Seven Essentials of the Rapture (Part II)

Let’s begin with an unusual beginning: an excerpt from an unusual Eye of Prophecy article.

Entitled: A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture (posted 4-20-19), which was a seven-act play … preceded and followed by commentary.

In Acts One, Two, and Three, characters were introduced from Israel, the United States, and Australia … respectively. With the initial stage of the Rapture beginning in those three acts, then ending for each set of characters in Acts Four through Six.

The following scene is Act Four which fits nicely with Rapture Essentials Number Four and Five, coming up shortly.

*Note: Netanya is a real town in Israel. In this (fictitious) Jewish family Eitan is the husband; Esther is the wife; Netanya (named after the town) and Naphtali their daughter and son.

Netanya, Israel (7:10 PM)

Eitan Shaked nestled close to his wife. He held the hand of their son, Naphtali. Esther grasped Netanya’s arm. As they stood at Benjamin’s gravesite, Eitan counted five other believers from his congregation who evidently had the same idea as him. They, too, were standing near graves of family or friends. They waved to each other with shouts of, “Yes!”

The Shofar sounded again. If there was any doubt that the first three were global, this fourth blast was surely being carried on every sound wave existing in and above the earth’s atmosphere. Millions of megaphones and loudspeakers could not have produced a sound so strong, so pure, so universal; yet so moderate as to not burst ear drums.

He immediately recognized it as the fourth and final of the Jewish Shofar sequence that had been handed down through tradition by and to the Jews for centuries. But now it was for all believers in Messiah … Jew and Gentile alike.

Though it was difficult to speak and hear, Esther asked, “Will this be the final Shofar?”

“Yes, I’m sure it will,” Eitan said. “It’s almost time.”

He had just finished speaking when they heard the voice from above, “Children of the Most High God; the appointed time has come.”

“I’m pretty sure that was the voice of the archangel,” Eitan said.

Eitan glanced at his watch again. He was about to tell Esther how much time had elapsed from the first blast, when the fourth Shofar stopped suddenly, not gradually like the others. Within seconds, the expected, but nonetheless stunning scene unfolded. Benjamin’s grave exploded as did a few others in the cemetery.

“Mom, Dad, look!” Netanya yelled.

They watched in total awe as Benjamin’s remains were lifted from his grave by an unseen hand. Then, ten, maybe fifteen seconds later, his skeletal form was radically changed. Too fast for Eitan or anyone else to see how. They only saw the results.

Benjamin stood on the ground and looked directly at them, then at his body.

He was enshrouded in white clothing they had never seen before or knew existed. If it was a robe, it seemed almost transparent, as if it was part of his form. His entire body and face were indescribably perfect. As though he had just been born that way without the imperfections that develop with age.

Immediately, Eitan realized this was the spiritual body spoken of by the Apostle Paul. It was as though Benjamin’s spirit was on the outside enveloping his flawless features, instead of the unseen spirit on the inside of a natural blemished body. The two, body and spirit were one. Beautifully blended one with the other. Both visible, yet indivisible.

Eitan knew that the same thing was happening to resurrected believers the world over. For those who had been cremated, the Lord was raising their ashes, bringing them together with the same supernatural force that rolled away the stone at Jesus’s tomb. With the same instantaneous transformation as the decomposing and skeleton bodies. So, too, the remains of those buried at sea.

“Benjamin, it’s you. You’re much better than…” Eitan couldn’t finish.

He felt a burst of energy that seemed to come from inside out but also outside in. It was over before he saw anything else. His wife Esther had been an attractive woman. It was not just in his beholding eye; others had told him the same thing. There she stood next to him more beautiful than she had ever been. An appearance that wasn’t sexual at all; rather a supernatural loveliness that transcended anything natural. An ageless beauty that was immortal.

So, too, Netanya and Naphtali. Changed dramatically, but just as dramatically the same person … each one of them.

“Look at you!” Benjamin pointed to Eitan.

“Look at you!” Eitan trumpeted in return.

“Look at our kids,” Esther exclaimed. “Same age, but older. How can that be!”

“Hallelujah,” Eitan roared.

“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised,” Esther shouted.

In unison, Netanya and Naphtali said, “We love you Jesus.”

Which as it turned out was right on cue. The next voice thundered from above, from everywhere.

“COME UP HERE!”

“That was Jesus himself,” Eitan shouted. His watch was gone, but he estimated that from the first shofar had been maybe fourteen or fifteen minutes.

Immediately the raised dead and those still alive and transformed began to rise in the air … exactly how, they did not know. By whom, they knew for sure. It wasn’t a fast ascent like a kite, nor was it slow like a hot air balloon. There was time for ecstasy to look around at other believers within sight rising simultaneously. And for a passing moment, a time of sadness when looking down at the many who were staring into the sky.

A Brief Review

Before examining the next four essentials of the Rapture, here are the first three covered in last week’s article:

Essential Number One: The Rapture Is Real

Essential Number Two: The Rapture Precedes The Great Tribulation

Essential Number Three: The Rapture & Physical Return of Christ Are Different Events

To include the following excerpt from that previous post:

*Note: A reminder before we continue with the remaining Rapture essentials. These Part I & Part II articles are but a summary of the Rapture features that are examined in much more detail through several prior Eye of Prophecy articles….

Also, a reminder that—with a modified exception (as close as it gets to doctrinally requiring a Pre-Tribulation Rapture) of the next essential, Number Two—the component features of the Rapture itself is something that should not separate true believers to the point of division. That for the following well-known paradigm (and only this paradigm or purpose) the Rapture would best fit into the non-essentials category:

That every prophecy is vital to the Christian faith, even if there is a difference of opinion over some prophecies.

Although the next feature of the Rapture is no more or less important than the other six, it is, perhaps, the most intriguing. One that many believers, including Bible prophecy teachers, have not considered carefully enough. Why? Because they assume that the “the blink of an eye” phenomenon in I Corinthians 15 applies or equates to the entire Rapture episode which is found in I Thessalonians 4.

Essential Number Four: Only the Transformation (Itself) of Believers Will Take Place in the Blink of an Eye

Conversely, the series of Rapture events revealed in I Thessalonians Chapter 4, will assuredly take several minutes. In fact, as glorious as it will be for believers, would be even better if it lasted an hour or so!

For an in-depth examination and clarification of this extraordinary component of the Rapture, please refer to Eye of Prophecy post: The Shout Heard Around the World (4-22-17). Early in that article I established a premise—the first part of which applies more to Rapture Essential Number Five, with the last sentence relating to Essential Number Four:

Premise: Contrary to the prevailing notion even among well-known students of prophecy, this shout and series of trumpet calls will be heard by the entire world, not just believers taken to heaven in the Rapture. And, all the sights and sounds of the entire sequence of the Rapture will last for several minutes. Only the transfiguration of the bodies of both the dead in Christ and believers alive at the Rapture will take place in “the blink of an eye.”

From there, I went on to emphasize the importance of correctly separating but also correlating (both are necessary) the two main Rapture passages. As follows:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up (harpazo) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17, parenthesis mine; harpazo is the Greek world for “caught up” from which we get the Latin term Rapture).

Next is Paul’s second disclosure of the Rapture, which provides additional information to I Thessalonians 4:

“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… our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:51-53).

That article included excerpts from one of the first five Eye of Prophecy articles: How the Rapture?

For the past several decades, every commentary, sermon, book, or article that deals with this passage–at least everything I’ve heard and read–consolidates, by default, the dynamics of this passage on the Rapture with the other main passage found in I Thessalonians Chapter 4. With a resulting conclusion that the entire scope or sequential events of the Rapture will transpire at warp speed … blink of an eye. For sure, the two passages are intricately related; but there is also a specific variance found in I Corinthians 15 that is profoundly distinct from the companion passage in I Thessalonians Chapter 4.

In I Corinthians 15, what is it precisely that takes place in the nanosecond blink of an eye? A little hint: To one thing only, which (blink of an eye) does not apply to the rest of the Rapture events described in I Thessalonians 4, in terms of those events also taking place in a split-second.

Here is where we students of the Bible (including myself) overlooked or took for granted one little (impersonal) pronoun. Because we skimmed over this two-letter word, we missed or dismissed the important textual relationship of this pronoun to the antecedent that immediately precedes it….

First defining “antecedent.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines antecedent as: “One that goes before … a substantive word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun …a word or group of words replaced and referred to by a substitute…”

The substitute is almost always a pronoun found immediately after the “substantive word or phrase”, which is the case in I Corinthians 15: 51-52. So let’s break it down.

First, the phrase in this passage: “…but we will all be transformed!”

Second, the pronoun, “It “, which begins the very next verse, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye….”

Can you make the connection? What specifically is “it” referencing or taking the place of in the text? You got it: It is referring to and the same thing as what Paul just said would occur which is, “…but we will all be transformed.”

The Apostle Paul further explains “it” (meaning the actual transformation itself, which is the astonishing change of our earthly body to that of our brand new heavenly body) by explaining how it (the transfiguration) will take place. “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye.”

When will it happen?

Answer: “…when the last trumpet is blown.”

In the New King James Version of the Bible we read:

Continuing with the excerpt:

Notice, that the pronoun (it) is not found in this translation. Why? Because the connection between the action of “changed” (transformed) and the how of the change (twinkling of an eye) is inseparable, irrefutable, and exclusive. Both passages contain essentially the same composition; with the New Living Translation and other translations (such as the Jewish Bible) accurately and emphatically reinforcing the translation from Greek to English, by use of a pronoun that substitutes for the mystery of the transformation itself.

I hope you see this as much more than just a boring exercise in grammar and syntax. It is exceptionally significant that we understand what is going on in this passage. Saying it another way: The only thing that will happen in a moment or blink of an eye … is the actual physical transfiguration of our earthly bodies. The “it” does not apply to anything else in this passage; nor can “the transformation” specifically apply to the events so majestically portrayed in I Thessalonians Chapter 4. In fact, I Thessalonians 4 doesn’t say anything about the blink of an eye transformation at all. But we have inadvertently extended or expanded the instantaneous change found in I Corinthians 15 to include the entire sequence of events described in I Thessalonians 4.

It is (obviously) speculation regarding the precise time involved … no one can know for sure. But based on the supreme significance of the number seven or its multiples (especially applicable for the end times—including the sevens in Revelation), the progression of the Rapture will most likely take…?

Well, here is a final excerpt from, The Shout Heard Around the World.

Whether the entire Rapture sequence takes seven minutes or fourteen or somewhere in between….

This will allow time for such things as: pulling cars over to the side of the road; awaking in the middle of the night from a deep sleep; turning off the T.V or loud music; stop the yelling at someone; hugging your un-believing spouse or friend good-bye; the short, but most intense praise and worship ever experienced by Christians on this earth; and, hopefully, a few minutes for some foxhole conversions all over the world.

Do you see what difference it would make and how it could enhance and expand our view of and increase even more our enthusiasm for the Rapture, if the order of events in the Rapture took place over several minutes? It would be far more than just a “poof” one second here, next second gone type of experience. Next to the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ, it will be the greatest celebration of joy ever experienced by believers in Christ. And in real-time and space no less; no special effects, no suspension of time, no virtual reality … just the real thing. None of which (except for the transfiguration of our bodies) can or will take place in the twinkling of an eye.

Now that’s something to shout about!

This fourth essential seamlessly leads to the next one that is also misjudged by many Bible teachers and students.

Essential Number Five: The Rapture Will Be Seen and Heard by Those Left Behind

For several decades and for whatever reason, the prevalent portrayal of the Rapture is that believers will simply disappear without those left behind hearing or seeing anything.

Why? Perhaps because of the Bible’s description of Enoch’s departure from the earth while still alive. “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah… So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years” (Genesis 5:21-23).

Then in that genealogy chapter of Genesis, Scripture simply but mysteriously, says:

That is a quote from the New American Standard Bible, with other older translations of Scripture virtually identical.

However, The New Living Translation—from which I use and quote most often—translates verse 24 as, “Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.”

Although I understand why the NLT translators wanted to emphasize the descriptive abruptness of Enoch’s departure from the earth, the word “disappeared” is probably stretching the text a bit too far.

When God took Enoch to heaven without dying, the implication from the text is that this departure was somewhat abrupt. Meaning one day he was there and the next day, hour, or minute he was not. But not necessarily that abrupt; not necessarily without warning or preparation.

There is certainly nothing in this passage to indisputably indicate that Enoch just disappeared without any warning whatsoever—although it could have happened that way. Nor any statement or suggestion that no one saw Enoch being taken to heaven. It very well could have occurred somewhat like Elijah’s transition to heaven. I am not speaking of the supernatural way in which Elijah was taken (chariot of fire). Rather, I’m referring to the fact that Elijah’s protégé Elisha (and other prophets) were told ahead of time and even saw him being taken away.

Although Enoch was a personal preview of the Rapture, this prototype of raptured believers is in principle only. He (his departure) was not a precise pattern. Other than the parallel principle of Enoch taken to heaven without experiencing death, there is no indication in the Genesis text (stated or implied) that he experienced anything like what I Thessalonians 4 describes for believers at the Rapture, from beginning to end. For that matter, neither I Thessalonians 4 nor I Corinthians 15 state or even imply that believers will disappear (in a nanosecond) at the Rapture.

Moreover, there is nothing in those passages to insinuate that the left behind will neither see nor hear the sights and sounds of the Rapture.

Here is another excerpt from How the Rapture? Posted August 2013. (In italics):

Normally, the blowing of the shofar was not a simple quick, one-time burst of sound. Rather, it entailed a series of blasts lasting several minutes, with each part of the series different from the others, and sometimes each component part repeated.

Nowhere in Scripture do we find that only God’s people heard trumpet calls or the blasts from a shofar. All within earshot, including their enemies, heard the shofar sound. In the Bible, we also see events in which God’s prophets and sometimes the people saw and heard angels or the pre-incarnate Christ, but so did unbelievers. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. Those three were thrown into the hotter-than-hot furnace, but how many men did Nebuchadnezzar see when he peered into the furnace? That’s right: Four. And the fourth was none other than the pre-incarnate Messiah.

Was it only Saul who heard the voice of Jesus on the road to Damascus? No, his accomplices also heard the voice that spoke to Saul. They didn’t actually see Jesus, but then neither did Saul; he only saw the blinding light that caused him three days of blindness. My point and premise: I’m wondering how we ever arrived at the notion that those left behind at the Rapture won’t hear the trumpet calls, and not see perhaps a flash of light or afterglow or radiance or some tangible evidence at the precise spot where a believer miraculously changed in front of them when the final trumpet call was sounded. Why would God close the ears or the eyes of the unsaved? Seeing and hearing is often believing.

With the Biblical precedents and parallels to support the premise that the entire world will hear the trumpets and, conversely, the lack of reference in Scripture to say otherwise, why wouldn’t God want the world to see and hear the Rapture? I’m convinced that many will immediately fall down on their knees and call upon the name of the Lord to save them. This applies not only to the trumpets, but also to the Lord’s shout and the voice of the archangel. Why wouldn’t they be heard the world over?

…We’ve mistakenly (meaning without any direct support or evidence from Scripture), assumed that the microsecond change of our bodies’ means that those bodies instantly vanish. Since the blink of an eye phenomenon relates only to the actual transfiguration itself, why do we also equate that with a split-second disappearance?

I Thessalonians 4 tells us that we will be “caught up” in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Why would caught up necessarily equate to an instant vanishing? Remember how Jesus ascended to heaven as described in Acts 1: 9-11? All who were with him saw him rising into heaven, until they could no longer see him. One of the two angels who showed up even said, “Why are you standing here staring into heaven?” There was no vanishing going on… Why wouldn’t our meeting Jesus in the clouds be just like His ascension to heaven?

In summary: The lightning quick transfiguration of believers will preclude those left behind from seeing or processing that phenomenal part of the Rapture. However, many of those left behind will witness most if not all the other Rapture dynamics, including the astonishing ascension of transformed believers on their way to meet Jesus in the air.

Essential Number Six: Only Some Children Will Be Taken

This essential of the Rapture might be the most controversial.

Reason: Nearly all teachers and students of the Bible hold to the notion (as did I at one time) that ALL children under the age of innocence or accountability—too young to make an informed decision whether to accept Jesus as personal Savior—will be taken during the Rapture.

However, for reasons provided in a couple of Eye of Prophecy articles and also in my first book (novel), O Israel … the end is the beginning for those left behind, I am convinced that none of the children of those left behind (unbelievers) will be taken.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Will All Children Be Taken in the Rapture? (posted 2-23-19).

In the Epilogue of O Israel, one of the main characters (Avram Levitt) posts his final email to those left behind at the Rapture, which had taken place about a year earlier. Beginning with:

Why were only some of the children taken on that fateful day? Why were more children left behind than taken? … Are there answers to these difficult and heart-wrenching questions? Yes, I believe there are, but they will not be fully understood until Messiah returns to earth to set up his kingdom.

Then referring to Noah’s flood and Sodom and Gomorrah followed by the passage in I Corinthians Chapter 7, Avram explains why the children (age of innocence) of those taken (raptured) were also taken. But the children of those left behind were also left behind. That God did not spare the children in the first world-wide judgment (Noah’s flood) nor in the regional judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding cities.

Avram continues:

Both Noah and Lot were allowed to take their children with them, although the children were grown. So, too, the Lord took the children of believers to spare them from the devastation to come. I realize this is a harsh explanation. Yet God left your children with you as both a comfort and a conviction. He wants you to understand there is still time. But this time is shorter than ever before in history.

Listen to the prophet Micah: “…Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:7-8).

The Bible also says there is no one who is righteous, for all have sinned…. Scripture says that all have fallen short of his beautiful and perfect standard of holiness, of the essence of his glory. How then is it possible to do what is right?

“Yet God with underserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:24).

Essential Number Seven: Believers Will Be Like Messiah Jesus

Not only will the raptured transformation (the extreme makeover of raised-from-the-dead believer’s remains and of living believer’s bodies) be a profound privilege to possess the same kind of indestructible body as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The spiritual bodies of believers will also be a physical necessity to live in the Kingdom of God on earth during our millennial reign with Messiah Jesus and forever in heaven (New Jerusalem).

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms? Part I & II (9-26, 10-3-15).

Listen to the Holy Spirit inspired words of the Apostle John as he reminds Christians:

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure” (I John 3:1-3, emphasis added).

An excerpt from another Eye of Prophecy post concerning the Rapture: Superhuman Bodies for Believers / How & Why (posted 12-14-19):

Here’s how the Apostle Paul explained it to the believers in Corinth, some of whom doubted there was such a thing as bodily resurrection:

“And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!” (I Corinthians 15:16-18).

Obviously, Paul was speaking of a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. In the early verses of this same chapter, Paul reminded the believers that: “…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (I Corinthians 15:3-6).

To them, being born-again was (only) a spiritual phenomenon. That believers would spend eternity in spirit-form only…. Paul wanted them to understand that their spirit was born again (made alive), but their bodies also would undergo a rebirth as it were … in the same manner that Messiah Jesus was transfigured….

Said Jesus to Nicodemus: “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:6-7).

The Apostle Paul proclaimed that the immediate result of believing and receiving Messiah Jesus as personal Savior is a revival of our human spirit which had been dead (to God). “Once you were dead (referring to the human spirit) because of your disobedience and your many sins” (Ephesians 2:1, parenthesis mine).

As a result of Biblical salvation, we are first resurrected spiritually from the dead. Paul goes on to say:

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved 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 2:4-6, parenthesis in the text).

There was even more to God’s magnificent plan of salvation than spiritual rebirth.

…As clearly contained in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments), the Kingdom of God will be a physical kingdom on earth beginning with the Millennial Reign of Christ after the Great Tribulation. In order to live forever in that Kingdom as well as heaven itself, there must be a resurrection and transformation of our temporal earthly bodies into a boundless body (not bound or limited by time, physics, disease, disabilities, pain, aging, or even by death). Until then, it is the Kingdom of Heaven that has been established in the hearts and minds of believers.

The eternal life spoken of by Jesus (and others in the Bible) clearly conveys the continuance of life as it was meant to be when God created Adam and Eve; their complete being—body, soul, and spirit. Their body was meant to live forever along with their soul and spirit.

Things to Ponder

Jesus means so much in so many ways to so many people. Beginning with: “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Jesus declared (promised): “…I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).

There is no greater thing (truth) than to know beyond any doubt whatsoever that Messiah Jesus arose from the dead. It is an historical fact.

His resurrection is the very essence of our redemption; proving that:

And proving that he is: “…our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).

“God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown (more proof) to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:2-4, parenthesis mine).

The Rapture will be resurrection from the dead for millions of saints. It is also the transfiguration of believers from our old earthly bodies to our new spiritual bodies (yet bodies, nonetheless).

“…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. We were given this hope when we were saved…” (Romans 8:23-24).

Mortal to immortal!

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, the Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54-57).

If you want to refer to the essentials of the Rapture more often and/or discuss them with others, then you may want to print the following list as a handy reference guide:

Essential Number One: The Rapture Is Real

Essential Number Two: The Rapture Precedes The Great Tribulation

Essential Number Three: The Rapture & Physical Return of Christ Are Different Events

Essential Number Four: Only the Transformation (Itself) of Believers Will Take Place in the Blink of an Eye

Essential Number Five: The Rapture Will Be Seen and Heard by Those Left Behind

Essential Number Six: Only Some Children Will Be Taken

Essential Number Seven: Believers Will Be Like Messiah Jesus

Seven Essentials of The Rapture (Part I)

For the first five years of Eye of Prophecy blogsite, an article was published every Saturday.

Due in part to the increased mileage (some call it getting old … I prefer older!) on your administrator/author, I have found it necessary to throttle back a bit.

Nonetheless, as the Lord guides and provides, posts should continue periodically. Hopefully at least one each month … perhaps two.

This week’s post marks a milestone: the 7th anniversary (almost to the day) of the first Eye of Prophecy article published on 7-26-13. And what more fitting subject than the title of the first article: What is the Rapture?

Followed in August of that year by the Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture. Of the 315 Eye of Prophecy posts to date, 50 are in the category of The Rapture. However, in this anniversary special, there will be only one sequel … Part II posted next week.

Other than the marvelous resurrection of Messiah Jesus some two thousand years ago, the Rapture will be the most extraordinary experience of human history—for those taken and for those left behind. Followed by one enormous episode after another over a period of seven years. Only to be eclipsed in magnitude by another stunning spectacle—the physical return of Jesus Christ to this earth.

There may not be any other Biblical prophecy that elicits such expectancy, while at the same time causes confusion with (some) Christians. Uncertainty that comes from misunderstanding some, most, or even all the essentials and dynamics of the Rapture. With the principal reason: inadequate consideration (scrutiny) and correlation (one with another) of the three powerful passages on the Rapture.

The term rapture equates to euphoria, ecstasy, excitement, exhilaration, and exultation. Good old-fashion joy. Rapture and its synonyms are nouns—which can be altered to adjectives, such as euphoric or exciting—that express our emotional state over an exceptional event.

But in Biblical prophecy (The) Rapture is also the event itself.

Some of the more neutral synonyms of confusion: misunderstanding, mix-up, mystification, and even mistakes. Regarding the Rapture, misperceptions are found among even the most sincere and astute Bible students, teachers, and scholars.

Is The Rapture an Essential or a Non-essential Tenet of the Christian Faith?

The answer: Both … I’ll explain.

A believer’s (correct or incorrect) view on any feature of the Rapture is not on the same level as truth/error over one of the essentials of the Christian faith. Such as found in the Apostle’s Creed. Or as summed up in the Apostle Paul’s magnificent Holy-Spirt inspired statement that salvation comes by faith (in Christ and his substitutionary death for our sins), not by works … Ephesians 2:8-9.

Good works are a result of redemption, not the means.

The Rapture events are neither the start nor the end of Biblical salvation, but rather the instrument to connect the remarkable beginning (born again … John Chapter 3) to the glorious end of our redemption (spiritual bodies equipped to live forever in heaven … I Corinthians Chapter 15).

Thus, it technically can be classified as a non-essential to the Christian faith. Notice I said “a” non-essential, as opposed to non-essential. There is a difference.

However, a crucial (essential) component of the Day of the Lord—Seven Year Tribulation; Physical Return of Jesus Christ; his Millennial Reign—is that the Rapture will take place BEFORE the Great Tribulation. What has been theologically classified as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. With the opposing view (Mid-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation) a direct contradiction of one of the main reasons for the Rapture … protecting believers in Messiah Jesus from the Great Tribulation by removing them from harm’s way.

Putting it another way: Different views on the Rapture, including those that are incorrect, does not determine one’s eternal destiny. With, however, a clarified emphasis that non-essential (in general terms) does not mean that the essential (specific) features of the Rapture are insignificant or unnecessary to correctly comprehend and appreciate.

I am convinced that the Lord wants his people to be accurate regarding (especially the more prominent) Bible end-time events; to grasp the essentials of these prophecies. Of which the imminently pending Rapture is—in the opinion of many Bible teachers and students—the most significant for true believers in Messiah Jesus … Jew and Gentile alike. With the prophetically fulfilled 1948 rebirth and subsequent (soon-to-come) final restoration of Israel the most prominent prophecies concerning God’s plan (destiny) for Israel and the Jews

For several reasons, the Rapture will be a monumental milestone of human history; including the flashpoint catalyst to the seven-year treaty (Daniel 9) orchestrated by the Antichrist beast upon his reappearance from the Abyss (Revelation 17). Followed by the magnificent bodily return of Messiah Jesus to rescue Israel from utter defeat at the hands of Antichrist’s (Nero) ten-nation coalition. Which will include the final battle of Armageddon, in which this ten-kingdom alliance joins with their enemy (Kings of the East) to dare take on the King of all kings.

We believers will ride to victory with Christ during his final conquest of all that is evil (Revelation 17:14 & 19:11-21). Then Messiah Jesus will rule the Kingdom of God from Jerusalem, accompanied by believers reigning with him over all the earth (Revelation 20:4-6).

The seven essentials of the Rapture in this week’s and next week’s Eye of Prophecy article will be a condensed summary of a few previous articles that clarified, correlated, and/or corrected one or more features of the Rapture in depth.

The first three essentials will be presented in this week’s post. To examine misunderstandings including outright errors (made mostly by unbelievers or believers who have studied little about the Rapture) which have been rationally and responsibly refuted by several Bible commentators, including myself. The last four will be examined next week in Part II. Those that even mainstream Bible prophecy pundits have inexactly or insufficiently presented since Bible prophecy exploded on the scene in the 1960s.

In those four essentials, I have proposed an alternative application to the stunning Scriptural passages that deal specifically with how the Rapture will unfold … in what manner and approximate duration of time. Accordingly, whether those left behind will both see and hear what happens. And whether all children at/below the age of innocence will be taken in the Rapture.

Essential Number One: The Rapture Is Real

In the past few decades (especially since Y2K), we have seen and heard many unbelievers do precisely what the Apostle Peter said they would do during the end times. Just as bad, if not worse: the increasing apathy of some Christians concerning the last days—an indifference that rivals the mindset and (live-for-only-the-present) lifestyle of unbelievers.

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

Denial or even disregard of the obvious (Rapture) may be the most puzzling, if not provocative inaccuracy of all.

This view held by some believers (especially those who are amillennial … who do not believe in the literal 1,000-year reign of Messiah Jesus on earth) is not only surprising.

It is inexplicable.

And then, what do they do with the extraordinarily clear Bible passages on the Rapture: (I Thessalonians Chapter 4; I Corinthians Chapter 15; Matthew Chapters 24-25; Luke Chapter 17)?

The defense of this denial most often used is that the passages are symbolic or “spiritual” rather than literal. But figurative of what? Or that the word Rapture is not found in the Bible. Please see Eye of Prophecy post: Biblical Terms Not In The Bible … Are They Biblical? (posted 3-10-18).

In a moment we will peruse these pivotal passages in their New Testament chronological order. With a reminder that there are Old Testament precedents that prophetically preview and parallel the Rapture. For instance: the whisking away of Enoch and Elijah to heaven without either man dying first. And the removal of Noah (and family) and Lot (and family) out of harm’s way before God poured out his judgment, globally, then regionally.

But first, an excerpt from the first Eye of Prophecy article ever posted: What is the Rapture? (In italics):

Where in the Bible do we find the term, Rapture? We don’t, so you can stop searching for the word in Scripture…. Are you surprised that such a Biblically oriented word, one that has been heard or spoken by many Christians and non-Christians alike, isn’t even in the Bible?

…the term, Rapture, is derived from a Latin word, raptus (to carry off or away), and the Bible was not written in Latin. Rather … the New Testament was written in Greek. Although the English word itself is not found in the pages of Scripture, the concept and truth of it certainly is. In fact, the Apostle Paul attributes this amazing disclosure as coming from the Lord Jesus, himself, as found in I Thessalonians 4:15, “We tell you this directly from the Lord…”

*Note: A brief interruption of the excerpt with this observation: Not that the inspiration of Scripture from the Holy Spirit to the respective authors is insignificant. It is of utmost importance (II Timothy 3:16-17). Yet in similar fashion to the many times when God spoke directly to Old Testament prophets, Jesus himself disclosed this amazing prophetic truth “directly” to Paul. Which is another rock-solid confirmation that the Rapture will take place.

Back to the excerpt:

The Greek word translated “caught up” in the I Thessalonians 4 passage is harpazo, which literally means to seize or snatch away….

Yet the English word “Rapture” is entirely appropriate as a one-word description of the remarkable prophetic proclamations found in I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15.

Remember, the word Rapture is not a direct translation of the Greek word, although it is a very close transliteration of the Latin word; rather it is a substitute or alternative or expanded way to describe emotionally or spiritually what is taking place. One of the definitions for rapture found in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary is, “a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things,” and a companion definition is, “an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion.”

Thus, we have a captivating combination of the original Latin and Greek words, which is accurately rendered “caught up” in most English translations of the Bible. These words convey the dynamics of the actual time/space sequence involved in this literal transfiguration of the Christian’s physical body, with the spiritual joy, emotional bliss, and mental delight in what is taking place. Those who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior (both the dead and the living), will experience the highest degree of spiritual and physical euphoria possible, as we will be instantly changed and then transported to heaven, there to be with our Lord and King forever.

As the sayings go, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” And, “What a way to go!”

In 1st century chronological order of the disclosure, beginning with Jesus himself, we find three powerful purposes for the Rapture, as contained in the following three passages. Though close to, they are not technically (the same as) the seven essentials or features or characteristics of the Rapture covered in this and next week’s article. Rather, they are what can better be described as the dynamics of the Rapture. They are supernatural actions that literally separate believers from unbelievers: resurrection (from the grave); transformation (to immortal spiritual bodies); and transportation (to heaven).

The Phenomenon of Those Left Behind (A Warning): “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 banquests and parties and weddings right up to 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” (Matthew 24:37-41).

Those prophetic words of Messiah Jesus are part of his lengthy explanation of signs and events of the last days. And are in the context of the exponential increase in natural disasters, false prophets and messiahs, persecution of Jews and Christians, rampant sin, before (birth pains) and especially during the Great Tribulation. Followed by his physical return to earth, “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). The flashpoint of which will be those who are taken (Rapture of believers) before God’s second and final judgment of the entire earth.

Those left behind will be “swept away” (in the Seal, Trumpet, & Bowl judgements).

Resurrection of Dead Believers & Catching Up of All Believers: “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 4:16-18, italics to emphasize the Greek word, harpazo).

In this preeminent Rapture passage the Apostle Paul discloses the astounding sequence of events, to include (by means of confirmation of the resurrection) dead believers first raised to life, then they and living believers “caught up” (literally rising together) in the clouds to meet the Lord.

Unless the Scriptural text is clearly and exclusively symbolic, or specifically interprets an image of something, or explains the imagery by such words as like, many scholars (including me) contend that the word or phrase or passage should be taken literally. For one thing it is far less confusing to understand the verse or verses literally. For another thing, a figurative interpretation could often have two or more meanings. Which one is correct?

This is particularly true when the Bible is conveying dynamic events … past, present, or future. Seldom is the action itself figurative. When it is, it’s presented as a simile. Such as: “He fought like a lion.”

Jesus said if anyone wanted to be his follower, he/she must “take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The cross in this case was figurative (a figure of speech). But it also could be and sometimes was/is literal … for the many who have been martyred for their faith in and obedience to Messiah Jesus.

(Depiction of Simon carrying the cross when Jesus could no longer carry it. A scene from 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ)

On the other hand, when describing beings (human or angelic or even sometimes Messiah Jesus, e.g. sword coming from his mouth with the sword representing His Word) symbolism—particularly in prophecy—is sometimes utilized. Such as the Antichrist characterized as a beast (Revelation) or a little horn (Daniel). However, what the Antichrist beast does (action) is literal.

Then there are the plain crystal-clear metaphors, e.g. Jesus is “the bread of life.”

There is nothing (repeat for emphasis … “nothing”) in the I Thessalonians 4 passage or any other passage on the Rapture to suggest symbolism of any kind. On the contrary: the (Lord’s) descension from heaven, the shout, the voice of the angel, the trumpet call, dead believers rising from their grave, then they and living believers “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air; all are literal … as real as anything could be.

Transformation of Believers Bodies From Mortal to Immortal (Spiritual Bodies): “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” (I Corinthians 15:51-52).

This third dramatic dynamic of the Rapture also confirms that the dead in Christ will be raised.

However, in this passage, the Apostle Paul adds what he didn’t tell us in I Thessalonians 4: all believers—those raised and those alive at the Rapture—will be “transformed” to immortal or “spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15:40-46). And it will take place in an instant … blink of an eye.

In one of the four essentials in next week’s Part II article we’ll again see that it’s only the transfiguration itself that takes place in a nanosecond; with the entire sequence of the Rapture itself, beginning with Jesus’s descending in the clouds, covering several minutes.

*Note: A reminder before we continue with the remaining Rapture essentials. These Part I & Part II articles are but a summary of the Rapture features that are examined in much more detail through several prior Eye of Prophecy articles. In that regard, a composite list of the seven essentials will be summarized at the end of next week’s article. Just in case you wanted to print-out this “nutshell” list for future reference.

Also, a reminder that—with a modified exception (as close as it gets to doctrinally requiring a Pre-Tribulation Rapture) of the next essential, Number Two—the component features of the Rapture itself is something that should not separate true believers to the point of division. That for the following well-known paradigm (and only this paradigm or purpose) the Rapture would best fit into the non-essentials category:

To also remember that there are accurate (versus inaccurate) applications to Biblical prophecies.

That every prophecy is vital to the Christian faith, even if there is a difference of opinion over some prophecies.

However, there will be no “I told you so(s)” when we believers get to heaven in our new undefiled spiritual bodies!

Essential Number Two: The Rapture Precedes The Great Tribulation

As indicated, this feature of the Rapture is often referred to as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. As opposed to the Rapture taking place at the end of the Tribulation or part way through it.

What makes this feature doctrinally essential to the Christian faith is the clear Scriptural evidence (fact) that believers are not subject to the end-times wrath of God which will be poured out it all its fury during the Great Tribulation. A primary purpose of the Rapture is to spare living believers from this terrible time of one colossal catastrophe after another. Jesus himself said: “For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones (Israel and the Jews)” (Matthew 24:21-22, parenthesis mine).

Immediately following the amazing passage on the Rapture in I Thessalonians 4, Paul continues the subject of the Day of the Lord (consisting of the Tribulation, then Millennial Reign of Christ to reverse all the terror and turmoil of the Great Tribulation) by warning of the disaster that will befall the unsaved … much like Jesus’s description that we just read.

Said Paul: “When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3).

Then just a few verses later while still on the same subject, Paul penned this pivotal and precious promise to affirm what could be argued as the main purpose of the Rapture, i.e. taking believers from the earth and sparing us from the Tribulation. “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).

Moreover, the resurrection of dead believers and subsequent transformation of their bodies and the bodies of living believers into imperishable bodies is vitally necessary so that, “we can live with him forever.” In that regard, the transfiguration itself could be considered a secondary (albeit extraordinarily significant means-to-an-end) event to the “snatching away” from the earth aspect of the Rapture. For the express purpose of taking us out of harm’s way.

In fact, the Rapture is the trigger point; the catalyst from which the Tribulation will commence and continue for seven years.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Why the Rapture (A Revisit). Posted 11-5-16.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (I Thessalonians 5:9). By virtue of this verse’s proximity to the Rapture verses in Chapter 4, it clearly puts it in the context of the soon-to-follow Great Tribulation; with both direct and indirect affirmation that believers will be spared from God’s final dispensing of justice on the wickedness of a world gone mad.

Thus, when Christians use the term, “saved,” we are not only referring to being saved from the justly deserved penalty of our sins which is eternal separation from God; but also for the generation alive at the time of the Rapture being “saved” or rescued from the unimaginable deceit, violence, death, and horror perpetrated by the Antichrist, followed rapidly by God’s justice directed to a very depraved, and rebellious world.

It will be the second, and final, time in history that God will effectively say, “Enough is enough.”

After thousands of years in which God has exercised great patience, it will be time for God to finally pour out his wrath on a corrupt world that has twisted the truth of the Gospel, has blatantly rejected Jesus as Savior and Messiah, has thumbed their noses at their Creator–the true and living God–and has yielded all their loyalty and worship to the Antichrist.

But thanks be to the love, grace, and mercy of God, he has chosen to spare the bride of Christ (believers) from this dreadful apocalypse….

For more detailed analysis, you might want to refer to the following Eye of Prophecy articles: The Rapture / Before or After The Great Tribulation? (posted 9-7-19); Will Believers Go Through The Great Tribulation? Part I & II (June 2019).

The next essential facet of the Rapture flows from Essential Number Two:

Essential Number Three: The Rapture & Physical Return of Christ Are Different Events

The following exceprt is from: Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16:

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 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.

Then, towards the end of that article:

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 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!

As indicated: I and other Bible scholars/teachers have confirmed and defended these three essentials of the Rapture (especially #2). Scripture convincedly supports the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church and a clear (7-year Tribulation) gap between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ when he sets foot on the Mount of Olives, from where he ascended to heaven some 2000 years ago.

Don’t miss next week’s final four features of the Rapture. They are those given as insight to me by the Lord for the purpose of correlating, clarifying, and perhaps even correcting a few of the details of what will (soon) be the most spectacular event in human history since the resurrection of Messiah Jesus from the grave.

Even if you have already read them in previous Eye of Prophecy articles, it will be a good review.

Things to Ponder

Although I infrequently provide an excerpt from a prior Eye of Prophecy article in the final Things to Ponder section of every post, it would be fitting to do so this week … given the 7th anniversary of this blog site and the topic.

From: The Tremendous Transfiguration of Believers (posted 7-23-16).

“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matthew 17:1-2, NASB).

Normally I would have quoted the above passage from the New Living Translation; all Scriptural references in Eye of Prophecy articles are from the NLT, unless otherwise designated. In Matthew 17, the NLT uses the English word, transformed, which is the same word it uses in the I Corinthians 15 passage concerning the change of our earthly bodies to spiritual bodies at the Rapture. The reason I chose the NASB (which translates the Greek word to transfigured) is because that Greek word is different than the word, allesso, found in I Corinthians 15.

Although the meanings are substantially similar (transformation or transfiguration … both are accurate and appropriate), the Greek word used in the exceptional scene we just read is, metamorphoo. Which makes the saying, “It’s all Greek to me,” not entirely true! There are several Greek words that are nearly identical to their transliterated English counterpart. This is one of those words. So what is the English word? You’re right: It is metamorphosis.

Webster’s definition of metamorphosis: “change of physical form, structure, or substance (especially) by supernatural means; striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.”

Which is why the English word, transfiguration, is the better description of the astounding change in Jesus’s appearance on what most Bible scholars refer to as the Mount of Transfiguration.

Transfiguration is defined by Webster’s Dictionary at two different levels. The first level is more closely akin to transform, which is: change in form or appearance. But the second (higher) level of transfiguration is defined as: “an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change.” In fact, Webster’s cites the transfiguration of Christ as an example. As noted, both definitions for metamorphosis and transfigured directly attribute this kind of “striking, exalted, glorified” change to one that is supernatural … by (the power of) God.

Which is exactly what Jesus experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was a preliminary divine demonstration that Jesus was fully God and fully man. It was also a stunning “preview of coming attractions.” The greatest of which was the resurrection of Messiah Jesus in a new glorified body; one that was exalted even above and beyond the human body he was born with. It was a spiritual, heavenly body that could never die.

Although our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus, is far above us in every way (for all the reasons found in Scripture), God has promised born again believers that we, too, will someday be graciously given the same kind of eternal, indestructible body like Jesus has; whether we have died before Jesus returns or are still alive.

How great is that!

Yes, we will be transformed at the Rapture, but at the higher level of transfigured! Immediately after the transfiguration of our mortal earthly bodies to heavenly spiritual bodies, we will be “transported” directly to heaven. The change in our bodies and in our address and living quarters will involve a “transition.”

While we’re still in Webster’s Dictionary (at least I am), let’s also define, transition: “A passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; a movement … from one form … to another; an abrupt change in energy state or level…”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for my transfiguration and transition!

And away we go!

Israel’s Annexation of Occupied Territory? We Must Define The Terms

Israel’s Annexation of Occupied Territory / We Must Define the Terms

No matter the ubiquitous COVID-19 pandemic.

Once again, the world is in an uproar over Israel.

This time as concerns the newly elected Israeli government’s plan to “annex” what most of the world labels as “Palestinian territory” that is “occupied” by “Jewish settlers.”

Which is also allegedly in “violation of international law.”

Whether this “annexation” will take place on or shortly after July 1st, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends; or is delayed pending a more detailed mapping of the affected areas in the Judea/Samaria region; and/or is subject to further scrutiny by the United States—remains to be seen.

Either way, it is imperative that some of the crucial terms—annexation, territory, occupation—be defined as they apply (or more accurately … do not apply) to the Sovereign State of Israel.

Why is that necessary?

Because these words are frequently used by Israel’s enemies and (non-enemy) critics in either a deliberate or uninformed denial regarding the ongoing (3,800 years and counting) connection of the Jews to the Promised Land of Israel.

To that end, the expressions are carelessly and callously exploited with a reverse (negative) connotation to denounce the right of Israeli Jews to live wherever they choose in the Jewish Nation-State of Israel—even though only 30% of Judea/Samaria is potentially affected. With the underlying motive of discrediting Jewish sovereignty throughout Israel that includes but is not limited to allegations that some or all of Israel (depending on how much animosity the person or nation harbors) is illegitimately inhabited by Israeli Jews.

In an article posted June 15th in online news source Jewish News Syndicate, author Jerold Auerbach begins with:

The New York Times recently devoted an entire page to a decision by the Palestinian Authority to sever relations with Israel. It represented a ‘desperate’ attempt ‘to deter Israel from annexing occupied territory,’ also known, but unacknowledged, as the biblical homeland of the Jewish people.”

His article is one of dozens of recent op-ed articles from multiple authors (for, against, or neutral) regarding this sovereignty issue in Judea/Samaria … also referred to as the West Bank. This region is literally and figuratively the heartland of Israel, in which about 8% of the Jewish population resides (some 500,000 of 6.7 million Jews in Israel).

The strongly biased (anti-Israel) New York Times is but one of many sources in a frenzy over reelected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to declare official sovereignty over a portion of Area C … 30% of Judea/Samaria. Or, (to begin with) perhaps only the strategic Jewish communities of Ma’ale Adumim (between Jericho and Jerusalem … 40,000 population); Ariel (between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem … 20,000); Gush Etzion (south of Jerusalem … 24,000).

Also, Kiryat Arba (7,400 population) close to Hebron; location of the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah) where Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob and Leah are buried.

(Tomb of the Patriarchs … Hebron, Israel)

Many Jews, especially the observant, consider Hebron as the 2nd holiest city in Israel. Despite the current condition in which Hebron is more heavily populated by Arab Palestinians than by Israeli Jews.

If you know anything about the glory years of Israel from the time of King David (1010 B.C. to 970 B.C.) to the Babylonian conquest of 586 B.C, then again from 515 B.C. to 70 AD, Hebron is also where King David began his reign in Israel before unifying the twelve tribes and moving to God’s appointed eternal capital of Israel … Jerusalem.

“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).

If God loves Jerusalem above all Israeli cities, then rest assured he loves Jerusalem more than all the cities of the world. Jerusalem is the heart and soul of Israel, and Israel is the heart of the world—literally and figuratively. It is in promised perpetuity: THE PROMISED LAND. That promise is just as authentic and binding and consequential in our time as it was when the Lord bequeathed the Holy Land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants.

Notice, that the following promise extends to Jacob directly through his grandfather Abraham’s son (Jacob’s father) Isaac, not through Ishmael—the progenitor of the Arab race:

Speaking to Jacob whose name God changed to Israel. “… I am El Shaddai—’God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! And I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you’” (Genesis 35:11-12).

The Promised Land of Israel

The rebirth of the State of Israel on May 14th, 1948 and Jewish victory over five Arab nations/armies that attacked the fledging state the very next day did not result in Israeli sovereignty over nearly as much of Israel as it could/should have.

However, Israel’s stunning defeat of the Arab armies poised to strike the Jews in the Six-Day War of 1967 enabled Israeli control over the Golan Heights, Judea/Samaria, all of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula. Unfortunately (bowing to international pressure), Israel relinquished functional jurisdiction of most of the Judea/Samaria region (to even include Temple Mount), the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai back to Jordan and Egypt respectively and later in stages to the Palestinians.

Truce lines were agreed to between the Israelis and Jordanians around and through Judea Samaria, which includes the Jordan Valley. However, these armistice lines were not internal borders. To repeat for emphasis: These lines drawn on the map are NOT national boundary lines (borders) between two nations. Because there is no such autonomous entity as Palestine or a Palestinian State.

Although I (and a few others) have repeatedly written about Israel’s right of sovereignty over the entire expanse of Israel where it borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, it bears repeating. Particularly considering the latest wave of harsh criticism and unwarranted condemnation leveled against Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the planned “annexation” of the 30% of Judea/Samaria inhabited mostly by Israeli Jews.

As a reminder, the Palestinians (Palestinian Authority created in 1993) have rejected two astoundingly generous but unwise offers by Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak (2000) and Ehud Olmert (2008) that would have given the Palestinians over 95% of Judea/Samaria. Which could/would have led to the creation of a Palestinian State.

Before there was such a thing as a Palestinian Arab (Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians after their defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967) or the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO … 1964) or the Palestinian Authority, the Arabs rigidly rejected the opportunity to create a state of their own alongside Israel in 1947-1948. What most of the world also doesn’t know or has conveniently forgotten: The entire country of Jordan (east of the Jordan River … initially called Transjordan) was supposed to be the actual Palestinian State—not land west of the Jordan River.

Shortly, we will examine a significant conference of (some) nations held in 1920, in follow-up to the more well-known Balfour Declaration of November 1917. Then the League of Nations ratification of 1922.

Although aware of this conference, I (like other Middle East historians) had given more attention to the Balfour Declaration, having written about it several times. Including two articles with that name: The Balfour Declaration … Beginning of the Omega Generation (Part I & II). Posted May 2017.

In acknowledgment of its 100th anniversary, several authors recently posted articles about this conference. While reading many of them, it was evident (as indicated, a reminder) that this forum contributed substantially to realization of Jewish rights to their ancient homeland; the land and the (Jewish) people that is the focus of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies concerning the rebirth of Israel and return of the Jews from world-wide exile. All leading to the final restoration of God’s chosen people—physically and spiritually.

Through God’s divine sovereignty, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (through King David’s lineage) brought to Jew, and Gentile alike, the crucified and risen Messiah … Jesus of Nazareth.

God the Father, speaking through the prophet Isaiah of the Messiah who Daniel later said would come before the 2nd Temple was destroyed (Jesus of Nazareth fits that requirement along with dozens of other O.T. prophecies) declared:

[Note: Concerning an in-depth analysis of who has ultimate sovereignty and jurisdictional control over the “disputed areas” within Israel proper, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles including but not limited to: United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334) (Published 1-7-17); What is Palestine & Who Is A Palestinian? (Posted 12-2-17); Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law (8-11-18); Does Israel Belong to the State of Israel? (5-4-19); Jewish Settlements in Judea/Samaria … Are They Illegal? (11-23-19); Palestine or Israel? Which Is It? Your Answer May Be in Jeopardy! (1-18-20)]

The Deal of the Century

Before we consider that conference and its remarkable repercussions in more detail, let’s briefly revisit what has been called, The Deal of the Century. Which has been rejected out-of-hand by the Palestinian Authority in Judea/Samaria and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article posted 2-8-20: Israel is Again the Head, Not the Tail (The Deal of the Century), in italics:

Though there were other factors, each of these peace plans of the past had two basic things in common: (1) Demand for Israel’s return to pre-1967 Six Day War armistice lines (not borders). (2) Israel’s exchange (relinquishing) of land for peace. A peace that the Palestinians don’t want in the first place because they want the entire state of Israel as their own. Preferably all at once but would settle for one piece of Israel at a time, and because they still refuse to recognize the sovereign Jewish State of Israel….

ALL OF ISRAEL!

Including Judea and Samaria!!

I then referenced an article written by journalist/author Caroline Glick.

In the article, she contrasted Israel’s heretofore foreign policy “beggar” paradigm (status) which was a direct result of several Israeli leaders succumbing to world opinion that Israel was a “pariah state.” That Israel must make whatever concessions necessary to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This mindset was due to the United States and most European nations endorsing the Palestinian assertions that Israelis were “occupying Palestinian territories” which has no basis whatsoever in reality. I have written about this extensively, with much documentation to demonstrate that there is no such thing as “Palestine” or “Palestinian territories” or Israeli “occupation” of land that has belonged to the Jews for over 3,000 years.

In keeping with the main theme/emphasis of today’s article, we will define terms that the entire world uses in a derogatory (negative connotation) way against Israel. Whereas, the accurate facts on the ground demonstrate that neither Israeli Jews nor Israel’s government are doing anything “illegal” or contrary to “international law.”

One more excerpt from the Deal of the Century article:

Since Donald Trump’s time in office, he has made some dramatic decisions that have profoundly impacted the Middle East and Israel. Each of them generated predictable reactions both for and against, depending on whether you’re an Arab or a Jew; your point of view concerning Israeli sovereignty over all or just part of Israel; and your knowledge of Israel’s real history, both ancient and contemporary.

He reaffirmed the obvious: Jerusalem always has been and still is the eternal capital of the nation-state of Israel. Then he ordered the U.S. Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He officially supported Israel’s autonomous rights to the Golan Heights as a matter of national security, having several times been attacked from that region by her enemies. Likewise, that the Israelis have ultimate sovereign rights in Judea and Samaria—the very heartland of Israel—with the understanding that Arab Palestinians also have jurisdiction over designated areas (A & B) of that region.

Each of these official declarations by President Trump on behalf of the United States of America is hugely significant. They meet standards set forth by God himself regarding Israel’s position in the family of nations. With a composite conclusion that Israel is (as she was in King David’s time) once again the head and not the tail. It is a Biblical principle that when individuals, groups, and nations bless Israel (support, promote, befriend, defend), they, too, will be blessed (acknowledged, rewarded) by the true and living God (Genesis 12:1-3).

And now, we have the Deal of the Century, which provides proposals that can benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike. Although it’s highly unlikely that the Palestinians will agree to even one, let alone all the points of this deal, the plan itself is prophetically pertinent and powerful.

In the greater context of God’s two-fold plan for humanity (first, the Promised Land of Israel as a perpetual possession of his chosen people; second, the New Covenant of Redemptive Grace through the Messiah—the very Son of God), the Jewish Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation (by nationally rejecting their Messiah, Jesus, although many in the first century and many more in the 20th & 21st century have accepted him), think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12, parenthesis mine).

Although there are more, in that previous article I listed nine specific proposals (points) of The Deal of the Century. As pertaining to today’s post, just the first of the nine will be revisited.

Which is:

Although all Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) belong to Israel, the proposal recognizes Israel’s prerogative to officially annex about 30% of this region, which comprises about 50% of Area C where most of the nearly 500,000 Jews already reside.

Reactions to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Intentions to Formally Apply Israeli Sovereignty Over the Jewish Portion of Judea/Samaria

Although Benjamin Netanyahu has, on behalf of Israel’s new unity government, announced in general terms Israel’s intentions to declare official governmental sovereignty over all or part of the aforementioned 30% of Judea/Samaria, more precise details won’t be provided until at least July 1, 2020.

(Current Areas of Judea Samaria, with Palestinians exclusively in Areas A & B; mostly Israelis in Area C)

But that has not deterred massive complaints from multiple sources against the very idea of Israel assuming or presuming ultimate sovereignty over (any) part of the Judea/Samaria region. The diehard critics … “the usual suspects” are: The Palestinians (Arab non-citizens within the sovereign state of Israel); Muslim nations; several European Union heads of state (such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom); many United States Democrats in Congress; a segment of liberal Jews in America; and ultra-liberal media such as The New York Times.

When Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations issued scathing criticism of Israel’s plans, he also displayed his ignorance of international law and Israeli sovereignty when he said: “The Security Council will assume its responsibilities and will ask the Israeli government to suspend all activities … in the occupied Palestinian territories” (emphasis added).

In expressing his (uniformed) anti-Israel opinion, what Guterres meant by “activities” was an illegal or at the very least illegitimate action of annexation. As we shall soon see: if, indeed, Israel proceeds with official administrative sovereignty over part or all of the 30% land mass (Area C) of Judea/Samaria currently inhabited by Israeli Jews, it will NOT be unlawful. And it will NOT be annexation, as such. Nor will it be over or in “occupied Palestinian territories.”

Even if it did affect Areas A & B (which it does not), these are NOT Palestinian territories; in the classic sense of holding supreme dominion over a specific region … a domain.

The pragmatic results of what the watching world is (erroneously) labeling as “illegal annexation” and “contrary to international law” is accurately assessed by author Caroline Glick in an op-ed article posted on 6-16-20 in the on-line news source of Israel Hayom.

She writes: “…The immediate implication of applying Israeli law to these areas is that the military government and its civil administration, under which they have been governed for the past 53 years (since the Six Day War of 1967), will be replaced by government ministries and officials. Unlike the military government and its civil administration, those ministries and bureaucrats are accountable to Israel’s elected leaders who govern under the liberal Israeli legal code…. (parenthesis mine)

“…The Trump vision, which the sovereignty plan embodies is geared towards normalizing the status of the half-million Israelis who live under the unelected military government and the civil administration in Judea and Samaria.”

As expected, several PA officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have issued “warnings” of Palestinian upheaval, i.e. retaliation. These warnings are simply self-fulfilling extortion-type threats: give us what we want, and we’ll try not to let anything bad happen (such as lone wolf terrorist attacks and intifadas).

What the Palestinians really want is all Israel (the land) and no Israel (the nation-state).

(Weizmann was one of the founding fathers of the reborn State of Israel in 1948. Palestinian Authority President Abbas has also said that if there is a Palestinian State, not one Jew will be allowed to live there)

For over seventy years, the Arabs have been in denial over the existence of the Jewish Nation of Israel (UN Resolution of 1947 granting a Jewish State, then Statehood declared in May 1948).

For over a hundred years (Balfour Declaration) they have been in denial that a Jewish State even has the right to exist.

It is one thing for the Palestinians to be in denial, as the Arab/Jewish conflict goes back thousands of years (Isaac vs. Ishmael). But it is quite another matter for so many all over the planet, including heads of state, to question (let alone denounce) Israel’s right of sovereignty over ALL Israel. Particularly when they do not know nor appear to want to know the historical facts that have produced the contemporary reality in the Promised Land.

In the context of terminology bandied about by Israel’s critics (occupation, annexation, contrary to international law, etc.), of even more significance is an event that took place in 1920, which extended recognition of the Balfour Declaration and more precisely defined its goal, i.e. Jewish right of return to and reestablishment of their own country/state.

I had read about this event, but failed to fully realize the magnitude of it, having placed more weight on the Balfour Declaration. What brought this mostly forgotten event to my attention (recall) were a few articles posted in various online sources this past April and May. Its historic significance is especially applicable in the context of current world consternation over Israel’s potential “annexation” of “territory” that allegedly does not belong to the Israelis, which supposedly constitutes a “breach of international law.”

San Remo Conference of 1920

It was held during the last week of April 1920 in San Remo Italy with four of the nations that fought against the German and Ottoman empires of World War I participating … France, Britain, Italy, and Japan. Their primary purpose was to restructure Allied conquered regions of the Middle East, particularly land of the defeated and now defunct Ottoman Empire.

The San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 was to the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 as Israel’s statehood rebirth of May 1948 was to the UN Resolution of November 1947 which afforded nation-state rights to the Jews. Subsequently, the San Remo decisions were ratified by the League of Nations in 1922, as was the British Mandate for Palestine. Great Britain was given regulation of the Palestine region until the Jews were ready for self-determination. The Arabs would get (what is now modern day) Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

In an April 26, 2020 article published in Jewish News Syndicate, author Yishai Fleisher begins by saying, “One hundred years ago this week, the British Balfour Declaration—which recognized the Jewish rights to the land of Israel—became international law.”

The title of that article: San Remo: The original ‘deal of the century’

As significant as the UN Resolution of 1947 was—followed by Israel’s declaration of statehood the following year—Fleisher (correctly) confers more significance to the San Remo summit. He went on to say:

“…The San Remo Accords were binding law, ratified by member states, which took quick effect. Even the United States, which was not a member of the League of Nations, took measures to recognize the accords.”

The United Nations General Assembly (non-binding) vote in 1947 to partition Israel was the stuff that high drama is made of; one that led directly to the rebirth of Israel in May 1948. Yet, it did not carry (as argued by Yishai Fleisher) the legal weight nor the international precedent established by the trifecta of the Balfour Declaration, San Remo Conference, then League of Nations support of the British Mandate of Palestine; reserved for Jewish return and sovereign reclamation of their ancient land.

Fleisher then writes: “The text of the Mandate for Palestine (the 1922 document that put the resolution of San Remo into practice) is straightforward: ‘Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.’

“At the San Remo conference, delegates never contemplated giving ‘Palestine’ to the Arabs—the absurd idea of taking Judea away from the Jews and creating an Arab state there. For the delegates, giving Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq to the Arabs (which they did and later the land that now comprises Jordan) and giving the Jews their historic and biblical land was equitable enough. This was in line with the Wilsonian (referring to US President Woodrow Wilson) ‘self-determination’ doctrine—indigenous peoples would gain independence from former empires and govern themselves….” (parenthesis mine).

In another April 2020 article, author Jonathan Feldstein also provides compelling historical evidence that the San Remo declaration carries (to this day) a time-tested international legal precedent for Israeli sovereignty over any/all of Israel.

He summarizes: “In short, San Remo affirmed Jewish rights to the Land of Israel and established the legal foundation and borders of Israel under international law. It was so significant that British Lord Curzon is said to have called it Israel’s Magna Carta.”

The “borders” referred to are Israel’s external geographical borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. They are NOT internal borders with Palestinian communities of Judea/Samaria or the Gaza Strip. Those are nothing more than “armistice lines.” Thus, Israel has sovereign rights over ALL land within her national borders. That certainly includes Judea/Samaria.

(Some of the leaders of the San Remo Conference)

*Note: Since the San Remo Conference and League of Nations ratification of its resolutions, there has been NO international legal changes to this “Magna Carta”-like declaration.

Jonathan Feldstein continues:

“It’s understandable why Balfour and the 1947 UN partition plan are celebrated as significant milestones. They are. But San Remo was an inextricable link between the two. The resolution adopted represented the first time in 2000 years, since the Roman conquering of Israel, the destruction of the Second Temple, and the ensuing exile, that the international community called for the establishment and restoration of a Jewish homeland in the historic Land of Israel.”

Time/space in today’s article does not allow more details of the San Remo Conference, which has become little more than a footnote in the history books.

Except to say: We must not dismiss or even marginalize both the international and national (as applied to Israel) legal repercussions of this agreement just because it happens to be 100-years old. At the very least, the (still applicable) impact of that moment in history refutes the notion that Israel’s sovereignty, officially declared or not, over Judea Samaria is a contradiction of international law.

Consequently, Israeli Jews never have and are not now illegally occupying any part of Israel whatsoever.

Those Arabs (Palestinians) who have refused Israeli citizenship are the actual occupiers of Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip—in the negative connotation of “occupied.” Even, then, Israel has extended privileges (not the least of which is a large measure of self-governing autonomy) to the Palestinians that most nations on earth would not think of granting to non-citizens. Especially to those who deny the very existence of the host nation, and who constantly commit acts of terror (maiming and murder) of its citizens.

Which is why certain terms used by those who (falsely) accuse Israel of wanting to “annex Palestinian territory in violation of international law” need to be defined so as not to rewrite Israel’s history as it relates to world history.

Definition of The Terms

Palestinian Territories: At the very most, this often-used phrase would geographically apply only to Areas A & B of Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip which are inhabited exclusively by Arab non-citizens of Israel … Palestinians. As a reminder: Israel will not be incorporating (declaring official sovereignty) over any part of Areas A & B, or even all of Area C; nor, of course, the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians and those who blindly support their agenda with little regard to/for the League of Nations and United Nations original endorsement of the existence of the Sovereign State of Israel, would have us believe that their territory is being (illegally) usurped (annexed) by the Israeli government; based on the (false) presupposition that the Palestinians have complete (sovereign) control over those regions. They do not. Israel has that (final) sovereignty. Moreover, this deceptive and distorted premise contradicts the very definition of territory or territories in general and specifically as relates to the Oslo Agreements of 1993.

The following definitions are from Webster’s Dictionary and accurately reflect the relationship between Israel’s Jewish / Arab citizens and the non-citizen Palestinians, pertaining to Judea Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Territory: “a geographical area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a government authority; an administrative subdivision of a country; a geographical area … dependent upon an external government but having some degree of autonomy.”

Despite victory in four wars in which the Arabs were clearly the aggressor (1948, 1956 and especially 1967 and 1973) Israel relinquished functional jurisdiction to Jordan, then to the PLO and later the Palestinian Authority of most of the West Bank and all the Gaza Strip, with that coastal area taken over by an even more militant organization … Hamas. All this despite ancient Jewish claims to and presence in the land that far exceed in time and antiquity any Arab or Islamic presence.

But ultimate authority (sovereignty) still belongs to Israel.

Any reference to or use of the term “Palestinian territories” does not state or even imply that the Palestinians have final sovereignty over these areas of Israel. However, much of the world does not (either deliberately or inadvertently) get that. Rather the world at large prefers to call Judea Samaria by its Johnny-come-lately name of West Bank. With the mistaken impression that there are established (nation-like) “borders” within Israel and the Arabs of that region (plus Gaza) have “territorial rights” completely free of any Israeli sovereignty. With Jewish Israelis allegedly infringing on those rights by wanting to “annex” land that they are (illegally) “occupying.”

To further propagandize and, thereby, confuse even heads of state, PA President Mahmoud Abbas frequently refers to the West Bank as the “State of Palestine.” Even those smart enough to know there is no Palestinian State, eventually concede (capitulate) to the misleading presumption that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are sovereign Palestinian territories.

Occupy: “to fill up (an extent in space or time); to take or hold possession of; to reside in as an owner or tenant.”

Israeli citizens (settlers) living in these so-called Palestinian territories are, indeed, “occupying” the land. But in the matter-of-fact positive connotation of the concept. Not in the adverse overtone which is one of the component definitions of occupation: “the holding and control of an area by a foreign military force. Military force occupying a country…”

Newsflash: Although the non-citizen Palestinians comprise all the Gaza Strip population and approximately 80% of Judea/Samaria’s population, neither of these regions have ever been or are now countries (states or nations). One reason is because they are already part of a country … Israel. Nor do they qualify as sovereign territories such as large swaths of the United States were designated, e.g. Wyoming territory, before they achieved statehood. Yet, each state is subject to the ultimate federal sovereignty of the United States of America.

(Map of Montana Territory approved by President Lincoln in 1864. Montana later became a state in 1889)

Israel is no less a sovereign nation than the USA.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is not (repeat for emphasis, NOT) a “foreign military force” in its own country. A country that sovereignly includes the regions of Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The IDF has the same power, authority, and responsibility as the military force of any nation; to defend and maintain the domestic security of ALL land within the recognized national borders adjacent to other countries.

Thus, neither Israel’s military nor its civilian citizenry are “occupying (negative connotation implying “illegally” or “illegitimately”) Area C of Judea/Samaria. Or, for that matter, any land within Israel’s national boundaries.

Annex: It carries both a general and specific meaning. “to bind to; to attach as a quality, consequence, or condition. As applied specifically to countries, Webster’s defines annex: “to incorporate a country within the domain of a state.”

As already noted: in much of the world’s criticism of Israel’s intentions to officially incorporate all or part of the Jewish 30% residency of Judea/Samaria into Israeli governmental jurisdiction (rather than under the direct or even indirect administration by the IDF), the term “annex” or “annexation” is used. Which is wrong. That is not what Israel is doing. Even if some of the proponents for this official declaration of Israeli law and jurisdiction (sovereignty) over the lawful Jewish settlements within Area C of Judea/Samaria also use the terminology of annexation.

Wrote Eugene Kontorovich, astute scholar on international law: “Annexation in international law specifically means taking the territory of a foreign sovereign country” Neither the Jordan Valley nor the West Bank belong to, “a foreign sovereign country.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross defines annexation as a unilateral act of a state through which it proclaims its sovereignty over the territory of another state. Moreover, international law declares any such annexation as illegal only IF, in fact, it takes place after one country initiates a war or forceful takeover (unjustly), i.e. unprovoked aggression against another country.

On the other hand, any country that is victorious in fighting a defensive war has every right to take possession (occupy, annex, or whatever concept is involved) of land that was used by their enemy to launch an attack. Which is exactly what happened in Israel’s stunning Six-Day War victory.

Frankly, it is inconceivable to me that well educated professors, politicians, and pundits of all things legal, deliberately distort and misapply Israeli legal rights to ALL Israel. When, in fact, there are multiple factors why Israeli Jews are lawfully occupying land that belongs to them … no matter where they live in Israel. With liberation (reclamation) of those lands in the Six-Day War of 1967 just one of those reasons. With the other reasons identified in the earlier portion of today’s article.

Summary

Just a brief summation in the form of an excerpt from an article posted in the on-line news source of Israel Hayom (June 9, 2020) co-authored by Richard Kemp and Arsen Ostrovsky:

“Much of the international community, NGO world and foreign press, even some in the Jewish community, have been referring to this aspect of the plan (referring to President Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan or The Deal of the Century) as ‘annexation.’

“…In essence, annexation means one state imposing legal authority over the territory of another state acquired by force or aggression, normally during war. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines ‘annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof’ as ‘constituting the grave Crime of Aggression.’ Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus are prime examples of such cases” (parenthesis mine).

Later in that article, the authors mentioned the San Remo resolutions that conferred the right of Jewish return to and reclamation rebirth of the State of Israel.

They wrote: “One may ask, then, how you can annex territory to which you are legally entitled and that which already has been assigned to you? Indeed, it is factually incorrect to assert that Israel intends to ‘annex’ parts of Judea and Samaria—a territory to which it has legitimate claim and that never has been part of a ‘state of Palestine.’ More accurate would be to say that Israel is ‘extending Israeli sovereignty’ or ‘applying Israeli law’ to parts of Judea and Samaria.”

Things to Ponder

In principal, I support the United States Peace Plan for Israel and the Palestinians, for reasons given in Eye of Prophecy article: Israel is Again the Head, Not the Tail (The Deal of the Century).

Yet, all parties, including Israelis themselves, who seek to carve up any part of the Promised Land and hand it over as a sovereign state to peoples other than the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, need to take heed of what the true and living God says about the land as applied to the last days of the end times … in which we are living.

“I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again (taking place in our generation) …. 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 9:14-15, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

Addressing those nations/peoples who have (in the past) and those who are attempting in today’s world to denigrate, divide, or destroy Israel, God issues his verdict:

“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 (referring to Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria), so you and the surrounding nations (complicit in “swallowing up” any part of Israel by other than the Jews) 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, parenthesis mine).

Then the last three verses of Obadiah describe much (but not all) of Israel’s original land mass.

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

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

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

The Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference followed by League of Nations affirmation of those resolutions paved the way for the return of the Jews to their ancient God-given land; the land occupied by God’s chosen people long before the Arabs were there. Even the United Nations Charter (Article 80) published in 1945 (before the 1947 UN Resolution to “partition” the land) fully acknowledges the rights that various peoples acquired via the post WW I mandates, from which several contemporary nation-states were formed.

Not the least of which is the stunning rebirth of Israel in a single day (prophecy found in Isaiah Chapter 66) facilitated by the British Mandate (1922) confirming the inherent rights of the Jews to settle in the Land of Palestine. Once again called by its original, God-given name of Israel.

(The original British Mandate did not include any such thing as a “West Bank” or Gaza Strip. Transjordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon were intended for Arabs and “Palestine” for the Jews. Israel reclaimed ALL its land in the Six-Day War)

As God repeatedly said would happen through his Old Testament prophets, the Jews have returned to reclaim their inheritance.

Never again, “to be uprooted from the land…”

“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).

Personally I’m pondering: If nations, including those in Israel who oppose Israeli sovereignty and/or want to “divide up the land” were to cease and desist from doing so (thereby, blessing Israel); would the Lord providentially reduce or even lift the curse of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Just wondering….

Sequel to Stunning Catastrophes & Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation

It is fitting to begin this week’s article with an aide-memoire. Which is a fancy synonym (I’ve never used before) for reminder or note.

Note: Today is one of the most distinguished and dramatic dates in (20th century) history that is not an official holiday … D-DAY.

Also fitting is to explain why this week’s post would begin with such an introduction.

Which is: All Eye of Prophecy articles are posted on Saturdays. Since this website began in July 2013, this is the 2nd time that D-Day (June 6th) fell on Saturday.

The first was five years ago … June 6, 2015. Which I did not realize until sometime later was D-Day. The significance of that is the article I wrote for that week/day (Saturday) was entitled, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation. Which has generated enough visits to put it in the top ten Eye of Prophecy posts (313 articles) at number 3.

I thought it would be appropriate to revisit that article, considering the world’s population has increased from 7.3 billion in 2015 to the current figure of 7,789,504,610 and counting. Spelled out: 7 billion, 789 million. Since it won’t take much longer for the number to reach 7.8 billion, let’s round it up to that figure for our (revised) calculations in this week’s post.

With some new material, today’s article mostly will be a hybrid of the June 6, 2015 post combined with a subsequent post on 11-4-17, entitled: Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing & Purpose. That article listed and summarily discussed the Seven Seal, Seven Trumpet, and Seven Bowl episodes in the book of Revelation; including the generalized time (sequence) during the seven-year Tribulation when they would occur. Along with the frightening features and primary purpose for these terrible calamities.

In some Eye of Prophecy articles, I quote from prior articles … with the quotation in italics to distinguish it from that week’s article.

However, with a few exceptions (a direct quote/excerpt from those two articles), today’s content will include extracts from those articles with changes in the calculations, plus other revisions (additional or different commentary). Since I am the author of all Eye of Prophecy articles, there is no plagiarism taking place!

Some D-Day Facts

That prior inadvertent D-Day article (Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation) began with some pertinent and powerful casualty counts of the American Civil War, then World War I and World War II. As a lead-in to the gruesome body-count of the Tribulation period that will dwarf the combined fatalities of those three giant conflicts and other lesser wars.

(One of many photographs taken during the American Civil War … at least 620,000 Americans killed; some say as many as 700,000)

D-Day itself was not part of that article’s subject/content. However, since the 20th & 21st century world is getting accustomed to “big” events (like the current COVID-19 pandemic), it would be timely to provide just a handful of interesting tidbits about the greatest military enterprise of the largest (global) war in the annals of history… D-Day of World War II.

Most military experts agree that D-Day was the trigger-point (pun intended) for the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. Which was more destructive and deadly than the War in the Pacific (Japan as the enemy of the Allies). Other pundits cite the Battle of Stalingrad, in which Russia turned the tide against the Germans on the Eastern front as the main turning point. My own opinion: It was a relatively equal measure of both events; however, the Allied invasion of western Europe dealt a crushing blow to Hitler’s Third Reich, from which it never recovered.

  • D-Day (June 6th) launched the Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, and lasted through most of August 1944.
  • Under Supreme Commander, Dwight Eisenhower, some 156,000 Allied forces (primarily Americans, British, Canadian) landed on five separate beaches along a 50-mile swath of France’s Normandy region coastline.
  • Though bitter fighting ensued, particularly on Omaha beach (Americans), the Allies were able to capture and control the beaches in a relatively short time. In part because the Germans were convinced the Allied invasion would take place at Pas-de-Calais (France).
  • There were an incredible 5,333 Allied ships involved in the invasion, with an even more astonishing number of aircraft (11,000+) to provide air cover and support.
  • By the end of June, about 850,000 Allied troops and 150,000 vehicles were moving across France toward Germany. By the end of August, Paris had been liberated. The following spring, Germany surrendered to the Allies (May 8, 1945).

To this day, what the “D” in D-Day signifies is still debated. The most accepted meaning is that D stands for “day.” Which results in some redundancy. However, if you concede that the “D” means (is emphasizing) The Day or That Day, then it makes more sense. Just like “H” stood for hour. (The hour/day that it all begins).

Another application is that the D in D-Day stands for debarkation or disembarkation. Which are synonyms for arrival or landing … going ashore. And there was a whole lot of that taking place on June 6th, 1944.

(One of many Normandy D-Day Photos)

My personal favorite is that the D stands for “Decision.” As in Decision-Day or Day of Decision. That seems to fit best with the ultimate success of D-Day; to historically qualify it as the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

And it certainly correlates with these last days, end-times Armageddon passages as a transition to the rest of this week’s article:

“Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem! Raise the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness….” (Joel 2:1-2a).

“Let the nations be called to arms. Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I, the Lord, will sit to pronounce judgment on them all. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.

“Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine. The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel” (Joel 3:12-16, emphasis added).

Several hundred years later, another prophet (John) wrote even more extensively about the Great Tribulation than did Old Testament prophets, sometimes with similar imagery. And just as, if not more, graphic:

“After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, ‘Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment. So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and the blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle” (Revelation 14:17-20).

That will be D-Day (Battle of Armageddon … Day of Decision) of the Great Tribulation: the beginning of the end for the rulers/armies of this world, including Antichrist and his coalition.

Which begins with Messiah Jesus descending from heaven whose name is, “…Faithful and True for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war … From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations … King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).

The resounding result:

“…Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies” (Revelation 19:20-21).

The most recent Eye of Prophecy articles (two parts) were entitled COVID-19 / Just Another Plague? (Posted May 9th & May 23rd, 2020). Both contained up-to-date statistics of cases and deaths.

Here are the figures as of today:

United States Cases: 1,965,912 (2 weeks ago – 1,577,758)

United States Death: 111,394 (2 weeks ago – 95,971)

Global Cases: 6,871,728 (2 weeks ago – 5.3 million)

Global Death: 398,663 (2 weeks ago – 338,480)

(An all too familiar global scene)

Who knows what the final count will be? But if we look at what’s happening as a wake-up call from the true and living God (of the Bible), then it behooves us to once again examine the Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, revised numbers and all.

If for no other reason, than the eventual COVID-19 casualty count will be the proverbial “drop in the bucket” compared to the Great Tribulation. For that matter, so are the combined fatalities of both World Wars no more than a couple of drops in a (large) bucket of water.

World at War

Beginning with the following excerpt from the article, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (in italics):

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

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

Alas! Apart from God and his salvation, humanity doesn’t grasp nor really wants to come to terms with just how evil people can be. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

The answer to that question is all too experientially evident … meaning it’s bad. Some worse than others, but bad is bad. Which is why there will never, I repeat sadly—never be peace on this earth until the Prince of Peace returns to make all things right.

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

In that article, I went on to present some of the staggering number of casualties in World War II. As follows:

Heads of state and people the world over were appalled at the shocking scale of fatalities and injuries inflicted during the Great War. Yet, the deplorable death and repulsive ruin of the First World War pale in comparison to World War II. Though the numbers vary, a fairly reliable figure places the total number of dead at 72,468,900….

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

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

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

Tens of millions more (civilians) were murdered in the Soviet Union and China during the perverse purges of their Communist dictators, Joseph Stalin and Mao tse-tung, respectively. It would take another World War to match these appalling body counts. There will be such a war. It will reach its conclusion in the valley of decision.

(The valley is part of the Jezreel Valley in Israel. I’ve stood on Har Megiddo–which means hill or Mt. Megiddo that gives a panoramic view of this immense valley. From Har Megiddo, we get Armageddon)

Even more incomprehensible: Before World War III, in which Antichrist Nero and his ten-nation coalition suddenly unites with his enemies (Eastern nations, headed by China) to dare take on the King of kings, Messiah Jesus, Planet Earth will undergo a series of cataclysmic catastrophes unparalleled in human history. Consequently, the combined death count of both World Wars—in fact, all wars, and epidemics of at least the last two millennia—will not begin to rival the loss of life during the horrendous seven-year Tribulation.

How bad will it be?

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

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

Revisiting the Numbers as Foretold in the Book of Revelation

This section is extracted from Eye of Prophecy articles mentioned earlier in this week’s post, without direct excerpts or quotes.

Instead, there will be revisions based on the current population of the world at 7.8 billion (7.3 billion in 2015 when Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation was published).

If the Rapture were to occur today, it is feasible that one out of every seven people on the earth would be taken … in deference to the divine implication and consequential meaning of the number seven. I realize this is speculation (1 of 7), but it is what we might consider as sanctified speculation! The Bible is replete with the number seven, especially the book of Revelation. This number bears tremendous significance in Scripture, no more so than during the last days of the end times.

The 1 in 7 would include children of believers under the age of innocence. If you haven’t yet (or if you have, to refresh your memory), I would encourage you to read the first five articles published in the Eye of Prophecy website nearly seven years ago, on the What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture. The fourth article on the Who of the Rapture provides Scripture, rationale, and commentary to support the premise that some children will be taken, and some left behind at the Rapture.

A more recent article provides even more details, entitled: Will All Children Be Taken in The Rapture? (Posted 2-23-19)

Let’s do the math: 14.3% (1 in 7 people) x 7.8 billion =s 1.12 billion … 1 billion, 120 million gone in the Rapture.

Thus, approximately 6.7 billion people would be left behind. The 1.12 billion (believers in Messiah Jesus) who were transfigured and transported to heaven is a substantial sum; enough to create instant confusion, chaos, and consternation throughout the earth.

Now for some facts and figures that are infinitely incomprehensible. They defy the definable; they annul the ascertainable; they cancel the conceivable.

Beginning with: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Each horse/rider is a symbolic representation of the horrible reality that the earth will experience soon after the Rapture. They are the first four of the seven seals broken by Messiah Jesus early in the seven-year Tribulation. When Christ breaks the seals, it is effectively a release (God’s permission for this great time of anguish to begin) of the nations of the earth to begin a conflict—a prelude to World War III, culminating in the greatest and most decisive battle of all time … Armageddon.

In order, the four horses and their riders represent Conquest—beginning with peace, but the kind of cold-war peace (in our time) that erupted in World War II, e.g. Chamberlain’s pathetic agreement with Hitler. War and great slaughter. Famine of epic proportions. Then finally: Death itself from all sources, including plagues, that cause people to perish in large numbers.

The dreadful consequence: “When the Lamb broke the fourth seal … I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals” (Revelation 6:7-8, italics for emphasis).

Death and the Grave, a composite of the first three horsemen, accomplish their appalling agendas … massive death by war, famine, disease, and even by the animal kingdom. What is the sickening outcome? One-fourth of the world’s population will die.

The (awful) calculations: 25% x 6.7 billion people left behind =s 1.7 billion (rounded off) dead on this planet. Which leaves roughly 5 billion survivors. Thus, more people will die in a relatively short time than those taken in the Rapture.

Just a brief pause here for an excerpt before we continue with the staggering death toll that will ravage the earth in just seven-years’ time. The following is from the 2nd of two Eye of Prophecy articles earlier identified … Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing & Purpose:

We want to focus primarily on the when, why, and who of these massive judgments. When will (spacing and timing) the twenty-one catastrophes occur … such as first half or second half of the Great Tribulation? Why (what is the overriding purpose) must they take place? Who will be affected the most?

Beginning with a twofold comprehensive premise: (1) God’s wrath poured out on a totally corrupt, evil, and unremorseful world. (2) But for the specific purpose to get the attention of all unbelievers, giving them one final clear-cut (black and white decision … no gray areas) opportunity for salvation by choosing the true Messiah, Jesus. Or, at the peril of eternal death, to follow the false messiah in one last attempt for mankind to (unsuccessfully) prove that the human race can do what only God can do: save us from self-destruction—a direct result of our sinful nature and the consequences thereof. Thereby, establishing a Kingdom of true justice and real peace on the earth.

Continuing with that article, regarding the first four seals (Horsemen of the Apocalypse):

When these seals are broken, the Lord will permit the human race to unleash the horror of aggressive war and terrorism—politically, economically, and militarily—like never before. However, the four horses are not direct judgments from God. They are man-made, but this time without any divine intervention or restrictions. Despite the carnage of wars throughout history (none more so than World War I & II), it could have been worse … were it not for the providential limitation God places on such things. That’s why Jesus said no one would survive the Tribulation if he didn’t stop it in time (Matthew 24:22).

As calculated in that article, the approximate duration of the first four seals will be the first year and a half of the Tribulation.

More from that article:

Sixth Seal: This is when God begins to intervene directly in the affairs of mankind on a global scale not seen since the Great Flood. Starting with a massive earthquake and (implied) volcanic eruptions from which: “…The sky was rolled up like a scroll…” (Revelation 6:14).

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

Many people will acknowledge that this sixth seal judgment was directly from God. I believe millions will—up to and including that time—turn to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, for salvation. But billions more will not. Despite knowing that the Day of the Lord is upon them, they will continue to give allegiance to Antichrist (Nero) as their messiah.

As indicated in a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles … there is a striking similarity between the fifth and sixth seals along with the first trumpet judgment and the specific disasters that the Lord inflicts on the Gog/Magog armies (see Ezekiel 38 & 39). Which is further corroboration that the Gog/Magog invasion will take place within the first 1 ½ years or so of the Tribulation.

Seventh Seal: The last seal also results in a “terrible earthquake” (Revelation 8:5) and is a preparation for the next set of world-wide cataclysmic disasters.

More Shocking Numbers During the Seven Trumpet Judgments

First Four Trumpets: (1) One-third of the earth on fire burning the trees and green grass. (2) One-third of the oceans turned into blood, with one-third of all sea-life and one-third of the ships destroyed. (3) One-third of the rivers and springs of water polluted, “…and many people died from drinking the bitter water” (Revelation 8:11). (4) One-third of the sun, moon, and stars darkened, with no light at all during one-third of the day and one-third of the night.

Although these four plagues are providentially imposed by the Lord, each involves heavenly bodies and earthly elements, i.e. supernatural sentence through (extraordinary) natural disasters. What many have labeled for centuries as, “The Wrath of God.”

Although we are certainly beyond the beginning phase of the Great Tribulation, it’s far from over.

The next huge loss of life is from a different source of terror, with the four horsemen depicting death and destruction at the hands of man, himself. The 6th trumpet signals another exponential increase in death and destruction and is the second of three “terrors” trumpeted by God’s angels (5th, 6th, & 7th trumpets).

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

I and several other Bible prophecy scholars believe that these “mounted troops” (which is a natural expression to describe what are otherwise supernatural beings) are fallen angels or demons—as they are led by four angels who had been restrained and then released just for this purpose, at a very specific time during the Great Tribulation. How ironic that there are four of these evil angels, to rival the number of the four horsemen, which represent men and nations. In other words, demonic angels—those who are part of Satan’s rebellious kingdom—themselves will be released and given permission by God to wreak havoc and death on the earth. How many will they kill?

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

We must continue with these cruel computations, as there is no sugar-coating the statistics when it comes to the carnage that will be the global norm during the Great Tribulation.

Recall that there were about 5 billion left on the earth after the first four seal judgments. Thus, 1/3 x 5 billion =s 1.65 billion killed. This Satanic army will slay a higher percentage than the four horsemen; however, about the same number will die, 1.6 to 1.7 billion. But only because there will be fewer people left on earth when the demonic hordes began their killing spree.

How many people are left? The alarming figures show us that there are now only 3.35 billion (3 billion, 350 million) souls left on planet earth.

The numbers are shocking! Approximately 50% of the earth’s post-Rapture population from virtually every nation on earth, dying by the end of seven seal and six trumpet judgments—which will be just a little over halfway through the Great Tribulation. Try this exercise: Line up and lean three billion, three hundred fifty million dominos one against another, and see how long the line is. Hint: Think circumference of the earth at the Equator which is 24,901.5 miles. Then push the first one and see how long it takes for all of them to fall.

Or test your cognitive capability, your endurance, and your patience by counting to 3.4 billion. How long before you give up? If you don’t give up counting, how long would it take you, counting one number per second? If my math is correct, I’ll tell you how long: Too long! Seriously, it would literally take (more than) a lifetime: 102+ years!

And these are people … not dominoes or dollars or seconds.

What a titanic tragedy the Tribulation will be.

The fatalities of the American Civil War plus all wars of the 20th & 21st centuries (including both World Wars) has not reached 100 million. And that number is a mere 3% of the 3.4 billion people who will perish in just a little over 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation.

The Seven Bowl Judgments

Although not quite to the point where the Antichrist and his followers haven’t seen anything yet, it’s close to that, because the final seven catastrophes are unimaginable, especially the last one. Moreover, they are directed almost exclusively against Antichrist’s coalition—but also towards his enemies … other unbelievers.

For example, the first bowl: “So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue” (Revelation 16:2).

By this time, nearly all who have chosen Nero as their (false) messiah will have taken the mark of his name or number in their forehead or right hand (Revelation 13:16).

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

This is the ultimate solar flare!

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

The Grand Finale … Seventh Bowl Judgment

Here is a quote from Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation:

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

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

Once again, incredible! Not just cities all over the earth crumbling into rubble, or islands—think of the Hawaiian Islands—completely disappearing (giant tsunamis that not only inundate but sink the islands), but also all the earth’s mountains flattened into high or low plains.

Deferring again to the number seven: It’s entirely plausible that only 1 to 1 ½ billion people will be left on planet earth by the time the Tribulation comes to an end. It would be like preparing for the Tribulation by lining seven people up at a time, and telling them, “Sorry, but six of you are not going to make it.” (Starting with roughly 6.7 billion after the Rapture)

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

Things to Ponder

In keeping with this week’s revised revisit of the two identified articles, the following is a modified excerpt from one of those articles:

Based on persuasive Biblical documentation and associations, I believe we’ve identified which judgments will take place in the first half and the second half of the Great Tribulation. There are eleven events before the half-way mark and ten afterwards. (Actually, ten and ten, as will shortly be explained!) There is symmetry in that apportionment alone. Now let’s fine tune the sequential timing/spacing of all twenty-one events. Granted, this will involve some speculation, but supposition that is derived from correlating evidence in Revelation that can logically lead to this premise:

Due to the continuous and consecutive nature of the judgements and God’s sovereign sense of order and distribution of the plagues throughout seven years, there’s every reason to believe that each judgment will take place over a fairly equal span of time.

There’s an example on which to base this premise: the five months duration in which the locusts (symbolical representation of demonic angels from the Abyss) torment unbelievers to the extent that they wished they were dead (Revelation 9:1-12, which is the 5th Trumpet and 1st “terror” judgment).

We begin with the 84 months of the tribulation (7 years x 12 months). Then we divide this time span by 21 (judgments) resulting in a period of four months (average between events).

However, in reference to Daniel Chapter 12, there is an additional 75 days (2 ½ months) at the end of the Tribulation (time/space does not permit elaboration; however, I’ve explained this in a couple prior articles). Technically, we also need to reduce the judgments to twenty (20) as the 5th Seal is a depiction of the slain tribulation saints up to that point. It is not a singular event (judgment) as such.

Thus, to be even more precise we need to use the figure of 86.5 (total) months of the actual tribulation, divided by 20 events with the result of 4.325 months average length of time between plagues. Conclusion: an average time of 4 to 5 months between each judgment. With the understanding that the first four Seal plagues interface and overlap each other; a total of about eighteen months duration for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

One example: The massive solar flare (4th Bowl) will conceivably take place right around the six-year mark of the Tribulation (with another 14 months or so to go).

In God’s mercy and patience even during the Tribulation, it would be just like him to give those who belong to the world a clearer picture of the approximate length of time between judgments, which they will have realized at least by the mid-point of the tribulation.

Make sense?

I do hope one thing makes sense above all. If you’re reading this article and don’t know Messiah Jesus as your personal Savior, it should be so very evident by now that you don’t want to be left behind at the Rapture to experience any part of the Tribulation.

“That terrible day of the Lord is near. Swiftly it comes—a day of bitter tears, a day when even strong men will cry out. It will be a day when the Lord’s anger is poured out—a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet calls and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and the strongest battlements!” (Zephaniah 1:14-16).

Please take stock of eternity … such a long time! Compared to such a short time on this earth.

To repent simply means a change of mind and heart toward Messiah Jesus, by believing and receiving him as your personal Savior.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

COVID-19 / Just Another Plague? (Part II)

Eye of Prophecy is back with the second and final post on the subject that has dramatically dominated headlines and adversely affected people’s lives all over the world.

So radically that it has been compared to the upheaval experienced during the last global event … World War II.

The previous article concentrated on the characteristics and consequences of the first pandemic since the Spanish Flu struck in 1918. With COVID-19 on an even greater global scale in terms of the lightening-quick spread of this highly contagious and insidiously infectious disease. One that can (and has in great numbers) be transmitted even by those who have no symptoms whatsoever.

As said in the prior post: it is a plague not playing by the rules; it’s a game-changer and a game-stopper (no sports for the foreseeable future). So much so that many pandemic pundits are predicting that there will be a “new normal” in people’s lives the world over.

Will I ever get to hug my five grandchildren again?

Two weeks ago (May 9, 2020) when Part I of this two-part series was posted, the numbers were: 3.9 million people from 212 countries diagnosed with the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19. With a global body count of 274,655.

In the United States the count was 1.3 million infections, higher than any nation, including China and India the most populated countries on earth. At 4.24% of the world’s population, the U.S. coronavirus related fatalities of 78,200 (two weeks ago) represented 29% of world-wide deaths from this dreadful disease.

At time of today’s post, the numbers are: 5.3 million cases worldwide … a 36% increase in just two weeks. Global deaths have risen to 338,480 … a 23% increase.

(Shows current cases in the United States, compared to other countries. Latest death count in the U.S. is 95,971)

This week’s article will shift gears just a bit and delve more deeply into if and how COVID-19 fits with Biblical calamities. Whether it is a direct judgment from God or perhaps just a warning … albeit one that could reach Biblical proportions.

But first, an excerpt from the latter part of the previous post (in italics):

In preparation for the Part II sequel to this week’s post, I will propose a premise as to where the COVID-19 pandemic falls within the framework of God’s sovereignty over all things. To, in that next article, provide Scriptural case studies to support this premise, including examples of when God causes a disaster, or when he just allows it, or when he does neither. To conceivably find some answers to the questions posed earlier.

…The Bible provides compelling evidence to demonstrate that there is a difference between ordinary natural disasters and those that are extraordinary … supernatural.

Premise: The Lord did not cause (initiate) this virus, but he permitted it to spread … as opposed to divinely intervening to stop it sooner. The purpose of which is to prepare … the world for the soon-to-come Great Tribulation in which the Wrath of God will be poured out on a global scale for the second and final time in human history. That and man-made carnage which will result in death and devastation, including economic, that far (beyond measurement) exceeds the impact of COVID-19.

Thus, without forecasting the severity of the numbers, this pandemic will subside with infections and fatalities less than most models predict.

Disclaimer: The last part of the premise is by no means a prediction. I am not a prophet. Rather, it is an opinion; albeit it one that relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the principles and parallels of Scripture concerning natural disasters and diseases (plagues).

Two of the questions posed in the prior article, each one somewhat rhetorical, were:

Did God merely allow this pandemic, or did he send it? Meaning, is it simply a warning or is it a judgment? Is there even a difference between the two, considering God’s ultimate sovereignty?

Is this global epidemic, in fact, a wake-up call from God to get our attention? A preview of and preparation for coming attractions? In which His sovereignty will be on universal display….

Natural or Supernatural?

Concerning the “extraordinary” (supernatural) disasters, including plagues and famines, we will examine the Lord’s occasional divine intervention in the lives of his people to accomplish his plans and purposes for them. That God uses extraordinary events to either deliver his people or discipline them. We will look at a few Biblical examples that fit this “supernatural” criteria.

As opposed to ordinary (natural) disasters—both geological and biological—that are (as stated in the previous post), a direct result of the loss of the earth’s original perfection found in and represented by the Garden of Eden?

(The perfect Garden of Eden, part of an unblemished earth. Now, an earth that is imperfect and flawed)

Continuing with that excerpt (in italics):

With the Biblically based premise that supernatural entails God’s sovereignty which may use something natural but with divine design and direction, i.e. providential purpose.

In contrast to a natural (event) absent divine control or intervention. Meaning that God is not in it, as such.

Consequently, when some (I would propose most) disasters strike us, they are not caused by the Lord … because he has already permitted nature to periodically alter its normal activity, hence natural disasters. Which, then, are a direct result of the monumental geological and geophysical changes the earth has undergone since the Great Flood of Noah’s time, i.e. earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes.

This also includes, both before and after Noah’s flood, the progressive and devastating biological consequences of our original parent’s original sin … diseases that affect animals and people alike.

Thus, some disasters are an ordinary feature of life, just as death is a natural part of life. Others are supernaturally initiated by God or allowed to intensify.

Said God to King Solomon and all Israel: “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore (heal) their land” (II Chronicles 7:13-14, emphasis added).

The meaning and repercussions of the first four words of this passage are crystal clear. There are times when the Lord causes (sends) droughts, crop failures, and diseases. And there are times when he does not, but they happen anyway. Moreover, these examples are just three of several types of disasters, including geological disturbances, e.g. earthquakes.

Based on that verse alone (there are others like it) plus Biblical precedents and principles of God’s sovereignty and supernatural direction in some ways we can understand and other ways we simply cannot grasp, there are four basic explanations (dynamics) for geological and biological calamities. If you like, feel free to come up with more, less, or different ones than these. With, however, an understanding that supernatural or extraordinary entails that which is above and beyond; at the very least exceeding the natural/normal in scope and severity.

A. God’s Supernatural Intervention to Deliver/Protect Israel & the Jews From Their Enemies

B. God’s Supernatural Intervention to Discipline His Chosen People, Individually and Nationally, Thereby Rescuing Them from Themselves & Fulfilling Their Destiny

C. God’s Hands-Off Allowance of Nature to Continue Its Progressive Deterioration, via “Natural” Geological and Biological Calamities

D. God’s Warning to Believers and Unbelievers of Catastrophic Judgments, Through Bible Prophets, His Written Word, and/or Allowing Otherwise Natural Adversities to Intensify

We will look at examples in each of these categories along with some pertinent commentary; to see if COVID-19, indeed, fits into Category D, as suggested by the previously stated premise, partially repeated as follows:

The Lord did not cause (initiate) this virus, but he permitted it to spread … as opposed to divinely intervening to stop it sooner. The purpose of which is to prepare (warning, not a judgment) the world for the soon-to-come Great Tribulation….

(A) God’s Supernatural Intervention to Deliver/Protect Israel & the Jews From Their Enemies

Although most of Israel’s ancient victories required that the Jews fight in battle, Scripture is clear that when the Lord was on their side, they were invincible.

This dynamic was again on display after Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, via their astonishing triumphs against all odds in that War of Independence; the Suez War of 1956; the Six-Day War of 1967; and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. There are several accounts of supernatural events that enabled the Jews to win strategic battles of those wars. Indeed, God was on their side. Which should not be at all surprising because there are hundreds of prophecies regarding the Jews return to Israel, Israel’s rebirth as a nation, and God’s renewed protection of Israel during the last days of the end times in preparation for her national restoration and redemption.

Such as:

Two of the following three examples in this category are those of God’s deliverance of his people without the Jews needing to lift a finger. Which also will be the case shortly after the Rapture (during the early months of the Great Tribulation) when God will unilaterally and supernaturally vanquish the Gog/Magog coalition—spearheaded by Russia, Iran, and Turkey—when they invade Israel.

(1) Defeat of an Entire Army: This incredible incident occurred in 701 B.C. during the reign of Israel’s King Hezekiah. It is found in II Kings 18 & 19; II Chronicles 32; and Isaiah Chapters 36 & 37.

The mighty nation of Assyria had already conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel (722 B.C.) and had now invaded the southern kingdom of Judah. King Sennacherib led the Assyrian army which had defeated several cities in Judah and were on the verge of attacking Jerusalem with a vastly superior military. Sennacherib was so confident of victory that he sent his chief of staff to goad (humiliate) the Jews into surrender. Not only the Jews, the Assyrian king also taunted the true and living God. Big mistake!

King Hezekiah pleaded for help through God’s prophet Isaiah and directly to God by prayer. In response, the Lord told Isaiah that the Assyrian armies would not even enter Jerusalem, let alone destroy it. Do you remember what happened next?

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there” (Isaiah 37:36-37).

In the II Chronicles account, we read: “And the Lord sent an angel (just one angel is all it took) who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers… This was how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land.” (II Chronicles 32:21-22, parenthesis mine).

It is highly unlikely that the angel killed so many soldiers with a sword. That would have awakened many of their comrades plus taking much more time than just overnight. Instead, the implication is that the angel slew so many in their sleep by a deadly plague that began and ended all in one night. The survivors were not even aware of what happened until they awoke!

(2) Demolition of an Entire City: Even many unbelievers know the Biblical account of Joshua and the walls of Jericho; the mighty walls of Jericho came crashing down, allowing the Jews to easily defeat their enemies. The only thing required of the Israelites was for the fighting men and seven priests to obey the Lord by marching around the city for seven days with the Ark of the Covenant, while blowing shofars (seven times on the seventh day). To then trust the Lord to give them victory.

Although there was no plague involved in this supernatural event, the miraculous collapse of the entire perimeter wall surrounding Jericho was akin to what happens during an earthquake. But in this case with divine direction and supernatural intervention at precisely the time called for by the Lord.

“When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords….” (Joshua 6:20-21).

Although it was necessary for the Jews to finish the fight, it is obvious that the defenders of Jericho were already stunned and demoralized at the sight of their impenetrable walls tumbling down.

(3) Destruction of an Entire Nation: Recorded in Exodus Chapters 5-12. Who has not heard (at least something) about one of the greatest (series of) events of all time: God’s deliverance of his people from hundreds of years of Egyptian bondage? Commonly referred to as The Exodus.

Which was accomplished through the Ten Plagues against Egypt that decimated the land—crops, livestock, and people. Beginning with God (through Moses and Aaron) turning the Nile River to blood. With the grand finale that of the first-born son of every Egyptian family, including the arrogant and defiant Pharaoh, mysteriously killed by an angel of death.

Some have tried to explain away the divine (supernatural) origin of the first nine plagues by pointing out the “natural” disaster potentially inherent in each one; although the entire Nile river becoming blood instantly is considerably beyond natural or normal causes or explanations.

“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 through the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:20-21, italics for emphasis that it was real blood and it happened instantly).

Same thing with the fifth plague in which the domestic animals in Egypt (horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats) were killed by a deadly plague, that didn’t touch the livestock of the Israelites. There was no natural explanation for this. It was clearly a God-thing. Likewise, with the 6th plague of festering boils that struck only the Egyptians while sparing the Hebrews.

Even God’s use of frogs, gnats, flies, hail, and locusts was immensely greater (in terms of scope and severity) than any normal disaster of that kind and quantity before or since these plagues against Egypt. Plus, the fact that they started and stopped at Moses’s command—as he was given the power and authority by God to do so!

Commentary

It’s obvious that each of these divinely orchestrated events were supernatural in origin. They were God’s judgments against Gentile nations to either deliver his chosen people or to protect them after they entered the Promised Land as the nation of Israel. There are other Biblical and post-Biblical incidents in history to demonstrate that from time to time disasters (geological or biological or through warfare) are judgments from God against Gentile nations whose national defiance of God included persecution of the Jews.

There are also incidents since Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948 of natural disasters (such as hurricanes) striking countries, including the United States, at about the same time that unfavorable decisions/actions were handed down against Israel.

Make no mistake: God is once again actively protecting Israel in preparation for the final restoration of the Promised Land and final redemption of God’s chosen people the Jews.

“And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:26)

Thus, COVID-19 should not be considered as a plague “sent” (initiated) by the Lord as judgment. As it has also affected Israelis, albeit with a much lower (proportion to population) infection and death rate than most nations on earth. On the other hand, it has disproportionally killed Jews in New York City, particularly the Orthodox among them. Consequently, there seems to be some divine protection going on in/with Israel as a nation.

(B) God’s Supernatural Intervention to Discipline His Chosen People, Individually and Nationally, Thereby Rescuing Them from Themselves & Fulfilling Their Destiny

The greatest and longest-lasting periods of discipline in Israel’s mostly painful history was a result of the Lord withdrawing his protection of his people; thereby, allowing Gentile nations to conquer Israel and even to exile them from the Promised Land. Before, between, and after those periods, God “sent” geological and biological scourges against Israel that were less serious than eviction from the Promised Land; nonetheless severe. This was particularly true during the times of the Judges. Although those events could be considered judgment, the more accurate concept clarified by the Bible is that of God’s discipline of Israel, as a Father disciplines his children … out of love and concern for their ultimate welfare and destiny. Indeed, God called Israel both son and daughter at various times.

Although God’s discipline of Israel (Jews) was harsh at times, it was still different than the heavy, sometimes total, punishment of Gentile nations for their mistreatment of His people—even the ones that God used to punish Israel, i.e. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Roman Empire. No matter the degree of the Lord’s discipline of Israel, he has always preserved a remnant—by and large those faithful to him. For the providential purpose of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus one day ruling and reigning from Jerusalem, Israel as the physical and spiritual center of Planet Earth.

Here is one of many verses that splendidly portrays the Millennial Reign of Messiah.

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

In the context of COVID-19, let’s briefly look at three examples from Scripture regarding God’s discipline of Israel via geological or biological incidents involving an individual, a group, and then all Israel.

Discipline of an Individual: In Numbers Chapter 12, we read the story of Moses’s sister, Miriam whom the Lord struck with leprosy, instantly. Though Miriam was devoted to God and to her brother Moses (God’s servant), she and their brother Aaron made the mistake of unreasonably criticizing Moses for marrying a Gentile woman. With an even more serious mistake of unjustly accusing Moses of monopolizing access to and contact with God.

“They said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?’ But the Lord heard them” (Numbers 12:2).

After Aaron confessed his and Miriam’s sin (essentially that of pride and jealousy, plus questioning God’s choice to speak directly to and through Moses), he and Moses pleaded with the Lord to heal Miriam. Which God did, but only after Miriam was banished from camp for seven days. During that time, the entire nation of Israel waited for her to recover before they continued their journey.

Discipline of a Group: Also found in the book of Numbers during Israel’s 40-year trek to the Promised Land. As with Miriam and Aaron, there was envy in the camp that God led them only through Moses. But this resentment was about to become a revolt against Moses that even included contempt for God in not allowing some of them more power and authority.

“One day Korah … conspired with Dathan and Abiram… They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron…” (Numbers 16:1-3a).

Hugh mistake! One of many grumblings and mumblings against Moses and even against the Lord, made by some of the people all the time and by all the people some of the time.

Immediately after Moses predicted what would happen if the Lord did not support him as the chief chosen leader, exactly what Moses said would transpire did:

“He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men (Korah, Dathan and their families), along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned… The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel… Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense” (Numbers 16:31-35, parenthesis mine).

Discipline of Israel as a Nation: Even mighty King David (a man after God’s own heart) of Israel’s glory years sinned against the Lord and not just with Bathsheba. Late in his life David ordered a totally unnecessary census to be taken of Israel’s population. His motive was a combination of pride in his accomplishments and an implied lack of trust in the Lord to defend Israel. David wanted to know how many “capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword” (II Samuel 24:9) there were.

The passage tells us that God was already angry with Israel. When David realized that what he had done was a sin (that of pride) against the Lord, he immediately confessed it. But there was still discipline that must be administered. Through the prophet Gad, the Lord even gave King David a choice of three punishments: “…Will you choose three years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.” (II Samuel 24:13).

David chose the plague with a good motive, “…But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands” (II Samuel 24:14).

On the other hand, when 70,000 people in Israel died in less than 3 days, David realized that his choice wasn’t the least severe after all. He pleaded with God to end the massive death count. Which God, in his mercy, did.

Commentary: Scripture shows us that anytime God chastised Israel either partially or totally, it served two primary purposes. One is an object lesson from which others can learn. Second is to restore and return Israel to the Lord their God. To also note that when God disciplined Israel, the punishment did not include surrounding Gentile nations. Thus, once again, the COVID-19 pandemic is not God’s punishment (discipline) of Israel, as both Jew and Gentile have been affected world-wide.

(C) God’s Hands-Off Allowance of Nature to Continue Its Gradual Deterioration, via “Natural” Geological and Biological Calamities

Many argue (particularly unbelievers but also some Christians) that all geological and biological calamities—famines, epidemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, and the like—are “natural disasters”, because they are simply part of nature. That they are not divinely directed or providentially planned as such. And I would agree that most calamities are, indeed, part of nature’s gradual decline to the extent that we are experiencing more catastrophes on a regular basis greater in severity than ever before. Particularly in the last 100 years or so.

The Bible clearly supports this option as one of the four dynamics or paradigms … meaning that God is “not in” every natural calamity. Neither, however, does that state or even suggest that God does not “send” plagues and such things on select occasions, as we saw in the first two models.

In this Section C, we’re going to look at three back to back “natural disasters” that the Lord created, but for the unusual reason to show Elijah that he didn’t cause them to get Elijah’s attention. Moreover, had there not been this object lesson, the three events would have been exclusively “natural.”

Instead, the Lord captured Elijah’s attention with a “gentle whisper.” Meaning that some (probably most) calamities happen normally and naturally as part of creation’s abnormalities because of mankind’s fall. That God does not cause/create them either as a judgment or a warning. But as we will see in Section D, God does specifically allow certain disasters to increase in scope and severity, which is what’s happening with COVID-19.

Do you remember the entire episode? Elijah had just won a great victory over King Ahab and Queen Jezebel’s false prophets on Mount Carmel in northwest Israel. Soon afterward, God sent rain after 3 ½ years of drought/famine in Israel—a direct discipline of Israel because virtually the entire population had left the Lord to worship Baal. Then Jezebel put out an all-points bulletin for Elijah to be captured and killed for what he did to her (bogus) prophets.

Elijah ran for his life, all the way to Beersheba in southcentral Israel. Then later walked to Mount Sinai, about 200 miles away. There God met with him.

“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… And a voice said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (I Kings 19:11-13).

(Depiction of Elijah on Mt. Sinai)

Commentary: God is clearly showing Elijah that he doesn’t always (in fact, seldom) cause natural disasters. That is even more true after the Canon of the Bible was completed with the last book of the New Testament … Revelation. Since then, God “speaks” primarily through his Word, the Bible. There’s not nearly as much need for the Lord to get our attention (warning) via nature as he did more often in Biblical times, when much of even the Old Testament wasn’t yet available to the people. The exception being the Torah (first five books) which, unfortunately, Israel time and time again violated and/or ignored. And when they did, they suffered the discipline that God specifically detailed through Moses.

Thus, as God told King Solomon (who knew all about the plague in Israel after his father’s ill-advised census), “At times, I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you” (II Chronicles 7:13).

Elijah knew all about God’s power to shut up the skies, “so that no rain falls.” He himself prayed to God for that to happen, and God answered his prayer.

On the other hand, God is showing/telling Elijah that sometimes he does supernaturally cause or expand otherwise “natural” events to get his point across. That even though the Lord caused the (rapid) succession of a mighty storm, earthquake, and fire, he was not in them. That it was up to Elijah to wait for and then listen to God. Who simply asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”

With the obvious implication that the Lord still had work for Elijah to do. That Elijah needed to get back to total trust in and service for God. Which is exactly what happened.

(D) God’s Warning to Both Believers and Unbelievers of Catastrophic Judgment to Come, Through Bible Prophets, His Written Word, and/or Allowing Otherwise Natural Adversities to Intensify

For the following reasons (there are others), I am convinced that the COVID-19 is a plague of warning—to prepare for judgment, not judgment itself.

(1) Still Waiting For the Rapture: At the time of this article’s posting, the Rapture has not yet occurred. Which means that the COVID-19 pandemic is not one of the Seal, Trumpet, or Bowl calamities (to come). During the Great Tribulation, there will be one judgment of God after another. Other than Noah’s flood, most of them will be more devastating than any single disaster experienced by mankind prior to the outset of the Great Tribulation. The exception could be the bubonic plague of the 14th century.

However, the cumulative effect of the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments graphically depicted in the book of Revelation will dwarf all pre-Tribulation natural disasters and plagues. That includes the Covid-19 Pandemic. The very fact that the Rapture has not occurred means that this global virus—as devastating as it has and (for a while) will continue to be—will fall far short of the death and destruction during the Great Tribulation.

(2) Comparisons/Contrasts: The ten plagues of Egypt were plainly supernatural (from the Lord), directed specifically against Pharaoh and Egypt to deliver God’s people from bondage. Likewise, with God’s discipline of Israel after King David’s wrongly ordered census. Whereas the coronavirus is natural in origin, affecting those over 65 and/or those with pre-exiting medical conditions far more than other segments of the world’s population. Also, those with type A blood are more susceptible than type O blood. That’s all physical … natural. If it were divinely designed to punish everyone, everywhere, then far more young people would succumb to the disease. Thus, the Lord is allowing this coronavirus to serve as a warning, not a judgment.

(3) Precedents/Parallels in Scripture Still Applicable in Today’s World: There are highway digital signs (messages) all over my home state of Arizona, as I’m sure there are where you live. With words like, Help Stop Covid-19. Stay Home, Stay Healthy.

One unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just coincidence. I am referring to the chief means of protection against this amazingly contagious disease. That of seeking shelter within one’s own home. It is a parallel to two major Biblical precedents in which there was a place of refuge for those who sought safety from the coming judgment.

The first example was the first time God judged the entire world … the Great Flood. It took Noah over 100 years to build an Ark that would provide refuge for Noah and his family and pairs of many animals. During this time of preparation, the entire world of Noah’s time had the opportunity to abandon the evil and violence that had clearly permeated the earth. They did not and God protected Noah and his family by sheltering them in the Ark.

The second major incident was the 10th (final) most devastating of God’s judgments against the Egyptians, which most know was the death of all firstborn males—both people and animals. With God’s provision to spare the Israelites from this same angel of death that of spreading the blood of a (Passover) lamb over the doorposts of each house. Plus, staying in one’s house throughout the night until this final plague had run its course.

(Passover … Pesach in Hebrew)

In the comparative context of these examples that involve warnings to both believers and unbelievers (to get ready), COVID-19 is a tune-up; a preview of coming attractions that will be anything but attractive.

(4) Condition of the World Just Prior to the Rapture: Another reason why COVID-19 is a warning and not a judgment from God comes directly from Jesus’s description of the dynamic activities of people all over the earth just before the Rapture occurs. Although there will continue to be an increase in natural disasters (geological) and plagues (biological), the general overall situation or status will be:

“…like 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” (Matthew 24:37-39).

As we speak, the gloom and doom of COVID-19 is still overshadowing Planet Earth—despite governments of all levels lifting restrictions in varying degrees. However, this fear and uncertainty that goes with a (any) pandemic, will not be what people are experiencing just before Jesus takes believers home to heaven to spare them from the Great Tribulation. It will be a time of “partying” the world over. Which, in turn, suggests that this corona epidemic will diminish even if it makes somewhat of a comeback soon.

Once again, this is NOT a prediction. It is simply a word picture based on Biblical precedents, principles, and parallels. To include specific Biblical prophecies about the shape of the world in these last days of the end times.

Things to Ponder

Sadly, despite many people on earth quarantined or sheltered to some extent or another, few will take the time to sit up and take stock of this pandemic. That maybe, just maybe, it will be God’s final warning, for the main reason that it is truly global in scale. Instead, as the coronavirus subsides in scope and severity, the world will party like never. Oblivious to God’s impending final judgment of a wicked and violent world.

Comparing the condition of the world just before the Rapture to Noah’s flood, when Jesus said that, “people didn’t realize what was going to happen” he didn’t mean that they were innocent or that God was unfair by doing something so catastrophically and suddenly. The people knew full well that God had warned them through Noah. God also warned Pharaoh and Egypt of the plagues, including the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons.

What Jesus was saying is that those left behind at the Rapture (all unbelievers) will fail to realize that what God said would happen will, indeed, happen. When God issues warnings like the coronavirus to get our attention, we best take heed and be reminded that Biblical prophecies ALWAYS come true … 100% of the time.

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

I and many believers—both Jew and Gentile—are yearning for the magnificent return of Messiah Jesus to establish his Kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace on this earth. A planet rampant with corruption, evil, and violence; ravaged by disasters, disease, and death.

While we watch, we must also wait upon the Lord, knowing that his plans are perfect. That for his people: “He causes all things to work together for good…” (Romans 8:28).

( Verses 12 & 13 read: “In those days, when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me”)

Many people feel things are out of control. They want direction. They want someone or government to tell them when all this will end and make everything better. They want certainty and reassurance.

There is a GPS that will get us through this pandemic, that will guide us through the uncertainty of a world that is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

That GPS is found in the Bible. God’s Plan of Salvation. Summed up in the most quoted verse in Scripture: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

Since we are spending more time in our homes than out there; and since we are doing a lot more waiting than ever, let’s ponder this:

“For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” (Isaiah 64:4).

COVID-19 / Just Another Plague?

Good to Be Back!

If you are a regular visitor to Eye of Prophecy website, then the absence of a new article for the months of March and April (2020) has been obvious.

Indeed, it is the longest period between articles since the inception of this blogsite in July 2013—with a new article every Saturday, uninterrupted, through July 2018. Since then, at least one post a month, usually two or more … until now.

And you would be correct in making a connection between this gap in Eye of Prophecy postings and the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, only partly.

Ironically, I did not write an article during March due to my own respiratory problems that resulted in a middle-of-the-night trip (acute shortness of breath) to the ER and a hospital stay of two days. Followed by a healthy dose of medications, then rest and recovery. Bad enough as it was, fortunately my ailment was NOT the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has caused physical, mental, and economic devastation on a global scale. But there are also other viruses out there—including the common flu—that can still wreak havoc with our health. Especially on the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, like COPD or diabetes. In my state of Arizona, nearly 80% of COVID-19 caused deaths are aged 65 or older. However, higher fatality figures among the elderly also apply (obviously) to many other causes, including pneumonia not caused by this strain of coronavirus.

But Oh, this Corona thing!

It was the primary reason why the lack of Eye of Prophecy articles continued throughout April.

I seriously didn’t want to write about it, mostly because so many others—both secular and religious—have commented on it. They have done so from a variety of vantage points and a wide variance of analysis and opinions. It has dominated news coverage longer and more intensely than anything else since 9/11.

Still, how could it not be the subject of my next (this) post.

Paradoxically, despite no articles posted recently, the number of visitors to Eye of Prophecy website have spiked significantly since this virus has seized the attention of the whole world. Undoubtedly, this is the case with other internet sites that specialize in Biblical prophecy. People all over this planet are looking for answers to questions that they never needed or even wanted to ask before now. And that includes Christians—both real and those in name only.

What in the world is going on?

Other than the obvious physical phenomenon and economic backlash of this distressing disease, why is this happening?

Or is there a why?

Nonetheless: If I were a visitor to this website, frequent or infrequent, I would expect the author to say something about this epidemic. One that has been officially designated as a pandemic (global). Is it a scourge or a plague in the Biblical sense? One that is already or will be before it’s over, considered a disease of “Biblical proportions.”

Thus, I am compelled to offer some commentary. To calculate and correlate from a Biblical perspective one of the most stunning (on-going) crisis since World War II. And before that: World War I and the Spanish flu that erupted toward the end of the “War to End All Wars” which killed millions more than the war did.

(1918 Spanish flu photo of policemen in Seattle, WA wearing masks, but not “social distancing” as such. Ironically, Seattle was the first city in America to experience multiple COVID-19 deaths).

World War II’s death count was simply unimaginable—some 70 million soldiers and civilians. It dwarfs even the projected loss of life from COVID-19. On the other hand, the current pandemic has interfered with our lifestyles on a truly global level that, in some ways and to some extent, rivals and even exceeds the life-altering conditions of World War II. Except, that is, for the horror of the Holocaust in which six million Jews were systematically murdered by Germany’s Third Reich. That was an appalling, unrivaled tragedy.

On the other, other hand, the mind-numbing numbers of World War II dead and wounded, especially the civilian count and displaced refugees, will absolutely pale in comparison to the death and destruction that will take place during the horrendous Great Tribulation over about the same period of time as World War II (seven years).

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (Posted June 6th, 2015).

Let’s take a cursory look at both the national (USA) and international statistics; then determine if we can answer some questions, including how much, if any, God may be in this pandemic.

Somber Statistics of The Coronavirus

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

Even many unbelievers are familiar with these famous words from King Solomon, which introduces a list of fourteen extremes that most people have experienced in their lifetime (unless they died an “untimely” death). Ending with, a time for war and a time for peace (verse 8).

Several, including some dignitaries and experts, have compared the COVID-19 pandemic to a war. In some ways, it is an apt comparison. Both war and epidemics result in death. And lives are disrupted by both. But with this pandemic that has paralyzed virtually every aspect of our daily lives to some degree or another, there’s no distinction between soldiers and civilians. Everyone is a soldier and everyone a civilian in this fight against an invisible enemy (to the naked eye).

(Yet another image of the Novel Coronavirus that produces COVID-19, abbreviation for “coronavirus disease” that began in 2019)

Solomon begins with the beginning: life itself … a time to be born. And ends with the reverse of life … a time to die. Death is unavoidable, a certainty for every living thing. But when is it (a) time to die? It’s evident that Solomon is emphasizing the normal cycle of life and death, after a person has lived a typical lifetime. In the one Psalm attributed to Moses, he defines this (generational) lifespan with some poignant commentary: “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).

When a person dies young—or at least younger than we think they should have—we sometimes call it, “an untimely death.” Or, we might say: she died before her time. Yet, no matter the circumstances, dealing with death is always difficult. It is hard to lose a loved one; probably harder to think about and experience our own death. But there is something about death that arrests our attention more than any other time: when many people die in a relatively short amount of time from the same cause. How many casualties and over what period depends on the nature and extent of the event, i.e. war, famine, plague. Or abrupt natural disasters … earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes/tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions.

Along with most of the world, you have probably been keeping track of the numbers since the first coronavirus death in China four to five months ago. Then the first U.S. fatality some three months ago. And the exponential spread of the disease in Europe, particularly Italy, Spain, and now England.

As of the morning of this post (May 9, 2020), approximately 3.9 million people from 212 countries have been diagnosed with the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19. With millions more undoubtedly infected and contagious, without a formal test diagnosis. With a global body count of 274,655.

At 1.3 million cases, the COVID-19 count in the United States is higher than any nation on earth. Granted, we are the third largest country with nearly 330 million residents; however, that is much less than China (1.4 billion) and India (1.36 billion). At 4.24% of the world’s population, the U.S. coronavirus related fatalities of 78,200 represents 29% of world-wide deaths from this dreadful disease. Much higher proportionally than any other country. A few days ago, some compared the death count in America to the 58,220 lost in the Vietnam War (over approximately ten years). If the pace continues, we may be relating it to the number of our soldiers killed in World War II … 405,000.

Obviously, these figures will increase daily.

I won’t even bother with projections (tables, models, algorithms) that pandemic pundits have presented in an attempt to determine if/when the disease will dissipate or even die out, or the number of cases and casualties projected before that happens. There are simply too many models and/or they change frequently.

Hopefully, we can look back in a few months, breathe a global sigh of relief, and utter an oft-used axiom: It could have been worse.

For me and for millions of others who are and will be forever (literally) grateful that Messiah Jesus is our personal Savior (whether we fully understand the why of it all, or even if there is a why), it will be: Thank you Lord that it wasn’t worse.

(It doesn’t say, be thankful “for” everything; rather “in” all circumstances)

Whether a believer or unbeliever, should we do more than just breathe a sigh of relief … individually or collectively? Should not something like this cause us to sit up and take notice? To think outside the proverbial box with cause/effect explanations that transcend the ordinary biological reasons for viruses and such things. To ask questions. To make correlations with other historical events. To put into the context of and comparisons to similar Biblical events. To see if it might fit into Biblical prophecies … which have proven time and time again to be 100% accurate.

Though not (yet) as deadly, this pandemic is more widespread (four corners of the earth) than any other event in human history; be it the world wars, the bubonic plague of the 14th century, and even the Spanish flu of the early 20th century.

One of the significant features of end times prophecies, especially those foretold by Jesus himself (Matthew Chapters 24-25) and described in the book of Revelation is that calamities will increase and intensify globally, in scope and/or in severity. Before the Rapture and more so afterwards, especially during the last 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation. Jesus used the graphic analogy of contractions experienced by a woman giving birth.

Cruel Characteristics & Consequences of This Novel Coronavirus

Many consider it to be the most rapidly spread disease of all time. What other disease is carried and transmitted in wholesale numbers by those infected and yet who are asymptomatic? That’s how menacing and virulent this strain of virus has become. It gives a whole new meaning to infectious or contagious. With any other virus or bacterial infection (including the common cold and virtually any strain of the flu or communicable diseases) there are symptoms to warn the person infected and those not diseased to stay away from each other.

Not so, with COVID-19. Scientists and doctors are convinced that millions of people have the coronavirus but were not, are not, and will not be symptomatic at all. Yet they can infect others, even if they never suffer any of the symptoms.

That is just not fair! That is not playing by the rules. Aren’t there rules, even in war?

But then, this novel (new strain) coronavirus is a game-changer. And a game-stopper (think sports unless it hurts too much!).

Thus, the whole world has been forced to make up new rules such as 6-foot social distancing. Billions of people wearing face masks, some daily. Because we don’t necessarily know who’s infected and who is not. There are more repercussions with this plague than ever experienced, even during times of war.

(A model case of both masks and distancing!)

How many times have you read or heard doctors and nurses say, “I’ve never seen anything like this!” Or patients exclaiming, “I’ve never been through anything like this!”

A plethora of routine activities in our lives—recreational, social, sporting, political, and religious have been shuttered, scuttled, or stopped … some temporarily and some permanently.

Restaurants (dine in), schools and colleges, churches, theaters, salons, entire shopping malls, thousands of retail stores that carry non-essential goods, and public transportation have been shut down for varying periods.

It is NOT business as usual. It is anything but that.

Not even during two world wars were such things as children’s playgrounds, public pools, and zoos closed on such a massive scale. The list is long, but there’s time only for a few more examples.

Here in the United States the unthinkable has happened: NCAA basketball is done for the year with no March madness or Final Four. The madness is the kind that the word was intended to mean: the madness of an enemy killing us or imprisoning us via lockdowns and restrictions normally reserved for criminals. Professional basketball and hockey seasons may not resume even for the playoffs. Baseball might not even begin this year and the NFL may not start until later in the season.

This dreaded disease has dominated the news and dramatized our lives like nothing has since … well, many say since World War II.

When was the last time the Olympic Games were cancelled? Answer: World War II.

Or the Masters Golf Tournament? The (British) Open? Wimbledon?

Same answer. In fact, COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of more events than did World War II.

Special occasions taken totally for granted where entire families and friends could ordinarily attend have been drastically curtailed or condensed or cancelled or postponed: weddings, funerals, reunions, concerts … to name just a few.

All the while politicians, business managers, educators, religious leaders, and a host of others are conducting “virtual” meetings and “remote” conferences all over the world. Just ZOOM in from wherever you are.

And the list goes on.

Including the worst of all: massive loss of jobs all over the world. Thirty-four million layoffs during April in the United States alone. How many will be permanent? Unemployment in March of 4.4% skyrocketed to 16% by the end of April. The most since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Businesses folding daily.

The consensus is clear: the economic fallout will surpass the recession of 2008, and then some. As has the largest (by-far) federal bailout of businesses of all sizes; plus, un-heard of individual “stimulus” payments to most Americans—to the tune of over two trillion dollars. Incredible! Who is going to pay for that and when? For how long? Is that kind of debt sustainable?

An economy so devastated that many say will never fully recover, not nationally nor internationally.

It’s not just the big things. All the little inconveniencies add up to a level of frustration quite unlike anything people have experienced. And once again … on a global scale. Bordering on disbelief that something like this could happen for this long that does not involve an all-out war.

With a nagging uncertainty over whether things will ever be the same again.

For example: The last time someone other than a professional barber or stylist cut my hair was my mother when I was six or seven years old. Just last week my wife cut my hair for the second time. Thanks honey, I look as good as ever! (Really … she did a great job).

Here in Arizona, even the Grand Canyon is closed! Did they throw a tarp over it? Okay, chill out—we need a little humor from time to time. But, hey, I know: this whole thing is not one bit funny.

So, back to the serious side. The debate continues within and between nations—politically, economically, socially. How much do we shut down? Are the restrictions too many or not enough? Too strict or not strict enough? What to reopen and when? To what extent? Are we moving too slow or too fast? Too soon or not soon enough? Who has the final right to define what things are “essential” or what are not?

There’s nothing that gets our attention more than when the things (or places) that we take for granted and feel we have a right to have, own, do, go, be … suddenly have been taken away. Freedom to travel, work, play, worship, shop, and gather with friends and family. Nature does not always cooperate with our inalienable right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. But then, maybe it takes natural (or supernatural) interruptions of these freedoms to remind us that it is, in fact, God who has given us the privileges and prosperity that we take for granted.

To remember:

Obviously, COVID-19 has not (yet) equaled the collective trauma of a world war. And God forbid that this pandemic will result in anything approaching the number of deaths attributed to World War II. Or the estimated 50 million who died from the Spanish flu some one hundred years ago. And certainly not the bubonic plague … estimated 100 million but who knew for sure back then.

God forbid. Why did I say that?

Was it because those words are often used when speaking of things that we dread happening; with a sinking realization that they are ultimately beyond our control? Or whatever control we have may not be enough to deal conclusively with the problem. Calamities that only God can control or prevent.

We are much more accustomed to exercising at least enough control to keep our daily routines reasonably intact. Or, if interrupted, to regain some degree of normalcy within an acceptable period. This applies to virtually every natural disaster; even the catastrophic ones like the earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004 killing a quarter million people, many of them children. Or to a lesser, but still devastating damage and loss of life from Hurricane Katrina the following year.

Yes, that is one reason I said: God forbid.

Also, for another reason.

God forbid. In that phrase is the profound theological question as to just how much sovereignty God will exercise at any given time, during any given event or series of events. To either prevent something from happening; or reduce the extent of the catastrophe (damage control); or allow it to express the full magnitude (literally, like a 9.0 earthquake) of its potential. Especially those things which have national and then international consequences. The corona pandemic would certainly fit that criteria, now and as projected for both the near and more distant future.

There have been deadly disasters, devastating droughts (famines) and powerful plagues down through the centuries, but this is the first that is truly global in scope. Which was to be expected eventually, considering the ease and volume of international travel in today’s high-tech, high-speed, portable world. Which is one of many Biblical prophecies concerning the condition of the last days of the end times. “…when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).

What Are The Best Questions to Ask / Are There Answers?

Because there hasn’t been a scourge quite like this coronavirus—how easily and extensively it has spread—both believers and unbelievers are voicing their opinions and/or seeking answers to questions outside of or in addition to quantified (data based) “scientific” solutions and explanations.

Like (but not limited to) the following:

(If) God is in control; will he step in and bring it under control? If so, when? How many people must suffer and die? How much damage to the economy will there be?

Did God merely allow this pandemic, or did he send it? Meaning, is it simply a warning or is it a judgment? Is there even a difference between the two, considering God’s ultimate sovereignty?

With the understanding that God can and sometimes will prevent natural disasters and man-made catastrophes from happening in the first place, does he on other occasions not only allow such things to happen, but intensify them? In the case of the coronavirus, on a global scale.

Is this global epidemic, in fact, a wake-up call from God to get our attention? A preview of and preparation for coming attractions? In which His sovereignty will be on universal display, i.e. His obliteration of the Gog/Magog coalition and then resounding victory over the Antichrist-led ten nation coalition following the Seal, Trumpet, & Bowl Judgments.

Does this pandemic have special relevance to the last days of the end times?

Some of these five questions (or to some degree or another, all of them) could be considered rhetorical. Particularly so, because we are the Omega generation … living in the last days of the end times. There is an abundance of 20th & 21st century signs that match up with Biblical prophecy to affirm that statement. Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written on that subject. For example: Look Up, Redemption is Near … Part I & Part II. (Published July 2015).

The following is an excerpt from Part II with a summary list of 12 flashpoint indicators:

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

Natural or Supernatural?

There is another question, with the response to this question concluding this week’s (Part I) article. The next Eye of Prophecy article (Part II) will address, to some extent or another, the five questions posed earlier.

Question: Is this coronavirus merely the latest natural calamity (one of many in human history) that is a direct result of the loss of the earth’s original perfection found in and represented by the Garden of Eden? Or is it supernatural in origin and/or spread?

With the Biblically based premise that supernatural entails God’s sovereignty which may use something natural but with divine design and direction, i.e. providential purpose.

In contrast to a natural (event) absent divine control or intervention. Meaning that God is not in it, as such.

Consequently, when some (I would propose most) disasters strike us, they are not caused by the Lord. Technically, they are also not even allowed by God, because he has already permitted nature to periodically alter its normal activity, hence natural disasters. Which, then, are a direct result of the monumental geological and geophysical changes the earth has undergone since the Great Flood of Noah’s time, i.e. earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes.

(Geological evidence for Noah’s Flood)

This also includes, both before and after Noah’s flood, the progressive and devastating biological consequences of our original parent’s original sin … diseases that affect animals and people alike.

Where does COVID-19 fit? With the ultimate catastrophic result that of death itself.

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

“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

Death is the ultimate pandemic. It claims every human being. And, there are all kinds of ways to die, including “old age” itself.

Thank God, he provided a remarkable remedy for the penalty of sin and (reversal of) death itself.

All who believe and receive his Son, Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior will be given new everlasting transformed bodies at the soon-to-come (any moment now) Rapture. The dead in Christ will be raised and those believers alive at the time will be taken with them to our home in heaven (I Thessalonians 4 & I Corinthians 15).

Completing Romans 6:23: “…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Getting back to the first (imperfect) Adam and the second (perfect) Adam, we read: “…For Adam’s sin led to condemnation… But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:16-17).

Believers in Messiah Jesus can (and do) have supreme confidence in every promise made by our Great Triune God … Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even in (especially in) these troubled times when everything seems to be going viral (pun intended). And the world is spinning out of control.

Let it spin. The Lord has assured believers that we will win!

Said Jesus to his disciples (all believers): “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

However, until the Rapture then the Second Coming of Christ takes place, we await the final victory.

Between the Rapture and the Return of Messiah Jesus to this earth to rule and reign for a thousand years, the seven-year Great Tribulation will be a time of, “…greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:21-22; words of Jesus).

Following the Millennial Reign of Christ when he establishes his Kingdom of justice, righteousness, and peace on earth, everything will be made new. Everything geologically, biologically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually wrong with this world will be made right, including the elimination of natural disasters and diseases.

To even include, “…a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

“…God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Verses 3-4).

Summary

In preparation for the Part II sequel to this week’s post, I will propose a premise as to where the COVID-19 pandemic falls within the framework of God’s sovereignty over all things. To, in that next article, provide Scriptural case studies to support this premise, including examples of when God causes a disaster, or when he just allows it, or when he does neither. To conceivably find some answers to the questions posed earlier.

In fact, as intimated earlier, the Bible provides compelling evidence to demonstrate that there is a difference between ordinary natural disasters and those that are extraordinary … supernatural.

Premise: The Lord did not cause (initiate) this virus, but he permitted it to spread … as opposed to divinely intervening to stop it sooner. The purpose of which is to prepare (warning, not a judgment) the world for the soon-to-come Great Tribulation in which the Wrath of God will be poured out on a global scale for the second and final time in human history. That and man-made carnage which will result in death and devastation, including economic, that far (beyond measurement) exceeds the impact of COVID-19.

Thus, without forecasting the severity of the numbers, this pandemic will subside with infections and fatalities less than most models predict.

Disclaimer: The last part of the premise is by no means a prediction. I am not a prophet. Rather, it is an opinion; albeit it one that relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the principles and parallels of Scripture concerning natural disasters and diseases (plagues).

Things to Ponder

In the long-term effort to contain Covid-19 and the effect on our daily lives, will we be tasked to accept a “new normal?”

But maybe this new normal would be a return to the old normal in America at least. The norm of Judeo/Christian Biblical principles and practices upon which the United States was built. Our founding fathers (and mothers) who, at the very least, acknowledged God in the affairs of our nation. Those who expressed their gratitude for God’s blessings.

Then came a new normal: secular humanism that seeks to eliminate all traces of God and His Son, Messiah Jesus from society. A deceptive philosophy and lifestyle whose (many) followers, “…traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshipped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself; who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen” (Romans 1:25).

Even we believers are sometimes too preoccupied with the things of this world, beyond moderation. Piling up possessions. Pursuing pleasure. Producing idols out of our entertainment, sports, business, and political heroes. Pushing God out of our lives and forgetting that he is the source of every breath (physical and spiritual) that we take.

In the meantime, where does COVID-19 fit? I wonder if it is more than just coincidental that the coronavirus literally takes the breath out of our lungs (and oxygen from our body).

Said God to his people: “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore (heal) their land” (II Chronicles 7:13-14, emphasis added in preparation for the next article).

“…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 its crops” (James 5:16-18)

*Note: Elijah will be one of the examples in the next post … Part II.

The Prince and the People That Destroyed the Jewish Temple / Who Were They?

A correct answer to the question contained in the title of this week’s article will confirm the identity of the Antichrist, presumed to be unknown until after the Rapture occurs!

I say, confirm, because his identity has already been disclosed and documented in my second book, Out of the Abyss, and in several Eye of Prophecy articles.

Let’s get right to the first part of a well-known Bible passage (Daniel 9:26-27) from which the question posed in this week’s article is derived. Quoting from the New American Standard Bible—one of the older translations that uses the phrase, people of the prince:

“Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary…” (Daniel 9:26a).

Bible scholars, including me, are virtually unanimous: The Messiah identified in this sweeping prophecy is Jesus of Nazareth (Incarnate Son of God) whose extraordinary birth, life, death, and resurrection from the grave seemed to accomplish little … at first. Not until several years later did the Christian faith explode throughout the Roman Empire and turn the ancient pagan world upside down.

But who is “the prince” referenced in this passage?

Once again, the consensus among serious Bible teachers, students, and commentators, including me: The prince is the Antichrist, which is the most common designation given to this evil man; also known as the little horn, ruler, king, man of lawlessness, and beast (of Revelation).

However, the mainstream perception regarding the (Antichrist) prince is that he will be a modern-day born man (some say he’s already alive) who ascends to power shortly after the Rapture. Just like all tyrants before him, i.e. a natural and normal rise to power. Even though Revelation Chapters 13 and 17 depict the Antichrist’s arrival on the scene (reappearance) as anything but normal or natural.

Next question: Who are the “people of the prince” mentioned in this passage?

Again, the answer is accepted by most Bible teachers as a given historical fact in fulfillment of the (first part) of the prophecy. So much so, that newer translations of the Bible get even more specific in order to precisely identify the people of the prince.

Here, then is that same portion of the passage as found in the New Living Translation, from which I always quote, unless otherwise noted in my articles.

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

One of the most documented dramatic events of ancient history was that of the Roman Legions assault against Israel that began in A.D. 66, culminating in the sack of Jerusalem, slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews, and annihilation of the 2nd Jewish Temple in A.D. 70. Thus, the people of the prince in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy were the Roman Legions of the 1st century.

Accordingly, let me rephrase the question contained in this week’s Eye of Prophecy article. A question that, as indicated, will be answered with decisive documentation and compelling commentary on both the prince (his identity) and the people of that prince (Roman Legions).

To Whom Do (Did) the 1st Century Roman Legions That Destroyed the Temple Belong?

This week’s Eye of Prophecy post is the 310th article overall and the 60th in the Category of The Antichrist.

Many of these 60 articles elaborate on one or more of the Biblical passages concerning the Antichrist with extensive evaluation of each of these passages contained in my 2nd book, Out of the Abyss. The passages: Daniel Chapter 7, 9, & 11; Zechariah Chapter 11; II Thessalonians Chapter 2; I John Chapter 2; Revelation Chapters 13, 17, and 19. With Revelation Chapter 17 more of a biographical introduction to the beast-king (Antichrist) regarding his initial appearance during the 1st century, then his reappearance (soon-to-come) in what is now the 21st century … at the outset of the Great Tribulation.

Note: The first mention of the beast—who comes up out of the bottomless pit—in the book of Revelation is in Chapter 11, but in the greater context of the two mighty prophets who are killed by the Antichrist beast.

In follow up to my book, Out of the Abyss, most Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of The Antichrist provide ample evidence (Biblically and historically) to support the startling conclusion that the Antichrist will not be a modern-day born man who rises to prominence before and power shortly after the Rapture.

Rather, he is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero!

For me, it all began with Revelation 17:7-8; the angel’s astounding disclosure to John that the man he had just seen (in the form of a beast) had already lived and died in the first century.

Read with me: “Why are you so amazed, the angel asked. I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads… The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (abruptly) 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” (parenthesis mine).

Question: Does the passage state or even imply that the beast will die then come back to life during the Seven-Year Tribulation? No, it does not. What it says is that the beast (the man called Antichrist) HAD ALREADY LIVED AND DIED BEFORE JOHN SAW HIM.

Moreover, the fatal wound of the beast that had been healed is seen by (marveled at) the world after he arises from the sea (Abyss … Abyssal sea, Revelation 17). Meaning that when the world first sees him as described in Revelation 13:1-4, his fatal wound had already been healed. Which when combined with Chapter 17 clearly refers to the reappearance of the beast who had already lived and died even before John wrote Revelation. Which is why (the only reason as presented in Revelation 13) that many give him their complete allegiance, to the point of worship, i.e. his return from the grave as they will perceive it.

From there (for me) it was a matter of extensive and intensive study of every passage on the Antichrist; plus, a deep dose of 1st century Roman and Church history to identify which of the five fallen kings (Revelation 17:10) was the Antichrist. Part of that process was to match the number of the beast (six hundred, sixty-six) to a man of the 1st century through Hebrew gematria (counting by the Hebrew alphabet) after translating from the Greek—the language in which the New Testament was written. This clue was given in Revelation Chapter 13. Remarkably, it matches the name of Neron Kaiser (Greek) or Nero Caesar.

(Bust of Nero)

Yet, there is more evidence in Revelation 13 & 17 than just the number of the beast to convincingly conclude that Nero was the Antichrist of the 1st century and will return from the Abyss (just like Scripture says will happen) to resume his reign of terror for 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. Likewise, that he was the Man of Lawlessness, a term that the Apostle Paul used of him in II Thessalonians Chapter 2. And the little horn/king of Daniel 7, as well as the King of the North in Daniel 11.

Today, we’ll focus on Daniel 9:26-27, which is perhaps the most persuasive passage to confirm Nero as the Antichrist; specifically, his two appearances to mimic the true Messiah’s first and second arrivals (Advents) to this earth.

The Ruler and His Armies

Before we continue with the extraordinary evidence to establish Nero as the prince/ruler of Daniel’s amazing prophecy, let’s look at the entirety of this passage. We’ll see how and when Nero was intricately involved with and linked to in real-time and space the very people (Roman legions) who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70.

As opposed to a modern-day man who is supposed to arise from some replicated version of the ancient Roman Empire, and, thereby, is somehow considered to be attached or affiliated with the people of that long-gone empire. We’ll see how this stretches the contemporary mainstream connection between a modern-day Antichrist and the ancient Roman legions to the breaking point.

Here is the full passage:

“After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One (Messiah) will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:26-27).

It is from this passage that we know the duration of the Great Tribulation to be seven years (one set of seven), as that is the length of the treaty with Israel orchestrated by the ruler (Antichrist). But half-way through, the ruler will break the treaty and abruptly end the sacrifices and offerings that will have been restored to and through the rebuilt Jewish Temple.

This also tracks with the full power and authority given to (permitted by the Lord) Antichrist during the last half of the Tribulation—42 months as stated in Revelation Chapter 13.

Note: just a quick reference to the sacrilegious object erected by the Antichrist. Most Bible teachers propose that this will be done when Antichrist breaks the treaty. Yet, this passage combined with Daniel 12:11-12 strongly suggests that the profane object won’t be set up until the very end of the Tribulation.  As indicated in a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles, I’m convinced this will take place (as a climax to all his terrible deeds, as the passage states) after Messiah Jesus returns to Jerusalem to rescue Israel from Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition. In fact, 30 days after the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation. This will be just before Christ defeats Antichrist and his armies at Armageddon.

However, today’s emphasis is on the ruler of this passage, particularly the relationship to his people (of the prince); more specifically that those people were the Roman legions that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70.

Notice that Daniel first introduces the ruler (Antichrist) as “a ruler will arise…”

Which begs the question: When will this ruler arise?

Narrowing it down further: Has he already arose (appeared on the scene) or will this take place (for the first and only time) after the Rapture at the outset of the Tribulation?

One way to answer those questions is to simply repeat what the angel told John in the subsequent New Testament revelation of the beast … Revelation Chapter 17. Which is the FACT that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died before John twice saw visions of this man. Plus, the FACT that the Antichrist beast would reappear from the Abyss to the utter amazement of those left behind at the Rapture—unbelievers. Then more disclosure in Revelation 17 that the beast would return to form a ten-nation coalition during the Tribulation period.

However, in keeping with the main subject/passage of this week’s article, let’s concentrate on Daniel Chapter 9 to answer the question as to when the ruler would (first) arise or appear on the scene of history. To also state that the man (a ruler) who would arise is “the ruler” (the same ruler) who would make a treaty with Israel that would usher in the Great Tribulation.

As indicated, the prevailing view (assumption) is that this ruler will make only one appearance, as he must be a modern-day born man. But that’s not what the passage says. It first states that this ruler would arise, “whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.” Which we know happened in AD 70.

Next, we read: “The end will come with a flood and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end” (Daniel 9:26b).

We must recognize that Daniel is talking about the Jews and Israel, and her Messiah and the Anti-Messiah whose armies would destroy the Temple. The entire passage even beginning with verse 24 is a prophecy concerning Israel’s destiny, with the rest of the world affected by what happens to Israel.

Moreover, there is a strongly suggested time-gap between verse 26 and the beginning of verse 27.

“The end” (that) will come (last days) begins with a flood (“from that time to the very end”) which is undoubtedly the Roman conquest of Israel in A.D. 70 (what else could it be, plus flood is used symbolically in Scripture of a great army). Followed by centuries of wars, including two World Wars of the 20th century, and the Holocaust itself which was the ultimate “misery” or devastation of God’s chosen people, the Jews.

There is no way to ignore or even minimize the insertion of this part of Daniel’s prophecy (“the end will come…”) precisely between the ruler’s arising and his armies destroying the Temple, followed (much later) by this same ruler striking a seven-year treaty with Israel. The only way that could happen is for the ruler to return after he had already lived and died (in the 1st century).

Which is EXACTLY what Revelation 17 is telling us when it says the beast (Antichrist) will reappear from the Abyss.

Once again, the question: To whom were the Roman Legions directly connected?

Answer: To the ruler or prince who is also the Antichrist.

Yet, as alluded, there are two options from which to choose: (1) To a Roman Emperor directly associated with those same legions that destroyed the Temple in the first century. With this same ruler (Antichrist) reappearing from the Abyss as Scripture said will happen. (2) To a far-off (what is now 2,000 years and counting) modern-day born ruler who would bear no time/space link to those legions, no matter from where this ruler arose—even if it were from Rome, Italy.

To provide more validation that the correct choice is #1, thereby confirming that Nero Caesar was the ruler, king, and man of lawlessness in the first century (Antichrist) and will return as the Antichrist beast soon after the Rapture, we’ll examine two key areas of proof. (A) Syntax of the text itself, especially the prepositional possessive correlation between the ruler and the people of the ruler. (B) First Century history that distinctly ties Nero to the people (Roman legions) who sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in A.D. 70, followed by a world-wide exile of Jews from Israel that lasted until Israel’s rebirth in 1948.

(This is when end times prophecy began to unfold. Which sets the stage for the return of the ruler to make a treaty with the nation of Israel. Right after the Rapture, which is more imminent than ever before)

(A) Possessive Language of the Passage Itself

Again, citing the second part of Daniel 9:26, this time from The Amplified Bible, which uses the same designation (prince) as other older translations.

“…And the people of the (other) prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary…” [parenthesis in the text, to further identify the “other” prince as the Antichrist in contrast to the “Anointed One” or “Messiah” who would be killed (just) before the second prince would arise].

Because the historical record is crystal clear that “the people of the prince who will come” were more precisely the Roman Legions that destroyed Jerusalem and the 2nd Jewish Temple, the New Living Translation renders this part of the passage as: “…a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.”

Let’s scrutinize the simple but often used word in the Old Testament (written in Hebrew) found in this passage that is crucial to comprehending this prophecy. That and the prepositional phrase that emphatically establishes a possessive correlation between the ruler and his armies.

It is the English word, people, translated from the Hebrew word “am” (pronounced ahm) which is used some 1,620 times in the Old Testament.

The meaning is clear: peoples, people of a nation, members of one’s peoples, kinsmen, one’s countrymen (or women), or compatriots. Especially in the context of what’s going on in this verse, it’s imperative that we grasp what should be obvious: the “people” (of the prince) is used in the same sense that people or peoples is used throughout Scripture. For that matter, in and through any literary source.

Whenever people is found in Scripture that relates those people to God, a king, a ruler, or a nation, it invariably refers to and is in the context of an immediate, possessive, generational (at that time in whatever scene is taking place) relationship. This is the commonsense case even if the word “people” is part of a prophecy, as it is in Daniel 9.

Have you heard of Moses, Pharaoh, and the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt … the Exodus? Of course, you have. Read with me:

“After this presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh. They told him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go…” (Exodus 5:1, emphasis added).

(Moses before Pharaoh … scene from the movie, The Ten Commandments)

Who were the people?

Easy and obvious answer: The Hebrews alive at that specific time in history. Furthermore, God called them, “my people.” Meaning the descendants of Abraham whom God chose as a special people to bring God’s Word and the Messiah to the world. When Messiah Jesus came (born from the tribe of Judah), his flesh and blood people were the Jews of that time, just like the Hebrews of Moses time were “my (God’s) people.”

This (possession) principle is also what’s taking place in Daniel 9. “People” of the prince or ruler to come includes (would include when the prophecy was fulfilled) the prince’s countrymen. Regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, more precisely it was the Roman Legions that fulfilled the prophecy.

Whose armies, were they? Whose people, were they? The answer is found in the possessive pronoun or prepositional phrase, depending on which Bible translation is used. Thus, whether we read, “people of the prince” or “a ruler… whose armies” the same possessive relationship is established.

As a result, we can say with a great deal of certainty: The people directly affiliated, associated, or united with the prince (during the 1st century) are the ones who destroyed the Temple. They belonged to that ruler (of their time), not to some far-off ruler who would come at a much later date in history.

There’s no way the grammar or syntax or linguistic meaning of the text (or any text) allows for a ruler who would arrive on the scene long after his people destroyed the city. Thus, an (the) Antichrist born in the 20th or 21st century would be a direct contradiction of the textual time/space connection between the ruler and his people (armies) as clearly stated in Daniel’s prophecy.

To further amplify this point, the following is an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss (in italics):

In verse 25, the angel Gabriel tells Daniel, ‘Now listen and understand!’ There should be no confusion or misunderstanding here. If Gabriel had meant that the Temple would first be destroyed by the people of the prince, and then the prince would come at a (much) later date, he would have told Daniel that the armies or people of the prince to come will have or would have already destroyed the city and the Temple…. In some fashion Daniel would have clarified that the people or armies would first destroy the city, and then the prince would come (Page 255).

However, Gabriel through Daniel is not saying that. In fact, the passage—especially the New Living Translation—says just the opposite. The ruler would arise (meaning first) and his armies would (subsequently) destroy the Temple.

“…A ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple” (Daniel 9:26, emphasis added).

Returning to Out of the Abyss:

“People of the prince who is to come” is a prepositional phrase that demands a possessive correlation. “People of the prince who is to come will destroy the city” neither prophetically or grammatically state nor even imply that the city would be destroyed before the prince arrived. In other words, this ruler and his armies are inseparably linked together in possessive relationship and in a real time context. Both events were future to Daniel.

Where have you ever read or seen or thought that a ruler of any era would be connected to armies or people hundreds or thousands of years earlier. All monarchs, both in Biblical and secular history, are linked directly with the armies of that time of the ruler’s life. Contextually and grammatically it makes no sense for Gabriel to tell Daniel that the ruler’s armies would destroy Jerusalem, but the ruler wouldn’t come until much later…. Conversely, the text clearly delineates and specifies that when the ruler comes, his people or armies will destroy the city.

…Why, then, should Gabriel and Daniel mean a far-off, time-warped differential between the Roman Legions and a prince that wouldn’t arrive on the scene for what is now a nearly two-thousand-year gap?

…Stating it bluntly: The Roman Legions of 70 AD could not be of, from, or belong to a ruler born some two thousand years later. This would stretch the chain that tries to bind the Roman Legions of 70 AD to a modern-day man to the breaking point.

…Daniel tells us that the ruler will come, and the people of the ruler will destroy the city. He does not say that the Temple must be or is first destroyed before the prince arrives. But that’s the current hindsight application made by those who hold to a modern-day Antichrist and a Revived Roman Empire. Meaning that this “prince who is to come” must be born and rise to power after an enormous lapse of time (2000 years), with a 21st century result of an impractical and unrealistic time-capsule detachment from the armies that destroyed the city and Temple (Pages 255-257).

Now let’s examine 1st Century history to emphatically establish the association between the ruler/prince and his people/armies who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

(B) The Stunning Historical Connection

Beginning with three questions that will set the stage for what was (at that time), a dramatic partial fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Then to better grasp the angel’s astonishing disclosure to John that this ruler prophesied by Daniel had already lived and died before the book of Revelation was written in the first century. Even more remarkable: this same ruler would return from the Abyss at the outset of the Great Tribulation to the amazement of those left behind after the Rapture.

Question #1: What Roman General was in command of the legions that destroyed Jerusalem and demolished the 2nd Jewish Temple in A.D. 70?

Question #2: What Roman General initiated the campaign to crush the Jewish rebellion against Rome, which was completed by the Roman General of question #1?

Question #3: Who was the Roman Emperor (Caesar) that hand-picked these two generals?

Many details are presented in my book, Out of the Abyss regarding identification of these well-known men of their time. However, time/space does not permit more than a summary overview in this week’s article. So, right to the point.

Answer #1: Titus

Answer #2: Vespasian, father of Titus.

Answer #3: Nero

(Both Vespasian and Titus later became Roman Emperors themselves, 69-79 AD; 79-81 AD, respectively. Nero was the fifth and last Emperor of the Claudian dynasty, He ruled from 54-68 AD)

I’m sure you were clued into Nero as the Roman Emperor, if for no other reason than this article had already given that answer away by now. However, not too many students of the Bible or world history would remember or even know in the first place that Nero personally selected Vespasian and Titus to lead the military campaign against Israel in A.D. 66. Plus, the fact that Nero died in A.D 68 (half-way through this assault against Israel) causes even more disregard for his direct connection to Daniel’s prophecy.

Consequently, most Bible scholars overlook or dismiss outright Nero’s involvement in this historic event, as not being all that relevant.

Why? Because they endorse the contemporary view of a modern-day born Antichrist, and a kingdom application to the seven heads of Revelation’s beast. Instead of the correct application that the seven heads are seven Roman Emperors, five of whom had already died (The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now, Revelation 17:8).

Here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss to explain this significant connection more clearly (in italics):

In Daniel Chapter 9 … the angelic messenger told Daniel that it would be the (specific) people or armies which belong to the prince that would destroy the city and the Temple.

Think about it! Historically, that’s exactly what happened. Nero issued direct orders and personally selected the Roman generals to carry out the directive. But Nero wasn’t around to see the outcome…. Thus, it was necessary for Daniel to prophetically tell us that it was the armies of the ruler who finished the job.

…To eliminate any misunderstanding as to when the ruler would arise, the angel would have told Daniel that when the ruler arrives, his armies would have already destroyed the city. But that’s not what Daniel says, nor did it happen that way in history.

Nor has any conquest, in ancient or modern warfare, been accomplished or even recognized by means of troops conquering a city or country, then the supreme leader (king or emperor) of that army born hundreds of years later or even a few years later. In fact, that makes no sense at all. The only way the armies can be connected to, belong to, controlled or ordered by their leader, is a direct result of the leader—by virtue of being alive—delivering commands to his subordinates; thus, for that ruler to be unequivocally associated with and attached to the people that do the conquering.

…The armies are of or belong to the ruler himself, by virtue of the possessive correlation clearly articulated in the passage (Daniel 9). The passage does not state nor even imply a (far away) future ruler to the Roman Legions of the first century. Instead, we see culpability by direct possessive association with and correlation between first century Rome and a first century Roman ruler.

…The armies or people who destroyed the city and the Temple were Roman Legions that belonged to Nero, as ultimate Commander in Chief of all Roman legions. These legions are long gone and couldn’t possibly be the people or armies of a modern-day born Antichrist. Again, I will stress: the ruler and his armies of Daniel 9 are inextricably conjoined, coupled, and connectively linked by the possessive pronouns employed in the text, whether the translated pronoun is “of” or “whose.”

This ruler would return from the Abyss. This same ruler whose armies annihilated Jerusalem in 70 A.D. would strike a treaty, would mesmerize the nations by returning from the dead, and would require that his name or the number of his name be implanted in every human being. It just so happens that the name of a Roman emperor matches the gematria numerical code of six hundred, sixty-six… (Pages 263-265)

Things to Ponder

I’m convinced that the main purpose for the correct retrofitting of the prophetic puzzle regarding the Antichrist is that some (hopefully many) will not be so amazed at Nero’s reappearance.

Instead, they will soon (after the Rapture) see that the Bible and the God of the Bible had predicted this hundreds of years ago. They will further understand that Nero did not return from his grave. Rather, he would reappear from the Abyss, having been confined there after the Lord revived him. (If the Antichrist comes up out of the Abyss—Revelation 17:8—then he must first be placed there). That many will then choose the true Christ over the false (anti) Christ, even on the pain of death.

Where did the Roman Legions camp and prepare for the march on Jerusalem in 70 AD? Answer: Megiddo. Who ordered this campaign against Israel? That right; it was Nero. Where will the final conflict of Revelation be decided? Right again … Armageddon. Who will be leading these armies against Israel, then against Messiah himself? Easy answer: Antichrist. A chilling connection, don’t you think?

One last little asterisk footnote of history if you will. What was it that, in part, contributed to the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation in 66 AD? Answer: A Jewish priest refused to administer a pagan sacrifice in the Temple. And, this pagan sacrifice had been ordered by none other than Caesar. Now who do you suppose this Caesar might have been? …none other than Nero! Subsequently, Nero hand-picked Vespasian and Titus and ordered his generals to set things right in Judea (Out of the Abyss, Page 265).

In closing, let’s read Revelation 17:8 again, as this is the pivotal (starting) point in refitting the prophetic puzzle concerning the Antichrist.

“The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.”

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

“…until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27b)

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one (Messiah Jesus) sitting on the horse and his army (all believers). And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet…. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse…” (Revelation 19:19-21, parenthesis mine).

Do you want to know the future? It’s quite simple.

Those who belong to the world—refusing to trust Jesus as personal Savior—will (sadly) lose.

We who belong to Messiah Jesus will WIN!

Thank you, Lord. We trust you. All your promises are true.

And we love you because you first loved us!

Israel Is Again The Head, Not the Tail (The Deal of the Century)

“The tail wagging the dog!”

This clever quip appeared sometime in the 19th century.

It’s a funny picture. The tail is in high gear and seems to wag the rest of the dog. As if the tail is telling the head what to do.

It’s one of many idioms that reduces what can sometimes be a complicated issue into an image that simplifies the situation and enhances our understanding.

From the Free Dictionary, one of the meanings of the tail wagging the dog: “The smallest or least important part of something in control of the larger or more important elements, a reversal of typical roles or dynamics of power.”

Occasionally, individuals, businesses, communities, cities, states, and entire nations could be or have been accused of being the tail wagging the dog. And others have viewed themselves as either heads or tails (or both) depending upon certain conditions, including what is occasionally perceived as chance, i.e. the proverbial flip of the coin—heads or tails. Meaning circumstances and (historical) developments beyond their control.

Modern-Day Israel … Head or Tail?

I pose this question in the context of Israel’s 71-year contemporary history. For much of that time geopolitical experts, heads of state, the common person, and entire nations have been fixated on the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. Rarely is anyone or any government neutral about Israel.

Most people and nations have judged Israel and/or Jews throughout the rest of the world to be the tail wagging the dog. That considering Israel’s small size and population, she exerts a disproportionate influence over world affairs. But then whose problem is that? Israel’s? Diaspora Jews? Or could it be the attitude of those who incessantly and unreasonably find fault with a people who swore, “Never again.”

A people of whom six million were slaughtered by Hitler’s Third Reich. From the floods of dispersion and the fires of Nazi death camps, Israel was reborn as a sovereign nation in May 1948. Consequently, they began to return in great numbers to a small slice of land on this planet as promised by the true and living God of the Bible. This time they would never be driven from the Promised Land again. Those who doubt and even despise that fact are in denial of reality (facts on the ground) and of the astounding accuracy of Biblical prophecy.

In just one generation (70 years), Israel has flourished beyond anyone’s wildest dreams—agriculturally, commercially, geopolitically, and militarily. Just as God said would happen in the last days of the end times. And would only get better during the soon-to-come majestic Millennial reign of Messiah Jesus (upon his return).

“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 gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:13-15, emphasis added).

(One of many vineyards in Israel)

Yes, the world has been mesmerized with and by Israel for decades. It has been a progressive preoccupation, getting stronger by the year.

The following is an excerpt from the beginning of Eye of Prophecy article, Global Obsession with Israel … In Biblical Proportions! (posted 1-6-18), in italics:

The World’s OCD over Israel

Obsession: “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often-unreasonable idea or feeling” (Webster’s Dictionary).

The persistent unreasonable idea or feeling harbored by Israel’s enemies and even by her (few and far between) friends is whether Israel and especially Israel’s capital Jerusalem truly belongs to the Jews. Or are the Jews “occupying” Jerusalem and other parts of Israel?

Obsessive: “excessive often to an abnormal degree … need for quick solutions.”

The entire planet is demanding urgent resolution to Israel’s problems, even though the core of these issues is at least three thousand years in the making.

Compulsion: “an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act.” The compulsive agenda of many world leaders is to impulsively (bordering on the irrational) fix Israel. Their faulty premise: If they can fix Israel and solve Jerusalem’s status, then the entire Middle East can be fixed in some fashion or another.

As the first Eye of Prophecy article for a new year, there is no more fitting topic than the world’s fanatical focus on the tiny state of Israel, smaller in population than many cities on earth. It is political, racial, religious, and social OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder) on steroids and on a truly global scale. Since her rebirth as a sovereign state in 1948, no nation on earth has received more world-wide attention as has Israel. It is mind-boggling.

…Even within nations there is a growing polarity between such things as globalism and populism.

However, when it comes to Israel, the vast majority of otherwise disunited nations of the world have set aside their differences in a common cause that is glaringly and transparently anti-Israel. It is a unified agenda against the one and only Jewish state in the world, with only a handful of nations showing overt support for Israel. In both form and substance, it is a global conspiracy that defies all that is logical, reasonable, and moral. It is peer pressure at its worst. It is so very wrong.

Consequently, the Psalmist pleaded with the Lord:

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

You can count on it! The Lord has heard the incessant threats of the nations against Israel. He has seen the dozens of UN Resolutions against Israel that are shamefully unfounded (based on ignorance or deliberate denial of Israel’s true historical right to the Promised Land), far outnumbering those against truly rogue nations like North Korea, Iran, Yemen, and Syria.

As indicated, that article was the first of a new year (2018). However, regarding the disposition of many nations toward Israel, things have changed dramatically in the last two years.

Since then, President Trump on behalf of the United States has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and more recently, Judea Samaria—also known as the West Bank. (See Eye of Prophecy article: Jewish Settlements in Judea/Samaria … Are They Illegal? Posted 11-23-19. Also, Palestine or Israel? Which Is It? Your Answer May Be in Jeopardy! Posted 1-18-20).

Just last week, another global geopolitical earthquake (event) prophetically shook the status quo and will shape the remaining (short) time before the Rapture takes place. As well as what happens not long after the Rapture … the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel.

On January 27th & 28th, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with his main political rival, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party of Israel met with U.S. President Donald Trump. Key executive staff members, heads of state from three Arab nations, and other diplomats attended this historic session in the White House, at which time President Trump unveiled the political phase of his “Deal of the Century.”

(US President Trump and Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu during the Deal of the Century meeting in the White House)

Shortly we’ll examine some of the extraordinary elements and repercussions of this plan. One that is a dramatic departure from the roadmaps for peace paradigms of the past.

Though there were other factors, each of these peace plans of the past had two basic things in common: (1) Demand for Israel’s return to pre-1967 Six Day War armistice lines (not borders). (2) Israel’s exchange (relinquishing) of land for peace. A peace that the Palestinians don’t want in the first place because they want the entire state of Israel as their own. Preferably all at once but would settle for one piece of Israel at a time, and because they still refuse to recognize the sovereign Jewish State of Israel.

The Head and Not the Tail        

Did you know that the God of the Bible referred to Israel in terms of “head and tail?” A word picture that would portray Israel throughout her mostly troubled past but also her triumphant present and glorious future.

Listen to God’s Word given through Moses. The setting is the Hebrews (2nd generation) camped on the east bank of the Jordan River, poised to enter the Promised Land and if/when necessary do battle with their enemies.

“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. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them” (Deuteronomy 28:11-12).

Several times before and after this passage, Moses emphasized the conditions required of God’s chosen people in order to prosper in the land that would be called Israel. In fact, their very presence (remaining) in the Promised Land, as opposed to defeat and eventual exile at the hands of their enemies, was predicated on trusting and obeying the Lord.

For example: “If you listen to these regulations and faithfully obey them, the Lord your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he promised with an oath to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you, and he will give you many children. He will give fertility to your land and your animals … You will be blessed above all the nations of the earth…” (Deuteronomy 7:12-14a).

The Lord also reminded Israel why they were the chosen people and why he had given them the region known as Canaan: To dwell in the Promised Land in perpetuity from where and through whom (the Jews) Messiah would come … as later expounded by the prophets. As follows:

“…don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people! No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people” (Deuteronomy 9:4-6).

Ouch!

However, in other passages God told his people that he loved them with an everlasting love—an unconditional love that would eventually result in complete fulfillment of his covenant with Abraham, i.e. the Jews forever possessing the Promised Land of Israel.

ALL OF ISRAEL!

Including Judea and Samaria!!

For example: “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you (meaning permanently, though both of these occurred as a means of God’s discipline of Israel) or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors (Abrahamic Covenant)” (Deuteronomy 4:31, parenthesis mine).

Now let’s read about the head and the tail.

“If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving to today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them” (Deuteronomy 28:13-14).

During the next 300 years or so, aptly called the time of the Judges, Israel was alternately the head and the tail. Sometimes at the top, sometimes beneath other nations. When Israel fell into complacency or outright sin (worshipping those man-made gods), their enemies defeated and ruled them. When Israel sincerely repented and seriously sought the Lord, he raised up judges to deliver his people … like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson.

Not until the reigns of King David and King Solomon did Israel become the most powerful nation on earth. Israel was not the tail wagging the dog; indeed, they were not even the tail. They were the head. Moreover, the peoples and nations that favored Israel were themselves successful and blessed.

A God-given principle that has been relevant to this very day.

Sadly, Israel as a nation eventually abandoned her God-given heritage and faith; to the extent that most kings, prophets, and priests (and many of the common people) fell into rampant immorality, corruption, and idolatry. What happened to Israel is exactly what God said would happen, beginning with Moses’ prophecies and continuing with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets, though the Lord was patient with Israel for hundreds of years.

The residual result was God withdrawing his protection and allowing Assyria to conquer the ten northern tribes (722 B.C.). Then Babylon vanquishing the two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, in 586 B.C. The remnant in Israel remained a nation, albeit a shattered one.

Israel—A Modern Prototype

First, let me state with a great deal (pun intended) of confidence and authority (directly from Scripture) that Israel of the 21st century is once again a head and not a (the) tail. Nor is it—other than in the perception of Muslim countries and western nations that blindly support the Palestinian narrative—the tail wagging the dog. In the sense that Israel intentionally tries to exert far more influence that it should on the rest of the world. Rather, it is nations all over the globe that focus undue attention on Israel, mostly because they have had an (unrealistic) agenda against Israel. And, frankly, because many are jealous of Israel’s success.

Despite the inexplicable and even irrational animosity of so many people and nations (anti-Semitism and BDS), Israel’s stature among the family of nations has gradually improved over the past 50 years. But not until the recent Deal of the Century has Israel’s position been so prominent, even among a few Arab nations which not that long ago would have emphatically denounced such a deal. To the point of dismissing it out-of-hand as the Palestinians (and two Muslim nations that are not Arabic—Turkey and Iran) did both before and after the plan was released in full.

A few days before and in anticipation of U.S. President Trump’s Deal of the Century, well-known author Caroline Glick posted an article in the online news source Israel Hayom, entitled Sovereign or beggar—it’s Israel’s choice to make.

In the article, she contrasted Israel’s heretofore foreign policy “beggar” paradigm (status) which was a direct result of several Israeli leaders succumbing to world opinion that Israel was a “pariah state.” That Israel must make whatever concessions necessary to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This mindset was due to the United States and most European nations endorsing the Palestinian assertions that Israelis were “occupying Palestinian territories” which has no basis whatsoever in reality. I’ve written about this extensively, with much documentation to demonstrate that there is no such thing as “Palestine” or “Palestinian territories” or Israeli “occupation” of land that has belonged to the Jews for over 3,000 years.

The ill-fated Oslo Accord of 1993-1995 was a direct derivative of this belief that the Israelis were in the wrong, especially concerning Judea and Samaria. Which is why this “beggar” mentality (to appease the Palestinians and flawed world-opinion) also led to former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert making outrageous offers for Palestinian control of 97% of Judea/Samaria (West Bank) in 2000 and 2008 respectively, which would have created a serious security problem for Israelis Jews. Fortunately for Israel, the Palestinians rejected both offers which could have led to a Palestinian State with the eastern part of Jerusalem as their capital.

Caroline Glick offered this astute comparison: “The beggar paradigm was the basis for Israel’s foreign policy from 1992 until 2009, when it was exchanged for another one. That alternative paradigm should rightly be called the Sovereignty paradigm. The Sovereignty paradigm is the model championed by (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu. At its core is the assumption that Israel’s strength is the key to its success. The Sovereignty paradigm asserts that Israeli strength is what attracts foreign powers to work with it in ways that advance its economic, diplomatic and military interests…”

No longer will the Jews need to make unnecessary concessions of “land for peace.” What kind of deal is that in the first place? Offering land that belongs to Israel just so the Palestinians will stop murdering Jews is, indeed, negotiating or operating from a “beggarly” position. That all ended with Trump’s Deal of the Century—whether the Palestinians accept it or not.

If considered in proportional terms—Israel’s miniscule land mass and population compared to many countries—Israel is head and shoulders above most nations. There’s no arrogance or exaggeration in that statement; it’s what’s been happening in Israel for the past several decades.

Israeli/Jewish inventions and stunning advancements in water conservation, scientific research, state of the art technology, agricultural accomplishments, achievement in the arts (particularly movie and T.V. actors, directors and producers), business and industry, and medicine; exponentially exceed the proportional Jewish population in Israel (6.9 million) or world-wide (15 million).

Do you have a cell/smart phone in your hand? An irrigation drip system for your lawn? Delicious cherry tomatoes on your plate? You can thank the Jews for those and many more inventions and improvements. Nobel peace prizes awarded to Jews far outnumber proportionately any other peoples on the planet.

(Over 900 Nobel peace prizes awarded internationally of which 20% went to Jews, who comprise just 0.2% of world’s population)

Deal of the Century

Since Donald Trump’s time in office, he has made some dramatic decisions that have profoundly impacted the Middle East and Israel. Each of them generated predictable reactions both for and against, depending on whether you’re an Arab or a Jew; your point of view concerning Israeli sovereignty over all or just part of Israel; and your knowledge of Israel’s real history, both ancient and contemporary.

He reaffirmed the obvious: Jerusalem always has been and still is the eternal capital of the nation-state of Israel. Then he ordered the U.S. Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He officially supported Israel’s autonomous rights to the Golan Heights as a matter of national security, having several times been attacked from that region by her enemies. Likewise, that the Israelis have ultimate sovereign rights in Judea and Samaria—the very heartland of Israel—with the understanding that Arab Palestinians also have jurisdiction over designated areas (A & B) of that region.

Each of these official declarations by President Trump on behalf of the United States of America is hugely significant. They meet standards set forth by God himself regarding Israel’s position in the family of nations. With a composite conclusion that Israel is (as she was in King David’s time) once again the head and not the tail. It is a Biblical principle that when individuals, groups, and nations bless Israel (support, promote, befriend, defend), they, too, will be blessed (acknowledged, rewarded) by the true and living God (Genesis 12:1-3).

And now, we have the Deal of the Century, which provides proposals that can benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike. Although it’s highly unlikely that the Palestinians will agree to even one, let alone all the points of this deal, the plan itself is prophetically pertinent and powerful.

In the greater context of God’s two-fold plan for humanity (first, the Promised Land of Israel as a perpetual possession of his chosen people; second, the New Covenant of Redemptive Grace through the Messiah—the very Son of God), the Jewish Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation (by nationally rejecting their Messiah, Jesus, although many in the first century and many more in the 20th & 21st century have accepted him), think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

Personal Note: I sometimes cringe at President’s Trump’s off-the-wall comments (mostly through tweets) that are often rude and crude. By now, however, it’s clear that he’s not your typical politician. I’ve voted for Presidents since 1964 and studied other presidents who served throughout our nation’s history. I cannot recall a single U.S. President who has kept his candidacy promises (plus more) like President Trump. No matter what you think of him, he has boldly stood with Israel in direct opposition to most of the world. Whether he fully understands or even believes the Biblical prophecies is not all that relevant; the fact remains that God is providentially using him to accomplish those promises. Just like God used King Cyrus and King Artaxerxes in ancient times to rebuild the Jewish Temple and the Walls of Jerusalem.

Here are (most of) the key points of the Deal of the Century:

  • Although all Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) belong to Israel, the proposal recognizes Israel’s prerogative to officially annex about 30% of this region, which comprises about 50% of Area C where most of the nearly 500,000 Jews already reside.
  • Israel maintains complete control of an undivided Jerusalem.
  • No settlements, either Israeli or Palestinian, would be uprooted anywhere in Judea and Samaria. However, Israelis would not be permitted to develop new communities in Judea/Samaria for four years—the same amount of time allotted to Palestinians to meet conditions required of them.
  • Those conditions are primarily: final recognition of Israel’s right to exist; disarming of Hamas in the Gaza Strip; cessation of inciting (through textbooks and rhetoric in general) Palestinian terrorism; stop rewarding (paying) terrorists and/or their families for acts of terrorism against Israeli Jews.
  • If, after four years, a Palestinian State is formed, its capital can be located on the perimeter of East Jerusalem, outside the Israeli security force. A US Embassy would be placed there.
  • In a previous partial release of the Deal of the Century (June 2019), 50 billion dollars of aid would be provided (from several sources) for the Palestinians to create vital infrastructure necessary to support a Palestinian state.
  • Israel would maintain protective control of the Jordan Valley including areas of Palestinian settlements. In fact, this security would extend across Israel to the Mediterranean.
  • Some Israeli land in southwest Israel (Negev) along the Mediterranean coast would be given to Palestinians to equal the land mass had the pre-1967 armistice lines been used for the boundaries of a Palestinian State.
  • The document includes actual maps with the fine points of the land division to be worked out later.

(“Conceptual” or proposed map of Deal of the Century, with more details to come later)

Previous peace plans were arranged with Israel mostly on the defensive … requiring the Jews to give up much more than they got. The Deal of the Century has changed all that—no matter the outcome.

One of the big differences is that Israel won’t need to depend upon Palestinian compliance for Israel’s part of the deal to be implemented. And, unlike prior proposals, the Palestinians could and probably would lose forever their opportunity to create their own state, if they do not comply with the conditions imposed by the plan. In the past, all the Palestinians need do was to hold out for their unrealistic demands.

No longer do they have the luxury of “the tail wagging the dog.”

Conversely, if the Palestinians accept this Deal of the Century, they could very well be their own head, not a tail at all. But they won’t agree to it, because they still cannot tolerate an Israeli head along side theirs. In fact, they won’t even accept an Israeli “tail” nearby. They want no Jewish head or tail at all in Israel—which is simply not going to happen. Because Israel is, in fact, a Jewish nation-state. However, one in which there are nearly 2 million Israeli Arab citizens with civil rights equal to the Jews, including holding office in various levels of government. The nearly four million Palestinians of Judea/Samaria and Gaza have chosen not to apply for citizenship for the reasons listed above.

In the truly big picture, this Deal of the Century is another significant milestone that has propelled Israel and the whole world that much closer to the return of Messiah Jesus. Beginning with the Rapture of all believers that will soon be followed by the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel.

Notable Reactions (Commentaries) to the Deal of the Century

Said Israeli Major General (res.) Gershon Hacohen: “The greatness of the Trump plan lies in the fact that unlike preceding American peace initiatives, it recognizes Israel’s right to retain territories beyond the 1967 lines as a matter of historical right and not solely as a measure to be taken for security purposes…”

From an article by columnist Batya Jerenberg posted in World Israel News: “Europe, which the Palestinians normally can count on to protect their interests, has responded positively to the Trump proposals as well with Britain, France, Austria and the European Union blessing the effort…. For decades, a majority of the world has parroted the Palestinian line demanding a state on the entire area Israel liberated in 1967’s Six Day War and the return of millions of descendants of refugees from Israel’s War of Independence. (Palestinian Authority President) Abbas has now discovered that support for this maximalist position has withered in almost every country, with the notable exceptions of Iran and Turkey, both of which condemned the American plan in the strongest of terms.”

Although we would expect Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express strong support for the Deal of the Century, it doesn’t change the Biblical, historical, and contemporary facts on the ground truth of what he said last week to President Trump and the press when the plan was fully released:

“For too long, the heart of Israel has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie. You are recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria—large and small alike.”

In an article first in Jewish News Syndicate, reposted in Israel Hayom, well-known author and expert on Middle East/ Israel, Melanie Phillips wrote on 1-31-20:

“US President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ offers the Palestinians a state. They have rejected it and threatened instead to ramp up violence against Israel. No one can be surprised. They have rejected every offer of a state previously made to them in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2014. So is this latest deal anything more than Groundhog Day for the Middle East all over again? Yes, because this isn’t a deal. It’s an ultimatum….

“That’s because this isn’t a ‘peace process’ in which both sides must progress in tandem with each other—a process that gave the Palestinians an effective veto even while they continued to wage their war of extermination against Israel. For the first time, here’s an American plan that puts the security of Israel first and foremost. It’s, therefore, the first time that the United States has unequivocally supported Israel’s future existence.

“…Now the Palestinians’ bluff has been called. Once again, they are responding with threats of more violence, because there are no circumstances in which they will ever accept the right of the Jews to their own ancestral homeland.”

She concludes her article by stating: “The Trump plan won’t bring peace; however, it restores the truth and justice that are essential prerequisites of peace…. It replaces illusions by reality. That’s no small achievement. Now it’s up to the rest of the world.”

Note: As far as I know, Melanie Phillips is not a Messianic Jew (believer in Jesus as her Messiah and Savior); however, she is a student of the Hebrew Bible. How much she has read regarding the numerous Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, I don’t know. But she’s on track by concluding that the Deal of the Century will not bring peace in the Middle East. The Bible says the same thing. Not that is, until the Prince of Peace, Messiah Jesus, returns to make all things right.

Oh, there will be a seven-year treaty (of peace!) immediately after the Rapture takes place and Antichrist (Nero) returns from the Abyss to a world in shock from the Rapture. It will turn out to be the most anti-peace peace treaty ever orchestrated.

(See Eye of Prophecy articles: The Peace Treaty That Will Guarantee War, posted 9-3-16; Peace Between Israel & Judah … Then World Peace! 12-18-18; Two-State Solution & The Seven-Year Treaty … Impossible? 1-26-19)

The Head/Tail Paradigm Under the Old Covenant vs. New Covenant

Earlier we read that God would bless his chosen people and keep them in the Promised Land of Israel, but with conditions attached. The conditions were not at all difficult—trust and obey the Lord and not jeopardize their relationship with Him by turning to man-made pagan gods. Keep in mind, however, that these conditions were part of the Mosaic Covenant of Law—which the people progressively failed to keep, ending with their conquest and exile from Israel.

So, the Lord announced a breath-taking new covenant through Jeremiah (Chapter 31). Which would come to Israel (and the whole world) at God’s appointed time, i.e. when Messiah came—which he did as Jesus of Nazareth.

Still, while under the Mosaic Covenant, the Lord kept his promise to bring them back to the land and return to them if they returned to him. Which they did, first under Ezra’s leadership, then Nehemiah’s. Alas, that was temporary. They couldn’t and wouldn’t continue to obey the Lord, as poignantly portrayed in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi.

Subsequently, the Jews were conquered again by the Romans in 70 A.D. and exiled for a period that would last some 1,900 years. Why did this happen? Why would God allow such a devastating 2nd exile? Especially since they weren’t worshipping false gods and the religious among them were as religious as ever—Pharisees. Only one historical explanation; they had rejected their Messiah and then God’s New Covenant purchased by Messiah’s blood (death on the Cross).

However, the prophetic promises of Israel’s final return were no longer contingent on their obedience to the law. They were part and parcel of the New Covenant. Messiah introduced the far better Covenant of Grace, not conditioned upon obeying the law, but of simply trusting (believing and receiving) Christ as Savior. This included the blessings God promised eternally to Abraham and his descendants.

Thus, God took the initiative to unconditionally resume (keep) his everlasting covenant with Abraham and begin the providential return of the Jews to Israel, which took place in large numbers after Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948. Then God’s discipline (through Gentile domination of Israel and the Jews) of his people ended with Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War. On paper and in principle and partly, at that time, in practice, Israel reclaimed the entire land of Israel.

Summary

Under the Old Covenant of the Law, Israel was the head, but more often the tail. Not even the tail wagging the dog. All that began to change in 1948, then more so in 1967 and 1973. With the Deal of the Century, Israel is the head that God promised they would be after Israel had run its course of head/tail patterns.

One of the most timely, pertinent, and amazing results of this deal is that Israel is, in fact, more of a sovereign … no longer a beggar. But in a respectful, humble manner. With deep gratitude for the astonishing turnabout not only by the United States (which had long supported Israel, yet with many reservations, not the least of which was the settlements issue) but by many nations heretofore antagonistic toward Israel. And the most unlikely scenario that even some Arab nations are supporting at least in principle Israel’s sovereign right to be the only Jewish nation on earth. For example, dignitaries from three Arab Gulf States attended the Deal of the Century meeting last week … Oman, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates. Including positive reactions from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. That would have been unheard of only a few years ago.

And it’s absolutely no coincidence that the nations vehemently opposed to Israel (Turkey, Iran, and other smaller Muslim countries) continue to view Israel in the light of the Gog/Magog prophecy of Ezekiel. Which makes that prophecy even more imminent in its fulfillment.

In closing, let’s read part of that prophecy as pertains to this incredible development in these last days, i.e. the Deal of the Century—officially entitled “Peace to Prosperity.”

God is speaking through Ezekiel to Gog and his Magog allies, followed by Gog’s boast:

“…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).

Iran has repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel from the face of the map. Turkey has become increasingly hostile toward Israel even to the point of supporting Hamas in Gaza. Russia has and will continue to feign favor toward Israel until suddenly turning on her just before Gog/Magog invades Israel. They continue to disdain Israel’s growing confidence as a global power that is no longer the tail … forced to one concession after another by misguided peace plans of the past.

However, that is only their perception. And it is based mostly on envy by these nations concerning Israel’s achievements. It is not what modern-day Israel is really like. Her people simply want to live in peace but also want to live sovereignly in all the land promised to them by God. Israel and her leaders/people are proud of their accomplishments. The Deal of the Century gives them more confidence than ever, but they are not conceited. Nor is there any sense of superiority.

This will be Israel’s condition when that attack takes place. Effectively, this is Israel’s position as we speak. Which brings us that much closer to the Rapture.

When it comes to God’s sovereign plan for Israel in particular and humanity in general, there will be no flipping of a coin to determine by chance whether it (Israel) is heads or tails. Hundreds of Biblical prophecies have already come to pass and those yet to be fulfilled will surely happen.

What God says he will do, he always does. What he says will happen, always happens. Period.

End of story.

Things to Ponder

The Deal of the Century is NOT Middle East peace in our time.

Rather, it has and will continue to strengthen Israeli sovereignty in their own land at just the right time for last day’s prophecy to unfold in rapid-fire fashion. That’s exactly what’s taking place before the eyes of the watching world.

It is a giant leap toward establishing the specific setting of and in Israel just prior to the Rapture and the subsequent horrific seven-year tribulation—the early part of which will be the Gog/Magog attack against what soon could be an overconfident Israel.

Israel is undergoing a transformation that is preparing her to once again be the head of nations, just like God said would happen. Furthermore, Scripture is abundantly clear that the Messiah will rule and reign from Jerusalem, Israel.

Once again, God has delivered his people from the bondage of exile as he did through Moses long ago. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13).

In no way does that passage state or even imply that the Jews as individuals or Israel as a nation are condescending towards other people or countries. We’ve already read that God didn’t choose Abraham’s descendants to become a nation because they were exceptionally good or special. Instead, they became special, because he chose and blessed them. And, after hundreds of years of divine discipline to make them ready for the return of Messiah Jesus and their national redemption, they are again being blessed by the Lord as the head.

Later in that same chapter of Leviticus we read:

“But despite all this (God’s seven-times over discipline of Israel, which ended in 1967), I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant (referring to the Abrahamic covenant of the Promised Land not the Mosaic covenant of law) with them by wiping them out, for I am the Lord their God. For their sakes I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of all the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 26:44-45, parenthesis mine).

Regarding the New Covenant that replaced the Mosaic Covenant of Law, we read: “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

“If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: ‘…They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them…. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel… I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts (instead of stone tablets). I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Hebrews 8:6-10, parenthesis mine).

That New Covenant (of Grace) began with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And it won’t be long before:

“All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

Palestine or Israel? Which Is It? / Your Answer May Be In Jeopardy!

This week’s article begins with a personal confession.

I was once a Jeopardy junkie! Having watched the program often in the late 1970s and through the 1980s.

And, yes, I played the home version with family for years; clicker in hand ready to beat everyone else to the click (answer). Which must be in the form of a question, as the answer (clue) is already given in the six categories that constitute each of the first two rounds—Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy.

Straight from Wikipedia: “Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin…. The original daytime version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964 and aired until January 3, 1975…. The current version … produced by Sony Pictures Television, premiered on September 10, 1984.

“…The daily syndicated version has featured Alex Trebek as host and Johnny Gilbert as announcer … Jeopardy! has also gained a worldwide following with regional adaptations in many other countries.”

Though I no longer follow the T.V. game show or play the home version, two recent Jeopardy events grabbed my attention … big time.

First, the (fairly) recent announcement that Alex Trebek’s 36-year stint as host may be over soon. Sadly, he has Stage-4 pancreatic cancer. Then, an even more recent occurrence; one that made global headlines regarding one of the questions on the January 10th, 2020 episode of Jeopardy.

I want to give credit to my wonderful wife for bringing the second (now controversial) incident to my attention … having seen it on her Android phone. Thus, the lead-in to this week’s Eye of Prophecy post.

The Jeopardy category was: “Where’s that Church?” The $200.00 clue: “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.”

First to buzz in was returning contestant Katie Needle. Her response: “What is Palestine?”

To which Alex replied, “Nope.”

Another contestant, Jack McGuire, answered correctly, “What is Israel?”

I recall telling my wife, “Good for Alex Trebek and Jeopardy. Israel is the correct answer … there has never been a state or country of Palestine, nor are there actual Palestinian territories within Israel.”

(Jeopardy Host, Alex Trebek)

Israel or Palestine? It’s been the subject of several Eye of Prophecy articles.

It’s time to talk about it again. If for no other reason than recent and sudden world flashpoint focus on this contentious issue … on a T.V. game show no less. One that need not be debated at all, if you know the facts of real history—rather than rewritten history by/of the Arabs (in and outside of Israel) who now call themselves Palestinians.

Consequently, it’s no surprise whatsoever that one of the dissenting tweets posted the very day of the show condemned Jeopardy’s original decision that Israel was the correct answer. Said Omar Baddar: “Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed). Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel’s universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.”

Omar Baddar is the deputy director of the Arab American Institute, which is one of many virulent anti-Israel, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic organizations that incessantly distort the Biblical and even the secular historical evidence of Israel and the “Palestinians.” What should be (but isn’t) startling is that his blatantly false narrative about “Palestinian territories and lands” is believed by much of the world, including many in the United States and particularly Europe. And (obviously) includes Jeopardy contestant Katie Needle.

(Note: Even if there were such a thing as Palestinian lands there has been no illegal takeover of said land by the Israelis. That will be made clear by the end of this week’s article)

Jeopardy’s Reversal

Alas, my compliment to Jeopardy for not only identifying (Bethlehem in) Israel as the correct answer but also incorporating such an answer/question in the first place, was premature. After researching the rest of the story, I discovered that Jeopardy (after a commercial break) had rescinded their decision; thereby, restoring points/dollars to Katie Needle and withdrawing points awarded to Jack McGuire for that question. With an explanation that the outcome of the contest was not influenced by that one question alone. I’m sure it wasn’t but that’s not the point.

In response to scathing criticism from the likes of Omar Baddar (and others), Jeopardy issued an apology: “In the process of taping this clue, ‘BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY’ we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic. In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out… Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. We regret the error, and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.”

Seriously?

What was it that made the clue flawed?

Was it because the more direct question (answer) should have been, “What is Bethlehem?” Instead of Israel (or Palestine) … an indirect or secondary response. Which, however, were the responses of the contestants. Or was the flaw that of (as suggested by Jeopardy) failing to recognize—because they had not invested a little time in researching the fact that there has never been a Palestinian state or sovereign Palestinian territory—that nothing should/would be “problematic” about Israel as the sovereign location of Bethlehem from before the time of King David over 3,000 years ago and it’s Church of the Nativity (built in the 300s A.D.).

(Exterior complex of Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel)

(Interior of Nativity Church, showing designated site of Jesus’ birth)

Moreover, the only reason there are “Palestinians” in Israel is because the Arab non-citizens living there have identified themselves as such. For the express purpose of trying to convince (mislead) the watching world that the Israeli Jews—but also 1.9 million Arabs who are citizens of Israel—are “illegal occupiers” of land that belongs to Palestinians.

The only accurate and fair feature of that retraction was to leave the “A.D.” part of the clue intact. For that I give Jeopardy’s staff some credit. Until the 19th century, A.D. (along with B.C.) was the correct time-honored designation that separated time itself by the birth of Jesus Christ.

B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Latin anno domini for “in the year of our Lord”) has been secularly replaced in virtually all academic circles and daily print to B.C.E. (before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era). For the propagandized purpose and misguided motive of not offending anyone of another religion or the diehard secular among us.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until after the turn of the 21st century that the secular designations began to replace the Messianic designations on a large scale. For example, the World Almanac edition of 2007 officially commissioned B.C.E. and C.E.

People can B.C.E and C.E. all they want. However, the birth, life, death, burial, and (especially) resurrection of Messiah Jesus was so pivotal in human history that virtually the entire world understood the reason for subsequently marking time itself by his arrival on this earth. It doesn’t matter that Jesus may have been born a couple of years before 1 A.D. What counts is that the entire world eventually recognized the monumental impact and magnificent influence that Jesus Christ has had on both the ancient and modern world.

The Apostle Paul who was miraculously changed (by a direct encounter with the risen Christ) from an uncompromising Pharisee out to arrest, imprison, and even kill the early Christians, to one who is considered the greatest apologist for the Christian faith (Biblical salvation) wrote about this enormous event in human history. For example:

“For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom (from sin and its eternal penalty) for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth” (I Timothy 2:5-7, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

So, kudos to Jeopardy for at least using the more definitive designation of A.D.

Still, they made an unnecessary apology on the alleged basis that it was “…in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out.”

Fairness to whom? I’m not referring to the contestants; rather I’m deferring to the larger context of Israel vs. Palestine. Meaning the very existence of Israel. Is Israel, Israel? Or is it Palestine?

The answer will determine the legitimacy of all Israeli “settlements” no matter where they are located. The answer will determine whether Israeli Jews legally reside (occupying in the positive connotation of the concept) in Judea/Samaria—also called the West Bank for political purposes.

What is Palestine? And Who Is a Palestinian?

That heading is the title of an Eye of Prophecy article, posted 12-2-17. Before citing some of that article’s material, let’s do a brief review of Bethlehem, itself. In which the Church of the Nativity was built to commemorate the birthplace of (the Jewish) Jesus, prophesied by Micah over 700 years earlier.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf” (Micah 5:2).

Where was Bethlehem (Ephrathah) located back then and where would it be when Messiah was born?

Easy answer: Judah.

Even after the ten northern tribes (called Israel) withdrew from the Davidic dynasty based in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem (two southern tribes known as Judah), Judah is synonymous and used interchangeably with Israel throughout the Bible and secular history. Or, even more specifically, in the region known as Judea/Samaria, which is central/southern Israel. Bethlehem is just a few miles south of Jerusalem, Israel. NOT PALESTINE.

(The “City of David” is Bethlehem, which was in Israel when Micah made his prophecy, in Israel when Jesus was born there, and is still in ISRAEL to this day!)

Bethlehem (Beit Lechem in Hebrew, meaning “house of bread”) is first mentioned in the Bible as the burial site of Jacob’s wife Rachel. “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel’s grave…” (Genesis 35:19-20a, parenthesis in the text).

Bethlehem is one of the oldest towns in Israel and is also referenced in the Hebrew Old Testament books of Ruth, I Samuel, the Psalms, and in Micah as quoted earlier. And, of course, in the New Testament as the birthplace of Messiah Jesus.

Just because Bethlehem is currently under the jurisdictional supervision of the Palestinian Authority since the Oslo Accords of 1993, doesn’t mean that it (or any other city in Israel) is in Palestine. Nor is Bethlehem (or any other Israeli city) in Palestinian territories, which is a term that the Arabs (Palestinians) use in a geopolitical context to give the impression that the region of Judea/Samaria legally belongs in and to an entity called Palestine. Which doesn’t exist in the first place.

Nor, technically, is there such a person as a Palestinian. They are Arab non-citizens who live in Israel. Moreover, Israel has granted a large measure of self-governing authority to these non-citizens, i.e. the Palestinian Authority of Judea/Samara and Hamas of the Gaza Strip—who themselves are bitter rivals.

The Palestinians and those who support the Palestinian narrative want the world to believe that the demarcation lines between Israel proper and Areas A, B, & C (established in the 1993 Oslo Accords) of Judea/Samaria are actual borders. They are not. Meaning the kind of national borders established and recognized by neighboring nations. The true geographical boundaries of the Jewish State of Israel are with other sovereign countries—Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

Repeating for emphasis: There are no internal borders within Israel.

Instead they were simply armistice lines agreed to by the Israelis, even though Israel was victorious over her enemies in her 1948 War of Independence, and even more emphatically in the Six-Day War of 1967. Having reclaimed ALL Israel, including ALL of Jerusalem.

Because of international pressure, Israel agreed to these truce lines.

The following (in italics) is an excerpt from What is Palestine? And Who Is a Palestinian? One of several Eye of Prophecy articles written about Israel’s sovereignty as a nation in contrast to a Palestine that simply doesn’t exist—as a nation or even a so-called territory.

If we’re going to grasp the essence of the Middle East conflict between Jew and Arab and who actually has Biblical (which is really the only authority needed) but also man-made national rights to the land of Israel, then it is crucial that we define Palestine and Palestinian.

Who is a Palestinian?

Answer: No one, not really. There is no such thing as a Palestinian. I realize that practically the whole world (including me) uses that designation to refer to the Arabs living in (occupying) the West Bank—a term invented not so long ago to identify that part of Israel called Judea/Samaria—or to Arabs living in the Gaza. But we use the term only out of necessity; to distinguish between citizens of Israel (Jews and Israeli Arabs) and non-citizens of Israel. If someone did use the term Palestinian (before 1948), they were invariably identifying the Jews, not the Arabs.

What is Palestine?

Answer: there is no such thing as Palestine, not really. Certainly not after May 14, 1948 when Israel became a Sovereign State, less than six months after the United Nations Resolution granted statehood rights to the Jews; also, to the Arabs who flatly rejected any idea of a state alongside a Jewish state. Instead, five Arab nations attacked Israel the very next day, confident that they would kill infant Israel in its national crib.

…Nor was there or has there ever been a Palestinian language. Hebrew, yes. Arabic, yes. But no one speaks Palestinian. Along with established borders, it is language that most plainly defines nations and ethnic groups (such as Arabs in Israel) within nations.

Though not surprising (considering the source), it’s still incredulous that the director for the Arab American Institute, Omar Baddar, blatantly and wrongly asserts that “Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies.” And perplexing that many throughout the world simply accept that statement and others like it as fact … refusing to learn or even consider the authentic history of Israel.

Yet, that small slice of land on this planet is far too much for the Arabs to concede to the Jews; even though Arab/Muslim nations adjacent to and surrounding Israel far exceed Israel in land mass and population.

Next, is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Israeli Occupation … Fact or Myth? Posted 5-16-16 (in italics):

The term “occupation” has been grammatically and politically reversed in its meaning, because that is the only way for those opposed to Israel’s historically rightful claim to the land to justify their assertion that the Palestinian Arabs have exclusive ownership rights.

The Israeli government continues to recognize the right of Palestinian Arabs to build houses and apartments in East Jerusalem which, in fact, have been legally purchased by and deeded to them. But the Palestinians do not acknowledge, whatsoever, the same right for Jews to build on land that they have purchased; simply because this land is within the parameters of the so-called West Bank. In fact, there is no such thing as a national or state boundary without a nation or state to set those boundaries and neighboring nations to agree on where those boundaries are set. The only TRUE and LEGAL boundaries of Israel are between Israel and surrounding nations (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt), not the West Bank or Gaza.

But as periodically mentioned in past Eye of Prophecy articles, it’s not just all of East Jerusalem (there is no legal distinction between West and East Jerusalem) that the Arabs want; it’s all of Jerusalem, all of Israel that they lay claim to….

Then later in that article:

But it’s more, much more, than international recognition of Israel’s rights to what was once called Palestine, which was long before that called Israel. Had not one country on earth, including the United States of America, acknowledged the right of Jews already living in Israel and the right of Jews all over the world to return to Israel, the fact remains that the true and living God promised the land of Israel (borders of which were much broader than currently exists) to the Jews—the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is reason enough!

Next are a couple of excerpts from a recent article (11-20-17) written by Jean Patrick Grumberg, posted in the online op-ed source of Gatestone Institute. The reason that this author (and a few others like him) and I are on the same page is because we’ve studied extensively the real definable history of the Middle East. The main difference is that my articles are in the context of Scripture, as the Bible is the definitive God-breathed source of humanity’s history pertaining to God’s plans for Israel and Gentile nations.

Wrote Grumberg: “All people born in the British Mandatory Palestine between 1923-1948 had “Palestine” stamped on their passports at the time. (Thereafter and to this date the majority of “Palestinians” have Jordanian passports). But when they were called Palestinians, the Arabs were offended. They complained: ‘We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews’” (parenthesis mine).

Grumberg quotes Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Zuheir Mohsen who articulated in 1977: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.”

*Note: I couldn’t have said it better myself, let alone relay this information from a prominent Muslim Arab (“Palestinian”) leader. Since this leader spoke those words in 1977, that definitive statement on Palestine and Palestinians was subsequently suppressed by PLO founder Yasser Arafat and now by the Palestinian Authority (name change from the PLO) President Mahmoud Abbas. They and other leaders of the PA and the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza conspicuously refer to themselves as Palestinians. This to give the impression that their “cause” is all about Palestine and Palestinians who allegedly are the only lawful residents of a nation that should never have been called Israel, and the Jews who are illegitimate “settlers.”

Jean Patrick Grumberg goes on to say: “Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there were no ‘Palestinians.’”

Actually, Arabs didn’t begin to refer to themselves as Palestinians on a regular basis and for ulterior motives until the PLO was established in 1964; even more so after the Six-Day War of 1967 and the following cease-fire orchestrated primarily by the United States and western nations.

Concerning Jewish settlements in Israel, the following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334). Posted 1-7-17. This reprehensible resolution was drafted by several Arab/Muslim nations hostile toward Israel and silently endorsed (if not instigated) by outgoing U.S. President Obama at the time, as a parting shot to Israel and particularly Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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 … an impression is made on both the informed and uninformed that Jews don’t belong anywhere in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (or Bethlehem per today’s article). When, in fact, much of the land in Judea and Samaria on which some 600,000 Jews reside was purchased by the Jews … even land won from the Arabs in the Six-Day War.

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

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….

Bethlehem and Areas A, B, & C of Judea/Samaria (so-called West Bank)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ has repetitively announced his intention to evict all Jewish residents from the entire expanse of any future Palestinian State. If that’s not ethnic cleansing, then what is?

And, of course, he’s demanding that all of Judea/Samaria be included in that state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem (any major city) with two capitals? No way would that work, any more than and certainly not as long as East Berlin & West Berlin lasted.

In stark contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his pledge in a statement earlier this month that the Israeli government, “…will not allow the uprooting of any community, Jewish or Arab, under any peace plan. The principles are simple. Israel has and will continue to have security control west of Jordan, Jerusalem will never be divided, and settlements will not be uprooted.”

In another statement, Netanyahu said that Israel has always had the right of sovereignty over Judea Samaria. It’s just that they haven’t exercised that full right. But it’s time to do so.

(Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Still actively leading Israel, doing what needs to be done concerning both domestic and foreign policy, despite lack of a majority coalition government from the past two Israeli elections)

(Note: Sovereignty doesn’t mean suppression. Rather, it’s a democratic due-process geopolitical, socioeconomic, and military guaranteed security and sanctuary of a nation’s inhabitants.)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had earlier stated: “the Pompeo Doctrine does not resolve the conflict over Judea and Samaria, but it does move the goalposts back onto the field. It does not obfuscate the very real issue that two million or more Palestinians reside in Judea and Samaria … The Pompeo Doctrine says clearly that Israelis have a right to live in Judea and Samaria. But it doesn’t say Palestinians don’t. Rather, it calls for a practical negotiated resolution of the conflict that improves lives on both sides.”

Mike Pompeo had previously said (what is now termed the Pompeo Doctrine): “We’re recognizing that these settlements don’t inherently violate international law. That’s important. We’re disavowing the deeply flawed 1978 Hansell memo, and we’re returning to a balanced and sober Reagan-era approach.”

(Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Jewish Settlements in Judea/Samaria … Are They Illegal? Posted 11-23-19)

Here is an excerpt from another Eye of Prophecy article, Judea/Samaria & Gaza Strip / Who Has Sovereignty? Published 5-11-19. In italics:

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

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

I then presented four reasons why a Two-State Solution won’t work.

Then later in that article:

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

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

Concluding with:

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

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

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

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

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

Ultimately it doesn’t matter what city of Israel is in what area (A, B, or C or the rest of Israel).

Because ALL Israel belongs to the State of Israel, which has the nation-state right of sovereign control.

Summary

The following includes but is not limited to the pivotal points and primary principles why ALL Israel inherently, historically, morally, geopolitically, and legally belongs to Israelis:

Balfour Declaration of 1917: An internationally recognized doctrine that gave Diaspora Jews the right and opportunity to return from exile to the Promised Land of Israel. In fact, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has periodically ranted against the legitimacy of this declaration, even though it was officially endorsed by the League of Nations in July 1922 which established the British Mandate.

UN Resolution of 1947: By a convincing margin, the United Nations passed a resolution granting the Jews (and Arabs) the dual right to form a state when the British Mandate expired for the region referred to as Palestine. The Arabs refused to consider a state west of (Trans)Jordan alongside a Jewish state and out-of-hand rejected this (at the time) two-state solution.

Israel’s Statehood Declared May 14, 1948: The very next day, large armies from five Arab countries attacked the newborn state of Israel with the avowed goal of annihilating the Jewish State. Against all odds, Israel won her War of Independence.

Six-Day War & Yom Kippur War: Although Israel preemptively struck first in June 1967, it was crystal clear to the entire world that Syria and Egypt (later joined by Jordan) were about to attack Israel again. Israel won this war in incredible fashion, considered to be one of the greatest military victories of all time … in only six days! In doing so, Israel reclaimed (liberated) the entire land mass of Israel, including Judea/Samaria, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. And yes, Bethlehem! It is an internationally accepted principle that any country that is victorious in a war of self-defense (at the cost of the blood and lives of both soldiers and civilians) has the right to possess and develop the land occupied and/or used by its enemies who had launched or were preparing to launch an attack.

Again in 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Again, they were defeated in an even bloodier war than 1967.

Oslo Accords of 1993: Israel agreed to extend in varying measures Palestinian control of certain areas of Judea/Samaria, as previously explained in today’s article. It was at that time that the Palestinian Authority was created. But on condition that the Palestinians negotiate with Israel the actual land area further; that they also cease and desist from terrorist attacks against Israelis. The Palestinians have done neither. For all intents and purposes, the Oslo Accords are now a relic of history … an agreement that should never have been made in the first place. One that then Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat never intended to honor. Nor have the Palestinians officially recognized the right for the sovereign state of Israel to even exist … as a Jewish nation-state.

(The now iconic photo of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton, and PLO Leader Yasser Arafat)

United States Action to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty: Through President Trump’s initiative, the U.S. Embassy has been relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; Israel’s prior annexation of the Golan Heights officially recognized; the Deal of the Century partially announced with the rest of this peace plan still pending release; and most recently America declaring that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria are legal. Because that region is an integral part (the very heartland) of Israel. Not in Palestine. Why: Because the state of Palestine doesn’t exist. And unless/until it does, nothing in Bethlehem or any part of Israel is in Palestine or Palestinian territory.

Things to Ponder

The greatest reason of all for Israel’s sovereignty over the entire breadth of the Promised Land comes first and foremost from the only true and living God. Listen to Him:

“Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem! And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain … Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play” (Zechariah 8:1-5).

Jerusalem (and Bethlehem) are the heart and soul of Israel and the Christian faith, respectively. As Jerusalem goes, so goes Israel. As Israel goes, so goes the world. That has been God’s plan from the beginning—choosing Abraham to father the Jewish nation through the promised child Isaac … not Ishmael.

The final stages of this Divine promise are being fulfilled in our generation and will be experienced fully upon Messiah’s return to Israel. He will step foot on the Mount of Olives directly across the Kidron Valley from Temple Mount in Jerusalem!

Soon, thereafter, he will occupy Jerusalem!

And after that: “People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:3-4).

Removing Christ From Christmas … What Are The Consequences?

Christmas has come and gone … 10 days ago.

So why am I posting a Christmas article the first week of the new year … 2020!

Let me explain.

From the Thought of the Day in the Almanac section of the December 24th, 2019 Arizona Republic newspaper (yes, I read it daily!), I found the following quote: “Christmas comes, but once a year is enough.”

Though most quotations are from well-known individuals, this one was labeled an American proverb. One that I had never seen before; thus, I have no idea how old it is or how many Americans have heard it. Or how many agree with it. If they do agree, to what extent?

On the other hand, that doesn’t really matter; the reality is all too evident in our increasingly secularized society. A post-modern world so politically correct that we risk frowns and sometimes even contempt if we say Merry Christmas in mixed company.

By mixed company, I’m referring to the agnostics and atheists among us; to those of other religions and cultures who want nothing to do with Jesus Christ, and certainly not his claim that he is the (only) Way to God the Father. That salvation from our sins and pardon from the penalty thereof is possible only by believing and receiving him as Personal Savior.

Or those who claim that: (1) Separation of church and state is found in the United States Constitution … it is not; (2) Consequently, there should be no reason to commemorate Christmas with any “religious” overtones or symbols.

What’s your take on this proverb? Do you know anyone who feels that way about Christmas? Do you?

Because of the pressures of the season—buying presents, decorating trees, stringing lights, entertaining relatives, preparing extravagant meals—is it a relief that Christmas comes only once a year? After all, life is stressful enough; the notion of celebrating such a demanding holiday more than once a year would be….

Until I read this American proverb, I wasn’t going to write an article about Christmas (last year 2019). That and reading the results of a research survey conducted by OnePoll in Great Britain, reposted in the Christian Post. One geared to the generation that has been given the tag of Millennials.

As follows: nearly 40% of Britons in the 21-28 age group could not identify the baby in Christmas Nativity displays. Nor could they name Joseph or Mary. And less than 10% knew the three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) from the Magi.

This phenomenon is a clear-cut indication of the of the anti-Christian culture that has become prevalent throughout Europe. And it’s catching on in the United States of America. So much so that many in the Western world prefer that such scenes not be displayed publicly (or even privately) at all.

Sadly, for many, Christmas would be more tolerable without reminiscing, let alone cherishing, the true Christmas story. Others ostensibly celebrate the birth of a world-famous baby without knowing why that child came to humanity. Nor do they really care. No need to remember who or what the season is all about. Just do Christmas and when it’s over, sigh: I’m glad it only comes once a year.

What Child Is This?

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us… (Isaiah 9:6a).

This amazing prophecy was referring distinctly to Israel’s Messiah, who also would be the Messiah to the Gentiles as declared in Isaiah 49:6 and other passages.

None other than Jesus of Nazareth, born in a lowly manger, “…whose origins are in the distant past” (Micah 5:2).

He is the Son of God, Son of David, and (as Jesus often referred to himself) Son of Man. Indeed, he is THE UNIVERSAL SON of mankind. Yet, he is also divine, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus was qualified to be the perfect (sinless life) substitutionary sacrifice to forgive sin and make us right with God.

“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).

Continuing with Isaiah 9:6-7: “…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!”

Although this week’s article is (slightly) post-Christmas, I’d like to think it’s timeless—appropriate for any time of the year. Especially to our younger generation, those in their teens and twenties and even thirties. Every generation has its unique set of problems, depending on national and international military, political, cultural, and economic changes, challenges, and crisis. And, as I’ve stated in several prior articles (tracking Biblical prophecy with 20th & 21st century events and ongoing developments), we are surely living in the last days of the end times.

The waning importance and impact of Christmas didn’t happen overnight. It began with my generation.

As a Bible Scholar, I’ve studied extensively and intensively the Scriptures (particularly prophecy) and secular history. Neither two World Wars nor the Great Depression of the 1930s led to the kind of spiritual complacency and moral decay (a direct result of secular humanism mentality) that has mushroomed in the last 50 years or so—particularly the past decade. Yet, the increasing indifference and (sometimes) hostility toward the real meaning of Christmas is not just about Christmas itself. It is a symptomatic tip-of-the-iceberg spectacle that represents the perplexing apathy and antagonism for the light of God’s truth found only in His Word—the Bible.

We’ve lost our innocence. No stronger proof of which is the disrespect harbored and expressed by old and young alike towards authority and toward each other.

Polarization is the buzz word in today’s hostile world. Conservative (Republican) / Liberal (Democrat); Old / Young; Male / Female; Rich / Poor; and White vs. Person of Color.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote as a mentor to a young believer, Timothy, concerning the end times. Notice that Paul doesn’t talk about geopolitical rivalries, national or international conflicts, or cultural and racial differences. Rather, he cites the spiritual condition of the final (Omega) generation, focusing mostly, but not entirely, on the youth.

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred (such as the Christ of Christmas). They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly (the power of God’s salvation to change their heart and revere the Christ of Christmas). Stay away from people like that!” (II Timothy 3:1-5, parenthesis mine as pertaining the symptomatic suppression of the Christ in the current Christmas mindset of many).

Then, in stark contrast, Paul encourages Timothy: “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (II Timothy 3:14-16).

Messiah Jesus’s Mission

In both letters to Timothy, the Apostle Paul reminded him of who Jesus was/is and why he came to this earth. In every one of these passages, we could easily insert a parenthetical commentary to the effect: It all began with the birth of Christ. We must never forget that. Remember why he came and what he has done and will do for all who place their faith in him.

For example: “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…’” (I Timothy 1:15).

“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 one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom (from sin and its penalty) for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:2-6, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

And what a time that was!

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire…. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David (so was Mary), he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son…” (Luke 2:1-6, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

You know the rest of the story … don’t you!? It’s the epic Christmas Chronicle; the beginning of the Greatest Story ever told.

Back to Paul and Timothy.

Regarding Messiah’s return (second coming), Paul again emphasizes the timing of it: “For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (I Timothy 6:15).

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes: “For God saved us and called us to live a holy (set apart) life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News” (II Timothy 1:9-10, parenthesis mine).

From before time began, God conceived a perfect plan for what he knew would become fallen humanity. At the ideal time, that plan was set into motion with the awesome birth of God’s Son. The perfect timing of his birth changed the very keeping of time … from B.C. to A.D. Thus, altering the course of human history by conquering death through his remarkable resurrection from the grave.

“Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendent of King David was raised from the dead. This is the good news I preach” (II Timothy 2:8).

Christmas is the beginning, but not the end of the story. So, let’s not leave baby Jesus in the manager. Let’s not let our nights (and days) be silent just because Christmas is over for another year. Let’s sing and shout (or at least remember) Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King! (Personally, I could sing that song anytime of the year—say, the 4th of July!)

Let’s fully acknowledge, appreciate, and apportion (share) the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the New Covenant of salvation through faith in God’s gracious gift. Which began with the birth of Messiah Jesus. He is the child born to us; the son given to us.

In the last chapter of Paul’s final letter before he was executed during Nero’s reign, he writes:

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching….” (II Timothy 4:1-3a).

Those who are more familiar with older translations of the Bible, such as the New American Standard will recognize verse two as: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…”

The deeper repercussion and more serious problem of Christmas without Christ is that it can and has adversely affected every season of our individual and national lives. Many no longer need or want God in their lives. They no longer acknowledge his sovereignty or seek his counsel. They ignore his precious promises and powerful prophecies concerning Messiah Jesus, that have and will continue to shape our destiny. They consider things 20 years ago as irrelevant, let alone 2,000 years ago. Nothing is timeless to them.

What do I mean by a Christ-less Christmas affecting every season of our lives, including other significant Holidays? I’ll answer that with a couple of excerpts from an Eye of Prophecy article posted on 12-20-14. Entitled: Merry Christmas … What’s It All About?

As follows (in italics):

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

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

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

PC is the Password

…No other holiday causes anything close to the angst experienced and consternation expressed by the secular among us or those of another religion who take offense at hearing the very name of Jesus or even a special representation of his name—Christmas. In fact, the very name of Christ and Christmas is an embarrassment to many. It’s just not politically correct.

…According to those who dislike, even detest the name of Jesus Christ, or perhaps the less adamant who, nevertheless, don’t want to offend anyone else of a different religion, wouldn’t it be better just to omit any reference to Jesus Christ during Christmas? (Shhh … not so loud).

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

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

Then a little later in that article:

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

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

Wrong. Make that a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

For you see

It occurs to me

That we can make something else

Of this thing called PC.

Positively Christian!

Yes, I’m borrowing a lot from that article … nevertheless, let’s continue:

Without Jesus, is there really any reason whatsoever to celebrate Christmas? …Why bother to put Christmas lights on something once known as a Christmas tree? Why take the time to fight the crowds in order to do something as frustrating as Christmas shopping? Why on earth would anyone want to send greetings of good will and cheer on something as archaic as a Christmas card? Who in their right mind would be so cheeky as to sing irrelevant Christmas carols like Joy to the World, when Frosty the Snowman can accompany us all the way to our Holiday shopping spree and back?

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

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

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

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

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

So Then, How Is It Possible to Leave Jesus Christ Out of Christmas?

Marginalizing or (worse) ignoring the fact that Christ Jesus is the one and only real reason for a Christmas season is both cause and effect of spiritual blindness and deafness to such truths as: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

I’m not talking about a state religion or a religious state that seeks to legislate morality. Please see Eye of Prophecy articles, Separation of Church and State, Part I & Part II (April 2016) for what I believe is a balanced view of that ever-present issue.

In fact, if you know anything at all about the Bible, you’ll find that the Lord abhors all man-made religions. Reason: all religions have one thing in common. They seek to appease or please God (or their own man-made god, such as Allah) through their self-worth or good deeds.

Whereas, Biblical redemption declares:

Man-made religions and cults say: Do what our religion says to do, and you just might make it.

God’s salvation says: It’s been done … just believe and receive the One who did for us what we cannot possibly do for ourselves.

Thus, the Christian faith is NOT a religion. It is a relationship with Messiah Jesus who came to us in human form through a divine birth. How, then, is it possible that Christ can be (has been) removed from Christmas by so many?

For a nation—via governmental restrictions or regulations—to disparage or deny or even to downgrade what the true and living God considers to be the most significant event of human history (life, death, resurrection of His Son, beginning with his birth) is to jeopardize and eventually forfeit God’s blessings on that nation, as expressed in the truth and principles of the Bible.

Such as: “Trust in the Lord and do good (we do good because we’ve been redeemed, not in order to get saved). Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you… Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act…” (Psalm 37:3-7a, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Yes, the Lord blesses and honors people and nations whose God is The Lord.

“Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed” (Psalm 37:34).

The United States of America was clearly a gift from God to honor those who came to this land seeking freedom to worship God and begin a new life built on the Judeo/Christian heritage. He blessed this nation with that freedom and great abundance. It amazes me that so many in today’s America (indeed, the whole world) have forgotten or never recognized this correlation between honoring God and being honored and blessed in return.

There’s another practical principle of God’s blessing in Scripture. One that pertains to treatment of the Jews and Israel—chosen by God to bring us the Scriptures and the Living Word … Messiah Jesus (John 1:1): Those who bless Israel will, in turn, be blessed. And those who curse Israel…. (Genesis 12).

Removing Christ from Christmas is another sign of eliminating God from our national conscience. Doing either can lead to loss of God’s provisions and protection. Most of all … his presence.

Why? Because God the Father’s magnificent plan for humanity—individually and corporately—is centered in his Son’s extraordinary life (teaching and miracles), substitutionary sacrificial death, and astounding resurrection from the dead. And it all began with Jesus’s miraculous birth—the very heart of Christmas.

What every person does about Jesus Christ will determine their eternal destiny—heaven or hell. God allows no neutrality when it comes to his Son. You either believe and receive Christ as personal Savior or you don’t. Moreover, this life on earth is the only time given to us to make that decision. After we die, it’s too late.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John also wrote:

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know (not just think or hope, but know beyond any doubt) you have eternal life” (I John 5:11-13, parenthesis mine).

Here is the final excerpt from, Merry Christmas … What’s It All About?

Jesus is the Reason for Every Season!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ gave his life to free us from sin which produces tyranny and cruelty and all that is wrong with humanity.

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

And so, we remember what Christ said and did: “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

We are just a few days past that time of the year.

Did you miss it?

Many might say: “Of course, I didn’t miss it. Put up a tree, strung some lights, listened to holiday music, exchanged presents, ate everything in sight. It was okay, but I’m glad it’s over.”

Let me put it another way: Did you miss Him? Did you even think about Jesus? Did you speak his name aloud?

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

We all have a choice:

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

What say you about the Christ of Christmas?

(A belated) MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Happy New Year