Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different?

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Things That Suddenly Shake Us

There are some words and phrases in all languages that grab attention like no others. In English, one of them is sudden or suddenly, especially when combined with (suddenly) appeared.

A bolt of lightning that instantly splits a tree in front of us; a clap of thunder that deafeningly ruptures the air around us; a massive explosion or earthquake that rocks the ground beneath us; a malevolent monster that seizes an innocent victim in a scary movie; or a beautiful rainbow that radiantly appears from nowhere. We are both terrified and calmed by things that suddenly shake our senses.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the adjective sudden as: “happening or coming unexpectedly … marked by or manifesting abruptness or haste … made or brought about in a short time … prompt.”

In noun form, sudden is: “an unexpected occurrence: Emergency—all of a sudden: sooner than was expected; at once.” Suddenly is the more intense adverb form which almost always modifies an action verb, e.g. appeared.

In Bible Dictionaries and Lexicons such as the King James Dictionary, the Greek and Hebrew words translated sudden or suddenly mean, “in an unexpected manner, without preparation, instantly, swiftly, unforeseen, unaware, surprisingly, or a very short space of time.”

Some people like surprises. Others do not. Many tolerate the unexpected as long as it doesn’t jolt them out of their comfort zone too quickly or at all. Most people, like me, prefer not to be startled.

Surprises are okay, as long as they are not too surprising … like someone sneaking up behind me and saying, “Boo!” There are a few who love to be shocked; they like that rush of adrenaline that moves them out of the routine of every-day life.

Soon to come is a sudden earth-shaking, senses-shattering, life-changing, (eternal) destiny-altering event never before experienced in the annals of human history. Though foretold 2,000 years ago by Scripture, and foreseen by both believers and unbelievers (who are half way interested in such things) alike, it will still in “a very short space of time” stun everyone on planet Earth.

“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” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

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As detailed in the Eye of Prophecy article, How the Rapture? (Posted 8-24-13), this phenomenal sequence of events will take several minutes, beginning with the (Lord’s) shout heard around the world, and culminating with the final blast of several trumpets.

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the actual transformation, not the preliminary events described in I Thessalonians 4) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown … 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).

However, that’s just the beginning of things that will be so very sudden. Soon, if not immediately, after the Rapture, another event will suddenly arrest the attention, seize the senses, and attract the allegiance of billions left behind when Messiah Jesus takes believers from this earth.

Wrote John in Revelation: “…There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it” (Revelation 17:3).

Later, the angel explained what John had just witnessed:

“Why are you so amazed? … 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 (abruptly, 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 17:7-8, parenthesis mine)

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A Dramatic Disclosure

The remarkable discernment given to me by the Lord in November, 2008 began with the above passage in Revelation 17, which led to my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved? 666, published in February, 2011. And, yes, it was a sudden illumination from this passage (indeed the entire book of Revelation), which I had read numerous times without making the compelling correlation that: The Antichrist (beast) had already lived and died BEFORE John was given a vision of the beast.

This stunningly sudden reappearance of Antichrist from the Abyss will mesmerize virtually the entire world after the Rapture to the point of worship for one reason: His return from the grave (actually the Abyss).

“I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal would was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle (return from the dead after two thousand years) and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshipped the dragon (Satan) for giving the beast such power, and they also worshipped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13:3-4, parenthesis mine).

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to get a copy of Out of the Abyss (Amazon or Barnes and Noble or WestBow Press), which contains definitive documentation of all Bible passages on the Antichrist coupled with 1st century history to support what I believe is unmistakable evidence: The Roman Emperor Nero is the Antichrist of I John 3; the little horn/king of Daniel 7; the ruler whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple as found in Daniel 9; the king of the north in Daniel 11; the evil shepherd of Zachariah 11; the man of lawlessness in II Thessalonians 2; and the beast/king of Revelation 13 and 17.

In the category of Antichrist, several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written to further elaborate on this crucial last day’s clarification (correction if you will) concerning the origin of Antichrist, including his very identity … which was meant to be known! Otherwise, why would the angel through John challenge believers to ascertain the identity of the beast, not once but twice, as clearly presented in Revelation 13:18 and 17:9?

The Bible paints a composite picture of Antichrist that matches the historical Nero—what he was and did during his ascent to and time as Caesar—and also his return to complete what he started, but on a truly global scale. In today’s article, we will concentrate on just one feature of the painting to demonstrate that all the other Bible passages prove Nero is the Antichrist, by disproving that the Antichrist will be a modern-day man.

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(Bust of Nero)

Our focus: His SUDDEN reappearance from banishment to the Abyss 2,000 years ago, as opposed to the mainstream prophetic view that the Antichrist will be a modern-day man; indeed, one who many believe is now among us. Later in today’s article, we’ll see that this sudden return also explains why he is so “different” than the ten kings (national leaders) who will give him their kingdoms (nations) to rule and reign over.

“Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. 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” (Daniel 7: 24-25, italics for emphasis).

For sheer interest and intrigue, let’s first look at some memorial events in Scripture that happened, suddenly! In so doing, I believe we’ll have a significantly better grasp of the “sudden appearance” of Antichrist to show that he is not a modern-day man.

The New Living Translation (which I quote from in my articles, unless noted otherwise, such as the New American Standard Bible) employs the adjective/noun sudden or the often used adverb suddenly … no less than 122 times in the Old and New Testaments. Although this number exceeds other translations, the NLT translators (scholars) have simply chosen the word suddenly more than other English synonyms that could be used to accurately translate the Hebrew and Greek words that mean the same thing. It’s apparently a matter of preference; but also, I believe, an enhanced emphasis to effectively express the Hebrew and Greek text.

There are several Hebrew and Greek words that convey (are synonyms of) the word or concept of sudden, unexpected, unforeseen, abrupt, surprisingly, swiftly (without warning), etc.

Examples/Events in Scripture

As contained in Scripture and as human experience bears testimony, sudden life-changing events can be horrendously horrifying or heartwarmingly happy or sometimes both.

There are dozens of Bible passages that use the term, sudden or suddenly. We’ll examine only eight of these significant episodes, three of which are joyful, four of which are terrifying, and one that is both good and bad. I’m guessing that most of you will immediately recognize or at least be familiar with each spectacular occurrence. Except, perhaps the last passage which will return our attention to how the ominous return of Antichrist takes place and why he (Nero) is so different than the ten kings of the ten kingdoms that will constitute his formidable coalition during the Tribulation.

Each passage contains the word suddenly (which will be italicized) and each passage will reflect one of the meanings of sudden or suddenly that best applies to the event, as noted by the captioned heading of that passage. Certainly, the synonyms could be interchangeable; in fact, you may prefer to match them up differently than I have. No problem with that, as the main purpose is to emphasize how the sudden appearance of someone or something in these passages is strikingly similar and perfectly parallel to the last passage examined … that of the Antichrist’s appearance.

Beginning with one of the joyful events, we will then alternate between the bad (for those involved) and the good incidents, followed by one that is both negative and positive; then conclude with the fourth portentous (bad) event that is the main subject of today’s article.

*Note: In the passages where suddenly modifies the verb appeared or something similar (like came), appeared will also be italicized.

Unforeseen

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them … the angel reassured them, ‘Don’t be afraid … I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:8-11).

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This is undoubtedly the most “suddenly” recognized passage/event of all time, known by millions upon millions of believers and unbelievers alike down through the ages. Although prophesied long before he came, Messiah Jesus’ post-birth was first announced by a completely unforeseen appearance of angels to, of all people, lowly shepherds … not to kings or nobles.

Instantly

“So Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. As Pharaoh and all of his officials watched, Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood! The fish in the river died, and the water became so foul that the Egyptians couldn’t drink it. There was blood everywhere throughout the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:20-21).

When Aaron struck the Nile, it instantly turned to blood. This was the first of ten mighty miracles (plagues) that God inflicted on Egypt.

Unexpectantly

“As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:2-3).

Obviously, Peter, James, and John did not realize what was about to happen to their Lord when he was transfigured into the splendor that he possessed before entering the world as a man—the same glorious essence he would bear upon his return to heaven in his Resurrected body. However, this was the first time that Jesus had taken only these three disciples with him, and I’m sure they anticipated something different or unique would happen. But they would never have expected Moses and Elijah to appear in bodily form.

*See Eye of Prophecy articles, The Two Witnesses, I, II, & III (posted 6-7, 6-14, & 6-21-14) that explain why and how these two mighty prophets appeared to Jesus in their earthly bodies and will do so again during the Tribulation before Christ returns.

Swiftly

“And Moses said, ‘This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things that I have done—for I have not done them on my own. If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the Lord.’

“He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers … So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel” (Numbers 16:28-33).

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Although the majority of the Israelites often doubted or distrusted the Lord to take care of them in the post-Exodus journey through the wilderness, this was one instance in which a few of them actually rebelled against Moses, thereby showing contempt for the Lord. As a result, Moses told them (prophesied) what was about to happen to prove that the Lord had appointed Moses as his go-between leader of the people. As soon as Moses declared what the Lord would do, the judgment swiftly took place when the ground suddenly split open devouring the rebels.

Unaware/Unprepared

“That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them” (Luke 24:13-15).

The text of the entire passage is clear: the two men were deeply saddened by Yeshua’s death, and also perplexed over the incredible news they had heard—Jesus might have risen from the grave. While they were trying to process “everything that had happened,” Jesus suddenly came (appeared) out of nowhere … like he would later appear to his disciples in the closed, locked room. They were totally unaware that it was Jesus who was walking and talking with them!

The account continues: “By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, ‘Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.’ So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!” (Luke 24:28-31).

Wow! They were utterly unaware that the man was Jesus until he had been with them for several hours. They were equally unprepared and startled that he would disappear in front of their eyes as quickly as he had appeared with them on the road. To disappear (vanish) is the same as suddenly appearing.

Surprise (Shockingly So)

“Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them” (Daniel 5:1).

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

As indicated, for these Bible passages in which something suddenly happens, I’ve chosen what I think is the most appropriate synonym for each incident. The surprise experienced by King Belshazzar and his “honored” guests gives an expanded meaning to the word. It was more like shock. In fact, the word surprise is derived from the words surpris and suprendre, which mean: “an attack made without warning; to capture by unexpected attack; to strike with wonder or amazement” (Webster’s Dictionary).

We all know what a “surprise attack” is. And many are familiar with the term “sudden death,” whether it’s someone actually dying or a sporting event.

This is such a well-known account in Scripture that, to this very day, nearly everyone has heard or used the phrase, “The writing on the wall.” The sudden image of a hand writing on the king’s wall terrified him and his guests. It gives a whole new meaning to being “caught off guard.” They were totally surprised (shocked) at not only the writing on the wall but also the immediate fulfillment of its prophecy that Belshazzar would be killed, and Babylon would be destroyed by the Persians … that very night.

The next passage reflects a combination of terror and joy. It is one that contains bad news and good news.

Brought About In A Short Space of Time (Sooner Than Expected), Then Immediately Stopped

“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’

“Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed, ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey him!’” (Matthew 8:23-27).

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It was bad news for the disciples who, despite several miracles that Jesus had already performed, had little or no faith in the very fact that Jesus was with them. Though they were terrified, they soon realized more than ever before who Jesus was and what incomparable power and authority he possessed.

Bad news: The storms of life all too frequently and suddenly appear and strike heavy blows.

Good news: So what? If you know Messiah Jesus as personal Savior, he is with you. He will either get you through the storm or command it to stop. Some of our Lord’s last words on earth were, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

(One other “suddenly appeared” passage of note is II Kings 2, in which the prophet Elijah is taken to heaven by a chariot of fire that suddenly … appeared).

The Sudden Appearance of the Little Horn of Daniel (Antichrist … Nero)

Now that we have a handle on the idea of sudden or suddenly in the context of Biblical history, let’s look at another prophecy that, when correlated and compared with other Scriptural evidence, will demonstrate that Nero is the Antichrist beast who will return to the amazement of those left behind at the Rapture. It is the optimum passage to validate that it is not a modern-day man who will take on the role of Antichrist.

Read with me Daniel’s dramatic description of the man who would appear directly from the fourth world empire, Rome. We know this to be true because John in Revelation later wrote that this same man had already lived and died, as one of the five kings—Roman Emperors—who had fallen … died before John saw the Antichrist beast. (Revelation 17:10 … see Out of the Abyss for a detailed analysis).

(*Note: The Late Great Roman Empire is long gone. I have said this before: There will not be a “Revived Roman Empire” as so many have postulated. Just look at what’s happening in Europe. The European Union is unraveling at the seams. There is a rising populism and nationalistic movement (as opposed to international globalism) across the world. But as I stated in Out of the Abyss and prior Eye of Prophecy articles, there will be a Revived Roman Emperor (Nero). He will take full advantage of the global allegiance given to him as a result of his “supernatural” return from the grave, by consolidating ten powerful nations to do his bidding. See Eye of Prophecy article, “One Ring to Rule Them All…” published 11-21-15.)

“As I was looking at the horns (the ten horns who are the ten kings that will give their kingdoms to Antichrist during the Great Tribulation), suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly” (Daniel 7:8, parenthesis mine).

Once again, I’ve highlighted appeared. This is to stress that Nero’s introduction to our post-modern world soon after the Rapture will be exactly what this verse says it will be … a very sudden appearance. Actually, a reappearance, which Revelation 17:8 denotes.

This is of vital significance to comprehend. In fact, the implication is staggering once you get a handle on it. Here’s why.

Restating an observation: It’s only natural to assume that the Antichrist will be a man born in the last days who will rise to global power before and especially after the Rapture takes place. That is, under normal circumstances, the obvious way that all past tyrants achieved their pinnacle of power … in varying degrees, a gradual ascension to a position of wide-spread authority.

And, I get that.

With, however, a reminder: Beginning with the stupendous world-shaking event of the Rapture and continuing with miracle after miracle during the Great Tribulation, the last seven years of the earth as we know it will consist of ongoing supernatural happenings.

Notwithstanding the apocalyptic replacement of the natural with the supernatural during the last days, we also have a plethora of exceptional miracles that God and his Son have performed throughout the ages. Thus, why would it be such an incredible conclusion that Nero was revived soon after Christ struck him down (see II Thessalonians 2:8); then banished to the Abyss in his restored earthly body with the same wounds that killed him (see Zechariah 11 & Revelation 13); then given permission to return to this earth by rising from the Abyss (Revelation 17:8) which is beneath a literal sea—most probably the Mediterranean (Revelation 13:1).

To wit: If God could suddenly take Elijah to heaven (without dying) in a chariot of fire; if the Lord could instantly, without warning, snatch Enoch from this earth to spare him the Great Flood; if he could surprisingly split the Red Sea over a short space of time allowing his people to cross on dry land then swiftly return the waters to drown their pursuers; if God could unexpectantly provide food from heaven (manna), then make this food appear (new) every morning to feed his people for forty years in the wilderness … well you get the picture?

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If the Lord can do all these things, not to mention create the entire universe and raise people from the dead; then is anything too hard for the Lord, or too inconceivable to consider, or too natural for God to set aside the laws of nature, as he has done time and time again. Thus, the sequence of events involving Nero, as described above, would be extraordinarily easy for God to do.

How he does what he does is beyond out finite comprehension. For that matter, so is gravity. We know it exists, but have no clue as to “how” it really works.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Go ahead, if you like: Think of something that’s too hard for God. But remember: whatever he does, whenever he speaks and acts, he does so with (his) perfect timing … when he’s ready and the time is right to accomplish his majestic plan for the human race.

Modern-Day Antichrist?

The prevailing view (which is sensible and historically the way of such things) is that the Antichrist will be or currently is in a position of prominence somewhere in the world when the Rapture will take place (any day now). A Prime Minister or President? From the United Nations or European Union? The United States?

That is not, however, the picture prophetically painted by the prophet Daniel. The sudden appearance (abrupt rise to prominence and power) of the little horn (Antichrist) is anything but gradual.

Here is an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss, to reinforce what Daniel predicted, and to best illustrate the means by which the Antichrist will dramatically step onto the global stage to the amazement of an unsuspecting, unprepared, unaware, surprisingly shocked left-behind population. In italics:

We also have information in Daniel that is absolutely stunning. It begins with the phrase, “suddenly … appeared” (Daniel 7:8). Did you catch that? Of course you did. I repeat for emphasis: suddenly appeared. In the NAS, we read: “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them…” Though “came up” is less demonstrative that “suddenly appeared” as found in the New Living Translation, the NAS verse begins Daniel’s observation with the word “behold.” The meaning is unmistakable: The little horn (Antichrist) sprang up abruptly. An equivalent modern-day phrase would be, “He came out of nowhere.”

The word suddenly in Daniel 7 dramatically modifies, enhances, and further clarifies the appearing or reappearing of Antichrist as found in the New Testament. And the impact of this is crucial in realizing that the beast suddenly appears from the Abyss, as opposed to a modern-day man already in an influential political or administrative or even a military position. The contemporary view of the Antichrist is that, after the Rapture takes place, he will rise in prominence by asserting his positional influence, be that in or from the United Nations, European Union, or some other notable location.

Do you know of any past tyrant, dictator, or prestigious leader that tersely and unexpectantly arrived on the scene? All of the good and bad historical leaders were fairly well known by the time they came to ultimate power. That’s why the Antichrist depicted in Scripture does not fit the contemporary view. A modern-day leader would not abruptly appear on the scene. He would at least be known and recognized at some mid-level or already high-level political, social, or military position.

But the Antichrist is different. He arrives on the scene suddenly and surprisingly.

In fact, the New American Standard Bible states that this other king arises “after” the ten kings. Not before, not at the same time, but after. According to the view of those who hold to a modern-day Antichrist, he will be a chronological contemporary (born and raised in the same generation) of the ten kings with a simultaneous or near parallel ascent with those kings. This view is not supported by the language in Daniel (Out of the Abyss, pages 183-184).

There’s Different, and Then There’s Different!

In the verse quoted earlier in today’s article from that same passage in Daniel, we read: “…Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them” (Daniel 7:24, italics for emphasis).

Just how different is he? Well, we can start with the obvious: He is Nero Caesar, the ancient Roman Emperor who ruled the Roman Empire for fourteen years and persecuted Christians like no one before or after him. He will resume this onslaught against the Tribulation saints and also the Jews.

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(Christians Used as Burning Torches to Light Nero’s Palace Garden)

Once again, please allow me to defer to an excerpt from Out of the Abyss.

The expression different is both intriguing and forceful. Why or how is the Antichrist different than the ten kings who yield their allegiance? Especially as utilized in the context, the word itself is too strong to suggest an intrinsic variation, such as being a more polished, captivating, charismatic, or powerful leader…

Different denotes different, in all that word means and implies. I think this is important enough to refer to Webster’s Dictionary. Different is: “partly or totally unlike in nature, form, or quality.” It is: “dissimilar (could hardly be more).” It is: not the same as.” In addition to dissimilar, other synonyms are: “distinct, unusual, special, diverse, divergent, and disparate.” It is: ‘unlike in kind or character.” The synonym diverse “implies marked contrast…”

The one thing that makes Antichrist (Nero) different from the other kings is that he is a living miracle, and they are not.

He has risen from the underworld, and they have not. The ten kings have a birth certificate, but the Antichrist does not. Nor will anyone, including crime scene forensic investigators be able to prove that he had died a short time before he arose, as there will be no autopsy, or death certificate; nor any fingerprint records, or dental records, nor any evidence of a crime scene, nor a coroner’s report, not a coffin or a grave.

We must remember the shocking fact announced by the angelic messenger: Antichrist died before John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his initial sudden appearance to a post-Rapture world will be from the dead, which makes him dramatically different than the ten kings. There’s no way the beast can or will be born during the generation that experiences the Day of the Lord. (Pages 185-186).

Things to Ponder

Do you see the amazing connection between the Biblical examples provided in today’s article (seven of several dozen) and the Antichrist passage in Daniel that employs the term and concept of suddenly, especially with regard to a sudden appearance? This correlation is just one of many to support what I firmly believe is a correct re-fit of the prophetic puzzle regarding Antichrist … who he really is and how he will reappear from the Abyss.

Knowing the identity of the Antichrist will reduce and even eliminate the amazement of so many both now and after the Rapture, that will cause them to believe the lie that this despicable tyrant (Nero) is Messiah. Instead, some will realize that the Bible had predicted this long ago.

There is only one who has truly risen from the dead; the true Messiah, the One who is the only way, truth, and life.

“But very early on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes …

“Then the men asked,

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Messiah Jesus has risen, indeed!

Lazarus and Lazarus & The Sign of Jonah

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How Many Signs Does It Take?

“One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, ‘Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.’

“But Jesus replied, ‘Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights’” (Matthew 12:38-40).

His very birth changed the course of history and the measurement of time … from B.C. to A.D.

Jesus turned water into wine. He made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk. He healed the deformed in an instant, and fed thousands of hungry people with a few loaves and fish. He cast out demons from many who were possessed, and even raised the dead. The religious leaders had personally witnessed or had first-hand accounts of these and many other of his miracles. Time and time again, he did the impossible. The evidence of Jesus’ incomparable divine power was overwhelming. Still, right then and there, they demanded that Jesus show them a miraculous sign to prove his authority.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had eyes to see but were blinded by their preconceived view that Messiah couldn’t be anyone other than whom they decided he would be and should be. They had ears to hear but were deafened by their shouts of programmed tirades against a man who spoke words of light and life to the people. A man who dared claim that he was the Son of God; that he came to fulfill the Law of Moses with a New Way to God through a New Covenant with God.

What kind of miraculous sign did they want? Would another sign convince all of them or just one or two of them? Would each have preferred a miracle of his choice? Would one more sign be enough?

What if Jesus had obliged them by calling down fire from heaven as Elijah twice had done? (With one of the two incidents resulting in the death of 100 soldiers who had come to arrest Elijah. See II Kings Chapter 1, and the other on Mount Carmel). Only this time the fire would have consumed all but one of the Pharisees? Would the survivor have believed in Jesus’s authority then?! If the one left behind had returned to his fellow Pharisees and told them what had happened, would they believe him? Or would they demand another miraculous sign just for themselves?

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Jesus knew all too well the rock-hard condition of their hearts. That was the real problem, not what they could or couldn’t see or hear. For it didn’t matter how many or how stupendous Jesus’s miracles were; their “evil, adulterous” hearts wouldn’t allow their eyes to see or ears to hear the truth that Jesus was their Messiah—the Son of God, the Son of David, the Son of Man.

Today’s Superficial Supernatural

What about planet Earth in the 21st century? Have we been desensitized to the miraculous, the Divine, by the countless books and movies that incessantly depict the supernatural as natural? That any number of fantasy super villains and super heroes can perform paranormal wonders whenever and however they choose, including return from the dead. Thereby, marginalizing actual (real-life) miracles to a ho-hum happening that barely merits a turn of our head, let alone a change of our heart.

So many in today’s world have dismissed out-of-hand the authenticity of the Bible as the very Word of the true and living God; despite the stunning evidence of countless miracles and fulfilled prophecies. If Scripture is not enough, then how many other supernatural signs would it take for people to believe in the God of the Bible? What more miraculous proof would they require before they believed and received Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior?

How about you? Would you believe if just one of the ten plagues struck your neighborhood as God did with the Egyptians in Moses’ time? Or would it take all ten miracles to convince you … as it did with Pharaoh? Remember: The final miracle was the death of every firstborn son in Egypt.

If horrible malignant sores broke out suddenly on people the world over; if all the oceans, rivers, and lakes turned to blood and every salt and fresh water creature died; if a massive solar flare from the sun scorched people on the earth with one mighty blast; if the earth was plunged into the darkness of a subterranean cave; if a cataclysmic earthquake toppled mighty cities, flattened majestic mountains, and submerged entire islands, would you change your mind about Christ—who he is, what he has done for us, and what he will do? (See Revelation Chapter 16 … these are just five of twenty-one judgments during the Great Tribulation).

Or would you do what millions upon millions of people, determined to do their own thing and go their own way apart from their only hope of salvation, will do:

“…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 16:11). *Note: They didn’t just blame God for anything and everything, as millions have unjustifiably done through the ages; they actually cursed him.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of those left behind at the Rapture will fully comprehend that it is God who is delivering these judgments. Thus, it is not now nor will be then a matter of seeing miraculous signs that would/should cause them to believe. It is not a matter of the mind or eyes or ears; rather, it is a matter of the heart … the will. A heart that refuses to accept the obvious. That God will judge the world ultimately for one thing and one thing only: rejection of so great a salvation purchased by the highest price ever paid—the sacrificial substitutionary death of his Son, Jesus Christ. Just as Israel was disciplined for rejecting him as Messiah.

As he approached Jerusalem for the last time before the people crucified him, Jesus began to weep and uttered these heartbreaking words:

“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long you enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19:42-44, italics for emphasis).

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Less than 40 years later, the Romans pillaged Jerusalem, demolished the Temple, slaughtered six hundred thousand Jews, and exiled the survivors to the four corners of the earth.

No, Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees then and there nor did he come the first time to this earth to judge. In another (one of many) scene in which the Jewish religious leaders confronted him, Jesus said:

“But I have a greater witness that John (the Baptist)—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me … and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you” (John 5:36,38).

Then Jesus spoke these extraordinary words: “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47).

Nor would he entertain them with a miraculous sign, except one—a miracle that he would do at the appointed time, on his terms; to accomplish his Father’s providential plan to save the human race. With no preconditions, no strings attached. With nothing else required of people except as Jesus said, “to believe me—the one he sent to you.”

So Yeshua gave them the sign of Jonah: his death, burial, and resurrection that had not yet taken place. Surely they would believe him then. What more evidence could anyone want or expect than someone returning from the dead?

Shouldn’t that be enough proof for you, for me, for the whole world?

Whether the answer is yes or no to this question, depends entirely on where our heart is when we hear the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament; personified and carried out by Messiah Jesus as recorded in the Gospels; encapsulated in the tenets of the Christian faith through the New Testament epistles of Paul, Peter, James, and John.

Let’s see why, by looking at the only story that Jesus told that was not a parable, which is a story told to illustrate a moral and spiritual truth. A true story in which Jesus even named one of the two men. One in which Abraham, Moses, and the prophets also are mentioned. And a narrative that provides some fascinating features of life after death, not found anywhere else in Scripture.

Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31)

The Narrative (Passage): “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury” (Verse 19).

Commentary: Unfortunately it is extremely difficult for the wealthy or powerful of the world to want anything to do with God … to see their need for personal redemption God’s way in order to live forever in heaven. Their version of heaven is fame and fortune while alive on earth.

Said Jesus: “In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” But Jesus then said concerning salvation: “What is impossible for people is possible with God” (Luke 18:25, 27).

The Lord used the more extreme example of the super-rich for ultimate contrast in this true story. However, even the less fortunate can love the pleasures of this world so much that they would forfeit their own souls in order to passionately pursue and personally possess whatever they think can satisfy them the most.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it” (Luke 17:33, Words of Jesus).

Also, the Pharisees held the misguided opinion that wealth was always a sign of God’s favor or blessings. Thus, I’m sure that the religious leaders were startled, even dumbfounded, by this reversal of roles which weighed God’s divine long-term perspective of eternal values against the world’s short-term measure of success.

The Narrative: “At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores” (Verses 20-21).

Commentary: Jesus was not at all reluctant to use graphic language to illustrate and reinforce what he was saying. For example, he called the elite religious leaders: hypocrites, brood of vipers, blind leading the blind, whitewashed tombs (clean on the outside, defiled on the inside), and even sons of the devil. Here, in Godly empathy, he vividly described the plight of a poor, diseased man whose only hope for some measure of relief from pain and hunger on this earth was the generosity of a man who had more than enough for himself … the rich man.

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The Narrative: “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side” (Verses 22-23).

Commentary: Most translations use the term, “Abraham’s bosom,” but it’s clear that the poor man went to be with Abraham. This story (passage) tells us where the souls of those who died before Jesus arose from the dead were transported (by angels). In the Old Testament, the place of the dead is called in the Hebrew, Sheol. In the New Testament Greek: Hades; which is commonly translated, Hell. All those who died before Jesus initiated the New Covenant by shedding his blood on the cross (dying) and sealing that Covenant with his magnificent resurrection, were taken to Abraham who was the Father or predecessor of all whose faith in the Lord was “counted as righteous(ness)” (Genesis 15:6).

Under the New Covenant, one’s faith must be more than just in God the Father. It now must be in God’s Son, Yeshua, whom God anointed as the Messiah (the Chosen One) to make people right with him.

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:5-6).

Surprisingly and also ironically, the place of the dead (for the unrighteous) was close enough for those sent there to see Abraham and all who had been declared righteous by the Lord. The rich man was so close, but oh so far. And he was in great torment.

The Narrative: “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there’” (Verses 24-26).

Commentary: Hades, which at the final judgment becomes part of the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20), is not where you want to be, certainly not forever. Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven, because he doesn’t want anyone to go there. “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise (the promise of his return), as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (II Peter 3:9, parenthesis mine).

As Scripture repeatedly tells us: God is Love, but God is also Holy. He cannot tolerate sin in his presence. That is something that unbelievers cannot or will not grasp. However, all those whose sin has not been forgiven and who have not been made right with God will get their wish; that God would leave them alone to do their own thing and go their own way. Sadly, this is what the majority of people down through the ages to this very day have done. Through indifference, neglect, or outright rejection they have spurned the message of the Gospel.

“…And that message is the very message about faith that we preach” (Romans 10:8).

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The second major difference between the rich man (in torment) and Lazarus (in comfort) was a great chasm, an impassable gulf that separated the righteous from the unrighteous, the saved from the unsaved, believers from the unbelievers. Never the two shall meet.

Return from the Dead! They’ll Believe Then, Won’t They?

The Narrative: “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment” (Verses 27-28).

Commentary: Here we learn more about the devastating results when we leave this earth without Messiah Jesus as our Savior. Once we die, there is no hope, no second chance for salvation. It’s crystal clear the rich man knew that, as he had no argument or made no plea to return to earth or even change his mind while in Hades. It was simply too late. He found himself in an afterlife, a reality that he had dismissed and ignored during his lifetime. His reward was whatever gratification his riches (or anything else in life) brought him while on earth. And his temporary reward was long gone along with all the fleeting pleasures he had pursued.

The Narrative: “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote’” (Verse 29).

Commentary: Through a combination of his agony and remorse for snubbing God’s gift of redemption while on earth, the rich man pleaded with Abraham for Lazarus to return on his behalf and warn his brothers (that they must repent … change their mind about faith in God and his Messiah). To that all too belated request, Abraham gives the solemn reply that was just cited, in the same vein of what Jesus said to the Pharisees in the passage quoted earlier in today’s article.

Moses wrote about the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God made it clear to Moses that it was their faith by which God credited his righteousness to them. Through the prophets—especially Isaiah and Jeremiah—God declared that a New Covenant (of Grace) would complete and perfect the Old Covenant that the people could not and would not keep. This would be an unconditional covenant, a gift from God that required only one thing: Agreeing with God by personally believing in and trusting the finished work of Messiah … our sin debt paid in full as so wonderfully affirmed by the miracle of Messiah’s empty tomb.

It was Moses who first foretold of the One through whom God would be revealed in a person, a prophet superior to Moses, the Child of Promise greater than Abraham’s promised son Isaac. (See Eye of Prophecy articles, The Child of Promise Part I & Part II, published 8-23 & 8-30-14).

“Moses continued, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Then God speaks in the first person about his prophet: “…I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

Do you remember who was with Jesus when he was transfigured on the mountain and the glory of his divine essence was brilliantly displayed to the astonishment of three of his disciples? Read with me the amazing account:

“About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:28-31).

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While still on the mountain, the disciples heard God’s voice (I’m sure his voice thundered as it did from Mt. Sinai when God spoke to Moses and the Israelites … see Exodus 20). God said:

“…This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him” (Luke 9:35).

Yes, the same Moses through whom God gave the Covenant of the Law. The same Elijah who represented the mighty prophets of the Old Testament proclaiming God’s truth about Israel’s glorious past, troubled present, and ominous but triumphant future, and especially about the coming Messiah. I’m convinced that these same prophets will be the two powerful witnesses during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11).

(See Eye of Prophecy articles, The Two Witnesses, Part I, II, & III, posted 6-7, 6-14, & 6-21-14).

And what did God say about his Son? Precisely what he said to Moses and the Israelites about the Prophet of all prophets to come as we just read in Deuteronomy: “Listen to him.”

But Jesus told the Pharisees that if they wouldn’t listen to Moses and all the prophets who spoke of the coming Messiah, then neither would they listen to him.

Which is what Abraham told the rich man: “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote’” (Luke 16:29).

Let’s pick it up again in that passage as part of today’s subject and emphasis concerning what it takes to acknowledge that the God of the Bible is God. And that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah, the very Son of God.

Resuming the Narrative: “The rich man replied. ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’” (Luke 16:30).

Commentary: Surely, someone (Jesus) who had claimed that he existed before Abraham was even born (John 8), and proved that he was God by raising people from the dead, would be acknowledged as the Son of God. Certainly, a man who said that Moses and the prophets wrote about him, and a short time later would, himself, rise from the dead on his own (without any prophet’s intercession or intervention) to prove that he was who he said he was, would be believed by all the people … particularly the religious among them.

Or would they?

(Also, please see Eye of Prophecy article: There’s Resurrection; And There’s Resurrection! Posted 3-19-16).

The passage about the rich man and Lazarus concludes with:

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:31).

Another Man Named Lazarus

Many know the story of Jesus raising Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead. However, before Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of his tomb where Lazarus had been buried for four days, he told Martha (and the whole world), “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this Martha?” (John 11:25-26).

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The sacred majestic name of God is, “I AM.” Jesus referred to himself by that very name (Yahweh).

That says it all. It says that the Triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—is from everlasting to everlasting. It says that he predated and created the universe and all living things; he is separate from and supreme over his creation. It says that he: Was; Is; and Is To Come. It says that he is the First and the Last. He always has been and always will be.

Jesus didn’t just show people the right (only) way to God. He didn’t just preach the truth about a Holy and loving God and sinful man and salvation. He didn’t merely explain through parables and demonstrate through miracles what our life on this earth is all about and what must be done to inherit the Kingdom of God. Oh, he did all of these things and much more.

Above all, Jesus unequivocally declared (backed up by the greatest proof of all … his resurrection):

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

What Jesus is saying could be expressed like this:

“I AM.”

(The) Way.

Truth.

Life.

Or, like this: Jesus IS (the) Way. Jesus IS Truth. Jesus IS Life.

Jesus arose from the dead to validate God’s New Covenant with Jew and Gentile alike. Salvation is a free gift from God … by grace through faith in Messiah’s atoning sacrifice for our sins.

What more is needed before someone will believe and receive this gift? Is the resurrection of Christ Jesus not enough? If not, what is? What will it take to convince you and me and her and him, and them? The answer is transparently obvious: There is no greater proof than the resurrection. Thus, it’s not a matter of the evidence.

Instead, it is a matter of the heart. A question of preference. An issue of our way or God’s way. Which way have you chosen? To whom or what will you entrust your eternal destiny? A man-made religion? A philosophy? A government? A charismatic leader? Yourself?

As a result of Jesus spectacular raising of Lazarus from the grave, “Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen” (John 11:45).

But many did not, including the religious leaders who soon heard of what Jesus had done for Lazarus and his family. “So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death” (John 11:53).

Just a few days later, not only the religious leaders but many others shouted in Pilate’s courtyard, “Crucify him. Crucify him.”

And they did.

For sure, thousands did believe in Jesus while he was on this earth, and millions down through the ages. Praise God for that! But, tragically, many more have not believed including billions on this planet today, despite the greatest miracle of all—resurrection from the dead.

As Jesus said to those who doubted him, many of whom wanted to kill him because he claimed to be the Messiah:

“…why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?’ After all, the Father has set me apart and sent me into the world. Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” (John 10:36-38).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundational cornerstone of God’s remarkable redemption plan for the human race. Jesus would have been proven a fool, an imposter or worse, a maniac, for making statement after statement that he was sent by his Father from heaven to save a lost world; if, he hadn’t risen from the dead, just as he said he would.

“But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day’” (Luke 24:1-7).

Then later in a captivating account of Jesus with two men on the road to Emmaus, after he arose from the dead:

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?’ Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

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I’ve sometimes thought: If there was one time and place that I could have been with the Lord Jesus when he was on this earth, it would have been to walk closely behind him and the two men on their seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus!

I would listen to him! Would you? Have you?

For two reasons: (1) He’s no longer dead. He has risen! He has risen, indeed! (2) He explained all that Moses and the prophets wrote about him. It was undoubtedly the best Sunday school lesson of all time! Yes, it was the same day of his resurrection, Sunday, when Jesus went to Emmaus (Luke 24:13).

Things to Ponder

So you see, it’s a double-edged sword that so many people have fallen on when they say, No, to Jesus and so great a salvation that he purchased with his life’s blood.

By the authority of Scripture, I can say with a heavy heart: There are countless many in Hades this very moment who wished they had accepted the truth of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, as eternal proof that he can and does save all who believe and receive him as personal Savior.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10, words of Jesus).

On one side of the sword they have not come to terms with the truth of the Scriptures, given directly by God through his prophets and apostles, backed up by powerful (fulfilled) prophecies and mighty miracles. On the other edge of the sword, they have denied the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ outright, or have disregarded its personal meaning for them … for all people.

Why? Why do so many dismiss the historical evidence that Jesus arose from the dead. That he is the Messiah, alive today at the right hand of God the Father … awaiting the appointed time to return to the earth as King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

The answer is sadly all too clear: They don’t want to believe.

It’s, “don’t bother me with the facts, because my life is my own. I’ll do with it as I please. If I want to find God, I’ll find him my way when I’m good and ready, for there are many paths to God.”

Really? Then why does God (the only true and living God of the Scriptures) declare in no uncertain prophetic terms (Old Testament) and fulfillment terms (New Testament) the following:

Old Testament: “I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet (Messiah who is Jesus) proclaims on my behalf” (Deuteronomy 18:19).

New Testament: “For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!

Praise and honor and glory and power and majesty belong to the Lion from the Tribe of Judah!

United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334)

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There’s Small … And There’s Small!

If you’re not fully awake yet, then drink some more coffee, because we’re going to begin the first Eye of Prophecy article of 2017 with a geographical math quiz. Oh come on, you’ll like it!

Question #1: In terms of square miles, what is the 4th smallest state in the United States?

My guess is that no more than 7% would know the answer to this question without a United States map in front of them, and maybe not even then. So, let’s increase the odds to give all of us at least a 14% (one in seven) chance of getting the right answer. The seven smallest are East Coast New England states. In alphabetical order they are: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Now what’s your answer? No maps allowed!

Okay, I’m feeling generous today. Let’s narrow it down to 50-50. The 4th smallest state in America begins with “New” (so does the 5th smallest state).

Is your final answer, New Hampshire?

Sorry, that’s wrong!

Answer: New Jersey.

If you got it right from the beginning, then you are in the top 7% of geographic statisticians in the world!

Question #2 (Multiple Choice): The size of New Jersey in square miles is: (A) 12,722 sq. miles; (B) 10,722 sq. miles; (C) 8,722 sq. miles; (D) 6,722 sq. miles?

Answer: C

See (C) that wasn’t so hard, even if you didn’t get it right!

Question #3: Which of these seven states is closest in square miles size to the State of Israel?

Hint: Would we have gone to all that trouble to get to New Jersey, if one of the other states would be nearest in size to Israel?!

Answer: New Jersey.

You’re doing fine, so stay with us no matter how tough the next question may be.

Question #4: In square miles, what is Israel’s size?

If you get this right on the first try, then your name and photograph belong alongside Albert Einstein in Wikipedia.

Answer: 8,020 square miles.

If you rounded off your answer to 8,000, then you get a footnote on Einstein’s Wikipedia page.

Question #5: What is the combined square mileage of the Gaza Strip and the Judea/Samaria region of Israel known as the West Bank, including so-called East Jerusalem?

If you know the outright answer to this question, then your name and picture will take the place of Albert Einstein!

So, we’d better make it multiple choice: (A) 3,324 sq. miles; (B) 2,324 sq. miles; (C) 1,324 sq. miles.

Answer: B

“B” as is, “Boy,” aren’t you glad you didn’t quit on this quiz!

Because you’ve been a geographic groupie up to this point, you may use a calculator for the last two questions, six and seven.

Question #6A: Subtracting the combined size (2,324 sq. miles) of the Palestinian occupied territories (Gaza/West Bank) of Israel from her total size (8,020 sq. miles) what is the left over size of Israel, where the vast majority of the Jewish population resides?

Answer: 5,696 square miles.

Question 6B: Would, therefore, the remaining 5,696 square miles of Israel be closer in size to the 3rd smallest American state? (A) Yes. (B) No.

Answer: Yes. The third smallest state is Connecticut … 5,543 square miles.

Question #7: Given that my home state of Arizona is 113,990 square miles, how many times could you put the State of Israel (8,020 sq. miles) into Arizona … rounded off?

Answer: 14.

Or if we use the size of Israel minus the West Bank and Gaza Strip, then the answer would be: 20.

A United Nations Resolution: Shrink Israel Down To Manageable Size!

Thank you for participating in this quiz; I trust it was interesting. Though some of the questions were hard, requiring some guessing at the answers, I’m sure the point of the exercise was crystal clear to you: Israel is an exceptionally small country.

We’re talking tiny. And it is the only Jewish nation on this planet … the only sovereign state that Jews can call their own, their home. Yet, the United Nations wants to make it even smaller for the Israelis.

On December 23rd (the beginning of Sabbath day for Jews) of last year, 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.

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(Security Council Vote on Resolution 2334)

Although the resolution included a token denunciation of violence, terrorism, and incitement against Israel, the following excerpts convey the underlying anti-Israel bias behind this reprehensible resolution:

  • According to the resolution itself, it, “…expresses the consensus international view on Israeli settlement activity.”
  • It calls for a, “two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.”
  • It condemns the Jews for, “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity.”
  • And the resolution demands that, “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

No matter that Israel’s land mass (including the West Bank and Gaza Strip) is equivalent to 1/6 of 1 percent (1/640 or .0016) of the surrounding 22 Arab/Islamic countries. No matter that none of the Arab or Muslim nations have granted citizenship to hundreds of thousands of “Palestinian” Arabs who fled Israel mostly because the five Arab nations—Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt—that attacked Israel the day after she declared Statehood on May 14, 1948 (via a UN Resolution that granted Israel national sovereignty in 1947) ordered Arabs to vacate Israel so they wouldn’t get in the way of Arab armed forces that would supposedly (easily) defeat the Jews. Instead, those refugees and others from the 1967 Six-Day War were placed in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan where they and their descendants remain to this very day. Refugee camps that the Israelis had no part in establishing.

As a reminder: Before the Palestinian Authority (which began as the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964) was created, the Arabs were not called Palestinians. In fact, it was the Jews that were referred to as Palestinians before the Six-Day War of 1967. A war in which the Jews were forced to fight for their very survival, as they also did in the Independence War of 1948, the Suez War of 1956, and again in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. By coercion of the United Nations, mostly through the United States, the Jews relinquished jurisdiction of the Temple Mount back to the Jordanians, and occupancy control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the (Palestinian) Arabs.

Alongside the 6.5 million Jews in Israel, there are approximately 1.8 million Arab Israelis who have full citizenship rights in Israel. They can travel through Israel unrestricted, buy and sell property, start and run their own businesses, vote in Israeli elections, and even serve in Israel’s government. However, unlike compulsory military service for Jewish men and women, Arab Israelis are not required to serve in the IDF. There are approximately 4 million Arab Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who refuse Israeli citizenship because they simply will not recognize Israel as a sovereign nation.

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Sponsorship of the Resolution

Technically, four members of the United Nations introduced the resolution for vote in the Security Council. Allegedly, they drafted the decree without any input or direct assistance from the United States or any of the other nations that voted 14-0 in favor of the resolution, with the United States abstaining. As Washington D.C. based columnist, Charles Krauthammer wrote in an article published this past Tuesday:

“The Security Council just declared the territories legally Palestinian—without the Palestinians having to concede anything, let alone peace. The (US) administration claims a kind of passive innocence on the text of the resolution, as if it had come upon it at the last moment. We are to believe that the ostensible sponsors—New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia, and a Venezuela that cannot provide its own people with toilet paper, let alone food—had for months been sweating the details of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem.”

Many United States Congressmen and Senators, including some Democrats, harshly criticized President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry (based on his feeble speech attempting to justify the resolution) for “stabbing Israel in the back.” It was the first US Administration ever that had not vetoed an anti-Israel Security Council resolution. And this, no less, in the context of President Obama’s purported support of Israel when he addressed the AI-PAC conference composed mostly of Jews on March 4, 2012, not long after he was sworn in to his second presidential term. President Obama boasted at that conference to thunderous applause: “When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.”

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(*Note: The Security Council should be renamed the “Insecurity Council” as this resolution and many others like it against Israel would create insecure, even indefensible borders for Israelis … not the least of which is the Golan Heights).

Said former Arkansas Governor (and Republican Presidential Candidate) Mike Huckabee:

“Even more, I’d say that the resolution showed that the United Nations is a farce, not a force. Last year, the United Nations passed one resolution about Syria and its genocide, one about North Korea where they are eating grass because they don’t have any food, one resolution about Russia, a country that has decided it’s okay to move into Crimea and Ukraine, and one about Iran that oppresses its people, tramples their human rights and is probably developing a nuclear bomb. But there were 20 resolutions condemning Israel! How could Israel, a tiny dot on the overall map of the Middle East, be that consequential to the United Nations while the other countries get scant attention? It makes the United Nations a bigger joke than the last episode of Seinfeld.”

In an Israeli Cabinet meeting on Christmas Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to what he firmly believed was overwhelming evidence of Obama’s covert support of Resolution 2334 that declared all Jewish communities within areas won by Israel from Jordan and Syria in the Six-Day War, to be illegal.

He said: “From the information we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed. This, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, like any issue related to them in the Security Council, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps.”

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(Benjamin Netanyahu’s Expressive Reaction To UN Resolution 2334)

Prime Minister Netanyahu was referring to a similar Security Council Resolution in February, 2011, which also censured all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, especially the Eastern part of Jerusalem.

Notice, this time I said, “the Eastern part of Jerusalem.”

Frankly, that should be the cultural, political, social, legal, and moral way to accurately identify that part of Jerusalem inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. There is no such city or territory of “East Jerusalem.” However, the Palestinians and Muslim nations have successfully duped the United Nations, including the United States, into believing that there is a separate East Jerusalem, much like there was West Berlin and East Berlin before the Communist Soviet Union imploded and Germany was reunited.

In an immediate reply to John Kerry’s speech, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The entire Middle East is going up in flames, entire countries are toppling, terrorism is raging, and for an entire hour the Secretary of State attacks the only democracy in the Middle East. Maybe Kerry did not notice that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christmas can be celebrated in peace and security.”

He went on to say: “Over decades, American administrations and Israel governments have disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue. And as I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”

Then alluding to the facet of the resolution which audaciously claimed that even the Western Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem including the Jewish Quarter was occupied Palestinian territory, Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded with, “I’m encouraged by the statements of our friends in the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike. They understand how reckless and destructive the UN resolution was, they understand that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.”

How Can A “Territory” Be Occupied?

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.”

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 actually 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. Although several countries consist of ethnic groups (like the Kurds in Iraq) that have “settled” in certain portions of the country, that doesn’t give them the right to deny residency or claim “occupation” if citizens from another ethnic group want to build or buy houses on land within the recognized geographical borders of that nation.

A slight exception to what I just said would be Native American Reservations or Tribal Lands in the United States. But in that case, the United States intentionally set aside certain areas of land just for the Indians. Even so, some 1.5 of the 2.5 million Native Americans in this country live outside of the Reservations … just like Israel has permitted Arabs (some 1.8 million to date) to become citizens of Israel. But that doesn’t give the Palestinian Arabs who don’t want to be citizens of Israel the right to deny living quarters to Jews in “Palestinian territory” that is not an official state or nation.

I (in a few previous Eye of Prophecy articles) and several others have said it before, but it needs to be said again and again, else the world at large will never grasp the true hidden agenda of the Palestinians in particular and Islam in general.

That is: 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.

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Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Israeli Occupation … Fact or Myth? Published 5-16-15.

The Actual Palestinian Narrative

Here is an excerpt from an Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Ethnic Cleansing of Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda, posted 9-17-16, mostly to explain Benjamin Netanyahu’s riveting, but controversial televised speech regarding the real intentions of the Palestinians (in italics).

The Palestinians have imposed several “pre-conditions” on Israel. They go back and forth as to which of these are pre-conditions Israel must meet before the Palestinians agree to sit down at the negotiating table with the Israelis. At one time or another all of the Palestinian demands have been “pre-conditions.” At other times only some of these are pre-conditions, with other demands open for negotiation. It pretty much depends upon Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ (who is now in the 11th year of a four-year election term!) mood at the time.

Here are the primary Palestinian demands:

  • The so-called “right of return” of the so-called Palestinian refugees—now mostly 2nd generation descendants—from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. (They now number in the millions and even if half of this number were to return it would, for all practical purposes, spell the end of a Jewish nation).
  • Gaza and West Bank checkpoints to be turned over by the Israelis to the Palestinians.
  • Many more Palestinians prisoners to be released, including convicted murderers.
  • For Israel’s “borders” to shrink back to pre-1967 Six-Day War truce lines. (This would leave Israel highly vulnerable, if not defenseless, especially in the Golan Heights).
  • A Palestinian State with what is known as “East Jerusalem” as its capital. (Which would include complete possession of and sovereignty over Temple Mount).
  • Complete expulsion of all Jews from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

The last condition listed above is one that the Palestinians have attempted to keep relatively low-key. Why? Because they don’t want to be viewed in the same fashion that they want the world to see Israel (which Israel is not), i.e. a bigoted apartheid type nation that seeks to be rid of an ethnic group they despise.

That is why Benjamin Netanyahu limited his speech to this one Palestinian demand before they will enter into negotiations with the Israelis. It represents the ultimate objective of Palestinians (and all Muslim nations): To get rid of all Jews in Israel, beginning with the so-called West Bank territory.

Since UNESCO passed its resolution last October and particularly since the farcical Security Council Resolution #2334 in December, Abbas has been emboldened like never before to appeal to the court of world opinion.

(Please see Eye of Prophecy article, UNESCO … A Theatre of the Absurd Against Israel, posted 10-29-16.)

The incessant Palestinian rhetoric against Jewish settlements in eastern Jerusalem and others a few miles deeper into the West Bank and Muslim tirades against Jewish “occupation” of Palestine, is a smoke screen to conceal the real Palestinian agenda. The actual objective of Israel’s sworn enemies, especially their “neighbors” the Palestinians but also entire nations like Iran is one prophesied in Scripture long ago:

Appealing to the Lord God, the Psalmist cries out: “Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies? Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up? They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence’” (Psalm 83:2-4).

When written, this Psalm was contemporarily relevant but also prophetic. And, oh how it has come to pass. The Palestinian schemes backed by the anti-Semitic mindset and decisions of the United Nations (now supported by our lame-duck President) are insidiously clever and crafty. They have resorted to the rewriting of Israel’s true history and distorting reality with fabrications that even a child could see through.

If the Palestinians were so desperate to get rid of all Jewish housing developments in the West Bank which, according to most Middle East experts would be a precursor to a Palestinian State, then pray tell why did Palestinian Authority Presidents Yasser Arafat in 2000 and Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 bluntly refuse generous proposals by two Israeli Prime Ministers. Respectively, Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered well more than 90% of the West Bank (including the eastern half of Jerusalem) to the Palestinians in a purported attempt to appease them and the international community. The obvious reason, both stated and implied, for this out-of-hand rejection was the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Sovereign (Jewish) State.

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(Shows How Much of Israel is Comprised of the West Bank and Gaza, With the Southern Portion of Israel Mostly the Negev Desert)

So why should Abbas agree to sit down at the negotiating table with Israel, when he can get what he wants through UN unilateral demands? Although not binding, this latest UN declaration has set the stage for a constraining resolution that very well could take place after the January 15th meeting of some 70 nations, planned and hosted by France to reach a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

As much as I admire and respect the Israeli government and love the Jewish people, since the Six-Day War Israeli leaders have made four ill-advised decisions. The two rejected proposals mentioned above (massive land give away for a peace that would never have materialized) narrowly averted what could have been debilitating consequences, including displacement of hundreds of thousands of Israelis from Judea/Samaria and the permanent restriction of all Jews from Temple Mount. The other two did result in an extremely adverse aftermath for the Israelis.

They were: (1) Relinquishing of Temple Mount back to Jordanian and (now) Palestinian jurisdictional authority, after defeating the Jordanians, Egyptians, and Syrians in the Six-Day War of June, 1967. Also giving back the Gaza Strip (taken from Egyptian illegal control) to the Palestinian Authority, later taken over by the terrorist cell Hamas.

(2) In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered eviction of some 10,000 Jewish residents of the Gaza. What kind of peace and the (misguided) notion that the Israelis would be better protected if removed from Gaza did that result in? I’ll tell you what kind. The kind that led to war with Hamas because they launched thousands of mortars and rockets into Israel that killed and injured more Israelis.

Whose Rights Are Right?

For maximum comprehension I need to emphasize again: The fundamental fantasy of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, the Muslim nations surrounding Israel, and the religion of Islam is a Palestinian State to replace Israel, not one that exists alongside of Israel. By default, this means that the Jews must be eliminated from Israel altogether. The Arabs failed to eradicate the Israelis through four conventional wars. Now the twisted tactic is to alter the true history of Israel by claiming the land, including Jewish Holy Sites and Structures, belongs to the Arabs based on arguments that are historically inaccurate and fly in the face of reality, both past and present.

For example: In spite of archeological evidence and historically correct chronicles of the existence of the Jewish Temples on Temple Mount, the Palestinians contend they never existed. If history is going to be rewritten, then why not claim that the Roman Empire was a figment of someone’s overactive imagination. Or that Mecca and Medina are Hindu holy sites, not Muslim!

Another argument is that the Arabs were in Israel before the Jews. Simply not true. Biblical and secular history clearly refute that allegation. Or, the presumption that Arabs outnumbered Jews in Israel and, therefore, assert rights to the land for that reason alone. That depends on how far back you want to go or how contemporary you want to be to validate such a claim. In the case of the Jews, they win on both ends of this chronological continuum. They outnumbered the Arabs until the Great Dispersion of 70 A.D., and again in today’s modern Israel.

What about sovereign seniority based on conquest … to the victor belong the spoils principle. Yes, Muhammad (Muslims) conquered Israel and Jerusalem in the 7th century. Eventually, however, they, too, were displaced by the Ottoman Turk Empire; which, in turn, was ousted by the British in World War I. Which led to the Balfour Declaration that gave the Jews right of return to Israel and right of statehood that would eventually be realized at the end of World War II. But, tragically, only after six millions Jews were slaughtered by the Third Reich.

Why is it so hard to understand that the Jews must have a sovereign land of their own?! Otherwise, Never Again could happen all over again.

If the Arabs argue that their right to the land of Israel was established by conquest (long ago), Israelis have an equal, if not greater claim to all of Israel by virtue of their more recent victories in all four wars—especially the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Actually, Israel’s triumph in their 1948 War of Independence (no different than America’s victory in our Revolutionary War) gave them the legal and moral prerogative to develop and inhabit every square mile of Israel. For the clear reason that the Arabs not only rejected the UN Resolution of 1947 allowing for the creation of two states, but they attacked the newborn State of Israel with the declared intention of driving the Jews into the sea. Yet, the Jews did not invoke the right of eminent domain nor did they expel the Arabs, even though the Jews fought these wars in self-defense. They were not offensive wars of aggression designed to take land away from the Arabs.

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(Israel Regained Control of the Jordanian West Bank and Egyptian Gaza Strip in 1967, But Allowed Palestinian Governing of These Two Regions. Fact Remains, Both Territories Are Still in Israel)

Thinking that they could still defeat the Jews and drive them completely out of Israel, Arabs attacked again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In that conflict the Jews soundly defeated them and reinforced the universally recognized right of people/nations to claim land won in a justified war of defense and survival—as opposed to an unprovoked offensive assault for the purpose of land acquisition or ethnic suppression of enemies. Once again, the Jews allowed the Palestinians autonomous occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Moreover, it’s not like the Palestinians have been relegated to an undesirable part of Israel (or relegated at all). The West Bank (Judea/Samaria) is some of the most beautiful land in Israel, the very heart of the country. In fact, a large part of Israel that, absent the amazing irrigation accomplishments of the Jews, would still be inhospitable if not uninhabitable, is the Negev Desert.

I’ve used the following analogy (and others) before, but it bears repeating: For Israelis to concede every inch of the West Bank, especially the eastern half of Jerusalem (meaning complete withdrawal and dismantling of Jewish housing) would be no different that Americans giving back the eastern half of Washington D.C. to the British. Then for the British to deny ownership and dwelling rights of any of that land to Americans. Also to forbid any American from visiting the Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln Memorials, just as Temple Mount is highly restricted to the Jews themselves.

If you’re an American reading this article, would you agree to such terms? Could you methodically marginalize or irresponsibly ignore the blood of our ancestors shed to give them and their descendants (you and me) the right of living on the very land for which they died? That is a rhetorical question, if ever there was one.

Both Arabs and Jews claim perpetuity to the entire land of Israel. So, who is right?

The Beautiful Land of Israel … A Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy

I believe that question has already been answered, but let’s set aside for a moment the issue of territorial rights.

Let’s look instead at what the Jews have done for the land of Israel given to them by the true and living God. The God of the Bible who says there are no other gods. The God who backs up his Word with majestic miracles and powerful (fulfilled) prophecies. The God who selected the Jewish people as a light to the Gentiles, through the Messiah who would bring salvation to all who believe and receive Yeshua as personal Savior. And, yes, the same God who loves all people equally, including the Arabs. Yet the God who, nevertheless, is sovereign over his design for the human race, which includes choosing a special people through whom His plans would be achieved and a Promised Land where His purpose will be accomplished.

The following is an excerpt (in italics) from Eye of Prophecy article, Look Up, Redemption is Near, Part I, posted 7-11-15. Part II posted on 7-18-15 then provides the second set of twelve “flash-point prophecies” that are part and parcel of the last days of the end times.

Number Five: Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

Said God to Israel through his prophet: “The fields that used to lie empty and desolate (insert here Arab “control” of Israel for hundreds of years) in plain view of everyone will again be farmed. And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This former wasteland is now like the Garden of Eden! The abandoned and ruined cities now have strong walls and are filled with people!’ Then the surrounding nations that survive (survive the Great Tribulation soon to come) will know that, I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted the wasteland. For I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I say” (Ezekiel 36:34-36, parenthesis mine).

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(Botanical Garden in Eilat, Israel)

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(One of Many Vineyards in Israel)

As is often said: Facts don’t lie.

Fact: In one generation after returning, the Jews did for their Promised Land what the Arabs wouldn’t and couldn’t do for that same land they occupied for hundreds of years.

Things to Ponder

Resolution 2334 was yet another contemporary expression of what Scripture said would happen in the last days. Which is the incredible, irrational global focus on Israel by practically every nation on earth to solve the Jewish problem.

Says the God of Israel: “On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves’ (Zechariah 12:3).

The United Nations and its Security Council (with the United States supporting an anti-Israel resolution for the first time) want to move the Jews out of Judea/Samaria. They want to downsize a people and a nation that has precious little land in the first place.

The Palestinians and Muslim countries want to remove Israel from all global maps, by eliminating all Jews from Israel … the land given to them by Almighty God. A small piece of land on an earth created by that same God.

For the near future, they will make life dramatically difficult for Israel. But they will not succeed in defeating the Jews. Israel is here to stay … forever. The Lord God himself has made Jerusalem an immovable rock.

“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. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2).

Hanukkah … The Festival Born of a Prophecy!

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Hanukkah in History

Last week’s Eye of Prophecy article (The Virgin Birth … How and Why?) was posted on Christmas Eve, which “just happened” this year to occur on the first day (eve) of Hanukkah. This week’s article falls on the final (eighth) day of what some say is the most widely celebrated festival of the Jews, religious and secular alike. On most Jewish calendars you’ll find the oft used Hebrew spelling of this happy holiday … Chanukah. That’s because of the more accurate pronunciation of the hard “Ch” syllable (Kahnukkah), instead of the soft “hah” sound.

Like Purim that is normally observed in the Gregorian calendar month of February, Hanukkah is not one of the Biblical festivals required by God as given in the Mosaic Law. Whereas Purim was (Biblically) instituted by Mordecai and Queen Esther as an annual Jewish observance, Hanukkah is not found in Scripture. It wasn’t even recorded in any extra-Biblical Jewish religious literature; although the secular Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus provided a narrative of this event in his book, Jewish Antiquities XII. However, the circumstances surrounding Hanukkah were added to the Jewish Talmud (written collection of Jewish oral teachings and history) some 600 years after the time of the Maccabees.

Rather, we find Hanukkah’s captivating chronicle through the Books of the First and Second Maccabees, which are not part of the Biblical canon; but are considered by many Biblical scholars as historically accurate. Why the story of the Maccabean revolt that led to the “miracle of Hanukkah” is not part of the Old Testament Bible, would take far more time/space than this week’s article can afford. Thus, I’ll offer just two brief reasons:

(1) It occurred some 250 years after God’s last appointed prophet (Malachi) spoke God’s words to his people. The composite four-hundred year span of God’s silence was a transition time between the Old Covenant of the Law and New Covenant of Grace. Not until the next Jewish prophet John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah of the New Covenant, did God reveal himself again to the Jews and also, this time, to the whole world.

(2) Due largely to reason number one, God chose (for other reasons known only to him) not to directly inspire the recording of the events leading to Hanukkah through any of God’s chosen authors of New Testament times/books.

Based on the title of today’s article, you might get the impression that Hanukkah was predicted in Scripture by one or more of the Old Testament prophets. It was not, at least not the results of the Maccabean Jewish victory over an evil Syrian ruler. Those results were twofold, constituting the essence of this remarkable Jewish holiday. They were (A) Restoration and rededication of the Jewish Temple after the Jews defeated the Syrian/Greeks against all odds; (B) One day’s supply of the sacred oil used to light the Menorah, lasting for eight days until more purified olive oil could be produced.

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(Replica of the Original Biblical Menorah … During a Trip to Israel, I Stood Next to This Menorah in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem)

Thus, respectively, in direct connection to A and B listed in the preceding paragraph, Hanukkah is also referred to as the: Festival of Dedication and Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is the Hebrew word meaning “dedication.” Although the 2nd Temple was later destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, observant Jews still emphasize dedication (loyal observance) of their lives to the principles of holiness (consecrated separation) found in the civil, ceremonial, and moral features of the Law of Moses. Hanukkah serves as a serious but also festive reminder of this dedication.

Yet, when it comes to the equally vital component part of the Mosaic Law (Levitical Sacrificial System), the Jews are unfortunately in denial that there is no atonement for sin without the sacrificial shedding of innocent (animal) blood. Instead of recognizing and accepting the New Covenant established through the once for all substitutionary sacrifice of their very Messiah (Yeshua), they hope that mitzvot (good deeds … acts of love and giving) will merit salvation.

(I would encourage you to read the trilogy of Eye of Prophecy articles entitled: Where is the Temple? I, II, III. Posted in November and December, 2014).

HOWEVER, the sequence of events that produced the marvel of Hanukkah were, in fact, predicted by the prophet Daniel some 370 years before they took place, including dramatic details about the malicious Syrian ruler who would devastate Israel and profane the Temple. Followed by even more amazing information about another wicked tyrant (the little horn of Daniel Chapter 7 and the beast of Revelation 13 & 17 … Antichrist Nero) who would follow in the warped footsteps of his evil archetype predecessor. Hanukkah was a direct result of this fulfilled prophecy.

The original Kingdom that would split into four parts—one of which this 2nd century BC Syrian despot would rule over—was also prophesied by Daniel.

Alexander the Great

It all began when Alexander the Great soundly defeated the Persians, spelling the end to an empire even greater than that of Babylon, at least in terms of longevity. In 334 BC, Alexander launched a campaign that would engulf most of the civilized world, establishing a Grecian dynasty that would last some 300 years with ongoing influence of Greek civilization in the Roman Empire for another 500 years. Alexander’s realm would not be equaled until the Roman Empire reached its zenith. Yet even Rome was heavily saturated with Greek language and culture.

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(Bust of Alexander the Great)

Alexander died a mysterious death in June, 323 B.C. at the young age of 32. History is unclear whether he was murdered (poison) or died from natural causes (fever). Yet his passing was so abruptly unexpected that no heir had been appointed to his domain. Subsequently, the Grecian Empire was divided into four regions: Ptolemy of Egypt; Seleucid of Mesopotamia and Central Asia; Pergamon; and Macedon. It’s the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties that are referenced in Daniel Chapter 11, long before they came into existence.

The Greek empire was one of the four world kingdoms revealed by God to Daniel in the form of four “huge beasts.”

“Then the third of these strange beasts appeared, and it looked like a leopard. It had four bird’s wings on its back, and it had four heads. Great authority was given to this beast” (Daniel 7:6).

These four beasts were initially in the form of a four-part statue seen in a dream by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel Chapter 2). The figurative imagery recorded by Daniel clearly matches subsequent world history, confirming that the third beast was Greece.

Later, Daniel is given more information about the great ruler of this third empire, which history also affirms as none other than Alexander the Great. Included in this subsequent revelation to Daniel (which I strongly believe was given by the Pre-Incarnate Messiah Jesus), were meticulous details to confirm the (four-part) division of the third beast—the leopard (four wings and four heads). Plus intricate details of ensuing rulers of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid domains, specifically Antiochus IV Epiphanes; followed by an evil despot (Antichrist) who would be even more ruthless than Antiochus.

Concerning Alexander the Great and the dominant Grecian Empire, we read:

“Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do. But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others” (Daniel 11:3-4).

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Time/space does not allow us to cover the first part of Daniel Chapter 11 through verse 27, which predicted what history has termed, “The Seleucid Wars” that culminated in 198 BC between Egypt and Syria. The armies of Seleucid King Antiochus III defeated Ptolemy V and took over Judea and Samaria, which had been part of the Ptolemaic realm. Instead, we will fast forward to 175 BC, when Antiochus IV ascended the Seleucid throne.

Antiochus IV arrogantly added Epiphanes to his name, which means, “manifest god.” He and his subsequent counterpart (Antichrist) Nero considered themselves divine, God on earth. He was the first Seleucid king to have his divine image printed on coinage. Later, Caesar Nero did the same thing.

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(Antiochus IV Coinage)

To assert his power and enhance his sphere of influence and to prevent King Ptolemy VI of Egypt from expanding the Ptolemaic dynasty, Antiochus IV launched a preemptive strike against Egypt in 170 BC, conquering all of the Egyptian kingdom except Alexandria. This is precisely what Daniel said would happen. As was Antiochus’ second campaign against Egypt predicted by Daniel.

In Antiochus’s first campaign, “The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey” (Daniel 11:28).

The “people of the holy covenant” were the Jews (Israel). During his return home from Egypt, Antiochus IV made it clear that he would do something about this stubborn people, most of whom refused to yield to his authority, and resisted assimilation into the Greek Hellenistic culture that he was trying to instill throughout as much of the territories conquered by Alexander as possible. Unlike his predecessor, Antiochus III, who allowed the Jews extensive sovereignty under their High Priest, Antiochus IV began a pernicious persecution of the Jews to force Greek Hellenization on them.

However, to avoid antagonizing the new burgeoning empire of Rome, which supported the Ptolemaic realm, Antiochus withdrew his armies from Egypt and left Ptolemy VI as a puppet king. But this megalomaniac tyrant couldn’t keep his autocratic face out of the picture. With an apparent assumption that Rome would no longer interfere, in 168 BC he led a second assault on Egypt, and also sent a large naval fleet to Cyprus. Before Antiochus IV reached Alexandria, a Roman ambassador warned him to withdraw or risk a war with the Roman Republic.

We read on: “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).

Antiochus was humiliated by his failed plans to again invade Egypt. He threw a temper tantrum and decided to take out his “tail-between-the-legs” retreat on the Jews. He would ratchet up the time table of a more peaceful integration of Hellenism into Jewish culture. Through brutal force he would bring an end to Judaism in Judea and Samaria. Whether he thought of it or not, his intentions were every bit as malevolent as the Persian ruler Haman, whose sadistic strategy was genocide of the Jews. Antiochus IV became further enraged when he learned that Jason, the Jewish High Priest that he had deposed, had initiated a surprise attack against Menelaus, the high priest appointed by Antiochus IV.

He ordered a halt to all Jewish sacrifices and worship rites in the Temple, commanding the Jews to worship Zeus. When they refused, Antiochus IV dispatched his armies to crush what he considered an insubordinate Jewish revolt against his kingdom.

Even if you know little about Antiochus IV, you probably have read or heard that during this onslaught against the Jews his troops ransacked the Holy Temple, and sacrificed a pig to the Greek god Zeus on the altar in the Holy of Holies. What occurred in 168-167 BC is one of the bloodiest, saddest chapters of Jewish history. But out of it came one of the greatest triumphs and miracles ever experienced by the Jews. Which is what the celebration of Hanukkah is all about.

Here is an account of Antiochus’ brutality:

“When these happenings were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery” (2 Maccabees 5:11-14).

Antiochus IV’s atrocious actions fulfilled Daniel’s amazingly accurate prophecy.

“His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration” (Daniel 11:31).

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(Depiction of Zeus Erected by Antiochus IV in the Jewish Temple)

There’s More!

Before we examine the following verse 32 of Daniel’s remarkable prophecies, let’s look at an excerpt from a Wikipedia article concerning Antiochus IV and the Maccabean revolt that began not long after Antiochus desecrated the Temple, then slaughtered and enslaved tens of thousands of Jews.

“Traditionally, as expressed in the First and Second Books of the Maccabees, the Maccabean Revolt was painted as a national resistance to a foreign political and cultural oppression. In modern times, however, scholars have argued that the king was instead intervening in a civil war between the traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem. According to Joseph P. Schultz: ‘Modern scholarship on the other hand considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp.’”

Still referring to the actions of the “king of the north” (Antiochus IV), Daniel goes on to say:

“He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him” (Daniel 11:32).

For modern scholars to contend that Antiochus IV Epiphanes was simply “intervening in a civil war” between the Hellenistic Jews and the observant religious Jews of Israel is an oversimplification; it is not an accurate analysis of everything that actually took place. Nor does it track with Scripture’s preview of what would occur, i.e. “the people who know their God will … resist him” (the king of the north which would be Antiochus IV).

These people who know their God were the Maccabees representing Jews who remained faithful to God. Their resistance was directly against Antiochus IV; only indirectly against the Hellenistic Jews (those who have violated the covenant). It was the Hellenistic Jews that Antiochus IV would, “flatter and win over.” Likewise, Antiochus military assault against Israel was designed to stop the Maccabees in their revolutionary tracks, not to preemptively intervene in what may have become a full-fledged Jewish civil war.

At the very least, the modern view of Antiochus’s reason for invading Israel ignores the clear historical record of his virulent hatred of the Jews, expressed in his contempt for the sacred sites and rites of the Jewish faith. Nevertheless, Antiochus courted those Jews who agreed with him that Israel should incorporate Greek philosophy and culture into Israel, even if it meant compromising the Mosaic Law as the governing influence over Jewish life in Israel. However, even the Hellenistic Jews were appalled at the Temple’s desecration and the blatant religious, political, and cultural subjugation of the Jews, whether secular or religious.

Thus, his so-called “intervention into a Jewish civil war” was much more than merely taking sides with the Hellenists. It’s clear that he was infuriated by any Jewish attempt to undermine his authority over Judea/Samaria. He couldn’t have cared less whether the hiloni (secular) Jews or the haredi, masorti (observant, traditional) Jews would have fought and prevailed one against the other. He wanted all of Israel under his thumb.

Daniel says that the people who know their God would be strong and would resist him (Antiochus IV). Which is exactly what the Maccabees were and did. Much like King David and his group of 600 faithful soldiers; then his band of Thirty of Israel’s mightiest warriors led by the even more elite Three, accomplished in Israel before and after David ascended to the throne. The military exploits and fighting skill of these men of valor became legendary with the Jews and with their enemies. As did the extra-Biblical account of the Maccabees and their warriors.

The Maccabean Revolt

Until the ascension of Antiochus IV to the Seleucid throne, the observant Jews had, for the most part, been given sufficient freedom and flexibility to practice their Judaic faith.

But enough was enough. It was absolute anathema to both religious and secular Jews for anyone (let alone a Gentile ruler) to desecrate their sacred Temple and to bring a screeching halt to their religious practices, no matter the degree of observance among varying Jewish factions and sects.

In description of Antiochus IV and his armed invasion of Jerusalem under the pretense of helping the secular faction called the Tobiads—which supported the Hellenistic Jews in particular and the Ptolemaic realm in general—the ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote:

“The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.”

*Note: Josephus description of this king being “thereto disposed beforehand” validates the premise that Antiochus already had a mindset disposition toward conquest of the Jews.

Here is yet another remarkable correlation between Antiochus Epiphanes’ 3 ½ year reign over Israel and the future ruler also mentioned in Daniel Chapter 11 (Antichrist Nero) who would break a seven-year pact with Israel half way through that treaty, resulting in cessation of Jewish sacrifices and desecration of the (3rd) rebuilt Temple… 42 months as prophesied in Daniel Chapter 9. And as confirmed by Revelation Chapter 13.

Even though the Shekinah glory of God no longer filled the Temple, it was more than many Jews could bear to be deprived their right of circumcision and for pigs to be offered as sacrifices to the Greek god Zeus in the Temple itself. With unrelenting conditions and with ruthless enforcement, Antiochus IV had done away with Judaism. Even the great empires of Assyria and Babylon that had conquered and exiled the Jews; and Persia and Greece (until Antiochus IV) that had reigned over Israel, permitted the Jews to practice their faith.

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(Depiction of the Abominable Sacrifice of a Pig on the Temple Altar)

Against overwhelming odds, a Jewish priest Mattathias (Mattiyahu) and his five sons led a revolt against Antiochus IV. When Mattathias died in 166 BC, his son Judah took his place as leader of the rebellion. Less than a year later, against all odds the Jews had soundly defeated the armies of Antiochus IV, recaptured Jerusalem, liberated Temple Mount, cleansed and rededicated the Temple, and reinstated Judaism and the sacrificial system.

That is one of two reasons the Jews instituted this wonderful festival of Hanukkah … which, as indicated, means dedication. Most Jews, but not all, consider this military triumph a miracle in the same vein as Gideon’s amazing rout of the Midianites and modern Israel’s stunning triumph over insurmountable Arab military might in her 1948 War of Independence.

However, all Jews who know anything about the desecration of the 2nd Temple by the most appalling of all Gentile kings ever to rise against Israel (rabbinical sources refer to Antiochus IV as, harasha, “the wicked”) agree that the second reason for celebrating Hanukkah is based on a miracle. There simply is no normal or natural explanation for what took place.

Judah Maccabee commissioned resumption of Temple proceedings which began on the 25th day of Kislev, 165 BC.

*Note: Kislev is the Jewish month that overlaps the Gregorian calendar of November and December. The first full day of Hanukkah is the 25th of Kislev; however, a Jewish day begins at sundown the previous day. Thus, Hanukkah this year (2016) actually began on December 24th. I suppose we could call Kislev 24th, Hanukkah Eve.

But first things first: the treasured Menorah (lamps of which were to be kept burning day and night) must be relit, for it was God’s holy light to illuminate the Temple. In hindsight, this was a shortsighted (or short lighted, if you will!) plan. There had not been sufficient time allowed to produce enough pure (holy) olive oil expressly refined from pressed olives and dedicated by the high priest for the Menorah.

Each branch of today’s menorahs contain candles; whereas, the stem branches of the original Menorah in the Tabernacle and then the Temple were lamp cups in which olive oil was poured and then ignited.

Miracle of the Kosher Oil

According to the story, there was only one flask of consecrated oil … enough to last one full day. Yet, the priests decided to light the Menorah anyway, then wait to start it again after more oil was produced. Evidently, they were so excited and determined to resume Temple rites that they were willing to temporarily waive the requirement that the Menorah lamps must be kept burning continually.

But they didn’t need to light the menorah again. That one flask lasted for seven more days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah!

Although the First Book of Maccabees records the eight-day celebration that began annually for the re-dedication of the Temple and altar, it does not mention the miracle of the oil. But the Jewish Talmud does, which nearly all scholars acknowledge as a historically accurate compilation of Jewish vocal traditions.

Thus, Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Dedication, and also the Festival of Lights.

Jews in Israel and all over the world light the candles of the Menorah, one each day for the eight days that the oil kept burning. Special foods cooked in oil to commemorate the miracle are eaten, such as Latkes (potato pancakes) and doughnuts.

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(Modern Day Hanukkah Celebration and Menorah)

Down through the centuries Jews have debated whether Hanukkah is a religious festival (Holy Day) or just a national secular holiday. True, it is not a festival specifically ordained by the Lord to be observed, as commanded by God for the seven holy festivals. Please refer to a series of five Eye of Prophecy articles on these seven Jewish Festivals and how each feast points to Messiah Jesus. You can find them in the Eye of Prophecy archives, posted 9-24-16 through 10-22-16.

However, Hanukkah is definitely connected to God’s ultimate plan to preserve his chosen people the Jews and his special possession Israel until the time of their final redemption. This joyous festival is a direct result of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the third of the four Gentile nations, Greece. Then more specifically the evil tyrant Antiochus IV tirade against the Jews that is also a foreshadow of the Antichrist who will turn on the Jews half way through the Great Tribulation.

Like Purim, Hanukkah remembers God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jews from disaster at the hands of wicked men and nations that sought to destroy Judaism and even eliminate the Jews (genocide) from the face of the earth. No different than the insidious plot of Muslim nations in today’s world, especially Iran.

The Messianic Menorah Light

Most of all, the light of the Menorah represents Israel’s coming Messiah, who would bring the light of God’s salvation to the Jew first, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

Yeshua, himself, celebrated Hanukkah. In fact, other than his crucifixion trial in which Caiaphas the Jewish High Priest insisted that Jesus answer his question, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63); and Pontius Pilate posing a similar question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (John 18:33), an incident that occurred in the Temple was the most notable interrogation of and challenge to Jesus’ Messiahship.

“It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, ‘How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’

“Jesus replied, ‘I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish … for my Father has given them to me … No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one’” (John 10:22-30).

At that point the people picked up stones to kill Jesus; because he, in no uncertain terms, claimed to be God (equal to God as His Son). Previously, Jesus had made the same claim to another crowd who also wanted to stone him to death when he said: “…I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” (John 8:58).

There was no misunderstanding of Jesus’s words. When he said, “I AM,” he voiced the sacred name of God, YHWH (Yahweh).

In the scene of John Chapter 10, Jesus went on to confirm and defend the truth of who he was. Listen to his words:

“…Why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?’ After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world. Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” (John 10:36-38).

Not long after that Jesus would perform another mighty miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead. And just a few days later, Jesus would prove beyond any doubt whatsoever that he was Messiah, the Son of God, the Light of the world, when he arose from his own grave!

Before the scene during Hanukkah, Jesus declared, “…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).

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The Apostle John was only one of many who witnessed the powerful miracles of Jesus and listened to his words of life. Beyond any doubt, John and others knew that Jesus was the Messiah, that he was Divine, just like Isaiah said Messiah would be (Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Isaiah 9:6).

Thus, John began his gospel with this powerful proclamation:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).

The Fall of Nations … The Rise of Israel

What about the fate of Antiochus IV Epiphanes?

After this vile ruler dispatched one of his commanders, Lysias, to fight the Maccabees, he set sail with the rest of his forces to do battle with King Mithridates I of Parthia who had made war against the Greeks.

The Second Book of Maccabees records that he contracted some incurable disease, then (in an implied weakened condition), “fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body.” The writer of Maccabees and apparently most Jews of the time attributed the spectacular Maccabean victory against the forces of Antiochus as well as his untimely death to, “…the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow.”

Antiochus IV and his Seleucid dynasty went the way of even greater empires that tormented, terrorized, and toppled the Jews. The once mighty nations of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome are no more. Hitler’s Third Reich that mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and Stalin’s Communist Russia that relentlessly persecuted the Jews are gone.

But Israel was reborn from the floods of dispersion and he fires of Nazi death camps. Their ashes of defeat have turned into the beauty of a strong and vibrant nation … the only democratic country in the Middle East. Their people thrive despite acts of terrorism, UN anti-Israeli resolutions, and threats of annihilation by Muslim nations. They have won four conventional wars against Arab forces much stronger than Israel.

I’ve said it before, and will say it again: What God says will happen, happens. What he says he will do, he does. Miracles and 100% fulfilled prophecies (which also are miracles) separate the true and living God of the Bible and the Judeo/Christian faith from all other religions like Islam; but also from Godless philosophies, which are also religions (a belief system), such as communism and human secularism.

Moreover, the Christian faith is not nor should be separate from the Jewish belief and trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, the Christian faith is an extension, a completion, and a culmination of God’s majestic plan for the human race. The New Covenant of Grace fulfilled and replaced the Old Covenant of the Law, because God’s chosen people could not and would not keep that Law. Only one Man did that … Messiah Jesus. His once for all sacrificial atonement for sin is what makes Jew and Gentile united—one new person in Messiah (Ephesians 2:14-16).

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Things to Ponder

This year’s Hanukkah is poignantly relevant to Israel’s destiny in two observable ways. (1) It’s no coincidence that Hanukkah began on Christmas Eve this year, the first time since 1978. I believe this is a strong signal that their Messiah (and ours as believers in Christ Jesus), the Light of the World, is soon to come again and make all things right in this war-torn, weary, wicked world in which we live.

(2) Another reprehensible UN resolution (# 2334) was passed on the Jewish Sabbath, which began on December 23rd, the day before Hanukkah began. It was yet another attempt to discredit and delegitimize Jewish settlements in the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria … rightfully Jewish land); and also to denigrate and demonize the State of Israel as a whole and the Jewish people individually.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already responded in meaningful ways, including the call back of Israeli Ambassadors from some of the nations that voted yes to the resolution. Perhaps the boldest and most expressive reply of all was to change his plans and participate in the second day lighting of the Menorah in the Old City of Jerusalem.

He said, “I did not plan to be here this evening, but in light of the UN resolution, I thought that there was no better place to light the second Chanukah candle than the Western Wall … And here I would like to light Chanukah candles on behalf of the Glory of Israel. Happy Chanukah.”

And this recent letter from an Israeli soldier to President Obama (in italics):

Dear Mr. President,

You may deny our right to our homeland. You may try to rewrite our history. Just know that we are the most resilient people this world has ever seen. Our lighting of the menorah is proof of that fact. This time will be no different. Not yourself, not the UN, not the terror that you have given legitimacy to. No one will defeat us.

Jews light the menorah to celebrate restoration of Jewish control over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—thousands of years ago. We were small and vastly outnumbered, but that did not stop us. We came together and we returned to our capital. Our home.

I have no doubt that the lights of our menorah will dispel all darkness. It will lighten the path to overcoming the endless Israel and Jew hatred. It will inspire us, and inspire our Jewish people. It will strengthen the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces. It will bring us together once again, and we will return to our capital. Our home.

Happy Chanukah!

Leibel A. Mangel

On this last day of the Festival of Lights—along with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the brave Israeli soldier—I, too, wish you a,

Happy Hanukkah!

And,

Happy New Year!

The Virgin Birth of Messiah … How and Why?

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“But With God Everything is Possible” (Words of Jesus)

To all those who know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and also to those who don’t, but still celebrate the greatest birthday of all time, I wish you a Merry Christmas! And to our Jewish friends all over the globe, a very special Happy Hanukkah! That this eight-day Jewish celebration begins on Christmas Eve this year is, I believe, more than mere coincidence. Yet to elaborate on that thought by putting it into perspective, in a broader context of the end-times Biblical prophecies of the return of Messiah and reappearance of his antithesis, Antichrist, would require an entire article. Which is, the Lord willing, what you just might see in next week’s post!

This is the first article Eye of Prophecy article published on Christmas Eve, which this year happens to fall on Saturday, the day of the week that all Eye of Prophecy articles are posted. It will be several years before that happens again. By that time, I’m more and more convinced that all of us who have been redeemed by the very Messiah (Jesus) who Christmas is all about will already have celebrated his Second Coming!

This time last year, I posted a three-part series entitled Terror, Terror, Terror! (Part I & II, published 12-12 & 12-19-15) followed by A Trilogy of Terror (12-26-15). In that third article, I explained the reason for writing about “Terror” at Christmas time!

The third article began with the following (in italics)”

What a joyous time of the year! Believers in Jesus as Messiah and Savior and unbelievers alike celebrate Christmas, which is more than just a tradition. It is a vital and vibrant fact of life, and has led to a way of life for hundreds of millions from every language, race, and country. World religions are, for the most part, confined to certain races, regions, and nations. The Christian faith is truly universal. Even those from the major religions of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, to some extent or another, sense something special about this holiday (Holy Day) though it’s been over 2000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s because his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven is Timeless.

His is truly the Greatest (true) Story ever told, but it only begins with Christmas.

Though it has been increasingly secularized by those who don’t believe in the reason for the season; when they light the lights of Christmas, they representatively point to the Light of the World. When they exchange gifts, they express the greatest gift ever given—the sacrificial death of God’s Son for our sins.

Yet millions upon millions who celebrate Christmas continue to see the Christ-child only as a baby in a manager. As precious and meaningful as the birth of Jesus is to the Christian faith, so many forget or prefer not to remember that his birth was only the beginning of his life, death, and resurrection from the grave to accomplish the magnificent plan of God’s salvation for the human race.

The gospels and epistles are replete with his words of truth, life, and hope; but also words of warning of the great tribulation and coming judgment. As do most of the Old Testament prophets…

Obviously, Christmas is a Christian holiday … Holy Day. However, as intimated in the above excerpt, many non-Christians (or Christian in name only) keep Christmas with hardly a passing thought that it’s Jesus’s birthday… in which case it’s Happy Holidays not Merry Christmas.

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According to a 2010 study by Life Way Research, 91% of Americans observe Christmas in some fashion. That’s over 290 million people in the United States alone! Astonishingly, 89% of agnostics observe Christmas, as do 55% of atheists and 62% of people from other religions. Of those claiming to be Christians, 97% commemorate Christmas.

The Heart and Soul of Christmas

“I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Did you recognize this famous, but not so often used script in our post-modern age? Can you name the title of this dynamic profession of the Christian faith?

Yes, it is called the Apostle’s Creed.

Tradition says this superlative statement of faith was articulated originally by the Twelve Apostles, then around 700 AD formalized by Christian churches into this creed that succinctly summarized the basic tenants of the Gospels and Epistles. Of special note is that “catholic” is not capitalized, as it does NOT refer to nor is meant to represent the Roman Catholic Church, which didn’t materialize as an “institution” until the 4th century, long after the original apostles were gone. The word, catholic, simply means “universal.” It is the true church consisting of born-again believers—members of the “body” of Messiah Jesus—and bears no reference or meaning to a structure, organization, or ecclesiastical hierarchy of any type. It is the spiritual building composed of “living stones” with Messiah Jesus as the Cornerstone foundation (I Peter 2:4-5).

Every line contained in this profound profession of the Christian faith is directly found in and based on Scripture. Including the main subject of today’s Eye of Prophecy article, The Virgin Birth.

If every Protestant denomination truly believed and faithfully taught each component of the Apostle’s Creed, which is tantamount to confirming and defending the Gospel and the Bible that contains the Good News, then there would be no need for denominations. If the Roman Catholic Church and other cults would get rid of their erroneous non-Biblical dogmas, traditions, and religious rules and regulations and proclaim salvation exclusively by faith in God’s grace rather than good works (Ephesians 2:8-10), then they would truly be part of the universal (catholic) church … the body of Christ.

In the Apostle’s Creed, we find three majestic miracles: The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Messiah Jesus, and the future bodily resurrection of the dead in Christ.

Every tenet in this condensed statement of the Christian faith was prophesied one way or another in the Old Testament. No other religion on earth is predicated on verifiable miracles or fulfilled prophecy. Indeed, the marvelous miracles enacted by God the Father through his prophets and the mighty miracles that Jesus performed while on this earth, along with fulfilling dozens of Messianic prophecies, are what separate the Christian faith from all religions.

Messiah Jesus Came to Set Us Free

Can you imagine a passionately patriotic or even marginally loyal American celebrating the Fourth of July without at least some thought as to the reason … freedom from tyranny? Worse, an American citizen who believes that the United States of America should still be a colony of the British Empire, subject to “all things English.” I’m not knocking the United Kingdom as I am quite fond of my British ancestors on my mother’s side. But with Patrick Henry, it’s give me liberty or give me death.

Yet, hundreds of millions celebrate Christmas without giving much thought to how or why Jesus the Christ was born. Which was:

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus (Yeshua), for he will save his people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Not only salvation to Messiah’s Jewish brethren in the flesh, but also to the Gentiles as so enthusiastically exclaimed by an old Jewish man when he held the baby Jesus in his arms.

“At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!’” (Luke 2:25-32).

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*Note: Simeon was just one of many 1st Century BC and AD Jews who were, “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come…” So, too, are today’s Jews (especially the observant among them) and Gentiles all over the world fervently anticipating the soon arrival of Messiah. For believing Gentiles and Messianic Jews this, of course, will be the Second Coming of Christ Jesus. See Eye of Prophecy articles, Great Expectations for Messiah and Amazing Anticipation for Messiah, posted in August, 2015.

Later, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life’” (Romans 1:16-17, quoting Habakkuk 2:4).

Messiah Jesus came first and foremost to save us from our sins; to free us from the tyranny that our sinful nature has over us—an innate pride that produces lust for pleasure, position, prestige, and power and greed for money and possessions. Our selfishness causes us to do all too many wrong things with sometimes devastating consequences to ourselves, other people, and entire nations.

Our rebirth in Christ delivers us from slavery to sin.

Because we are still confined to our human bodies after being born-again, Christians still do wrong things. Perfection will not come until our earthly bodies are transformed (both dead and living) at the Rapture (See I Corinthians 15 & I Thessalonians 4). But we are no longer “slaves” to sin, as are those who have not been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:7, Jesus’s words).

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Christmas without the Virgin Birth is Not Christmas

Many people, even those who profess to be Christians, have a problem with the Virgin Birth. Yet Christmas without the Virgin Birth is every bit as meaningless as Christmas without Christ as the main attraction.

Getting back to Mary’s husband, Joseph, Matthew’s Gospel tells us:

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23, quoting a prophecy of the coming Messiah from Isaiah 7:14).

Immanuel, God with us: the heart and soul of Christmas and our real reason for remembering the birth of Messiah. It began when Jesus was born of a virgin, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are two rock-solid foundations on which the Christian faith is built: (1) The Virgin Birth of Jesus; (2) His resurrection from the dead. Both prove that he is the Son of God and the Son of Man.

In between those monumental events, Jesus’s miracles also demonstrated that no one could do what he did without divine supernatural attributes. Messiah Jesus set aside the natural laws of physics, e.g. changing water into wine, walking on water, calming a huge Sea of Galilee storm with a simple commandment (hush), multiplying a small amount of bread and fish to feed thousands, and other astounding miracles.

There are three basic world views on the Virgin Birth

(1) Believers in Messiah Jesus

Those who have believed and received Jesus as personal Savior accept at face value that he was divinely conceived—therefore, Christ is fully God and fully man—just as we believe that God through Christ created the universe and all living things.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself” (Colossians 1:15-20).

(2) Those Who Reject the Virgin Birth or Are Skeptical

Many dismiss out-of-hand the notion that such a birth is possible. Not just agnostics or atheists, but also those who acknowledge that God exists and even that he created the world. However, to consider the possibility that a child can be conceived in any other way than “natural” conception (man and woman, sperm and egg) is too much for them to process. The impact of this skepticism creates doubt as to whether Jesus of Nazareth was the Divine Son of God or just a great teacher of and moral example to mankind. Which, in turn, leads many to marginalize or even reject the very essence of the Gospel: Only a completely sinless person (man) was qualified, by the shedding of his innocent blood for the human race, to satisfy God’s holiness and justice.

The real issue with millions upon millions of people the world over originates with denial that the God of the Bible is God; despite the fact that Scripture unequivocally declares that He is the only true and living God (validated by hundreds of prophecies that have been fulfilled, many of them proving that Jesus is the Messiah). Others concede that God is our Creator (the very originator of life itself), but they still doubt that Jesus could or would be conceived without a human father.

For Nothing Is Impossible With God

Listen to what the angel Gabriel announced to Mary:

“…Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! … Don’t be afraid, Mary … for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God’” (Luke 1:28-37, italics for emphasis).

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Did Abraham, Sarah, and their miracle child of promise, Isaac, come to mind when you read these wonderful words of Gabriel to Mary? Only with Abraham and Sarah, it was the Pre-Incarnate Messiah (Jesus) himself who appeared and reaffirmed the promise that God had given to them earlier: Ninety-year old Sarah would bear a child!

Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord?

Listen to the amazing announcement to this couple whose ability to conceive a child had long since passed:

“Then one of them said, ‘I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!’ Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, ‘How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?’

“Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh! Why did she say, Can an old woman like me have a baby? Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son’” (Genesis 18:10-14, italics for emphasis).

Isaac was the first child of promise, the progenitor of the ultimate Child of Promise. Both came into this world through an extraordinary birth. But the second was even greater than the first. For a more detailed study, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles, The Child of Promise, Part I & II (posted 8-23 & 8-30-14).

The Holy Scriptures begin with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3, italics for emphasis).

Listen again to the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary: “…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35).

This correlation of the presence of God’s Spirit in the creation of all things with Mary’s supernaturally caused conception is unmistakable. If God created the universe and all living things (as also found in Genesis Chapter 1), then why would it be too hard (or difficult at all) for Mary to conceive a child through the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit?

Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us … So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Followed by the more specific account of man’s creation:

“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7).

Next, God created the man’s helpmate from Adam’s rib. We don’t know how long Adam was a bachelor, but this was his response when the Lord brought Eve to him:

“At last! … This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called woman, because she was taken from man” (Genesis 2:23).

If God can create something out of nothing; if he can form a wonderfully complex man out of the dust of the ground and an equally elaborate mate from the man’s rib; if man and woman can then produce a baby through no creative action of their own except the union of a sperm and egg already part of their created bodies, then isn’t it entirely reasonable and logical that, “nothing is impossible with God?”

Including, but certainly not limited to, God causing Mary to conceive a child above and beyond the natural means of conception. Yet, even the “natural” way of forming a child is divinely supernatural in origin, because it began with the miraculous creation of both man and woman. When the Lord chooses, he can change the laws of physics that govern the universe he created; to supersede the natural or normal process and experience of life on planet Earth.

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Even if we didn’t have God’s Word (the Bible) telling us about the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)—who he is, what he is like, what he has done, and what he will do to complete the full cycle of his redemptive restoration of men and woman back to our original state of creation—we could rely on the completely common sense understanding that if there is a God separate and above (His) creation, then there is nothing whatsoever in the universe that’s beyond his power and control and sovereignty.

That’s not to say that we can, with our finite created minds (in God’s image but far below him in understanding), fully grasp HOW God does what he does. It is enough to know that he can and has done all that the Scriptures tell us and that nature shows us.

Here is a quote from my book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved? (As follows in italics).

We see and experience things in time and space. God is not bound by either of these dimensions. We don’t know what’s going to happen next hour, let alone next month or year. Yet, by our decisions and actions, by our good choices, bad choices or indifferent choices, we can change things that otherwise would or would not have occurred. We can also be changed by the decisions and behavior of others, by events beyond our control.

How then, does God still achieve his plan? How can he make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love him and who are called according to his purpose! How does he circumvent the innumerable bad decisions that we all have made, not to mention the evil in this world to accomplish his purpose? Okay, I’ll give you a hint: Because he is God! This isn’t just the humble opinion of one man, nor is it a cop-out, nor is it an oversimplified answer to an otherwise unfathomable question or concept.

To be sure, however, the “hint” does beg the question; he can do anything because he is God. But that still doesn’t explain how he does it. So, we are left begging the question because it is simply beyond our natural, finite comprehension; which is why God doesn’t demand or even ask that we completely grasp his providential sovereignty. 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 most of mankind, including 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, philosophical, political, cultural, and social elite; though 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). [Pages 23-23, Out of the Abyss]

It All Begins by Fearing and Seeking God

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Psalm 111:10, NASB).

The Biblical concept of fear is not hiding or running from God because we are afraid of him, although we must realize that God will one day judge those who have rejected His Son, the only way to God, the only means of salvation. To fear the Lord is the idea of deep respect, ardent adoration for him and immense awe of him … who he is and what he can do. No less (and multiplied many times more) than what we would respectfully think of or do in the presence of a benevolent king or ruler or world leader that we hold in high esteem.

Yet, this deep reverence for the Lord comes only after we acknowledge his very existence and long to know more about him. That is really the beginning of it all; of knowing who we are and why we were placed on the earth.

Moses said about the Lord God: “…And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

The God of the Bible frequently states that he is the only true and living God; that all other gods are man-made and non-existent. Then he backs up that claim with miracles and fulfilled prophecy, and issues a challenge to all the false gods of all man-made religions:

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

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal, asks the Holy One. Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing” (Isaiah 40:25-26).

It was a star that guided the wise men of the east to search for and pay homage to the Christ-child. They undoubtedly knew most of the Messianic prophecies otherwise they would not have made the long arduous journey to Israel to find, “the new-born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). I’m sure that included Isaiah’s prophecy that the child would be born of a virgin.

Then the writer of Hebrews give us the very basic condition to understanding God and how he will reach back to those who truly want to know who he is and what he has done for the human race:

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The greatest reward of all: God’s forgiveness and everlasting life in heaven through so great a salvation purchased for us by the Virgin-born, resurrected Christ.

That is why we believe all things are possible with God and that nothing is too hard for him, including the miraculous change of the human heart and mind when we believe and receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior.

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(3) Those Who Concede the Virgin Birth of Christ Jesus, But They…

Either: (A) question or misunderstand the real meaning or significance of the Virgin Birth being all that relevant; or (B) focus nearly all attention on Mary instead of Jesus by declaring that Mary was without sin, thereby overemphasizing and actually distorting her role in bearing the Son of God. We’ll get to group A in a moment. But first those who claim that Jesus’s mother, Mary was also sinless … otherwise how could/would she be qualified to give birth to the Son of God.

Those in this group are almost exclusively Roman Catholic; and this dubious doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (that Mary also was born and lived without sin) decreed as Roman Catholic dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854 is simply not found in God’s Word, the Bible. In fact, it is a blatant contradiction of Scripture.

Mary herself said, “…Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46).

Mary proclaimed that God was her Savior. If she (or anyone who has ever lived) thought for a moment that she was sinless, then she would have no need for a Savior; whether or not she had been chosen to give birth to that Savior or not. Moreover, she had been told earlier that her child, “will be called the Son of God.”

She knew beyond all doubt that she, too, needed a Savior; that her baby boy was that Savior, the Messiah.

Later, the Apostle Paul tells us: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

There are no exceptions, not even Mary. In fact, if Mary never sinned, then why did she die? As God told Adam and Eve in the garden, death was the consequential penalty for only one thing: Sin. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would not have died. They would have lived forever.

As for those who pray to Mary for mediation and even for forgiveness: “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:5-6).

The right time came when Jesus was born of a virgin!

The Second Adam … The Real Reason/Purpose for the Virgin Birth

Adam and Eve were created without sin (a clean slate as it were); but also God gave them free will to choose to obey him or not. God did not create mankind as a robot; rather as a living soul, a being who would obey his Creator out of love from a willing heart. Adam and Eve chose wrong, therefore:

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Apostle Paul goes on to say:

“…Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ … For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins” (Verses 14-16).

Paul concludes the comparison with:

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous … resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Verses 18-21).

Although Jesus was conceived without inheriting the sin nature (passed down through the seed of men) of man, he, like Adam, still had the capacity to sin by choosing to disobey God (his Father). Satan knew that; but unlike his success with Adam and Eve, Satan’s temptation of Messiah Jesus failed miserably (see Luke 4:1-13).

That is the ultimate purpose for the Virgin Birth: To give Jesus equal opportunity as given to Adam, his counterpart. Or looking at it in reverse, from God’s timeless viewpoint: To give Adam equal opportunity given to the Second Adam.

Both came into this world without sin. Adam was created as the first man. Christ was not created. As part of the Triune God, he is the Creator himself. Thus, he had to be born into this world, but the only way for him to be born without the sin nature (as was Adam created without sin) was to be conceived supernaturally from above, not by natural conception.

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Both Adam and Jesus had free will to choose. Adam chose disobedience and died as a result. Christ chose to obey his Father; he also died (crucified by others) but not as a result of any wrong thing he did, for he was without sin. His death was one of a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin: the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, and the godly for the ungodly. Whereas, Adam’s death (like ours) was a justified penalty for rebellion against his Creator.

Only a sinless man could reconcile sinful men and women back to God, and restore us to the original condition of Adam and Eve before they sinned. But who could or would that man be? There was only one possible choice: God’s Son born incarnate as one of us. Immanuel—God with us. The perfect unblemished Lamb of God … the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid!

Things to Ponder

Pre-Birth Announcement of the Messiah: “…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’) (Isaiah 7:14).

Messiah Jesus’s Birth: “That night there were shepherds in the fields nearby … Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them … ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'” (Luke 2:8-11).

His Life: “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’” (John 11:25-26).

*Reader: Put you name in place of Martha.

His Death: “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners … Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins” (Hebrews 7:26-27).

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

His Resurrection: “Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead … There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).

His Glorious Return: “…All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

“Look, He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!” (Revelation 1:5-7).

Prophetic Implications of the Fires in Israel (Part II)

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The Fires of Israel in Perspective

For the past eight years, Israel has endured uncommonly dry winters. Until December 1st, not a drop of rain had fallen in Northern Israel for eight months. Although most of the 1,773 fires that ravaged Northern Israel in late November had already been extinguished by thousands of firefighters with logistical assistance from the IDF and Israeli police, the rains brought a soothing soaking that doused smoldering embers.

A few weeks before that, heavy rains fell in central and southern Israel, but not in the north. Which is another reminder that the true and living God (that Scripture also calls the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the God of Israel) ultimately determines when it rains, where it rains, and how much rain will fall.

Moreover, the Biblical paradigm of rainfall as a physical source and symbolic expression of God’s blessing is still applicable to Israel; a nation reborn from the floods of dispersion that began 2,000 years ago to and through the fires of Nazi death camps that, as horribly tragic as they were, signaled the end of God’s chastisement of Israel through Gentile nations. However, God’s withholding of rain can still be a means of getting Israel’s attention (indeed, the whole world) through the discipline of drought that may result in natural wildfires.

Whether the natural wildfires in northern Israel were directly from the Lord or not, one thing is excruciatingly evident: they were spitefully exacerbated by the intentional setting of dozens more fires by Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs who are citizens of Israel.

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(One of Hundreds of Fires in Israel … This One Very Well Could Have Been Arson)

*Note: Later in today’s article, we’ll look at a something phenomenal that took place during these fires in Israel, under the heading of The Rest of the Story.

Here is quote from another chapter in the book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 11 was quoted in last week’s article):

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you up high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

“Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed … Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed” (Deuteronomy 28:1-6).

“The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do…” (Verses 11-12).

Conversely, if the people refused to listen to the Lord your God (verse 15), then, “The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron. The Lord will change the rain that falls on your land into powder… The Lord will cause you to be defeated by your enemies… (Verses 23-25).

Are Nature’s Disasters Natural or Supernatural?

Here is an excerpt from last week’s Part I, Eye of Prophecy article:

One of the most perplexing dilemmas that people have encountered from time immemorial is whether or not natural disasters are just that, natural. Or are they supernatural in origin, i.e. the wrath of God?

Followed by a presupposition:

I believe the evidence in Scripture, both stated and implied (as experienced throughout history) is compellingly strong to propose this premise: The vast majority of disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, plagues of locusts, plagues of disease, floods, droughts, and wildfires—occur “naturally.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines naturally: “by nature; by natural character or ability; according to the usual course of things; as might be expected.”

I went on to say:

Which begs the question of whether or not God is directly involved in “natural disasters.” Putting it another way: Does he ever use the forces of nature to judge the ungodly and discipline his people? Does he occasionally cause or allow natural disasters to get our attention, to remind us that the Lord IS God. Or does he sometimes prevent natural catastrophes or limit the damage and casualties from them?

According to the Bible, the answer is a resounding, yes to all of these tough questions. But whatever reason applies to whatever calamity that occurs, the all-in-all answer is that God is ultimately sovereign over his creation. Because of the Lord’s grace, patience, and mercy, Scripture and practical experience show us that God only sparingly uses nature to get our attention. There are several examples, but only two will be cited. Both pertain to one of the main elements of God’s providential intrusion into the affairs of the human race. Which is: RAIN. Or the lack thereof.

First example: God’s stunning display of supernatural power by fire, followed immediately by rain that had not fallen at all for 3 ½ years in Israel. These exceptional events were accomplished through the prophet Elijah.

Second example: The Lord’s future withholding of rain on nations ( Zechariah 14) that refuse to attend the Festival of Shelters during the Millennial Reign Messiah Jesus, which begins after the Great Tribulation that follows the soon to come Rapture.

Also, a clarification mentioned last week:

Here we must characterize what is natural in terms and context of the how devastatingly significant man’s fall has had on nature. Since Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to disobey God followed by their expulsion from the perfect (natural) paradise of the Garden of Eden and especially since the Great Flood of Noah’s time, the earth has never been the same. This violent planet on which we live is under God’s curse, awaiting its final redemption (extreme makeover) along with the culmination of salvation for believers in Messiah Jesus … brand new eternal bodies.

Then toward the end of that article in the context of God getting Israel’s attention through natural disasters:

Am I saying that the tragic fires in Israel were directly from the Lord for that reason? No, I am not saying or even implying that. God is now protecting the Jews and Israel as never before, with allowance made that evil still exists and wicked people will do malicious things as graphically seen in the despicable acts of arson to make Israel burn even more.

Whether the Lord was in the fires or “not in the fires” by allowing nature to “run its course” is not necessarily ours to know. However, he certainly was not in or with the Palestinians to cause or condone their atrocious acts of arson.

What is of paramount importance is that Israel contemplates a possible correlation between the current drought and ensuing fires to realize that God does care about Israel and wants to, like never before, draw their attention to the coming Messiah. With an open-mind, open-heart realization that Messiah arrived two thousand years ago as the Lamb of God to give them God’s New Covenant of Grace through Jesus’s substitutionary death on the cross for sin. That his Second Coming will be that of the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to reign over and through Israel and the entire world from Jerusalem. That the earth will be purified by fire (II Peter 3).

The United States or any country would do well to take a hard look at natural disasters that strike areas of the country for possible correlation between recent or soon to be decisions of government, especially in the greater context of supporting Israel and the Jews or denigrating and delegitimizing them.

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(Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Which Struck in Late August, 2005, During the Time That Nearly 10,000 Jews Were Evicted from the Gaza Strip at the Orders Of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Under Immense Pressure from the United States to Undertake the Eviction)

God’s Discipline of Israel

One more quote from last week’s article:

Through Biblical and post-Biblical times, God used Gentile nations to discipline his chosen people, the Jews and his special possession Israel even to the point of total conquest and exile, e.g. Assyria and Babylon, then the massive Diaspora at the hands of the Roman Empire after the Jews and Judaism had rejected their Messiah.

When that tragic destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and much of Israel took place in 70 A.D., the Jews were left without a country and without a national identity, although their racial and religious identity has miraculously survived against all odds. Yet one of the most heart-rending results of no Jewish homeland since Roman times is that six million Jews were mercilessly slaughtered by those who brazenly believed the Jews had no right to even exist on this earth. Because it was not yet time for God’s prophetic disciplinary affliction to run its full course, Jews (especially European Jews) were still under Gentile domination; and, for that reason, victimized like never before in their history.

Just three years later, Israel was triumphantly reborn as a sovereign nation, which signaled the beginning of the end of Gentile suppression of the Jews; culminating in the IDF’s resounding victory during the Six-Day War and recapture of their beloved city Jerusalem.

The tragedy of the second Temple’s destruction, followed by expulsion of the Jews from Israel (some six hundred years after their return from Babylonian exile) in 70 A.D. was prophesied by Messiah, Jesus himself … forty years before the Romans sacked Jerusalem.

“As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he responded, ‘Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another’” (Matthew 24:1-2).

Luke records the rest of this prophecy from Jesus: “Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation” (Luke 19:43-44, italics for emphasis).

I realize it’s a source of angst and controversy to correlate the Jewish Diaspora—that led to massive persecution of the Jews through the diabolically distorted “Christian” (not true Christianity, but in name only) Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, and finally the devastating Holocaust of the 20th century—to God’s withdrawal of protection from his people. Yet even many Rabbis have made that connection down through the years. The main difference of opinion is the cause. Whereas Jewish scholars and rabbis attribute Israel’s ruin in 70 A.D. to several factors, none of them acknowledge the Biblical fact that they rejected God’s New Covenant for them in general and the heart and soul of that Covenant of Grace, Jesus of Nazareth, specifically as their Messiah.

Messianic Jewish Cross

Read with me (aloud) this marvelous message about Messiah Jesus:

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-5).

Then a few verses later:

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:10-13).

Listen to Jesus’s passionate love for Israel, an unrequited love that grieved him greatly. But because he is the Son of God and God the Son, his is an everlasting love; one that will express itself yet again toward Jews individually and Israel nationally when he returns to save them from annihilation during the Great Tribulation. Jesus spoke these poignant words just before his prophesy about the Temple’s destruction, and he alluded to the Diaspora that would follow.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now, look, your home is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39, italics to reference the expulsion of Jews from Israel beginning in 70 AD).

The Lord’s Punishment of Peoples and Nations Hostile Toward Israel

God also punished peoples and nations who went way too far in their extreme brutality and excessive cruelty while carrying out God’s plan to correct his chosen people and special possession, Israel. Which is the main reason that the mighty Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman Empires came crashing down.

So also with the nation of Moab beginning with King Balak paying the prophet Balaam to curse Israel, only for God to intervene and providentially cause Balaam to bless Israel and curse Moab and Edom. In doing so, Balaam—though he didn’t really understand what he was doing or saying or the repercussions of it—uttered an astonishing prophecy of the coming Messiah:

“I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’ people … while Israel marches on in triumph” (Numbers 24:17-18).

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The Bible is clear that the Lord has and will continue to harshly judge those nations that bash Israel physically and verbally, that celebrate her calamities even if they don’t directly participate in harmful exploits against Israel.

For example, the ancient nation of Edom whose people were descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau; a nation that was emblematic of all countries that seek Israel’s destruction.

“Because of the violence you did to your close relatives in Israel, you will be filled with shame and destroyed forever. When they were invaded, you stood aloof, refusing to help them. Foreign invaders carried off their wealth and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem, but you acted like one of Israel’s enemies. You should not have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands. You should not have rejoiced when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune. You should not have spoken arrogantly in that terrible time of trouble” (Obadiah 1:10-12).

Then a message to all nations of the earth concerning Israel:

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

Regarding the theme of last week’s and this week’s Eye of Prophecy articles, let’s read on in Obadiah:

“But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place. And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance. The people of Israel will be a raging fire, and Edom a field of dry stubble. The descendants of Joseph will be a flame roaring across the field, devouring everything…” (Verse 17-18).

Also:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My jealous anger burns against these nations, especially Edom, because they have shown utter contempt for me by gleefully taking my land for themselves as plunder” (Ezekiel 36:5).

In the context of the recent fires and their cause and effect, much more could be said about this divine principle of Gentile blessing and cursing Israel (as has been said in some previous Eye of Prophecy articles), but I’ll limit commentary to the following precautionary warning:

Beware you who would seek Israel’s demise by burning the very land on which the Lord has allowed you to live, through occupation of Judea and Samaria which are clearly part of the Promised Land (Israel) given by God’s divine title deed to his people. Think again before you vainly attempt to enforce your false god Allah’s commands to subjugate and kill the Jews. The (fire) pit you dig will be the pit in which you will fall. The flames of the fires you ignite to burn Jewish houses, businesses, orchards, farms, and fields (that otherwise would not have burned) will blow back to your dwellings. This divine principle is a matter of Biblical truth and historical reality evidenced time after time by the fall of peoples, nations, and empires who sought Israel’s annihilation and elimination of the Jewish people from the face of the earth.

You would do well not to defy the God of Israel, who is the Father of Messiah Yeshua; the one whose soon return will be to right all wrongs against his people. His people are the descendants of Abraham, and God’s covenant with Abraham will be honored and forever fulfilled (already in progress), which is: “For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land” (Ezekiel 36:24).

His people are also those who have been redeemed (Jew and Gentile alike) through the New Covenant of Grace.

“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us … He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups” (Ephesians 2:14-15).

*Note: To reinforce the above three paragraphs, Psalm 2 will be quoted at the end of this article under the heading that concludes all Eye of Prophecy articles, Things to Ponder.

Rain and Fire

Here is one more excerpt from last week’s post that was under the caption of Rain is Life:

No rain; no water or replenishing of water. No water; no crops or fewer crops. No crops; no food for people and animals. No food for animals; no meat for people. Our life and existence on this planet depend on adequate rainfall.

Lack of rain can lead to abnormally dry conditions or debilitating drought. Which can result in something even worse: famine. Drought can also contribute to massive wildfires.

Whether it’s through steady global warming or through natural earthly cycles, the tender-dry environment that exist on much of this globe—some temporary, others permanent or showing signs of perpetual parchedness—we need to keep one thing in mind. God universally judged mankind the first time by water. The second and final time will be through fire.

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.’

“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (II Peter 3:5-7).

And, “…On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness” (Verses 12-13).

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Does that mean that every wild fire—whether in Israel or the United States or elsewhere in the world—comes from the hand of God for the purpose of judgment or discipline? Of course not, for the reasons we’ve covered in these two articles. In fact, just the right amount of fire in a forest is a good thing … it purifies the land and makes the land more fertile for future growth.

The Rest of the Story

There is more to this sad story of the massive damage caused by the fires in Israel; made wretchedly worse by dozens of fires deliberately started by those who hate Jews and Israel so much they would even risk the flames spreading to their own homes and shops.

The rest of the story is both incredible and prophetic in its application to the imminent return of Messiah. I’m referring to the outpouring of both sentiment and assistance from many nations … that amazingly included those who have been enemies or critics of Israel.

As anticipated, the United States sent help in the form of a giant airplane specially designed with a huge tank for dumping water and fire retardants on fires. Also men and material were dispatched from other friendly countries (to Israel) such as: Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Greece, and the Ukraine.

But most unlikely of all: those who have been antagonistic toward Israel and Jews for decades including, but not limited to, support of United Nations sanctions against Israel. Yes, even the following nations sent personnel and/or equipment to Israel to combat the fires: Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Croatia, and Italy.

That’s not all. Are you sitting down, so as not to fall from shock and disbelief? Good, then I’ll tell you who else provided assistance to Israel.

The Palestinians through the Palestinian Authority as ordered by their President Mahmoud Abbas sent eight fire trucks and personnel alongside Jewish men, women, and equipment to fight the fires!

Why on earth would Abbas do such a thing? Before giving you the apparent motives on a cynical, but nevertheless historically accurate level, I would be the first to thank the Palestinians for doing something they’ve never done in the past nor probably ever will again this side of eternity.

I believe there were two reasons for this extraordinarily unexpected gesture: (1) The Palestinian Authority’s desire to placate international concern over arson used as a form of terrorism. The gruesome fact that fire knows no boundaries and doesn’t distinguish between its victims is something the whole world understands. (2) For the second part of reason number one, Mahmoud Abbas didn’t want the fires spreading into the West Bank. Given his persistent incitement of his own people to terrorize Israelis, I’m sure he would have preferred they continue with the knife, shooting, and car-ramming intifada tactics.

There’s already talk whether or not Abbas will extend his policy of monthly stipends to the families of Palestinian terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons, to Palestinians convicted of arson in these recent fires.

And what about nations such as Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan that are still, to a large extent in terms of their majority populace, hostile toward Jews in general and Israel in particular? At one time or another, these nations have directly caused or indirectly contributed (through funding terrorist groups or supporting nations that host terrorist cells) to the death and injury of Israelis particularly since Israel became a state again in 1948.

This fire-fighting aid to Israel is part of the broader context of what has recently taken place between Israel and a few nations of the world, including former adversaries like the nations listed and others like Saudi Arabia and several African nations. One glaring exception is, of course, Iran; whose hatred of Israel will never cease or change.

At face value, this recent restoration to some extent or another of diplomatic relations between Israel and nations normally antagonistic towards her doesn’t track with end time’s Biblical prophecy of the Gog/Magog assault against Israel, followed by the massive campaign of Antichrist Nero and his ten-nation confederation march on Israel. Nonetheless, many nations are beginning to recognize Israel’s ascendancy in the global arena of politics, industry, science, medicine, agriculture, and computer and cellular technology … but first and foremost, Israel’s military capability.

Then, when we remember the conditions that will be in place when these monstrous attacks on Israel take place, we can only marvel at the amazing accuracy of the Bible. For you see, before the Gog/Magog (involving principally Russia, Iran, and Turkey) invasion of Israel begins, there will be a (false) sense of peace and security in Israel. This is made possible primarily through the seven-year treaty that Antichrist Nero will orchestrate between Israel and mostly Arab nations. Preceded by the current conditions of the aforementioned nations cozying up to Israel, but with ulterior motives

See Eye of Prophecy article, The Peace Treaty That Will Guarantee War (Posted 9-3-16).

First Russia and her cohorts will seek to destroy Israel, only to be vanquished by God himself. Then Antichrist Nero will break the treaty after 3 ½ years; he, too, will launch a massive assault against other nations with his main objective of conquering Israel. That is when Messiah Jesus will return physically to earth and rescue Israel from obliteration. However, this time the Jews will fight alongside Messiah.

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These campaigns will take place when Israel thinks she is the most secure, especially after God soundly defeats the Gog/Magog horde of nations. That attack will surprise the Jews, but not as much as Antichrist breaking the treaty and suddenly turning on Israel halfway through the Tribulation.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, The Gog Magog Countdown Has Begun! (Published 9-10-16); preceded by a detailed account of the remarkable diplomatic relations recently advanced between Russia and Iran, Russia and Turkey, Turkey and Iran, and most startling of all: Israel’s increasingly close ties with Russia and Turkey (in italics):

The remarkable reality that Israel has suddenly and dramatically improved her standing with a diverse array of nations, most of which were (and still are to varying degrees) staunch opponents to the existence of a Jewish State, fits precisely into our prophecy of the day … the Gog/Magog attack against Israel. These maneuvers for peace between Israel and adversarial Islamic nations will pave the way for The Treaty to End All Treaties!

That treaty effected by Antichrist Nero soon after the Rapture will not only bring together two ancient enemies (Jews and Arabs); it will also defuse hostilities of other nations toward Israel … even Iran.

But only for a short time!

Because at that time, which is just around the corner, Russia, Turkey, Iran and other lesser nations will, “swoop down on the land of Israel … You (Gog) and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud” (Ezekiel 38:8-9).

This massive Gog/Magog invasion of Israel will be a direct “shock and awe” aftermath of: The Rapture disappearance of hundreds of millions from planet Earth (shock). Then the spectacular reappearance of Nero Caesar from the Abyss and his impressive treaty with Israel and the nations (awe).

World Opinion is Volatile

People all over the world, particularly those in “populist movements” (which is who and what got Donald Trump elected) are slowly but surely beginning to realize that Palestinian terrorism against Jews in Israel is born out of ancient hatred, not so-called Israeli occupation of or a few settlements in the West Bank. They are growing tired of the incessant Muslim rhetoric against Israel, especially the absurd Palestinian allegations that Temple Mount belongs to the Arabs with the equally inane assertion that the Jewish temples never existed on Temple Mount. Or that other Jewish sacred sites such as the Cave (Tomb) of the Patriarchs belong to Arabs. There is also rising international criticism against the pernicious BDS movement designed to disenfranchise and degrade Israel economically.

Make no mistake: the end time’s prophecies that many nations will march against Israel will certainly come to pass. Such as one of the most well-known Biblical passages tells us:

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

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(The World’s Attention is On Israel … But They Don’t Know What To Do About Israel!)

But first there will be a semblance of peace in Israel and between Israel and several nations, even those that deplore the Jews. This treaty orchestrated by Antichrist Nero shortly after the Rapture will lead to the rebuilding of the Third Temple. It will cement cooperation between Israel and her enemies that has recently taken place through the remarkable diplomatic relations fostered between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Russia, India, Greece, Cyprus, and several African nations.

The astonishingly unforeseen assistance given by these nations to fight the fires in Israel is another remarkable fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. For it is a prelude to the Gog Magog invasion of Israel that will occur in the first year or so of the seven-year treaty (The Tribulation period).

The enticement for Russia, Turkey, Iran, and other smaller nations to invade Israel—followed by the breaking of the treaty and even more massive assault against Israel led by the ten-nation coalition of Antichrist—will be conciliatory conditions created by this sudden reversal of animosity toward Israel to that of tolerance and even cooperation with Israel. This climate of collaboration has taken place recently and rapidly. As have many other developments that convincingly demonstrate we are so very close to the Day of the Lord.

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

“Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will rouse yourself. You will come from your homeland in the distant north…” (Verses 14-15).

Things to Ponder

As indicated earlier in the context of people and rulers of nations who would defy God and seek to destroy the Jews through whom the Lord has brought salvation to the entire world, listen to these words of warning from King David:

“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from slavery to God.’

“But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. For the Lord declares, ‘I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.’

“The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: The Lord said to me: ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.’

“Now then, you kings, acts wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 2:1-12).

Regarding God’s Royal Son:

“… Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!” (Revelation 1:5-7).

Prophetic Implications of the Fires in Israel (Part I)

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An Inferno in Israel

The soaking rain that fell on Israel last week was welcomed by Israelis perhaps like never before. For as long as Israel has been Israel—from her birth as a powerful country under King David over 3,000 years ago to her rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948—the people depend upon the spring and fall rains to sustain them. This time the rain helped to bring desperate relief from the ferocious fires that engulfed much of northern Israel.

Desolation to the land and discouragement to the psyche of Israel caused by this conflagration was distressing. The statistics are saddening. The scope of damage unprecedented. But the soul of Israel and the spirit of her people is indomitable. They will recover and continue to prosper through the providential power and prevailing protection of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ashes will one day turn into beauty in this bewildering but wonderful land.

From November 18th through November 27th, some 2,000 firefighters, 3,500 IDF soldiers, and 20,000 police officers battled 1,773 fires (39 of which were classified as major fires) or contributed to evacuation and rescue operations to remove Israelis from harm’s way.

Over 32,000 acres of urban terrain and rural forest were destroyed, 30% more than the huge 2010 fire that decimated some five million trees in the Carmel Mountains. Fortunately, if not miraculously, there were no fatalities. Still, some 180 people were injured or overcome by smoke inhalation, with the injuries spanning the scale of minor, moderate, and serious. According to some experts, it will take nearly 30 years for the damaged areas to fully recover.

One of the Israelis in charge of rescue operations in the community of Neve Tzuf commented:

“When we entered the town, it looked like a bomb had gone off … A two-story building was burning and the one behind it caught on fire in a domino effect. Gas tanks were blowing up and all you could see everywhere you looked was fire—giant balls of fire skipping from building to building, to the cars, eating up everything and destroying it…”

Large areas of Israel, including communities near Jerusalem were affected. In Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, over 500 homes and apartments were completely destroyed, more than 1,600 people left homeless, and 75,000 residents evacuated. To put the magnitude of this devastation in perspective: If the same proportion of acreage would have burned in the United States as that destroyed in Israel, it would have consumed the combined states of Vermont and New Jersey. The whole of Israel itself is roughly the size of New Jersey.

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(The Land and the Sky Ablaze in Israel)

In large part, the fires were natural in origin, fueled by years of below average rainfall in Israel including several consecutive years of drought conditions. Because of Israel’s remarkable irrigation system and desalination of sea water into drinking water, the drought conditions have been moderated enough to alleviate undue hardship on the people. Yet only a sufficient amount of rain can prevent or at least reduce the threat of wildfires.

The unusually dry conditions throughout Israel combined with several days of high winds brought about this “perfect storm” of hundreds of fires, many of them converging with each other. But there was another factor that contributed to the conflagration: the unthinkable “arson intifada” waged by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Not unlike the lone-wolf terrorist attacks over the past 15 months, that including knifing, shooting, and car-ramming injuries and deaths of innocent Israelis.

Divine Judgment?

Muslim news sources, Arab social media, and leaders of several Islamic nations have claimed that the fires in Israel were a direct result of Allah’s retribution against pending Israeli legislation called the “muezzin bill.” Muezzin is the repetitive Muslim call to worship funneled through loudspeakers that Israelis consider an irritating and disruptive source of noise pollution all over Israel. I’ve been to Israel and heard these high decibel blasts that can wake you out of a sound sleep early in the morning. It’s pervasively loud enough to sometimes stop you in the middle of a sentence. I fully agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who supports the muezzin bill; with his rationale that our modern age of alarm clocks and phone apps preclude any need for a Muslim to be reminded of their worship time of day.

In keeping with the commands of the Koran to help their god Allah force Islam on the unbelieving infidels and enforce the oppressive demands of Muslims, which includes removal of all Jews from Israel, Arab lone-wolf terrorists decided that Israel wasn’t burning fast enough. So they added fire to their list of terrorist tactics against Israelis. Thus far, some 24 Palestinian and Israeli Arabs have been arrested for arson.

Which proves once again that Palestinians couldn’t care less about the so-called “Israeli occupation” of the West Bank (to include what they call East Jerusalem). The existence of allegedly “illegal Jewish settlements” is only a pretense for Palestinian leaders to incite their people to carry out attacks on Jews. The real Palestinian agenda is elimination of all Jews in Israel, not just in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (where Jews were evicted in 2006); and the creation of a Palestinian State to replace the entire nation of Israel, not merely within Israel.

Although there were a few natural fires within the West Bank, all of the arson blazes were set in Israel itself (outside the Palestinian occupied territories). Which also proves the hatred that Palestinians harbor against Jews and the callous disregard they have for the land only because Jews live on that land. Apparently the Palestinians are willing to participate in a “scorched earth” policy, even if it means that part of the West Bank could burn.

Muslims the world over are elated to think that their god would inflict his wrath on the Jews. In fact, the hashtag used by Arab social media to express and spread their delight over the suffering and hardship these horrible fires inflicted on Israelis was under the label of Israel burns.

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(One of Hundreds of Israel Homes Destroyed or Heavily Damaged)

Surprisingly, a few Jewish rabbis also believe the fires are a result of God’s judgment of Israel, but for a different reason; the pending eviction of over 40 Jewish families from the Amona district within the West Bank. This is a complicated legal issue and has resulted in a confrontational clash of authority between Israel’s Supreme Court and the Knesset.

Of course, the Jewish God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the Old Testament who is also the Christian God of the Old and New Testament combined. But whether the true God or a false god, both Jew and Arab claim a divine connection between the fires and wrongs they perceive as perpetrated by the Israeli Government.

God’s Discipline of Israel

One of the most perplexing dilemmas that people have encountered from time immemorial is whether or not natural disasters are just that, natural. Or are they supernatural in origin, i.e. the wrath of God? An entire article or two could be written on that subject alone (make that three articles, as I would need to throw in the ludicrous theory of evolution!); for sake of time/space, I’ll limit my observations (opinion if you will, but based on Scripture) on that peripheral side note in the context of the main subject of this week’s and next week’s Eye of Prophecy article.

I believe the evidence in Scripture, both stated and implied (as experienced throughout history) is compellingly strong to propose this premise: The vast majority of disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, plagues of locusts, plagues of disease, floods, droughts, and wildfires—occur “naturally.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines naturally: “by nature; by natural character or ability; according to the usual course of things; as might be expected.”

Here, we’ll look briefly at just one example of natural events. Later in the article, we’ll examine another incident involving the same prophet, Elijah, in which God directly and divinely intervenes with a supernatural (over and above nature) display of his power through the natural element of fire.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain, the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-12).

The Lord did not supernaturally bring the windstorm, earthquake, and fire just to get Elijah’s attention and certainly not to discipline him for running scared. Instead, the Lord spoke to Elijah through a “gentle whisper” then tenderly instructed Elijah to, “…go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram” (Verse 15).

With gentleness, but also in no uncertain terms, God told Elijah to get on with his life. Among other lessons, God was showing Elijah that natural calamities are part of life; after all, it is a fallen world we live in. As we will see shortly, Elijah had already witnessed firsthand a supernatural display of God’s power that the Lord sometimes uses to intervene in human affairs. But the Lord had more work for Elijah to do, despite windstorms, earthquakes, and firestorms, both real and figurative (storms of life).

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Here we must characterize what is natural in terms and context of the how devastatingly significant man’s fall has had on nature. Since Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to disobey God followed by their expulsion from the perfect (natural) paradise of the Garden of Eden and especially since the Great Flood of Noah’s time, the earth has never been the same. This violent planet on which we live is under God’s curse, awaiting its final redemption (extreme makeover) along with the culmination of salvation for believers in Messiah Jesus … brand new eternal bodies.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for the future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:18-23).

Do I hear an AMEN!

Although somewhat of an oversimplification, it nonetheless is a Biblically based precept to ultimately equate/define God’s blessings under the umbrella category of God’s protection. Conversely, whatever or whoever is under God’s curse, lacks God’s protection. In that regard and with that understanding, we realize that God allows nature (the natural order of things) to operate on its own most of the time; subject, in part, to man’s authority over and care of the earth. However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they/we lost much of that control which originated as follows:

“Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’ Then, God said, ‘Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food’” (Genesis 1:28-29).

Which is why scientists, geologists, and physicists can with some degree of accuracy explain why there are earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and so forth.

What they can’t explain with any degree of certainty is WHEN catastrophic events of nature will happen, how large they will be, how long they will last, or what extent of damage will ensue. Which begs the question of whether or not God is directly involved in “natural disasters.” Putting it another way: Does he ever use the forces of nature to judge the ungodly and discipline his people? Does he occasionally cause or allow natural disasters to get our attention, to remind us that the Lord IS God. Or does he sometimes prevent natural catastrophes or limit the damage and casualties from them?

According to the Bible, the answer is a resounding, yes to all of these tough questions. But whatever reason applies to whatever calamity that occurs, the all-in-all answer is that God is ultimately sovereign over his creation. Because of the Lord’s grace, patience, and mercy, Scripture and practical experience show us that God only sparingly uses nature to get our attention. There are several examples, but only two will be cited. Both pertain to one of the main elements of God’s providential intrusion into the affairs of the human race. Which is: RAIN. Or the lack thereof.

Rain is Life

No rain; no water or replenishing of water. No water; no crops or fewer crops. No crops; no food for people and animals. No food for animals; no meat for people. Our life and existence on this planet depend on adequate rainfall. Just take a tour of the Sahara Desert or Death Valley, California if you think that planet earth could survive conditions like that on a regular or global basis.

As found especially in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Israel’s continued possession of and prosperity in the Promised Land were directly related to trust in God (for all things) and obedience to his laws—given for the welfare and security of his people. And, also the companion condition that Israel worship only the true and living God; not false, man-made gods that they or their pagan neighbors had fashioned. This was an overarching principle that applied to everyday life of the Jews.

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With the Levitical sacrificial system, God’s forgiveness for sin was unconditionally given through atonement. Of course, there must be genuine remorse for wrong things said and done, but forgiveness was not based on good works or keeping of the Mosaic Law … whether moral, civil, or ceremonial. Redemptive righteousness (right standing with God) was based exclusively on faith in God’s Word (given to Moses and the people) that he would provide a covering for their sin through an outside source—the shedding of innocent animal blood. Then later the Lord gave them/us the New Covenant which was the once for all sacrificial substitutionary death of God’s son, Messiah Yeshua; followed by Messiah’s resurrection from the dead to ratify and seal this marvelous Covenant of Grace. This eternally solved man’s spiritual problem—separation from God because of sin. (See among other passages, the entire book of Hebrews).

Not so with respect to the issue of physical presence and prosperity in and permanent possession of the land. That was strictly conditional. Furthermore, the Lord specifically used rain or lack of it as the acid test repercussion of Israel’s trust and obedience. Read with me the Lord’s instructions as spoken by Moses to the people.

First the promises … the good news:

“Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey! For the land you are about to enter and take over is not like the land of Egypt from which you came … Rather, the land … is a land of hills and valleys with plenty of rain—a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!

“If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat” (Deuteronomy 11:8-15).

Now for the warnings … the not so good news:

“But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord’s anger will turn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the Lord is giving you. So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 11:16-21).

Moses goes on to say that God would give his people victory over and protection from their enemies. On somewhat of a side note in this chapter of Deuteronomy, we find the largest boundaries of the Promised Land of Israel—broader than ancient Israel of King David’s time and far broader than the borders of modern Israel, especially to the east of Israel.

“Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours. Your frontiers will stretch from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west” (Verse 24).

Then the Lord through Moses summarizes the details previously given of how continued possession, indeed, their very existence in the Promised Land, was contingent on their obedience to God.

“Look, today I am giving you the choice between blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him…” (Verses 26-27).

Toward the end of Deuteronomy—which is a summary of all that God told the people just before they entered the Promised Land, a message from Moses that took only a few days—we read:

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster” (Deuteronomy 30:15).

Then again: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! … And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Verses 19-20).

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In today’s vernacular we could summarize by saying:

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Conversely, “Reach out to the hand that feeds you.”

Two Examples of God Withholding Rain

Elijah:

The first is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible; that of Elijah’s astounding victory over the false prophets of Baal, hundreds of whom had been enlisted to serve the wicked King Ahab and his equally evil wife, Jezebel. Time doesn’t permit in this week’s article to elaborate on this astounding miracle involving natural fire from God’s supernatural source in heaven that humiliated the false prophets and their man-made god Baal. It proved to Israel who the true and living God was and forever will be.

Rather we will focus on the very first introduction to Elijah, beginning with his confrontational prophecy to Ahab, one that applied to the nation of Israel (the ten Northern tribes in particular):

“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’” (I Kings 17:1).

Not only no rain; not even any dew!

It wasn’t just Ahab and Jezebel, although they were Israel’s (loathsome) leaders and (bad) examples; all the northern tribes (called Israel, with the two southern tribes known as Judah) had begun to serve and worship Baal. Enough was enough. God would step in and do what was necessary to correct his people, to get them back on the right path, the path of life. This cycle of rebellion against the Lord, followed by God’s judgment through nature or by surrounding gentile nations, then Israel’s return (always temporary) to God is found throughout the Old Testament, beginning with the book of Judges.

Because it fits with today’s theme, I will take the time/space to quote the astonishing results of God “raining” fire down on Elijah’s sacrifice (a good thing). The fire consumed much more than just the sacrificed animal. Read with me:

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

Elijah had first instructed the people to pour twelve large jars of water on the twelve-stone altar and in a trench surrounding it. In such a time of drought, using that much water to prove a point was risky business. But Elijah knew that God would listen to him and answer his prayer to validate God’s deity and power. Even the twelve stones and water from twelve large jars burned up!

So, we have no rain (whatsoever) for over three years leading to a second confrontation between Elijah and Ahab that would include one of the most spectacular miracles of the Old Testament (and there were many amazing miracles): fire flashing down from heaven to prove to the people who was God and who was not. Followed by the people’s sincere acknowledgment that the Lord was, indeed, God. With God’s forgiveness and grace subsequently poured out in the form of rain.

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming! So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees” (I Kings 18:41-42).

We know that Elijah had prayed for rain, because that’s exactly what happened next.

“And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm…” (Verse 45).

And that was the end of the 3 ½ year drought in Israel.

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Zechariah:

This is another example of how God uses rain specifically and, by implication, nature in general, in response to the disobedience of people and nations when they blatantly defy and scorn the Lord God. However, this is a future illustration of the age-old Biblical principle and practice of our Great God. The setting here is the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

“In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain” (Zechariah 14:16-17).

“No rain,” means exactly that. Not just a reduction of annual rainfall; there will be no rain at all for that nation! Just across the borders of surrounding nations that show their gratitude and love for Christ Jesus, the King of kings, for all that he has done and will continue to do for them and the world, there will be abundant rain, crops, and prosperity.

Summary

Through Biblical and post-Biblical times, God used Gentile nations to discipline his chosen people, the Jews and his special possession Israel even to the point of total conquest and exile, e.g. Assyria and Babylon, then the massive Diaspora at the hands of the Roman Empire after the Jews and Judaism had rejected their Messiah.

No longer will the Lord discipline Israel through domination of Gentile nations. Such discipline has run its prophetic course. It ended with Israel’s phenomenal Six-Day War victory in June, 1967. See Eye of Prophecy articles, Seven Times Seven to the 4th Power (I, II, & III, posted 1-25, 2-1, & 2-8-14)) which provide stunning details of one of the least known or understood prophecies in Scripture (Leviticus Chapter 26). Followed by the summary article entitled, The Omega Generation, published 2-15-14.

But God still uses nature to capture the attention of both Israel and the nations.

Am I saying that the tragic fires in Israel were directly from the Lord for that reason? No, I am not saying or even implying that. God is now protecting the Jews and Israel as never before, with allowance made that evil still exists and wicked people will do malicious things as graphically seen in the despicable acts of arson to make Israel burn even more.

Whether the Lord was in the fires or “not in the fires” by allowing nature to “run its course” is not necessarily ours to know. However, he certainly was not in or with the Palestinians to cause or condone their atrocious acts of arson.

Yet whenever we hear or read about, are part of by direct experience, or perhaps even narrowly escape with our health and home from a “natural” disaster, we should pause and reflect.

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What is of paramount importance is that Israel contemplates a possible correlation between the current drought and ensuing fires to realize that God does care about Israel and wants to, like never before, draw their attention to the coming Messiah. With an open-mind, open-heart realization that Messiah arrived two thousand years ago as the Lamb of God to give them God’s New Covenant of Grace through Jesus’s substitutionary death on the cross for sin. That his Second Coming will be that of the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to reign over and through Israel and the entire world from Jerusalem. That mankind will be judged and the earth will be purified by fire (II Peter 3). We’ll cover that in more detail with next week’s article.

You won’t want to miss Part II of next week’s Eye of Prophecy article that will continue our examination of the fires in Israel in the context of Biblical prophecy. We will take an up close and personal look at the Rest of the Story, something completely unexpected that occurred during these horrific fires in Israel. We will see the remarkable connection of this amazing event to Biblical prophecy that will be fulfilled in the very near future.

Things to Ponder

The United States or any country would do well to take a hard look at natural disasters that strike areas of the country for possible correlation between recent or soon to be decisions of government, especially in the greater context of supporting Israel and the Jews or denigrating and delegitimizing them.

Then take the opportunity to examine our hearts and actions in the light of Biblical prophecy, precepts, and promises pertaining to Israel; and also our individual character and conduct concerning acknowledgment of God (or lack thereof) and at least a measure of respect for and cooperation with our chosen leaders.

“My child, fear the Lord and the king. Don’t associate with rebels, for disaster will hit them suddenly. Who knows what punishment will come from the Lord and the king?” (Proverbs 24:21-22).

Whether drought, famine, forest fires or other “natural” disasters, they are not necessarily used by the Lord as a means of discipline or judgment. For example, the seven-year famine throughout the Middle East in Joseph’s time was God’s way of reuniting Joseph with his father and brothers, all the while saving Israel, Egypt, and surrounding nations from drought induced starvation. But also to demonstrate to Pharaoh and Egypt that he, and he alone, is the true and living God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we know now, also the God of all who are redeemed by receiving and believe in God’s Son, Messiah Jesus.

It was a reminder of who is ultimately in control.

Said Joseph to his brothers who had sold him into Egyptian slavery:

“…Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:19-20).

As Messiah Jesus hung on that cross suffering from excruciating pain and terrible thirst, he looked down on his accusers, captors, and executioners and uttered these amazing words:

“…Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

“For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?)

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Faith, Love, and A Glorious Hope

The Bible is packed with powerful prophecies, profound principles, and precious promises. From beginning to end we marvel at the majestic Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as Creator and Redeemer of the human race. From Genesis through Revelation we are amazed at the absolute attributes of our Great God and Savior, including, but certainly not limited to, his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

Through Scripture we learn the real meaning of such things as truth, righteousness, justice, unconditional love, and peace, because we see them from God’s viewpoint. More than that: with an open mind and heart we understand that God is Truth, Righteousness, Justice, Love, and Peace. These divine concepts are available and attainable to the human race only through God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, who is the perfect embodied expression of God.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

Because God created us in his image, he has graciously given us the capacity for kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and consideration for others. God also gave us free will to choose right from wrong, good from evil. Because Adam and Eve chose wrongly, we now have a fallen twisted nature to be and do the exact opposite of what is good and right. Hence, the purest expression of these aforementioned positive qualities and others like them are possible only when Christ through the Holy Spirit is living in us and through us (Galatians 6 & Ephesians 5).

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There are:

“Three things (that) will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).

Love

“God is Love” (I John 4:8 & 16).

This love was expressed unconditionally through God’s grace, the greatest gift of all time: the sacrificial death of God’s Son on the cross for forgiveness of sin and pardon from the penalty of that sin—eternal separation from God. We are mercifully delivered from eternal judgment, and graciously given everlasting life (John 3:16).

Without God’s love and his initiative to express that love for us, there’s no way that any human being can possess and convey the same kind of unconditional agape love to others as described in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians. We love God and others, because he first loved us (I John 4).

Although salvation and eternal life is given to us for all time (never to be taken away) the moment we believe and receive Christ Jesus as personal Savior, it takes a lifetime of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ to better understand and express that kind of love to others. (II Peter 3:18).

Faith:

From the very beginning, all Adam and Eve had to do to live forever in paradise was to believe (have faith and trust in) what God had done for them and what he had said would come to pass if they didn’t obey him. Obedience to God is a direct result of trusting him and in him. Tragically (for our original parents and the human race), they failed this simple test of trust. Long before the Law of Moses was given, we find that trusting and obeying the Lord was all that was required of Abraham. This faith resulted in the most splendid thing that a human being could ever have or hope for: a right standing (righteousness) with God (Genesis 15:6).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Ephesians 2:8-10, King James Version).

None of our works or deeds is really good in God’s eyes, until and unless we have been created (born-again) in Christ Jesus by placing our trust in God’s gift of grace—manifested through the death, burial, and resurrection of His matchless Son.

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Hope

God’s Biblical plan of Salvation gives us something else that the Apostle Paul said would last forever: hope. This hope looks longingly for the culmination of so great a salvation—resurrection from the dead and transformation of those still alive when Christ returns, to a brand new body equipped to live forever in heaven. That is the main featured focus of today’s article; born-again believers enduring expectant hope for the Day of the Lord to begin.

Because of the remarkable 2,000-year influence of the Christian faith on this earth, many unbelievers have heard or know something about, The Second Coming. Virtually all true believers know of this phenomenal prophetic promise; however, even some Christians are confused about the Rapture and the Return of Messiah to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

Are they one and the same, or are they two distinct events? If they are separate events, will they happen at virtually the same time at the Second Coming of Christ Jesus?

There are two ways to approach this subject: (1) Provide Scriptural evidence first, then reach the conclusion based on that verification. (2) Answer the questions up-front, then examine the Biblical evidence to confirm the premise.

There would be more suspense in the buildup afforded by option one, but I will choose number two for the following reasons: (A) Although this is the first Eye of Prophecy article devoted entirely to the subject of contrasting or equating the Rapture to the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, several prior articles have made reference to the Rapture and the Return of Christ in the context of the main theme of those articles.

(B) Some Christians who have studied Biblical prophecy to some extent or another, understand these two events and know the correct answer to the questions, including at least a familiarity with the sequence of events that comprise what the Bible calls as a whole, The Day of the Lord.

Premise: The Rapture and the physical Return of Christ to the earth are, indeed, two distinct happenings that will take place at conspicuously separate times. Yet it’s also important to grasp the Biblical evidence to support that conclusion.

Different Degree of Emphasis in Scripture

Here, I’m referring to the sheer quantity of Biblical prophecies, both Old and New Testament, on the First and Second Coming of Messiah compared to the relatively few passages about the Rapture. That doesn’t mean that the Rapture is of less importance; only that the Rapture is just one part of what the Bible calls, The Day of the Lord, and what Bible scholars and teachers label, The Second Advent of Messiah.

To be as Biblically literate as possible concerning end-times prophecy, it’s of paramount importance to comprehend that the return of Christ encompasses a sequence of five events or phases. Beginning with the Rapture, then the Great Tribulation, then the Return of Messiah to the earth, then the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth to establish the Kingdom of God, and finally the perpetual existence of this Kingdom that includes among other amazing things: the New Jerusalem and a new heaven and earth (extreme makeover). Thus, when Jesus spoke of his return (as did the apostles Paul and Peter and John), we need to distinguish between references to the Rapture and the physical return of Messiah Jesus to the earth.

The Rapture

Found only in the New Testament, there are three definitive expositions of the Rapture: Matthew 24-25, I Thessalonians 4, and I Corinthians 15. There are also two Biblical incidents that provide prototype parallels of the Rapture in the form of a mysterious catching up of two men before disaster strikes the earth. One is Enoch in the Old Testament (Genesis 5:21-24) who was suddenly and mysteriously taken (alive) from the earth to be spared from God’s first world-wide judgment of mankind … the Great Flood. Then, the author of Revelation, John, was suddenly caught up to heaven to witness the second and final judgment of God on the earth … The Great Tribulation.

“Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this’” (Revelation 4:1).

Come up here. I’m convinced that these same words Jesus spoke to John will be the shout heard around the world along with a series of trumpet blasts to herald the Rapture.

As a reminder, the word Rapture is not found in Scripture. Nonetheless, it is an accurate term that vividly conveys and portrays what actually takes place. The Greek word used in the Rapture passage of I Thessalonians Chapter 4 is harpazo, which means to suddenly seize or catch up (to heaven). Please refer to the very first Eye of Prophecy article, What is the Rapture? (Posted 7-26-13). Followed by four more articles on the Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture (8-3 through 8-24-13).

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The Second Coming of Messiah

In the Old Testament the (second) coming of Messiah is referred to as the day of the Lord or the end times or the last days. However, there are other passages that don’t use a catchphrase, as such. Rather, they simply describe what takes place when God, through his Messiah, brings all things together to accomplish his purpose for mankind at the end of time. Meaning that time itself won’t end … only God’s specific plan for that particular time or times. Furthermore, both Messianic and non-Messianic references to the last days found in the Old Testament are specifically written about Israel—her physical and spiritual restoration. And, of course, there are many prophecies pertaining to Messiah’s first arrival to bring salvation to all—Jew and Gentile alike.

Different Purposes

Perhaps the biggest distinction between the Rapture and the Return of Messiah to the earth is found in the respective purpose they serve. Rapture is exclusively for the Church, the body of Christ, consisting of all Jews and Gentiles who have placed their faith in our Jewish Messiah, Jesus. The Second Coming of Christ to the earth is for the preliminary purpose of rescuing Israel from total destruction and the Jews from annihilation at the hands of the Antichrist. In doing so, Jesus will destroy the armies of Antichrist; thereby, completing the wrath of God on a very wicked world.

The Rapture of Believers

The primary purpose of the Rapture is to preemptively save believers from the Great Tribulation, with a secondary reason of dramatically and traumatically getting the attention of those left behind. To demonstrate that they have one last chance to receive God’s pardon through His chosen Messiah.

Messiah Jesus was the first to introduce the specific event of the Rapture, and he did so in the broader context of his astounding Mount of Olives message found in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, with a more condensed account in Mark Chapter 13 and Luke Chapter 21. In those riveting portions of Scripture, Jesus covers the entire episode of his Second Coming—the Rapture, the Tribulation, and his glorious return to the earth—although not necessarily in sequence. Here is his dramatic descriptive allusion to the Rapture, which will trigger the ominous apocalyptic events of the Tribulation culminating in his actual return to the earth:

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 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.

“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. So, you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:37-42).

Those “taken” in the Rapture are believers in Christ; just as Noah and his family were removed and relocated in the ark, and Lot and his family taken (literally grabbed by the angels) out of Sodom. Those who experienced God’s judgment were not taken out of harm’s way; they were the ones left behind to die on the earth. Likewise, those left behind at the Rapture are unbelievers who will go through the terrible Tribulation.

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(Some Will Be Taken, Many Left Behind)

It’s important to grasp the fact that when Jesus spoke of his Second Coming, he incorporated the Rapture, Tribulation, and physical return to earth—as three phases of a continuous comprehensive series of events. He distinguishes between these three stages by explaining what will happen. It’s then up to us to separate and match his descriptions to these three phases of his Second Coming. We do that by comparing them with all other Biblical end times prophecies, or at least enough passages to know which one he is describing … Rapture (to include global birth pains leading up to the Rapture) Tribulation, or his Return.

The purpose of believers “taken” from the earth is presented by the Apostle Paul after he discloses the astonishing sequence of the Rapture itself in I Thessalonians 4:15-18.

“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” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10).

The very fact that we are spared from God’s anger (which isn’t released globally until the Great Tribulation) means that the Rapture must take place before the Tribulation which will last for seven years. Therefore, the Rapture is a uniquely different occurrence from the physical return of Messiah Jesus to the earth, near the end of the Tribulation.

When Paul uses the phrase, “when he returns” he, like Christ before him, is referring specifically to the first three of the five phases of the Day of the Lord, i.e. the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Messiah Jesus. The remaining two phases are the Millennium and what some Bible scholars refer to simply as Eternity ushered in by the final defeat of Satan and those who subsequently oppose Messiah at the end of the Millennium. These final two epic ages are described in such passages as Revelation Chapters 20-22 and Isaiah Chapter 11.

In fact, before Paul illustrates the actual catching up of believers (Rapture), he cites the reason that the Lord Jesus so graciously and generously revealed this astonishing prophetic hope for believers. This is the part of the Rapture passage in I Thessalonians 4 that isn’t often quoted or is overlooked in favor of the more well-known portion of this passage.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 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” (I Thessalonians 4:13-15).

First and foremost the Lord is telling us through Paul that the resurrection of dead believers in Christ will not only take place at the Rapture; it is the Rapture itself! So also will believers still alive when the Rapture occurs be given new resurrected bodies. In effect, this, too, is a resurrection from the dead … a deliverance from our decaying, dying bodies. This remarkable transformation is vividly portrayed in I Corinthians Chapter 15.

Return of Messiah to the Earth

We’re still in the category of Different Purposes between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, with the aforementioned purpose of the Rapture to spare believers from the wrath of God and the madness of Satan and Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.

There are several passages in both the Old Testament and New Testament that clearly convey the fact of and purpose for Messiah Jesus’s physical return to the earth. None more so than the following:

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war … and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty … On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).

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That is exactly what Paul said earlier in I Thessalonians: “…we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” And, of course, believers who are still alive at the Rapture also will accompany Christ upon his glorious return to the earth.

But first, both the dead and living in Christ must be taken up to heaven in order for the, “armies of heaven dressed in … pure white linen to follow him on white horses.”

Different Time/Different Places

The Rapture

“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).

At the Rapture, born-again Christians will “be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” We will go up. We will not meet him on the earth or descend with him back to earth at the Rapture; nor is there any mention of Messiah Jesus actually coming to or stepping foot on earth during this first phase of his return.

Moreover, the Rapture will occur over a short span of time to include “the blink of an eye” transfiguration of our bodies (both dead and living).

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. 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 15:51-53).

Please read Eye of Prophecy Article, How the Rapture (posted 8-24-13) showing that the entire progression of the Rapture (described in I Thessalonians 4) will take place in real time over several minutes, not in the blink of an eye. The only thing that takes place in a nanosecond (blink of an eye) is the actual transfiguration of our bodies, which is the last thing that happens during the Rapture sequence before believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the sky.

There will be no immediate warning that the Rapture is about happen. It is the Rapture phase of the Second Coming of Christ that will come abruptly as, “a thief in the night.” Which is why no one knows the day or hour when it will take place; and why it will stun an unsuspecting, unprepared, unbelieving world like nothing before in human history since the Great Flood.

Conversely, there will be many warning signs before Christ returns to the earth, including all of the Tribulation events. Plus, the fact that his physical return will take place seven years after the Tribulation begins—maybe to the day, or maybe a few days before the Tribulation ends. Many of the redeemed saints and even some die-hard unbelievers during the Tribulation will accurately predict the day of Jesus’s actual return to the earth.

The Return of Christ to the Earth

Here is Messiah Jesus’s description of his post-Tribulation return to earth:

“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, italics for emphasis).

Zechariah 14:3-4 tells us that Messiah will step foot on the Mount of Olives which is one of the most well-known Old Testament prophecies that Christ will actually descend (return) to the earth. This magnificent reappearance as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, as King of all kings (contrasted to Messiah’s first appearance as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world) will begin when the Son of Man is seen coming “on the clouds.” From there, he will descend to the earth along with all of the (previously) raptured believers.

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(Pictorial Depiction of Messiah’s Two Advents)

There is not only a grammatical difference between in the clouds/air and on the clouds (of heaven); there is also a positional and purposeful variation. On the clouds of heaven represents a position of authority and power with the originating purpose of dispensing justice on the earth. In the clouds of the air is where we will be gathered as brothers and sisters in Christ to first meet our wonderful Lord and Savior.

With regard to the timing of these spectacular first and third phases of the Lord’s return (Tribulation is the 2nd phase) we have already established the fact that believers are not destined to experience the wrath of God (I Thessalonians 5). By default, then, the Rapture must take place before the seven-year Tribulation begins. Scripture is equally clear that Messiah Jesus will not return to the earth until the end of the Tribulation. Thus, the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth itself cannot possibly be the same event. Nor, as two separate events, will they take place at the same time (back to back). The Rapture and the return of Messiah to the earth are separated by seven years of unprecedented terror on planet Earth.

The respective timing of the Rapture and Jesus’s physical return to the earth is further reinforced by the marvelous wedding feast of the Lamb that raptured born again believers in Christ will celebrate as the “bride of Christ” with the bridegroom. Some say this will last for the entire duration of the seven-year Tribulation. Because it is not mentioned until the Tribulation is about over, I personally believe it will take place over a period of several days. Most likely seven days, as this was the traditional duration of Jewish wedding celebrations in Israel.

Listen to the stirring words of John recording another marvelous vision late in the book of Revelation after all of the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of God have taken place.

“Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: ‘Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people” (Revelation 19:6-8).

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This is the same “white linen” worn while we descend with our Great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus as he “strikes down the nations” (Revelation 19:15).

The Rapture and the Return of Messiah Are not “Yo-Yo” Events

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 of 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!

Different Meaning/Different Results

In this category of explaining the differences between the Rapture and Messiah’s physical return to earth, we can actually combine the two events; but only with regard to and in the context of the different meaning and results between believers and unbelievers.

Believers

Neither believers nor unbelievers can know the day or hour of the Rapture. However, for the believer, the Rapture that initiates the sequence of events that we lump together with the phrase Second Coming of Messiah or Day of the Lord (synonymous in terms of meaning and results) is a source of great hope for the born-again Christian. That’s why Paul instructed the believers at the end of his first disclosure of the Rapture, “to encourage each other with these words.”

Giving and receiving encouragement is tantamount to maintaining consistent and persistent hope for the resurrection of the dead in Christ and those alive to be transfigured to our new heavenly bodies. It’s what keeps us going in and giving to the unsaved world the wonderful truth of so great a salvation granted to us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus—to all who believe and receive him as personal Savior.

It’s what motivates fellow believers in the Lord to, “…live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:12-14).

That wonderful day that Paul alludes to is none other than The Day of the Lord. Thus, for the believer, the Rapture then the physical return of Christ to conquer the forces of evil on this planet are equally wonderful. In that regard, they have the same meaning and results. The Rapture will spare us from the most terrible time and horrible happenings that ever has or ever will be experience by mankind. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, posted 6-6-15).

And we will return with our Messiah to watch his stunning victory over, “the dragon (Satan), the beast (Nero), and the false prophet … all the rulers of the world … and their armies gathered for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty … to a place with the Hebrew name, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-16, my parenthesis, italics already in the text).

To that end, all believers will be prepared for the Rapture, preempted from the Tribulation, and participate in the glorious return of our Savior to set all things right in this wicked world we live in. We are prepared because we are IN CHRIST, now and forever.

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For those saved by the atoning blood of Messiah Jesus, the Day of the Lord will be one of unspeakable joy … a great and glorious day. With the Rapture being, the first day of the rest of our lives.

It is everlasting life in a beautiful heaven with the angels, fellow believers, and most of all with our awesome God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Unbelievers

Not so for those who have chosen not to accept what Jesus has done for them, who have rejected the Way, Truth, and Life and the fact that everyone must come to God through Christ Jesus (John 14:6).

For them the Day of the Lord will mean going through the carnage of the Great Tribulation.

It will be:

“…the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!” (Joel 1:15).

It will be a time of great dread, distress, debauchery, destruction, and death.

“For see, the day of the Lord is coming—the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light. I, the Lord, will punish the world for evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the might of the mighty … For I will shake the heavens. The earth will move from its place when the Lord of Heaven’s Armies displays his wrath in the day of his fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:9-13).

Things to Ponder

Neither the first nor the second coming of Messiah to the earth has been a mystery. Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies tell of his first arrival … hundreds more of his return. But the Rapture of the Church (Messiah’s bride and body) was a mystery, not revealed until our Lord himself said some would be taken, others left (behind).

I can’t think of any greater hope for people all over the world than that of global peace and security, both individually and nationally. And I would dare say that the vast majority of people on this planet would, if seriously speaking their mind and sincerely sharing their heart, agree that the best (if not only) way to achieve peace is through one Man who can set aside all the cultural, racial, religious, national, and international differences that divide the human race.

That day will come and soon. When Messiah Jesus returns as the Prince of Peace, all religions will be eliminated (the Christian faith is not a religion, it is a relationship with a Person who is Truth and Life itself … the only redemptive way to a right standing with God our Creator); all earthly rulers and nations will acknowledge him as Lord; there will be peace on earth, good will toward all people.

“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshipped” (Zechariah 14:9).

If you are alive when the Rapture occurs, but have not yet accepted Christ as your personal Savior, you will be given a second chance for as long as you stay alive during the Great Tribulation. But as God is my witness, you don’t want to wait until after the Rapture.

Although the decision of which messiah to follow will be the clearest choice ever made, it will be agonizingly difficult to choose the true Messiah Jesus over the false messiah (Nero). Most will opt for temporary security on earth over eternal life in heaven, because to choose everlasting life through Christ will mean instant poverty, persecution, and peril at the hands of Antichrist.

On the other hand, that would be the most short-sighted decision of all time, even as it is now before the Rapture will take place. For to reject the only hope of salvation and eternal life through the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man is to sentence one’s self to eternal separation from God.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

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

“Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

Aftermath of America’s Amazing Election

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Such a Campaign and Election!

It was one of, if not the most poignant, passionate, and polarized United States presidential campaigns ever. Followed by one of the most astonishing elections in our country’s history. That’s what bewildered journalists, editors, political pundits, and millions of dazed citizens across this nation are saying. Many are still reeling from the results, especially the pollsters!

It was a stunning turn of events; an upset to rival the embarrassing reversal of newspaper headlines when the media and political experts prematurely claimed that Thomas Dewey had defeated Harry Truman in 1948.

Did you, along with millions of Americans, vote against one of the candidates instead of voting for the other candidate? Or did you “vote your conscience.” Or was your conscience too numb to vote at all? Whether you voted for Clinton or Trump or were too upset with both candidates to even vote at all, quite likely you were as shocked as I was with the election results.

Other than disbelief, what has been your reaction? Have you given up on American politics? Or have you celebrated what appears to be a victory over what many believe to be establishment “politics as usual?” Have you protested in the streets and sworn that Donald Trump is not your President, now or ever? Conversely, if Hilary Clinton had won the election, would you also challenge the results … claiming that the election was rigged?

Scripture is abundantly clear that the true and living God of the Bible is sovereign over all things, including governments, their leaders, and the rise and fall of nations. Yet, the Bible is truthfully transparent that God has given mankind free will to choose right from wrong, eternal life over death, and good leaders instead of bad ones. Eventually and inevitably, God’s majestic plan for the human race will be accomplished. Our Great God and Savior will triumph over evil … including the greed, injustice, corruption, and indifference that tarnishes even the best of human governments and taints the integrity of even the noblest of leaders.

In the meantime, God allows men and woman the world over to try to prove to themselves that they can govern and achieve peace between peoples and nations without first seeking peace with God through redemption purchased by Messiah Jesus. Or at least acknowledging the Lord in all the “affairs of state.”

One day (soon):

“The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations … Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord” (Psalm 22:27-30).

These two verses are near the end of Psalm 22, which is the most recognized Messianic Chapter of the Old Testament, along with Isaiah 53. In those passages, several prophecies of the coming Messiah were subsequently fulfilled by Jesus, mostly those that took place while he suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.

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Whether a nation is governed by a monarch, a constitutional parliament, an oligarchy, a pure democracy, or a republic, down through the ages revolt against elected or appointed (including self-appointed) officials often has proved disastrous. I’m not talking about revolutions that led to the formation of a new nation, not the least of which was our own American Revolution against Great Britain. Or even the greater majority of people who attempted to overthrow repressive regimes controlled by a ruthless dictator. However, even then, that nation was seldom better off than before. Either a new dictator would emerge or a coalition type government would unravel.

Rather, I’m referring to situations like what happened in Israel some 3,000 years ago when ten of the formerly united twelve tribes in Israel rebelled against King Rehoboam, the rightful heir to King Solomon. (See I Kings Chapter 12). Though the leaders of those tribes believed their cause was right, defiance of the newly appointed king was because they had decided, he was not their king.

Civil war followed that continued periodically (and contributed to) until the ten northern kingdoms (Israel) were conquered and deported by Assyria a little over 200 years later. Then the two southern tribes (Judah) were destroyed and exiled by the Babylonia Empire some 150 years afterward. Israel would never be the same again until her miraculous rebirth as the State of Israel in 1948; made possible because that was and is God’s supreme and sovereign plan for the Jews and for the land promised to them, Israel.

One of the most tragic examples of a nation literally splitting in two with unparalleled devastation and loss of life was our own American Civil War. Though the root cause was the issue of slavery, eleven southern states succeeded from the Union, with the mindset that Abraham Lincoln was not their President. In fact, they formed a Confederate Union and elected their own president … Jefferson Davis. Currently, there are residents of California who want to succeed from the United States of America and make that state a separate nation. Some call it the Calexit movement. Likewise, some people in Oregon have called for that state to leave the Union and form the “People’s Democratic Republic of Oregon.”

God often allows us to do and have what we want, even if it’s not close to being what is best for us, and ends in failure. In fact, depending on our response, failure often brings us back to God … with whom we should have stayed in the first place.

Dow Hits Record High

Were you among those who invested more or for the very first time in the stock market in the past few days? Causing headlines posted this past Tuesday such as, “Dow Hits Record High … Stocks Soar.” If you voted Republican, are you sure that your president-elect and the republican led Senate and House can and will implement domestic and foreign policies that will “make America great again.” If you voted Democrat, are you at least hoping these polices will do something good for this country whether you like Trump and his cabinet appointees or not?

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If you’re one of the tens of millions of Christians (truly born again or just Christian in name only) what has been your response? Anger? Euphoria? Angst? Hope? Dismay? Delight? Or perhaps indifference and resignation?

Have you infrequently or never prayed for your city, county, state, and federal officials … not even for the President of the United States? If not, is it because you don’t think your prayers will make that much difference, like many think their one vote doesn’t matter much or at all?

Perhaps you’ve forgotten or don’t really believe what God has said through his Word, the Bible:

“…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield it crops” (James 5:16-18).

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us:

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:1-6).

One of the most powerful petitions any Christian can present to God our Father and to Messiah Jesus our Savior is that our President and other leaders will treat Israel with respect and dignity. To honor her as God’s special possession and Jews the world over as God’s chosen people through whom God’s Messiah came to the world 2000 years ago. Ultimately, our success and security as a nation is in direct proportion to our support of Israel and favorable treatment of Jews (Genesis 12:1-3).

Our President-Elect and Israel

In Eye of Prophecy articles, I write sparingly about politics. When I do the articles are in the broader context of Biblical prophecy and principles on such things as the rise and fall of governments, rulers, and nations that are directly related to their behavior toward Israel and recognition that God is the source and sustainer of peoples and nations.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good” (Psalm 127:1).

On the other hand, this is the first United States Presidential election since the Eye of Prophecy website began nearly 3 ½ years ago, So, I’m compelled to offer commentary on this election in general and the more unlikely of the two candidates who won, in particular.

We are living in the last days of the end times. Like never before, how individuals and nations regard the Jews and Israel will determine their fate before and after the Rapture, especially when Messiah Jesus returns to this earth. Although God will judge the nations during the Great Tribulation and pour out his wrath on the ungodly who have chosen to follow and serve the Anti-Christ and also those who will oppose this man of lawlessness but still refuse to acknowledge the true and living God and his Messiah, Jesus, I fear that the Lord will not reserve all of his fury just for the Tribulation.

If the United States of America continues on the course charted by our current administration that often includes denunciation of Israel for such things as building houses and apartments on land that belongs to them in the first place; or for promoting a Palestinian State without secure defensible borders for Israel, then this country will literally have “hell to pay.”

There’s not much I could say that hasn’t already been said or seen regarding the enigma that is Donald Trump. This past election may just be the most definitive example in all of America’s political history of a love/hate relationship with a President, who isn’t even officially President yet. There are still many Democrats who are passionately trying to persuade several Electoral College officials to change their electoral vote on December 19th from Trump to Clinton. With their main rationale that Clinton leads Trump with the popular (majority) vote, nationwide.

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(Republican-Red; Democrat-Blue; Results of Electoral Votes, with Hilary Clinton garnering 48.03% and Donald Trump 47.01% of popular vote)

Much has already been written about his pre-office domestic plans and foreign policies, and much more will be published after Donald Trump is sworn in as President on January 20th, 2017. Today’s article will be confined to potential (hopeful) keeping of promises already made (or at least proposed) by President-elect Trump concerning Israel.

We, who have been redeemed by our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus, need to plead with the Lord that our President and his staff will support Israel in word and deed.

Some of what we know about Donald Trump’s regard for Israel is as follows:

Financial Support for Israel

Donald Trump has provided generous monetary aid to Israel on more than one occasion; such as giving millions of dollars to help resettle Jews who had been evicted from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Though I love God’s special possession Israel and God’s chosen people the Jews—with great admiration and respect for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—like leaders of many nations, a few former Israeli Prime Ministers have made costly mistakes. In this case, now deceased Prime Minister Ariel Sharon forcibly removed all Jews from the Gaza Strip with the apparently good intention (at the time) of Israel better able to protect those Israelis if they were no longer living in the Gaza Strip. Instead, the terrorist organization Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, and launched mortar and missile attacks into Israel.

Likewise, Donald Trump’s father had donated millions of dollars to worthy Jewish causes in the United States and Israel.

United States Embassy in Israel

In the Eye of Prophecy article, Jerusalem … A Capital Without a Country? (Posted 6-13-15), I wrote extensively on the incredible irony that Jerusalem is not accepted by virtually every nation on earth as the undivided, exclusive capital of Israel. This despite Biblical and historical evidence and validation that this holy city is the very heart and soul of Israel and the Jewish people. In italics, here are the first two paragraphs of that article which follow the title and heading, Jerusalem … A Capital without a Country:

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

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

On more than one occasion, President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would do whatever necessary to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Which is what three Presidents have not done since the United States Senate voted in 1995 to move the embassy to Jerusalem. With each of these Presidents, to some extent or another, reluctant to implement the Senate ruling over fear of irritating Muslim nations in general and the Palestinians in particular.

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(U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv / I’ve Been There!)

Just this week, Donald Trump announced that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had accepted his appointment of her as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Governor Haley was the first governor in the US to pass legislation against the insidious BDS movement designed to cripple Israel’s economy, with the more sinister agenda to delegitimize and demonize Israel.

One of the many posts and positions that Donald Trump is considering for his Presidential staff is Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor (twice a Republican candidate for President), as the US Ambassador to Israel. As many know, Huckabee is a staunch supporter of Israel. Mostly because he is a born-again Christian who loves Israel, and who recognizes that God has not forgotten either of the two sweeping plans proclaimed throughout the Bible. One of which is the restoration of Israel as a nation that will be the center of the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem (government of Messiah … see Ezekiel 37 and many other passages) and final redemption of the Jews.

God’s other plan of the ages is that of completing the New Covenant salvation for Jew and Gentile alike (one in Messiah) through the astounding resurrection of the dead in Christ and transfiguration of those alive (at the Rapture) to our eternal heavenly bodies. Included with that marvelous promise is to rule and reign with Messiah Jesus during his magnificent Millennial kingdom on earth.

The Kingdom of God on earth will be headquartered in Jerusalem. God will see to it. But why not seek God’s pre-millennial blessings now by recognizing and honoring Jerusalem as the Holy Capital of the Holy Land of Israel. Enough with the politically correct excuses to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv. Pray that soon-to-be President Trump will get that embassy of ours moved to Jerusalem where it belongs!

“On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the Lord. He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel. O city of God, what glorious things are said of you!” (Psalm 87:1-3).

The following prophetic promise began its fulfillment when Israel was reborn as a sovereign state in 1948:

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God’” (Zachariah 8:7-8).

Let’s read what will take place after the Lord delivers the Jews and Israel from imminent annihilation by the armies of the world led by Antichrist Nero at the end of the Tribulation. In fact, the first part of this passage is already underway.

“…People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing … In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zechariah 8:20-23).

Iran Nuclear Deal

Nearly everyone that has kept current with the election campaign and post-election news, understands Trump stated intentions to revoke what is arguably the worst deal that the United States has ever made with another country, let alone a nation whose avowed goal is the destruction of the United States and Israel. Certainly, President-elect Trump’s main concern is an Iranian nuclear threat to America. If, however, he can persuade the other P5 + 1 nations who co-signed this pact with Iran to uncompromisingly enforce it; or if he will simply circumvent the deal by reinstating US sanctions against Iran, this would be of tremendous long-term benefit to Israel’s security.

Palestinian Two-State Solution

Preliminary evidence shows that Donald Trump does support the general idea of a Palestinian State in Israel (who doesn’t among world leaders, despite the fact that this is absolutely contrary to God’s purpose and plan for Israel, i.e. that the Promised Land is not to be divided). However, at least Trump prefers that Israel and the Palestinians decide this and other issues through direct negotiations. Not through a United States led or approved UN Security Council resolution that would unilaterally (without participation by or the voice of Israel heard) partition Israel into two states … especially with pre-1967 borders that would render Israel virtually indefensible from its enemies.

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(Map of Israel: According to the Palestinians, Israel is Still Palestine. They want all of Israel for a State, not just the West Bank and Gaza)

Whether a Palestinian State is created or not and whether President-elect Trump follows through with his positive promises toward Israel remains to be seen. But it’s evident at this time that he does place Israel’s interest at a high level of importance. This includes a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a reciprocal approval from many Israelis of America’s choice for President. They see Donald Trump’s presidency as one that will reignite the flickering flame that has become a mere pilot light barely illuminating the dark tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu that has adversely affected relations between America and Israel over the past several years.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that Donald Trump is, “a devoted supporter of Israel,” and eagerly anticipates that Trump will follow through on his campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He extended a warm greeting to Trump, saying, “I am full of hope for your support for our activities for building in and developing Jerusalem for all her residents, and I invite you to visit the capital of Israel.”

The United States, Israel, and Russia

Many Israelis also have welcomed the thawing of once frozen foreign relations between Israel and Russia. This includes an unprecedented number of visits between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the last eighteen months or so. However, this unexpected, even stunning (to some), easing of tensions between Russia and Israel is substantially one of political and economic expediency, if not tolerance, for both countries.

Several factors have led to this most unusual cooperation, but time/space in this article permits identification of only one.

Which is: Russia’s obvious interest in establishing a foothold in the Middle East primarily through and in Syria. With its ultimate agenda that of gaining control of Israeli natural gas fields off the coast of Israel, and eventually Israel itself. Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu knows this or at least suspects that Putin’s motive is not pure, nor Russia’s intentions so altruistic. Thus, his tactical response is to demonstrate to Putin that Israel will not be bullied by any nation that has been or still is a threat to her survival. And if your enemy (Russia) is led by someone (Putin) who recognizes and respects a people and nation (Israel) that has both the determination and the military and economic resources to defend itself even against powerful nations, then why not seek some degree of dialogue and some extent of cooperation that might benefit both sides. Yet this tenuous political, economic, and cultural “truce” between Russia and Israel is not necessarily based on anything approaching a high level of mutual admiration between Putin and Netanyahu. As alluded, it’s predicated primarily on pragmatism.

Not so, with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Just how serious and genuine it is now or will be after Donald Trump takes office in January, would be anybody’s guess. However, Trump and Putin have begun what appears to be a mutual admiration society between the two of them, even before Trump won the election. Moreover, a recent post-election survey of Russians yielded some remarkable facts: (1) Only four percent of Russians would have voted for Hilary Clinton; (2) Over one-third of Russians believe Donald Trump will be America’s best president ever.

Ordinarily, this would be a paradox if not an obstacle to any restoration of head of state interaction between the United States and Israel; were it not for the equally strange behavior of Vladimir Putin in his courting of Israel.

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(Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu)

The Two Tribulation Attacks Against Israel

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written about the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, which I firmly believe will occur within the first year or so of the seven-year Tribulation. In this week’s post, we’ll examine just one feature of that massive coalition against Israel: how the United States and our President will react … what they will do or can do, and not do.

In proportion to our population, the United States undoubtedly has as many or more Christian believers than any other nation on earth. Thus, America will be affected by the Rapture (loss of people) more than any other country. Our armed forces will still be formidable. But only because of our vast technological military that requires less personnel (soldiers and civilians), relying significantly on heavy armaments—such as missiles, ships, tanks, drones, bombers, fighter jets—rather than troops on the ground. Yet the fact remains: America’s military capacity and infrastructure will be weakened by sheer loss of people when the Rapture takes place.

Equally evident is that the three main countries making up the Gog/Magog confederacy (Russia, Iran, and Turkey) will lose very few people at the Rapture. By default, Russia will catch up overnight to the United States in military might, and probably exceed it. Even a President like Donald Trump won’t be able to stand up to this massive alliance, nor want to. His response will fall under the proverbial perception that, “discretion is the better part of valor.”

For one thing, the revived Roman Emperor, Nero (Antichrist) will be in the process of persuading, then forcing three nations to join the seven who have already yielded their governments and military to him (Daniel 7). Please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article, One Ring to Rule Them All article (posted 11-21-15), for the most likely line up of the ten nation coalition controlled by Antichrist Nero. The seven kingdoms that will immediately join Nero are projected to be: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and a Persian Gulf State Arabic coalition.

The three nations that will reluctantly join forces with Nero’s coalition will quite likely be: United States, Canada, and Australia. Here is an excerpt from One Ring to Rule Them All, explaining why these three countries will be part of the Antichrist’s ten-kingdom empire (in italics):

First and foremost, each of these countries is fiercely democratic and independent. They will not readily join forces with what they undoubtedly will perceive as totalitarian, nor a tyrant no matter how enthusiastically he will be welcomed by a world in chaos and confusion. However, the United States, and to a lesser degree Canada and Australia, will experience a substantial loss of population when millions are taken in the glorious Rapture.

Which is the primary reason that the United States will not be able to economically or militarily do anything about the Russian-led (Gog/Magog) invasion of Israel soon after the Rapture. Nor will America, Canada, or Australia pose any obstacle to the enormous bloc of eastern nations. And certainly not to Nero’s agenda of establishing a powerful dictatorial ten-kingdom federation to include these three countries that, though considerably weakened, will still exert an impressive influence on this global scene of temporary anarchy. The natural resources and technology of these three countries would be enticement enough for Nero.

As independently self-sufficient as these three nations are and still will be (to a lesser extent), they also will not want to lose their standard of living and Western way of life … all of which will have been shaken to the very core by global upheaval caused by the sudden disappearance of hundreds of millions the world over.

Consequently, America, Canada, and Australia will inevitably yield their political, economic, and military allegiance to Nero and the other seven nations. They will succumb to what will probably be extensive economic sanctions and daunting military threats against them. Their capitulation to Nero’s invitational-style demand (please join us … or else) to enter his coalition will be reluctant at first; but then they will participate enthusiastically when they see the astounding accomplishments of Nero’s early program to pacify Europe during the first year or so of the Tribulation.

Gog/Magog Invasion of Israel & the Response of Nations, Including America

Over 2,500 years ago, God through the prophet Ezekiel prophesied against Gog/Magog:

“A long time from now, you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud” (Ezekiel 38:8-9).

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Then we see the reaction of some nations (to certainly include the United States and the other countries that will comprise the ten-nation empire of Antichrist Nero), which in Ezekiel Chapter 39 are identified as the “allies who live safely on the coasts.” Leaders from virtually all nations will sit back and watch and only some will voice criticism or condemnation of the Russian, Iranian, Turkish (and other smaller nations) onslaught against Israel. They will say:

“…Do you really think the armies you have gathered can rob them of silver and gold? Do you think you can drive away their livestock and seize their goods and carry off plunder?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

This will be armchair boasting and bravado at its hypocritical best (worst).

Once again the Lord says about Gog and many nations who will do nothing to help Israel:

“…At that time in the distant future, I will bring you against my land as everyone watches, and my holiness will be displayed by what happens to you, Gog. Then all the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Verse 16, italics for emphasis).

God knows that the United States and all other nations will stand down indifferently, ineptly, or even expectantly to what the world will consider an imminent end to the State of Israel. Thus, God will supernaturally intervene and divinely destroy this awesome, but arrogant, Gog/Magog confederacy. Read Ezekiel 39 for the spectacular severity and finality of Gog/Magog’s destruction and demise. As for Israel: she too will only watch as God fights for her. This will be the first of two massive campaigns against Israel during the Tribulation. The other will be led by Antichrist and his ten-kingdom empire in the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation.

No matter what we think of Donald Trump, some of his traits that have emerged during the election campaign would indicate that he is: independent, determined, assertive, and tough. I’m sure you can come up with other adjectives (positive or negative) to describe this most intriguing and perplexing man who, against all odds, has been voted in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

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(U.S. President-elect Donald Trump)

Hopefully, he will follow through on his preliminary support of Israel in general, and his commitments to Israel in particular. Whether he is the United States President after the Rapture and at the outset of the Gog/Magog assault against Israel remains to be seen. Right now, however, Donald Trump fits hand in glove with Scripture’s description of what the “coastal” nations, of which America is one, will do (not do) when Russia and her allies march against Israel. At the very most these nations will give only lip service to whatever previous promises they had made to support and even defend Israel in time of peril.

Then there’s the added factor to the equation—which is Donald Trump’s affinity toward Vladimir Putin who, if still President of Russia when the armies of Magog attack Israel, would be none other than Gog of Magog.

How will President Trump balance Russia and Israel?

Scripture is clear on that matter. Those opposed to the Gog march on Israel will do so by rhetoric only, not by actions. It is God who will take action, with devastating results for Russia, Iran, Turkey, and their smaller allies … a massive defeat that will be unrivaled in the annals of warfare. God, himself will supernaturally defend Israel.

Given the sure word of Biblical prophecy coming to pass (in this case the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel), what then can Christians do?

Answer: Stand up for Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That the Lord will protect and prosper Israel NOW, not just in the future. And with widespread prayer and support for Israel, the Lord will also bless and protect this country; and maybe (his will be done) “make America great again” … at least for a while longer.

Things to Ponder

While we watch and wait for God’s prophetic promises to be completely fulfilled, we can at this Thanksgiving time of the year be thankful for what he have … partial peace in much of the world.

And we can be even more grateful for what we don’t yet have but will, beyond all doubt, soon realize: true global peace for every person in every nation, through one man—The Prince of Peace—predicted by the prophet Isaiah long ago.

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

Satan in Bodily Form … When & Why (Part II)

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Living In The Omega Generation

“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty…” (Psalm 90:10).

Less than two months ago, I reached my 70th birthday, with 70 years as one of the two time spans that fits the Biblical definition of a generation; the other … 100 years (see Genesis 15:12-16). If you think about it, those segments of time accurately define the longevity of most people on this planet; unless a person succumbs to an untimely or premature death from illness, through war, or by an accident. A few live to be one-hundred, or even longer.

Currently, the oldest person in the world is an Italian woman, Emma Marano, at 116 years of age. On November 29th, she will turn 117, the only person alive to have been born in the 1800s (1899)!

Jesus assigned the term generation to narrow down the time frame beginning with the “signs of the times.” He cited the “birth pains” leading to the Rapture of all believers followed by the seven-year Tribulation, culminating in his glorious return to bring justice and peace to this wicked, weary world in which we live.

In Eye of Prophecy articles, Look Up, Redemption is Near Part I & II (posted 7-11 & 7-18-15), I’ve listed and summarized twelve significant events or ongoing developments in the last one hundred years (especially in the past seventy years) that are fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Such as:

World Wars, Rebirth of Israel, Recapture of Jerusalem, Exponential Increase in Natural Disasters, False Messiahs, Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information, and others.

There’s another phenomenon that has taken place in this 70-year and 100-year generational period of time. It is global preoccupation with the supernatural, the paranormal, the occult, and the mystical—anything and everything that the mind and heart of man can imagine, fantasize, or conjure. Virtually nothing is off limits.

Books on the supernatural have been around for centuries, but nowhere near the number published in the past few decades. Then came horror movies in the 1930s and 1940s depicting otherworldly creatures such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. They were scary at the time. But compared to subsequent films that have paraded the grotesque, the gory, the gruesome, and the ghastly—tormenting, terrifying, and also slaughtering unsuspecting victims by human and inhuman monsters of all types—the original horror movies were no more frightening than Alice in Wonderland. Off with her head!

Beginning primarily in the 1950s, extraterrestrials, both bad and good, came to visit us. As if planet earth didn’t have enough problems, we also had to do battle with oversized mutated reptiles, insects, and birds! Currently, films with an apocalyptic end-of-the-world plot are plentiful. Fortunately, planet earth is saved again and again by genius scientists, brave warriors, and one coalition after another of superheroes!

On the more serious side, in the past fifty years or so, a new genre of horror films and television productions have flooded the big screen and little screen with the speed of light … the light of cameras, film, and projectors. The emphasis was more on satanic or demonic beings that either possess humans or take on some type of macabre physical form to intimidate, violate, and kill innocent people.

In what was one of the earliest and definitive prototype movies of its kind, an embodied Satan spawns a child by raping a woman. I’m referring to the film released in 1967, Rosemary’s Baby; with Mia Farrow (as the violated woman), John Cassavetes, Ralph Bellamy, and Ruth Gordon—who won a best supporting actress for her performance. In 2014, this movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Reasons given for this honor: the film’s, “culturally, historically or aesthetically significance.”

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This movie generated other less well-known films that focused almost exclusively on Satan and Satan worship, such as, The Brotherhood of Satan.

Later, came The Exorcist in 1973.

Then another box-office smash, The Omen; this time concentrating on the Antichrist and his infamous number, 666. Released in 1976 it featured Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, whose adopted child, Damien, wasn’t just bred by Satan. He was actually the Antichrist. Three more Omen movies followed the original.

Several TV shows are currently carrying this ghoulish torch of the paranormal, such as The Walking Dead and Salem.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of novels, films, and television shows and documentaries about Satan, demons, and the powers of darkness have been released during the last 70 years. Across the board, they are Biblically inaccurate and scripturally illiterate. Nevertheless, Rosemary’s Baby is somewhat on point concerning the ancient cohabitation of fallen angels with women on the earth before Noah’s Flood. In part, this was covered in last week’s article. As indicated, this unholy, depraved breeding was abruptly halted when the fallen angels were imprisoned in the Abyss.

No matter the degree of fantasy found in Hollywood or televised productions, the intriguing fact remains that the 20th & 21st centuries have seen an unprecedented rise in the portrayal of the supernatural, made progressively more fantastic through special effects. This includes many depictions of demons and Satan, himself, in a material visible body.

Writers, producers, directors, and actors are inadvertently grooming hundreds of millions left behind at the Rapture to view the paranormal as normal, the supernatural as natural, and the spiritual as physical. And also to prepare unbelievers to accept what so many the world over sadly don’t believe now: Resurrection from the Dead. (Not reincarnation … there is no such thing. Rather, resurrection/transformation of the same body).

Instead of believing and, thereby, giving their loyalty and life to the true risen Messiah, Jesus; they will embrace a Roman Emperor (Nero) in what they perceive is his miraculous return from the grave. They will ignore or reject the real evidence prophesied 2000 years ago by John that their “superman” actually returns from the Abyss; having been struck down in his (perverted) prime of life by Christ. Then revived by the Lord and confined to the Abyss awaiting the time God when would release him. At about this same time, Satan will be permanently thrown down to earth in his real and tangible body, and will immediately extend his power and authority to Nero.

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(Bust of Nero)

Restating the Premise

Let’s continue our study by restating a startling premise from last week’s Part I article; one that a hundred years ago or even seventy years past would have been considered incredible. In fact, the Biblical evidence to support this premise is still misunderstood, minimized, or not known even by many Christians. Here is the premise (quote) from last week’s Eye of Prophecy article:

In addition to the amazing (in the eyes of unbelievers) return of Nero in his original body, both angels and demons will be seen in their actual bodies by the entire Tribulation world. And not only angels and demons; Satan, himself, will appear on the earth in bodily form. Hundreds of million the world over will be stunned by these “signs and miracles” They will worship what they see … the Beast (Nero), a statue of him that actually speaks, and the embodied Satan.

Last week we focused on the Antichrist beast (Nero), fallen angels (demons) and good angels. We also examined Biblical passages that dealt with this most evil of all beings as Lucifer, the original name given to him. After expulsion from his heavenly residence and lofty position as one of the highest ranking angels created by God, he is called Satan, the Devil, and in Revelation, the Dragon.

It’s the appellation of “dragon” that will demonstrate and confirm the above stated premise: During the Great Tribulation, Satan will be confined to and observed in his corrupted, distorted, altered physical form of what was long ago, “full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12).

Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, and the Dragon

Before we get to Lucifer as the dragon, let’s look at his other names … Satan and the devil.

Satan:

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. ‘Where have you come from?’ the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, ‘I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on’” (Job 1:6-7).

The first two chapters of Job, indeed, these two verses tell us volumes about Satan—his sphere of influence, meaning of his name, and what God allows him to do or not to do.

The Accuser:

His very name, Satan, means accuser. In fact, he is the Accuser or the Satan. He accuses anyone and everyone who truly searches after the true and living God, especially believers in Messiah Jesus.

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Beginning with Adam and Eve, Satan’s personal and primary purpose concerning the human race is to tempt us to disobey God, do our own thing, and go our own way … arrogantly or apathetically independent of our Creator and Savior. He even tempted Messiah Jesus to prove to Satan and the whole world that Jesus was the Son of God. But in order to do so (at that time), Jesus had to submit to Satan, agree to his demands, and even worship him. Our Lord would have none of that.

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

Yet, it was the temptation scene that dealt the first Messianic blow to Satan’s plans, because that was the devil’s first opportunity to create an antichrist right then and there; to, in one fell swoop, twist and turn the true Messiah into Satan’s messiah.

Eternal praise to our God and his Messiah that this did not happen! All glory to Yeshua who did not send a legion of angels to annihilate those who had arrested him in the garden! Everlasting gratitude to our Lord for not saying I’ve had enough, and stepping down from the cross. All power and dominion to the Son of Man for arising from the grave and conquering death once and for all! (Page 219).

The prophet Zechariah records another incident in which Satan attempts to discredit the Jewish high priest (following the return of Jewish exiles from Babylon) as God’s choice to restore the sacrificial system of the rebuilt Temple. In this spectacular scene, we see a Pre-Incarnate appearance of Messiah Jesus and Jeshua, a type of all believers who would become priests (see I Peter 2) under the amazing New Covenant that would begin with Jesus some four hundred years later. Satan is also with them, and (true to form) claims that Jeshua is sinful; thus, unworthy of God’s favor (grace), let alone Jeshua’s right standing with God.

Unlike Job, whom God allowed Satan to test and torment—as all believers are to some extent or another—this time the Lord flatly rejects Satan’s indictments against a man whose sins would be forgiven (right in front of Satan). This is an extraordinary example of all who would be clothed with God’s righteousness when they believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas the Lord allows Satan to accuse believers after they are “born again,” he does not permit Satan to disqualify anyone from receiving their new birth in Messiah Jesus. No matter how sinfully bad anyone has been, there is no one beyond the Lord’s reach when it comes to redemption and the gift of eternal life. All anyone need do is to believe and receive Jesus as their personal Savior.

“Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘I, the Lord, reject your accusation, Satan’ … Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ And turning to Jeshua he said, ‘See, I have taken away your sins, and now I’m giving you these fine new clothes’” (Zechariah 3:1-4).

Satan’s Dwelling Place in the Universe:

Improbable as it may seem, God allows Satan access to heavenly places, including high level counsels called by the Lord himself. Here is another except from Out of the Abyss:

From the account in Job, it’s evident that Satan only appears personally before God periodically, with the clear implication that God chooses when to allow Satan to stand before him. Satan can only be in one place at a time, therefore, he isn’t in God’s face every time he accuses believers in Christ. Note that God ask Satan where he came from to attend this high level conference. Satan replied, “I’ve been patrolling the earth…”

We know that God knew this. What we have here is a rhetorical question tantamount to a divine jab at Satan. God simply reminded Satan that God had foreclosed on Satan’s dwelling place in heaven. But when God asks a question, even Lucifer is obligated to answer. I’m thinking that Satan cringed when he was forced to reply. He probably thought, okay, you don’t have to rub it in … I know my place in the universe.

But Satan has enough pride to fill all the oceans; thus, I’m equally certain that Satan boasted when he said that he had been patrolling the earth, watching everything that goes on. This was nothing more than a mockery of God, who, as Scripture tells us, also watches everything that happens on the earth. It’s another example of Satan imitating God, which demonstrated Satan’s distorted unattainable goal: to be like the Most High God (Page 221).

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(Depiction of Job and His Friends)

The Devil:

In the New Testament Satan is also called the devil. There are at least two reasons for this: (1) what the term devil means as we will shortly see. (2) Satan (the devil) and his demons became vastly more active during Jesus’s time on earth since Noah’s Flood, or will again until the Great Tribulation.

His infamous title of devil is more of a generic term relating to the meaning of the word, originally from the Greek, diabolos. Which, according to Webster’s Dictionary means: “slanderer … often used as an interjection, an intensive, or a generalized term of abuse.” That is the definition of devil in the generalized, lower case. Whereas, The Devil is a characterization of Satan as, “…the personal supreme spirit of evil … the leader of all apostate angels ….”

More than anything else, devil depicts and defines Satan’s character … deceiver, liar, murderer, and hater (of all that is right and good); and any number of other appalling traits that a being who is pure evil can and will display.

Referring to Satan as the devil, Jesus said: “…He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Paul writes to the Ephesian believers reminding them that before God adopted them into his family and gave them an everlasting spiritual (salvation) and physical (literally in heaven) inheritance through Christ Jesus:

“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loves us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-6, parenthesis in the text itself).

The Dragon:

As proposed in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article: Just as the Antichrist is also called the man of lawlessness and the beast, so is it important to recognize that the various names of Satan throughout Scripture are given for a reason. With both Antichrist and Satan, their different titles tell us what they have done, when, and why. And also when they will continue to do what they do best (worst) during the last days that will lead to their final destruction.

As most people know, the Bible’s first introduction to Lucifer (his designated name before he rebelled against God and was evicted from his heavenly dwelling) was that of “serpent.” But don’t think of a snake. A snake is what the serpent would become after God cursed it … a lowly loathsome creature reduced to crawling on its belly; far removed from, “…the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made…” (Genesis 3:1).

Undoubtedly, the Garden of Eden serpent was as or more beautiful than all of the animals. Not only that, the serpent could talk! Moreover, neither Eve nor Adam were at all shocked or even surprised that the serpent could speak. Most likely that’s why Satan chose the serpent to appear before Eve and to (successfully) persuade her to disobey God.

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God cursed the serpent first … then Eve, then Adam. God’s judgment was not only against the physical body/form of the serpent, but also included the Lord’s magnificent plan of the ages for mankind and inevitable destruction of Satan and his wicked forces of fallen angels. Right there in the Garden of Eden, the Lord announced his plan of redemption to Adam and Eve that would include Messiah’s ultimate triumph over Satan, even though the serpent would strike first.

“And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Soon, we will learn the identity of the woman, who/which is much more than just a reference to Eve, the woman (mother) of all human beings thereafter.

The expose of Satan as the dragon in the book of Revelation is probably the greatest irony of all time. It will give a whole new meaning to, “justice is served.”

To restate the earlier mentioned premise, based on what I see as crystal clear evidence in Scripture: During the Tribulation, Satan will appear in bodily form.

He will most likely often stay in the background out of sight, probably due to his shocking appearance; while granting power and authority to his Anti- Christ, the revived Roman Emperor Nero. The very fact of Satan’s visible presence will be a shocking experience for people the world over. Shocking could, but not necessarily, mean appalling. It could also relate to a synonym of shocking … that of stunning or spectacular.

Before we examine the Bible passages to confirm Satan’s total banishment to earth as “the dragon,” let’s state in summary fashion what this justifiable irony is and how it will come full circle to haunt Satan forever.

As alluded, God allowed Satan to appear to Eve as the serpent. This most clever of all animals was likely the most alluring and striking in appearance. However, the very fact that Satan did not appear in his originally created dazzling form as a “model of perfection” is because he couldn’t appear like that. Reason: Either God forbade it or Lucifer had lost (been stripped of) his “exquisite beauty” in which he was created. (Ezekiel 28).

Either way, Satan chose the serpent through which to deceive Eve and Adam; thereby, infecting the entire human race with the ugliness of sin and the sure penalty thereof … death, both physical and spiritual.

For emphasis, I will italicize the following conclusion:

Satan as the serpent signaled the end of the beginning for this once mighty cherub.

God will allow Satan one last chance to prove that he is greater than God; that Satan’s anti-Messiah is superior to the true Messiah. And God will provide like never before, one last chance for people the world over to choose everlasting life over perpetual death (separation from God).

But the last day’s scenario will be different in two ways: (1) this will be God’s final direct and massive intervention (judgment) in the affairs of the human race. (2) Accordingly, he will restrict Satan and his man of sin to a limited time (7 years total, 3 ½ years of concentrated mayhem) to wreak havoc on the earth. Also, Satan will have no choice but to appear and function in his fallen form. He will, in fact, be forced to arrive on earth in his actual spiritual body. Furthermore, we’re told what his form will be. It will be like that of a dragon, commensurate with his initial appearance to mankind as the serpent.

With equal emphasis: As the dragon it will be the beginning of the end for Satan.

It will be full circle from his initial appearance to the human race in bodily form as the serpent to his final manifestation as the dragon.

*Note: Time/space doesn’t permit elaboration on the details of Satan’s dragon-like appearance during the tribulation; plus it would be too much speculation. Except to say that we probably shouldn’t visualize dragons depicted in literature, paintings, and film. I’m referring to fire-breathing creatures with horns, scales, tails, and the like. A dragon is the best imagery that John of Revelation could convey, given his (all of us) limited language and imagination. Exactly what Satan’s dragon-like features will be … well, the post-Rapture world will find out soon enough.

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(Fairly Typical Depiction of Satan as a Dragon, But with More Human Features)

With some spiritual speculation, in general terms I personally envision “the dragon” as a blemished, adulterated, scarred (from evil), and darkened, more “shocking” version of his original angelic splendor. In that regard, John’s use of the term dragon is that of illustrative imagery. It conveys a correlation between Satan’s initial arrival on the earth as the serpent and a dragon-like creature portrayed by writers and artists and tellers of tales for thousands of years as man’s worst nightmare.

Satan Embodied in the Descriptive Form of a Dragon

Most of the book of Revelation is obviously about the future, i.e. amazing descriptions of the Great Tribulation, Millennial reign of Christ, and eternity. But it is not entirely future tense. Chapters 1-3 are exclusively present and past tense, as is the first part of Chapter 4 which is a preview of the Rapture when John is caught up to heaven. The first part of Chapter 12 and Chapter 17:7-11 describe past events; with the passage in Chapter 17 disclosing the astonishing fact that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died, but would return from the Abyss (at the outset of the Tribulation period).

In Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, Jesus refers to Satan four times in his messages to the seven churches in existence during the first century. Thereafter in Revelation, Satan is identified as a dragon and even “the dragon.” When the term Satan is used in Chapters 12 and 20, it is to make sure the reader identifies the dragon as Satan, the Devil. We’ll get to that shortly.

Up to that point in the Bible, Satan had never been called a dragon. Why, then, is Satan referred to as a dragon in Revelation Chapters 12, 13, 16, and 20?

Answer: To convey, clarify, and confirm to the reader that Satan (like all “spiritual” beings) has a body, and that he will be visibly seen in that (now distorted) figure by many during the Tribulation. This is equivalent to the Antichrist described as a beast in Revelation; the beast represents a man (Nero) returning from the grave in his original body.

Revelation Chapters 4 through 11 are pretty much chronological, including the seven seal and trumpet judgments. Whereas, Chapter 12 is what we call a parenthetical chapter—set aside as an interlude to relay both past and future contextually connected information to the reader.

“Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth” (Revelation 12:1-2).

Many Bible scholars, including me, agree that the woman is Israel, giving birth to the Messiah. This is the same woman mentioned in Genesis 3 whose offspring would crush Satan and his kingdom. None other than Messiah Jesus, from the tribe of Judah and from the lineage of King David.

Next comes John’s first vision of Satan as the dragon.

“Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born” (Verses 3-4).

Satan had long ago been evicted from his heavenly dwelling and took one-third of the angels with him. This occurred even before Adam and Eve were created.

Continuing in Verse 5: “She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.”

Again, this had already taken place when Jesus was born, lived, died, rose again from the dead, then ascended to heaven prior to John’s vision as recorded in Revelation.

The scene then fast forwards to the Tribulation days. “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days” (Verse 6).

Next is the stunning event seen by John that would also take place in the future Tribulation.

“Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night’” (Revelation 12:7-10, italics for emphasis).

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(Depiction of Michael and Satan at War)

Note that John makes sure the reader understands that the “great dragon” is the ancient serpent of Genesis … “called the devil, or Satan…” Serpent and dragon are who and what he is: an angelic turned demonic (spirit) being unseen during his heyday as prince of the power of the air. Yet he will be permanently thrown down to the earth in our earthly space and time dimension as a corporal, tangible, visible being.

Putting it another way: If the dragon wasn’t a real embodied being, then there’s no reason whatsoever for John to see and use the term dragon. He would have exclusively employed the name, Satan or the devil.

Satan Confined to the Earth

When does this “war in heaven” take place? When are Satan and his fallen angels “thrown down to earth?”

I firmly believe this will take place just before the stupendous Rapture of believers.

Why?

Because believers in Christ will be taken to heaven at the Rapture with our new resurrected (the dead in Christ) and transfigured (those in Christ alive on the earth) everlasting bodies. Satan will no longer be allowed in heaven to accuse believers, certainly not face to face which would be the case if his access to heaven continued after the Rapture. The timing of this war in heaven and Satan’s total banishment to the earth is confirmed by the verse following his irrevocable expulsion from heaven.

“It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God” (Verse 10). This is a sweeping pronouncement encompassing the Day of the Lord, applicable to the entire span of the Tribulation period and beyond.

“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (Revelation 12:13).

Satan’s realization is much more than knowing he’s now on planet earth. That will be obvious to him. What Scripture is telling us here is that Satan will fully comprehend that not only has he been permanently confined to the earth (no more access to heavenly places), but that he also is irreversibly restricted to earthbound space and time in bodily form (the dragon).

That will make the dragon furious, and he will unleash his fury against Israel and the Tribulation saints.

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

Well, we know who wins, don’t we!

At the final battle of Armageddon, the Antichrist Beast and the False Prophet are captured and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. Their armies are completely destroyed by Messiah Jesus.

Let’s see what happens to Satan (the dragon).

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).

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(Depiction of the Real Angel Who Will Bind Satan With a Real Chain)

For emphatic corroboration, this is the second time John is telling us that Satan (as the dragon) will be seen and dealt with in bodily form. There is nothing metaphorical going on in Revelation Chapter 20. Contrary to what most people think: relative to the amount of content and length of the book, there is not that much nonliteral imagery in Revelation.

The thousand years is a thousand years.

An angel “seizes” the dragon. As in a literal capturing, grabbing, holding, and clutching the dragon.

The bottomless pit is a real place, under lock and key.

The chains that will bind the dragon are “heavy.” There is absolutely no literary need to describe an allegorical chain as heavy. If it’s symbolic, it doesn’t matter whether the chain is heavy or light.

To be in heaven you need a “heavenly body.” (See I Corinthians 15). That includes the good angels; Jesus, himself, because he returned to heaven in a glorified body, but a human body nevertheless; and all believers in Christ in our transformed bodies.

So, too, with the fallen angels, including Satan their chief. When Satan is thrown down to the earth (for all time), he will no longer have the capability to roam the “unseen world” or heavenly places. He will be limited to time/space on earth in what will be an earthly body … subject to earthly dimensions.

But, then, isn’t that how Satan first introduced himself to mankind? Such divine irony don’t you think? After the Tribulation he will be kept in the Abyss under the earth in solitary confinement. The only one he will be able to tempt is himself. Perhaps he will tempt himself to repent and acknowledge God as God, his Creator?

Nah! That’s not going to happen! See Revelation 20:7-10 for the rest of the story.

Things to Ponder

“Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion. I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name … And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

‘Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name! For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed’” (Revelation 15:1-4).

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Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!