Ambassador Nikki Haley & The Truth About Israel

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A Surprising Announcement

On October 9, 2018, Nikki Haley (age 46) unexpectantly resigned as United States Ambassador to the United Nations but will remain at her post until year’s end.

Amid rumors regarding her reasons (including possible preparation for a presidential bid in 2024), Haley simply said that she needed, “to take a little time off.” Citing her six-year tenure as South Carolina Governor and what will be almost two years as U.S. Ambassador, she also explained: “I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years. And I do think it’s good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.”

Whether they acknowledge it or not, the giant world organization known as the United Nations lost an ambassador for truth and justice. And Israel—one tiny nation among the 193-member nations of the UN—has lost a watchman (watchperson if you prefer!) who often defended Israel during UN General Assemblies and against anti-Israel UN organizations such as UNESCO, UNRWA, and the Human Rights Council. Supported by many anti-Semitic NGOs, these agencies have sponsored baseless resolutions against Israel for decades. Including a UN resolution (silently) endorsed by former US President Obama just weeks before he left office.

See Eye of Prophecy article, United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334) Posted 1-7-17.

In fact, Haley presided over the recent U.S. departure from Israel-bashing UNESCO and the hypocritical Human Rights Council of the United Nations, both of which continually refer to Israel as Palestine and make fraudulent claims that distort the true heritage (sites) of Israel. Ironically, UNESCO is the agency that identifies and declares “heritage” sites all over the globe. They constantly rewrite history by, for example, alleging that Jewish sacred sites (like the Patriarch’s Tomb) belong to the Palestinians because they are within “occupied Palestine.” Even going so far as labeling some of these Jewish fixtures with Arabic names.

*Note: Seriously! The Patriarchs buried in that tomb are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who are Jewish through and through. Which also proves that the Jews of Israel were there LONG before the Arabs … by some 2,500 years.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: UNESCO / “Theatre of the Absurd” Against Israel. Published 10-29-16. Also: What Is Palestine & Who Is a Palestinian? Posted 12-2-17.

Nikki Haley understood that her job was to first and foremost represent the United States. She also skillfully used her ambassador platform to defend Israel whenever the opportunity arose.

(Ambassador Nikki Haley at her United Nations seat)

Haley rigorously defended our Executive Staff’s rulings on international issues such as the Iran Nuclear Deal, despite not being in full accord with President Trump on some matters. She staunchly supported Trump’s decision to shutter the Palestinian Liberation Organization Office in Washington D.C. as well as reduced funding of the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which illegitimately and illogically expands the definition of refugee to successive generations of the original Palestinian refugees. With considerable doubt that Arabs in late 1940’s Israel were refugees at all, as they were not forced from their homes by the Jews. Instead, they voluntarily left Israel at the behest of the five Arab countries that attacked the Jews the day after Israel declared Statehood on May 14, 1948.

Moreover, Israel’s sovereign right to statehood had been approved by the United Nations resolution (back when the UN was not antagonistic toward Israel) of November 29, 1947. And not to forget that the Arabs rejected their right to autonomy afforded by that same UN declaration because they would not under any circumstances consider a state alongside a Jewish nation. That mindset has not changed to this very day.

See Eye of Prophecy article: Palestinian Refugees … Are They Really Refugees? Published 1-27-18. Also, The” Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? Posted 4-7-18.

Referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ constant tirade against the United States for declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and for the soon to be released U.S. drafted Middle-East peace deal (without Abbas even knowing the details of that deal) that Abbas alleges will favor Israel, Nikki Haley said: “All they’ve done is have their hand out asking for money … badmouthing the U.S.”

Said Haley during an interview with Fox News: “(The Palestinians) have not come to the table on the peace deal—why should we have a PLO office. Why would we continue to fund the Palestinians?”

Early into her position as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley launched American support of Israel on a global level. In a March 2017 address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, she boldly declared herself as the (United Nations) “new sheriff in town … the days of Israel-bashing are over.”

In a subsequent 2018 speech to AIPAC the audience warmly welcomed Haley, with standing ovations for her unwavering support of Israel. In that meeting, she said: “Some people accuse us of favoritism towards Israel. There’s nothing wrong with showing favoritism towards an ally… Our approach to Israel is tied to one major idea—the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country.”

Regarding a trip Haley made to Israel in June 2017, accompanied by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, she commented: “I went to Israel to see firsthand the country the United Nations spends half its time on. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding—it’s ridiculous. It seems like the rough breakdown at the UN is half the time on Israel and half the time on the other 192 countries.”

Haley’s assessment is an understatement. For example, since 2009, UNESCO has passed 71 resolutions condemning Israel and only two criticizing other nations. That elevates the theater of the absurd to a whole new level.

International Praise for Nikki Haley

President Trump applauded her performance as Ambassador, saying that, “she’s done a fantastic job … we’re (still) in the process of solving a lot of problems.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often praised Nikki Haley’s unequivocal promotion of Israel. Regarding her resignation, he said: “I thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for leading an uncompromising struggle against the hypocrisy at the UN and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country.”

(Nikki Haley & Benjamin Netanyahu)

Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin said that Haley’s ambassadorship, “…will be remembered as a turning point in the U.S.’s approach to international organizations and the bias they often show against Israel.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres published a statement expressing “deep appreciation” for Nikki Haley.

Despite some disagreements (undoubtedly over Israel!), French UN Ambassador Francois Delattire gave Haley a glowing accolade: “Nikki Haley is one of the most talented, most authentic U.S. government officials that I have ever met.”

Naturally, there were dissenters such as Amnesty International, whose representative brooded: “We hope that Nikki Haley’s shock resignation will bring an end to the current low point in relations between NGOs and the U.S. mission to the U.N. and that her successor will work to repair the relationships. Under her tenure, human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch were singled out by her simply for having a different opinion, including on the importance of the Human Rights Council.”

Indeed, Haley did offer a singled-out alternative! However, one dramatically diverse from these and other organizations whose opinion is anything but different. In fact, theirs’ is the same old opining of anti-Semitic groups, anti-Israel nations, and NGOs on a global scale. In a nutshell, their perpetual pathetic position and cleverly couched opinion is that Israel as a Jewish State shouldn’t exist in the first place.

On behalf of Israel, which has precious few allies in the United Nations, Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN said about Haley: “We appreciate the new spirit of ambassador Nikki Haley; she has been very important and helpful. We work very closely with ambassador Haley and her team. We see similar issues and understand the challenges and threats. That’s why you see the cooperation because we come from the same values.”

(Israeli Ambassador to UN, Danny Danon)

Speaking on behalf of the huge Christian evangelical support for Israel, Pastor John Hagee exclaimed: “Nikki Haley has been an example of a shining city on a hill for the nations of the world to follow. Her uncompromising leadership will be missed by lovers of peace and friends of Israel. She was a voice and not an echo. We are very grateful for her service to America and for her unwavering support of U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Other tributes came from U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham, from Vice President Mike Pence, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Ambassador Haley didn’t eulogize Israel just because her boss, President Trump, did. In fact, her defense of Israel often exceeded the U.S. President and his Executive Staff’s support for Israel.

With sincere gratitude for her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations as a platform to defend her country and the one and only democratic nation (that just happens to be Jewish) in the entire Middle-East, Nikki Haley stated: “All I’ve done for Israel is tell the truth.”

Let’s examine more closely what that truth concerning Israel is all about. But first:

What is Truth?

Not to worry. This isn’t going to be some complicated philosophical dissertation. It’s going to be profoundly simple.

Either there’s a universal (source of) truth or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then what’s true for me may not be true for you. If so, truth does not objectively exist. It’s subjectively reduced to perception and preference. If I perceive something to be cold that is (in reality) hot, then the independent truth that it’s hot is irrelevant. It’s cold to me … that’s all that matters. I perceive and prefer it that way. Moreover, such an analogy pales in comparison to such things as good and evil.

Truth becomes what each person thinks is true; or wishes to be true. And so on….

Do you see how precarious this relative approach to truth is? More than that: it’s dangerous. For example, see Eye of Prophecy article: Can a Murderer Be a Martyr? Posted 1-30-16. Which relates to Palestinian Lone Wolf Attacks on Israelis, publicly praised or privately approved by most Palestinians because they presuppose the lies about Jews to be true. And either from ignorance or deliberate distortion of the truth about Israel, they make up many of these lies themselves.

As best they can, most people of this world vigorously defend their right to freedom (to the death if necessary), especially the right to choose actual truth or even perceived truth. Yet so many also disregard, or criticize, or reject outright the Bible and the God of the Bible (who gave us free will) when He declares that this liberty comes with a responsibility to choose … eternal life or death. That eternal life comes from believing and receiving God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, as personal Savior and Lord. Eternal death—separation from God forever—results from rejecting Jesus as The Way, The Truth, and The Life—no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

(Patrick Henry along with many of our founding fathers acknowledged the God of the Bible and Biblical principles including parallels between the formation of ancient Israel and the United States. Several publicly professed personal faith in Messiah Jesus).

Let’s simplify even more. The God of the Bible begins His Word to humanity by declaring: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Then, on the sixth day of creation: “So God created human beings in his own image … male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Therefore, the right to life comes from and belongs to the Creator. The created (being) has the God-given privilege to believe as he/she chooses. But we do not have the inalienable right to (eternal) life with our Creator God apart from the conditions that He has revealed to us as absolute truth in His Word. Truth that we can accept or reject; with the choice determining our eternal destiny, as well as the course of human events on earth. Concerning such things as life-giving birth or life-ending abortion, blessings or curses, liberty or tyranny, peace or war—all under Scripture’s umbrella truth of good and evil.

The God of the Bible asserts: “…I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power… (Isaiah 44:6-7a).

And, “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer and Creator: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth! I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers… But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! … When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple’” (Isaiah 44:24-28).

Which is exactly what the yet unborn Persian King Cyrus would do some 150 years later! He would authorize the Jews exiled by Babylon to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple.

Truth (fact): Only the God of the Bible has performed mighty miracles (still does); and has foretold the future hundreds of times with 100% accuracy to prove that he alone is God. Is there any other religion or god or prophet who can do that? If there were, then the so-called sacred texts of man-made religions like Islam would have said so. But they don’t, because they can’t.

Truth is God. God IS Truth. And the God of the Bible IS God. Either we believe Him, or we don’t. If we don’t then the only alternative is to try to manufacture our own truth.

Which is exactly what Pontius Pilate did when he facetiously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” With the clear inference that this kind of truth is whatever fits the moment or is manipulated to justify a life of doing things our way, apart from God and absent His Truth.

Inevitably, however, we do not make the Truth. It makes us … into believers or unbelievers. The choice is ours, but we must choose. According to God, neutrality is not an option.

Truth or Consequence?

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

Consequence: “…Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36b).

The Bible is replete with such truth as found in hundreds of passages, both Old and New Testaments. Just one more for today’s article:

One of these magnificent rewards is eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). Another is the awesome realization that there is absolute truth upon which we can stake our lives and eternal destiny while on this earth and after leaving it. There is a universal standard of right and wrong, good and evil. God has given us this truth beginning with the Ten Commandments and then extending to God’s marvelous plan of salvation for mankind, as found in God’s Word, the Bible.

What Is the Truth about Israel?

Getting back to Nikki Haley’s statement regarding the truth about Israel. Certainly, she is no prophet. Nor has she supported Israel by necessarily referring to the Bible as proof of God’s Promised Land Covenant with Abraham—Israel’s God-given right for the Jews to inherit and inhabit Israel forever. However, she has defended Israel’s heritage based on these Biblical patterns and principles.

Please see recent Eye of Prophecy article, Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law. Posted 8-11-18. Which explains in detail why Israel was, is, and always will be a Jewish nation. A nation that affords equal rights to her minority citizens as well as self-governing authority to her Palestinian non-citizens.

To that end, this week’s article is not primarily about Nikki Haley. It is, like several prior Eye of Prophecy articles with emphasis on varying aspects of Israel’s birthright as a sovereign nation, a condensation of those articles that explain the truth in contrast to the lies about Israel.

Nevertheless, I believe Haley could be considered a Watchman for Israel after the pattern of prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel. Not on that level, only in that fashion. Not unlike those of us who have taken on the mantle of Watchman: reminding the whole world that God’s eternal plan and consummate destiny for humanity goes through Jerusalem … His Holy City in the Holy Land of Israel. As Jerusalem goes, so goes the world.

“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth…. Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see” (Isaiah 62:6-7 & 10, italics for emphasis).

(Israel’s national flag. Another specific example of not only symbolic, but literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, as the last phrase of the above quoted verse states)

Prayer on behalf of Israel—including salvation to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) which is an integral part of God’s work in and for Israel—is the most important attribute of being a Watchman for Israel.

Israel has been reborn as a nation! Some are needed to defend this rebirth and to explain the whys and wherefores of such an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Against insurmountable odds, the Jews have returned to Israel in great numbers and made Israel to bloom and grow again, literally and metaphorically. No other people or nation on earth that was completely crushed has been restored like the Jews and Israel. Just as the Lord God said long ago (not once but dozens of times) would happen.

For example: “But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people—for they will be coming home again soon! … Your ground will be plowed and your crops planted. I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people… O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:8-11).

Watchman on Israel’s walls are needed to preserve and promote Israel’s right to those foundations and walls that house their government—the Knesset. On the land which they have built sacred synagogues, beautiful galleries, grand theatres, contemporary concert halls, modern restaurants, seaside skyscrapers, and luxurious beach hotels. Exemplified in and by Tel Aviv … the modernization of Israel to rival the large cities of the world in kind and quality.

Facts on the ground truth that Israel’s miraculous restoration in/as the Promised Land can no longer be denied. No matter how big the lie that Jews do not have a right to this land or how often the lie is told that they are merely “occupiers” in Palestine—a nation that never existed in the first place. Nor were the Arabs called Palestinians until the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat began referring to themselves by that appellation around 1964.

Palestine is Israel. More accurately: Israel is Israel! Period. Not just Israel’s geographical boundaries with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. But the full scope of the original Promised Land as described in the Bible. The entire chronicle of Israel, both Biblical and secular, clearly demonstrates and documents that truth. To ignore these fundamental facts is both an affront to the true and living God as well as a denial of the extraordinary evidence of God’s unfolding plan and purpose for Israel.

Such truth as God’s enduring promise and warning: “I will bless those who bless you (Israel) and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you (Abraham and his descendants as a people and nation)” (Genesis 12:3, parenthesis mine).

Or when the Lord, who is called the Holy One of Israel, solemnly speaks against those who would dare to destroy Israel: “…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 3:2).

And then there is rural Israel and Old Jerusalem, the “ancient city.” There you will find the long, storied past of Israel, with its patriarchs, judges, prophets, kings, and divinely appointed destiny of land and people.

Old Jerusalem divided into four quarters: Armenian, Muslim Arab, Christian, and Jewish. And Temple Mount, the most holy place of Judaism where the temples once stood. Where now the Islamic Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque stand, built by Muslims for the sole purpose of replacing Jewish history with Arabic tradition, some of which is myth. Despite the glaring fact that Jerusalem is not once mentioned in the Koran. I repeat for emphasis: Not once! How then could Jerusalem be the third holiest site of Islam, or a holy site at all to Muslims?

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Myth of Al Aqsa Mosque (4-16-16).

Which deals with Muhammed’s alleged visit to Jerusalem and ride to heaven on his steed. Plus, the misleading myth that the Al Aqsa Mosque was the “farthest mosque” or that this alleged mosque was even in Jerusalem, because (once again) Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Koran. This is just one of many lies about Jerusalem foisted on an all too gullible world to distort the truth about the historical existence of Solomon’s Temple and later Herod’s Temple on Temple Mount. In fact, the Al Aqsa mosque was built decades after Muhammed died.

Other Truths (Facts) vs Lies (Myths) about Israel

Both Palestinian factions (bitter rivals that claim they want a Palestinian State with both groups demanding rule over that state) Hamas of Gaza and Palestinian Authority of the so-called West Bank have adopted the sinister strategy of the perpetrator assuming the role of the victim. Making the offender the offended.

This is especially true concerning the appalling accusations (lies) against Israel most often heard from Palestinians, Muslim nations, and even several non-Muslim countries: (1) Jews are “settlers occupying” Palestine; (2) Israel is an apartheid state; (3) Israel and the Jews are racist.

Another myth is that Israel is constantly “murdering” Palestinians. With the disturbing deception and warped logic that when Palestinians are killed while murdering Jews with knives, guns, vehicles, mortars or while trying to infiltrate Israel by breaching the border fences of Gaza, the Palestinians are the victims and Israelis the criminals.

In addition to the ones already addressed, there are multiple mutually exclusive truths/lies about Israel, nearly all (if not all) of which I’ve covered in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles. For purpose of this week’s article, we’ll look at only one more of those:

Ethnic Cleansing/Apartheid

Myth (lie): Israel and Jewish Israelis are engaged in systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs via an apartheid mentality.

Both concepts can lead and have led to genocide, the worst of which was the horrendous Holocaust. And who was it that suffered by far the most innocent civilian deaths at the hands of the Third Reich, hell-bent on achieving the diabolical Final Solution. Easy answer: The Jews … six million of them. Which makes it inconceivable that anyone, even Israel’s worst enemies, would compare modern-day Israel to World War II Germany or Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler. More than that: This comparison is manifestly evil.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at Webster’s definition of Apartheid which literally means, separateness: “racial segregation: a policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of So. Africa.”

The first feature that should grab our attention is the last part of the definition relating to what took place in South Africa years ago. In fact, the very idea of apartheid related to South Africa; however, subsequently became a generic term applicable to other regions of the world. Intrinsic in the concept of separateness and those practicing discriminations and segregation is that apartheid is administered by a minority race or ethnic group (by economic power and military might) over the majority race of a country.

(One of many segregation signs posted in South Africa before apartheid was eliminated)

Truth (fact): Israel isn’t remotely guilty of ethnic cleansing or apartheid.

Immediately we see that apartheid could not apply to Israeli Jews, for they are the majority. But even if they were in the minority of Israel’s total population, there is NO evidence whatsoever of discrimination, segregation, or intentional economic deprivation of the Israeli Arab citizens of Israel. Nor of Arab non-Israeli citizens—now called Palestinians.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections or to hold office, only because they are not citizens … no different than any other democratic country. They have chosen not to be citizens of Israel, primarily because they loathe Jews and hate the very existence of Israel. On the contrary, the 1.8 million Arabs who are citizens of Israel have the right to vote and to serve in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) and other administrative positions. They can attend Israeli schools and have freedom of movement throughout Israel. They work in Israeli businesses (as do tens of thousands of Palestinians who have work permits). They can start and run their own businesses or farms … on and on we could go.

If Israel is apartheid or guilty of ethnic cleansing, then I simply don’t understand the meaning of those terms.

For decades I have studied both Biblical and secular Middle-East history and current events. With due humility, I can honestly say that I am not prejudiced concerning race or ethnicity, and that includes Palestinians. I’m sure much of that (if not in its entirety) has to do with being a born-again believer in Messiah Jesus, the Jewish Savior. Two good friends of mine through the years were Chinese and African-American, respectively. Two of my best buddy fellow Caucasians were the least bigoted men I’ve ever known.

My expose of the Palestinian agenda is simply that of stating the facts and declaring the historical and contemporary truth in much detail (as did Nikki Haley in a more limited way, albeit on a much bigger platform) of what Israel is all about, and what’s really happening in the Middle East—including but not limited to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. To that end, dozens of Eye of Prophecy articles provide an abundance of Scripture and secular documentation and commentary.

For example, The Real Reason for Palestinian Terrorism, posted 9-30-17.

Also: Ethnic Cleansing of Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda (9-17-16). Here is an excerpt from that article (in italics):

Benjamin Netanyahu is a consummate diplomat in all of the positive connotations of political diplomacy. He is firm but fair; passionate in his pursuit for true peace in Israel but objectively realistic of the obstacles to peace; completely committed to Israel, but considerate of any reasonable coherent demands made by the Palestinians and by surrounding Arab nations. When it comes to a matter of Israel’s survival, which is still an all too real threat facing the only Jewish nation in the world, Benjamin can tell it like it is.

Nevertheless, I was dumbfounded as I watched this video and listened to his words. My incredulity was not of being aghast that he would characterize the actual Palestinian agenda—whether it be from the Palestinian Authority or Hamas—of “ethnic cleansing” of all Jews in Israel. Rather, it was astonishment of how bravely accurate and daringly appropriate the phrase is to explain the real reason why Palestinians have rejected a two-state proposal on any terms but their own.

Personally, I would not have used the phrase, ethnic cleansing, because it conjures up the more common image: forced removal of ethnic or religious groups of people from a given territory. Yet, the more I thought about Netanyahu’s use of the term, the more I realized how it reliably reflected the true Palestinian narrative.

Later, to validate my eventual agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s choice of words (ethnic cleansing) exposing the fact that it is the Palestinians who harbor an apartheid mentality against the Jews, I provided the following evidence and quotes:

For example: In 1996, just three years after his farcical participation in the Oslo Accords (signed on September 13, 1993) with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (moderated by US President Bill Clinton), PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat uttered these words at a public press conference:

“We Palestinians will take over everything … You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian State … I have no use for the Jews, they are and remain Jews.”

Can anything be more callously clear? It’s equally clear to this very day: The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have every intention to continue Arafat’s atrocious agenda.

Then later in that article:

If anyone thinks that “cleansing” is too harsh of a description, I will once again quote the words of Palestinian Authority President Abbas, as cited in a couple of previous Eye of Prophecy articles. “We must not permit the filthy feet of the Jews to desecrate our holy places.” He was referring first and foremost to Temple Mount. Do you see the connection, the irony? Clean those filthy feet of the Jews by removing them completely … ethnic cleansing.

Summary

Mahmoud Abbas, who replaced Arafat as President of the Palestinian Authority also has said that if a Palestinian State is established alongside Israel, then no Jews would be allowed to live within those borders. If that isn’t ethnic discrimination and racist bigotry, then I don’t know what is. Furthermore, it’s the exact opposite of what the Jewish Nation-State of Israel currently is and allows: Arab residency throughout Israel to include Arab Israelis (and Palestinians) working in Jewish offices and factories.

(One of several Israeli businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park of Judea/Samaria–the West Bank–that employs thousands of Palestinians and Jews working together. On 10-7-18, a former Palestinian employee of one factory shot and killed two Jewish employees and wounded a third. The woman killed was a mother of a young child, the man killed a father of three)

One last excerpt from the above quoted Eye of Prophecy article:

A subtler strategy of ethnic cleansing is the removal, desecration, or denial of physical and cultural evidence that the targeted group has any valid historical existence in the land in question. The Palestinians have done all these things to Israel by excavating and then removing valuable Jewish artifacts from and around Temple Mount, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Also, the rewriting of Israel’s history in Palestinian school curriculum, maps that depict Israel as “Palestine” (a state that never has existed), and in daily rhetoric denial of Israel’s legacy and heritage in the land.

During a trip to Israel in 2006, my sister and I drove a rental car throughout the land; also took several taxis. Two of them stand out in my memory. Each of those two taxi drivers were independent, i.e. they owned their own taxi business. One was half Jew and half Egyptian, a citizen of Israel who supported the existence of the state of Israel, the Jews, and even knew much about Biblical prophecy concerning Israel. Another driver was an Arab Israeli (citizen of Israel). I asked him several questions. In one response, he acknowledged that the Arabs were better off (standard of living) in the State of Israel.

However, he, like so many other Israeli Arabs and nearly all Palestinians, still disdain Israel and the Jews simply because they are Jews and have done what the Arabs never came close to doing: renovate, replenish, and restore the land of Israel.

I developed some admiration for this 60 some year-old Arab taxi driver in the short visit with him, if for no other reason than his demeanor and balanced bluntness. Nonetheless, one thing was clear in his words and written on his face: despite his preference that Israelis govern Israel, he was envious of their success. I left his taxi with the understanding that he reflected the mindset of most Arabs and Palestinians in Israel. Minus (in his case) the radical hatred.

Things to Ponder

Temple Mount is the highest point of Old Jerusalem, with the higher hills around Jerusalem (like the Mount of Olives) part of what is called Mount Zion. Read with me what the true and living God has to say about Zion:

“…I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her. Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain’” (Zechariah 8:2-3, NASB).

Then, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they will be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness’” (Zechariah 8:7-8, NASB).

As for me, I have staked my salvation and eternal destiny on the God of Israel and His Son. The Lord willing, I shall continue to give a clear witness for Messiah Jesus (Revelation 19:10). I will confirm and defend the truth of the Good News—the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:7).

And I will with the prophet Isaiah shout to all who have ears to hear:

I will keep my place on Jerusalem’s walls as a Watchman for Israel.

Will you join me? If all you do is pray, that’s more than enough. In fact, it’s, by far, the ultimate way to watch over Israel.

Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).

Messiah’s Amazing Appearances Before He Was Born

The Incomparable Influence of One Man

No other person on the face of the earth has impacted humanity like Jesus of Nazareth. He altered the keeping of time itself and changed the course of history.

Who else healed deadly diseases instantly with a touch or a command; made the lame to leap, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead to rise. And in whose name, his disciples did the same.

Miracles that proved Jesus is who he said he is: God’s Incarnate Son.

His phenomenal Virgin birth into this world and stunning resurrection from a sacrificial death are still celebrated every year by billions, even those who have never received him as their Savior and Lord.

The Christian faith is global … crossing national, social, and racial lines. No other creed on earth claims followers from virtually every nation; religions are restricted mostly to ethnic groups or within the confines of certain countries. But then the Christian faith is not a religion or cult. It is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Messiah Jesus.

No other belief system offers a Savior as the exclusive source of salvation, nor do their followers want one. Because that would mean the principles and procedures demanded by their dogmas or religious leaders or philosophical pundits need not be kept and membership in their organization would be unnecessary. If a Redeemer was necessary to do for them what they could not do for themselves, it would mean that the adherents were incapable of earning their god’s favor or meriting eternal life or experiencing a high enough level of self-enlightenment. Which, in turn, would insinuate that their belief system was flawed.

In one of several spectacular visions that John recorded in the book of Revelation, we read this about Jesus Christ and his remarkable redemption for mankind that is truly universal in scope.

“…You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth. Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels… And they sang in a mighty chorus:

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing’” (Revelation 5:9-12).

This powerful passage is looking back with deep indebtedness to Messiah’s First Advent (appearance); and looking forward triumphantly to his Second Advent (return appearance). Both Advents are the heart and soul of the Christian faith—a New (and better) Covenant birthed from a Judaic Old Testament heritage which also experienced appearances of the Messiah.

(Jesus came first as the sacrificial Lamb of God for redemption. He will return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rule and reign on the earth)

God’s Interaction with People Through the Ages

In last week’s article, we looked at some extraordinary events in which God the Father not only spoke to, but appeared to men, specifically Abraham and Moses. However, when the Lord manifested himself he always concealed his glory (essence of pure light and holiness) mainly through fire or dense clouds. Purpose of which was to protect the on-looker.

We also examined an event in which the Lord appeared up-close and personal to Jacob and even wrestled with him. With convincing evidence that this man was the Lord but could not have been God the Father for the two reasons given: (1) God is Spirit only; (2) unless the Lord veils his glorious presence, no one can look on him and survive.

It was one of several Old Testament events in which the Lord appeared as a man, with the default conclusion that this man could only have been the 2nd Person of the Trinity, God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. There is no one thing that Judaism takes issue with more than the Christian belief that God has a Son, and his Son was (Virgin) born as a human being. Non-Messianic Jews, both observant and secular, do not believe in the Triune God, despite the Hebrew Scriptures plainly stating that God has a Son.

Messiah Jesus’s pre-birth Epiphanes were prototype previews to prepare the Jews (and Gentiles) for his once-for-all arrival as God the Son in human form. Immanuel … God with us! To overlook or dismiss these marvelous manifestations is to miss the Old Testament revelations of the Pre-Incarnate Messiah—who was, who is, and who is to come again. Whom God’s angels jubilantly heralded at the appointed time in history:

The Jewish author begins the book of Hebrews with:

“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. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Just a brief commentary on that magnificent passage before we examine some of the Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus.

  • The many ways in which God spoke to Old Testament men and women included visions, dreams, audible voice, tangible manifestations of his glory (shrouded to protect those to whom he appeared), through his messengers the angels. AND in human form of God the Son.
  • Through the prophets refers not only to God speaking directly to the prophets, but also the prophets’ inspired written record of God’s words to our ancestors. Meaning the ancestors of 1st century Jews, some of whom were not prophets.
  • All of which prepared the way for God’s “final days” revelation of himself directly through His Son. The final days apply to the last age or epoch of God’s interaction with humanity via the New Covenant that the Lord promised through Jeremiah. It is the Age of Grace, in which we are still living; one that will lead directly to the soon-to-come Day of the Lord and Kingdom of God on earth.
  • What makes this revelation of God through Jesus Christ different than the Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah? Answer: It is permanent, in that the Son of God was born as Jesus of Nazareth, who is still alive; having risen from the dead! He is the eternal God/Man radiating God’s own glory and expressing the very character of God.

That is why God the Father’s last appearance was to the prophet Ezekiel, a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, through whom God had announced the New Covenant. Later, we’ll look at Ezekiel’s exceptional encounter with the Lord.

After Malachi there were no more prophets, until God spoke to John the Baptist over 400 years later. Said John the Baptist about the Incarnate Christ:

“I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one (meaning to begin with), but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God’” (John 1:32-34, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Do you remember what God proclaimed at Jesus’s baptism in an audible voice for all to hear?

Correct: “…You are my beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22, NASB).

Though Jesus is God the Son, he lived and spoke as the Son of Man; to validate his appearance to and existence in the world was that of flesh and blood. That he came to do the will of his Father, not the least of which was his excruciating death on the Cross for your sins and mine.

John the Baptist also said this about Jesus:

Just a brief pause to more fully express my love for Messiah Jesus and never-ending appreciation for what he did on the Cross. If you are a child of God, I think the following excerpt from my second book, Out of the Abyss will also be meaningful to you. Referring to Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and what is called the Passion of the Christ (in italics):

Yet, it was the temptation scene that dealt the first Messianic blow to Satan’s plans, because that was the devil’s first opportunity to create an antichrist right then and there; to, in one fell swoop, twist and turn the true Messiah into Satan’s messiah.

Eternal praise to our God and his Messiah that this did not happen! All glory to Yeshua who did not send a legion of angels to annihilate those who had arrested him in the garden! Everlasting gratitude to our Lord for not saying I’ve had enough and stepping down from the cross! All power and dominion to the Son of Man for arising from the grave and conquering death once and for all! Go ahead, say it aloud with me. Amen! (page 219).

Examples of Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate Appearances

Time/space only permits examination of a few. Two others were covered in last week’s article: (1) Jacob realized that the man he wrestled with was the Lord. The primary purpose: to confirm God’s perpetual covenant made with Jacob’s father Isaac and grandfather Abraham by blessing Jacob.

(2) The appearance of the Lord as a man to Abraham and Sarah along with two angels in the form of men. Purpose of which was to reaffirm God’s guaranty that Sarah would conceive and bear the promised child Isaac … fathered by Abraham, as opposed to Ishmael through Hagar.

Nothing short of astonishing is that the ultimate Promised Child (Messiah Jesus) through Isaac was the very one who appeared to Abraham that day!

These events also were detailed in a previous Eye of Prophecy article, Does God Really Have a Son? Part II (Posted 11-7-15). A third Pre-Incarnate manifestation of God the Son in that article will be the first of the examples presented in this week’s post. I’m using that episode again because it was the first appearance of God (the Son) as man to more than just one or two people at a time. Though the description in Exodus Chapter 24 is brief, it is nonetheless electrifying. Here is an excerpt from the above-mentioned article (in italics):

Moses & The Seventy Elders

Did you know that the Ten Commandments (along with other features of the Mosaic Law) had been given directly by God to Israel even before Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and received the stone tablets upon which the “finger of God” wrote the Ten Commandments? You can read about that in Exodus Chapter 20. In fact, when God delivered the Commandments to the people, his thunderous voice so frightened them that they pleaded with Moses: “…You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19).

Prior to that God had given explicit instructions to Moses that the people were not to ascend Mt Sinai or even touch the mountain—upon the pain of death. But then the Lord made a temporary exception that Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders could accompany Moses in a climb up the mountain; for the express purpose of meeting with God to worship him and to celebrate the Covenant that all the people had agreed to, “…do everything the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 24:3). Listen to the short, but stunning description of what transpired:

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

Later, God again veiled his presence in a dense cloud of fire and smoke on the mountain. God called (and spoke) to Moses from within that cloud.

Although Moses doesn’t provide a detailed description of “The God of Israel” in this scene, it is fully obvious that who/what they saw was a man… Why can I say that? Because the passage says, “under his feet…” with the clear connotation that they were the feet of a man….

Yet we also know that Moses, himself, was not allowed to look on (the face of) God directly. That fact is inescapably evident from the equally well-known story of what happened when Moses subsequently pleaded with God to, “…show me your glorious presence” (Exodus 33:18).

Why would God make an exception and allow Moses and a group of more than seventy Israelites to stare directly at him and survive? …Or a better question: Was it an exception at all?

There is only one explanation.

Which is the same answer for all the Old Testament appearances of God in human form: It is not God (Spirit) the Father, but rather God the Son who physically appeared to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses and the elders. And later to Joshua, Gideon, Daniel, Zechariah, and others. Then to arrive for the final time in human form as Jesus of Nazareth…. With the providential purpose to demonstrate that God would appear in human flesh once and for all.

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearance on Mount Sinai: To ratify and celebrate the Covenant of the Law that included the Jewish festivals and Levitical sacrificial system. Which would be a foreshadow pattern of a far better Covenant, mediated by the heavenly High Priest who came to earth and provided the final (perfect) sacrifice of all time as God’s Son Incarnate. Messiah Jesus was the one man who would perfectly keep and faithfully fulfill the Law of Moses. How appropriate for God’s Son to meet with Moses and the elders on this momentous occasion!

Gideon and Samson

Those who have read the book of Judges know that between Israel’s previous national leader Joshua and Israel’s first king Saul, God chose eleven men and one woman (Deborah) over a period of about 300 years to rescue Israel from her enemies; whom God had allowed to conquer portions of the Promised Land because of Israel’s disobedience. For two of these judges (Othniel & Jephthah) we read that, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him,” and “At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 3:10 & 11:29, respectively).

Yet regarding Gideon directly and Samson indirectly, something even more dramatic occurred. Most Jews and born-again believers, but also secular Jews and millions upon millions of Gentile unbelievers know at least something about Gideon and/or Samson.

Concerning Gideon, what was that saga? Correct: Gideon twice testing the Lord’s promise through the wool fleece. Also, the Lord whittling Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 10,000 men; then down to 300 elite warriors.

And Samson? An even easier answer: His supernatural strength to (for a time) bring an entire nation to its knees. Philistia—the Philistines, Israel’s archenemy. Until that is: he let Delilah cut his hair. Even then, the Lord returned Samson’s strength to him one last time. With each of his hands pushing against a pillar, Samson brought down a pagan temple, killing more Philistines as he died than when he lived.

Yet, I would venture to say that most people, including observant Jews (even Rabbis) and Christian students of Scripture pay little attention to who it was that appeared and what took place when these two Jewish heroes were chosen to deliver Israel.

Gideon

Beginning with: “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years” (Judges 6:1).

As the Israelites did before and would happen after Gideon’s tenure as Israel’s 5th judge: “When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites…” (Verses 7-8).

Followed by the Lord reminding his people that even though He had delivered them from Egyptian slavery, they still followed pagan gods and would not listen to him (Verses 8-10).

Abruptly, God ends his verbal chastisement of the people with a promise to mercifully rescue Israel yet again, this time through Gideon; with a dynamically different beginning to this deliverance. You may want to read the entire account, as only a portion will be provided for sake of time/space:

“Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah … Gideon was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress…. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’” (Judges 6:11-12, emphasis added to show that “the” angel of the Lord appeared as opposed to an angel).

Following Gideon’s response, we read, “Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’” (Verse 14). The Lord also said, “…I will be with you…” (Verse 16). *Note: The Lord would use (enhance) whatever courage and initiative Gideon possessed to accomplish a stunning victory over the Midianites.

In this astonishing appearance of the Lord to Gideon, it’s crystal clear that he is not God the Father. Instead, it was a man (the angel of the Lord … also referred to as the Lord) who “sat beneath the great tree…” and spoke with Gideon face to face. None other than the Pre-Incarnate Son of God.

During this opening scene (even before Gideon twice asked God for more signs … the fleece), Gideon also asked for a sign. Here’s what happened after Gideon asked the Lord to wait while he prepared an offering:

“Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and the fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he cried out, ‘Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’” (Judges 6:21-22).

Do you see what’s going on here? Like those before him, Gideon knew that no one could meet with God “face to face” and live. Whom they described as the angel of the Lord, or a man, or the Lord, or even as God; because they didn’t yet grasp that God also was appearing to them as the 2nd Person of the Trinity—Messiah Incarnate. Nor did God expect them to know at that time. The Father was preparing them and their descendants for the permanent arrival of his Son in the flesh.

However, by the time the entire Old Testament had been written, the people could and should have made the general composite connection of these appearances to the coming Messiah. Then, specifically after Jesus was born of a Virgin (conceived by the Holy Spirit) and indisputably provided first-hand evidence of his divinity (profound teaching, powerful miracles) neither Jews nor Gentiles to this very day have a valid reason for their unbelief. There are only inexcusable excuses. Especially after Messiah Jesus arose from the dead.

Samson

God’s choice of Samson to be Israel’s 12th Judge also began with the angel of the Lord appearing. But not directly to Samson; instead to his mother (before Samson was born) and then to his mother and father together. The following verses are enough to show that it was a phenomenal appearance of God’s Son, the Incarnate Messiah.

“The woman ran and told her husband. ‘A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see… he didn’t tell me his name” (Judges 13:6, italics for emphasis to verify that the person she saw was a man, whose majestic form she could only describe as an angel of God, of which there’s no record that she had ever seen an angel before).

Later, when her husband, Manoah, also met the Man of God and asked him to reveal his name, the Man replied: “Why do you ask my name? … It is too wonderful for you to understand” (Judges 13:18).

(Who else had asked the man who appeared to him for his name, with the Pre-Incarnate Son of God effectively inferring it wasn’t yet time to know his name? Answer: Jacob).

Continuing with the passage: “The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, and said to his wife, ‘We will certainly die, for we have seen God!’” (Verse 21-22, emphasis added).

His wife wisely replied that if the Lord had intended to kill them he wouldn’t have accepted their offering. As with Gideon the Lord consumed their offering with fire, but also disappeared just like he did in front of Gideon.

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearance to Gideon and Samson’s Parents

Returning to Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate appearance to Gideon:

“It is all right, the Lord replied. Do not be afraid. You will not die. And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means ‘The Lord is peace’)” (Judges 6:23-24, parenthesis in the text).

Almost always when the Bible speaks of peace in Israel (and the whole world) it is in the immediate context of the Messiah. For it is only the Son of God, Messiah Jesus who will finally rescue and save Israel (and the whole world from extinction during the Tribulation). Who will establish God’s Kingdom on earth—a kingdom of justice, righteousness, and shalom … peace.

The immediate purpose for the Messiah’s Pre-Incarnate appearances to Gideon and Samson’s parents was to demonstrate that he would (through these two judges) deliver his people and restore peace again to Israel. He can do such things against all odds, i.e. Gideon’s 300 men against a vast army, or with just one man’s supernatural strength against an entire nation—Samson.

The period of the Judges was a representative forerunner of the subsequent era in Israel’s history with no kings and/or prophets—all the way from Malachi to the present time. Interrupted by the appearance of the Incarnate Messiah himself (Jesus) who would have rescued Israel from Rome had his people not rejected him. They were managed by governors and religious leaders … as it was in the period of the Judges. Even during Israel’s two exiles (Babylonian for 70 years and Diaspora for 1,900 years) Jews sometimes served in high-profile positions as advisors, assistants, administrators, and ambassadors … as did Daniel and Nehemiah.

So, too, modern-day Israel is led by (elected) officials but with one major difference—as a sovereign state reborn from the floods of dispersion and the fires of Nazi death camps. A nation and people now defended by a mighty military … the Israeli Defense Force. Still, the principle is like the time of the Judges. Israel’s sovereign protection is ultimately through God the Father … not by military might alone. And her redemptive rescue (past and future) through the angel of the Lord—God’s Son, the Incarnate Messiah Jesus. With Israel’s final restoration, both physical and spiritual, achieved by that same Messiah upon his return … Israel’s final king, the King of all kings!

Ezekiel’s Remarkable Meetings with God the Father and God the Son

One of the most astounding appearances of God the Father was his last, when Ezekiel gazed upon God’s glory more than once. What made these events even more amazing is that both the Father and the Son (Pre-Incarnate Messiah) were there! It is another familiar passage of Scripture, to include the four angelic Cherubim—the same living beings seen by John as described in the book of Revelation.

In his initial appearance to Ezekiel, God called him to be a prophet. Ezekiel (at the age of 30) even gives us the place and date on which his prophetic ministry began … calculated to be July 31, 593 B.C.

Wrote Ezekiel: “…while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1).

The second appearance took place on September 17, 592 B.C, about six years before the Babylonian Empire destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. During this gap of a little over a year between visions, the Lord instructed Ezekiel—who had been taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s second invasion of Israel—to warn Judah of its final destruction, which occurred in 586 B.C.

The following passages demonstrate that both God the Father and Son were present in these two majestic manifestations to Ezekiel, the second of which was a detailed account of God’s Shekinah glory (presence) leaving Solomon’s Temple.

God the Father: Confirming it was the Father because his glory was (similar to Moses) enshrouded by, “…a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone will brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber” (Ezekiel 1:4).

Then in the second incident we read: “Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley” (Ezekiel 8:4).

Before God’s presence departed from the Temple, we read, “Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the door of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 10:4).

God the Son: In these startling scenes there is someone else that Ezekiel beholds. Our first clue is Ezekiel 1:4, already quoted, where he sees in the magnificent cloud of fire and light, “something like gleaming amber.”

Then, he beholds the source of this gleaming amber.

“Spread out above them (the cherubim) was a surface like the sky, glittering like crystal” (Ezekiel 1:22, parenthesis mine).

“Above this surface was something that looked like a throne made of blue lapis lazuli (remind you of Moses and the seventy elders seeing that same kind of beauty). And on this throne high above was a figure whose appearance resembled a man. From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground…” (Ezekiel 1:26-28, parenthesis mine).

In the subsequent episode, Ezekiel again saw the cherubim, the glory of the Lord, and this (same) man whom Ezekiel also described as a burning flame from the waist down and gleaming amber from the waist up (Ezekiel 8:2).

Later, the man appears once again with the Lord (the Father). Ezekiel writes: “Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the Lord called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case” (Ezekiel 9:3).

God the Father spoke to Ezekiel on subsequent occasions, as well as other contemporary and post-exile prophets but he did not appear to them. However, the Pre-Incarnate Christ continued his appearances up to the time of Malachi, again to Ezekiel on April 28th, 573 B.C. The setting was Ezekiel’s vision of what would be (in the end times Tribulation) another Temple. In this vision from God, Ezekiel again saw, “…a man whose face shone like bronze standing beside a gateway entrance. He was holding in his hand a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod” (Ezekiel 40:3).

Purpose/Timing of Messiah’s Appearances to Ezekiel

To prepare Israel for the Old Covenant yielding to the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah a few years earlier. Exemplified by the fact that the Lord’s glory (presence) had left the Temple and wouldn’t reappear until (in the form of) the Messiah would arrive as prophesied by Isaiah and other prophets. But only for a short time, because the 2nd Temple would also be destroyed (foretold by Daniel, also by Messiah Jesus) and the Temple would then be embodied as Messiah himself.

Jesus is the heavenly Temple, of which the earthly tabernacle and temple were but patterns. With the 3rd person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, indwelling all believers in Messiah. Concerning Jewish and Gentile believers alike: “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord” (Ephesians 2:20-21).

Individually, believers are:

That’s why both God the Father and God the Son appeared to Ezekiel! For Israel to carefully consider and prayerfully ponder how much better the New Covenant would be. Even more important: to recognize the Messiah of that New Covenant when he arrived as God (the Son) Incarnate.

Still, the Lord gave his people another 600 years or so to prove to themselves and to him that they could keep the Law of Moses as what they perceived to be their source of right standing with God. Which they couldn’t or wouldn’t … nor their ancestors or descendants, right up to this day.

One day soon all that will change. The tens of thousands of Messianic Jews on this planet will become millions upon millions. For you see it won’t be long until, “…all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, ‘The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26-27).

That began when the Incarnate Son of God died on the cross and three days later arose from the dead. And now our generation has experienced the rebirth of national Israel, with the return of Messiah as imminent as ever before. To rescue the remnant of Jews from the Antichrist and Gentile nations during the Great Tribulation and restore Israel spiritually to her God.

All who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior will see him as he really is: fully glorified as he was in Old Testament times and on the Mount of Transfiguration.

We will see him as John saw him: “…He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves… And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:13-16).

John continues: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he … said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last'” (Revelation 1:17).

And then Jesus said:

Things to Ponder

Of Jesus, the Apostle John wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NASB).

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NASB).

There are other Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus. Like the episodes we’ve examined, each was for a special reason. With the ultimate purpose: To demonstrate that neither Judaism nor the Jews should be surprised, dismayed, or even insulted that Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God. For at least three reasons:

First: the Hebrew Scriptures irrefutably declare that God has a Son. Second: This Son is the Messiah, because the Bible is equally transparent that Messiah would be divine (Isaiah 9 and other passages). Third: Jesus fulfilled all Messianic prophecies in meticulous detail.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And then he said, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9).

The Jewish Apostle Paul, who saw the risen Christ after Jesus had ascended to heaven, boldly and beautifully proclaims: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).

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

Do you really want to know the Lord and his great love for you? Do you understand God’s only requirement for your redemption?

“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

Do you believe Jesus? Do you believe in Jesus?

Then open the door of your heart and invite him to be your Savior and Lord. If you do, God will immediately give you eternal life, because:

“…this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life (I John 5:11-12).

Did God Really Appear to People? When & How?

High Holy Days

It’s too early to wish you a Merry Christmas, so I won’t! Although it’s just a matter of a few short weeks before Christmas merchandising begins.

The month of Kislev (November/December) is also when Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication is celebrated on the Jewish calendar. As important as Hanukkah and Purim (February) are to Israelis and Jews the world over, neither is one of the seven festivals ordained by God in the Torah.

For Judaism and Jews, even the secular among them, four of these festivals bear more significance than the others: Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

Passover is observed during the month of Nisan (March/April). The Christian counterpart is Good Friday and Easter Sunday—when the Passover Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus was slain for the sins of the world, then arose from the dead three days later to seal the New Covenant God made with Israel almost 2,000 years ago. The other three commemorations take place in the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October … occasionally into early November), making it the single-most important month of the year for Jews … the High Holy Days.

Rosh Hashana—Jewish (civil) New Year Feast of Trumpets, Tishrei 1.

Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, Tishrei 10.

Sukkot—Feast of Tabernacles, Tishrei 15-21.

Then one extra-day called Simchat Torah that means Rejoicing in the Torah, which is all the Hebrew Scriptures, but more specifically (especially for Orthodox Jews) the five books of Moses and The Law.

Today’s Eye of Prophecy article posted on September 29th is the 6th day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the 20th day of Tishrei. This is also the time of year in which many Christian scholars (me included) believe that Messiah Jesus was born. Some narrowing it down to the seven-day Festival of Tabernacles.

(Jews celebrating Feast of Tabernacles in a Sukkah, a makeshift hut or tent)

Whatever month/day a person is born is important to them … it’s their birthday!

On a brief personal note, this time of the year is meaningful to me for another reason: my birthday was yesterday, September 28th. Long before learning what day on the Hebrew calendar I was born; my favorite numbers were and still are three and seven. My email address contains those numbers … 773. When I discovered my Hebrew calendar birthdate, those numbers became even more relevant (for me). I was born on the 3rd day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the religious (original) Hebrew calendar. And in a Hebrew year that contains two sevens (as does the current Jewish year … 5779).

Jesus’s exact birth date would be great to know. Yet, it is not as imperative (to know) as is remembrance of the fact that he came into this world and why. Sadly, many who honor the Christmas season don’t know why Jesus was born and/or ignore the reason in favor of just celebrating the season. For example: among other magnificent names and titles ascribed to him (such as found in Isaiah 9:6-7), the coming Messiah would be Immanuel—God with us.

“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us’” (Matthew 1:20-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14).

Messiah would literally “tabernacle” among his people.

No Sacrificial Offerings … No Redemption

Notably, the Feast of Tabernacles is the final of the seven ordained feasts which makes it exceptional for that reason alone. Sukkot brings together the six previous festivals of the year by remembering everything the Lord did for his people before, during, and after the Exodus. Beginning with Abraham, God manifested himself (appeared), then dwelt among them in the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies and later the Temple, from the time of Moses to the time of Ezekiel … approximately 700 years.

First, the Lord redeemed his people physically from Egyptian slavery and spiritually from themselves—through the atoning sacrifice of the Passover Lambs. He provided everything they needed in preparation for their entrance into the Promised Land (given to them as a perpetual inheritance) to serve him and to be a conduit of God’s Word and the light of his salvation to all people.

In spectacular fashion, he gave them the Law of Moses with universal moral decrees found in the Ten Commandments (written by the finger of God on stone tablets) as well as civil and ceremonial regulations. Included in the Covenant of the Law was the (mandatory) Levitical sacrificial system; on-going atonement for sins of commission and omission—individually and as a nation. Setting apart Israel from the pagan nations that idolized many man-made gods, whose standards or lack thereof resulted in self-absorption, immorality, slavery to sin and to each other (tyranny).

(Scene from Movie, The Ten Commandments)

Judaism continues to adhere to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the loss of the Temple and the all-important sacrificial system. That is the subject of the last two Eye of Prophecy articles: God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple, Part I & II, posted 9-8 & 9-15-18.

It’s good that many Jews continue to observe the festivals enacted by their (and our) Creator—the God of the universe; also called the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the Patriarchs came the Promised Child to bring salvation to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles.

Yet, they keep these festivals without the required sacrifices, most notably Passover, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Why? Because they are in denial that Messiah has already come; that the New Covenant promised through Jeremiah arrived two thousand years ago with the birth, life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. That his sacrifice was the once-for-all redemption for sin, freely given to all Jews and Gentiles who would believe and receive him as personal Savior.

The substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, not only ended the repeated offerings for atonement, it solved the otherwise unsolvable dilemma of (practicing) Judaism. As first expressed in Eye of Prophecy trilogy Where is the Temple? (Posted 11-29-14 through 12-13-14). And repeated in the articles listed above. As follows:

No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.

Except for tens of thousands of Messianic Jews around the world, to this day Judaism cannot or will not make the cause and effect connection between rejection of their Messiah Savior to the subsequent loss of the Temple and sacrificial system. Even though both Daniel and Jesus foretold these ominous events and in the order of their occurrence: Messiah would be killed, then Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed (Daniel 9 and Matthew 23-24).

This week’s article and next week’s sequel will examine one other point of denial or dismissal, one that comes in two parts:

(1) Judaism’s denial that Jesus is the Son of God or even that God has a Son, with a corresponding conclusion that Messiah is not divine. As alluded in several Eye of Prophecy articles and thoroughly covered in two articles (Does God Really Have A Son? Part I & II posted 10-31 & 11-7-15): not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament emphatically and incontrovertibly declare that God does, in fact, have a Son. That the Son is also God, with compelling evidence that God’s Son is the Messiah; therefore, the Messiah is of divine origin.

Although there are more, the most recognizable passages are: Psalm 2 & 110; Micah 5; Isaiah 9. With, of course, New Testament Scriptures identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, e.g. Matthew 1, Luke 2, John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and many other passages, not the least of which is John 3:16. Plus, the historical fact that Jesus precisely fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. All in keeping with crystal clear testimony that the true and living God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as found in several portions of Scripture.

Beginning with Genesis in which the Lord says, “…Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). Culminating with the last book of the Bible: Revelation—in which God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ (the Son) are all mentioned.

(2) Accordingly, most Jews, even those knowledgeable in the Hebrew Scriptures, have overlooked, minimized, or dismissed altogether several amazing Old Testament events that had one thing in common: In addition to God’s appearances to people (in other than bodily form), the Lord ALSO appeared on select occasions as a man. What has been termed: Pre-Incarnate Appearances of Messiah Jesus.

It’s not just non-Messianic Jews. Many students, teachers, and commentators of the Bible don’t always grasp or differentiate between the distinct ways in which God communicated or interacted directly with people in Old Testament times. Meaning which Person of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit appears and/or speaks to someone (however, with consensus that the Holy Spirit never appeared, rather He “came upon” people or inspired the writers of Scripture). Or the difference between an angel of the Lord and the Angel of the Lord who manifested themselves in human form on special occasions.

I suppose an Orthodox rabbi would respond: If Christians would simply discard their belief that God has a Son and the Holy Spirit is not the third Person of the (non-existent) Trinity, then there wouldn’t be any confusion over the Lord’s palpable appearances to people.

That skeptical viewpoint is precisely the point (theme) of this and next week’s article that begs the question: How does one explain those differences considering what Scripture plainly teaches about God (the Father)? To wit: God is Spirit; moreover, no man or woman can look on God and live to tell about it. In many of the Lord’s manifestations as a man, the person or people to whom he appeared voiced relief that they did not die from that direct encounter with the Lord. Why did they not die when they knew from even before Moses’ era that a face to face (so to speak) meeting with God would be fatal?

We’ll look at both types of the Lord’s astounding appearances; this week focusing on God the Father’s direct meeting with people. (Plus, a third means of God’s indirect interaction with people through angels). With an emphasis next week on the powerful Pre-Incarnate Epiphanes of the Son of God—Messiah Jesus.

God (the Father) Speaking and/or Appearing to People

Normally these engagements were with the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—or God’s prophets; in visions or dreams or audibly (or personally!).

Regarding the non-tangible events, the Bible is not always clear whether God the Father spoke to someone externally (audibly) or they internally processed the Lord’s message through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Nor does that really matter, as Scripture plainly indicates the person heard precisely what God was saying, sometimes answering back. Frequently, the Lord conversed in the first person … I, my, me. God even spoke to a child, although the child didn’t at first know that it was the Lord speaking to him. Do you know the name of that child?

Correct: Samuel. Who would grow up to be one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, who experienced first-hand the awesome presence of God in the Garden of Eden; with the obvious implication that the Lord spoke with them from the time they were created, though they could not see him. Obvious, because right after they sinned against God, we read the following with the clear connotation that Adam and Eve weren’t at all surprised that the Lord showed up and spoke to them. In fact, they foolishly hid themselves thinking the Lord wouldn’t find them.

“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the Lord God asked…” (Genesis 3:8-11).

You probably know the entirety of that scene, one that changed mankind’s destiny; yet one that God would remedy with his awesome plan of redemption and restoration.

Later the Lord spoke audibly to Cain. Do you know or remember the reason? Hint: It had to do with the first murder in the world.

Next up was Noah and again the subject was sin and wickedness, but not Noah’s.

“So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! Build a large boat…’” (Genesis 6:13-14a). Before, during, and after the Great Flood, the Lord spoke to Noah several times.

In the post-Flood era, Abram (God later changed his name to Abraham) was the next person with whom God spoke: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country … and go to the land that I will show you’” (Genesis 12:1, capitals in the text as in many other passages because it was YHWH, himself speaking).

Whenever LORD is capitalized in Scripture (over 6,000 times), it is a substitute for Yahweh, God’s Holy Name … I AM.

In the next five verses of Chapter 12, we read that Abram obeyed the Lord and journeyed to this land, called Canaan at the time. Later we’re told that Abraham’s faith in God and obedience to what the Lord told him to do was “credited to Abraham as righteousness;” right standing with God—forever (Genesis 15:6). It is this same faith (trust) that is the basis of redemption for all people—first in God’s promise of the Promised Child (through Isaac), then in the Promised Child, himself—Messiah Jesus whom God sent at his appointed time in history.

Some forget that Abram and his family (virtually all the people of his time) worshipped many gods … polytheistic. I’ve convinced that one of the reasons—most likely the main or only reason—that Abraham believed it was, in fact, the LORD (the true and living God) who had graciously chosen him to be the progenitor of a nation in a land promised to Abraham and his descendants was because God spoke to him. No other (man-made, non-existent) god had ever spoken to anyone. They can’t … they’re not real. However, hundreds of times we read in the Bible that, “God said.” Or, “I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Soon after Abraham and his family (including Lot) arrived in Canaan, something even more breathtaking took place—though most people including observant Jews and even we believers in Yeshua tend to take for granted. We do so because we read that God spoke to people so often, which is amazing enough; but is not quite the same thing as what comes next in Abraham’s life.

“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7, italics for emphasis). Where and why did Abram build an altar? He built it there because the LORD appeared to him (there).

Astounding! God appeared to Abraham, but not bodily. Otherwise Scripture (as it does in many scenes in which the Lord shows himself in person as the Preincarnate Christ) would have said so. Nor does that chapter tell us how the Lord’s appearance was manifested. Later, however, when the Lord appeared again to confirm His covenant with Abram, God’s presence was revealed in a “flaming torch” (Genesis 15:17).

And, of course, many—both believers and unbelievers—know that God tangibly appeared to Moses in/from a blazing bush. A bush that burned without being consumed; the purpose of which was to protect Moses from God’s glory. Even then, Moses could only get so close to the bush. Obviously, this was no ordinary fire. Nor any ordinary god!

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of the bush… When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

‘Here I am!’ Moses replied.

‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:2-6).

Before Moses knew that it was the Lord God talking to him from the fire, he began by saying, the angel of the Lord (appeared to him).

The word angel means messenger. That is what angels are: messengers and agents of God who speak and act on behalf of the Lord. In just a few seconds, Moses knew full well that it was God himself who was there, speaking to him … not one of God’s angels. This is one time when the angel of the Lord turned out to be God. However, notice that God wasn’t there in bodily form, another indication that it was God the Father who met with Moses.

Face to Face

God spoke with and appeared to Moses far more than any other person in history. So much so, Scripture tells us in the context of Moses’ eulogy: “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).

When the Lord summoned Moses’ brother and sister (Aaron and Miriam) to stand in front of him alongside Moses, he admonished them for challenging Moses’ authority: “And the Lord said to them, ‘Now listen to what I say: If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face … He sees the Lord as he is…” (Numbers 12:6-8).

However, whether these face-to-face encounters were on Mt. Sinai or at/in the Tabernacle or elsewhere, Scripture is abundantly clear that God’s presence (his holy, brilliant, lethal light… as he is) was veiled by a dark cloud or fie. Why? Because no man can look directly at God and survive.

In the scene just described, the Lord told them to meet him at the Tabernacle. “Then the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. ‘Aaron and Miriam!’ he called, and they stepped forward” (Numbers 12:5).

As many people know, it was in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night through which God (his very presence) led his people for forty years in the wilderness.

The one time that God permitted Moses to look at God’s unshielded glory, he was not allowed to look at God straight on.

“Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you … But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live … As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen’” (Exodus 33:18-23).

*Note: God the Father is Spirit … always has been, always will be. That’s why he sometimes used anthropomorphic terms, ascribing human features to himself, i.e. hand, face.

(God’s glory passing in front of Moses took place when Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments on stone the second time)

From Abraham’s time (even before God told/reminded Moses) those who subsequently believed in the Lord—including the entire nation of Israel during Moses’s ministry and thereafter—knew that no one could look on the LORD and live to tell about it.

Thus, Scripture is unequivocally clear that whenever God’s actual (proximate) presence appeared to people, his glory (the very essence/holiness of God) was concealed in some fashion. For example, when the Lord met with Job, he spoke and protected Job from God’s glory through a whirlwind.

God the Father’s manifested appearances ended with the prophet Ezekiel, who witnessed “the glory of the LORD” depart from Solomon’s Temple, even before the Temple was destroyed some six years later. At the beginning of his ministry, Ezekiel witnessed God’s glory that radiated from within, “…a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber” (Ezekiel 1:4).

Yet, there are several other events in which the Lord appeared to someone as a man. Was this man, God? Answer: Yes and no. Yes, he was God. No, he was not God the Father. He was God the Son. The Bible is not contradicting itself, as Scripture is equally transparent that God is Three in One.

In the remainder of today’s article and in the entirety of next week’s sequel, we’ll look at some of these remarkable occurrences. Beginning with one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Talk about “face to face!” This encounter was so up-close and personal that the person touched God.

I’m thinking that some of you already know which one.

Read with me a portion of this extraordinary episode: “This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break…. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’

But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

‘What is your name?’ the man asked.

“He replied, ‘Jacob.’

‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’

‘Please tell me your name,’ Jacob said.

‘Why do you want to know my name?’ the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

“Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared’” (Genesis 32:24-30, parenthesis in the text).

There’s no doubt whatsoever: Jacob knew that this mysterious man was God. Who but the Lord had the authority to change Jacob’s name to Israel or Abram’s name to Abraham, or Sarai to Sarah? Who but God had the sovereign power to bless Jacob, thus confirming God’s covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. A covenant that would create an entire nation, a nation that would be called Israel. In the context of when this scene took place, it’s also deductively evident that Jacob wanted the man’s (God’s) immediate blessing to spare Jacob from the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he would meet that very day.

What Jacob didn’t know, nor others who had subsequent encounters with the Lord in human form during Old Testament times: this man with whom he wrestled was the Incarnate Son of God. The God/man who could have easily defeated Jacob in a minute but wanted to test Jacob’s perseverance to obtain the blessing. The same man who would arrive once-for-all as Mary’s child—the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man (Messiah) to establish God’s New Covenant with Israel. A Covenant that would also extend to Gentiles who believed and received this man as their Lord and Savior.

That’s why Messiah (Jesus) didn’t reveal his name to Jacob. His entrance into the human race that he created, permanently taking on human form and bearing a human name (in addition to all his divine titles) wouldn’t take place until the appointed time, over a thousand years later.

God Interaction Directly with People Via His Angels—angelic beings

In lieu of God the Father or God the Son (whose description is sometimes the angel of the Lord, as opposed to an angel), some of the Lord’s messages to or actions on behalf of people came through angels. With these angels appearing either as a man or in their actual angelic form (heavenly beings/bodies), depending on the situation.

One example of angels in the form of men were the two who met with Abraham and Sarah. Along with a third man, who was clearly the Lord himself—the 2nd Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ to Abraham. The first being that of Melchizedek. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Melchizedek … A Man of Mystery! Posted 3-3-18).

Abraham knew convincingly that this third man was the LORD, because he called him by that very title. And exclaimed during his intercession for Lot and his family: “…Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25).

An example of angels materializing (crossing dimensions) in their created form is first found in the book of Genesis following God’s indictments against Adam and Eve. “So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden … After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).

(See Ezekiel Chapters 1 & 10 & Revelation 4, for description of Cherubim–living beings–which are somewhat accurately depicted in this painting)

One other well-known scene is that of angels (as angels) descending and ascending on Jacob’s stairway or ladder; a real occurrence but experienced as a dream or what could be termed a vision while asleep … rather than a fully conscious (awake) encounter. Also, when Gabriel approached Daniel in real-time and place and conveyed to him some of the most astonishing end-times revelations found in the Bible (see Daniel 8 & 9).

Something I hadn’t fully realized until writing this article: There aren’t that many instances in the Old Testament in which angels appear to men in their angelic form. At least not compared to the number of Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus. However, there are several angelic appearances in the New Testament, including Gabriel to Mary to announce that through her the Messiah would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. And before that, Gabriel’s announcement in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth (in their old age) would conceive a son whose name would be John (the Baptist).

And not the least of which are angels appearing at the birth of Jesus, in his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, at his resurrection, and immediately after his ascension back to heaven.

“So they went in (to the tomb), but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!’” (Luke 24:3-6).

Although appearing as men, their dazzling attire left no doubt that they were angels.

He is risen, indeed!

Things to Ponder

Yeshua never sinned. He perfectly kept and faultlessly fulfilled the Law of Moses. Thus, he alone qualified as the once for all substitutionary offering to atone for our rebellion against God. The Father accepted that incredible sacrifice; the innocent for the guilty, just for the unjust, righteous for the unrighteous and will pardon the penalty of sin (eternal death—separation from God) for all who believe and receive His Son as personal Savior.

From the time when Jesus of Nazareth came into this world and altered time itself (B.C. to A.D.), the greater majority of people have refused to believe that Jesus is both man and God.

Yet unbelieving Gentiles ascribed human characteristics to their pagan gods, e.g. Zeus, Venus, Mars. Modern-day comic-book (and other genre) movies do the same thing. Both super heroes and super villains are imbued with supernatural powers, able to transform themselves into whatever suits the writer’s and director’s fancy and whatever entices audiences. With an underlying implication that is anything but subtle: these characters possess God-like features in the flesh. But when it comes to the real thing, the real-deal; so many dismiss and even ridicule any thought that God would become man through the Son.

Most Jews to this day believe it’s an anathema to claim that God has a Son; thus, except for Messianic Jews, they do not believe that the coming Messiah (for believers, His return) is Divine.

As we’ve seen and will see more of next week, this conflicts with the indisputable evidence found in the Hebrew Scriptures: God appeared to men not only as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also in the form of a man. When that happened, the people whom the man met in person recognized that they had come “face-to-face” with God. Yet, this man couldn’t have been God, the Father, because God is Spirit, and no one can look on him and live. Moreover, when God the Father (his glory) did appear before men, it was never in bodily form.

Why is it so difficult to apprehend and accept clear Biblical truth that God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Especially when we see perceptible examples (albeit not totally adequate to explain the Trinity) in nature. Such as water in three forms—liquid, ice, and gas. Or the essence of the sun itself, visible only by its burning rays (light) and felt only by its heat.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).

The people involved in these direct Old-Testament encounters didn’t realize at the time that their face to face meeting with the Lord was the 2nd Person of the Godhead, the coming Messiah. Nonetheless, by the time the entire Old Testament was written, all of God’s people could have and should have known that the man who appeared personally to some of their ancestors was Divine—the Lord. Just as King David said he was.

While teaching in the Temple, Jesus presented David’s astounding proclamation regarding the Son of God (Psalm 110) as a question … a probing challenge. In doing so, he identified all three Persons of the Godhead:

“…Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David, himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah, ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?’” (Mark 12:35-37).

Jesus’s question was rhetorical. The answer was obvious. David had already announced that God has a Son (Psalm 2). And this Son (of David) was also David’s Lord, as much as “the LORD” (God the Father) was David’s Lord.

Though David’s Lord was a descendant of David, he also preexisted David. As the prophet Micah later said: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past…. And he will be the source of peace” (Micah 5:2 & 9).

Messiah Jesus said the same thing regarding himself and Abraham. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!’” (John 8:58).

Don’t miss next week’s sequel. More of God’s physical appearances to people will be identified, some of which even ardent students of Scripture sometimes fail to recognize as the Pre-Incarnate Messiah (Jesus).

Hopefully, with two significant results: (1) To demonstrate especially to the Jews and Judaism that these appearances were a prototype preview to prepare 1st century Jews (and Gentiles) for the stunning reality of God in human form—in the person of God’s Son. (2) The correlation of these encounters to God’s choice of Israel and the Jews to accomplish his magnificent plan for them, for the entire human race.

God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple (Part II)

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The New Covenant as Described by Jeremiah

In a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles, when citing the Old Testament revelation of the coming New Covenant, I normally quoted Jeremiah Chapter 31 directly. Which I will do again; however, from the book of Hebrews—which beautifully contrasts the Old Covenant Sacrificial System with the once-for-all sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus, for all people. As follows:

“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 (Then the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34):

‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins’” (Hebrews 8:6-10, 12, parenthesis mine).

For you see, the Lord did remember the people’s sins under the Old Covenant; hence, the need for constant atonement through continual sacrifices required by the Law of Moses.

God’s Love for And Discipline of Israel

Though sometimes severe, the Lord’s discipline was rooted in his love for his special possession Israel and for his chosen people—the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the perspective of the last days, Daniel wrote that the subjection of the Jews would accomplish a divine purpose:

“…In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come” (Daniel 11:35).

This persecution reached its apex during the horrific Holocaust of World War II. See Eye of Prophecy article: Two-Thirds of the Jews Killed … Past or Future? (Posted 9-19-15).

God’s passion for Israel is eternal and his plan for her, though interrupted by Israel’s disobedience, will not be denied. In the immediate context of Babylon’s imminent invasion of Judah, but also looking ahead to Israel’s subsequent exile to many nations (later called The Diaspora), God promises through Jeremiah:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me … I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

*Note: The “disaster” referred to is both stated and implied in the Old Testament as complete annihilation of Israel. God would never let that happen, though many Jews would be murdered by merciless Gentile nations down through the ages. As well as Israelites killing each other (sometimes with huge casualties) in civil wars after Israel split into two kingdoms. Nor would the Lord eliminate his people himself; though he threatened to do so on more than one occasion—but for getting their full attention concerning the seriousness of the contemptible things they had done.

For example, see Exodus 32, the well-known incident depicted below in which God threatened to wipe them out and start over with Moses and his descendants.

There are several passages in which the Lord guarantees Israel that he would never perpetually reject, abandon, and certainly not eradicate them. Soon after announcing the New Covenant through Jeremiah, the Lord reassured Israel:

“I am as likely to reject (forever) my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature! This is what the Lord says: Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away (permanently) for the evil they have done. I, the Lord have spoken!” (Jeremiah 31:36-37, parenthesis mine).

Earlier in that same chapter before the marvelous New Covenant is announced, the Lord states:

“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child, says the Lord. I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen—Israel will embrace her God” (Jeremiah 31:20-22). *Note: Those signs and guideposts and markings are literally along the highways, in the streets, and on the buildings of the reborn nation of Israel.

God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is (finally) materializing before our 20th and 21st century eyes, i.e. the return of Jews to the Promised Land of Israel from nations all over the world. This is in preparation for the completion of the Lord’s covenant with King David, as well as the climactic culmination of the New Covenant by which all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

(Another joyous group of Jews making Alijah to Israel; Alijah literally means “going up” or going home … from other nations to Israel)

God’s Four Major Covenants

The Lord has created four prominent covenants with Israel and the Jewish people (to make them a conduit of God’s Word and salvation to all peoples). In chronological order: Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant of Law, Davidic Covenant, and New Covenant of Grace.

It’s interesting to note that the first and third covenants were made with one man and his immediate descendant(s): Although those two covenants obviously included all of God’s people as beneficiaries, His unconditional covenant (Promised Land & Promised Child) was constructed directly with Abraham, then Isaac, and finally Jacob—father of the twelve tribes that would become the nation of Israel.

Subsequently, God’s covenant with David was unconditional (extended to Solomon for the duration of his life/reign) but conditional for all subsequent kings of Israel. Unconditional because an everlasting King would one day rule forever on David’s throne … a perpetual dynasty.

“…Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you (David)—a dynasty of kings!” (II Samuel 7:11). Then in verse 16: “Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.”

In one of the most well-known passages of Scripture (one of my favorites quoted several times in my articles), we read this powerful prophecy of both the first and second advent of the Messiah. Listen carefully to the titles ascribed to him:

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

Which is why the Lord frequently cites Abraham (also Isaac and Jacob) and David (including Solomon) as the reason why He will faithfully extend those unilateral covenants to Israel as a nation. As a result, the remnant of Israel and Gentile believers will be richly blessed—both now, and especially beginning with the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

However, the Davidic Covenant was applied conditionally to the succession of Israel’s kings, if they would continue to obey and serve the Lord. None of the kings of the northern tribes followed the Lord; consequently, that kingdom ceased to exist 208 years after Solomon’s reign ended. Because several kings of Judah (at least in part), particularly Hezekiah and Josiah, sought the Lord’s guidance and served him willingly, the southern kingdom was spared for another 136 years.

(Depiction of the angel who killed 185,000 Assyrian troops overnight in a miraculous victory for and deliverance of Judah and King Hezekiah in 701 B.C. The southern kingdom would last for another 115 years)

*Note: The kings of the ten northern tribes (called Israel) did not descend from David, rather mostly from Jeroboam; whom God chose as their first king because the Lord knew that the northern tribes would revolt against Solomon’s son Rehoboam, which is exactly what they did.

In contrast to the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, the Covenant of the Law was not given to just one man. Although the Law was given through Moses it was to all of Israel. It was a conditional covenant with the entire nation of Israel, with direct nation-wide consequences for obedience or disobedience. Thus, it was necessary for all of Israel to agree to the terms of this covenant. And why God would (and later did, via the New Covenant) revoke this agreement if the people failed to keep it.

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

A little later we read: “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again, they all responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey’” (Verse 7).

Alas, as both Biblical and secular history painfully record, the people wouldn’t (nor couldn’t) keep the Covenant of the Law. Therefore, the New Covenant began with the death, burial, and resurrection of Israel’s (the whole world’s) Messiah. Said Jesus to his disciples just hours before he was nailed to a cross:

This remarkable covenant would be for all people. However, unlike the Covenant through Moses, it would be unconditional—to parallel the covenants with Abraham (everlasting possession of the Promised Land) and David (eternal dynasty) and to merge and fulfill those covenants. Under the New Covenant, there was nothing that Jews (or Gentiles) need do except simply believe in Messiah Jesus and receive him as personal Lord and Savior. Salvation is to be received as a gift from God’s grace, not earned by doing anything, including keeping the Law of Moses—which no one has ever done or ever could do, except Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The New Covenant is so much easier and so much better and so much more permanent (as in forever) than the former covenant through Moses. In the very next chapter after announcing the New Covenant, Jeremiah refers to it as an everlasting covenant.

“And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land” (Jeremiah 32:39-41).

This everlasting covenant is mentioned by one other prophet prior to Jeremiah. In the context of the entire passage (chapter), it’s clear that the everlasting covenant will be a new one which would consolidate and bring to fruition the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (See Isaiah Chapter 61).

The eternal New Covenant would be the all-important spiritual component and counterpart—salvation through Messiah Jesus—of the unending land and dynasty covenants with Abraham and David, respectively: From Jerusalem the capital of the Promised Land of Israel, Messiah will rule and reign forever.

Israel’s National Rejection of Their Messiah

Alas, it’s taken nearly 2,000 years for God’s people to (begin to) recover from the reason why their second temple was destroyed, and why they were exiled to the four corners of the earth. Jesus knew this would happen. And it broke his heart. He also predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the utter destruction of the Temple, which took place less than 40 years later.

First, Jesus’ poignant plea for Jerusalem and the people he and his Father formed as a nation separated to God; a people to whom he brought the New Covenant and for whom he would die:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (Matthew 23:37-39, NASB). In Hebrew, the last sentence reads: Baruch haba b’shem Adonai.

Your house being left to you desolate is what would happen to Israel (dispersion) as/when the Temple was destroyed. In the very next chapter, we read Jesus’ graphic description of the Temple’s fate:

About 40 years elapsed from the onset of Jeremiah’s ministry—during which time he foretold the New Covenant and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple—to when that Temple was destroyed. It would be a prophetic preview of Israel’s rejection of the New Covenant (their Messiah) followed by the subsequent destruction of the 2nd Temple and (this time) complete loss of the sacrificial system, and (this time) a horrifically long dispersion.

Remarkably, this was the same time-frame (40 years) from when Jesus established the New Covenant and foretold the fate of the 2nd Temple, to the time when that Temple was leveled by the Romans.

The destruction of the rebuilt temple was a painful but residual (cause and effect) result of a new and better way (Covenant) in which God would once and for all redeem and reconcile fallen humanity. One that did not need a temple and repetitive animal sacrifices to maintain ongoing atonement for sin.

The New Covenant would be God’s love and law written on their hearts, not just on tablets of stone. It would come through forgiveness of sins by believing and receiving Messiah’s substitutionary sacrifice on a cross, so dramatically described by Isaiah: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:5-6, NASB).

The reason the Babylonian captivity was so (relatively) short and the temple subsequently rebuilt is because the Lord was giving Israel one more opportunity to demonstrate that they could faithfully keep the Law of Moses.

The people didn’t. They couldn’t.

Led by Zerubbabel, over 42,000 Jews returned from Babylon to Israel and rebuilt the Temple. About 80 years later (August 4th, 458 B.C.), Ezra guided a much smaller contingency of former exiles to Israel and found that the Jews had, “…taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.” (Ezra 9:1).

Ezra was both dismayed and appalled at what he found. The following is just a portion of his lengthy prayer to God:

“I prayed, ‘O my God, I am utterly ashamed. I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today. But now we have been given a brief moment of grace…. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery’” (Ezra 9:6-8).

Ezra continues: “And now, O our God, what can we say after all of this? For once again we have abandoned your commands! Your servants the prophets warned us…. Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less that we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant” (Ezra 9:10-11 & 13).

However, Israel’s loss of their second temple and catastrophic dispersion to nations all over the earth in 70 A.D. was NOT far less than they deserved. It was as God said it would be through Moses (as alluded in last week’s article regarding the fourth and harshest phase of the seven-times over discipline):

“If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me, then I will give full vent to my hostility. I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins” (Leviticus 26:27-28, italics for emphasis).

The Earthly Temple Gives Way to the Heavenly Temple

In the closing portion of last week’s Part I article, I wrote:

“Summarily revisiting the first heading of this week’s article: Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

“Of what? Of the overwhelming evidence that the New Covenant (of Grace)—implemented when Messiah Jesus died on the cross and arose again from the dead—was providentially connected to and resulted in the subsequent destruction of the Temple, because God’s people rejected their Messiah.

“Why (still in denial)? Because they cling to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the cessation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.”

In fact, the Jews were in the beginning stages of denial before their exile to Babylon. They had not come to terms with the fact that God’s presence (Shekinah glory) in Solomon’s Temple had been withdrawn six years before the Temple was razed by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel Chapters 8-11). Nor did God return to the Temple for some 600 years, when the Son of God (God the Son) first stepped foot in the rebuilt Temple.

(Depiction of Jesus with the religious teachers in the Temple. Even at the age of 12–when this scene took place: “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” Luke 2:47)

In one of his visions of both the first and second coming of Messiah, the prophet Zechariah, who recorded his prophecies during the rebuilding of the Temple, wrote: “Then the angel of the Lord spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, ‘…If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards… Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon, I am going to bring my servant, the Branch’” (Zechariah 3:6-8).

As we’ve already seen, neither the priests of Israel nor most of the people followed the ways of the Lord and carefully served him. This disobedience continued to and through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, even if they had, they were still only symbols of the coming Messiah (as the Tabernacle and the earthly Temples and the sacrificial system only shadow patterns of the New Covenant to come). Indeed, God did send the Branch, none other than Messiah Jesus, only to be denied by his own people.

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

In Jesus’s time, the lamentable lip service condition of Judaism had not changed. So much so that Jesus blasted the Pharisees; calling them hypocrites and comparing them to vipers and to tombs that were white-washed on the outside but full of death (spiritual) on the inside.

Twice, Jesus purified the Temple in a manner we would describe in modern terms as: cleaning house.

“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers … and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves’” (Mark 11:15-17).

Messiah Jesus is the real (heavenly) Temple of God. He contains and expresses God’s glory (his very essence) because he is God—the Son.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15).

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

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

In turn, those who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior are also individual temples of the Lord indwelt by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

The following is excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Where is the Temple? Part III. Those remarks were meant primarily for the Jews, but also for all Gentile unbelievers. (In italics):

Where is the Temple?

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

However, for all who agree that Jesus is the Messiah who arrived on the scene of history as Biblically prophesied; …that he died and rose again as the ultimate perfect sacrifice for their sins; then place their complete trust in his redemptive atonement thereby entrusting their eternal destiny to his finished work on the cross, they will have positively answered the question.

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

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

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

Also see Eye of Prophecy articles, The Cross and the Torn Curtain, Part I & II. (Posted 2-6 & 2-13-16).

A Third Jewish Temple?

Will there be another Jewish Temple? According to Ezekiel and Daniel the answer is an absolute, Yes.

*Note: Although Ezekiel’s Temple (Chapters 40-48, with Ezekiel 47:12 highlighting the ongoing existence of that Temple) will be the final Temple, it may or may not be the (third) rebuilt Temple constructed early in the seven-year Tribulation period. Which is the one that both Daniel and Jesus said would be desecrated by Antichrist. The temple described by Ezekiel in extraordinary detail could be a 4th Temple. Also, there will not be a temple in the (heavenly) New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22). Only in the earthly Jerusalem.

But why? If the New Covenant did away with the need for a material Temple and the Levitical sacrificial system, what will be its purpose? Because time/space in this week’s article doesn’t permit extensive elaboration and because I’ve written about this (in detail) in a few Eye of Prophecy articles, observations will be limited to an excerpt from one of those articles.

From, A Third Jewish Temple Part II, Posted 5-3-14 (in italics).

As follows:

So what about the 3rd rebuilt Temple and/or Ezekiel’s Temple? Just as the earthly city of Jerusalem will remain forever, so will Ezekiel’s Temple. To support this conclusion, we read the following: “In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain” (Zechariah 14:16-17).

The annual Festival of Shelters or Booths (Sukkot in Hebrew) is the only festival in which God will require that all nations send representatives to attend. Why? Because the Festival of Booths is a remembrance of God’s provisions, protection, but most of all his presence among his people … going all the way back to Israel’s wanderings for forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land.

Though it’s crystal clear in Scripture that the sacrifice of Messiah’s blood and life was once and for all time to replace the Levitical sacrificial system, that doesn’t mean that animal sacrifices will not be resumed. According to Daniel Chapter 9, sacrifices and offerings will be reinstated during the seven-year treaty (Tribulation) with Israel. It’s just that the reason or purpose for them will be changed and understood by all after the Tribulation. Everyone will plainly comprehend that animal sacrifices are not the means of/to salvation; instead they will be a means of remembrance for what Christ accomplished in the past.

We know that sacrifices will continue after the Millennium begins, because in that same 14th Chapter of Zechariah which explains that nations (their representatives) must attend the annual Festival of Shelters, we also read:

“…All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices…” (Verse 21, italics for emphasis).

Also, see Eye of Prophecy article, Sukkot … The Forever Festival! Published 10-22-16.

Things to Ponder

I love Israel and the Jews because God loves them (and you and me) and has given me and many other believers a love for his chosen people. Not chosen because they’re special. Instead, special (set apart) because they are chosen. To bring us God’s Word and the light of God’s salvation through Messiah Jesus, who is the God/Man—the Son of David from the tribe of Judah—who makes us right with God.

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

Messiah Jesus IS our righteousness!

Said the Lord to Israel: “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings. O Israel, if you would only listen to me!” (Psalm 81:8).

Hundreds of years later, the Father said the same thing, this time about the Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) of the New Covenant, Jesus of Nazareth: “…This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy! Listen to him” (Matthew 17:5, italics for emphasis).

And long before that, Moses wrote about the great Prophet (who would also be the final High Priest and King of all kings) to come:

“Then the Lord said to me… ‘I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf’” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).

This message is found in God’s New Covenant with Israel … extended to Gentiles.

“…And that message is the very message about faith that we preach. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved … Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect … For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved’ (quoting Joel 2:32).

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:8-14).

God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple (Part I)

Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

The good news about the Good News (Gospel) is that tens of millions of Gentiles and tens of thousands of Jews have accepted Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord in just the past 50 years or so.

The not-so-good news: Despite the stark reality that the Temple and the Levitical Sacrificial System ceased to exist in 70 A.D., most Jews hold on to some form of Judaism—Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, Liberal, or even secular (Jewish identity without religious overtones). Yet, there’s no workable way to circumvent the fact that Old Testament sacrifices (in and near the Tabernacle, then later the Temple) were an integral feature of the Law of Moses—required by the Lord as the Hebrew Scriptures explain in extraordinary detail.

Contemporary Judaism is still in denial that without sacrificial shedding of blood there can be no atonement for sin. Thus, redemption (of which they’re never sure of) for today’s Jews involves a variety of practices, principles, and promises that not all Rabbis agree on, i.e. those which are essential or just recommended. Such as observing Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement … a few days from now on September 19th) for sins to be forgiven and for each Jew to remain inscribed in the Book of Life. However, the Biblical Day of Atonement required animal sacrifice (as did all the other sacred festivals) plus the Scapegoat on Yom Kippur. See Eye of Prophecy article: Yom Kippur / With or Without Atonement? Posted 10-15-16.

Even more consequential: Denial that the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has already come to pass; two thousand years ago, when Israel’s Messiah was crucified (shedding his blood), buried, but then arose from the dead. A once-for-all sacrifice to permanently replace the Levitical system as the ultimate avenue of atonement.

Through the ages, God’s punishment of his special possession Israel and his chosen people the Jews has been severe. For the very reason that they are his chosen people. To whom much is given, much is required. To the extent that some Jews have said (paraphrasing): “Do we have to be so chosen!” Or, in one of my favorite films (top five), Fiddler on the Roof; the main character’s playful (yet solemn) request of God. Said Tevye, the milkman:

“I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t you choose someone else?!”

(Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, released in 1971; Tevye–played by actor Topol–in the foreground)

So, too, were God’s bountiful blessings equally serious (generously good, sincerely special) in prospering and protecting Israel when they as a nation trusted Him to provide their needs and obeyed his commandments, all of which were fair and just.

In Leviticus Chapter 26, we find the blessings of God for obedience; but also, four phases of God’s (seven-times over) punishment of Israel for disobedience … each stage harsher than the one before. With, however, the same reason for God’s increasingly tough discipline of his people: “And if, In spite of all this, you still disobey me (verse 18); If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey me (verse 21); And if you fail to learn the lesson and continue your hostility toward me (verse 23); If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me” (verse 27).

The final consequence was, by far, the worst: “I will scatter you among the nations… Your land will become desolate and your cities will lie in ruins” (Leviticus 26:33).

That is precisely what happened some 600 years later when Assyria conquered and exiled Israel’s ten northern tribes; only after several prophets warned Israel to return to the Lord. Warnings that fell on deaf ears. Then 136 years later, Babylon crushed the remaining two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin), utterly demolished Solomon’s Temple, and marched most of the survivors to Babylonia.

Nonetheless, through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised that the exiled punishment of the southern kingdom would last only 70 years, which is exactly the lapse between Judah’s deportation to Babylon and completion of the 2nd Temple in 516 B.C. In his mercy, God had given his people another chance to trust, and obey him. Which they did … sort of, intermittently and only for a few decades.

By 400 B.C., they had (as a nation … most Jews) again abandoned the Lord in heart and spirit, having become legalistic. Not sincerely loving and faithfully following the Lord; rather that of lip service through rote sacrifices based more on pagan-like superstitions and wrong suppositions (just do the sacrifices and God is obligated to protect and prosper us). See the book of Malachi. Followed by 400 years of silence until the Lord spoke to Israel once again, stirred the people’s conscience, and prepared the way for Messiah through John the Baptist.

The Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants to interrogate John.

“…Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”

“No.”

“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”

“John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘I am a voice shouting in the wilderness. Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’” (John 1:21-23).

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one I was talking about when I said, A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me’” (John 1:29-30, also see Micah 5:2).

Not Once, But Twice

Then in 70 A.D. the unthinkable happened. For a second time—incredibly on the same calendar day (9th of Av) when Solomon’s Temple was demolished—the 2nd Jewish Temple was destroyed.

Once again, the Jews were evicted from the Promised Land of Israel, this time by the Romans. As they eventually realized: this dispersion would be far more austere and longer-lasting than their first exile. God’s discipline administered seven-times over continued until the Gentile domination of the Jews (which was the means of chastisement) would come to an end. Which took place in the miraculous Six-Day War of 1967; Jerusalem was liberated, and the Holy City reunited with the Holy Land of reborn Israel.

Moses wrote about this more devastating exile, as also contained in Leviticus 26. From this additional prophetic description, it’s evident that the Lord is not restricting Israel’s punishment to what would inevitably happen to them at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.

“And for those of you who survive, I will demoralize you in the land of your enemies. You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you… You will die among the foreign nations and be devoured in the land of your enemies. Those of you who survive will waste away in your enemies’ lands because of their sins and the sins of their ancestors” (Leviticus 26:36-39).

In conclusion of this long-term punishment, the Lord states: “…At last the people will pay for their sins, for they have continually rejected my regulations and despised my decrees” (Verse 43, italics for emphasis).

From the passage and in historical hindsight, we know that this scattering among the nations was different than (in addition to) the Babylonian captivity for at least two reasons: (1) Length of time vastly longer than the 70-year Babylonian captivity. However, encoded in Leviticus 26 was the precise duration of this discipline, discernible only by realization that the seven times over (four separate phases) represented an actual measurement of time. (Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Seven Times Seven to the 4th Power, followed by The Omega Generation. Posted 1-25-14 through 2-15-14).

(2) Harshness of the punishment that exceeded anything experienced during the seven decades in Babylon. During the Babylonian exile, the Jews were treated with relative kindness by their captors. The Babylonians certainly did not demoralize their Jewish captives. Nor in their captivity were they devoured by the Babylonians, i.e. deprived of property, persecuted, or randomly killed just because they were Jews, or killed at all. Nor did the Jews (other than growing older) “waste away” in Babylon.

Not so after the Diaspora inflicted by the Romans. Jews were banished to multiple countries (that part of Leviticus says, many nations as opposed to just one nation—which would be Babylon). Although some prospered, for nearly 2,000 years they collectively were mocked, bullied, harassed, oppressed, mistreated, and murdered in the aggregate millions by Muslims, Crusaders, Eastern European and Russian pogroms, Inquisitions, and the most horrendous of all—the Holocaust.

As painful as it is, God’s chosen people the Jews must ask themselves: Why did the second destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple result in a bitterer and longer (by far) punishment than the exile to Babylon? For that matter, what might the Jews have done so wrong in the first century that would result in God withdrawing his protection of them, and for so long.

Many Jewish scholars (rabbis) contend that the factional disunity among 1st century Jews is what (exclusively) caused their demise. However, that same kind of dissension existed before the Babylonian captivity. Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets are clear that it was Israel’s defiance of God and rejection of his prophets (messages) that led directly to the nation’s punishment at the hands of Babylon; not internal disunity—which was only a by-product of disobedience. It was also rejection of God’s final Prophet, greater even than Moses, that precipitated the devastating Diaspora at the hands of the Romans. This Prophet was also Israel’s final High Priest and ultimate King. He was none other than the long-awaited Messiah.

(Depicts Roman destruction of 2nd Jewish Temple & Jerusalem)

Moreover, what are the repercussions absent their Temple and the Levitical Sacrificial System? If Judaism is to be practiced properly as found in the Law of Moses, these (and other) questions need to be addressed with a great deal of uniformity among today’s Jews … which they have not.

Is There a Correlation Between Israel’s Rejection of the New Covenant & the Loss of the 2nd Temple?

The answer is Biblically and historically crystal clear: because Israel as a whole (although thousands did believe) rejected their Messiah … Jesus of Nazareth. This was even more evident after the Temple was destroyed, because they had missed or ignored Daniel’s prophecy that not only would it be razed again, but Messiah would arrive before the Temple’s demolition.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Who is Messiah? (Posted 3-29-14; also detailed in a few subsequent 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 9:26).

This verse is quoted mostly for the benefit of God’s chosen people, the Jews, but also for Gentile unbelievers. Even if you ignore or overlook the historical evidence of Jesus’s claims to be the Messiah (Son of God), his teachings, his miracles, and his awesome, miraculous resurrection from the dead, this prophecy in Daniel came to pass in its totality when the Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus attacked Israel and Jerusalem under the direct orders of Nero Caesar. Of equally profound significance: this passage tells us that the Messiah will be killed BEFORE Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed. If you have any regard for historical facts whatsoever; and especially if you are a Jew that believes that the Torah … for Christians what is called the Old Testament … is the Word of the true and living God, then you must agree that Messiah, himself, arrived on the scene of history before 70 AD.

In the Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Where is the Temple? (published 11-29 through 12-13-14), a thematic premise based on God’s Law given through Moses was stated and amplified in all three articles. As follows:

No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.

Here is an excerpt from Part I of that trilogy, which prefaced that premise (in italics):

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

What happened to it? How can any Jew embrace and practice Judaism without the ancient sacrifices, which is the fundamental reason the Tabernacle and then the Temple was built in the first place? Did the loss of the Temple affect the very core of the Jewish faith? If so, how and to what extent? …has God also done away with the very heart of his redemptive plan for mankind through Israel—reconciliation and salvation by the sacrificial shedding of blood?

Where is the Temple? isn’t meant to be answered by a literal location. Because we know that the Temple isn’t (anywhere). It’s gone. But why? Was there a more far-reaching purpose why God allowed the Temples to be obliterated? …Who, if anyone; or what, if anything, has replaced the Temple for two thousand years?

In short, how can the Jewish faith function without adhering to the entire Mosaic Law; which clearly was an equally balanced two-tier foundation of: (1) Obedience to God’s Word … pillars of laws, commands, decrees, regulations. (2) Sacrificial Offerings … the cornerstones of atonement by, blessing from, and relationship with God … how (else) can a Jew or anyone be reconciled to God?

The answer is found in the New Covenant; however, to this day most Jews still deny that it has arrived. Although the 9th of Av is still mourned by millions of Jews, implications over loss of the Temple are not written about or discussed much at all even among observant Jews. Both religious and secular Jews long for Messiah to come, to bring about Israel’s final redemption, yet they differ as to what that redemption is or how and why it will come about. Nor is there much interest or effort in Judaism to match up this redemption with the New Covenant announced by Jeremiah.

(Please see the second-most visited Eye of Prophecy article to date: Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here? Posted 6-25-16).

The first century Apostle Paul—a devout Jewish Pharisee whose life was dramatically changed by his personal encounter with the risen Christ—passionately wanted his people to realize that the New Covenant had arrived. Wrote Paul:

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

Here is an excerpt from Part III of Where is the Temple? (In italics):

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

Summarily revisiting the first heading of this week’s article: Judaism Is Still in Denial … Of What & Why?

Of what? Of the overwhelming evidence that the New Covenant (of Grace)—implemented when Messiah Jesus died on the cross and arose from the dead—was providentially connected to and resulted in the subsequent destruction of the Temple, because God’s people rejected their Messiah.

Why (still in denial)? Because Judaism still clings to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the cessation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Yet, we must not as many have done—particularly through the insidious Replacement Theology that falsely claims the Christian church has replaced Israel physically—ever stop longing and praying for Israel’s final redemption. Beginning with one Jewish heart at a time, culminating with the entire remnant of Israel being saved.

“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, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12).

Again, the Apostle Paul says: “For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!” (Romans 11:15).

*Footnote: Eye of Prophecy articles that have two or more parts (published in successive weeks) are normally planned. But not all of them. Originally this week’s article was not intended to be in two parts. As the author, it’s sometimes difficult to choose between the better continuity of one article (read in its entirety) that perhaps is too long. Versus extending the topic over two (or more) articles with the undesirable possibility that only one of them will be read.

I’ve chosen the two-part option with optimistic expectation that you won’t miss next week’s article. To even more fully grasp this all-important subject of salvation to the Jew first that is so intricately linked to what they think and have done about the loss of the Jewish Temple and Old Covenant Sacrificial system of atonement. And most of all: whether they recognize that their Messiah has already come as Savior, sent by his and the Father’s great love for his people (and the whole world). And will soon return … this time as King and Judge.

Italy’s New Government / A Thorn in the EU’s Side

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Other than Israel, there is no country in the world that has garnered as much attention in the past few months than Italy. Which is yet another development that tracks with Biblical end-times prophecy, because the Antichrist beast-king who returns from the Abyss is none other than the Roman (Italian) Emperor Nero.

I’ve provided an abundance of Biblical and secular historical evidence to support this premise, as found in my second book Out of the Abyss and many of the 53 Eye of Prophecy articles posted in the Category of Antichrist.

Although it’s natural to assume that the Antichrist will be a (modern-day) man born a few decades before the Rapture, that is not what the Bible tells us. Rather, the beast-king that John saw from the Isle of Patmos had already lived and died (in the 1st century A.D.) BEFORE John saw him in the image of a beast. However, he would return from the Abyss.

In unveiling the mystery of the beast and the woman sitting on the beast, the angel said to John: “Why are you so amazed? … I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (abruptly or at any time) come up out of the bottomless pit… And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:7-8, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Early Christians (1st through 4th centuries) knew the identity of the Antichrist, as the Bible provided convincing clues both before and after Nero’s reign from 54 to 68 AD. Passages such as: Daniel 7, 9, 11; Zechariah 11; II Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13 & 17; in correlation with 1st century events.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, The Legendary Return of Nero. Posted 4-4-15. Which includes details of the Nero Redivivus Legend … his revival and reappearance.

(Colossal statue of Nero erected in 2010 at Anzio, Italy–his place of birth. The letters on the pedestal spell NERONE, which is modern Italian for the Latin name, Nero. The reason for this statue is explained in Eye of Prophecy article, Antichrist and Anzio … What Do They Have in Common? Posted 4-29-17)

Nero will generate a world-wide following for one reason only: what the world will perceive as a miraculous return from a 2,000-year old grave, because his “…fatal wound was healed!” This mortal wound (Nero’s servant killing him with a sword, as Nero didn’t have the courage to do himself in) had already been healed before the world witnesses his return. As a result: “The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast…” and “they also worshipped the beast” (Revelation 13:3-4).

For those left behind at the Rapture, this miracle is that of Nero rising from the grave (in his original body) … the healing of his fatal wound. His sudden reappearance will stun the world as much or more than the disappearance of hundreds of millions of born-again believers.

Global allegiance to and worship of a revived Roman Emperor will be a twisted facsimile of the pre-Rapture world-wide following of Messiah Jesus as found in the Christian faith. That’s one reason why the beast-king of Revelation is called The Antichrist (I John). His opposition to the true Messiah is also a perverted imitation of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, a lie that most of the world will believe (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).

However, widespread loyalty to Nero will not result in a One-World Government, because the Bible clearly indicates that his political and military domain will consist of and be limited to a coalition of ten nations … Daniel 7, Revelation 13 & 17. See Eye of Prophecy article, One World Government, posted 5-28-15.

Ten Nation/Kingdoms That Give Their Governments to Antichrist Nero

With one exception, the identity of these ten contemporary nations cannot be known with complete certainty. Would you care to venture a guess which nation, beyond doubt, can be determined in today’s world?

Hint: Its capital city is the subject of Eye of Prophecy trilogy, The Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17); The Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17); and The Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17). Posted 5-26, 6-2, & 6-9-18. If you haven’t yet read those articles or still don’t otherwise know, then a stronger hint: The title of today’s article gives it away!

ITALY.

The Antichrist king who reappears from the Abyss is both the composite beast and one of the seven heads (kings) of the beast; five of whom had already died before John saw his vision of the beast (Revelation 17:9-11). Once again, Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles provide detailed documentation to demonstrate that these kings were seven Roman emperors of the 1st century, the fifth of whom was Nero. For example, see articles: Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence Part I & II (Published 3-18 & 3-25-17).

Part of the angel’s encoded disclosure of the beast’s identity in Revelation 13 (the number of the beast calculated through Hebrew gematria) and Revelation 17 (his geographical and biological origin) stipulated that the seven heads of the beast were not only seven kings (Roman emperors) but also “seven hills where the woman rules” (Revelation 17:9). These are the seven hills of Rome, Italy. Consequently, it’s a sure thing that Italy will be one of the ten nations that submit their government and military to Nero.

(The Seven Hills of Rome)

With reliable rationale provided, I have in one previous Eye of Prophecy article proposed the identity of all ten nations, with a total of seven of these countries willingly yielding their authority to Antichrist Nero very soon after his return. With the remaining three acquiescing only after he persuades (understatement) them to join his federation.

To that end, I’ll provide an excerpt from that article, “One Ring to Rule Them All…” (posted 11-21-15). At that time, I did not indicate that Italy would obviously (without question) be one of the ten nations; the intent then was to present compelling criteria why all ten nations were the most feasible choices.

As follows (in italics):

Those who have read Out of the Abyss or even a few Eye of Prophecy articles are aware that I rarely engage in much, if any, speculation. Instead, the theme/subjects of these writings are based on historical and Biblical evidence (facts). If there is any conjecture (what if), it is derived from historical and contemporary events that logically, reasonably, and feasibly fit into the Biblical prophecies that give us extraordinarily strong clues, but not necessarily specific details.

In that context, I will issue a disclaimer that the identity of the ten nations (kingdoms) presented in this article most certainly is supposition, as no one knows with absolute certainly who they will be. If, however, we subscribe to the premise that I and many other students of Biblical prophecy endorse—that the return of Messiah Jesus is as imminent as it has ever been because we are living in the last of the last days—then this speculation is as Scripturally sound as can be.

In other words: If Christ were to return today or even in the next few months or years, select identification of these ten nations would be as viable as any time in history. I believe you’ll see that the choice of these kingdoms is based on Scripture, reasonable deduction, and a cogent correlation of what is taking place in today’s world.

Later in that article, the first introduction of the Antichrist in Scripture is provided as found in Daniel Chapter 7.

…Some 2,500 years ago, the Lord gave to Daniel the first and perhaps most amazing prophetic disclosure of these ten kingdoms and their kings, in the context of what is also the initial introduction to the Antichrist in Scripture. The ten kings are referred to as horns and immediately follow Daniel’s (now famous) vision of the four beasts which are the world empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Read with me the description of the last beast:

“Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong … It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns. As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. There of the first horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn … was boasting arrogantly” (Daniel 7:7-8).

“…This fourth beast is the fourth world power (Rome) that will rule the earth … Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people (Jews) of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time (3 ½ years)” (Daniel 7:23-25).

In Out of the Abyss, you’ll find compelling evidence to explain and confirm that the “sudden” appearance of the little horn (Antichrist) and his “difference” from the other ten kings fits precisely with Nero and his abrupt reappearance from the Abyss. And the reason he is so different is because he doesn’t arrive (reappear) on earth by natural birth, as would be expected of a modern-day born Antichrist.

(Note: Also, see subsequent article, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? Posted 1-21-17)

There will not be a Revived Roman Empire during the Tribulation, meaning one that is a reproduced replica of the once mighty realm of the Caesars. Instead there will be a Revived Roman Emperor, whose dominion will be Roman in appearance (the fact that he is a once great Roman Caesar), and will be a confederation of six powerful European nations plus one non-European kingdom, plus three other dominant nations that will, through force and threat, become part of this ten-kingdom unification.

That article, “One Ring to Rule Them All” details the three major end-times’ world coalitions and the nations of which they consist during the Tribulation. All of which have as their primary agenda: invading and conquering Israel. Those alliances are: Gog/Magog (utterly crushed by God himself) during the early part of the Tribulation; the Antichrist’s ten-nation regime solidified by the middle part of the Tribulation; the Kings of the East during the latter part of the Tribulation. With the last two alliances defeated decisively by the King of all kings, Messiah Jesus, at Megiddo … Armageddon.

(Shows a portion of the vast Megiddo Valley, including the prominent hill or small mountain, lower right …  from which we get Armageddon. Har in Hebrew is mountain or hill)

The Proposed Identity of the Ten Nations

Continuing with “One Ring to Rule Them All” article:

From where did Nero and all the Roman Emperors rule and reign? Easy answer: Rome, Italy. To what does Italy and twenty-seven other countries belong in today’s world? Another easy answer: The European Union. When the Common Market increased to ten European countries years ago, many prophecy scholars equated it with the ten nations who give their authority to Antichrist.

But then the Common Market morphed into the European Union… That doesn’t mean, however, that all these nations will align themselves with Nero upon his astonishing return (from the dead, as the world will see it); or that Nero would automatically choose more than ten kings and kingdoms (nations) that Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 clearly state will be the core of his coalition. More (countries) is not necessarily better. There can be as much or more unity and cohesiveness concentrated in ten powerful nations than in twenty, or thirty, or however many. There would be less language barriers, less cultural differences, fewer number of people and governments to argue with or galvanize into a strong centralized cohesive force.

Although Nero could very well establish his sphere of influence from the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, his initial reappearance will be in/at Rome. Where else would it be? His amazing return from the underworld as a Revived Roman Emperor would lead him immediately to Rome, from where he and the mighty Roman Emperors ruled for centuries….

…Six of these nations (that collectively dwarf the remaining twenty-two countries of the EU) will eagerly agree to give Nero, all, “their power and authority” (Revelation 17:13). The seventh kingdom that will voluntarily surrender its allegiance to Nero may surprise you, if for no other reason than it’s not part of Europe. We’ll get to that shortly!

Another reason that the six nations in particular and the EU in general will follow the Beast is because nearly 50% of Europeans who claim religious affiliation are Roman Catholics. As many Bible scholars believe (including me), the woman on the beast in Revelation 17 is the Roman Catholic Church headquartered in none other than Rome.

Now for some supporting statistics; with these figures possibly changing (slightly) since that article was written nearly 3 years ago. Continuing with that article, the six European nations willingly aligned with Antichrist Nero will most likely be:

In order of population rounded off to millions:

Germany: 81 million (1st)

France: 66 million (2nd)

United Kingdom: 65 million (3rd)

Italy: 61 million (4th)

Spain: 46 million (5th)

Belgium: 11 million (9th)

Total of 330 million (close to the current population of the United States). Representing 65% of the total EU population of about 508 million.

European Union Rank in Military Might:

United Kingdom: 1st

France: 2nd

Germany: 3rd

Italy: 4th

Spain: 11th

Belgium: 14th

*Note: Belgium is selected over Poland (38 million population and a higher military rank) for several reasons, but the most notable is that the EU headquarters is in Brussels.

Thus, the six EU nations who very likely will be part of Antichrist Nero’s confederacy are: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium….

I then provided rationale regarding identity of the seventh kingdom to yield its allegiance to Antichrist Nero. Continuing in that article:

Based on two extremely significant factors, I believe that the seventh kingdom voluntarily aligned with Nero and the other six (European) and three unwilling members will be:

An Arab Coalition Known as the Persian Gulf States: Headed by Saudi Arabia and composed of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait (Seven in all!). Though they will provide some military assistance, the more substantial contribution from this Arab kingdom that will unify as one entity is that of … you guessed it: Money. The combined oil wealth of these nations is staggering—just what Nero needs to fund his ten-nation Leviathan that will do battle with the kings of the east, with Israel, and inevitably Messiah, himself.

The two factors or reasons for including this Arab coalition as one kingdom are found in Scripture and in the contemporary phenomena of what’s happening all over Europe, but especially in the six nations selected.

  • Scripture: Referring to the Antichrist, the prophet Daniel tells us: “Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew…. Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward” (Daniel 11:38-39).

…This god referenced in Daniel is, I firmly believe, the god of Islam, Allah. Nero will feign allegiance to Islam and the Muslim agenda to generate as much support as possible from Islamic sources … in this case primarily from the wealth of the Muslim Gulf States.

  • The Astonishing Increase of Muslims in Europe: Hardly a day goes by without media focus on the refugees pouring into Europe; but also the years of Muslim immigration to Europe, especially to the six EU nations identified as soon-to-be members of the Antichrist’s massive merger.

So, we now have seven of the ten kingdoms in place, which leaves the three countries who will be forced to join the monstrous alliance of the beast. However, once they become part of Nero’s fold, it’s logically evident that they will be a formidable addition… and will do so with increased enthusiasm.

Are you ready?!

The Three Remaining Nations Will Be: Australia, Canada, and The United States.

“Really … the United States?” you question. Yes, Canada and Australia, too.

Why?

…These countries are fiercely democratic and independent. They will not readily join forces with what they undoubtedly will perceive as totalitarian, nor a tyrant no matter how enthusiastically he will be welcomed by a world in chaos and confusion. However, the United States, and to a lesser degree Canada and Australia, will experience a substantial loss of population when millions are taken in the glorious Rapture.

Which is the primary reason that the United States will not be able to economically or militarily do anything about the Russian-led (Gog/Magog) invasion of Israel soon after the Rapture… And certainly not to Nero’s agenda of establishing a powerful dictatorial ten-kingdom federation to include these three countries that, though considerably weakened, will still exert an impressive influence on this global scene of temporary anarchy. The natural resources and technology of these three countries would be enticement enough for Nero.

As independently self-sufficient as these three nations are and still will be (to a lesser extent), they also will not want to lose their standard of living and Western way of life … all of which will have been shaken to the very core by global upheaval caused by the sudden disappearance of hundreds of millions the world over.

Consequently, America, Canada, and Australia will inevitably yield their political, economic, and military allegiance to Nero and the other seven nations…. Their capitulation to Nero’s invitational-style demand (please join us … or else) to enter his coalition will be reluctant at first; but then they will participate enthusiastically when they see the astounding accomplishments of Nero’s early program to pacify Europe during the first year or so of the Tribulation.

*Note: It’s also quite possible that select countries from Central America (Mexico) and South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru) will merge with the United States and form a national coalition of “The Americas.” If so, it will still be just one of the ten nations (kingdoms) aligned with Nero.

As mighty as the six European nations aided by the Arab Gulf States will be, when you include these three weakened, but still formidable and viable nations, Nero will field an economic and military giant that even the mighty Eastern kingdoms will not take on. Not, that is, until the very last days of the seven-year Tribulation.

(The Persian Gulf States unified as one of the ten nations aligned with Antichrist. Iran and Yemen are enemies of Saudi Arabia and will be part of the Gog/Magog coalition. Pakistan is not considered a gulf state)

Now Then, What About Italy and Its New (Different) Government?

Once again, excepting Israel—which has been in the world headlines for decades, particularly in the past few years, and will be right up to the soon-to-come Rapture—Italy has recently been of utmost concern to many nations, particularly those in the European Union.

Why this angst over Italy?

On June 1, 2018, the Italian government swore in its new Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, a relatively unknown (until a few months before Italy’s national election) 54-year old law-professor who had no political experience at any level of government. You might think: How is that possible?

For the same reason that Donald Trump—with no political pedigree—was (against all geopolitical odds) elected President of the United States. And the reason he was elected can be summarized in one catchword: Populism. Although Trump ran on the Republican ticket, he considers himself to be a Populist. His platform principles: to be a people’s president who would “drain the swamp” (of bureaucracy in Washington D.C.), change the status quo, take back the country for the people, and “make America great again.”

Trump’s political persuasion fits the frame of the populist movement gaining momentum all over the world, especially in Europe. With, however, only limited success in terms of nations electing a people’s government. In past elections the prominent western European countries of France, Netherlands, and Germany came close to voting a populist candidate (coalition government) to Prime Minister or President. Some eastern European nations have already installed such governments: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic—called the Visegrad Group. Also, in Austria, and now the western European nation of Italy.

You may want to read Eye of Prophecy article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? (Published 9-16-17).

Here is an excerpt from that article (in italics):

People and countries all over the world, especially western nations, are more polarized than ever before. These extremes have created a mentality of “us or them” with virtually no political or social or interpersonal conciliatory balance for the greater good of a state or nation.

We seldom communicate rationally or politely anymore, particularly on social media. We rant and rave. We yell and curse. We clash verbally and physically. It’s not, “I’m a Democrat (or Republican), but I respect your opinion.” Instead: “I’m a Democrat and the Republican Party shouldn’t even exist; it’s a threat to this nation. President Trump is not (my) president.” Some Republicans said the same thing about President Obama.

…In today’s world—ready to explode and in some places has already exploded—if hatred could be registered on a meter, the needle would be deep into the red zone.

A rational polarization that at one time afforded some measure of point, counterpoint (agree to disagree) between individuals, groups, and entire nations has become irrationally dangerous to the point where there is no middle ground, no buffer zone, and no safe haven.

It’s: Democrat OR Republican; liberal OR conservative (left or right); black OR white; federal OR state; poor OR rich; socialist OR capitalist. So much so that (for example in the United States) we now have physical clashes between the far “Alt-right” and the ultra-left “antifa” (anti-fascist)—as seen in the recent Charlottesville and Berkeley demonstrations.

…The most far-reaching polarization—increasing with kaleidoscope intensity—is the conflict between national sovereignty and international supremacy on Planet Earth. It is global in its scope and fateful in its implications; a socioeconomic and geopolitical rift that is preparing the earth’s population for the soon to come Antichrist.

Although many consider Great Britain to be part of Europe, some do not, especially most Brits themselves. Hence the vote to approve “Brexit” in June 2016—with England’s actual exit from the European Union still pending. (Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Brexit … What’s It All About? Published 6-18-16).

The British—who have never adopted the Euro, instead have kept the English Pound as their currency—approved withdrawal from the European Union is an endeavor to reestablish national autonomy, relatively free from dominance of the European Union.

Italy’s new administration is patterned after Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, without the exiting part … at least not yet. Which makes it (sort of) a hybrid government between globalism and populism; however, with a sworn objective of distancing Italy from the EU’s collective political and economic supremacy, particularly through such countries as Germany and France. In fact, the new Italian government blames the EU for Italy’s financial woes, which Prime Minister Conte assures that his government will alleviate without further EU intervention.

In a June 1, 2018 article by well-known author Soeren Kern who frequently writes for Gatestone Institute, he said that Italy’s, “…new government has pledged to pursue a host of populist policies, including reclaiming national sovereignty from the European Union over issues ranging from border protection and immigration to economics and finance. For now, however, it has abandoned previous plans to hold a referendum on whether Italy should abandon the euro.”

He also stated: “The government’s program is outlined in a 39-page agreement called ‘Contract for a Government of Change.’ A two-page synthesis closely resembles U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s ‘Contract with the American Voter.’”

As anticipated, several EU officials issued scathing criticism of Italy’s populist government, with Soeren Kern summarizing one of those comments: “…EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that financial markets would teach Italian voters a lesson not to pick left-wing or right-wing populists.” And that was one of the milder reactions.

In another Gatestone Institute article posted on August 6, 2018, Italian journalist Cesare Sacchetti wrote, “It is not farfetched to think that Italy’s ‘government of change’ will try to break the euro and leave the monetary union. Such a move would likely cause a domino effect on the whole structure of the euro, which could collapse without the presence of its third-largest economy.” *Note: Despite Italy’s large debt-to-GDP deficit (130%), it is still the 3rd largest economy in Europe.

It’s no secret that President Trump and Prime Minister Conte mutually admire the other. Both leaders extol national sovereignty. Both are critical of the European Union’s inordinate influence over international trade policies (much like China’s) that are detrimental to and have adversely affected United States’ (and Italy’s) trade deficits. With Prime Minister Conte, it’s Italy First, following the precedent of US President Trump’s platform … America First.

(Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Oval Office, 7-30-18)

An Italian Sports Legend

Prime Minister Conte isn’t the only national hero to catapult Italy into the international limelight.

Just a few weeks ago (July 2018), Professional golfer Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to capture one of golf’s four major tournaments by winning the British Open. The British Open is the oldest of these four majors which also include: The Masters, The U.S. Open, and the PGA. For that reason, plus the fact that golf was invented by the United Kingdom, nearly all Europeans and some Americans and other non-European nationalities consider the British Open as the most prestigious championship in golf. To the extent that the proper way to refer to it is simply, “The Open.”

Age 35, Molinari is now up to 6th in the world golf rankings. Although born in Turin, Italy, ironically, he moved to England a few years ago with his wife Valentina and their two children. Among other accolades Francesco received for his impressive victory, of paramount importance was being the first Italian to win any major, let alone The Open. And it came just a few weeks after Italy’s astounding and unlikely change of government. Both events thrust Italy into the global spotlight, where I believe it will remain during these last days of the end times.

(Francesco Molinari and his wife with the Claret Jug–the trophy for winning The Open Championship)

In keeping with today’s underlying theme that the resurgence of international attention on Italy/Rome is yet another harbinger of the (more so than ever) imminent Day of the Lord—Rapture; reappearance of Antichrist; Great Tribulation; return of Messiah Jesus; and his Millennial Reign—here is another excerpt from the previous quoted article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? Beginning with the sectional heading of that part of the article:

Antichrist Will Appeal to Populists and Globalists, To the Common Man and to the Elite

Another irony is that these extremes will enable Antichrist Nero to capture the attention of many left behind at the Rapture. Both the far left and far right and everyone on a sliding scale in between will realize that there is no geopolitical or social solution to such polarization; only one man can bridge the chasm. This false messiah won’t need a world government or a world religion. Although he will assemble a ten-nation coalition for military purposes, his global appeal will extend far beyond individual differences, political poles, national boundaries, and international coalitions.

I went on to say in that article:

During the first half or so of his fourteen-year reign, Nero found enormous favor with the common Roman citizen and (to a lesser extent) with the nobility—including the Roman Senate composed mostly of the wealthy elite—despite his enactment of laws that favored the middle and lower class more so than the upper class. The masses adored him during most of his reign. When he began to display his base nature of gross immorality, brutality (mostly against Christians), and disregard for the everyday affairs of the Roman Empire, many still revered him … even after his death.

When Nero returns, one of his first accomplishments will be a seven-year treaty with Israel (most likely between Israel and the Muslim world). During his rise to power—propelled by world-wide allegiance because of his amazing reappearance—he will curry the favor of both the elite and the common person … just as he did during his first reign as Roman Emperor…. It’s evident that many segments of society will adore him: the lower and middle class because of any number of sweeping changes he will make for their benefit; but also, celebrity politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes.

…For the globalists, Nero will unify and consolidate many (but not all) peoples and nations into a world utopia mentality as he almost did for the Roman nobility and masses with his pursuit of the Pax Romana. For the populists and nationalists, he will appear to champion individual rights by promoting personal pride and national identity, as he did with the greater populace of Rome. Before he destroys the Vatican, Nero will conciliate Roman Catholicism with Islam. (Pope Francis is already setting the stage for such an appeasement. See Eye of Prophecy article, The Vatican and Islam … A Perfect Match for Antichrist; posted 6-4-16).

Things to Ponder

Let’s do one last quote from Globalism or Populism

The irreconcilable polarizations are: Good and evil, truth and lies. Though Nero will deceive billions into believing evil is good and his lies are the truth, he will not succeed in merging these opposites together. Good and evil are forever separated by their very definition and essence. The ultimate solution is not coexistence. Only Messiah Jesus—Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man—can and will eliminate the Satanic opposite of all that is good, and right, and just.

“But then the court will pass judgment, and all his (Antichrist) power will be taken away and completely destroyed. Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:26-27, parenthesis mine).

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah…” (Revelation 12:10).

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

Will There Still Be Unbelievers Throughout Eternity?

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NASB, italics for emphasis).

“Breath of life” and “a living being” helps us to better understand and deeply appreciate all of God’s creation, especially his final (6th day) crowning achievement: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27, NASB).

God’s creation of plant and animal life is of dazzling variety and complexity; however, the human race is (using space science terminology) light years above animals. Human attributes of inductive and deductive reasoning; creativity in multiple areas of life, including the arts, sciences, industry; intentional (as opposed to instinctive) love and hate; and paramount of all—language (speech); exceedingly surpass the most intelligent of animals, e.g. dolphin, chimpanzee, elephant.

Though every form of life has a body and (sadly) we humans sometimes act like animals, it’s the intangible that makes all the difference.

It’s the eternal existence of the human soul and spirit that identifies us in the image of God and vastly separates us from the animal kingdom.

To Be or Not to Be … In Heaven (A Revisit)

That is the title of Eye of Prophecy article posted 5-6-17. In italics, the following is an excerpt:

According to Scripture, every person was born (created) to live forever. That is what is meant when God breathed life into Adam (and Eve) and they became a “living soul.” (Genesis 2:7, KJV). Soul, person, being … all convey the idea of infinity, of time without end. That’s one reason we’ve conceived the expression human being. We don’t say that about animals, i.e. animal being.

Shakespeare’s statement of, “To be or not to be; that is the question,” is, indeed, a profound reflection. A living soul will always “be.” To be born is to be, and be, and be….

However, there is a dissimilarity where someone will spend that eternal existence … heaven or hell. Thus, there is a distinction whether a person will experience eternity in life or eternity in death. Indeed, there is an existence of eternal life and the equally clear Biblical teaching of eternal death, which is not an oxymoron. Death means departure—the body from the soul at physical death and subsequent separation from God forever, which is called the second death in Scripture.

We are all born spiritually dead. The only way we can pass from that spiritual death to life is to be born-again, which is accomplished when we believe and receive Christ Jesus, who IS life.

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

Although the Right to Life comes from God alone, because God is the author of life itself … God does give each person the right to choose where he or she will spend eternity. Thus, if a person rejects God’s invitation to believe and receive the pardon purchased by Jesus, they have chosen (eternal) death … to remain forever separated from God. But even that death is a continuation of existence. It’s a death-like absence from all that is right and good and beautiful.

The Greatest Hope of Mankind

Can you think of any higher hope of humanity than that of eternal life? It’s a longing not just for a better life, but for one that’s perfect. For the irreligious, I suppose it’s mostly to extend and even enhance the pleasures of this life forever and to eliminate the displeasures! (See Eye of Prophecy article, Fountain of Youth & Fountain of Life … Is There a Difference? (Posted 3-31-18).

Most people on Planet Earth are religious to some extent or another; and every religion has some form and place of ethereal existence. With exception of the Christian faith (which is not a religion, rather a personal relationship with the Triune God), every religion and cult has a common thread: hopefully good deeds will outweigh the bad to qualify the members for their version of paradise. However, each religion also sets itself above and apart from competitive religions by the premise that unless you belong to that belief system, you have essentially no chance of reaching whatever desired afterlife is presumed by its adherents.

As for me, I have staked my eternal destiny on the Omnipotent Triune God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and in His Word … the Bible. No other “religion” offers a Savior, who did for me (all of us) what I could not could not do for myself: pay the penalty of my sins to restore me to my Creator and make me right with Him. Furthermore, that Savior, Messiah Jesus, arose from the dead to prove that he is who he said he is.

Moreover, the God of the Bible is the only One who even dares to frequently predict the future; with hundreds of those prophecies coming to pass (100% accuracy) and more awaiting certain fulfillment. Who has performed miracle after miracle to demonstrate that he is the only true and living God. There is a glaring absence of prophecies and miracles (real-life as opposed to mythical) in every religious text, except the Bible.

As is said: What more evidence do we need?

Scripture is replete with precious promises of redemption and a glorious (eternal) life in heaven and the New Jerusalem, for all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Said Messiah Jesus to his disciples (and for all subsequent believers in him) just hours before his crucifixion and resurrection three days later:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Before we explore eternity and answer the question posed by this week’s Eye of Prophecy title, let’s revisit the:

Magnificent Millennium

“Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge…

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection (at the Rapture … completed by the resurrection of Tribulation saints). For them the second death (eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire) holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 & 6, parenthesis mine).

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, The Magnificent Millennial Reign of Believers with Messiah (Posted 7-15-17). In italics:

There will be responsibilities and activities assigned to all believers during the Millennium, yet not all may be judges as such. With our wonderful new spiritual bodies and minds and hearts, there will be no competition or complaints among believers as to who does what in the Kingdom of God on earth. Obviously, The Lord’s delegated duties to his people will be distributed perfectly; for example, like he assigned 72 pairs of disciples to preach the Kingdom of God during his ministry on earth.

In our Millennial reign with Messiah as joint-heirs with him, we will all be priests of God and of Christ as quoted earlier. Indeed, as soon as we are born-again, we are given that privilege while still here on earth. Yet, that is for a short time and our “priesthood” is often limited and sometimes blemished because we are still fighting a spiritual battle with Satan, with the world, and with ourselves … our flesh and sin nature (See Romans Chapter 7).

Not so in the Millennium. Our re-created spiritual bodies in Christ will enable us to praise, worship, and serve the Lord undefiled. But serve him we will, as opposed to the misconception of unbelievers and even some believers that Christians will have nothing better to do than drift along on clouds playing harps! Don’t get me wrong … there will be the most beautiful music imaginable in heaven!

Or the misunderstanding that the Millennium will be absent any human imperfections … things that cause discord and conflict. The first part of the Millennium will be near perfect, as even unbelievers still alive at the end of the Great Tribulation will acknowledge and bow down to Messiah Jesus as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. But slowly and surely, even though Satan will not be able to exert his influence on earth, people will once again rebel against God’s truth, even as Christ Jesus rules from Jerusalem. This will lead to the final battle of the ages, as found in Revelation Chapter 20.

(I’ve posted this picture a few times before, as it is one of, if not my favorite. Notice the people from ages past and present)

That article briefly covered one of Jesus’s many parables, that of investing in the Kingdom of God as found in Luke Chapter 19. I went on to say:

If you are a believer in Messiah Jesus, you will share in his inheritance. Among other things, Jesus has inherited the nations of the earth and will begin his literal rule and reign over them upon his glorious return to Jerusalem.

“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 teachings 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).

Our King will grant authority to believers—Jews and Gentiles alike—to be his assistants, ambassadors, emissaries, judges, administrators; and, when and where necessary, his disciplinarians (by the best and purest example of tough love) in establishing his extraordinary Divine Monarchy on Planet Earth.

Although under different conditions, a parallel Old Testament precedent is when Moses, “…chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves” (Exodus 18:25-26).

Where did we read about resolving disputes? Oh yes, Isaiah 2:4: “Settle international disputes.” The really big international disagreements will mostly be arbitrated by Jesus, himself. But there will be a whole planet full of more “common disputes,” that believers will handle. We will even judge angels! (I Corinthians 6:3).

In the greater context of this week’s topic and also concerning the Millennium, please permit one other excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Millennial Reign … Incredible Changes on Earth (Published 12-30-17).

When the curse is cancelled at the glorious Second Coming of Christ, even the animals will undergo an extreme makeover. The full nature and extent of these internal (temperament) and external (perhaps fewer or no fangs in predators) changes remain to be seen. The Lord’s magnificent plan of redemption is not only for people who place their personal trust in the Redeemer, but also for the entire earth and all living things. Everything will come full circle back to the beginning … even better!

…Some of this restoration will take place during the Millennium; some not until after the 1,000-year epoch, which is the beginning of what many Bible scholars simply call “Eternity.” Such as:

I then quoted one of those Eternity passages: Revelation 21:1-4, which will be reserved for the latter part of today’s article.

Regarding the renovation of the animal kingdom, listen to this incredible prophecy from Isaiah:

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm … for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6-9, parenthesis mine).

(One of several lion/lamb pictures, which is still a reliable representation of Isaiah 11; even though the lamb is actually juxtaposed to the wolf in the passage. I believe the reason for the lion/lamb combination is because Messiah Jesus is both the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the Lion from the tribe of Judah who will return as King of all kings)

The Final (Post-Millennial) Battle on Earth

I (and others) have written much about Armageddon. For example, see Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events (2-3-18).

Virtually all unbelievers and even some Christians think that Armageddon is the final war of all time. It is not. There is a Post-Millennial battle, albeit one that is anti-climactic in its conclusion. One that is given only a short passage in Revelation, compared to the lengthy account (several chapters in Revelation and passages in the Old Testament) of the Tribulation turmoil leading to and including Armageddon.

Remember, the devil will be imprisoned in the Abyss for the entire 1,000-year duration of Messiah’s reign. Yet, even during the absence of Satan—the very source and personification of evil—people all over the Globe will once again rebel against God and Messiah Jesus. Which (pathetically) speaks volumes about the self-reliant, self-indulgent, self-righteous defiance of those who refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, even though he will have brought unparalleled and unprecedented peace, prosperity, and justice to the earth.

“When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city…” (Revelation 20:7-9a).

Before we examine the last part of verse 9, which abruptly concludes this short passage about the final Gog/Magog campaign (the same emblematic name as found in Ezekiel 38 & 39, but not the same coalition of nations/armies … with time/space not permitting a more detailed explanation), let’s ask the question:

Why and how will Satan “deceive the nations” and “gather them together” one last time?

Answer: Like Armageddon, the same way in which Satan duped even the enemies (kings of the east) of his man of sin—Antichrist and his ten-nation confederation—to join forces against Messiah Jesus who has returned to earth.

“And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist Nero), and the false prophet (identity to be determined during the Tribulation). They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty…. And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-14 & 16; italics in the text, parenthesis mine).

By the time of Armageddon, the entire world will know beyond any doubt that the supernatural plagues of divine judgment were caused by Almighty God, yet the unsaved will still not repent and turn to the true Messiah, Jesus. Actually, they realize God’s intervention early in the Tribulation …the sixth seal judgment, which is the first catastrophe from God himself.

As follows:

No sensible ruler, general, or army would dare take on Jesus as he descends through the sky on a white horse; along with the host of heaven—believers, also on white horses (Revelation 19). No matter how many millions of troops or how great the firepower, how does anyone do battle with something (Someone) so transcendentally powerful? Unless, that is, they are persuaded to do something irrationally reckless: Attempt to defeat a heavenly King and his army, both of whom are indestructible. When common sense says that they should be waiving a white flag of surrender as they look up to the heavens from the Valley of Megiddo.

This is exactly what the unsaved on earth will consider yet again in their increasingly hardened hearts and convoluted minds, during the last phase of the Millennium. All they need is a little help from their friends. From, “…evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world … from mighty powers in this dark world … evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Satan’s warped deception of unbelievers at Armageddon and then again at the Post-Millennial final battle of all time is that of convincing entire nations and armies that God’s people can be defeated, even though the Son of God is personally (on earth) defending his people.

Think again Satan and those who want to “break their chains from God” (Psalm 2). With a short but not so sweet ending (for the Millennial rebels) here’s what will happen:

“…But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9b-10).

That’s the swift and decisive end to the final mutiny of man against the Lord and his people—Jewish and Gentile believers.

Revelation Chapter 20 concludes with the Great White Throne judgment in which all unbelievers will be raised from the dead. Only to be judged for having rejected their only hope of redemption and eternal life … Messiah Jesus; thereby, deliberately choosing to be separated from God—eternal death in the Lake of Fire.

It’s Time for Eternity!

Revelation Chapter 21 begins with what is commonly referred to as: Eternity.

A time of astounding alterations for the better, even more so than during the Millennium. A time of boundless beauty; of tremendous tranquility; of exceptional existence; of a phenomenal paradise; of…. Well, the Bible says it much better and in more detail. With promises that even our imagination can’t keep up with.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2).

The next two verses are equally, if not more stunning. They refer to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—dwelling in the new Jerusalem (a city which essentially merges heaven and earth … to whatever degree is yet unknown). It will be as is sometimes said about outstandingly good things that we see or experience in this life, yet pale in comparison to what it will truly be throughout eternity: “Heaven on earth.”

Continuing: “…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people … 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!” (Revelation 21:3-4).

There’s more!

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new! And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am Alpha and Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious (believers, whose victory is that of being redeemed by the blood of Messiah Jesus—Revelation 1) will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children” (Revelation 21:5-7, parenthesis mine).

It doesn’t get any better than that. Right?

“Of course, right!” you reply. Which also has been my response, with one (minor) mystery, but certainly not to the point of worry or doubt. Nonetheless, an enigma which cannot be dismissed as though it’s not in the text. One that confronts us in the very next verse of Revelation 21. However, a puzzle that can be solved with a little dose of spiritual insight.

That paradox is presented in the title of this week’s article:

Will There Still Be Unbelievers Throughout Eternity?

First, you may want to scroll back a few sentences and read Revelation 21:5-7, that ends with: “…and they will be my children.” Let’s pick it up with the next verse:

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshippers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

If we anticipate that eternity is to be picture perfect in every way including absence of evil, then what about the verse we just read? What about the men and woman whose lifestyle described clearly shows they are not believers? Those who are rejecting life-changing salvation through Messiah Jesus like all those who were judged at the Great White Throne Judgment that had already taken place.

One explanation is that the verse (in fact) refers retroactively to those unbelievers at the Great White Throne judgment in contrast to believers who, as the passage describes: “inherit all the blessings” (of eternity). If this was the last verse in Revelation to describe all those who HAD ALREADY been judged, then this application is feasible. But it’s not the last reference to such people in Revelation. Plus, the factual sequence that Revelation Chapters 21 & 22 depict Eternity, which begins after the White Throne Judgment.

Immediately following Revelation 21:8 (“But cowards, unbelievers…”) John portrays the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-27) in dramatic detail, including its shape and size—1,400 miles in length, width, and height. His description contains one of the most-well known and oft quoted features of the New Jerusalem: “…And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass” (Revelation 21:21 … streets of gold as is said).

John continues: “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city” (Revelation 21:23-26).

[*Note: The passage says, all the nations. However, several times when the Bible says, “all,” or “every” it is clearly referring to the greater majority. We can understand the difference between all (every single person or nation) and the majority by the context and comparing the text to other similar passages and patterns in Scripture. For example, concerning the Antichrist (Nero): “…And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7).

We know that doesn’t mean every single person or nation because other Bible passages explicitly explain that Antichrist will have enemies, those that oppose him … on both a personal and national level. Thus, the every in that passage means everyone who yields to him, willingly or unwillingly. When they submit, then he will rule over them.]

This is just one of several passages in Scripture that state directly or strongly imply that the cycle of humanity—birth, life, and death—will continue on this present earth (during the Millennium) and the new earth throughout Eternity.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “Didn’t the Lord tell us that there will be no more sorrow, crying, pain, or death?”

Yes, he did, but with a specific application. I’ll get to that in the closing remarks.

Let’s continue. As we just read: Nations (people of those nations) will still inhabit the earth and (some of) their kings will be permitted entrance to the New Jerusalem. But not all kings will be allowed to enter nor all people “walk in its light.”

How can we draw that conclusion? Answer: From the very next verse.

“Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Meaning that unbelievers (the unsaved) will be confined to the earth and not ever allowed to step foot in the New Jerusalem … until or unless they personally acknowledge Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior.

To reinforce this fact, Revelation distinguishes yet again (for a third time) between the saved and unsaved.

“Blessed are they who wash their robes (analogy for salvation through Messiah Jesus). They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs (symbolism for the unclean … unsaved)—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshippers, and all who love to live a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15, parenthesis mine).

Remember, all three of these passage that refer to unbelievers take place after the Millennium, when “Eternity” begins. The sequence is unmistakable.

The Lord will continue to allow every person born on (the currently old and then the new) earth to exercise free will—to choose between eternal life or eternal death … the Lake of Fire. Some will choose wrongly.

(The choice between life and death began in the Garden of Eden, continued with God’s chosen people in the above passage, still relevant today and will be extended throughout Eternity)

Does the existence of unbelievers (graphically depicted in the language of these passages, i.e. sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, etc.) diminish, disturb, or disrupt in any way the exceptional eternal existence of believers (“God’s people” … Revelation 21:3-4)?

Absolutely not.

For one thing, I’m convinced that the number of unbelievers will be few and far between (literally on the earth). It will be just the opposite of today’s world and certainly during the Tribulation in which unbelievers greatly outnumber the Tribulation Saints. To validate that observation, here is the last part of a passage quoted earlier in today’s article: “…so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9).

Another reason is that believers will have the freedom to move (live) between the New Jerusalem and the new earth. The “presence” of unbelievers will have no adverse effect, whatsoever, on the heavenly quality of eternal life for believers.

Unlike today’s world, there will be no more war or subjugation of entire peoples and nations by other rulers and nations whose people are ruthlessly wicked. On the contrary, the relatively few unbelievers will be justifiably shamed, shunned, and segregated for all the right reasons of separating evil from good. Satan will be in the Lake of Fire, unable to ever again deceive and galvanize (in demonic ways) these unbelievers together, as he had done for thousands of years on national and international levels… culminating at Armageddon, then one last time at the final Gog/Magog war.

Individually, they will be stigmatized for what they are: foolish, stubborn, and unrepentant—despite the treasures of the purest and perfect life, liberty, and love staring them in the face. Freely given by the source of all light and truth … God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Nor will believers have anything to fear from unbelievers. With our new eternal spiritual bodies, we will be impervious to harm or pain and certainly to death.

Summary

In addition to perpetual free will, another reason the Lord will allow the existence of unbelievers is for contrast. Why loving and following God in all his holiness (truth) and goodness (gracious blessings) is infinitely better than wickedness conceived and practiced by those who want to be completely independent of God.

Also, the Lake of Fire will be a reminder of the terrible fate of those who preferred and will say (literally or in their heart), “I did it my way.” Ever so tragically, they will get their way … what they wished for—nothing to do with (separated from) the Lord.

Lest anyone thinks this is speculation or just one teacher’s opinion, listen to God himself as he speaks (graphically concerning Eternity) in the last three verses of the book of Isaiah:

“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear, says the Lord. All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Things to Ponder

So, what about, “no more death?”

I’m glad you reminded me!

It’s true, there will be no more death. But for whom? That is the eternal question.

Let’s read the passage again.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 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’” (Revelation 21:3-4; italics for emphasis).

However—whether now, or during the Millennium, or throughout eternity—once an unbeliever dies there is no second chance of eternal life. There will only be eternal death.

The text is positively plain. This powerful and precious promise from the Lord applies exclusively to his people. It is the consummation of so great a salvation freely given to those who believe and receive Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior … Jew and Gentile alike.

“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. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:6-10).

Amen and Hallelujah!

 

Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law

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Israel in the World Spotlight … Again

Contrary to the natural order of contractions preceding the miracle of birth, yet precisely as God foretold: the nation of Israel would be born (in a single day). Then her birth pains would follow.

This was the central theme of Eye of Prophecy article posted on 7-14-18 entitled: The Remarkable Rebirth of a Nation; based primarily on Isaiah Chapter 66.

Israel’s reverse birth is the most significant Biblical prediction that has come to pass in this generation (past 70 years), proving even more conclusively that the Bible is the Word of the true and living God. Also, demonstrating that the Day of the Lord prophecies (Rapture, Tribulation, Return and Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus) are imminent in their fulfillment.

Since the United Nations Resolution of November 1947 extended statehood rights to the Jews, and Israel’s First Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s declared on May 14, 1948 that Israel was now a sovereign state, this tiny country has been in the international spotlight like no other nation on earth. Although Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967 followed by her more difficult triumph in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 garnered world headlines, global attention on Israel has increased dramatically in the last quarter century, beginning primarily with the Oslo Accords of 1993.

(Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat during signing of the Oslo Accord Agreement of 1993; the Palestinians have kept virtually none of the agreements)

This focus has intensified even more in just the past 3-4 years. Not the least of which is the startling (bordering on unbelievable) alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey who were enemies of each other not that long ago—the three most prominent nations of the soon to come Gog/Magog attack against Israel.

Also because of a United States President who, despite his impulsive idiosyncrasies, has expressed support of Israel through action. President Trump’s official recognition (December 6, 2017) that Jerusalem always has been and always will be the eternal capital of Israel was a bold and long overdue (from previous administrations) implementation of the Jewish Embassy Act of 1995, which both houses of the United States Congress had passed by an overwhelming majority. Then a lightning-fast move (way ahead of the projected schedule) of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14th, 2018—to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary as a nation.

Now it was Israel’s turn to pass a (national) law validating their historical God-given right to possess and govern the land promised as a perpetual inheritance to their patriarchal ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

On July 19, 2018, Israel’s Knesset approved legislation officially completing what unofficially had been accepted by Israeli Jews since the United Nations recognized the Jewish right to a sovereign state. In summary fashion, that law declares: Israel Is a Jewish Nation.

Was the Jewish Nation-State Law Necessary?

Why was this bill even introduced in the Knesset? If Israel is a Jewish State, then why make this obvious fact a law?

Answer: It is a fact, but it wasn’t a law. And the fact is: It needed to be a law. Which is defined (Webster’s) as: “a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.”

Also, because it wasn’t obvious. Meaning that it (a Jewish Nation) wasn’t acknowledged by Israel’s enemies, by several Western nations, and even by some liberal Jews. And now it is … a law and obvious.

Israel doesn’t have a Constitution as such. However, like the United States, the nation of Israel began with a Declaration of Independence, which proclaims:

“The State of Israel will foster the development of the country for all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

As with other democratic countries, inhabitants include all residents of that nation; however, a few rights such as voting and holding office are restricted to (legal) citizens. Yet there’s no doubt whatsoever that Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 extended to all Arabs—later called Palestinians—of Israel, in terms of basic human rights.

In 1992, Israel passed the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Among other things it states: “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” (italics for emphasis).

Thus, the newly enacted Jewish Nation-State law is partially duplicative of that Basic Law. But not entirely. In my view, which matches the Israeli majority (58% for … 34% against, the rest undecided), the new law was necessary because the persistent premise of most Palestinians and many Israeli Arabs (citizens of Israel), is that Israel must be exclusively a democratic state … which it is. But not a Jewish State.

That is no different than telling an Italian that Italy is indeed, democratic; however, Italy is not an Italian nation because there are minorities in Italy who don’t think it should be (identified as Italian). If in Rome you wouldn’t want to say that, because the delicious pizza you just ordered may get thrown in your face, toppings and all!

Israel is first and foremost a Jewish nation with national rights no more or less than any country in the world whose greater majority of citizens make that nation distinctive from other nations. Hence, Germans in Germany, the French in France, the English (British) of England, and Americans in America. Granted, the United States of America is unique in that it is the only true melting pot in the world; to which most of our ancestors immigrated from European countries. Thus, our minorities are considered to be non-European ethnic groups.

Israel is the ONLY country in the entire Middle East that affords (across the board) equal rights to its citizens, regardless of race, religion, culture, and gender. This includes 1.8 million Israeli Arabs (citizens) of Israel. Also, 130,000 Druze; the next largest ethnic minority in Israel who trace their heritage back to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro—whom they revere as a prophet. Even though their main language is Arabic, most Druze identify more with the Jews than with the Arabs.

Israel is often accused by Muslims and even by some non-Islamic nations whose accusers are either uninformed or who deliberately distort facts on the ground, of being an apartheid state. That is absolute nonsense. Israel is nothing like South Africa was for a long time, with 10% of the population (Caucasian) segregating themselves from and curbing the rights of black South Africans (the greater majority). That was true apartheid.

Before we examine the Jewish Nation-State Law up close and personal, let’s first look at:

What Makes a Nation, a Nation?

What are the ingredients that nations are made of; features that distinguish one nation from another?

Webster’s Dictionary tells us that the word nation originates from the Latin word, natio, which means: birth, race, nation. And from natus, “to be born.” Nation is then defined as: “a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government … characterized by a relatively large size and independent status.”

Nationality is even more important to grasp, because a nation is first and foremost recognized by the preponderant (greater majority) characteristics of its people.

Nationality is defined as: “national character … national status … a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of the individual and usu. (usually) protection on the part of the state … membership (citizenship) in a particular nation. Political independence or existence as a separate nation … a people having a common origin, tradition, and language” (italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

From the concepts found in these definitions, we can break down the typical features of a nation into seven basic categories.

Race: Although the post-Flood earth was repopulated by Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (and their wives!), it’s nonetheless evident that there are four distinctive races on Planet Earth. With Japheth’s descendants splitting into two races. By and large, physical qualities constitute the clearest reference to and understanding of race.

Webster’s defines race as: “a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type.”

The four races are: Asian, Black, Caucasian, Semitic … the ABC’(S) of race.

With, however, the four racial groupings divided into more specific identities based on the remaining six categories that have contributed to the formation or realignment of nations particularly after World War I and WWII. Two older examples of each race and its nationality subdivisions would be: Asian (Chinese/Japanese); Black (African/Caribbean); Caucasian (British/French); Semitic (Arab/Jew).

Boundaries/Borders: Although a few nations dispute the borders of neighboring countries, boundaries of nations have been delineated and charted across the globe.

With the perceived exception of Israel.

Perceived in the sense that virtually every Muslim nation, both Arab and non-Arab, refutes the British Mandate of Palestine (League of Nations July 1922 affirmation of the Balfour Declaration) and the subsequent November 1947 UN resolution declaring Israel’s right to statehood, both of which were and still are a matter of international law.

Moreover, they do not acknowledge that the Arabs forfeited their right to a (Palestinian) state; because they not only refused to accept those resolutions, five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq) attacked the newborn Jewish Nation the day after Israel’s statehood with the sworn objective of annihilating it. Nor, do they (concerning Israel) acknowledge international law that says: If a “disputed territory” is seized by a nation that is defending itself from unprovoked and/or illegitimate aggression, that territory belongs to the defender.

This indifferent ignorance or deliberate denial of international law is the reason why the Palestinians, all Muslim nations, and even some Western nations have demanded that Israel must “return” (relinquish sovereign control of) to pre-1967 Six-Day War internal boundaries. Which were nothing more than hastily negotiated armistice lines to begin with.

With Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, she reclaimed the Golan Heights, (all) Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), and the Gaza Strip. Israel kept exclusive control of only the Golan Heights, handing over functional control of the other territories back to Jordan and Egypt, who have given the Palestinians administrative supervision. But the fact remains: Israel’s legal (national) borders are with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt—not with the so-called “Palestinian territories.”

Flag/National Anthem: Every member country recognized by the United Nations has a national flag and most likely a national anthem. Both are proud symbols that visibly and audibly identify that nation as unique among the family of nations.

(Of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, a few of those flags are shown here)

Political: There are several forms of government, yet there are far more countries on Planet Earth than types of government. Which means that some nations have the same style of administration, e.g. parliamentary coalition or dictatorship. Nevertheless, the levels and operation of each government is unique, in some way or another.

Religion: In today’s post-modern society, most nations (especially their governments) do not want to be identified by or with a religion. Except, of course, the Muslim nations in which Islam is, by far, the dominating and distinguishing mark of those countries. Most are Arab (nationality, race) countries, but not all—such as Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia. These non-Arab Muslim nations along with almost all the predominately Arab populated countries have become or are becoming an Islamic State Religion, to some degree or another.

However, practically every nation on earth was originally influenced and identified by, and/or founded on (at least in principle), and/or composed of a population majority which followed one of the world’s most recognized religions or offshoots of those religions. Such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, or simply Polytheism (paganism). Israel is the only nation that espouses Judaism on a national level, which is reflected in its’ Declaration of Independence as previously quoted … based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.

Even so, Israel’s government is essentially secular; albeit with two smaller parties of the Knesset composed of Orthodox Jews.

Population Majority: Almost without exception, every country on earth is composed of a racial and/or religious entity that constitutes most of the population. Normally, as the majority goes, so goes the government and its political dynamics. Regarding Israel proper, Jews comprise about 77% of Israeli citizens, with Arab Israelis (the largest minority group) and other smaller minorities 23% of the citizenry. Even if the approximate 3.7 million Arabs (a more accurate count as opposed to the inflated census of the Palestinians) in the West Bank and Gaza combined wanted to become Israeli citizens, the Jews would still be in the majority.

Language: I believe most would agree: The single-most distinguishing feature of a nation or nationality is that of language.

Every nation has a major language, with many countries having enacted that language into law as the recognized (primary) speech of the land. We identify the (majority of) citizens in any given country by the language they speak. In France there are the French. In England (Britain) the English. In Spain, they speak Spanish. In Italy we find Italians who converse in … Italian, what else! In Israel, the Jews speak Hebrew; the same language spoken (with modern words added) thousands of years ago.

These seven components that define and distinguish a nation is what Israel’s Nation-State Law is all about and why it was passed.

Israel is a Jewish Nation-State / Or If Preferred as a Question: Is Israel a Jewish State?

The law contains eleven clauses; the first of which covers the three basic principles written into this Jewish Nation-State law, which also goes by the name of the Nationality Law:

  • “The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established”
  • “The state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to self-determination”
  • “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”

The other ten (nationality) clauses reaffirmed such things as Israel’s national flag—the Star of David; Hatikvah, the national anthem; Jewish holidays and days of remembrance; Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital; Hebrew calendar as the national calendar; Hebrew as the official language with Arabic a language of “special status.” Incidentally, most nations don’t have a special status for any of their minority languages.

(Jewish Calendar months have 30 days–360 days a year; with the civil New Year beginning on the 1st of the month of Tishrei (Sept., Oct. of Gregorian calendar)

As with any country in which laws are enacted by whatever legislative margin of approval (vote count) is required, there are always legislators and their constituents who oppose all or part of the bill, usually along party lines. Among Jews, the main opposition came from the liberal left-wing … as expected.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the law’s enactment as a “defining moment” of Israel’s history. He explained:

“We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state—the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to undermine this, to undercut our very existence. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language, anthem, and flag.”

Netanyahu also said: “Israeli citizens’ individual rights have been cemented in a number of laws, including Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. These laws guarantee full equality before the law, from the right to vote and be elected to the Knesset to any other individual right in the State of Israel.”

Continuing: “On the other hand, we have never enshrined the national rights of the Jewish people in our land in a basic law until now… What do ‘national rights’ mean? They define the nature of the flag, the anthem, the language and, of course, the fact one of the fundamental objectives of the state is the ingathering of the exiles here, in the land of Israel, which is the essence of the Zionist vision.”

Toward the end of his speech, Benjamin stated:

“Does the determination that our flag bears the Star of David somehow invalidates the individual rights of any Israeli citizen? Nonsense. This statement does, however, ensure that there will be no other flag…. There is already a proposal to replace the flag and the anthem in the name of so-called equality. Many countries are dealing with defiance against the concept of nationality (here, he is commenting on globalism vs. populism or national sovereignty), but in Israel, this undermines our very existence…” (parenthesis mine).

In direct response to criticism from Israel’s Druze community (some of whom serve in the IDF and different levels of government) who felt the law would discriminate against them, Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev poignantly responded:

“You, of all people—you who have been deeply loyal to the State of Israel for decades—should not be fooled by the radical Left. Don’t buy their media spin. Read the actual law. This law doesn’t discriminate against you. You remain equal citizens in the Jewish state, which, as you well know, has nothing but respect for its citizens and especially for its loyal Druze minority.”

She went on to write on her Facebook post that the Nation-State Law, “…doesn’t violate your civil rights or anyone else’s rights—Christian, Muslim, Bedouin or Circassian…. All this basic law seeks to do is complement other basic laws and clarify—to us and to the judiciary (referring to Israel’s Supreme Court which has struck down several Knesset laws), which seems to have forgotten, and to the entire world—that from a national level there is no equality. Israel has and always will be a Jewish state, whose flag bears the Star of David, whose language is Hebrew, and whose capital is and will forever be the united city of Jerusalem. You are equal and respected citizens in this country” (italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

(Israeli Sport/Culture Minister, Miri Regev)

In that context, two prominent Druze (Israeli citizens) disagreed with others of their community who felt the law was discriminatory. Said Chairman of the Druze Zionist Council for Israel, Atta Farhat:

“No other Druze community has it better that the Druze community in Israel. I implore all of my brethren in the Druze community to avoid the trap of the Left and back the nation-state law as it is…. Since the state’s founding, we have raised our children on Zionism. The silent majority of the Druze population in Israel loves this country. We have been partners with the people of Israel from the days of Moses … and we will continue to be partners in the future.”

Said Druze Israeli Captain (IDF Reserves) Shadi Halouf, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association: “As soon as Israel stops being the state of the Jewish people, as some in the radical Left and in the Arab parties want—we will no longer be able to enjoy the freedoms and security level Israel provides us…. I support the nation-state law and I am proud to be a citizen of Israel and a member of the Aramean Christian community, like tens of thousands of others.”

Time and space don’t allow for several scathing Palestinian reactions to this law. Except as quoted by one of the Palestinian Authority’s spokesperson, who said: the law is “racist.” That was to be expected, as the Palestinians often say this and other derogatory things about (Jewish) Israel without needing a specific flash point.

The law is not racist; rather, it is racial. The very existence of Israel is that of a Jewish State—race, religion, government, majority population, flag/anthem, boundaries, language—all the distinctive characteristics of a nation …any nation. Racial is synonymous to national.

In fact, concerning the potential creation of a Palestinian State, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn on more than occasion that (a very close paraphrase): “Not one single Jew will be permitted to live in a Palestinian State.”

Those words are as racist as anything could be.

A photo of Abbas would fit comfortably alongside the words racist, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing … the very concepts of which he (falsely) accuses Israel. See Eye of Prophecy article: Ethnic Cleansing of the Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda (Posted 9-17-16).

The real Arab narrative has not changed since 1948 … make that since the Balfour Declaration of 1917. They do not want a state of their own unless the (Jewish) Nation of Israel ceases to exist.

Examples & Comparisons

Based on the law itself as well as responses to it, I’ll present just three examples (there could be many more) regarding the rationale and results of this Jewish Nation-state law.

Jewish National Self-Determination: National rights include the authority of a Jewish State to decline (for any reason, but especially impossible non-negotiable demands from the Palestinians or those who support the Palestinian agenda) the creation of a Palestinian State within the established borders of Israel.

The fact remains: The West Bank is nothing more than a 20th century invented term for the region of Israel known as Judea/Samaria. Except for some Israeli housing districts in this beautiful hill country, it is occupied predominantly by Palestinian Arabs (non-citizens of Israel). For Israel to allow this territory (and/or the Gaza Strip) to become a state would be a decision of disastrous consequences to Israel’s security and survival. A few prior Eye of Prophecy articles have addressed this in detail. In fact, the repercussions of a Palestinian state would be (literally) of Biblical proportions. If for no other reason that God himself has declared that the Promised Land must not be divided into any other nation or nations.

The creation of a Palestinian State would be like the confederate states forming a separate nation within the federal geographical boundaries of the United States of America. Whereas, the trigger-point issue between the north and the south was that of slavery, the real underlying problem was that of a few states succeeding from the Union—in direct defiance of the Constitution of the United States. Israel passed the Jewish Nation-State Law because it resembles a Constitution in form and substance.

Hebrew Language: Under this new law, Hebrew is the only official language of Israel.

Arabic has “special status” but no longer can the Palestinians or Islamic nations surrounding Israel demand that Arabic be given equal status, with the residual implication that the Palestinians could lay claim to Israel (or any part thereof) as exclusively their own, for that reason alone. This would be akin to German or Italian communities in the United States demanding that their language on a national level be equal to English. Or Spanish, because the Hispanic minority in America constitutes 17% of the population. To date, the one and only official language of the United States continues to be English.

On a functional level, I don’t see Israel replacing highway and street signs throughout Israel that currently are marked in three languages … Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Rather, it’s the principle of the matter. If Israel wanted all their signs only in Hebrew, they have the sovereign right to do so.

Except for possible exceptions at our border with Mexico, have you seen road signs in America displaying any other language than English? *Note: It’s one thing for private businesses or public entities to accommodate a relatively large minority group with bilingual options. It’s quite another (illegal) matter for them to insist that it be a co-official language of the land.

National Flag/Anthem: Again, we’ll use the United States for comparison. Because we began as a nation of immigrants—continuing to this day (both legal and illegal!)—wouldn’t it be more equitable to have multiple national anthems? For instance: To play the anthem of Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, and Mexico on say an annual rotation basis. After all, a good portion of our population hails from those countries.

I’m thinking your answer would be the same as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Nonsense!

The lyrics of Israel’s National Anthem, Hatikvah are:

As long as deep in the heart,

The soul of a Jew yearns,

And onward to the East

To Zion, an eye looks

Our hope will not be lost,

The hope of two thousand years,

To be a free nation in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem

And then there’s Israel’s national flag—the Star of David. Though the flag and the anthem and other features of Israel’s Nation-State Law are largely symbolic, many of us appreciate the significance of symbolism. In the United States, most of us stand with our right hand over our heart when pledging allegiance to Old Glory—the Stars and Stripes. Or when singing our national anthem.

The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart.

Though Scripture records two grievous sins (Bathsheba/Uriah & the Census) to show just how human he was, David’s life’s passion was to seek the Lord God constantly and consistently, despite his failures (Psalm 34, 51, & 63). To trust the Lord for his salvation, no less than Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (Psalm 18 & 32). To announce the coming Messiah (a descendent of David’s lineage) who would bring salvation to both Jew and Gentile through his suffering and substitutionary sacrifice (Psalm 22). The Messiah who was the Son of God; who would return to Jerusalem as God’s chosen King to rule and reign over the entire earth in righteousness, justice, and peace (Psalm 2, 110, & 118).

Wrote King David: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

David adeptly balanced what we call today, church and state. He skillfully merged the twelve Jewish tribes into the unified nation of Israel. All the while recognizing and relying on God’s divine sovereignty … personally and nationally.

His relationship with the Lord prophetically portrayed what would be the essence and experience of Israel upon her rebirth and upon the (imminent) final redemptive restoration of the Jews to Messiah, the prophesied descendant of David. Many of the Psalms intrinsically reflect this correlation. Such as one of the most contemporarily quoted passages in Scripture, written by King David:

Summary

Who better than King David to symbolize (Star of David) the modern reborn nation of Israel which is destined to complete God’s covenants with Abraham and David; that of the whole world blessed through the Promised Child, the eternal King of Israel—Messiah Jesus.

“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it…. For since their (the people of Israel) rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead” (Romans 11:12 & 15, parenthesis mine).

That’s what Israel is all about, even though many Jews haven’t yet grasped the full significance of their own flag and corresponding destiny. As a nation, they haven’t yet believed and received their Messiah (Jesus) as Lord and Savior. Israel hasn’t been acknowledged by the entire world, including some of the Jews themselves, as a distinctive national Jewish inheritance. But one day soon, all that will change … permanently.

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

That change is underway before our 20th and 21st century eyes. Beginning with the return of God’s people to Israel in great numbers in just the past 70 years.

“…I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel… Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God … They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived … forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever” (Ezekiel 37:21-25).

With the most recent development that of Israel declaring what the Bible has announced from the beginning: Israel is a Jewish Nation.

The nation from which Messiah Jesus—”the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)—has come. And to which he will return to rule and reign from Jerusalem on the throne of David, as the King of all kings (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 17:14).

Things to Ponder

Not one of the seven reasons for or distinguishing characteristics of a nation is necessary to unequivocally proclaim Israel as a Jewish nation.

Only one reason is needed: God, himself—who created and owns the entire universe—gave a small portion of the Earth to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The same God who always does what he says he will do, who knows the end from the beginning. Whose prophecies through his prophets have or will come to pass with 100% certainty and accuracy.

The Lord knew and approved the residency of foreigners in Israel and told his people: “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

The very fact that God referred to foreigners in Israel demonstrates that Israel was and still is a Jewish nation. Israel and the Israeli Jews do not oppress minorities. It’s just the opposite. Going so far as granting self-governing privileges to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who have refused Israeli citizenship, something that hardly any country on earth would allow of its non-citizens.

As alluded earlier, Israel is not to be divided (think two-state proposal) among any other people or nation except the Jews. Lest anyone thinks that’s merely a suggestion or may be inconsequential, read with me:

“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).

Exactly what encompasses the land of Israel? Modern-day Israel is a good start in the right direction, but the Biblical Promised Land was much greater in scope. Those parameters are delineated in several Old Testament passages; I’m selecting the book of Obadiah, which is less familiar than the others.

Midway through Obadiah, God warns those who seek to harm Israel:

“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads” (Obadiah 1:15).

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).

(Depicts the ancient and also future borders of Israel during the Millennium)

Guess what (who) comes next?

“And the Lord himself will be king!” (Obadiah 1:21b).

**Two stunning videos of Israel’s National Anthem, Hatikvah. The first one is short–celebrating Israel’s 68th national anniversary at the time. The second video (composed of two renditions, each with beautiful visual scenes of Israel) is longer than the first. Pick one or both.

The Remarkable Rebirth of a Nation

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Another Unusual Introduction

Beginning with an excerpt from an article posted on 5-26-18, entitled: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17), which began with: An Unusual Introduction to This Week’s Article. Followed by:

Once before it was necessary to repost a prior Eye of Prophecy article, due to the sudden demise of my laptop hard drive. The time it took to start all over again that week with a brand new engine prevented writing of a new article. Still, the repost included pictures and captions not part of the original article.

Well, it has happened again. Not because my computer hard drive dropped dead, but because my left eye began flashing little bolts of light, surrounded by mysterious shadows. This is not metaphorical!

I went on to say (in quotation marks below):

“These were the opening lines of Eye of Prophecy article, To Be or Not to Be in Heaven (A Revisit), posted 5-6-17.

“(My eyesight has stabilized, and the articles have continued … thank you, Lord!)

“The first repost referenced above was: Why the Rapture? (A Revisit), posted 11-5-16. Of the 253 Eye of Prophecy articles to date (one each Saturday), those are the only two published a second time, albeit with some modifications.

“Although there is no emergency reason, this week’s article plus the next two are reproductions of sorts. But with substantially revised form and content of the original six-series Eye of Prophecy entitled, The Woman and the Beast, posted 10-12-13 through 11-16-13.

“Reasons for reopening this six-article set: Visitors during the first year or so of Eye of Prophecy were significantly fewer than those of subsequent articles (to be expected for any new website). However, readership was disproportionately low, for that very reason—six parts … too many!

A Third Emergency (thus a reposted article this week, but with a modified title)

“Another day in paradise,” is a saying often heard in what we call, The Valley—Phoenix, Arizona area. Maybe, but not entirely. We, too, have our bad days along with good days.

Good News: It’s (comfortably) warm in the winter.

Bad News: It’s (uncomfortably … make that brutally) hot in the summer.

Good News: No volcanic eruptions, blizzards, avalanches, hurricanes, typhoons, or even destructive tornadoes as such.

Bad News: Monsoon storms that fully get your attention. With split power poles, downed power lines, loss of life-sustaining air conditioning (!), uprooted trees, detached roofs, and flash flooding. Plus, (flat, not funnel-like) surges of air that slam straight down to the ground wreaking havoc … called microbursts.

(Usually Beginning as a Huge Dust Cloud, Monsoon Storms Can Bring Strong Winds and Sheets of Rain)

Our first summer Monsoon storm struck this past Monday. Unlike previous tempests over the past 23 years of my Valley residence, this time my house was not spared. Sparing you all the dramatic details, suffice to say that between the emergency restoration crew, the insurance adjuster, temporary clean-up, water extraction and drying machines, on-going repairs, and numerous phone calls, there were too many interruptions to compose, edit, and post an entirely new article this week.

(Photo From the July 9, 2018 Monsoon Storm in the Greater Phoenix Area … Fortunately, this Tree Fell on the Street, Not the House!)

Back to some Good News … As Further Introduction to This Week’s Article

An Eye of Prophecy article written over four years ago is a perfect replacement.

Reason: This past May 14th marked the 70th anniversary of Israel’s remarkable rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948. Delegates from the United States attended this joyous occasion with a bonus to the celebration: opening of the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, having been moved from Tel Aviv. And, just a few days ago, Israel welcomed national leaders from 32 countries to the inaugural “Thank You,” conference at the Knesset—Israel’s Parliamentary Seat of Government in Jerusalem.

Despite the insidious reemergence of Anti-Semitism (especially in some western European countries) among certain global population groups, many national governments are warming up to Israel. With recognition of Israel’s democracy that has facilitated remarkable progress in such areas as agriculture, conservation, medicine, computer/cell phone technology, new business start-up. And the fact that, despite it’s tiny size and population compared to most nations, Israel’s military is ranked 8th most powerful in the world.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article posted in the online news source, United with Israel concerning this conference: “The guests are meeting with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and members of Knesset and are focusing on: promoting Israel’s status in the international arena, the joint fight against the anti-Israel BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the war on global terrorism, Israel’s image in the world, environment and sustainability, and the hi-tech industry, among other issues.”

Some of the participating countries were: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. (Note: It was unnecessary for a U.S. delegate to be there, as the United States is, by far, the strongest ally/friend of Israel, and vice versa.

(Israel’s Knesset, Displaying Some of the Flags of the 32 Countries Attending the First “Thank You” Conference in Jerusalem)

On another personal note: this week’s article is number 260—one posted each Saturday since this labor of love began in July 2013. Which marks the five-year anniversary (52 articles for five years) of the birth of Eye of Prophecy website. If there was to be a third (republished article) emergency, I suppose it couldn’t have come at a better time than to do so with a previous post entitled: The Birth of a Nation.

The core content of that article will remain intact, with some modifications, e.g. photos added, paragraph or headings restructured, and minor changes in semantics. New commentary will be identified as such by italics, preceded by an asterisk. Also, these changes and the fresh material merited a revised title for this week’s article.

Here it is; along with some additional content.

The Birth of a Nation (Originally posted 2-22-14):

I don’t suppose too many of us have ever watched D.W. Griffith’s blockbuster silent film, The Birth of a Nation. Every now and then you might catch it on TCM or some other golden oldies television station. Upon its release in 1915 and for several years thereafter, it was considered one of the greatest movies ever made, even though its portrayal of African-Americans was considered derogatory … at the very least, controversial.

The movie depicted pre-civil and post-civil war America; with an underlying implication that the real birth of our nation took place after the Union defeated the Confederacy and abolished slavery. Some believe that’s when the United States truly became united, via a birth or rebirth of a Union that all states eventually recognized and supported. American history up to that point was more of a gestation period that consisted of two wars with England, the granting of statehood to more territories, and the westward pioneer pilgrimages.

*During America’s Civil War, there were 20 Union States and 11 Confederate States. Three were neutral border states. The other 16 states subsequently added to the Union were part of designated “territories” until the United States Federal Government approved their statehood. For example, my state of Arizona became the 48th Continental state on February 14, 1912 (Valentine’s Day; Despite all the Wild West ruffians at the time, Arizona must have had some sweethearts!). Alaska and Hawaii came on board January 3, 1959 and August 21st, 1959, respectively.

Whether the United States was born at the signing of the Declaration of Independence or reborn when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox is a matter for the historians to debate. Either way, the formation of the United States of America was by all accounts an extraordinarily rapid phenomenon in contrast to the much-more gradual development of virtually all other nations up to that point in history.

But there is the dawn of another country that, beyond debate, beyond speculation, beyond doubt, constitutes the swiftest and most significant national birth in the annals of human history. It was truly a nation born in one-day: the nation of Israel. Even more astounding … this birth was predicted some 2,700 years before it took place! Not just the fact that it would happen, but exactly HOW it would occur. It would be unlike any ever experienced: (1) the national birth would take place in one day, and (2) the birth would precede the labor pains!

Isn’t that exactly backwards? Regarding point #2 for you men: If you missed it or have forgotten how much to appreciate it, just ask your wife who gave birth to that beautiful daughter or handsome son. Or, ask your mother who brought you into this world. First came the contractions. Then, “Hello, I’m here. Give me a name and give me something to eat!”

Let’s read this phenomenal prophetic proclamation from God himself:

“Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it? asks the Lord. No! I would never keep this nation from being born, says your God” (Isaiah 66:7-9).

Normal Birth of a Nation

Nations do not typically arrive on the scene of history through a birth process, analogous to a woman giving birth. Rather, they gradually develop into a political, social, and national identity through decades of homogenized language, geography, culture, government, and interactive economy. Examples that come to mind are the four superpowers prophetically identified in the book of Daniel, subsequently confirmed by both Biblical and secular records … Babylon, Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire.

For other nations who were seemingly birthed into existence, the pattern does reflect the metaphor of a woman giving birth. Beginning with conception, then birth pains, then deliverance into a brave new world of freedom and autonomy. The United States of America comes to mind.

This great country began with a concept (conception) of individual and corporate freedom from tyranny (such as taxation without representation), then painful contractions through resistance to oppression, and finally a liberating birth as a self-governing, self-determining republic of the people, by the people and for the people. Albeit one that acknowledged Creator God as America’s sovereign benefactor and source of moral and spiritual excellence.

Which makes the birth of Israel all the more unique and miraculous.

*The Lord also likens the rebirth of Israel and return of his people to their Promised Land to a resurrection from the dead. Which perfectly parallels the extraordinary modern-day State of Israel.

*Listen to this amazing announcement of the Lord to Ezekiel as the prophet was staring at a vast valley of dry, lifeless bones—a prophecy that came to pass on May 14th, 1948:

*Said the Lord to Ezekiel: “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).

*Then a few verses later, we read: “…This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again” (Verse 9; Note: Jews have come to Israel from the four corners of the earth, from over 100 nations).

*Ezekiel’s response: “So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel… I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:10 & 12).

The Reverse Birth of Israel

For those who have read Eye of Prophecy on a somewhat regular basis, you have seen several articles that, in varying degrees, touch on the intriguing introduction of Israel to the family of nations that took place in 1948. This birth of a nation; the stunning triumphs over enemies far superior in number and weapons; the striking agricultural, technological, cultural, political, and military growth of a people who turned swampland into gardens, desert into oasis, hamlets into hubs of commerce, diversity into unity, and defeat into victories; has been nothing short of astonishing … a miracle that only the true and living God could supernaturally perform.

It is one thing to predict the rebirth or revival of a nation from the dead (Valley of Dry Bones). I suppose an argument could be made that this kind of prophecy has a 50% chance of coming to pass. Either the nation will return, or it won’t. Considering, however, the Roman Empire’s utter destruction of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple in 70 AD, followed by exiled eviction of all but a few Jews from Israel—with centuries of subjugation in/by nations all over the world—I think the odds might take a nosedive to a miniscule probability of less than 1%.

*Since it’s never occurred with any other people or nation on earth, we can reduce those odds to nil, nada, zero—it just doesn’t happen naturally.

But it’s quite another thing to predict the sequential details concerning the resurrected birth of a nation, particularly one that suffered a violent, seemingly irreversible, demise some 2000 years ago.

*Which was still hundreds of years in the future, as Israel was a vibrant, powerful nation (albeit divided into two kingdoms) during Isaiah’s time.

Our passage in Isaiah does both. It tells us that this would happen and then tells us how it would take place; that it would be unimaginable, inconceivable, unheard of … unlike anything experienced in the annals of human history. No matter where you rank the likelihood of the Jews ever returning to their land, let alone the improbability that they could restore and speak their ancient, near-extinct Hebrew language; what makes the rebirth of Israel so unfathomable is HOW it happened. Moreover, it catapults the prophecy of Isaiah Chapter 66 into a stratosphere that is breath-taking and mind-boggling. What am I referring to?

Looking again at the text: “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son” (Isaiah 66:7).

Do you know of any woman who gave birth to a child, then went into labor after her child was born? Of course, not … it doesn’t work that way. Unless, that is: you were a Jew born in, or through (because of) Israel.

On May 14, 1948, seemingly out of nowhere Israel became a nation literally overnight. By the end of World War II, some two-thirds of the Jews in Europe had been murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich.

*(See Eye of Prophecy article, Two-Thirds of the Jews Killed … Past or Future? Posted 9-19-15).

The Jewish survivors continued to be dispossessed, without any semblance of community or identity, let alone the hope of national unity. Yet, in less than three years after WWII, the earth gave birth to Israel! Her children were born as naturally birthed Israeli citizens (Sabra) or through the exponential increase of Jewish emigrants from many nations of the world to Israel. Only after the birth of the State of Israel did the labor pains really begin. Strange? Unusual? Exceptional? I would think so.

This was also part of the amazing prophecy. “Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? By the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born” (Isaiah 66:8).

This is precisely what happened when Israel was birthed as a nation in 1948.

First, the Jews had no more to say about the matter than does a baby whose delivery is completely dependent on others. Although a handful of Jewish visionaries and Gentile supporters of Zionism had conceived the improbable birth of a new Israel, they had no idea how or when this would happen. They had no real say in the manipulation of nations to achieve this seemingly unattainable goal. Instead, it took the absolute sovereignty of God to deliver the Jews from the birth canal of Gentile oppression and horror which reached its ugly zenith during the Holocaust.

“Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it? asks the Lord. No! I would never keep this nation from being born, says your God” (Isaiah 66:9).

Second, cruel contractions did follow the birth of Israel—in the form of an immediate assault by five Arab nations against the tiny, virtually helpless and defenseless infant nation called Israel. And what happened then? Not only did God bring forth a newfound nation from the womb of exile, but he delivered the newborn children from total annihilation at the hands of ancient enemies.

Decades later, these birth pains would continue to strike Israel time and again: the Suez Canal Conflict (1956); the Six-Day War (1967); the Yom Kippur War (1973); three intifadas, deadly lone-wolf attacks, incessant launching of missiles from the Gaza Strip; perfidious anti-Semitic boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. The labor pains go on and on and on.

(Photo of Israeli Soldiers in Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence. With Many More Tanks, Airplanes, and Heavy Artillery, the Five Arab Armies Far Outgunned the Israelis, But Israel Still Won the War!)

In my generation, we are witnesses to the spectacular fulfillment of a 2,700-year-old prophecy: The nation of Israel would be literally born in a single day, in a mere moment (of history). This new creation of national life would be unlike any known to mankind. One that is not ordinary, but extraordinary; one that is not expected, but unexpected; one that is not natural, but supernatural. Children would be (immediately) born, then the excruciating pain (inflicted by Israel’s enemies) of delivery would follow the birth, not precede it. But like the arrival of any newborn baby, the family rejoices; not because of the pain that goes with childbirth, but because of the miracle of life itself.

In fact, that’s what comes next in our text: “Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts” (Isaiah 66:10-11).

Once again, we see the astounding accuracy of Biblical prophecy. Once again, we are reminded that we are living in the last days. We are very likely part of the generation that will experience the glorious return of our beloved Jewish Messiah.

Again, our vision is renewed, “…while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13).

Summary

At one time or another, we marvel at God’s perfect timing regarding events or developments in our lives … individually, as a family, and as a nation. Although the United Nations is essentially a coalition of many ungodly countries the world over, God used this organization to approve a resolution that granted Israel statehood rights. Without the UN resolution of November 1947, it’s highly unlikely that Prime Minister David ben Gurion would have announced the Birth of a Nation (Israel) in 1948.

The Holocaust was NOT indicative or representative of labor pains. In fact, it cannot be analogous to childbirth (life) at all, as it was a horrendous time of persecution and death. The painful contractions of a woman about to give birth are not persecutory, nor are they a signal that something or someone is about to die. Rather it is a necessary time of struggle that yields to the miracle of birth, then rejoicing and celebration over a new life given to us by an awesome God.

A God who gives us life, then gives us life (eternal) again, through His Son.

*Note: In the original post of today’s article, the content under the above heading of Summary was in the final portion of that article, Things to Ponder … which is the final heading of every Eye of Prophecy article.

*As with today’s introduction, the finale of this week’s article will be one of a personal nature.

Things to Ponder

Like the United Nations, the Lord also has used mass media including the Internet (despite all its undesirable features) to accomplish what Jesus said would be the final sign of his return … precipitated by the Rapture seven years before: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Though a relatively small ministry, Eye of Prophecy website has been visited by people from 178 nations. I am grateful that this website can contribute even a little to global proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Word of God. As is said: Real History is His Story.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15).

As found on the Home Page where each new article is posted, the predominant purpose of this website is: “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus…” (Revelation 19:10). In fact, Messiah Jesus IS the essence of prophecy. And on the About page, that of: “defending and confirming the truth of the Good News” (Philippians 1:7).

The four main Eye of Prophecy categories of Current Events, Prophecy in General, The Antichrist, and The Rapture contain a variety of sub-topics. Each with a Biblical world view, designed to provide counsel, correlation, clarification, and (when necessary) correction toward understanding of some of the more difficult, least understood, or misapplied passages of Scripture—particularly prophecy.

As well as sharing more insight on some of the most well-known portions of Scripture. Such as the article, The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. Posted 5-28-16.

It has been and, the Lord willing, will continue to be my privilege and joy to research, write, edit, and post Eye of Prophecy articles—despite the sometimes-laborious contractions that precede the final creation. No complaints! The hard work and creative concentration are worth it. Each article is a new birth for that week. Often, the articles begin in a cocoon, with a caterpillar-like progression; yet the Lord somehow turns them into a butterfly!

This is certainly not a self-serving boast as to the finished product; rather, a comparison between the stages of labor and the delivery of a new article. Were it not for the Lord’s sovereign supervision and providential purview, there’s no way an article could have been posted consecutively every week for five years; without missing a few weeks for all the unforeseen reasons that our agendas, activities, and even health are interrupted.

It’s called, LIFE!

However, for more than one reason, there will be a couple of adjustments to future Eye of Prophecy postings.

For the next (last) two Saturdays this month, I’ll be on a posting vacation from the website!

Beginning in August (2018) and every month thereafter, my goal is to publish at least two articles each month, perhaps more. When published, they will continue to be on Saturdays.

If it happens to be a week with no article, there’s still 260 (at the current time … the number will increase) articles to choose from, in case you missed a few!

In closing, I want to so very sincerely extend my deep appreciation for all those who visit Eye of Prophecy website, whether occasionally or frequently.

Repeating the admonition of the Apostle Peter:

Echoing the Apostle Paul’s closing words in his first letter to the church at Corinth: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus” (I Corinthians 15:23-24).

Old & New Testament Saints … Is There a Difference?

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Amazing Things Jesus Said and Did

The Old Testament is replete with prophecies about the coming Messiah; the one, “…whose origins are from the distant past” (Micah 5:2). But did you know that the Hebrew Scriptures also contain direct quotes from Messiah himself, before he was even born?

Such as: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

Then, the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are full of the marvelous miracles and tremendous teachings of Messiah Jesus. With all four gospels providing the life-changing, eternal-destiny altering account of his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Early in his ministry while preaching at one of the Jewish synagogues, Jesus quoted the passage from Isaiah identified above. It’s what Jesus himself had said long before he was the “child born to us, a son given to us … And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Right after repeating his own Pre-Incarnate words as recorded in Isaiah 61, Jesus announced in no uncertain terms: “…The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21).

The implication and impact of his stirring words during that Shabbat service, in none other than his hometown of Nazareth, did not escape those who were listening. Do you remember their reaction?

“When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious” (Luke 4:28).

In fact, they tried to kill him, but it was not yet the time for Jesus to fulfill another prophecy in Isaiah (Chapter 53) as the suffering servant to take away the sins of his people and of the entire world. Thus, Jesus mysteriously “passed right through the crowd and went on his way” (Verse 30).

Although plentiful, not all the wonderful things that Messiah Jesus said and did were recorded in the gospels. Said the Apostle John: “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:30-31).

Then the very last verse in John’s Gospel:

One of the Stunning Statements of Jesus That Was Written Down

The scene is John the Baptist’s (an Old Testament saint/believer) disciples asking Jesus if he was, in fact, the Messiah. With the inference that John had some concern, despite his prior pronouncement of Jesus as:

“…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me’” (John 1:29-30).

John’s disciples said to Jesus: “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” (Luke 7:20).

Jesus didn’t reprimand the two disciples directly or John the Baptist indirectly for their doubt. Instead, he tenderly told them: “…Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22).

Which was a summary fulfillment of the passage quoted earlier (Isaiah 61:1-2) and other Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

Next, Jesus asks those in the onlooking crowd who or what they had expected John the Baptist to be, concluding with, “Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’” (Luke 7:26-27, quoting Malachi 3:1).

Then Jesus makes this astonishing announcement to the crowd: “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!” (Luke 7:28).

Scripture is unequivocal: Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son—2nd Person of the Triune God. He is the Living Word of God (John 1:1). Thus, when Messiah Jesus spoke, he spoke the very words of God, his Father.

But the Bible also declares that, “…God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34, NASB). The Lord doesn’t favor any person over another, certainly not in terms of their intrinsic worth. His desire is that all should be saved, no matter how great or small (by human standards) they are.

Why, then, would Jesus say that no one who had ever lived was greater than John the Baptist?

However, Jesus didn’t say John the Baptist was the greatest of all. Only that no one else was greater. Still, it appears that Jesus is making a value comparison. Is Jesus doing that? Yes, he is, but not based on the world’s criteria used to gauge people, i.e. how we measure greatness and weakness, success and failure, good and bad….

The contextual answer to this conundrum of Jesus comparing John to the greatest people of all time is found in his very next observation, which is more of a contrast. “Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is.”

Although, there will be different levels of rewards for believers, each believer has the same awesome and equal privilege of simply being in the Kingdom of God forever with our Lord. Personally, I’ve said many times (to the Lord in prayer), “You are my reward.” I believe that with my whole heart, no matter the size of any reward he might graciously give me in heaven. I’m sure many believers feel the same way.

Jesus used these comparative terms (greater … the least person) between an Old Testament Saint and all New Testament Saints so we would/could comprehend the dramatic difference and immense impact that his arrival as Messiah would have on the world, when he put into effect the New Covenant promised by God through Jeremiah (Chapter 31).

The distinction that Jesus made between John the Baptist and the least person in the Kingdom of God was exclusively based on and revolved around Jesus, himself.

Jesus is saying that, because he is (as John the Baptist had publicly proclaimed) “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” all those who believe in him would exceed beneficially even the greatest of Old Testament saints, not the least of whom was John the Baptist. None of the Old Testament prophets—even the most notable such as Moses, King David, Elijah, and Daniel—was given the entire scope of God’s majestic plan for humanity.

By contrast, ALL New Testament saints right down to this present day have the noticeable advantage of knowing at least the essentials (as God knew from the beginning) of the end from the beginning. In the Bible, we have the complete Word of God from beginning to end, including what will (soon) take place as recorded in the powerful book of Revelation. That is the context of and reason for the comparison that Jesus is making between one of the greatest (if not the greatest) Old Testament prophets—John the Baptist—and even the least person in the Kingdom of God.

Which is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the hearts of every born-again believer until Messiah Jesus returns to establish the physical Kingdom of God on earth.

Thus, all who believe and receive Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior would participate in and be immediate bona fide beneficiaries of ALL Old Testament prophecies (promises) concerning the Messiah.

Similarity of Old Testament and New Testament Saints

(Note: You may want to refer to Eye of Prophecy article, What Is A Saint? Posted 10-11-14)

Essentially, there is only one precise parallel between Old & New Testament believers.

However, it is one that constitutes the very foundation of redemption, which both Testaments express as “getting right with God.” The only foundation of such righteousness is found in one Word: FAITH. Which is simply trusting God for who he is (Creator of all things) and what he says he will do if we believe in him and His Son—the Messiah Savior.

This matter of right standing with God is essential to every person who has ever lived. It’s imperative because our Creator makes it crystal clear throughout Scripture that there is no other way to inherit eternal life than to acknowledge and accept God’s solution to the very reason why we are not right with God in the first place. The one thing that everyone inherits the moment we’re born is a death sentence. Physical death because we’re born sinners … transmitted from our original parents, Adam and Eve. Spiritual death because our spirits are born dead (separated from God) by that same innate sinful nature. The only remedy is a spiritual rebirth (our spirits made alive) and eternal life in a completely transformed body given to all believers at the Rapture.

The Apostle Paul summarizes this only universal way of being made right with God (redemption) by going all the way back to Abraham, long before the Law was given to Moses.

“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith’” (Roman 4:1-3, Paul quoted Genesis 15:6).

Paul continues: “When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: ‘Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin’” (Romans 4:4-8, quoting Psalm 32:1-2).

Paul goes on to explain that it’s this same faith that enables New Testament believers to inherit all of God’s promises, beginning with and made possible by salvation itself.

“So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the (spiritual) father of all who believe” (Romans 4:16, parenthesis mine).

Paul concludes this all-important truth (need) of redemption by once again stating: “And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God” (Romans 4:22-25).

In another epistle, Paul affirms this vital fact: “…I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).

Differences Between Old & New Testament Saints

First, let’s not forget that the reason for these differences is because Messiah Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the Mosaic Law by living a completely sinless life. The law could never save anyone, because no one other than Jesus has ever perfectly kept every requirement of the law … not even close. Yet, to be accepted by God, we must be perfectly holy as He is holy. We’ll get to that shortly.

Therefore, the only one who could save us was the person who was fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ; who kept both the letter and spirit of the law. All we need do is to believe and receive him as personal Savior. Although both Old & New Testament saints are saved by faith in the Promised Messiah, believers who came after Messiah’s redemptive sacrifice inherited some promissory benefits not yet available to those under the Old Covenant.

The Differences Are:

(1) Means of Forgiveness: Repeated Old Testament Animal Sacrifices vs. Messiah’s Once for All Sacrifice

Before we look at some key passages, we must keep in mind that it was not the ritual sacrifices per se that led to permanent redemption from sin. Rather, it was trust (FAITH) in the Lord that he would keep his promise to forgive and to give them right standing with himself, if remorse for their sins came from a sincere heart. It was entirely a matter of the heart. The offerings served as the required expression of that repentance, one that included shedding of innocent (animal) blood as a foreshadow of the once for all sacrifice of the Promised Messiah.

“…For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Unfortunately, the rituals eventually became a rote exercise for most Jews, who after their offerings went right back to sinning as much or more than before. Not the least (damming) of which was to worship other gods alongside of or in place of the only true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshippers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared” (Hebrews 10:1-2).

“But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Hebrews 10:12).

That is the ultimate contrast between the Old and New Covenant, with the author of Hebrews identifying Jesus Christ as both our High Priest and the ultimate sacrifice himself.

This first difference dovetails with the next one.

(2) Sins Forgiven: All at Once—Past, Present, and Future for New Testament Saints

“For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, ‘This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds … I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.’ And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices” (Hebrews 10:14-18, italics for emphasis).

Explaining the last sentence of the above passage with the same meaning but in a different way: If all our sins (past, present, and future) were not forgiven when we believed in Messiah Jesus’s substitutionary death on the cross, then Christ would need to die again, and again, and…. (See Hebrews 9:24-28).

“Forever made perfect” means fully justified (forgiven and pardoned) in God’s eyes, because he now sees believers through the once for all PERFECT finished work (sacrifice) of Jesus Christ on the cross—accepted and validated by God the Father through the resurrection of Messiah Jesus from the dead.

In contrast, God, through the author of Hebrews, tells us: “Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).

Those sacrifices temporarily “covered” sins but didn’t remove them. Only faith in God and the coming Messiah would make the Israelites and even Old Testament Gentiles perpetually right with God.

(3) Holy Spirit Permanently Indwelling New Testament Saints

In the Old Testament there are numerous times in which the Holy Spirit would “come upon” some people to enable them to complete a specific task for the Lord or to announce something special. Whatever the situation, it’s quite evident that without the Holy Spirit’s extraordinary enablement, the individual would not have been able to accomplish a goal or powerfully proclaim God’s plan—whether the purpose was for the immediate situation or for the near and even distant future (many of these Spirit inspired messages were prophecies).

In one of the earliest accounts of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment (if not the first), we read about God’s choice of a particular man to build the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:1-3).

However, with rare exceptions (even those are more implied than stated) such as King David or some of the prophets, once the assignment was completed or message delivered, the Holy Spirit would no longer fill or come upon the person. An illustrative example is Ezekiel. Although the Holy Spirit came upon or into or lifted him to witness some exceptional visions, by the very fact that Ezekiel mentions the Spirit only in those unique situations tells us that the Holy Spirit wasn’t in or upon Ezekiel at other (all) times. In fact, for most of his ministry, Ezekiel wasn’t even allowed to speak at all, unless he was prophesying.

Not so with New Testament believers. At Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was given to 120 believers who were waiting for that very moment. Thereafter, every person who accepts Messiah Jesus as personal Savior is given the awesome privilege of the indwelling Holy Spirit, never to be taken away from us. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of the permanency of our salvation.

Moreover, the New Testament details many things the Holy Spirit does for born-again believers in Messiah Jesus, including but not limited to: Comfort; Counsel; Correction; Confidence; Comprehension of Biblical truths; Supernatural ability to live the Christian life; Producing spiritual fruit—love, joy, peace…; Unity with fellow believers.

Perhaps the most profound privilege and blessed benefit of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in every believer is that we have continual access to the presence of God … anytime, anywhere. As opposed to the Old Covenant restrictions in which only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies (God’s very presence) once a year.

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

The remarkable result: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him…” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

(This literally happened on the Cross the moment that, “Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.” Matthew 24:50).

(4) The Difference Between Old & New Testaments Saints at Death

Another precious privilege given to New Testament believers after Jesus arose from the dead is that our spirit goes directly to heaven when we die.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself, and not by human hands” (II Corinthians 5:1, parenthesis in the text).

Paul goes on to say: “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (Verses 6-8).

This passage is often summarily condensed as: Absent from the body, (immediately) present with the Lord.

Not so, with Old Testament Saints. There are many Old Testament references to the place of the dead, called Sheol. Though not specifically stated, it’s implicitly evident that those whom God had declared righteous because of their faith in his promises were not in the same part of Sheol as the unrighteous who died in their sins. Which is also Scriptural common sense, e.g. King David would not be in the same place as King Ahab or Queen Jezebel.

Not until Jesus told the true story (not a parable, which was a story to illustrate a specific truth) of Lazarus and the rich man, would believers fully understand that both the Old Testament righteous (saved) and unrighteous (unsaved) went to the same underworld upon death; however, a place with regions separated by a “great chasm” (Luke 16:26). On one side was Hades (Greek word for hell, a place of anguish); the other side was, as described in some Bible translations, “Abraham’s bosom.”

“Finally, the poor man (Lazarus) died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:22-23).

See Eye of Prophecy article, Lazarus and Lazarus & the Sign of Jonah (posted 1-14-17) for a detailed account of this remarkable story that was more than just an illustration. It was a factual account of what happened to Old Covenant believers and unbelievers when they died before Messiah Jesus arose from the dead.

The Remarkable Results of Messiah’s Resurrection

  • Jesus proved beyond any doubt whatsoever, that he was who he said he was: God’s Son, the Messiah.
  • Through the bodily resurrection of Jesus, all Old & New Testament believers will be given the same kind of glorified body as our Lord’s—which will take place at the Rapture.
  • This is possible because Jesus conquered death (both physical and spiritual) and the grave.
  • Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, his sacrificial death on the cross would have been fatefully futile … accomplishing nothing. Why? Because God would not have accepted even the death of His (innocent) Son as a permanent propitiation for sin—just like the Old Testament sacrifices had to be repeated over and over. Said the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “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 15:17-18).
  • In keeping with the main emphasis of this week’s article, when Jesus arose from the dead, he also bridged the gap between Old Testament and New Testament Saints. He eliminated the primary difference between the two—where the spirits (souls) of both groups of believers reside until all believers are given everlasting heavenly bodies.

Let’s examine this fascinating feature of Messiah’s resurrection in more detail.

It’s movingly described in the last two verses of one of the most well-known chapters in the Bible … Hebrews 11. What many call, the Hall of Faith.

Hebrews Chapter 11 names well over a dozen Old Testament believers whose faith had saved them, whose faith the Lord honored by doing mighty things through them. Whose trust in the Lord included belief in a resurrection from the dead. “…They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (Verse 35).

Then the last two verses of the chapter alluded to earlier:

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us” (Hebrews 11:39-40, italics for emphasis).

In the next chapter: “…You (New Testament Saints) have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people…” (Hebrews 12:23-24, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

In the Old Testament, we find only two men who were taken (directly) to heaven, both without dying—Enoch and Elijah. (*Note: Although not strictly stated in Scripture; so, too, was Moses taken bodily to heaven (but after dying) based on a correlation of Old Testament and New Testament passages. See Eye of Prophecy trilogy of articles, The Two Witnesses, posted 6-7, 6-14, 6-21-14.

As we have seen, the soul/spirit of all the others (whose faith had been credited to them as righteousness) went to be with Abraham in a special protected place of Sheol.

Hebrews is telling us that Old Testament believers who had already died and New Testament believers (when they died) would equally (no more differences) “reach perfection” in the same manner … when Jesus arose from the dead. This perfection means culmination of salvation and rest in heaven (free from what makes us imperfect) until our spirit is reunited with our new everlasting body equipped to live as a spiritual body, but a body nonetheless (I Corinthians 15).

Which is exactly what happened when Jesus died on the cross and then arose from the dead!

Leading the Captives Out

This spectacular scene (Old Testament saints being led out of Sheol) was even predicted by King David: “When you (the Messiah) ascended to the heights (of heaven … resurrection followed by ascension of Jesus), you led a crowd of captives…” (Psalm 68:18, parenthesis mine).

This astounding prophecy is quoted and expounded by the Apostle Paul: “That is why the Scriptures say, ‘When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people” (Ephesians 4:8).

*Note: The immediate context of this passage is the administrative (role) gifts that the Lord gives to the body of Christ. As follows:

However, Paul takes the opportunity to further explain what happened when Jesus died and rose again.

Continuing the passage from the New American Standard Bible: “(Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:9-10, parenthesis in the text)

What is the lower parts of the earth? The Apostle Peter partially answers that by conveying one of the two things Jesus did after he died and descended to the underworld … Sheol (Hades). Said Peter, “So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat…” (I Peter 3:19-20).

The prison referenced is both the Abyss (where especially wicked angels were incarcerated; see Genesis 6; II Peter 2; and the book of Jude) as well as the other region of Sheol where the spirits of the unsaved were kept … across the great chasm from Abraham’s sanctuary.

The second purpose for Jesus descending to the lower parts of the earth was to lead the captives out. Who are the captives?

A better question would be: Who else could the captives be?

They are none other than all Old Testament departed saints whose spirits were with Abraham, including Abraham himself.

Don’t equate captives or captivity to prisoners of war or imprisoned criminals serving their sentence. Think in terms of protective custody. The same kind that Paul references to illustrate the purpose of the Old Covenant Law of Moses compared to the New Covenant of Grace—through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul uses that very term:

“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed” (Galatians 3:23).

In the same way, departed Old Testament saints were held captive (in protective custody) until the appointed time for their spectacular change-of-residence release. That time was none other than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Either when Jesus arose from the dead or when he ascended back to heaven 40 days later, the soul/spirit of Old Testament saints were taken to heaven. This to provide the same prized privilege (one in Messiah) afforded to all subsequent New Testament believers who died after Jesus arose from the dead.

Which gives even more meaning to the words of Jesus, spoken both before and after he came to earth as the Messiah: “He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners (of sin) will be freed” (Isaiah 61:1, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

In fact, some of these Old Testament believers were raised bodily as a pre-Rapture preview of the efficacy of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice to all to believe in Him and of the awesome power of his resurrection.

“…The bodies of many godly men and woman who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-53).

Things to Ponder

Such a great crowd of witnesses who came before us—godly prophets, priests, scribes, kings, and ordinary people who paved the way for the greatest hope of mankind … Messiah Jesus.

Although they knew about the coming Messiah, not all understood that he would be the Son of God, or from where he would come, or how (Virgin Birth) and where he would be born, or all the things he would do.

But as great as many Old Testament saints were, the very least of New Testament saints are greater.

Not greatness as defined by the world. Rather, greater because at the moment of our redemptive rebirth in Jesus, we have privileges not fully realized by our Old Testament founding mothers and fathers in the faith.

Concerning what Jesus said about John the Baptist in contrast to New Testament believers, he also said:

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17).

Jesus was speaking to his disciples who saw, heard, and believed (in) him. Although after Jesus was crucified, it took awhile before they fully realized that Jesus had risen from the dead … especially Thomas.

Exclaimed Thomas when he first saw the risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me'” (Verse 29).

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord: Are you looking and listening? Do you see? Do you hear? Do you believe?

God loves you. He wants you to be with him in heaven forever.

“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).