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).

The Jewish Dichotomy In & Outside Israel

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Webster’s Dictionary defines Dichotomy as: “mutually exclusive or contradictory groups; a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches.”

And the verb form, dichotomize: “to divide into two parts, classes, or groups.”

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

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

Nevertheless, differences between Jews themselves can be troublesome, especially when the Jews as a people and Israel as a nation have so many adversaries. Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism are still rearing their ugly global heads.

Though every society contains multiple groups of political, cultural, economic, and religious persuasions, invariably they can be narrowed into factions of two (one ideology or world view against its opposite). For example, the United States is more of a political dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats. Whereas nations like Russia are more defined by an economic schism such as socialism (including communism) versus capitalism. With Israel, the delineation is more along the religious scale.

(The Dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats Requires Two Totally Different Animals and Colors!)

Though there is significant solidarity of Jews within and outside of Israel, there are three basic Jewish dichotomies. Let’s examine this phenomenon; how these seemingly irreversible differences can be resolved and by whom. The remedy will impact the entire world.

First Jewish Dichotomy: Between Secular and Observant Jews

The following is an excerpt from my first book, a novel entitled: O Israel … the end is the beginning for those left behind, published in 2007; reflecting this dichotomy as seen through the eyes of one of the main characters—a Jewish scribe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s parliamentary Knesset consists of 120 members … a fixed number. Although the current 20th Knesset is composed of 10 main parties (each with its own political platform) including 2 religious parties—Shas and United Torah with a combined 13 members—there is still a substantial separation between the religious and secular. This variance is evident throughout Israeli society; for example, whether all Jewish business should be closed on the Sabbath.

Or the even more divisive issue: whether thousands of young orthodox Jews (those who pursue a career as rabbis or just full-time students of the Torah) should be exempted from mandatory military service for all men and women at age 18. Based on the Jewish population of Israel, this is proportionally far more than just the occasional “conscientious objector” found in the United States or other democratic nations.

(There Are Those Observant Jews Who Gladly Serve in the IDF)

Before we examine the second and third of these dichotomies, let’s look at:

An Astonishing Statement by U.S. President Trump

In a recent interview with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the TBN Christian network, President Trump said in direct reference to his decision of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“I tell you what, I get more calls of thank you from evangelicals, and I see it in the audiences and everything else, than I do from the Jewish people. And the Jewish people appreciate it, but the evangelicals appreciate it more than the Jews.”

He went on to say: “It was a campaign promise; I was going to keep it.”

It’s no secret: Were it not for the hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians voting for Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, it’s unlikely he would have been elected. Although following through on his campaign promise was the main motivation for President Trump’s decision this past December to move the U.S. Embassy, an equally compelling reason was on behalf of Israel and the Jews. As Trump stated when he made the choice not to sign the waiver that would keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, “It was the right thing to do.”

It was a decision that finally enforced the Jewish Embassy Act of 1995 passed almost unanimously by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate; Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. For that reason, our embassy in Israel should rest in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.

Trump was referring almost exclusively to Jews in America. Not to Israelis as it’s obvious they were ecstatic about the U.S. Embassy move. President Trump clearly said that (American) Jews were appreciative, but not as much as Christian evangelicals. Yet, it’s a foregone conclusion that most evangelicals do (or should) adamantly support the existence of Israel as the Promised Land given by God himself to the Jews. The people chosen by God to bring the light of his salvation through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus—the scepter from the tribe of Judah and descendant of King David, who established Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 3000 years ago.

I and many Christian supporters of Israel have no problem with the appellation of Christian Zionists. Simply defined, Zionism is the movement that began principally in the late 19th century for the return of exiled Jews to their ancient homeland. This global exile is called the Diaspora, which we’ll look at in more detail during discussion of the second Jewish dichotomy.

Why, then, wouldn’t American Jews be equally or more appreciative of the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem than are Gentile born-again believers?

We’ll answer that question as the article progresses. First, a brief review of the stunning prophetic fulfillment or developments of the 20th & 21st centuries, as originally itemized in the two-part Eye of Prophecy series, Look Up, Redemption is Near (Posted 7-11 & 7-18-15).

Twelve Flash-Point Signs of the Last Days

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

In terms of the sheer quantity of Biblical prophecies and emphasis, most significant of these signs are the first two on this list: (1) The rebirth of Israel as a sovereign independent self-governed nation followed by the enormous return of Jews to the Promised Land, even exceeding their Exodus from Egypt under Moses. (2) The reunification (liberation) of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital 2,000 years after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and demolished the second Temple (70 AD).

Although the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem doesn’t (in and of itself) qualify as one of the Biblical prophetic mileposts, it certainly fits into the third item on the above list: Jerusalem, A Heavy Burden to the Nations.

This unprecedented global angst over Israel and Jerusalem was conspicuous in President Trump’s interview with Mike Huckabee. According to Trump, he didn’t fully comprehend why previous U.S. presidents had repeatedly (every six months) disallowed the U.S. Embassy to be moved. That is, not until he received numerous calls from world leaders pressuring him to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Then he better understood the staggering scale of international anxiety over Israel, especially Jerusalem.

Hardly a week goes by without world-wide media coverage of the Middle-East, particularly Israel or Jerusalem or both. The move of the U.S. Embassy has been an incessant global issue, with most nations of the earth opposing President Trump’s decision. With, however, a reluctant acknowledgment that their fear of increased overt Muslim hostility (most notably Palestinian) never materialized.

Even the Palestinian “Right of Return” march on Israel’s border with Gaza that began in late March and designed to climax on May 14th (date when U.S. Embassy was officially moved to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday celebration as a nation) was not about the embassy move.

Rather it was what the designation said: the so-called right of return of Palestinian 2nd, 3rd & 4th generation refugees from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, which would amount to some 5 million Palestinians. That would effectively (by sheer numbers that would uproot many Jewish communities) spell the functional end of the Jewish State of Israel. Which is exactly what the Palestinians and most Muslim nations want. When, in fact, no other indigenous group on earth except the Palestinians have been given United Nations refugee status beyond the original (first) generation, i.e. those who fled their countries as refugees at that time.

Please see Eye of Prophecy articles: What is a Palestine & Who Is a Palestinian? (Posted 12-2-17). Also, The “Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? (4-7-18).

For that matter, the entire world has mostly forgotten, doesn’t know, or doesn’t care to know that when Israel declared statehood in 1948, several Arab nations evicted nearly all their Jewish citizens. By United Nations definition, these Jews became refugees; however, very few claimed refugee status. Instead, many moved to Israel and some to the United States and other non-Muslim countries.

As opposed to most Arabs (before they began calling themselves Palestinians in 1964) who were NOT forced out of Israel in 1948 by the Israelis. But rather by the five Arab armies that attacked Israel the day after statehood, insisting that the Arabs in Israel vacate their homes to make room for the invading Muslim armies, then return after Israel was “annihilated.”

The return of Jews to their homeland began primarily after the Balfour Declaration of 1917. However, by far, the greater number came home following Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, continuing to this very day. Since 1948, some 3.2 million Jews have made Alijah (literally … going up or home to Israel from more than 100 countries). With the greatest number immigrating to Israel from Russia … well over a million.

Those are astonishing numbers, if for no other reason than many of these Jews didn’t need to leave their homes due to persecution, other than the Jews in Arab countries in 1947-1948. And Jews from Iran following the 1979 Iranian coup when it became a completely Islamic state ruled by the Ayatollah. Rather, most Jews who have made Alijah to Israel did so because they wanted to reunite with the heritage of their ancestors, to fulfill the centuries old Jewish dream of “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Even the secular among them knew deep in their heart that this return was a divine providential fulfillment of Biblical prophecy found in hundreds of passages proclaimed directly by God through Jewish prophets. Such as:

It would be (still going on) an Exodus even greater than the one from Egypt.

Read this phenomenal prophecy with me:

“In that day, says the Lord, when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

Because the zenith of Jews returning to Israel has not yet been reached, only a relatively small number of Jews in Israel and a smaller number outside of Israel have verbalized the massive return of Jews to Israel to match what the Lord said they would say. But at the beginning of the soon-to-come (after the Rapture and the seven-year Great Tribulation) Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus, all or nearly all the (surviving) Jews will be gathered back to Israel.

Jesus, himself said that he (the Messiah) would, “…send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones (meaning God’s chosen people, the Jews) from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” (Matthew 24:31, parenthesis mine).

Already, the number of Jews who have immigrated to Israel since 1948 (3.2 million) has substantially surpassed the estimated 1.5 to 2 million Jews who were freed from slavery during the original Exodus, resulting in the stunning fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Notice also that the Lord specifically identifies “a land from the north” (in addition to all the countries to which he had exiled them) from which his exiled people would return. This is the same land (country) from the north that will lead the invasion against Israel during the early phase of the Great Tribulation—none other than Russia … Gog. (Ezekiel 38 & 39). Russia is due north of Israel. The fact that about 1/3 of the 3.2 million Jews who have made Aliyah to Israel are from Russia, further validates this prophecy. Not that Biblical prophecies need validation, because they all have come or will come to pass.

There’s more: In this same chapter of Jeremiah, immediately preceding the prophecy of “in that day” (the returning Jews will far exceed in number the Jews during the Exodus from Egypt), we read:

“For the time is coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The Lord is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Note: the phrase, for the time is coming (verse 5) matches up precisely with verses 7-8 quoted earlier which begins with in that day.

Which is even more confirmation that during “that day” (generational time frame) of the Second Exodus (which has already exceeded the original Exodus, but still in progress), the return of the King—Messiah, The Lord who is our Righteousness—will be so very near.

Second Jewish Dichotomy: Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews

Let’s return to the paradox posed by President Trump’s statement that evangelical Christians exhibited more support for the US Embassy move than did American Jews. Along with Jews throughout the world who have not yet returned to Israel, they are still called Diaspora Jews or Jews of the Diaspora. The Diaspora (meaning dispersion or scattered) is the term coined after the Romans demolished the 2nd Temple, destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtered over a million Jews, conquered Israel, and exiled most of the remaining Jews to the four corners of the earth.

With the term exile used frequently in the Old Testament, applied to the first destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC. An exiled captivity that God through Jeremiah said would end in 70 years. Which is exactly how long it lasted. The second Temple was finished in 516 BC. Which fulfilled yet another prophecy when the Jews were commissioned by the Persian King Cyrus in 539 BC to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

The contemporary situation of Diaspora Jews is remarkably like the Jews exiled to Babylon—specifically those who chose not to return to Israel from the Babylonian or Persian Empires of which there were more than those who did return. First with Zerubbabel, the governor and Jeshua, the High Priest … then later with Ezra, the scribe. And finally, with Nehemiah from the Persian empire.

Yet, Israel never regained sovereign status as a nation for two main reasons: (1) Some of those who returned and particularly the next generation failed to learn the heavy lesson of their Babylonian captivity and, thus, failed to return to the Lord, which was the purpose for God’s discipline of Israel. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but especially the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, demonstrate this in dramatic, but distressing detail. (2) Only a minority of Jews returned to Israel, with the greater numbers remaining in the land of their captors. The Lord did not honor this less than half-hearted return (spiritual and literal … in numbers) of his people to once again trust, obey, and serve Him in the Promised Land of Israel.

All that began to change with the modern-day rebirth of Israel and the return of the Jews in larger numbers even than the Exodus. And in exceedingly greater numbers (proportionally) than the Babylonian/Persian exile.

Referring to Wikipedia (the statistics were up to-date through April 2018), the global Jewish population is 14,511,000. With 83% of Jews living in either Israel or the United States. The five countries with the greatest concentration of Jews:

Israel: 6.5 million

United States: 5.7 million

France: 465,000

Canada: 385,000

United Kingdom: 270,000

And in Russia: (Only) 186,000 left! Just as Scripture said would happen: many Jews of Israel would come from Russia, where several million resided at the outset of World War II.

Thus, for the first time (just in the past couple of decades) since the Diaspora of 70 AD more Jews live in Israel than in any other country on earth. This is a HUGE fulfillment of prophecy. One that tracks closely with end-times prophecies in which the return of Messiah will dovetail with not only the rebirth of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem, but also with (from Jeremiah’s prophecy) the Second Exodus. And, of course, all the other prophetic signs listed earlier in this article.

In the context of President’s Trump reference to (Diaspora) Jews in America, it’s easy to understand why they wouldn’t have the same level of appreciation as Israeli Jews or even of Christians who ardently support Israel because we value the awesome truths (including prophecy) of the Bible. That these prophecies have unfolded before our 20th & 21st century eyes, and because we love and want to bless Israel however and whenever possible. We want to share in Israel’s joy of sovereign statehood and marvel at her amazing technological and agricultural accomplishments. We will speak against those who would seek to denigrate and even destroy Israel.

Undoubtedly the most common universal distinction (polarized dichotomy) between political, social, or religious ideologies is summed up as: Conservatives versus Liberals.

Most liberals are globalists. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? Posted 9-16-17).

Liberals are found in every society, including those whose agenda is even left of liberalism.

Some of these ultra-liberal Jews live in Israel; even more are American citizens, such as former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Such as those on what is called “J Street.”

(Sounds Great, Who Doesn’t Want Middle East Peace? It’s Just That the J Street Organization Promotes the Palestinian Cause at the Literal Expense of Israeli Security)

By and large, they are those who do not support Israel’s government nor champion the sovereign existence of the State of Israel. They often accuse the Israeli government of (non-existent) oppression of the Palestinians. Contrary to the greater majority of Israeli Jews, many liberal Diaspora Jews disparage Zionism. Most Jews of the Diaspora (both liberal and conservative) prefer to remain apathetically neutral, if it means defending their Jewish brethren in Israel. With only marginal backing of Israel’s government, particularly when Israeli conservatives like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Party) lead the nation.

There is a growing gap (albeit one that is tempered by the fundamental appreciation that the Jews now have their own land where they can not only live and prosper, but also defend themselves from their enemies) between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. For example: Not that long ago, several members of the Knesset and other high-ranking Israeli officials scolded the Diaspora Jews for meddling in Israeli politics. Of being armchair quarterbacks.

Still, there is some solidarity, as seen by the continued economic support of Diaspora Jewry for their brothers and sisters in Israel.

I’m convinced that many American & European (and of course Israeli) Jews have descended from the so-called “ten lost tribes of Israel.” It’s just that most won’t know their ancestral tribe until Messiah returns. But 144,000 Jews will know beyond any doubt (Revelation 7).

See Eye of Prophecy articles One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand Messianic Jews Part I & Part II (Posted 4-23 & 4-30-16). Which leads us to the third dichotomy in Israel and with Jews world-wide:

Third Jewish Dichotomy: Messianic Jews and Non-Messianic Jews

Both in and outside Israel, there remains a meaningful measure of unity between secular and religious, between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. Although the differences between these seemingly polar opposites is not debilitating, it is, nevertheless, disruptive. To the extent that Israel’s enemies gloat over these divisions and are elated when (for example) liberal Jews promote the Palestinian cause no matter the Biblical, historical, and international mandated existence of the State of Israel.

But the greatest distinction among Jews is those who are Messianic and those who are not.

Although few compared to the 14+ million Jews world-wide, there are tens of thousands of Jews who have accepted the New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah (Chapter 31) by believing and receiving Jesus of Nazareth as God’s anointed Messiah—the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles.

(See Eye of Prophecy article, Messianic Jews … Who Are They? Published 4-25-15)

This dichotomy is deep. With many non-Messianic observant Jews (especially the orthodox) denouncing Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus as traitors and outcasts to Judaism. Conversely, with Messianic Jews sharing the compassion of the most recognized Messianic Jew ever (the Apostle Paul—formerly an ultra-orthodox Pharisee who persecuted 1st century believers).

Said Paul: “…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” (Romans 10:1-2).

Messianic Jews know beyond all doubt that God has kept his everlasting covenant with Abraham through the rebirth of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem; the Jews will forever possess the Promised Land. They also fully understand that it is they (and Gentile believers) who will rule and reign with Messiah Jesus during the Millennium, in fulfillment of God’s Covenant with King David. Accordingly, it is they who have fulfilled God’s two-part destiny (individual salvation through Messiah Jesus to be followed by national redemption when Jesus returns) for his chosen people.

They are Jewish through and through. It is their ancient ancestors—the twelve sons (tribes) of Jacob whose names will be written on the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem. And the names of Messiah’s twelve Jewish apostles will be written on the twelve foundations stones of this glorious city built by God himself (Revelation 21:10-14).

Since Israel’s rebirth as a nation, the unprecedented restoration of the all but dead Hebrew language, the amazing return of millions of Jews, the remarkable reclamation of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, and the against-all-odds victory in four wars over vastly superior Muslim armies, the secular among them have recognized that these astounding achievements were in some fashion providential. It’s just that they have stopped short of giving the God of Israel (the only true and living God) credit.

Observant Jews are equally elated with Israel’s rebirth and the relative security of Jews world-wide (compared to past times, especially World War II and the Holocaust) but for a different reason: they once again can practice Judaism with much more freedom and safety. In that regard, they acknowledge the God of Israel as the source of Israel’s very existence, restoration, and final redemption. But not so good because they still refuse to accept that the New Covenant predicted by Jeremiah has come. They are still in practical denial that Temple Mount is devoid of the Temple and that the Levitical Sacrificial System is no more.

Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Where is the Temple? Posted 11-29, 12-6, & 12-13-14.

The following excerpt from Part III is the rolling premise throughout these articles to (with love and respect for God’s chosen people) challenge them to think about the loss of the Temple and the cessation of animal sacrifices, the very existence and essence of which meant redemption. That the exclusive reason is because the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when their Messiah Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose on the third day.

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

This dichotomy between Messianic Jews and their unsaved Jewish brothers and sisters in the flesh is the most noticeable of all, but one that God knew was both inevitable and necessary.

For unless and until God’s people fully realize that Messiah has already come, bringing with him the New Covenant through his once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice for Jew and Gentile alike, and that he is soon to return, they will continue to misunderstand, “…God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 10:3-4).

Neither the dichotomy between secular and observant Jews nor the divergence between Israelis and Diaspora Jews will be fully resolved until the Jews recognize and turn to their Messiah, thereby fulfilling God’s ultimate purpose for choosing Abraham as the father of the Jewish people. Which was to bring the final Child of Promise to the entire world—the ultimate source of light and life to all people. The One who said:

Then validated that astonishing announcement by rising from the dead! Which is a historical fact.

Things to Ponder

To anyone with a truly open mind and heart, there should be no doubt that God has a Son; the Second Person of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Hebrew scriptures unequivocally declare this (Psalm 2 and Psalm 110).

God affirmed the divinity of the Messiah (Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man) through this magnificent proclamation:

“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).

Anyone with that same open mind and heart will search the Scriptures and see that Jesus fulfilled every one of the dozens of prophecies regarding the first coming of Messiah. All one needs to do is to match up the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Hebrew Scriptures, such as found in Psalm 22, Isaiah 52 & 53, Zechariah 9, and other passages.

Anyone who is willing to examine all of God’s Word (both Old and New Testament) will better understand the reason for the world’s ills, including the split within the Jewish race itself (secular—observant; Israeli—Diaspora; Messianic—non-Messianic). As well as the universal dichotomy between light and darkness, good and evil, life and death.

Then to fully realize that the only bridge between moral, spiritual, ethnic, and geopolitical opposites on this planet is none other than the Prince of Peace.

“…and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

That one day soon there will be no more rival religions, no polarized politics, no fighting factions, with an end to irreconcilable differences between peoples.

From Jerusalem, “The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away (anyone who can settle differences between nations can certainly resolve dichotomies within nations). 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. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear” (Micah 4:3-4, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

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

Scripture Says Everyone Will Die / But What About the Rapture?

Timeless Truths in the Bible

From the beginning of creation as dramatically documented in the book of Genesis through the final revelation of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, remarkably recorded in the Book of Revelation, the Bible abounds with God’s truth for humanity.

For example, the comprehensive moral laws of the Ten Commandments applicable to all nations, even though they were given first to God’s people the Jews—chosen to bring the light of God’s truth (ultimately through Messiah Jesus) to the entire world. Contrasted to the civil and ceremonial laws, including the seven Jewish Festivals and the Levitical Sacrificial system, given exclusively to the Jews.

And then perfected and extended to all people through the New Covenant, in which God’s Son has fulfilled (four spring feasts) and will fulfill (three fall feasts) the very purpose of the Jewish Festivals. Two thousand years ago, Messiah Jesus replaced the repeated sacrifices of the Levitical system with his final once for all sacrifice for sins and the penalty of sin. He alone qualified as that sacrifice by perfectly keeping (fulfilling) the Mosaic Law which no other human being has ever done.

Regarding the unconditional covenants, these powerful Biblical principles apply in perpetuity:

With Abraham—the Jews forever possessing the Promised Land of Israel. With King David—the restoration of David’s dynasty by God’s Messiah, the ultimate King of all kings (Isaiah 9, Revelation 17). And through the New Covenant of Grace—implemented by this same Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. These covenants reveal God’s majestic attributes (including his moral and spiritual laws) and his magnificent design and destiny for humanity. Truth that can mean the difference between eternal pardon or perpetual judgment; everlasting life or unending death; the glory of heaven or the torment of hell; blessings or curses during our existence on Planet Earth.

Such as the one and only condition the Lord imposed on our original parents, Adam and Eve (given the freedom of choice) after creating them in a Paradise that contained everything they could possibly need or want. Along with a severe sentence for rejecting that one restriction.

The Death Penalty

“The Lord placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die’” (Genesis 2:15-17).

And die they did, as has and will every person since.

Paraphrasing the well-known adage: “Two things in life are certain … death and taxes.”

However, that’s not entirely true. Some have not paid taxes or are exempt from taxes. Not so with death. There are no exceptions. One of every one person will die.

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:22-23, italics for emphasis).

“All people will die for their own sins” (Jeremiah 31:30a).

We deserve physical death because we’ve all earned it, though it’s a payment no one wishes to collect.

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

Even with the wonderful news that Messiah Jesus offered himself as the substitutionary sacrifice for the penalty of our sins, then proved that he was who he claimed to be (Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man) by rising from the dead, this stunning sacrifice does not (yet) set aside the universal law of bodily death. The complete cancellation of physical death will not take place until after the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, which will usher in Eternity.

Remember: Even though the Lord enforced the death penalty for sin, he says: “…As I live! Declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (unsaved)…” Ezekiel 33:11, NASB, parenthesis mine).

Concerning the saved:

Now for the central passage of today’s article:

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that the judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28, emphasis added).

Many are more familiar with the King James Version which says the same thing, but with slightly different wording. “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, KJV).

Note: “To bring salvation” (Hebrews 9:28) is not the justification and guarantee of eternal life imparted to everyone the moment they believe and receive Jesus as personal Savior. Rather, it is the culmination of our redemption through two tremendous privileges given to all believers: (1) transformation of our earthly bodies to immortal spiritual bodies at the Rapture; (2) Exemption from the final wrath of God poured out on an evil world hell-bent on defying and denying the true and living God and his Messiah.

Trying to Find Contradictions in the Bible

Although the subject of this week’s article as presented in the title is mainly for believers—the resolution (explanation, clarification) of an “apparent” ambiguity between two teachings in Scripture—I want to take a moment to comment on secular or pseudo-Christian attempts to find inconsistencies or outright contradictions in the Bible.

With an up-front unequivocal statement: There are none!

The ulterior motive of so-called “higher critics” of the Bible is to try to prove that the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God. They do so primarily in three ways:

(1) Disproving the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies mostly by trying to post-date the time when the Lord revealed these predictions to the time of their fulfillment. The book of Daniel is one of their favorite targets. Time and space do not permit elaboration, except to say they have failed miserably with this tactic.

(2) Concerning miracles in the Bible, they attempt to discount the divine origin of the miracles by using natural explanations to explain away supernatural events. This is done even by those whose agenda is not necessarily to discredit the Bible.

For example, there are those who have tried to rationalize the first nine plagues God through Moses dispensed against Egypt, by relating them exclusively to natural phenomena, beginning with the Nile River turning to blood. With one huge problem on that first plague alone. They reach the conclusion that it really wasn’t blood, but a “blood-like” mixture of this or that. There is absolutely no symbolism taking place in the Ten Plagues of Egypt. I’m sure the Egyptians wished they had been metaphorical!

Strangely enough they do agree that, for example, the flies are flies and the frogs are frogs and so on. However, each of these plagues was of exceedingly greater magnitude than any “natural” catastrophe could have been. The frogs were so bad that they were even in Pharaoh’s bed!

For sure, there are many miracles recorded in Scripture in which God uses nature. With one huge difference: The Lord supernaturally altered the natural course of nature with a result that the event would and could never had occurred (in such scale) without God’s sovereign supervision.

Essentially, that’s the definition of a miracle.

There are other miracles in Scripture which indisputably transcend the laws of physics, such as the tenth Egyptian plague that the “expert critics” simply cannot explain. Why only the firstborn males of the Egyptians and their livestock? Why not the firstborn of the Hebrews also, why not females, or why not random deaths of a second-born or third-born child? Why the sudden death all in one night’s time? And so forth.

(3) Another favorite tactic of the critics—one in keeping with today’s article—is that of finding Bible passages that are seemingly contradictory, especially if there are two or more accounts of the same incident. Here, the Four Gospels are their favorite target.

Even believers sometimes question what appears to them as conflicting descriptions. The critics operate with the presumption that the gospels are contradictory, not complementary. They conveniently overlook or dismiss the time-tested template of investigative reporting: not all accounts of a story match up one with the other.

Does that automatically mean that one version of the event is false, and another is true? Of course not.

It simply means, for example: If 10 journalists report an event, there could be 1 to 10 varying highlights on certain features of the episode. Unless there is a glaring discrepancy between the reported facts (such as some reporting that the U.S. President replied, “Yes,” to the question, and other articles indicating the President said, “No,”), the fact that only a few or perhaps none of the articles contained ALL of what was seen and heard doesn’t mean that the reports were contradictory. And certainly, doesn’t mean that the event never happened.

For instance: Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels mention only one angel at the empty tomb of Jesus. With Luke and John specifying there were two angels. For that matter, the gospels differ as to how many women went to the tomb that Sunday morning.

Does that mean that their accounts are contradictory, in terms of what really happened? Once again, absolutely not. Matthew and Mark identify just the angel that spoke to the women. That doesn’t mean the second angel wasn’t there. There’s not a reputable news editor on the planet who would accuse an investigative journalist from another news source of inaccurate, faulty, or false information just because that reporter mentions (for example) only the woman who shook hands with some dignitary, even though there were several other women attending that luncheon.

Even when reporters record an entire event via audio or video, their actual (summary) report or film clip may or may not include everything they saw and heard. In other words, leaving something out of the story doesn’t mean that the reporting of it is either false or contradictory.

In years of studying Scripture, I and many other Bible scholars, teachers, and students have come to the resolute conclusion: The Bible never contradicts itself. I repeat for emphasis: NEVER.

Seemingly conflicting passages can be more than satisfactorily understood if you thoroughly examine all segments on any given subject or event in Scripture. Comparing Scripture with Scripture and scrutinizing the Biblical context of the topic or story at hand, i.e. the whole counsel of the Lord our God.

Whether a person does this directly on their own, or whether he or she looks to the gift of sound Biblical teaching given to some believers to help with this correlation and clarification is up to the individual. Or a combination of both.

An Inconsistency Between the Rapture of “Living” Believers & Every Person Must Die?

Have you ever thought about the ostensible (for that is what it is … apparent) difference found in the Scriptural truth that every person must experience physical death as found in the passages quoted earlier; compared to the powerful and precious promise given to all believers in Messiah Jesus:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Otherwise known as The Rapture!

Whether you’ve contemplated a potential discrepancy or not, at face value there is a perceived problem between (with) the Lord’s promise through the Apostle Paul that, “we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up…”; contrasted to Bible passages that every person will (physically) die for their sins.

Is there an answer to this paradox?

Absolutely, there is. No different than any other apparent variance (of which there only a small handful) in the Bible that can ALWAYS be explained (resolved) without the need for undue speculation. We’ve already looked at some of these in rebuttal to the agenda of the “higher critics” of Scripture.

Before we explore this intriguing contradiction, we need to look at the most tragic thing that has ever befallen humanity: DEATH. It is a self-inflicted condition caused by the congenital disease of sin; totally avoidable and unnecessary had our original parents simply obeyed the Lord.

Why death? Is it too harsh of a penalty? Is it a punishment that fits the crime?

The overriding answer has already been cited earlier in this article. It is a commensurate consequence of disobedience if for no other reason than God says so: “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:17b).

However, in nearly all truth and consequences found in Scripture, the Lord discloses a reason (often directly or sometimes indirectly through deductive and inductive human reasoning that God has given to mankind—an integral component of being created in His image) for cause and effect.

The fall of humanity resulting in death is no exception. Read with me:

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 3:22-23, NASB).

The Tree of Life

There are two main reasons why the Lord banished Adam and Eve from Paradise: (1) They had forfeited their God-given privilege of a life and land in which the Lord had provided everything for them. Now they must work hard for a living by struggling with the elements from which Adam was created. (2) The answer to the question of proportional punishment (death) for disobedience, lies in the fact that if Adam and Eve had been allowed to remain in the Garden of Eden, they would have eaten from the tree of life and their existence on earth would have continued indefinitely.

By eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve’s eyes (by the very act of seeing, listening to, and agreeing with the source of all evil, Satan) were opened experientially to evil itself. It was a foregone conclusion that this evil would spread to subsequent generations, which is exactly what happened. God, in his mercy, allowed Adam and a few generational descendants to live hundreds of years before they died. The Lord was proven right (he’s always right!), when subsequent generations became so wicked that the Lord eliminated them from the face of the earth and started over again with Noah and his family.

To this day the only thing that prevents mankind from self-destruction (which those left behind at the Rapture will come perilously close to), is that each generation has passed from this earth.

And the only reason that this world has any measure of hope is the passing down of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from generation to generation. This Good News assures us of everlasting life in Messiah Jesus and promises that one day death itself will be no more; if we accept Christ as our personal Savior. Jesus is the only Way, the ultimate Truth, and the (heavenly tree of) Life.

God chose not to take away the tree of life from Adam and Eve; instead he took them away from that tree (from the entire Garden), as it was part of their punishment.

Some say that this tree is symbolic. However, the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the tree of life was as real as the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve actually ate of the forbidden fruit; there’s no indication whatsoever that there was anything symbolic going on. In fact, a “figurative” eating of the fruit of either tree makes no sense at all.

We see this tree of life in the first book of the Bible. In the last book, Revelation, we find two trees of life in the New Jerusalem—which will hover over the earth throughout eternity.

“Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything…” (Revelation 22:1-3a).

In between, we learn of the rebuilt Temple (during the Great Tribulation) and of the remarkable changes in the earthly Jerusalem (during the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus) including “fruit trees of all kinds” (See Ezekiel 47).

(For an in-depth examination please refer to the two-part Eye of Prophecy article, A Third Jewish Temple, posted 4-26 & 5-3-14).

Solving the Puzzle

One of the problems experienced by Christian believers in Corinth was their questioning of a literal bodily resurrection of the dead, or of any resurrection at all. Paul begins his negation of this deceptive notion with a blunt (all the while expressing love for his brothers and sisters in Christ at Corinth and all the churches) challenge, followed by a lengthy explanation that life (eternal) springs from physical death … that death must precede such life.

“But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead” (I Corinthians 15:12-15).

Because all the apostles, including himself—on the road to Damascus—and hundreds of others (I Corinthians 15:1-9) had personally seen the risen Christ, Paul plainly states:

“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (Verse 20).

Paul goes on to present examples that God’s creation is composed of distinctive bodies.

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first … Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory (essence) of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies” (I Corinthians 15:35-40, parenthesis mine).

The life-giving, life-changing subject that stands out more than any other in the New Testament (also referenced in the Old Testament) is none other than:

Without our Savior’s magnificent resurrection, there would be no forgiveness of sin, no reconciliation with God, and no hope for anything beyond the grave, except an eternity separated from God—the second death. No one would be equipped to live in heaven forever, because this heavenly existence is impossible in our earthly bodies.

“It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever…. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

And, “What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever” (Verse 50).

(Please see Eye of Prophecy two-part series: Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms? Posted 9-26 & 10-3-15).

Now let’s come to terms with the Biblical truth that it is appointed for every person who has ever been born to die, a prototype that goes all the way back to the Lord’s pronouncement of this verdict to Adam and Eve. In contrast to the catching up to heaven of both dead and living believers at what is commonly called the Rapture.

In this 15th chapter of I Corinthians, Paul expands and expounds on the Rapture passage in I Thessalonians … written 3-4 years before his first letter to the Corinthians.

Fasten Your (Spiritual) Seat Belt … Here We Go!

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!” (I Corinthians 15:51).

“STOP!” You shout. Didn’t Paul just say that “we will not all die.” Doesn’t that mean, then, that those alive at the Rapture won’t die after all—no matter that the author of Hebrews (which most Bible scholars and teachers also believe to be the Apostle Paul) says everyone must physically die. Which, by default, also includes believers in Messiah Jesus.

Stay with me:

“It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (Verse 52).

*Note: The “it” of the above verse refers to the actual transformation itself, not the entire sequence of the Rapture events. (Please see Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World, posted 4-22-17, for a detailed sequence of the Rapture, projected to take several minutes).

Now, I’ll ask you to pause for a moment before we continue. Please pay close attention to the next part of the passage as well as the commentary offered concerning the juxtaposition of all must die (Hebrews 9:27 and other passages) with Paul’s statement, we will not all die.

“For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting.’

“For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:53-55, italics for emphasis).

*Note: Death is swallowed up (defeated) only AFTER the transformation of all believers.

First, a reminder of what death is or what is means. The Greek word for death (Thanatos, used 119 times in the King James Version) is defined as separation, not annihilation or cessation of existence. In Hebrews 9:27, the Greek phrase “to die” is apothnesko (ap-oth-nace-ko), which means just that, to die. Which is defined as, the natural death of a person. Thus, when someone dies he or she has entered the state of death (Thanatos) which is separation of their spirit from their physical body.

Spiritual death is separation from God eternally for those who have not accepted God’s (Biblical) salvation by believing and receiving his Son’s substitutionary death (and resurrection!) as the only remedy for the penalty of sin and rebellion against the Lord (John 3:16).

The conceptual meaning of death is vitally important to grasp before we can resolve this paradox.

Notice: Paul says that our “dying bodies” will (need to) be transformed. As we’ve already seen, the Bible proclaims that all must die.

We begin to die the moment we are born. It’s just a matter of time, longer for some than others. Without intending to be morbid (as opposed to celebrating life with gratitude for God in giving us that life) we could accurately say, “After we’re born, we’re as good as dead.”

Which is exactly what Paul is saying: “For our dying bodies must be transformed…”

Here, Paul is expanding on his prior statement that, “We will not all die…”

This clarification is not merely a technical distinction between those who have (actually) died before the Rapture and those who are dying … having not fully reached the otherwise inevitable point of death. In the context of what death is and means, Paul is saying that even those “alive” at the Rapture will experience death.

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Even living believers will encounter death the instant they are transformed. Just like the “dead in Christ” they, too, will be resurrected from that death.

The moment the dead in Christ are raised then shortly thereafter the “living in Christ,” the body of both groups of believers will be “transformed into bodies that will never die…”

Which unmistakably means that even the spirit of those believers who are alive when this transformation takes place will be separated (Thanatos) from their earthly body and intricately united with their glorious new spiritual body that will never die. Nonetheless, a body recognizable by friends and family as the same person (the new replacing the old) but with an amazingly altered appearance.

Of no small significance: Nowhere in I Corinthians 15 or any other passage does the Apostle Paul state or even imply that the Biblical statement/principle that every person must experience death has been set aside, or otherwise exempted (exception made), even by the Rapture of those who are alive and remain. If that were the case, I’m convinced that Paul would have clearly clarified and meticulously mentioned that this Biblical precept (all must die) didn’t apply to the Rapture.

Thus, when he says, “we will not all die,” he’s referring to those believers who are not actually in the grave. And why he continues by describing those alive are nevertheless in “dying bodies” that must be transformed (from death to life) precisely like those who have preceded them in death. With the action and result of this tremendous transfiguration that of each “living” believer’s spirit separated from their earthly body and placed into a glorious spiritual body that will never ever die or even begin to die in any way, shape, or form.

The only difference is the timing of it all. The spirit of believers whose body is in the grave have been waiting (some much longer than others) for this reunion of their spirit into a transformed spiritual body. Whereas those alive at the Rapture will experience this instantly. Still, there will undoubtedly be some believers who will “die” (not yet buried) just a few seconds or even a split-second before the Rapture takes place. In that regard, their transformation will be on par with those who are alive and remain.

In either case, the heart of the believer will beat one last time; each will draw one last breath in this earthly body.

Paul reinforces this fact with his all-important analogy of our earthly bodies being equivalent to a seed planted that must die before it can be transformed into a living plant.

Do you see(d) that?!

Things to Ponder

No believer should fear death. For death is only a passage to our heavenly home. What most believers fear is the pain that sometimes precedes death, especially if we succumb to a dreadful disease or debilitating injury; and, of course, leaving loved ones behind. Even then, the pain remedies in today’s advanced medical treatment lessen that physical distress.

So, you see: The Biblical truth that all must die (physically) is not contradicted or set aside by the Rapture of living believers. It’s true that those believers will not experience the full measure of the original death penalty (“planted in the ground”); however, they will still die when their earthly body is separated from their spirit. Then, just like the dead in Christ, the spirit of all believers will be indivisibly joined with a wonderful transfigured body, just like our Lord’s.

“…we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved…” (Romans 8:23-24).

“…Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:17b-18).

OUR REDEEMER LIVES!

Hallelujah!

Gog/Magog’s Prophetic Clock Is Ticking, Ticking….

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Amazing 20th & 21st Century Developments

In the 20th century and only eighteen years into the 21st century, Planet Earth has witnessed a phenomenal paradigm predicted in Scripture long ago. This dynamic pattern consists of: (1) last-day’s events impact peoples and nations on a truly global level. (2) When end-times signs unfold, they take place rapidly, on an exponential scale.

Part 1: Global Impact of Last Day’s Events

Over 2,500 years ago, the prophet Daniel portrayed “…the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).

Since the early 20th century ingenious invention of the automobile and airplane combined with the incredible advancement of passenger shipbuilding (think Titanic) and super trains, international travel has exploded by ten to whatever power you care to make it. We can literally move at supersonic speed. Many will rush here and there.

These powerful progressions in travel were preceded and paralleled by the telegraph, telephone, and radio. Then eclipsed exponentially by more dazzling transformations of communication—television, the computer, the cellphone, the internet, and pocket-size digital devices never thought possible. All of which have ignited an explosion of knowledge unrivaled in history; information that is literally a click or fingertip touch away.

According to those who have studied this (general … all kinds) increase in knowledge, until the year 1900 knowledge doubled every century. After WWII, every 25 years. And since the advent of the digital age, every 13 months! With the projection that we are fast approaching the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours! Even if it’s (only) every 12 days, it’s a staggering thing to process.

“And knowledge will increase,” wrote Daniel. Notice, that Daniel didn’t say wisdom would spread, just knowledge. An argument could be made that real wisdom (God’s truth found in Scripture) in today’s post-modern world has been cut in half, rather than doubling. Were Daniel to suddenly step foot into the year 2018, he would undoubtedly be dumbfounded at the technology that has expedited this astonishing growth of travel and information, especially the speed of both. On the other hand, I’m convinced he would not be surprised. Why?

Because Daniel and other prophets (as well as we who have believed and received all that Scripture declares) knew beyond any doubt that what God says will happen, always happens. What he says he will do, he always does. It’s as simple and yet profound as that. Hundreds of fulfilled Bible prophecies and miracles are proof positive that the God of the Bible is the only true and living God. It’s baffling that the world-at-large doesn’t see that.

But then, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!” (I Corinthians 1:18a).

Part 2: Last Days Events Unfold Swiftly … Once They Begin

Jesus himself conveyed this feature of the two-part Biblical principle and pattern. He used a plainly understood yet riveting image to show that when the last days began to unfold they would do so rapidly.

“Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:7-8, italics for emphasis).

Global statistics show that natural disasters have increased progressively in both frequency and severity during the 20th & 21st centuries. Which vividly matches the analogy of labor pains during childbirth that Jesus used to illustrate the signs of the last days.

Rumors of wars have been more prevalent in the 20th & 21st centuries than ever before. Concerning war itself, one need only to look at the unbelievable carnage caused by World War I, even shockingly more catastrophic during World War II. There have been dozens of other wars, but these two global conflicts alone give generational meaning and proof to Messiah Jesus’s description of the end times.

Regarding the rapid unfolding of prophetic events once they begin, it’s not only the signs of the last days. This is God’s pattern throughout history. Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Who Is Messiah? Posted 3-29-14.

God works that way. Though his timing is different (better) than ours, and though we many times must wait for his plan to materialize in our lives individually and nationally; when specific signs of specific prophecies materialize, then the actual fulfillment of those prophecies quickly follow, i.e. in that or the following generation. This was true in Noah’s time; in the time of Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage; in Joshua’s time when he led them into the Promised Land; in King Saul, King David’s time when God allowed the Jews to have a king; in Jeremiah’s time when he prophesied of the Babylonian captivity; in Jesus’s time when he proclaimed that salvation had come to the Jews and the whole world; in the first century when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in less than a generation after Jesus announced this ominous prophecy; and in our generation that has witnessed the rebirth of Israel and the gathering of certain nations against Israel.

Messiah Jesus disclosed other end-time’s signs and painted other pictures regarding the swift succession of these events and his return, demonstrating that when these things begin to unfurl they will increase with kaleidoscope intensity.

“For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:27).

Here, Jesus is specifically referring to his return at the end of the seven-year Great Tribulation. However, the lightning imagery is used in the greater context of how things will increase in rapid-fire fashion beginning with the birth-pain signs and culminating with his glorious return that will literally save the world from self-destruction. Which, in turn, gives birth to the glorious Kingdom of God on earth, beginning with the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

Then in the next verse, he says: “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near” (Verse 28). Here Jesus is consolidating all the end times signals (as he presented in this passage and as predicted in many other places in Scripture).

Then one last metaphor that narrows down the birth-pain model to a time-dedicated period of the last days.

“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:32-34).

As detailed in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles (such as The Omega Generation, posted 2-15-14 or The Balfour Declaration … Beginning of the Omega Generation Part I & II, 5-13 & 5-20-17), this fig-tree generation comparison has an approximate start time.

There are two primary parameters of a generation in Scripture—100 years and 70 years.

The 20th century witnessed the beginning of many of these birth-pangs, none more so than two World Wars and two other stunning events, both of which were linked directly to these horrific global conflicts.

100 years ago: World War I ended November 11, 1918. And in November 1917, the surprising Balfour Declaration which paved the way for the subsequent (still unfolding) restoration of Israel and return of the Jews to their Promised Land.

70 years ago: The remarkable rebirth of Israel as a sovereign nation May 14, 1948, just three years after World War II came to an end. That’s as fig-tree generation as it gets!

What used to take centuries, then decades to unfold (e.g. rise of nations, conditions leading to war, establishment of treaties) now take only a few years, months, weeks, and even days. Not the least of which was Israel’s rebirth as a nation in one day!

Other than conflicts fought on more of a containment basis, all-out wars in the 20th & 21st century have ended much faster than in previous centuries. The two biggest wars of all time (by far) lasted four-six years each.

And who can ever forget the stunning victory of one small nation against three nations with a combined populace and military far greater. Of course, I’m referring to the astounding Six-Day War of June 1967. Considering the against all odds obstacles, Israel’s defeat of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan (with Iraq & Lebanon also participating but to lesser extent) is considered by many, including military experts, as the greatest (in such a short time) triumph of all time.

The Rapid Global Unfolding of End Times Events Applied to Gog/Magog

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written in part or full about the soon-to-come (not long after the Rapture) Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, led by three prominent nations: Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Today’s article is in large part a follow-up to one of those articles: The Gog/Magog Countdown Has Begun. Published 9-10-16.

In a fascinating (unique) prophetic fashion, the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy (speak to) Gog of the land of Magog as though Gog and his allies were already planning to invade Israel.

“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all of the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them” (Ezekiel 38:7).

The present tense condition of these words is unmistakable. God is speaking to Gog/Magog as though they were poised to strike Israel. Which is exactly the geopolitical and military position that Russia, Iran, and Turkey are currently occupying in Syria. And only since 2014, when Russia, then Iran, and later Turkey deployed military bases in Syria. It’s as though God, through Ezekiel, was addressing this coalition by email telling them to be on the alert, to get ready for action, to go ahead with their sinister (ulterior) goal of conquering Israel. Because when they do, God will spring into action and it won’t be a pretty scene for Gog and his allies.

In the very next verse, the Lord continues his dressing-down of Gog as though Gog was right there listening. While at the same time reminding Ezekiel and the reader that this present-tense admonition (keep your armies mobilized) would be a long way off from Ezekiel’s time … 2,600 years ago and counting, but now with each tick of the clock.

“A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud” (Ezekiel 38:8-9).

In the hundreds of Biblical end-times prophecies, rarely, if at all, does the Lord use the phrase, a long time from now or in the distant future. Why here in Ezekiel as applied to Gog/Magog? I’m convinced it’s because the Lord is emphasizing that—although the Gog/Magog alliance would (historically) be a long time in coming—when Gog and his allies were ready to pounce on Israel, the events preceding that invasion would unfold in exceptionally quick sequence. In fact, the passage bookmarks the beginning of that time: the restoration of Israel as a nation and return of the Jews from world-wide exile.

Beginning especially during the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Russia has been as active in its dealings (positive or negative) with Israel as the Western nations, especially the United States. To the unlikely point where Russia and Israel are not only on speaking terms (as we speak) but have recently become as close-knit as any two countries who have multiple differences can be.

Thus, Ezekiel juxtaposes the far-off Gog/Magog invasion of Israel with a present-day reality that prophetically fits the paradigm discussed earlier. Which is: when last-day’s events begin to unfold, they will develop exponentially, fast enough to fit within or very close to a generational period. And they will have repercussions on the entire world. As I have said several times in prior articles (so have others), at no time in history has virtually the entire world been so inordinately focused to the point of perplexity (angst) on the tiny nation of Israel.

The Gog/Magog Systematic Countdown … With Every Tick of the Clock

In the past few years, Iran has been on the “hot seat” as much or more than any other dictatorial nation on earth; earning the dubious distinction of a “rogue nation” along with North Korea and a few less prominent countries. And rightfully so, given its hatred of Israel, the United States, and animosity toward nations that support Israel and the US—whether sincerely or pragmatically for economic and political reasons.

Since President Trump rescinded the United States participation in former President Obama’s (as the instigator) 2015 Nuclear Deal with Iran, the other P5 + 1 nations who were party to that agreement (Great Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) have refused to support this withdrawal. This, despite President Trump’s offer to negotiate a different (better) pact, one that would put teeth into the original agreement which Iran has obviously violated in several ways. Such as not allowing the IAEA to send nuclear inspectors on short notice; continuing to develop and deploy long-range ballistic missiles; maintaining plans and facilities to renew uranium enrichment for nuclear warheads.

And though not part of the Nuclear Deal, Iran’s unabated rhetoric that calls for, “Death to Israel,” Death to America” all the while funding terrorist organizations like Hezbollah (Lebanon), Hamas (Gaza), and the Houthis (Yemen).

Earlier this month, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, once again published a threat against Israel by saying that Iran’s, “…stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible, and it will happen.” (Whether this post was a reprint from one in the past or a new one, Khamenei has publicized several annihilation tirades against Israel).

Does it get any more disgusting and dreadful than that? What part of “cancerous tumor” and removal and eradication of Israel doesn’t any sensible and presumably intelligent head of state understand? There were token condemnations of Khamenei’s menacing threats, but not nearly enough to see through Iran’s lies, treachery, and true intentions concerning any so-called “deal.” Now it’s up to the P5 nations plus scores of other countries to decide who can better butter their bread … Iran or the United States.

Just a few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with (one day each), German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Theresa May. None of them agreed with Netanyahu (or the United States) that the current Nuclear Deal should be canceled, nor at the very least renegotiated and rewritten. The week before his European tour, Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concerning Iran’s military presence in Syria.

(Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu & British Prime Minister Theresa May)

In June 2017, Iran prominently displayed a clock in its capital Tehran that has begun to count down the destruction of Israel by the year 2040. Evidently, the ticking of this clock was in connection to another one of Khamenei’s malignant (Iran is the cancerous tumor) and malicious threats saying, “You (Israelis) will not see the coming 25 years and, God (meaning Allah) willing, there will not be something named the Zionist regime in the next 25 years.”

There’s no doubt that the Ayatollah wants Israel destroyed long before the 25 years is up. This is repugnantly reflected in the statement of one of Iran’s top generals, Abdolrahim Mousavi, who made this ominous threat: “Our fingers are on the trigger and the missiles are ready to fire. We need to prevent this illegitimate entity (Israel) from continuing to exist even one more day.”

For the present, Iran prefers that its puppet regime Hezbollah in Lebanon (thousands of Hezbollah troops currently in Syria) and other extremists from several countries (especially Afghanistan and Pakistan) do the proxy fighting for Iran. To that end, Iran has imported 80,000 Muslim Shi’ite terrorist fighters to Syria (ostensibly to fight against ISIS and anti-Assad freedom fighters, but with the more sinister goal of eventually attacking Israel) and transported 130,000 missiles to Syria and Lebanon. And this is just deployment of a conventional military arsenal, with their ultimate objective that of developing nuclear warheads to take out Israel.

An Unexpected Twist in Middle East Alliances … Contradiction of Biblical Prophecy?

In the previously mentioned article The Gog/Magog Countdown Has Begun! I provided in-depth details of the favorable geopolitical interaction beginning just a few years ago between Russia and Iran, Russia and Turkey, Iran and Turkey; each a former adversary of the others. With the overall result of all three nations now bearing a military presence in Syria, right next door to Israel!

However, strange bedfellows are seldom compatible.

If you’ve kept abreast of Middle East developments in just the past few weeks, you know that:

(1) Iran sent an explosive-armed drone into Israel; the first time Iran had attacked Israel directly. The IDF blew the drone out of the sky.

(2) Israel has launched several retaliatory and preemptive air strikes against Syrian and Iranian military and/or missile bases in Syria.

(3) Paradoxically, Russia has condoned (permitted) Israel’s intervention. To even include Israeli advanced notice to Russian military personnel in Syria when and where the strikes will take place, to prevent any collateral damage to Russian installations or accidental “sharing” of the same airspace with Russian planes.

(4) Russia has demanded that all foreign military forces, including Iran and Hezbollah, withdraw from anywhere near the southern Syrian border with Israel. To include Iran’s total withdrawal from Syria when both ISIS and the rebel fighters against Assad’s Syrian government are totally defeated.

(5) This alliance type of agreement between Russia and Israel (to indirectly include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and some Arabic Gulf States) has infuriated Iran, with a consequential chilling of relations between Russia and Iran. President Erdogan of Turkey has sensibly yielded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stance, knowing that Russia is currently the dominate foreign power in Syria.

(Turkey’s Recep Erdogan & Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Want Their Own Regimes To Be the Head of a Middle-East, Even World-wide Islamic Caliphate)

Assessing the big picture, Middle East expert/scholar Zvi Magen of the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies, and a former Israeli ambassador to Russia and Ukraine stated:

“During the civil war, they were on the same side backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, but now that the war is ending, they are pushing different agendas. Iran and Russia want to control Syria themselves.”

Magen continues: “…there is the problem of Israel since it can spoil things. If there would be a war between Israel and Iran in Syria, it would be bad for Russia, and so they are searching for some kind of solution, part of which was its deal with Israel that pushes the Iranians out of southern Syria.”

Obviously, both Russia and Iran wish to be the prevailing power in Syria—with Iran’s goal of a hostile annihilation of Israel and Russia’s ulterior motive that of overcoming Israel through diplomatic stealth that will catch Israel off-guard, to the point where Russia leads a military campaign against Israel. In Ezekiel 38 & 39, it is Gog (the Russian leader) whom God addresses directly.

It is Russia that will spearhead the Magog invasion of Israel and will do so when Israel is at its highest pinnacle of peace since her glory days of King David and King Solomon. This peace will be orchestrated shortly after the Rapture by Antichrist (Nero) who has “miraculously” returned from the grave. It will be the seven-year treaty foretold by Daniel. At that time, Russia will ostensibly be Israel’s “friend” which is exactly what’s taking place now in the formative stages, in preparation for this soon to come Gog/Magog invasion.

However, there’s a problem. Seemingly, this growing rift between Russia and Iran has no solution, as both countries (and to a lesser extent Turkey) are firmly embedded in Syria, and neither one is prepared to flinch. Russia doesn’t want a hostile conflict with its bedfellow buddy Iran. But even more so, Russia doesn’t want to jeopardize its budding friendliness with the United States and Israel.

Thus, the question whether Ezekiel’s prophecy could possibly come to pass, i.e. a Russian led coalition of Iran, Turkey, and some smaller nations. The answer is found by digging deeper into Scripture beyond the basic understanding that the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel will absolutely take place and will assuredly include Iran.

It’s a matter of evaluating and fitting current events into the greater context of Biblical prophecy, instead of trying to squeeze (thereby, questioning or doubting) Biblical prophecy into seemingly contradictory and ever-changing current events. To carefully examine every feature of any given prophecy; then, if applicable, to compare it to other prophecies of Scripture. (For example, see how this premise applies to the European Union and Antichrist as detailed in Eye of Prophecy articles, The Final Treaty of Rome Part I & II, posted 5-14 & 5-21-16).

It’s looking at the Big Picture from a Biblical perspective.

Regarding the Gog/Magog prediction, Ezekiel is the only place where it can be found. Thus, it’s imperative that we look at every aspect of this stunning prophecy, which has been done in various Eye of Prophecy articles. But for purpose of this week’s article, to eliminate skepticism that such an invasion could take place when Russia and Iran are presently at odds with each other, to the point of being irreversible.

First, to remember the overriding purpose of the Gog/Magog attack: to destroy Israel. Otherwise, each Magog nation will have its own national agenda—foremost to be the main power in the Middle East, which is what Russia, Iran, and Turkey are pursuing as we speak.

Stand Still and Watch God Fight for Israel!

The above heading is the title of an Eye of Prophecy article published 7-30-16.

In it, I provide specifics regarding the only three times that God vanquishes Israel’s enemies without Israel required to do any fighting at all. The first two have already taken place, with the third and final victory yet to come. Do you know what conflict that will be? This week’s article gives it away … the Gog/Magog war!

Except for these three wars, the Jews had to fight in addition to God’s various levels of intervention in their battles. This even included Jericho. Although the Lord supernaturally demolished the supposedly impenetrable walls of Jericho, the Israelites still had to fight the inhabitants of the city to gain the final victory.

We’ll look only at a highly condensed summary of these spectacular incidents, with a special emphasis on how God unilaterally wraps up total victory for Israel. All Israel need do is … pick up the pieces (spoils of war).

King Jehoshaphat

Judah’s King Jehoshaphat and his people were in a state of paralyzed panic over “a vast army” mustered by their enemies, the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites. From the tribe of Levi came a man named Jahaziel who (like Moses, Joshua, and Caleb in the wilderness) knew that God would give Israel the victory. Thus, he declared:

“Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15).

The Israelites listened to and trusted the Lord, and the next day began praising and worshipping Him. Here’s what happened:

“At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder…” (II Chronicles 20:22-25).

These wars (two historical, one future) in which God destroys Israel’s enemies without the Jews lifting a finger, reveal three distinct ways in which the Lord alone achieves the victory. In this case, God providentially caused Israel’s enemies to turn on themselves to the extent of complete annihilation.

King Hezekiah

Although the Lord had allowed the mighty nation of Assyria to conquer and disperse the ten northern tribes of Israel in 722 B.C. (of which the Lord had warned his people for decades would happen if they didn’t turn back to him), he would not permit Assyria to destroy the remaining two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah. That would come 136 years later, and it would be Babylon that would conquer Judah.

In 701 B.C. King Sennacherib of Assyria amassed his armies to besiege Jerusalem. Once again, the Israelites were terrified of this enormous, seemingly undefeatable army. King Hezekiah pleaded with the prophet Isaiah to seek God’s help. Isaiah assured Hezekiah that Assyria wouldn’t even begin an attack against Jerusalem, imparting God’s words, “Listen! I myself will move against him (Sennacherib)…” (II Kings 19:7).

Let’s go directly to the shocking finale.

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there” (II Kings 19:35-36).

*Note: Picture Sennacherib and what was left of his army slinking back to Assyria with the proverbial tail between the legs. And when Sennacherib got to Nineveh, he “stayed there.” That says it all. Not long thereafter, two of Sennacherib’s sons assassinated him, just as God said would happen through Isaiah … that Sennacherib would die by the sword.

In contrast to God’s providential intervention by (indirectly) causing Israel’s enemies to turn on each other, we see in this situation that the Lord directly intervened by killing an astounding 185,000 soldiers. Overnight!

Gog/Magog

Soon, for the third time in Israel’s (future … the future is the present to our timeless God) history, the Lord will fight for his people, without the Jews needing to go to battle. Only this time, God will employ a combination of the previous two strategies.

“But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day … all the people on earth will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth. I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord. Your men will turn their swords against each other. I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur! In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:18-23, italics for emphasis).

God will obliterate this Russian-led coalition by a supernatural unleashing of nature’s power AND the Magog nations turning on each other. The overwhelming implication and application is that the alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey will be strong in the framework of their mutual goal of conquering Israel, but tenuous regarding their selfish desires to, “capture vast amounts of plunder” (Ezekiel 38:12) in Israel, and to dominate the Middle East region. Which explains what’s taking place (preliminary stages) with this unexpected discord between Russia and Iran, making their alliance even more fragile.

The Gog/Magog invasion of Israel will very likely begin with Gog (Russia) saying to its “allies” something like, “You’re welcome to join us, but we will be in charge of this operation—the planning, the execution, and the aftermath control of Israel.” With Iran and Turkey overtly agreeing, but covertly devising their own scheme to occupy Israel.

And, oh, will they all wish they hadn’t. As is said, “it won’t be a pretty sight.”

“You and your army and your allies will all die on the mountains. I will feed you to the vultures and wild animals. You will fall in the open fields, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign Lord. And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 39:4-6).

Then, “It will take seven months for the people of Israel to bury the bodies and cleanse the land. Everyone in Israel will help, for it will be a glorious victory for Israel when I demonstrate my glory on that day, says the Sovereign Lord. After seven months, teams of men will be appointed to search the land for skeletons to bury, so the land will be made clean again” (Ezekiel 39:12-14).

Things to Ponder

On the authority of the only true and living God (who certainly isn’t Allah) and of his Scriptures, we can know for certain: Israel will still be here in 2040. Whether it’s the year 2040 or perhaps a smaller numbered year if God changes time again (due to the return of Messiah Jesus) as was done when God’s Son came to earth the first time. In fact, Israel, will endure forever. In the beautiful Dry Bones prophecy just one chapter before the Gog/Magog passage, we read that the Lord will (has already begun to) miraculously revive and restore the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the land given to them by God, himself:

“…They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation… I will give them their land and increase their numbers… I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the Lord, who makes Israel holy” (Ezekiel 37:25-28).

Iran’s Ayatollah has a choice. To believe what the God of Israel has declared will happen, or to believe his satanic god Allah who orders Muslims to subjugate the Jews and Christians and kill them if they don’t submit willingly.

Personally, I’ve placed my trust and hope in the historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth arose from the dead, after giving himself as the ultimate once for all sacrifice for forgiveness and pardon of my sins.

In his magnificent post-ascension appearance to John, Jesus said:

Jesus Is the Messiah!

Not some Muslim imam (or any other religious leader or would-be messiah) who has done nothing for humanity except to corrupt and falsify the truth of God’s salvation, the only redemption that will assure eternal life in heaven.

It’s Iran (along with Russia, Turkey, other Gog allies, then later Antichrist and the remaining armies and people on earth who defy God and seek to destroy Israel), that will be eradicated as they march on Israel.

Take heed, Mr. Ayatollah and all who, “…plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one … the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury” (Psalm 2:2-5).

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

So, Iran swears that Israel will disappear as a nation by 2040 does it? Go ahead, Ayatollah and set your watch. But watch out for the God of Israel who has already set His time for the hour of your doom, and for the utter destruction of your Magog comrades.

God’s prophetic clock is ticking. One day we’ll see, For Whom the Bell Tolls.