million Arab citizens, many of whom (via polls) prefer living in an Israeli state than they would in a Palestinian state.

Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Ethnic Cleansing of Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda published 9-17-16. Also: A Palestinian State (No Say Many Arabs!) Posted 1-11-14.

Continuing with the excerpt:

By prematurely referring to Palestine as a state, which has never legally or legislatively or nationally existed in the first place (it has always been Israel no matter that a Roman Emperor arbitrarily and spitefully changed Israel’s name to Palestine nearly 2,000 years ago); an impression is made on both the informed and uninformed that Jews don’t belong anywhere in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. When, in fact, much of the land in Judea and Samaria on which some 600,000 Jews reside was purchased by the Jews … even land won from the Arabs in the Six-Day War.

Does the United States and the United Nations believe that any portion of land within the sovereign borders of any nation on earth could be (illegally) “occupied” by citizens of that country? With the resulting conclusion that no citizen of that country has any right to purchase and own land in select areas of their nation that are indwelt mostly by a certain ethnic group of people….

(Comment: That would be no different than denying land ownership to anyone else other than the French for land lawfully purchased from France in 1803, called the Louisiana Territory … now consisting of parts or all of several states. Or, territory in Texas plus what is now the entire state of California won in wars with Mexico, as off-limits to Americans. Or, only ethnic Hawaiians living on land in Hawaii which was annexed by the United States before it became a state. That is exactly what the UN Security Council is saying about the “Palestinian territories” within Israel. I repeat for emphasis: exactly).

(Louisiana Purchase: Nearly 1/3 of the Continental United States)

Concluding that excerpt:

The so-called Jewish “settlement occupation” is neither (1) illegal, nor, (2) the main obstacle to peace in Israel. Nor is a Palestinian State the solution. Certainly not one that is unilaterally imposed on Israelis with little or no input from them, especially relating to their national security and survival. Which means that imposition of the pre-1967 truce boundaries (lines) cannot be accepted by Israel. Some concessions could be made (through negotiation), but at least two demands cannot be met: (1) Jerusalem as a divided capital, or (2) Israeli departure from the Golan Heights.

Which leads us to:

The Golan Heights

On March 21, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

Then on March 25th, President Trump signed a resolution to affirm this declaration: the Golan Heights belong to Israel. This was a long overdue recognition that Israel’s annexation of (most of) the Golan Heights in 1981 was both practical and legal, contrary to those who claim Israel has no right to the Golan Heights.

This bold, but controversial decision was the latest of President Trump’s solidarity support for Israel as a Jewish State. Beginning with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, then relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. And a substantial reduction of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because of its insidious “pay for slay” financial support of tried, convicted, imprisoned Palestinians who have maimed and killed Israelis Jews. Or to the immediate relatives of those terrorists if their family member was killed during his/her depraved act or in a manhunt (shootout) later. Also, Trump’s recension of the horrendous Iran Nuclear Deal, that will benefit Israel’s security enormously.

Similar resolutions have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, but President Trump’s signed pledge makes U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights belonging to Israel as official policy.

Israel’s recently reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heartily thanked President Trump for this decision and later indicated that Israel would name an Israeli community in the Golan after Trump. Will the town be called, Trumpville? Probably not, as there are no other Israeli towns ending in ville! At least none that I know of. (I couldn’t resist a little fun here).

Seriously, this latest demonstration of United States support for Israel is huge, both symbolically and practically. I sometimes cringe at President Trump’s unpredictable style (idiosyncrasies). And it remains to be seen what his Deal of Century (supposed to be introduced in June) will entail. But no matter what anyone thinks of Trump—good, bad, indifferent—his consistent and active promotion, as opposed to merely lip service, of Israel’s sovereignty and security exceeds all U.S. Presidents before him. Even that of President Harry Truman who was the first head of state to congratulate and recognize Israel’s Statehood in May 1948.

For the reason of unreserved (thus far) support of Israel, God may withhold judgment (or greater judgment) on the United States, which is no longer one nation under God, nor one that even comes close now days to:

(Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: America the Beautiful is Getting Ugly … 7-19-16)

As expected, there was an international uproar that (almost) equaled President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and subsequent move of the U.S. embassy. I’ll reference only one of these responses, which is from Syria itself—the country that claims the Golan as theirs (Note: about 1/3 of the Golan Heights still belongs to Syria, called the Syrian Golan).

From the Syrian Foreign Ministry Department came a statement that Trump’s decision was a “blatant aggression” against what they considered the territorial integrity of Syria. That classifying the Golan Heights as within Israel’s borders was the, “…highest level of contempt for international legitimacy…” So on and so forth.

Are they right?

Not even close. Which is why neither Syria nor any other nation or head of state who agrees with Syria care to discuss in-depth the true history of the Golan Heights. Such things that I (and others) have written about before but bear repeating. Not the least of which is: The Syrians constantly and conveniently forget that they lost the Golan Heights to Israel twice (1967 & 1973) after attacking Israel from that very region.

Moreover, the so-called borders of the Golan Heights that separated Syria from the newborn State of Israel were only armistice (truce) lines agreed to by the Israelis when they defended themselves against five Arab armies (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and of course, Syria) that attacked the Jews the day after Israel declared in May 1948 its (1947) UN-voted right for statehood.

For the next 18 years, Syrian armed forces rained down bombs from the Golan Heights on Jewish farms and communities in the valley regions of the Galilee. Though terrifying for the Jews who lived there, Israel elected not to engage in another “all-out war” with Syria. However, that all changed when once again Arab armies massed for war against Israel in 1967. Though Israel struck first, it was crystal clear to the entire world that Egypt and Syria were about to attack Israel again.

Politicians, military experts, and historians—whether religious or not—consider the Israeli Six-Day War victory as the most stunning achievement in the annals of military history. The word miracle is entirely appropriate. Not only was an Israeli victory considered unlikely (impossible by many), to accomplish it in six-days was mind-boggling. Plus, it was a decisive victory—not just one narrowly achieved.

As is said, “the rest is history.” Then more history when Israel again defeated the Syrians and Egyptians in an even bloodier war, when Israel was attacked on her High Holy Day of Yom Kippur in 1973.

The Israeli portion of the Golan Heights comprises about 500 square miles … roughly the size of Phoenix, Arizona, a suburb of which I reside. That is not my comparison, although I should have thought of it and looked it up! Instead, I found it in an article written by well-known columnist for The Washington Times, Clifford D. May. Entitled: Trump’s clear view of the Golan Heights (April 16, 2019).

Whoever controls the Golan Heights has a vastly superior high ground advantage over the Galilee region and the Jordan Valley.

(Portion of the Golan Heights)

In the Six-Day War, Israel defeated Syria in the north. In the south the Israelis were victorious over Egypt, but eventually relinquished control of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip back to Egypt. In the center of Israel (Judea/Samaria), the Israelis defeated Jordan which entered the war despite Israel’s warnings for them not to. As a result, the IDF won a vicious battle for Jerusalem itself, thereby liberating the Holy City from Jordan’s illegal occupation that began after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Because of international pressure, Israel returned administrative jurisdiction of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including Temple Mount, back to Jordan and (eventually) the Palestinians. However, for purpose of ultimate national sovereignty, Israel annexed Eastern Jerusalem in 1967.

Although Israel did not return the Golan Heights to Syria, the IDF presence in/near the Golan was not that substantial after the Six-Day War. The Israelis came perilously close to losing the Yom Kippur War in 1973 (especially against Syria in the north); thus, they knew beyond all doubt that they must never leave the Golan and must strengthen their military there.

Consequently, in 1981 Israel officially annexed the Golan Heights.

Was that illegal?

Absolutely not. From time immemorial (including our post-modern world) the “rule of international law” is that a nation that captures territory from which they are attacked has the right to maintain control of that territory, including annexation if they choose. Conversely, land that is captured by a nation that launches an unprovoked (unjust) war against another nation is not recognized as legitimate. Whether other nations can do anything about it depends on several variables, not the least of which is their ability to, by force, counter and correct such acquisitions. Which, of course, the allies did in World War II when Germany, Italy, and Japan attacked not only the allies, but also seized control of other territories or entire nations for no other reason that unilateral conquest.

If Egypt in 1956 (Suez Canal War); Syria, Egypt, Jordan in 1967; and Egypt/Syria in 1973 had defeated Israel, would the United States or any other nation(s) have commenced a campaign against the Arabs to return the sovereign state of Israel back to the Jews? Highly unlikely. Except for military material aid given by President Richard Nixon to Israel in the Yom Kippur War, there was no direct military assistance (boots on the ground) provided to Israel in 1967 or 1973. (Some Americans and Europeans did fight for Israel in their 1948 War of Independence).

Further commenting on international law: The whole idea is not to allow nations who unjustly attack other nations (just because the attacking nation doesn’t think the nation attacked should exist or for land-grab purposes) to reclaim “disputed” land that the aggressor used to launch its assault, but subsequently lost to the nation attacked.

That would be a blatantly unwarranted “win” for the aggressor that lost. And a “lose” for the nation that won.

With a dramatically distorted application of national and international integrity or “legitimacy” as the Syrians put it, the Golan still belongs to them. No matter that Israel defeated her enemies via a just (defensive for her very survival) response to an unprovoked attack, Israel must return the Golan Heights to Syria. So, it doesn’t matter if Syria loses (which they did) the wars. All the Golan still belongs to them. That’s convoluted logic at its best … or worst.

As well-known Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz (an ardent apologist for Israel, albeit I don’t agree with his support for a two-state solution in Israel) so aptly stated: “No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war.”

*Note: Dershowitz participated in a peaceful public gathering outside the New York Times building earlier this week. Purpose was to strenuously protest the deplorable cartoon of President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu published in this virulently anti-Israeli newspaper that for years has denigrated (through propaganda style reporting that even makes otherwise objective news reports into op-ed articles) the nation of Israel.

(Alan Dershowitz)

Comparison of West Point to the Golan Heights!

For purpose of today’s article which focuses on the Golan Heights, consider this parallel during America’s Revolutionary War which, like Israel, was fought to preserve the birth of a nation. In 1776, England obviously didn’t acknowledge the American colonies Declaration of Independence of The United States of America. Neither did Muslim Arab countries even remotely recognize Israel’s existence when she declared statehood in 1948.

With one huge difference: All Islamic nations except two (Egypt and Jordan) and other Muslim non-Arab nations still do not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign country in the global family of nations. Almost all those nations also have refused any diplomatic relations with Israel. Whereas, England, later called Great Britain, has been for well over a hundred years and still is one of America’s closest allies.

Do you remember Benedict Arnold? Even if some aren’t familiar with the details, most Americans and many people in the world know him as perhaps the worst traitor in American history.

Benedict Arnold was a General in the Continental Army who, in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, fought valiantly for the newborn nation of America. For reasons that time/space do not permit in this article, he defected to the British in 1780.

Arnold’s objective was first to be made commander of the fort of West Point on the west bank of the Hudson River, which he persuaded General George Washington to do. His scheme was to weaken the ability of the Continental army stationed there to the point where the West Point garrison would have no choice but surrender to the British General Sir Henry Clinton. On a high plateau overlooking the crucial terrain of the Hudson River in New York State, both the Americans and the British were fully aware of West Point’s strategic advantage. In fact, General Washington made it his main headquarters in 1779, although he spent much of his time on other battle fronts.

Short version: Arnold’s plot was exposed, and he escaped capture during the ensuing fight for West Point. The colonists barely won that battle when a contingency of Washington’s army arrived just in time. Arnold eventually fled to England and died in London in 1801.

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson signed an order creating West Point Academy which is still world-famous for its training of American officers in the Army branch of the U.S. Military.

In terms of logistical location, West Point and its surrounding topography was as vital to the Americans as the Golan Heights is to Israel in today’s world.

(West Point)

Now then, the analogy: Can you imagine if the newly elected 1st United States President George Washington and/or Congress decided after the war to give West Point along with 500 square miles of land surrounding it to the British? Say as a token of their appreciation for England not continuing the war against the colonists any longer than they did. Or, perhaps a gesture of good will toward those colonists (called Loyalists) who preferred what they considered as more stability under British rule over the uncertain risk of American independence. After all, the original 13 states were called New England. Plus, some of the colonists had fought for the British against the French in the French-Indian Wars just a few decades earlier. Good reasons?

What’s the first thing that would/should come to mind?

If you said, “Absurd” or something like it, you would be 100% correct. Suicidal also fits.

Would it make any difference if, for example, the main ally of America at the time (France, of all countries!) would have said something to the effect that return of West Point wasn’t just a nice gesture, but that it also followed international law? Or that some otherwise neutral nations would have backed this proposal, with the thought that perhaps the British would appreciate the offer and it would discourage them from starting another war with America. (Land for peace!)

Would your response be the same? “Ridiculous!” I would think so.

England did go to war with America again in 1812. Though not as long, a war every bit as fierce as the Revolutionary War, including the British burning our Capital and the White House. Had the British already held a foothold in the West Point area, the war might have lasted six years instead of three. I’m just saying…

This is fundamentally no different than Israel relinquishing the Golan Heights and control thereof to Syria. For that matter Syria’s President and regime are far less honorable and much more vicious than were the British in the 18th & early 19th century. Plus, Syria is now indebted to Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah for their assistance in crushing the (Arab-Spring) uprising of many Syrians who want at least some form of democracy in Syria.

Yet, this is precisely what nearly all Muslin countries and Western nations critical of Israel’s right to the Golan Heights are demanding. Western European nations like France, Germany, Great Britain have recognized Israel’s right to exist as a nation but are adamantly opposed to Israel’s prerogative position in and on the Golan—despite all the reasons discussed in this article and acknowledged for years by those who really know and care about what’s (really) happening in the Middle East.

Summary

The Jews continuous presence in the Promised Land of Israel for some 3,800 years; United Nations Resolution of November 1947 leading to the rebirth of Israel’s sovereign state; Jewish purchase of land throughout Israel; victory in four defensive wars of survival; amazing agricultural and hi-tech economic development of Israel; annexation (2/3 of the Golan Heights)—each one provides extraordinary evidence and undeniable reasons why Israeli Jews have both national and international rights (by definition) to live ANYWHERE in Israel.

Combining them together yields an overwhelmingly convincing conclusion that: All of Israel’s land is within and belongs to the Jewish nation of Israel.

However, as detailed in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles, it bears repeating that there is one top of the line truth and irrefutable reality that eclipses all these reasons:

God’s Sovereign Determination of Israel’s Borders and Destiny

If anyone wants to dispute this historical and contemporary truth, they are welcome to take it up with God himself.

I’m serious.

And they need to get serious too, because one day (soon) there will come a reckoning when all nations will need to give an account of their treatment of Israel. We’ll cover that more next week.

In several passages of the Bible’s Old Testament, the Lord presented to his people both a panoramic picture; then later, more precise parameters of Israel’s borders and division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel. Land that was given by God to the Jews in perpetuity. The word forever applies.

Beginning with the entire land of Canaan given by the Lord to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, that encompassed much more than present day Israel (Genesis Chapters 12, 15, & 17). Followed by Moses’ limited description of Israel’s land inheritance to Jacob’s sons (Numbers 34-35, which didn’t include the allotment for the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh in what is mostly present-day Jordan).

Then an expanded meticulous map-like depiction of the land that comprises seven entire chapters in the book of Joshua (Chapters 13-19). Plus, Chapter 21 for the Levites. Followed by a condensed summary of the land found in Ezekiel Chapters 47-48.

Things to Ponder

Since our focus today is on the Golan Heights, I’ll cite another passage (somewhat obscure for some) in the book of Obadiah. Prefaced by an earlier verse that is similar in nature to dozens of other prophecies that foretell the final return of the Jews to Israel.

“…And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance” (Obadiah 1:17b).

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Israeli Occupation … Fact or Myth? In italics:

The last three verses of Obadiah describe much (but not all) of Israel’s original land mass. In parenthesis, the modern-day portion of Israel will be inserted to match the Biblical names, some of which are still the same. Notice that the passage uses the word “occupy.” And does so with a matter-of-fact positive connotation. Not the negative occupation accusation by Israel’s enemies (and even some of her “friends”) that is patently false … Biblically, historically, and currently.

“Then my people living in the Negev (still called the Negev … southern part of Israel next to the Sinai Peninsula which is part of ancient Israel that bordered Egypt and Arabia) will occupy the mountains of Edom (southern Jordan and western part of Saudi Arabia). Those living in the foothills of Judah (land and cities south of Jerusalem, including Hebron) will possess the Philistine plains (Gaza Strip) and take over the fields of Ephraim and Samaria (the West Bank). And the people of Benjamin will occupy the land of Gilead (portion of northwestern Jordan and southwestern Syria).

“The exiles of Israel will return to their land and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath (ancient Tyre and Sidon … the coast of Lebanon). The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev. Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Temple Mount which has belonged to the Jews in perpetuity but currently under administrative control of Jordan and the Palestinians) to rule over the mountains of Edom” (Obadiah 1:19-21a).

The land of Gilead as mentioned by Obadiah overlaps with the modern Golan Heights.

Another prophet also referenced Gilead, plus Lebanon: “Though I have scattered them like seeds among the nations, they will still remember me in distant lands. They and their children will survive and return again to Israel … I will resettle them in Gilead and Lebanon, until there is no more room for them all” (Zechariah 10:9-10, italics for emphasis).

*Note: The “return again” isn’t grammatically redundant. It’s referring to the second (more massive) return of Jewish exiles to Israel, the first long ago from Babylon.

When consolidating all the Biblical passages in which God outlines the expansive borders of Israel, they constitute not only modern-day Israel; but also, all of Lebanon and Jordan and some or much of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. As delineated in the following pictorial, which I believe is somewhat more than the original Biblical boundaries, especially to the south.

Through a Divine promise that is being fulfilled before our 20th and 21st century eyes; after 2,000 years of Jewish exile to the four corners of the earth, the Jews have returned to Israel in great numbers, beginning primarily in 1948.

It is unprecedented … never done before by any other nation or peoples.

It is incomprehensible … many including most Jews said it couldn’t be done.

It is nothing short of miraculous.

No longer is it, “Next year in Jerusalem.” For millions of Israeli Jews, it is, “This year in Jerusalem. We’re home!”

It is a God-thing.

“…Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King!” (Psalm 48:2).

A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture!

It could be the proverbial understatement to say that this week’s Eye of Prophecy article is different.

But then we are in the last days of the end times, when many things are going to be different, supernaturally so. Not the least of which is an extraordinary event to prepare for the triumphant physical return of Messiah Jesus to establish the glorious Kingdom of God on earth.

That trigger point is none other than the Rapture. Followed by seven years of unmitigated deceit, destruction, and death before Jesus steps in and puts an end to the violence, injustice, and corruption of this wicked world we live in.

Today’s post is not a docudrama, as those are reserved for events which have already occurred.

Rather, it will be in the form of Seven-Act Play (the scenes are short); to reasonably represent and dramatically depict what could and probably will occur during the Rapture.

It is based primarily on a previous article, which provides Scriptural documentation and correlation accompanied with commentary to support a rational premise: The entire sequence of the Rapture will take several minutes; only the bodily transfiguration of raised from the dead believers and believers still alive will be instantaneous.

If you like, grab a soda or whatever and plop a bag of popcorn in the microwave.

Open your mind and heart; picture what’s happening; fill in your own details if you like; and stretch your imagination to accommodate the reality of what’s going to take place in what I’m convinced is the near-future.

ACT ONE

Netanya, Israel (7:00 PM)

For the Israeli family of four, their Passover Seder meal was nearly over. Eitan Shaked looked admirably at his wife Esther and grinned at their 14-year old daughter, Netanya, whom they had named after their beloved town. Eitan then directed a smile to his 12-year old son, Naphtali, named after the tribe, that was Eitan’s and Esther’s favorite—for a reason they hadn’t fully grasped. They just liked the name … Naphtali. And they wanted their son’s name to begin with the same letter as their daughter’s name.

He picked up the fourth small cup of wine and motioned for his wife and children to do the same with theirs.

For nearly all Jews, whether religious or secular or in between—Passover was the epitome of all that was Jewish. It was the High Holy Day that seamlessly blended fun and somberness. Singing Dayenu; asking and answering the five questions; the children searching for the hidden afikomen … generated smiles and laughter. Reading of the Torah and partaking of the four cups solemnly reminded them of their ancient heritage, brought vividly to life with the amazing return of the Jews to their Promised Land and miraculous rebirth of Israel as a sovereign nation.

But this and the past two Seders were remarkably different. Eitan and his family celebrated Passover with an enthusiasm and meaning that exceeded the traditional Seder. Three years earlier … father, mother, daughter, and son: all had believed in and received Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah on the same day and place—the Messianic Congregation of Beit Mashiach (House of Messiah) in Netanya, Israel.

As he held the cup of wine, Eitan’s departed friend, Benjamin, flashed before his eyes. A year before he died in a car accident, Benjamin had persuaded the entire family to attend just one meeting at Beit Mashiach. That’s all it took. Like many other Israelis, both Eitan and Esther had longed for Messiah to appear, to bring final redemption to Israel—though they knew little of what that redemption would be or how it would be accomplished.

On that fateful Shabbat service, the pastor of Beit Mashiach had delivered a message like nothing the Shaked family had ever heard. A message of love, hope, and redemption purchased by the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus—the very Messiah who they and most Jews assumed hadn’t yet arrived. The same Messiah who would return to take all those who had believed and received him as Lord and Savior—Jew and Gentile alike—home to heaven.

Their Passover celebration now included Messiah Jesus, Son of God. The Passover Lamb whose precious blood shed at the cross meant that God had forgiven all their sins and they would not have to experience God’s final judgment on humanity. They had already been pardoned and passed over. All they had to do was believe in Jesus and what he did for them.

Earlier Esther had read aloud Exodus 6:6-7. As they each held the fourth cup of wine, Eitan reminded them of the significance of each cup, but as Jews who had found the very essence of their Jewishness in Messiah himself. They were God’s promises to his people symbolized by the four cups of wine, expanded to a Messianic message: I will bring you out (of being part of the world system); I will deliver you (from the bondage of sin); I will redeem you (with a great price to purchase pardon from the penalty of sin); I will take you (to be with me in heaven and to spare you from the final wrath of God).

And then it happened.

As they began to sip their fourth cup of wine, the sound of a Shofar shook the entire house. But it was a gentle shaking, more like vibrations reverberating through every piece of furniture. They could even feel the resonance in their hands and arms, as the wine in their cups quivered from the majestic call.

It was the loudest sound they had ever heard. Yet, it was inexplicably soft enough not to traumatize. Eitan instantly knew that it came from high above and far beyond their house, their town, and Israel itself. The dropped jaws and wide eyes of Esther and the children silently echoed their agreement. This was no ordinary Shofar.

“Abba!” Netanya exclaimed. “What is that?”

They put down their cups.

“Exactly, what you think it is,” Eitan answered. “It couldn’t be anything else. Esther, Netanya, Naphtali; the time has come for Messiah to take us home.”

“I’m a little scared,” Naphtali whispered.

“It’s okay my boy,” Esther said. “Just trust Jesus. This is going to be more wonderful than we can imagine. I wonder how long it will take?”

They listened intently as the Shofar blast subsided. Soon, another began … different from the first.

“Quick, let’s get in the car and drive to the cemetery,” Eitan said. “If I’m right, there will be two more Shofars after this one. The cemetery is five minutes away. We should have time.”

“Time for what?” Esther asked.

“Time to see Benjamin coming out of his grave.”

On the way, Eitan hurriedly told them about an internet article he had read not long ago, though he couldn’t recall the name of the website. But he remembered the title: The Shout Heard Around the World.

“If that article is correct, then we could have up to fourteen minutes or even longer” said Eitan. “Of course, the author didn’t know for sure and said so. But he presented some compelling evidence from Scripture that the whole sequence of the Rapture is much longer than the split-second change of our bodies that’s going to happen any minute now.”

During their frenzied trip to the cemetery that took less than four minutes, they saw what seemed to be the entire population of Netanya spilling out of their homes; looking up, shielding their eyes from the blazing light in the east that made the western sunset seem pitch black. They had just stepped out of the car when another blast of the Shofar softly shook the ground on which they stood.

Eitan looked at his watch. 7:09 PM.

ACT TWO

New York City (12:00 PM) – 7 hours behind Israeli time

Nancy and her co-worker friend Susan slid out of their office chairs in one of New York’s largest banks. It was time for the best lunch of the week, as it was TGIF. Nancy was in a hurry; Susan strained to keep pace.

When the sound exploded, both sank back into their chairs. In disbelief at what she was hearing, Nancy scanned the entire office floor. Everyone had the same dazed expression that she was certain had enveloped her face. No one spoke, as they listened to what seemed like a dozen orchestras each with a hundred trumpets echoing one symphonic sound.

As the massive trumpet sound ended gradually, Susan spoke first. It was an utterance of sheer delight.

“Lord, it’s really happening!”

Only one person responded before the second blast began. From across the floor, a woman who disliked Susan’s occasional break-room talk about her faith in Christ yelled sarcastically, “Oh my God, what IS happening?”

Susan didn’t reply.

Though it was difficult to talk or even think above the second blast, Nancy remembered the two times that Susan had personally told her about Jesus. That he alone can save people from their sin; and the second conversation—he would be coming soon in the Rapture. Something about trumpets sounding.

Nancy whispered in Susan’s ear: “Do you mean what I think you mean?”

“Yes,” Susan said with unbridled enthusiasm. “Jesus is coming for me … for all who believe in him. It’s going to happen any second now.”

Nancy shook her head. “It’s just too unbelievable.”

Susan peered intently but compassionately at her. “Nancy, Jesus loves you. He wants you to be with him, too. You need to get saved right now.”

As if cued by a maestro, everyone around them began to pour out of their second-floor office, many using the stairs; the elevators were already in overflow capacity. It wasn’t just the sound that was so close it seemed to penetrate their bodies, a surround-a-sound emanating from what was clearly a vast distance yet permeating the atmosphere around them; it was the brilliant light pouring through the eastside windows. That and hundreds of people already spilling out of nearby buildings onto sidewalks and streets.

Nancy assumed that millions of other New Yorkers had hurried outside from office buildings, homes, schools, restaurants, stores, buses, and cars, and when they could … from subways. Some eagerly, like Susan. Most with trepidation, like herself.

Nancy quickly surveyed the scene. Half of the people were silent as they listened to the third incredible blast. The other half were on their phones with family or friends in New York, in other cities and states and countries.

“Can you hear it there in Houston?”

“Yes, I can see the light, too.”

ACT THREE

Sydney, Australia (2:00 AM) – 7 hours ahead of Israeli time

Peggy’s deep sleep was no match for the blast of the Shofar.

Now twenty-eight, she had accepted Jesus as her Savior at the tender age of nine. But only for the past four years had she really begun to grow in her faith and walk with the Lord.

Married at nineteen, Peggy’s husband was kind, somewhat loving and respectful, but not when it came to her relationship with Christ. He detested anything Biblical and, except for her, could barely tolerate Jews and Christians. He had flatly refused to attend church with her; just a month ago he had ordered her never to “preach to me again.”

Out of curiosity Peggy had attended a Jewish Messianic synagogue not far from her home. She was developing a passion for Israel and Biblical end-times prophecies concerning the return of the Jews and restoration of Israel in God’s providential plan for humanity. Though she was Gentile, one Jewish couple with four children befriended her when she had, without being asked, told them she couldn’t have children. Three times they had invited her to dinner, during days when her husband was on 24-hour duty at the local fire station.

The Jewish husband was skilled with the Shofar and was always eager to blow it for family and guests. Jolted from her sleep, Peggy immediately knew that the powerful blast was from a Shofar. Her husband used ear plugs; he couldn’t stand any noise whatsoever during the sometimes day-hours when he slept.

Stunned again by the second blast of the ubiquitous Shofar, she was still skeptical that this was the Rapture. She arose and sat on the edge of the bed. Though she had heard a few messages and read I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15 several times, she couldn’t imagine that it would happen like this. She assumed or at least wanted to be in church when the time came.

And, along with nearly all believers, she thought the whole thing would be over in a nanosecond.

Her husband stirred but was otherwise oblivious to the steady staccato of the Shofar. How could he not hear it?

Their bedroom was on the west side of the house. Absorbed in the second sounding of the Shofar, Peggy hadn’t noticed the soft but intense glow that had enveloped the bedroom. She sprinted to the living room, pushed aside the curtains, and stumbled back in wonder at the brilliant light that had dissolved the darkness of the eastern sky.

She lifted her hands to the heavens and yelled jubilantly, “Lord, this is it, isn’t it!”

She ran back to the bedroom and shook her husband violently.

“Jason, get up … now! You need to ask Jesus to save you. There’s no time to lose.”

Grumbling, Jason pulled out the ear plugs; however, the second blast had ended. “What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy?”

Barely able to contain her excitement, Peggy realized that she needed to calm down. He had seen enough hysterical people in his fire rescue efforts but didn’t appreciate panic for no reason.

“Listen to me. Any second now I’m going up to heaven with Christians all over the world. I told you about the Rapture once before. It’s happening right now.”

“It’s a lie,” he retorted. “You’re just resorting to this insane tactic in order…”

At that instant, the third blast of the Shofar split the atmosphere and reverberated throughout the house.

“Come, look.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him into the living room. “Is the sound of the trumpet and that light a lie? You know you’ve never heard or seen anything like that in your life.”

Jason’s expression turned from a furrowed frown to a dropped jaw. Peggy could clearly see that the awe-inspiring resonance of the Shofar and the brilliant eastern sky belied all that was reasonable to him. He faced her and their eyes met. Doubt quickly returned to his face.

“There’s got to be a logical explanation,” he muttered.

“Please, Jason, can’t you for once in your life believe what the Bible says. It’s happening right in front of your ears and eyes.”

“I don’t know…”

Peggy was beside herself at Jason’s stubbornness, but she gathered her thoughts and interrupted him: “I love you, and so does Jesus. I’m going outside. Do you want to come with and watch me go up to heaven? Or would you prefer we stay here, and you can watch me disappear through the ceiling?”

She didn’t wait for his answer. He followed her. People were already standing outside their houses with heads lifted.

INTERLUDE

Complements of smart phones, laptops, iPads, 24-hour T.V. News stations, and short-wave radio, nearly the entire world knew in a few minutes that this was a global event.

Pilots radioing control towers: “We’re turning around. Find a runway for us to land.”

More than one Christian air controller replied: “Captain, are you or your co-pilot a believer in Christ?”

Loved ones calling and being called: “Can you believe what’s happening!” Or, “I should have listened to you.”

“Is this the end?”

Some answered: “No, it’s the Rapture … the beginning of the end!”

Media sources sent mixed messages.

“Please stay inside. Don’t make the crowds any bigger. Whatever this is; even if it’s the so-called Rapture, it will be over soon. How bad can it be? Things will only get better for those of us who remain.”

With a few broadcasts programmed to continue their caption in case the entire staff was taken:

“It is the Rapture! CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD AND YOU WILL BE SAVED. If you are left behind, then: Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved. Though not from the Great Tribulation to come.”

ACT FOUR

Netanya, Israel (7:10 PM)

Eitan Shaked nestled close to his wife. He held the hand of their son, Naphtali. Esther grasped Netanya’s arm. As they stood at Benjamin’s gravesite, Eitan counted five other believers from his congregation who evidently had the same idea as him. They, too, were standing near graves of family or friends. They waved to each other with shouts of, “Yes!”

The Shofar sounded again. If there was any doubt that the first three were global, this fourth blast was surely being carried on every sound wave existing in and above the earth’s atmosphere. Millions of megaphones and loud speakers couldn’t have produced a sound so strong, so pure, so universal; yet so moderate as to not burst ear drums.

He immediately recognized it as the fourth and final of the Jewish Shofar sequence that had been handed down through tradition by and to the Jews for centuries. But now it was for all believers in Messiah, Jew and Gentile alike.

Though it was difficult to speak and hear, Esther asked, “Will this be the final Shofar?”

“Yes, I’m sure it will,” Eitan said. “It’s almost time.”

He had just finished speaking when they heard the voice from above, “Children of the most High God; the appointed time has come.”

“I’m pretty sure that was the voice of the archangel,” Eitan said.

Eitan glanced at his watch again. He was about to tell Esther how much time had elapsed from the first blast, when the fourth Shofar stopped suddenly, not gradually like the others. Within seconds, the expected, but nonetheless stunning scene unfolded. Benjamin’s grave exploded as did a few others in the cemetery.

“Mom, Dad, look!” Netanya yelled.

They watched in total awe as Benjamin’s remains were lifted from his grave by an unseen hand. Then, ten, maybe fifteen seconds later, his skeletal form was radically changed. Too fast for Eitan or anyone else to see how. They only saw the results.

Benjamin stood on the ground and looked directly at them, then at his body.

He was enshrouded in white clothing they had never seen before or knew existed. If it was a robe, it seemed almost transparent, as if it was part of his form. His entire body and face were indescribably perfect. As though he had just been born that way without the imperfections that develop with age.

Immediately, Eitan realized this was the spiritual body spoken of by the Apostle Paul. It was as though Benjamin’s spirit was on the outside enveloping his flawless features, instead of the unseen spirit on the inside of a natural blemished body. The two, body and spirit were one. Beautifully blended one with the other. Both visible, yet indivisible.

Eitan knew that the same thing was happening to resurrected believers the world over. For those who had been cremated, the Lord was raising their ashes, bringing them together with the same supernatural force that rolled away the stone at Jesus’s tomb. With the same instantaneous transformation as the decomposing and skeleton bodies. So, too, the remains of those buried at sea.

“Benjamin, it’s you. You’re much better than…” Eitan couldn’t finish.

He felt a burst of energy that seemed to come from inside out but also outside in. It was over before he saw anything else. His wife Esther had been an attractive woman. It wasn’t just in his beholding eye; others had told him the same thing. There she stood next to him more beautiful than she had ever been. An appearance that wasn’t sexual at all; rather a supernatural loveliness that transcended anything natural. An ageless beauty that was immortal.

So, too, Netanya and Naphtali. Changed dramatically, but just as dramatically the same person … each one of them.

“Look at you!” Benjamin pointed to Eitan.

“Look at you!” Eitan trumpeted in return.

“Look at our kids,” Esther exclaimed. “Same age, but older. How can that be!”

“Hallelujah,” Eitan roared.

“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised,” Esther shouted.

In unison, Netanya and Naphtali said, “We love you Jesus.”

Which as it turned out was right on cue. The next voice thundered from above, from everywhere.

“COME UP HERE!”

“That was Jesus himself,” Eitan shouted. His watch was gone, but he estimated that from the first shofar had been maybe fourteen or fifteen minutes.

Immediately the raised dead and those still alive and transformed began to rise in the air … exactly how, they didn’t know. By whom, they knew for sure. It wasn’t a fast ascent like a kite, nor was it slow like a hot air balloon. There was time for ecstasy to look around at other believers within sight rising simultaneously. And for a passing moment, a time of sadness when looking down at the many who were staring into the sky.

ACT FIVE

New York City (2:10 PM)

Nancy’s arm locked with Susan’s as they stood on the New York sidewalk adjacent to their office building. When the fourth Shofar split the heavens, the general silence of the crowd—prevalent at the beginning of the Shofars—had fully erupted into a pendulum-swinging cacophony of murmuring and exclamations, of anger and jubilation, of fear and confidence, of perplexity and certainty.

Though scared, Nancy mustered as much poise as she could: “Susan, I know practically nothing about it; but is this really the Rapture?”

“Yes, Nancy. I already told you that. Each second that you question what’s happening may be one second too long. Please, join me and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s go to heaven together.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that,” Susan answered. You know John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.’ Put your name in place of whosoever. Ask Jesus to be your Savior but do it now.”

Nancy paused as she heard someone telling someone else the same thing just a few feet away. “I want to Susan, but how can I leave my husband and daughter?”

“You told me once, but I forgot,” Susan said. “How old is your daughter?”

“Six.”

“Then, she, too, will be going to heaven in a moment.”

“Oh, Susan, I want to believe you, but…”

“Don’t believe me,” Susan said sharply. “Believe God and believe what’s happening in front of you. Listen, what do you hear?”

“Only people talking,” Nancy said.

“Exactly … the trumpet stopped blowing over a minute ago. And apparently you didn’t hear the voice of the archangel. Please, Nancy, right now…”

Susan abruptly stopped talking. Nancy looked on in disbelief. She thought she felt a field of energy surround Susan. One thing was all too evident. Susan had changed inexpressibly. Her face beamed. Her body seemed almost to glow. Her features were recognizable but stunningly different—in a picture-perfect sort of way. Nancy never saw the transformation; it was much too fast.

Susan’s look was that of love and joy. “I’m so happy!”

“I can see why,” Nancy said as she choked back a tear. “You look heavenly.”

“Why didn’t you listen to me?”

Susan suddenly looked up again at the sound of a thunderous voice that gave a whole new meaning to majestic. So did Nancy and thousands of others around them still shocked at everything that was happening.

“Nancy, that was Jesus. He said, ‘Come up here!’”

“I couldn’t make out the words,” Nancy groaned.

Susan began to rise in the air as though by an invisible elevator, only slower. Still within earshot, she called out, “Bye Nancy. Remember, Jesus loves you. Turn to him, soon … very soon.”

Her voice melted into the sky, as did Susan herself.

Nancy watched spellbound but also with anguish as hundreds of people joined Susan in the air.

She fell to the ground and burst into tears.

ACT SIX

Sydney, Australia (2:10 AM)

The night was almost as bright as day.

Peggy scanned the faces of their neighbors, as did Jason. There were looks of bewilderment. But she could see terror engraved on most faces as the fourth Shofar shattered the sound waves.

“How is this possible?” Jason said. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say the whole world could hear it.”

“They can,” she said. “With God anything is possible.”

“How long is this is going to last?”

“I’m surprised it’s taken this long,” she replied.

“What’s next?” Jason asked, as though he acknowledged that she really did understand what was happening and why.

“I already told you. Jesus is going to take me and everyone who believes in him to our home in heaven. He promised he would 2,000 years ago. He is going to spare believers from the horrible tribulation to come.”

“Okay, but…”

“Stop it, Jason. There’s no time to argue or even discuss it. You’ve got to decide right now, right here. Do you want to go with me or not?”

“Of course, I want to be with you, but why can’t I go to heaven later, after I die? I still have my life to live.”

“Jason, even if you live through it, your life is going to be a living hell for the next seven years. And, if you keep saying no to Jesus; after that, hell itself. Please…”

The Shofar had stopped blowing a short time earlier, but Peggy still didn’t finish her sentence.

“What’s the matter?”

“Did you hear the voice?” she asked wide-eyed.

“What voice?”

“I’m sure it was one of God’s angels. He told us believers to get ready.”

“So, this is it?” Jason said … part sarcasm, part serious.

She quickly hugged him, kissed him, and stepped back. “Please, Jason, with all your heart just say ‘Yes,’ to Jesus right now.”

“I can’t… If this really happens, I’ll take my chance with the others. You told me once before there will be many more left behind than not.” He shifted his stance and partially turned his back to her. She sensed that he wanted to say more but couldn’t face her.

“I do love you, but I…” He turned around but he couldn’t finish the words. His jaw dropped. She was not the same woman, yet she was. Quantum light years different, but still Peggy.

“What … how … what happened to you?” he stammered.

“It’s the new me,” she squealed with delight.

“But I only turned around for a second or two.”

“I know,” she said. “Look at Stuart and his wife across the street. They, too, have been changed.”

Jason slumped to the ground on one knee. “This is a dream, and I’m going to wake up right now.”

At that moment, a resounding voice louder than the Shofar blasts rocked the atmosphere like a seismic sonic boom. Peggy saw Jason’s look of dismay as he abruptly stood up.

“Was that a voice? What did it say?”

“That was Jesus,” Peggy smiled radiantly. “He said, ‘Come up here.’”

“Can’t you stay with me,” he groaned.

She looked lovingly at him as she began her ascent. “I love you; but it’s going to be so hard for you. Promise me that you’ll choose Jesus over his imposter.”

She watched him watching her and six others from the neighborhood rising softly toward the sky. Then she looked up and raised both arms.

He heard her last words: “Thank you God. I love you Jesus!”

ACT SEVEN

Jason sat at the Fire Station’s lunchroom with his fellow firefighters. They were glued to the television and their smart phones. The entire world had done nothing else for the past three days.

A CNN anchorwoman was speaking: “We’re going to show you recent footage of a man dressed in a scarlet and purple robe being escorted by Italian military personnel from the beaches of Anzio, Italy. It’s reported that he will be flown by helicopter to Rome where government officials and a high-ranking Cardinal from the Vatican have agreed to meet with this man who claims to be the Roman Emperor Nero. If he really is Nero, then it appears we have an even greater miracle than three days ago.”

Things to Ponder

Though (it should be) apparent, to make sure that we separate the fictional from non-fictional facets of this play, I’ll provide the following observations:

Obviously, the three cities are real (four, counting Anzio; see Eye of Prophecy article: Antichrist and Anzio … What Do They Have in Common? posted 4-29-17), as are the respective time zones for each. The Messianic congregation in Netanya, Israel (coastal town north of Tel Aviv) is fictitious.

The created characters are not intended to depict any specific person; but they are or could be representative of anyone, anywhere.

The setting selection of the Jewish Passover and the precise time is in no way a statement or even suggestion that the Rapture will occur on that day or time. There are 24 hours in every day; 360 days on the Hebrew calendar and 365 on the Gregorian calendar. Three times Jesus said: “…For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13).

Whereas the exact words (voice of the archangel) as portrayed in the play are mostly speculative, not so with the commanding shout of Messiah Jesus … “Come Up Here!”

Just before John was transported to heaven to witness the Tribulation events, Jesus commands him to, “Come up here…” (Revelation 4:1).

After the two mighty witnesses are killed by the Antichrist and their bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem, we view this stunning scene: “But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, ‘Come up here!’ And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched” (Revelation 11:11-12).

Jesus’s command coupled with people everywhere on earth (in person, via internet or television) watching the two prophets (Moses and Elijah) ascending to heaven provides more than enough precedential authenticity for what will most likely happen during the Rapture. That and the fact that Jesus’s disciples (and probably others nearby) visibly saw Jesus ascending to heaven, slow enough for them to keep staring for a while (Acts 1:9-11).

Then we have Saul (later called the Apostle Paul) who saw the blinding light emanating from Jesus on the road to Damascus. His traveling companions were surrounded by the same light and they heard the “voice” but couldn’t see Jesus, nor (by obvious inference) determine what the voice said (Acts Chapter 9).

No one knows the incomparable intricacy and spectacular scope of just how the bodies of believers will be transfigured. Yet, we have an insightful idea and powerful preview from the Mount of Transfiguration experience of our Lord and Savior, Jesus; then his resurrection from the grave.

“…We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet (last trumpet as Paul has already stated, with clear inference that there are several trumpet blasts) sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (I Corinthians 15:51-52, parenthesis mine).

“…For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15:44).

No one knows the precise time-lapse or exact details of how the Rapture will unfold. But the Bible does give us the foundational framework including the sequential component parts of what will happen.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up (harpazo) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17, parenthesis mine; harpazo is the Greek world for “caught up” from which we get the Latin term Rapture).

If you haven’t please consider reading Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World (Posted 4-22-17; strangely, two years ago this very weekend, with this weekend unusual because Passover and Good Friday/Resurrection Day overlap).

I’ll conclude with an excerpt from that post which, in turn, was a quote from the first article on this subject, How the Rapture (8-24-13). In italics:

Do you see what difference it would make and how it could enhance and expand our view of and increase even more our enthusiasm for the Rapture, if the order of events in the Rapture took place over several minutes? It would be far more than just a “poof” one second here, next second gone type of experience. Next to the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ, it will be the greatest celebration of joy ever experienced by believers in Christ. And in real-time and space no less; no special effects, no suspension of time, no virtual reality … just the real thing. None of which (except for the transfiguration of our bodies) can or will take place in the twinkling of an eye.

Now that’s something to shout about!

To believers in Jesus, the Apostle John wrote:

Zechariah’s Dramatic Description of Antichrist’s Fatal Wounds

Today’s Television …Sigh!

I suppose my cynicism concerning the scarcity of standard television programs worth watching is linked directly to my membership in the Baby Boomer Generation. And the early part of the generation at that!

This article is not about the quality of modern television or lack thereof; but after a fashion, it does serve as a lead-in to this week’s topic. Plus, it affords the opportunity to briefly air my consternation over much of television that is anti-family, anti-morality, and anti-Judaic/Christian ideals.

Programs that disdain and degrade Biblical values upon which this great nation was built.

Fortunately, for many of us Baby Boomers (and others), there is some alternative-viewing relief.

It comes in the form of an increasing number of television stations producing regular plus special programs dedicated to documentaries of nature, arts and sciences, and history; despite their (sometimes) anti-Creation evolutionary emphasis. Networks such as: PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, Travel Channel, National Geographic Channel, American Heroes Channel (formerly Military Channel), and probably my favorite—The Smithsonian Channel.

And my co-favorite: The Golf Channel (only half-kidding). Hey, golf is played on beautiful courses creatively carved out of nature, abounding in human interest stories played out with dramatic strategy and skill … producing historical memories. So there!

If you watch some of these networks, you’ve also seen a relatively new phenomenon that began to catch on a decade ago or so—Docudrama. Sort of a combination of real history and virtual reality.

I’m not a big fan of this genre, because most of the dramatic enactments are either of low quality or too liberally “fill in the blanks” of history. However, the producers know that many viewers want to mix their history with live action. Just my opinion, but the best programs come with a well-written and narrated script alongside live interviews and still photography or actual film footage if available. There are a few quality docudrama exceptions to the rule, e.g. the series, Air Disasters on the Smithsonian Channel.

Another exception is an eight-part series of one-hour Smithsonian Channel programs entitled: Eight Days That Made Rome.

Skillfully narrated by writer/historian Bettany Hughes, she also conducts interviews with other historians; and there are dramatic scenes consisting of actors depicting (mostly Roman Empire) characters. The eight days are (actually) eight significant people/events that contributed to the formation, fanfare, and fate of the Roman Empire. The series originally aired on the United Kingdom Channel 5 in October 2017. Then rebroadcast at least twice beginning last month (March) and into this month, April (2019).

My opinion—based on much reading about the Roman Empire: the episodes were historically as or more accurate than most that I’ve seen. With, as indicated, my personal preference that the enactments would have been reduced in favor of more historical facts, commentary, or interviews. Still, overall, the programs were interesting, and informative. With the obvious qualification that all that the Roman Empire was made of was much more than just these eight milestones; they, nevertheless, are noteworthy.

The eight programs were entitled:

Part 1: Hannibal’s Last Stand: (Rome’s Wars with Hannibal)

Part 2: The Spartacus Revolt: (Many are familiar with the gladiatorial revolt led by Spartacus)

Part 3: Crossing the Rubicon: (Julius Caesar’s military victories and audacious return to Rome)

Part 4: Rome’s First Emperor: (Octavian, known as Augustus Caesar, which is an accurate analysis of history; Julius was not the first Caesar, nor did he officially become Caesar at all even though that’s how he’s commonly referred to in history)

Part 5: Boudica’s Revenge: (A warrior/queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led a revolt against Roman occupation … during Nero’s reign)

Part 6: The Downfall of Nero: (Comments pending)

Part 7: Theatre of Death: (Opening of the Colosseum in A.D. 80 and how the gladiatorial games affected Rome)

Part 8: Rebirth of Rome: (Beginning with the “Christian” Emperor Constantine the Great, ending with the great city of Constantinople—now called Istanbul … Muslim name—in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire)

I’ve seen the entirety of some episodes and parts of others.

The Downfall of Nero

Part Six of this series contributed to the subject selection of this week’s Eye of Prophecy article … specifically, Nero’s death. More specifically, the program explained exactly how Nero died; as opposed to most historical accounts that omit the final details including the actual cause of his death. Whereas many historians provide a consistent record of the geopolitical events leading to Nero’s demise, only a handful relay the final moments of what took place.

Consequently, many classify Nero’s death as a suicide. It was not.

Nero had decided that killing himself was more desirable than being captured by the legions who were carrying out the Roman Senate’s order to torture him before he was executed, but he was too much of a coward to finish the job. Although he stabbed himself in or near his neck, it was only a weak half-hearted attempt. It’s clear that he had time to do himself in (by falling on his sword), but he chose not to.

As depraved as he was, he even ordered one of his servants to kill himself in order that Nero could see how it’s done! Shortly before the Roman legions stormed into the villa where he was hiding, Nero’s servant Epaphroditos (out of loyalty or simply for humanitarian reasons to prevent his emperor from being tortured) struck Nero with a sword causing the fatal wounds.

The fact that this Part Six program included the servant’s slaying of Nero and even named the servant, caught my attention that much more, as I have written about this in Out of the Abyss and a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles.

Recap of Biblical Passages on the Antichrist

In Scripture there are eleven references to the man called Antichrist, with all but one of these locations calling him by one or more of his other designations. Ten of these are prominent passages that portray the past, present, and/or future tense of Antichrist. Plus, one somewhat obscure passage that is the focus of today’s article. One, however, that provides even more conclusive evidence—when like the others it is matched to 1st century events—that Nero was and will return as the Antichrist. We’ll get to that captivating scene in Zechariah, shortly.

Daniel Chapter 7: First mention of Antichrist in Scripture … described as a little horn and king. The emphasis is his sudden appearance at the outset of the Tribulation, different from the ten kings who will yield their kingdoms to him, three of them by force. Plus, his blasphemy and defiance of God himself and oppression (much like his prototype predecessor Antiochus IV) of the Jews. Thus, this passage is still future even to us, as it applies exclusively to the Tribulation period. For example: see Eye of Prophecy article, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? (Posted 1-21-17).

Daniel Chapter 9: Concentration is on the ruler whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, which occurred in A.D. 70; after Nero personally dispatched several Roman Legions under Generals Vespasian and Titus to crush the Jewish rebellion that began in A.D. 66. Then a subsequent 7-year treaty made by this same ruler that he would break half-way through, from which we derive the 7-year Tribulation period. Refer to Eye of Prophecy articles: The Most Panoramic Prophecy in the Bible, Part I & II (Published January 2018).

Daniel Chapter 11: Emphasis is on Antichrist’s exploits during the final phase of the Great Tribulation (also like his treacherous predecessor Antiochus IV) that leads to invasion of Israel and ends with Armageddon. See articles: Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events (2-3-18). Also, last week’s post: Intriguing Comparisons Between Antiochus IV & Antichrist (Nero).

II Thessalonians 2: This fascinating passage from the Apostle Paul contains both the present tense existence of the man of lawlessness and the future things he would do during the Tribulation. Paul explains that the secrecy of the lawlessness and the man of that lawlessness was currently being restrained (at that point in time, i.e. A.D. 51-52). Then the future desecration of the Temple by this man. However, Paul wasn’t privy to the fact that this desecration would involve the 3rd (yet unbuilt) Jewish Temple or that the man of lawlessness would (first need to) reappear from the Abyss to resume his reign of terror as the beast-king later identified through encryption by John in the book of Revelation.

Another often overlooked but equally astonishing fact in this chapter is that Jesus himself will kill the man of lawlessness (Verse 8). Just as several people throughout Scripture were “struck down” by the Lord; so, too, was Nero as the man of lawlessness. To then (by default understanding) be revived and banished to the Abyss awaiting God’s appointed time for his release and return to earth. See article: Does the Holy Spirit Restrain (the man of) Lawlessness? (3-4-17).

Revelation 11: A passing reference to the Antichrist beast; however, one that first tells us the beast will come, “up out of the bottomless pit” and will eventually kill the two mighty prophets who will perform powerful miracles during their 3 ½-year testimony for the Lord (Revelation 11:7). Refer to: Soon Comes the Antichrist … Straight from the Abyss Part I & II (August 2016). Also: Moses & Elijah vs. Antichrist & the False Prophet (2-10-18).

Revelation 13: Probably the most well-known passage on the Antichrist, if for no other reason than the infamous number of the beast. Ascertaining of which, however, is presented as a challenge to the reader: “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Verse 18). Through the application of Hebrew Gematria, Six Hundred, sixty-six matches Nero Caesar. There are several Eye of Prophecy articles that include the number of the beast, but I’ll refer you to the first one, entitled: The Number of the Beast (Posted 9-28-13).

[Neither the Apostle Paul nor John of Revelation referred to the man of lawlessness or the (beast) king of Revelation by name (Nero), to protect the early Christians, most of whom were Jews. Thus the Jewish Christians would have used Hebrew Gematria–counting by their alphabet–to translate the Greek (New Testament written in Greek) title/name of Neron Kaiser to Hebrew and thus easily calculate and match six-hundred, sixty-six to Nero Caesar]

Revelation Chapter 13 also contains the amazing fact that the beast appears at the outset of the Tribulation having recovered from a deadly wound … the same thing as saying that the man has returned from the dead. Which is exactly what John then tells us.

Three times the chapter repeats the fact that the healed wounds of the beast seen by John had been fatal, the first two times in verses 3 & 12. Again, John unambiguously states that the beast had been fatally wounded but “…then came back to life” (Verse 14). Chapter 13 also contains the first reference to the False Prophet.

Revelation 16: A brief reference to Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet rousing the rulers of the world, including Antichrist’ enemies (kings of the east), “…for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty…. And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Verses 14 & 16). Soon, thereafter, as an immediate prelude to Armageddon, we read of the Lord’s awesome final judgment of the world … the 7th bowl judgment (Verses 17-21). You might want to read: Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose (11-14-17).

Revelation 17: A positively pivotal chapter (particularly verses 7-11) that provides vital biographical information about the beast. Especially, the stunning disclosure (to reinforce that the beast had come back to life as found in Chapter 13) that the beast would reappear from the Abyss … rising from the sea as stated in Revelation 13:1. The first thing that the angel said after John had seen his second vision of the beast (and first of the woman): “I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (at any time) come up out of the bottomless pit…” (Verses 7-8a, emphasis added).

This astounding announcement has been overlooked or dismissed by so many Bible scholars (including me at one time). It makes all the difference as to whether the Antichrist will be a modern-day born man or one that returns from the 1st century.

In addition to the three-time reference to the beast that had been killed then came back to life as found in Chapter 13, Chapter 17 twice tells us the same thing. We’ve already read the first reference in Verse 8. The second citation is found in verse 11, beginning with: “The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer…” Five distinct references to demonstrate convincingly that when the Antichrist appears on the scene at the outset of the Tribulation, the fatal wound will have been healed, at which the entire world will marvel (Revelation 13:3-4). With the meaning expanded in Revelation 17 to emphasize that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died (in the first century). That those left behind at the Rapture, “…will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:8).

Then in verses 9-11, the angel gives more succinct clues as to the geopolitical identity of the beast to corroborate Revelation 13, preceded by the same kind of challenge: “This calls for a mind with understanding…” (Verse 9). The beast was one of the seven kings (Roman emperors); more specifically one of the five who had already died, because the angel told John that the beast had lived and died before John’s visions of the beast.

Whereas the description of the Antichrist (reappearance) in Revelations 11, 13, & 16 are (still) future tense … Tribulation, Chapter 17 is future, present, and PAST tense. The past tense beast/king (a vision of which John saw in the present tense—on a Sunday from the Isle of Patmos during the reign of the current Caesar) would become future tense upon his reappearance from the Abyss.

See Eye of Prophecy article: Has Antichrist Already Died … How, When, Why? (4-28-18).

Revelation 19: Final reference to the Antichrist (and False Prophet) in Revelation describing Jesus’s magnificent return and crushing defeat of these two diabolical men and entire armies (at Armageddon). With their final fate that of being thrown into the Lake of Fire (Verse 20).

I John 2 & 4 (combined as one reference): As indicated, only the Apostle John in his first epistle used (coined) the appellation Antichrist; which is the most commonly utilized term by both believers and unbelievers alike. In Chapter 2, he refers to “the Antichrist.” In Chapter 4, “the spirit of the Antichrist.”

Zechariah 11:15-17 (Chronologically the 4th / But 11th Overall Passage on the Antichrist)

“What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind” (Zachariah 11:17).

This lesser-known allusion to the Antichrist, called the worthless shepherd, is nonetheless significant. It describes in more detail the wound(s) that, according to the subsequent disclosure in Revelation 13, would kill the beast (while he was still the man of lawlessness as characterized by Paul).

When the world first sees the beast, who had just risen from the (abyssal) sea (Revelation 13:1), they will marvel at this miracle and give allegiance and worship to the beast. What is that miracle? As presented in the same verse: “but the fatal wound was healed!” (Revelation 13:3).

The natural and even logical assumption by virtually all students of Biblical prophecy is that the Antichrist will be a contemporary man (some say he’s alive today on earth) when the Tribulation begins. However, nearly all end-times events are supernatural and extraordinary, defying all that is considered natural or ordinary. Including the extraordinarily clear Biblical evidence that the Antichrist is a man who had already lived and died even before John saw him in the first century (symbolized as a beast). That he would return from the Abyss to the utter astonishment of a world already dumbfounded by the spectacular event of the Rapture.

So, too, is the prevailing presumption that the (modern-day) Antichrist will be killed during the Tribulation—most scholars say at the mid-point. The succession of John’s vision of the beast in Revelation 13 indisputably shows that he (as will those left behind at the Rapture) first saw the beast and his fatal (but healed) wound as soon as the beast appeared from the sea. There is no direct statement nor inference that the beast was or would be killed during the Tribulation.

Consequently, this is as much of a moot point to try to defend as the (natural but erroneous) supposition that the Antichrist will be born in the generation of the Rapture and Tribulation. Why? Because in John’s second vision of the beast, he irrefutably confirms that the beast had already lived and died BEFORE John saw the man in the form of a beast.

Immediately after John sees the beast rise out of the sea, he states: “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed!” (Revelation 13:3, emphasis added even though the exclamation point is in the text).

*Note: As indicated in a few prior articles: The seven heads and ten horns of the beast in John’s first vision are the same seven heads and ten horns described in the second vision in Revelation 17. The ten horns are exclusively ten kings of the Tribulation period who will yield their authority to Antichrist (Daniel 7 & Revelation 17:12-14). The seven heads were past and present kings (Roman emperors) as clearly stated by John in Revelation 17:9-11. Five had already died, and the sixth was currently reigning when John saw the visions of Revelation; one would assume the throne shortly thereafter, but his reign would be brief. (See Eye of Prophecy articles, Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence, Part I & II (March 2017).

To better understand what’s going on here when John first sees the deadly wound, I’ll present the following excerpt from my second book (in italics):

Let’s focus on the past tense word, “was.” John first saw the recovered beast after the wound had been healed. The wound had already been inflicted. He didn’t see the beast get wounded…. The wound had already been healed when John first saw the beast. That’s why he says, “seemed wounded beyond recovery.”

What John meant is that he didn’t, at first, know for sure if the head had been wounded beyond recovery (death). (Note: this is not a “head wound”, i.e. to the skull; rather the head is a man … who is one of the seven heads of the beast but also the composite beast itself, as further clarified in Revelation 17)

Because, however, “the whole world marveled at this miracle,” he then realized that it had been a fatal blow. This realization is established when John switches from the word “seemed” to an outright affirmative statement later in Revelation 13. “…He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. (Revelation 13:14).

The word seemed sharply suggests that it was a wound, scar-like in appearance, that may have been there for quite some time, as opposed to a fresh wound in which the viewer would have no doubt was recent and fatal….

It would be no different than looking at seven men who had been wounded in battle, one some fifty years ago, the other six only three days ago. Each had the same type and severity of wound. Would you be able to successfully play the, “Which one is not like the others” game? Of course, you would get it right on the first pick. The fifty-year-old wound would stand out like a sore thumb. John could have easily determined whether the wound was recently inflicted; therefore, would not have used the modifier “seemed.”

That’s the analogy I’m making here; the only difference in this example is that these seven men didn’t die, but Antichrist did. Yet Antichrist comes from the Abyss, so his wound is not immediately distinguishable to John as fatal.

At the Rapture all believers will see Christ; many scholars and teachers believe that our Lord will still bear the imprints of the nails and spear. So, too, will those “that belong to the world” gaze in wonder upon the miraculously healed 2000-year old wounds of their superstar. If the tribulation world were looking at recent wounds of a modern-day Antichrist, there would be no “seemed wounded beyond recovery” uncertainty, especially with the zoom-in magnification of television and internet technology (Out of the Abyss, pages 208-209).

A Phenomenal Parallel Between the Worthless Shepherd’s Wounds & Nero’s Death by a Sword

After portraying the Good Shepherd (Messiah Jesus), including the amazing prophecy that the Messiah would be sold (betrayed) for thirty pieces of silver, Zachariah is told by the Lord to depict the worthless shepherd.

(After agreeing with the Jewish Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, Judas singled out Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss. All Old Testament prophecies of Messiah’s First Advent were fulfilled by or during the life of Jesus; this was one of them)

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. This illustrates how I will give this nation (Israel) a shepherd who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves” (Zechariah 11:15-16, parenthesis mine … a graphic depiction of what Nero would do in the 1st century and will resume/intensify even more during the soon-to-come Tribulation).

God’s reason for allowing a ruthless counterfeit Messiah to betray and persecute Israel in the end times is a stark reminder that Israel spurned their Messiah two thousand years ago. It will be the only way to fully get Israel’s attention. And it would be the same anti-Messiah that tried to eliminate both Jewish and Gentile Christians soon after the New Covenant began to spread more rapidly throughout the Roman Empire at about the same time Nero became Emperor.

Not until the Jews suffer one last time under this worthless shepherd, would they come to their senses and fully realize that Jesus of Nazareth was and is their true Messiah Shepherd. So much so that in the very next chapter of Zechariah we read the Messiah speaking in both the 1st and 2nd person:

“…They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died” (Zechariah 12:10).

Zechariah ends Chapter 11 with a powerful preview of what will happen to this worthless shepherd—when he was killed by the divine sovereignty of Jesus, then placed into and subsequently would be released from the Abyss.

Repeating that verse cited earlier: “What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind” (Zachariah 11:17).

Compare that startling prophecy with the return of the Antichrist beast.

“And he (the False Prophet) deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life” (Revelation 13:14, NASB, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

The entire globe will see the aftermath of these 2000-year old wounds which rendered Nero’s arm useless and completely blinded his right eye. These wounds were fatal, most likely by a severed artery or two. We do know that a few minutes elapsed from the time Nero and his servant heard the Roman legions approaching and when his servant struck the fatal blow. In fact, Nero was still dying when the soldiers arrived.

For the grand finale of this extraordinary prophecy that matches the account of Nero’s death by a sword, I’ll defer to a scenario in my book Out of the Abyss. One that I believe accurately portrays what very well could have happened in terms of how the deadly wounds were inflicted. And, in the context of Zechariah’s vivid picture of these injuries, most likely did happen.

As follows:

With the aid of Zechariah Chapter 11, let’s do a little visualizing. Picture, if you will, Nero on his knees, as it’s highly unlikely he would have been standing. In both the ancient world and even the more modern world, those who wanted to end their life with a sword would first kneel to one or both knees. Soldiers of the ancient world used this method, as have the Japanese for centuries.

Nero tries to thrust a sword into his neck, but the sound of Roman Legion horses and men distract him. He had already asked his servant to help him… History tells us that the servant also knew that the soldiers would be there any minute. The servant unsheathes his own sword, or he grabs Nero’s sword.

The servant, Epaphroditos, raises the sword above his head to ensure a powerful and fatal blow. With all his strength, he thrusts the sword downward. At that very instant, Nero reflexively or instinctively lifts his arm to deflect the strike (Zechariah doesn’t tell us which arm was wounded). The sword partially slices through Nero’s arm and penetrates his right eye. Depending on the angle of the blow and how Nero had knelt, he could have raised either arm. It’s also conceivable that the sword may have struck part of Nero’s neck, where he had just seconds earlier stabbed himself, but not fatally. Whereas Zechariah only gives us two wound locations, there could be another. Or perhaps a wound to the neck might heal enough to show little evidence of scarring.

Yet Nero’s hands would not have been tied, as are the hands of people who are being executed by a sword or whose heads are waiting the fall of the guillotine blade … so the victim can’t deliberately or reflexively raise hands and arms to deflect the blow.

If you like, kneel to the floor … and do your own simulation. Have your wife stand to one side and then the other, pretending to be Nero’s servant … Give her a nice, soft, rolled or unrolled hand towel so she won’t hesitate to finish her action and strike the blow, yet an object that will probably make you flinch. Ask her to swipe a descending blow and see how natural it is for you to instinctively ward off this blow. Try to figure out on which side of Nero his servant may have stood, to have inflicted a wound to Nero’s right eye and one of his arms. See how real this is and how it matches so well with Zechariah Chapter 11 and the historical records of Nero’s final minutes…

Zechariah vividly depicts this “worthless shepherd” as a ruthless, but also a pathetic figure. It’s entirely feasible that Nero will be self-conscious of these wounds; though he will make the most of the fact that he died from these wounds, and then returned from the dead. His physical appearance in the tribulation and the historical evidence that Nero was not that great of an orator, explain why the False Prophet will do most of the talking for the beast.

The erection of a statue of Antichrist (Nero) will further immortalize him, but I believe also to lessen the need for Nero to appear publicly any more than necessary….

The statue will be a perfect, unblemished tribute to and towering likeness of Nero. In fact, this statue will carry as much authority as Nero himself. This miracle of a statue will speak and command people to worship it. If they don’t Revelation 13:15 says they “must die.”

Search the Scriptures. You will not find any direct evidence that the beast is a great orator, statesman, or consummate genius as modern-day views characterize him. He is clever; he is a braggart and a blasphemer, but that doesn’t make him charismatic. Antichrist’s accomplishments and “charisma” are attributed to his miraculous resurrection, the statue, and the persuasive ability of the False Prophet, including, but not limited to “astounding miracles” (Pages 247-249).

Things to Ponder

If even one of these eleven passages didn’t fit with my detailed and documented premise that Nero is the Antichrist, I wouldn’t have written Out of the Abyss. Nor most of the Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist.

But they all match, even the one in Zechariah. Each passage correlates to some degree with the others and they all fit perfectly to authenticate Nero as the Antichrist. As well as with all the other designations, i.e. little horn, king, ruler, man of lawlessness, beast, and worthless shepherd.

Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy, A Beast by Any Other Name…. (Posted March 2015). Which provides a detailed analysis why Scripture assigns these various titles to Antichrist and the significance of each one. Hint: One of the main reasons is to demonstrate the past, present, and future tense existence of the Antichrist.

One more quote from Out of the Abyss, from the same chapter as the previous excerpt:

We’re nearing our final destination. If the sights and sounds of the voyage, or the ship’s Scriptural log haven’t yet influenced you that Revelation 13 & 17’s wisdom or mind of understanding enables any believer of any generation to know the identity of the beast Antichrist, that’s okay. As indicated earlier, when some left behind at the Rapture realize that Nero’s initial revealing and subsequent reappearance had been predicted long ago, they will hopefully, without amazement at this protégé of Satan, accept Jesus as Messiah (Page 249).

If you haven’t, please accept Messiah Jesus now as your Savior and Lord.

Believe me … better yet believe God’s Word: you don’t want to be left behind at the Rapture. You don’t want to go through any part of the Great Tribulation. It will be the most hellish time on earth ever experienced by humanity. It will make World War II seem like a small skirmish.

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

And he also said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

Said God the Father in describing the last days of the end times (the Tribulation):

See Eye of Prophecy article: Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (June 2016).

Meet Jesus now as your Savior, not as your Judge. We are living in the final (Omega) generation of the end times. The signs are unmistakable.

“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. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’

“Amen! Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Intriguing Comparisons Between Antiochus IV & Antichrist (Nero)

This week’s Eye of Prophecy article could be Part II. But it’s not, because the previous post wasn’t designated as Part I. (Duh!)

Perhaps they should be Part I & Part II, if for no other reason than the subject’s title from last week: Significant Sets of Twos in the Bible.

On the other hand, this week’s post precisely pertains to the topic specified in its title, which is the tenth of ten conspicuous sets of twos found in Scripture. It is a stand-alone theme that, nevertheless, continues the premise as summarized in the closing portion of the previous post (in italics):

These striking sets of two encapsulate God’s panoramic plans for humanity, plus his providential power, persistence, and patience to accomplish those plans.

In these pairs, we find one or more of the following: contrast, correlation, clarification, combination, correction, and culmination.

Over all, we find the magnificent Triune God, who is the First and Last, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega. He is the One who has begun and will bring all things full circle to the way it was in the beginning … with a supernatural new beginning to the inevitable end.

It’s like the pictures we see literally and in our mind of the before and after.

He is a God of second chances; but we must accept Messiah Jesus as Savior while we’re alive on Planet Earth. After we die it’s too late.

Sometimes a round-about introduction can be as or more effective (entertaining) in getting to the main subject as a direct here it is approach. Whether this is one of those times … well, let’s just say it’s a direct round-about way!

One thing is for sure: a one-two punch can get our attention and reach results not otherwise attainable. Although all Biblical prophecies are meaningful, those that are repeated and/or come in pairs are of paramount prominence. If God says or does something twice (over) as expressed through individuals or extraordinary events—whether for contrast, correlation, or culmination—then we need to take a long second-look at what’s taking place.

One more excerpt from last week’s article:

Everyone who is the least bit concerned about what’s going on in today’s woeful world needs to think twice about such things. It would behoove us to pay close attention to what God himself has to say about our destiny, about eternal existence with him or apart from him. Particularly those truths and lessons that come in twos throughout history and prophetic events unfolding before our 21st century eyes.

Setting the Stage

Two of these sets of twos discussed in the previous post were: Birth & Rebirth of Israel & Israel—Two Exiles & Two Returns. Both related directly to Israel’s historical and contemporary interaction with Gentile nations in a twofold way: (1) Enslavement by Egypt followed by deliverance and the birth of a nation. (2) God’s discipline of his people for hundreds of years of disobedience via Gentile conquest of Israel and exile of the Jews. Not once, but twice. And not once, but twice God brought his people back to the Promised Land. The second return led to Israel’s rebirth in 1948.

(Parting of the Red Sea. The Bible says the water stood up like walls on either side of the dry land. Then a second time, God parted the waters–the Jordan River–to allow the Israelites to enter the Promised Land … Joshua Chapter 3)

Until the time of Ezekiel and Daniel, we read about Israel’s glory years under King David and King Solomon, then her gradual decline after Israel split into two kingdoms. Culminating in the Babylonian conquest of Judah, destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and exile of survivors to Babylon.

Ezekiel and Daniel were exiled captives in Babylon. Both were given some astounding disclosures especially concerning Gentile nations and rulers that would be coupled intricately to Israel’s immediate, intermediate, and distant future. To Ezekiel, the Lord disclosed the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel headed by nations that we can accurately identify in today’s world as Russia, Iran, and Turkey … and other weaker countries (Ezekiel 38 & 39). As demonstrated in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles, I’m convinced this attack will take place within the first year or so of the post-Rapture Tribulation.

In the book of Daniel, we find two revelations regarding the four Gentile kingdoms that would set the stage for all subsequent rise and fall of nations leading directly to the end-times coalition of ten-nations plus other countries, some strong … some weak. There will also be a confederation of strong Eastern nations pitted against Antichrist’s regime, all of which will then align themselves against Israel and Messiah Jesus when he returns to rescue Israel from disaster.

Fittingly, the first disclosure came through a dream of the mightiest Gentile king at the time, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Daniel Chapter 2). It’s one of the most riveting prophecies of Scripture, even well-known by many unbelievers: the four-part Statue. As we know from history, these four kingdoms were: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The primary purpose (subject) of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was to demonstrate God’s sovereignty over the rise and fall of rulers and nations in the context of his panoramic plan for humanity, as condensed in the following passage:

“It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall” (Psalm 75:7).

Daniel is speaking directly to Nebuchadnezzar concerning the fate of these four kingdoms and others: “As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35).

In the demographic parameters of that which is national, political, and cultural, there’s very little left today of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. And, by the time we reach the Millennial Reign of Christ, there will be nothing left of these once mighty kingdoms.

Daniel discloses the fate of kings and kingdoms aligned against Israel and God himself in the last days: “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).

The Second Prophecy of the Four Gentile Kingdoms

In keeping with God’s sets of twos in Scripture for added emphasis to contrast, correlate, or in this case to combine and clarify, He reveals the four Gentile kingdoms as different beasts (instead of a four-part statue). This time the revelation is given directly to Daniel because he was a Jewish prophet and the vision pertains primarily to Israel (Daniel Chapter 7).

You remember: First beast like a lion—Babylon; second beast like a bear—Persia; third like a leopard—Greece. With each of these images enhanced by other features that provide more proof of the (prophetic) identity of these nations, now known via historical hindsight. Such as the leopard with four wings and four heads.

And, of course, the fourth beast which is greater and more terrifying than the first three; so much so that this beast couldn’t even be equated to an animal that we would understand symbolically. None other than the mightiest kingdom ever—the Roman Empire.

More dramatic details were provided to Daniel in 551 B.C. (Chapter 8) while the Babylonian Empire was still intact (conquered by Persia in 539 B.C.) concerning two of these coming kingdoms. In fact, they’re even named: Mede-Persia represented by the two-horned ram and Greece, represented by the one-horned goat. The historical fulfillment is unmistakable.

“The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king of the Greek Empire. The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that the Greek Empire will break into four kingdoms, but none as great as the first” (Daniel 8:21-22). That’s precisely what happened when Alexander’s massive kingdom divided into four regions after his abrupt and unexpected death.

The remainder of Daniel Chapter 8 highlights the rise of the greatest of these kings from the four derivative kingdoms … historically identified as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Then, as we shall soon see, the longest and perhaps most detailed prophetic chapter in Daniel (Chapter 11) foretells the political maneuverings and military adventures of two of these four post-Alexander kingdoms and kings, with the emphasis once again on Antiochus IV. Then, the last part of that chapter suddenly switches the spotlight to another ruler even greater … the Antichrist.

Let’s return briefly to Daniel Chapter 7, which is the first introduction to the Antichrist by one of his other designations … little horn and king. With other labels given as the beast-king (Revelation 13 & 17); man of lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2); and, of course, by the term used most often—Antichrist, as found only in the Apostle John’s first epistle. In Daniel 9:26-27, he is referred to as a ruler whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple.

After describing the little horn’s appearance as “sudden” and “different” in contrast to the ten kings who will yield their authority to him, Daniel Chapter 7 focuses on the little horn’s interaction with Israel (later amplified by the passage in Daniel 9).

“As I watched, this horn was waging war against God’s holy people and was defeating them, until the Ancient One—the Most High—came and judged in favor of his holy people… He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time (3 ½ years, as found again in Daniel 9, Revelation 12 & 13)” (Daniel 7:21-22 & 25, parenthesis mine).

As indicated, Daniel is first given a prophecy of the Antichrist (little horn, king … Daniel 7, followed by more information in Daniel 9); then two years later a vision of another man who would be a forerunner—a prototype parallel as found in Chapter 8. Finally, in Chapter 11, these two men are paired together in an almost seamless succession, prefaced by another reference to the “mighty king” (Alexander the Great), whose, “…kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts…” (Daniel 11:4).

A Devilish Duo

Before we examine both Biblical and secular records of these two profane peas in a pod as the (sordid) tenth set of significant twos in the Bible, did you know that this revelation (Daniel Chapter 11) was not given by the angel Gabriel … as with some of Daniel’s visions. Rather, it was revealed directly by Messiah Jesus in one of his Pre-Incarnate appearances to Daniel and others throughout the Old Testament.

Writes Daniel: “On April 23 (536 B.C.), as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people” (Daniel 10:4-6, parenthesis mine; then the vision’s interpretation begins in Chapter 11).

(*Note: Compare this description to Messiah Jesus as recorded in Revelation Chapter 1. Also, see Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Amazing Appearances Before He Was Born, posted 10-6-18).

I’ll break this down into two parts:

(1) Biblical comparisons of Antiochus IV to the Antichrist.

(2) Historical parallels between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Nero Caesar.

Prefaced with a twofold premise:

(A) Because time/space doesn’t permit elaboration in today’s article and because the evidence has been thoroughly developed and documented in my 2nd book Out of the Abyss plus many of the 56 Eye of Prophecy articles to date in the Category of The Antichrist, I’ll simply repeat this part of the Premise. Which is: Nero is the little horn, ruler, king, man of lawlessness, beast … the Antichrist.

(B) Therefore, we would expect and there should be historical evidence of similarities between Antiochus IV and Nero.

Keeping in mind one dramatic difference. Antiochus IV is long gone and will never return. Not so with the Antichrist. Which is as Revelation 17 distinctly details to corroborate Daniel’s explanation: the little horn suddenly and differently appears (Daniel 7:8 & 24).

“The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (meaning abruptly or suddenly) come up out of the bottomless pit… And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:8, parenthesis mine). *Note: What makes the little horn of Daniel 7 substantially different from the ten kings is that he had already died but would (re)appear suddenly (from the Abyss).

(See Eye of Prophecy article, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? Published 1-21-17)

The (four) features that we’ll examine in Part 1 (Biblical Comparisons) are what Antiochus IV did in his time compared to what Antichrist will do upon his Tribulation reappearance and reign. Both of which were future tense to Daniel. Then in Part 2, I’ll identify some remarkable resemblances between Antiochus IV of the 2nd century B.C. and Nero—as the man of lawlessness in the 1st century A.D., before his return as the Antichrist beast of Revelation (in the 21st century!).

There is even a striking similarity in the lapse of time between Daniel’s vision as explained by Messiah Jesus to him in Chapter 11 (551 B.C.) and pinnacle of Alexander the Great’s kingdom (330 B.C.), resulting in the subsequent division of his Grecian Empire into four lesser kingdoms. That period of 221 years is virtually identical to the period beginning with Antiochus’s demise (death) in 164 B.C. to the rise of Nero as Caesar in A.D. 54 (218 years). And, if we eliminate the first three years or so of Nero’s tenure, because he was more of a puppet ruler under the tutelage thumb of his mother Agrippina, we have 221 years (A.D. 57).

(Ancient sculpture of Agrippina crowning her son Nero. The statue is suggesting that without her influence and actions, he wouldn’t have become Caesar)

Before we examine the similarities between Antiochus IV and Antichrist, let’s first outline Daniel Chapter 11 to clarify what and whom Daniel is prophetically describing. As follows:

– Prophecy of the mighty Greek ruler (Alexander) and the subsequent conflict between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties … fulfilled approximately 334 to 175 B.C. (Verses 1-20)

– Rise and exploits of “a despicable man.” Which turned out to be Antiochus IV, who ruled from 175 to 164 B.C. (Verses 21-32).

– Interlude involving hundreds of years of the subsequent Jewish Diaspora which involved persistent persecution of the Jews—Verses 33-35, ending with “until the time of the end for the appointed time is still to come” (Verse 35)

– Emergence of a greater king, i.e. Antichrist (Verses 36-45, end of the chapter).

(1) Biblical Comparisons of Antiochus IV to the Antichrist

(A) Desecration of the Jewish Temples. This is one of the most well-known by students of the Bible and students of secular history (or those who are both, like yours truly); that Antiochus IV abolished (temporarily) Jewish rituals and desecrated the second Jewish Temple (Daniel 11:31-32). In like manner, the Antichrist will defile the third Jewish Temple during the Tribulation (Daniel 7:25 & 12:11; Matthew 24:15; II Thessalonians 2:4).

(B) Their Rise to & Exercise of Power: Regarding Antiochus IV: “At the end of their rule (the four divided kingdoms of Alexander’s empire), when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant…” (Daniel 8:23-25, parenthesis mine). And he will distribute wealth and plunder among his followers (Daniel 11:24).

Like Antiochus, Antichrist’s (Nero) rise to prominence was neither the first time (1st century) nor will the second time (Tribulation) be “by his own power.” Instead, it will be a direct result of and based exclusively on his perceived miracle of returning from the grave (in realty, the Abyss … Revelation 17:7-8; Revelation 13:3-4). So, too, will Antichrist lavish expensive gifts and honor those who submit to him (Daniel 11:38-39).

(C) Kings of the North: Both the “fierce king” (Antiochus IV) of Daniel 8 & 11 and Antichrist (Daniel 11) are labeled as the king of the north. This to contrast them to the king of the south, both of whom are enemies of Antiochus and (during the Tribulation) Antichrist, respectively. In history, Antiochus launched a final invasion against the king of the south (Ptolemaic king of Egypt) to put an end to the decade’s-long wars and broken treaties between predecessors of these two dynasties (Daniel 11:29).

(Ancient bust of Antiochus IV … His facial features even bear some resemblance to Nero)

So, too, will the Antichrist, “…storm out” against a southern alliance (king of the south) invading “various lands” conquering many countries, but not all and some only partially (Daniel 11:40). In other words, not a complete victory, in similar fashion to Antiochus’s incomplete conquest of the king of the south.

What happened with Antiochus IV will also take place when Antichrist (Nero) launches his final campaign against the southern alliance. Which is:

(D) Sudden Threat from Other Coalitions/Countries: “Then at the time of the end (last few months of the seven-year Tribulation), the king of the south will attack the king of the north…” (Daniel 11:40, parenthesis mine). In furious response, the king of the north (Antichrist) will invade the lands of the southern coalition, sweeping through them like a flood, entering the glorious land of Israel, conquering many countries, even Egypt (Verses 40-43).

But Antichrist is stopped cold in his rampage through the Middle East. We read: “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea (Megiddo in the Valley of Jezreel) and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him (Armageddon)” (Daniel 11:44-45, parenthesis mine).

In a remarkable precursor manner, we see Daniel’s intermediate future prophecy (as opposed to the end-times) regarding the first King of the North (Antiochus IV). He, too, invaded the southern kingdom (Ptolemy … Egypt). He, too, launched a campaign against Israel.

We read: “Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different. For warships from western coastlands will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant” (Daniel 11:29-30).

Then in verses 31-32, we read about the desecration of the 2nd Temple, including setting up the sacrilegious object, which took place in 167 B.C.

Thus, Antiochus IV invaded Israel and unleashed his fury on the Jews not long before his brutal exploits came to an end, but only after being threatened by other armies. Likewise, Antichrist (Nero) will invade Israel near the end of his allotted period of power and authority; also, infuriated after hearing news of enemies gathering against him (kings of the east … Revelation 16).

Summary of This Section

Although there are a few other similarities, the preceding four comparisons are the most notable between Daniel’s prophecy of the first king of the north—Antiochus IV, then the second (end times as Daniel states) king of the north—Antichrist.

As intimated in the previous Eye of Prophecy article, the primary purpose for some of the monumental plans of the Lord taking place in sets of twos is that of contrast, correlation, combination and/or culmination. Another word comes to mind: Preparation. Such as the First (Old) Covenant a preliminary pattern for the Second (New) Covenant.

Likewise, with both kings of the north in the historical and future context of preparing the Jews left behind at the Rapture. Which, unfortunately, will be most of them, as there are relatively few Messianic Jews compared to the total population of Jews in today’s world.

Just as Antiochus IV initially appealed to many Jews of that time who wanted to Hellenize Judaism and globalize the Jewish culture alongside and even into Gentile societies; so, will Antichrist (Nero) at the outset be welcomed by most Jews. First and foremost because (along with Gentiles the world over) of Nero’s stunning reappearance itself. Although many will not accept him as Messiah (because he’s not Jewish), they will eagerly agree to his 7-year treaty that will include permission to rebuild the Jewish Temple. See Eye of Prophecy article: Two State Solution & The Seven Year Treaty … Impossible? Posted 1-26-19.

And like Antiochus IV, the Antichrist will suddenly turn on the Jews, break the treaty, and begin his conquest of Israel and Jerusalem. This conquest will be slowed by two main factors: (1) Enemies of Antichrist’s coalition; (2) Massive natural disasters via the trumpet and bowl judgments directly from God, some of which affect only Antichrist and his realm.

This will all be possible because then, as now, most Jews will still not acknowledge Jesus as their true Messiah. Instead, they will yield to the false messiah (Antichrist) until they fully realize that they were wrong. Sadly, they will again not learn the lesson of the first of two men (Antiochus IV) who profaned the Temple and who attempted to eliminate Jewish identity and culture. But that took place under the Old Covenant; thus, the Lord raised up a group of men to deliver the Jews and restore (partially) Israel’s national sovereignty—preparing the way for the New Covenant.

In today’s world there are as many or more Jews who celebrate Hanukkah than even some of the Biblical mandated festivals, such as Yom Kippur. Reason: there are far more non-religious Jews than the observant (especially the Orthodox) among them. This festive holiday takes place in the Gregorian calendar month of November or December. It commemorates two miracles: (1) victory of the Maccabees over the vastly superior forces of Antiochus IV; (2) one-day supply of the anointed Menorah oil that lasted eight days.

(Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Hanukkah … A Festival Born of a Prophecy! Posted 12-31-16)

So, too, will Israel and Jews world-wide experience a final time of peril when the second man (in this unholy set of twos) bursts on the scene, having returned from the Abyss. Israel will not have learned the lesson that, like his prototype predecessor Antiochus IV, Nero (called anti-Christ because this time the event will occur under the current New Covenant), will also deceive the Jews (and many Gentiles) with promises of global peace and prosperity. Just as Antiochus IV attempted to persuade (through flattery … Daniel 11:21) the Jews of his time to accept the Greek culture as superior.

(2) Historical Comparisons of Antiochus IV Epiphanes & Nero Caesar

As indicated earlier in the two-part premise: (B) Therefore, we would expect and there should be historical evidence of similarities between Antiochus IV and Nero.

Most professionals like doctors, lawyers, craftsmen, businessmen and women—are specialists in their field, such as cardiology. So, too, are most historians … concentrating on specific periods of history, e.g. American Civil War or the European Renaissance. Others, like me, are general historians; however, I have focused years of research and study on 1st century (A.D.) church and secular history plus 20th & 21st century events. Although I’ve read much of that written about Antiochus IV, I’ve read virtually every historical and several contemporary writings about Nero.

I bring this up to offer an observation that fits with the above premise: I know of no other well-known ruler, other than Nero, whose reign contained several of the same aspects as that of Antiochus IV. Which further corroborates that Nero is (the) anti-Christ in the same vein that Antiochus was anti-God (against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and that Antiochus IV is directly linked to the Antichrist as clearly conveyed in the book of Daniel.

As we examined four Biblical comparisons between Antiochus and the (Tribulation) Antichrist, we’ll also look at four parallels between Antiochus and Nero, during Nero’s first revealing as Antichrist in the first century.

(A) Self-Declarations of Deity: Both tyrants considered themselves to be not just a god (which many rulers did, especially the Roman emperors), but God himself—for Antiochus IV it was Zeus. Which is why he audaciously added the appellation of Epiphanes to his royal title … in Greek means “God Manifest.”

Nero took it step further; he declared that he was both God and Savior (for all mankind). Both had coins minted with these divine epithets. On the flip side of this egotistical emphasis of their divinity, each of them wanted desperately to be popular, especially with the common people. Both mingled with the populace, appearing frequently in public places.

(B) Devotees to/of the Universal Greek Culture: Although Rome had already achieved the pinnacle of greatness during Nero’s tenure as Caesar, Greek culture still permeated every aspect of Roman society, indeed much of the civilized world. As English is considered the universal language of today’s world, so the Greek language was supreme during the times of Antiochus and Nero. It was the Greek-speaking Seleucid Antiochus’s attempt to Hellenize the Jews that led to his outburst of rage when the Jews resisted his loyalty to all that was Greek; leading to his ruthless attack on Israel that resulted in the death of 40,000 Jews and enslavement of 40,000 more.

So, too, was Nero enthusiastically enthralled with and ardently absorbed in many things Greek. In fact, it was his journey to Greece for well over a year during the last part of his reign (including writing and performing of Greek plays) that led to his downfall. The Roman Senate didn’t take kindly to their Emperor debasing himself on the stage. No other Roman Emperor or ruler of any other non-Greek nation possessed and expressed such passion for the Greek culture as did Nero.

(Bust of Nero)

(C) Both Are the Eighth King & Arose to Power Illegally: Antiochus IV was the 8th in a succession of twenty-six kings that ruled the Seleucid Dynasty … the Syrian segment of Alexander’s divided empire.

Although Nero was the fifth Roman Caesar, when revealing the mystery of the beast (tantamount to revealing the identity of the beast as a man who had already lived and died but would return from the Abyss) the angel also told John: “This calls for a mind with understanding. The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules (Rome). They also represent seven kings. Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief. The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer, is the eighth king. He is like (Greek word, “Ek”, which means one of or out of) the other seven…” (Revelation 17:9-11).

Nero was one of the five already fallen (dead) kings. But he would—when combined with all the other passages on the Antichrist, including the number of the beast in Revelation 13 which matches up through Hebrew gematria with Nero Caesar—then be the 8th king … upon his return from the Abyss.

Both Antiochus IV and Nero ascended the throne without being in the immediate line of succession. And not long afterward, each murdered a rival heir to the throne to make sure there would be no subsequent competition. Time and space do not permit more details.

(D) Length of Time of Antiochus’s Reign Corresponding with Nero’s: Antiochus IV ruled from 175 B.C. to his death in 164 B.C., a total of eleven years. Although Nero technically reigned fourteen years (A.D. 54 to A.D. 68), only eleven of those years was he exclusively in control of the throne.

The reason: his mother, Agrippina, who not only murdered her husband (Emperor Claudius) to make way for Nero to become Caesar, but also dominated the Roman political scene for the better part of three years, until Nero banished her from the royal court. Subsequently, he had his mother murdered in A.D. 59 … on the charge of treason! Hence, the evidence shows that both rulers exercised autonomous rule for eleven years.

Even more startling is the almost exact span of time that the rule of both tyrants incorporated a reign of terror. No less, than the same amount of time that God will allow Antichrist to exercise the peak of his power and authority during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:5).

That time: 3 ½ years!

During Nero’s first stint as Antichrist, for the last 3 ½ years (A.D. 64 through his death in June, A.D. 68). You may recall historically that Nero (falsely) blamed the Christians for the great fire in Rome of A.D. 64. Soon, thereafter, he began to persecute and kill Christians on a massive scale.

Then, he launched a campaign against Israel in A.D. 66 that also took about 3 ½ years for his generals and legions to complete. In and immediately surrounding Rome itself Nero’s venom was directed toward Christians; however, at that time most Christians were (Messianic) Jews … Jewish Christians.

And don’t forget that Christ Jesus’s ministry lasted for about 3 ½ years! God will allow the Antichrist (Nero) the same period to (a second time vainly and unsuccessfully) prove that he is both God and Messiah.

So, too, did Antiochus’s reign of terror against the Jews last for 3 ½ years. From the outset when he began to invade Israel and persecute the Jews in 168-167 B.C. to the time when the Maccabees defeated his Syrian-Greek armies in 164 B.C, followed by his death soon thereafter.

Summary of This Section

There are other parallels, such as the interaction of both Antiochus IV and Nero in their respective times with the nation of Parthia. However, these four comparisons sufficiently show that the two were as similar as anything or anyone could be—considering that they were separated by 200 years … from the death of Antiochus to the birth of Nero. Moreover, Antiochus died in the month of December, the same month in which Nero was born.

Thus, there is not only a Biblical prophetic parallel concerning Antiochus IV and the Antichrist, but also historical documentation to demonstrate a counterpart match between Nero and his prototype predecessor, Antiochus IV.

Things to Ponder

The entire Word of God is marvelous; including the breathtaking scope (breadth and depth) of Biblical prophecies. Prophecies coming to pass days, years, decades, centuries, and even millennia later. Some fulfilled with precise length of time and actual dates prophesied (See Eye of Prophecy articles: Extraordinary Biblical Prophecies w/Predicted Times of Fulfillment, Part I & II, posted 3-2 & 3-9-19).

Others that include specific numbers, particularly the number seven. Still others that combine two people or events in significant sets of twos. Even including two detestable despots who, when all was/is said and done, have served and will serve God’s powerful purpose and accomplish his providential plan for Israel and for believers in the true Messiah Jesus—Jew and Gentile alike.

Though all people immediately left behind at the Rapture will be unsaved, there will soon be millions who will know what’s happened and why. Among these will be 144,000 Messianic Jews who will be mighty witnesses (Revelation Chapters 7 & 14) for Messiah Jesus and lead millions to him, despite horrendous persecution and death.

Throughout the seven-year tribulation (particularly the first half) more and more people will choose Christ over Antichrist. Especially, considering their proportion of the left-behind world’s population, the Jews—both in and outside of Israel. However, tribulation saints, both Jew and Gentile, will still be greatly outnumbered by unbelievers.

At the very end of this horrific time of turmoil, Jesus Christ will return to set all things right. He will easily defeat the unholy trinity of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet, followed by a crushing blow to those nations and armies who would dare to invade Israel and who would defy the King of all kings.

All to prepare the earth for Messiah’s glorious Millennial Reign. The Kingdom of God on earth!

“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:12).

For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!” (Romans 11:15).

That day is coming soon.

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36).