Reappearance of Satan, a Roman Emperor & Two Ancient Prophets … Bodily!

The great and glorious Day of the Lord begins dramatically with the most phenomenal event since the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Departed believers in Messiah Jesus will be raised from the dead!

Along with living believers, they will be transfigured into eternal bodies; “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air and immediately transported to heaven. Rapture is a Latin word used to describe this spectacular scene, soon to come.

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We (believers in Christ) will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye (the transformation itself, not the entire sequence of the Rapture events as described in I Thessalonians 4), when the last trumpet is blown…. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:51-53, parenthesis mine).

See Eye of Prophecy articles: The Tremendous Transfiguration of Believers (Posted 7-23-16) & The Shout Heard Around the World (4-22-17; with detailed description of the entire Rapture sequence).

In addition to the amazing transformation of believers from dead or dying bodies on earth (we begin to die the moment we’re born) to immortal bodies in heaven, the Rapture is also the trigger point of four individual reappearances that will shake the planet, culminating in the bodily return of Messiah to establish his Millennial Kingdom on earth.

In fact, the Rapture and the subsequent seven-year Tribulation entails one supernatural episode after another. To even include God’s angels personally proclaiming the Gospel.

The physical reappearance of these four beings has been covered to one extent or another in prior Eye of Prophecy articles. In this week’s article we’re going to bring them altogether in order of their arrival on the Tribulation scene, along with a summary review from where each one appears, i.e. where they currently are. Successively, they first arrived on earth as follows: (1) creation of Adam and Eve; (2) approximately 3,400 years ago; (3) about 2,900 years ago; (4) 1,982 years ago.

Join me on a stimulating journey that will reveal a panoramic prophetic picture of the Fantastic Four. With fantastic in the eye of the beholder because: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

Two of them are bad guys, two of them good guys.

The Dragon—Satan … Garden of Eden

The other three are human beings; whereas, we know that Satan was one of the angelic beings created by God, originally called Lucifer. Later he was given the name, Satan—which means accuser or deceiver (liar). However, his first corporeal appearance on earth was in the form of a serpent.

Two things are important to grasp: (1) Every created being has a body, including angels … angelic being/body. Both fallen angels and God’s good angels have taken on human form. In Satan’s case, he possessed the serpent’s body in the Garden of Eden and proceeded to deceive Adam and Eve; accusing God of lying to them about dying if they did the one and only thing God told them not to do. However, there is no incident in the Bible in which Satan himself takes on human form.

(2) Don’t entirely equate the serpent(s) of Eden with snakes. The Garden of Eden, “…serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman…” (Genesis 3:1).

There are two options here to consider. One is that the serpent itself could talk. There’s no indication that Eve was surprised when the serpent spoke to her. The other scenario is that Adam and Eve already knew about Satan … fully aware it was the devil embodied in and speaking through the serpent. Either way, the original serpent possessed some measure of intelligence and status above the other animals.

As we know: When Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, He pronounced a curse on them; on all creation including the animals—but particularly the serpent.

“Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He (Messiah) will strike your head, and you will strike his heel (physically—the death of Jesus; and spiritually—sins of all people laid on Jesus)” (Genesis 3:14-15, parenthesis mine).

In view of the remarkable restorative changes in the animal kingdom during the Millennial Reign of Christ, it’s evident that all animals were originally created in a higher state than we see them today. Especially, the serpent. The serpent didn’t crawl until after God announced judgment on it.

(As it once was, so will it be again … some day soon)

In the comparative context of Satan’s first appearance to mankind (Garden of Eden) and his reappearance (outset of Tribulation) in bodily form, the Bible slightly modifies the imagery of a (the) serpent to that of a (the) dragon. The express purpose of both images is that of identifying Satan … physically (actually) not metaphorically! Serpent and dragon are terms (names of Satan) that reveal him in bodily form, which is exactly what happened in his first tangible appearance to our original parents on earth.

And will be how Satan reappears (tangibly, bodily) on the earth quite soon after the Rapture! Which probably surprises you; unless, that is, you’ve read Eye of Prophecy articles, Satan in Bodily Form … When and Why? Part I & II (Published 11-12 & 11-19-16).

The term dragon is used as a physical manifestation of Satan’s (demonized) angelic body, in which he will be materially confined to the Abyss during the 1,000-year reign of Messiah and believers on earth. Also, the body in which he will be thrown out of heaven (forever) to the earth. When Satan realizes that this eviction from the heavenly sphere and bodily confinement to earth is permanent, he will be furious. He’ll vent his wrath against Jews and Christians of the Tribulation period (Revelation 12:13-18).

Sequence of Satan’s Reappearance on Earth Embodied as “the Dragon”

Beginning with the first event (even before Antichrist reappears on the scene) after the Rapture.

“Then there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels” (Revelation 12:7-9).

(Refer to Eye of Prophecy article, A Mysterious Sign in Virgo … What Does It Mean? (9-23-17; which includes a detailed study of Revelation 12).

One (strongly inferred) reason why this epic event will take place immediately after the Rapture is because all believers will be in heaven. The Lord will not allow Satan access to heaven to (now directly) get in the face of believers and accuse us before God as the devil has done through the ages, while believers were still on the earth. Redemption will be gloriously completed for believers at the Rapture, including no more temptations and accusations from the devil.

Another reason that Satan’s reappearance on earth (immediately) precedes that of Antichrist is found in the last verse of Revelation Chapter 12 (verse 18). With, however, other/older Bible translations placing this as verse one in Chapter 13.

Quoting the New American Standard Bible: “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…” (Revelation 13:1). Or, in the New Living Translation: “Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea” (Revelation 12:18).

In other words, the dragon will physically be watching from the shore of the sea (undoubtedly the Mediterranean Sea) waiting for his Antichrist beast to ascend from the Abyss (Revelation 17:8). If Antichrist rises out of the Abyss and the Sea (as we just read), then the Abyss must be located beneath the sea.

Satan’s original loss of his once permanent home in heaven and his (subsequent) battle with Michael that resulted in total banishment to earth are entirely different events.

(Depiction of Michael in his battle with Satan)

The first eviction involved Satan’s residence in heaven, but not his ongoing access to heaven—visitation rights permitted by God (example, Job 1 & 2). With Satan’s initial expulsion from his heavenly home, one-third of the angels followed him. This event took place even before God created Adam and Eve. In fact, Satan’s initial removal from (his home in) heaven is mentioned earlier in that same chapter of Revelation 12 (verses 3-4). Originally this ancient incident is found in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.

Jesus, himself, described this first fall of Satan to his disciples (further confirmation that Jesus existed as God before becoming the God-man): “…I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18, NASB). Notice that Jesus’s description was past tense. Whereas, the second reference to Satan’s (permanent) eviction from heaven in Revelation 12 is still to come.

Lucifer’s heavenly status was one of the mighty cherubim angels, to whom God had given great authority over other angels—one reason so many angels rebelled with him.

Satan’s reappearance on earth in his angelic body will be visible in our earthly dimension; albeit an angelic form that has been demonically degraded and perhaps even deformed by his evil nature. But dragon is NOT a symbolic term for Satan; it is Satan in literal form and appearance.

Two of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3 refer to Satan. However, after John’s sudden transportation to heaven (preview of the Rapture) in Revelation 4:1 and subsequent chapters about the Tribulation, Satan is referred to as “the dragon.” With one exception and the reason thereof, which we’ll get to in a moment.

As with the serpent and snakes, don’t think in terms of dragons characterized in literature or in the movies. The ultimate purpose for and use of “dragon” to depict Satan is to realize that he will be visibly embodied during the Tribulation and thereafter. Although, for the most part, I believe he will be behind the scenes energizing Antichrist (and the False Prophet) and not readily available on anything approaching a regular basis. That’s always been his style. Plus, he may not want many to see him in his abysmal (pun intended) fallen condition. Even if he’s still able to switch from one dimension to another, he will be restricted to the earth.

Satan is referred to as the dragon in Revelation Chapters 12, 13, 16, & 20. In his reference to Satan as the dragon, John even reminds the reader: “This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world…” (Revelation 12:9). There’s no reason for John to remind us unless there was the need to realize that Satan had physically reappeared on earth, just like he did the first time in Eden.

When John tells us in Revelation that the dragon took his stand on the seashore beside the sea, there is no symbolism whatsoever going on. Even more convincing is when Satan is bound (bodily as the dragon) and literally thrown into the Abyss. Again, John reminds us for emphasis who/what the dragon is.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3, emphasis added).

(Depiction of Satan–the dragon–locked in the Abyss)

Here, John calls the dragon Satan again, but for a specific reason. The dragon is bound and locked in the Abyss so that he (as Satan) could not deceive the nations. Likewise, when Satan is released from the Abyss one thousand years later it is to: deceive the nations. (Revelation 20:8).

Consider it this way: Dragon is who Satan is (embodied angelic being); Satan is what the dragon does (lies, deceives, accuses); Devil is a (devilish) combination of the two … dragon and Satan.

In the Bible’s last reference to Satan, we read: “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 20:10).

The designation of “devil” is used because it encompasses both who he is (angelic being … the dragon) and what he does (deceives … Satan).

More Evidence of Satan’s Bodily Reappearance on Earth

To further demonstrate that (the) dragon and other terms used by John in Revelation 20 are literal and not figurative, I’ll ask some questions. Prefaced by this observation:

When Satan and his demons are defeated by the Archangel Michael and his angels, Satan will be thrown down AND confined to the earth in/as his embodied (demonic angel) self. Thus, he will be able to function only in our earthly element, subject to all the restrictions within the parameters of that existence. No longer in a fourth or fifth or whatever otherworldly dimension that angels otherwise occupy.

First question: How could the angel “seize the dragon” if Satan was still in an ethereal (spiritual) dimension with all the intangible features of that sphere? The very definition and meaning of seize is a material concept. It is taking literal possession of or physically capturing something or someone by force. For example, the beast and false prophet are “captured” during the final battle of Armageddon and physically thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20).

For that matter, there would be no reason for all the successive terms to be used in Revelation 20 if this whole scene was merely metaphorical. If all we were meant to know is that Satan, the deceiver, would be confined to the Abyss for 1,000 years, then that’s all the passage need tell us. We wouldn’t need all the specifics. But there are tangible details, because the earthly features of the dragon and the means of his imprisonment are real, not figurative.

Next question: Is the bottomless pit a real place? Does it exist? According to Scripture, absolutely. It is the actual abode for the exceptionally evil embodied angels (II Peter 2 and Jude based on Genesis 6); for the Antichrist beast (Revelation 17); and for Satan as the dragon (Revelation 20) during the Millennium. There’s nothing allegorical about the Abyss, any more than Hell is symbolic. In fact, the Abyss and Hell are separate locations. You remember that the demons cast out by Jesus in the region of Gerasene begged him not to (literally) send them to the Abyss (Luke 8).

Is, then, the “key to the bottomless pit” real? Why wouldn’t it be? The same term is used in Revelation 9, when an angel uses that key to open the “shaft of the bottomless pit.” To release those same wicked angels to torment Antichrist’s followers with stings so painful, the people stung wished they could die. The key is literal, but it could be a seal of some sort. Not in the sense of a parallel purpose; rather in terms of confinement, we could think of the sealed stone rolled across the tomb of Jesus.

Similar question: Is the angel’s shutting and locking of the Abyss (shaft) also literal? Yes, it is, as demonstrated by a subsequent question: How do we or why would we symbolically shut and lock anything tangible? Allegory is not only not needed in this passage; it’s noticeably awkward to symbolize anything or (in this case) everything going on in the seizing, chaining, throwing, shutting, and locking of the dragon in the literal Abyss.

(What good is a prison cell, unless shut and locked while the prisoner is there!)

Last question on that subject, and perhaps the most obvious reason why there is no symbolism at all going on concerning Satan’s confinement in the Abyss as an embodied being.

We read that the angel bound the dragon with a “heavy chain.”

If, indeed, the chain was merely metaphorical, then why is it a heavy chain? If the chain is figurative, there’s no need whatsoever to make it heavy. Or even to (allegorically) use a chain at all. It was a “heavy chain” because that is what it will take to secure a powerful dragon (embodied angelic being) in a literal prison.

Thus, Satan himself will be the first to reappear in bodily form after the Rapture.

The Antichrist Beast … Born 37 A.D.

The next supernatural reappearance (return) will be a man who died nearly 2,000 years ago. As with Satan—the dragon, and with the next two men who reappear later, this man returns in his same body.

Because I’ve presented extensive evidence in my book, Out of the Abyss and in many of the Eye of Prophecy articles to date in the category of Antichrist, this week’s article will provide only a brief review:

  • The Antichrist could not be a modern-day born man, because Revelation 17:7-8 clearly states that this man had already lived and died even before John wrote the book of Revelation.
  • By thorough scrutiny of every Biblical passage on the Antichrist, including but not limited to the number of the beast (Revelation 13) and the fact that the seven heads of Revelation 13 & 17 are Roman Emperors, I believe the evidence is overwhelming that the Antichrist is the Roman Emperor Nero.
  • The Antichrist beast who had died returns to earth from the Abyss (Revelation 11 and 17). For this to happen, he obviously must first be placed in the Abyss—which is where the Lord confined Nero … reviving him shortly after Nero died.
  • As Caesar, Nero was the ruler prophesied by Daniel whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. It was Nero who ordered his generals, Vespasian and Titus, to march on Israel in 66 A.D. After Nero died in 68 A.D., Titus finished the conquest and destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.
  • For a comprehensive examination of all this evidence, I would encourage you to get a copy of Out of the Abyss. Or read some of the Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist. For example, in keeping with the theme of this week’s article: Antichrist’s Dreaded Arrival / First or Second Appearance? (Posted 7-2-16). Or: Soon Comes the Antichrist … Straight from the Abyss Part I & II (8-20 & 8-27-16). Or, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? (1-21-17). Or the most recent: Antichrist / A “Back to the Future” Prophecy (11-17-18)

It’s unlikely that Nero knows why he was brought back to life or why he is the only human being ever imprisoned in the Abyss—along with exceptionally evil angels. I’m guessing that he doesn’t regard himself as evil. Or, maybe he does, and prefers it that way.

As indicated, the Abyss is a real place under the earth (sea); not an intangible, ethereal, extra-dimensional domain. Neither Satan nor his demons have access to the Abyss, nor want to go there. Satan is not a mind reader, nor omnipresent, nor omniscient. And certainly not omnipotent. Thus, it’s highly improbable that he has been able to communicate with his Antichrist; that’s why the dragon will be waiting by the sea for Nero to come up out of the Abyss. To brief Nero on the power and authority that awaits him, including Satanic manipulation over what and whom God allows Satan to control in his capacity as the dragon (Revelation 13:3-8).

Antichrist Nero will reappear shortly after the Rapture. But not until the dragon (Satan) is defeated by Michael, thrown down to the earth in his (earth-bound) angelic body, and banned forever from heaven and heavenly places.

The Two Prophets (Witnesses) of Revelation 11

The next two (third and fourth) are powerful prophets from long ago who will also return in the same bodies in which they left the earth. One without dying; the other revived by the Lord soon after his death. Both taken directly to heaven where they have been preserved in their original bodies for their reappearance rendezvous during the Great Tribulation.

I’ve written about these two men in a few articles, most extensively in the trilogy of articles, The Two Witnesses I, II, III (published June 2014). And the more recent: Moses & Elijah vs. Antichrist & The False Prophet (2-10-18).

The Lord refers to them as follows: “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days (3 ½ years of the Tribulation)” (Revelation 11:3).

Then we read: “These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies” (Verses 4-5).

The tree and lampstand images are taken directly from a prophecy of these two men given over 500 years earlier. Which concludes with an answer to Zechariah’s question concerning the two olive trees: “…They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth” (Zechariah 4:14).

In The Two Witnesses trilogy, I cited passages that both Moses and Elijah were the only two prophets who it is said: “stood before the Lord of all the earth.”

The reason that the angel described these two men as heavenly beings is because both Elijah and Moses have been kept in heaven in their original bodies.

Many Bible scholars and students agree that the two witnesses of Revelation are Moses and Elijah, with Elijah an easier connection to make because he was taken alive from the earth to heaven without dying. But not so, Moses … as he died. Consequently, there is hardly any commentary on how (therefore, why) Elijah and (especially) Moses appear, i.e. in their original earthly bodies. I’ll provide an explanation shortly.

The bodily return of these two mighty prophets will rivet global attention. They will also rival the awe and allegiance afforded to Nero because of his bodily return to the earth; as well as the adulation given to the False Prophet who speaks and acts on behalf of the Antichrist beast (Revelation 13).

Elijah … Born Some 2,900 Years Ago

The Biblical account of Elijah’s astonishing transportation to heaven in a chariot is well-known by believers and unbelievers alike. Like Enoch, Elijah was taken directly to heaven without first dying; however, Enoch won’t be the other prophet alongside Elijah. That role goes to Moses. Enoch is not designated as a prophet, by the definition and duties of a prophet delineated in Scripture. In fact, the first prophet was Moses. Revelation 11 clearly calls these two witnesses, prophets.

*Note: Enoch’s transportation to heaven was a prototype of raptured believers. Just like Enoch was spared from the Great Flood (based on life expectancy back then he would have been alive to see his great-grandson Noah build the ark); so, too, will the Rapture of living believers spare them from God’s second (and final) global judgment.

Time/space doesn’t permit elaboration regarding Elijah’s tremendous transference to heaven, except the event itself found in the following verse, plus one brief commentary from my second book.

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

Do you know or recall who the other man was? Correct: Elisha.

Elijah was still alive; thus, God provided special transportation for his journey. Talk about a joy ride! Beats any roller coaster, race car, speed boat, supersonic jet, or spaceship known to man. As is said, “What a way to go!” (Out of the Abyss, Page 245).

Elijah was taken to heaven to join Moses for the express purpose of (1) brief return to earth to meet with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration; (2) reappear some 2,000 years later in Jerusalem to directly take on Antichrist Nero and the False Prophet. And, indirectly, the dragon.

Moses … Born About 3,400 Years Ago

Concerning the Mount of Transfiguration, it’s easier to grasp how Elijah could have appeared in his original body, than Moses’ bodily appearance—as Moses had died. Because Jesus had not yet died and risen from the grave, no one would be resurrected or transformed if still alive with new spiritual bodies given to all believers (including Moses and Elijah) until Jesus’s resurrection and later the Rapture.

So how in the world could (did) Moses appear on the Mount of Transfiguration and will return during the Tribulation in that same earthly body?

To explain why and how Moses could appear in his original body (alongside of Elijah) at both events, we’re going to look at one of the most intriguing verses in all of Scripture, found in the one-chapter book of Jude. One that is virtually devoid of commentary from Bible scholars and teachers, but one that will (when compared to the death and burial of Moses) solve the mystery of Moses’ reappearances with Elijah.

To encourage those who haven’t yet read Out of the Abyss (to do so), but also because I explained it in the book as well as could be written again, here is an excerpt beginning with the sub-heading:

Satan and the Body of Moses

Next, we find a brief but extraordinary and mysterious scene involving Michael, Moses, and Satan.

“But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body)” (Jude 1:9, parenthesis in the text).

Why on earth, or under the earth, or above the earth would Satan argue with the archangel Michael over Moses’ body? What was it that Lucifer disputed? Though I’ve never heard or read any definitive commentary on this, I’m sure that some scholars have addressed it…. But knowing what we know about Scripture, let’s try the following on for size:

At this point in Biblical history, it had been the destiny of every person on earth to die, except Enoch. Man’s sin resulted in the curse of death…. At the time of Moses, there had not yet been any physical evidence of bodily resurrection from the dead. Of course, Satan knew where the spirits of the dead went after the person died; to Sheol (Hades in the New Testament) with a great gulf between the unsaved and those declared righteous because of their faith.

But the fact was then, and still is today; a person’s body stays in the grave and decays. Not until the Rapture of Christians and the subsequent Great White Throne Judgment of all unbelievers, will there be a permanent bodily resurrection from the grave. Even those that Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Jesus raised from the dead had to die again.

Why was Satan so bent out of shape over the body of Moses? The only rational, logical explanation is that Michael, on orders from God, had arrived to take the body of Moses directly to heaven. In fact, can you think of any other reason? This may also explain why no one knew where God had buried Moses. For that matter, how often does God directly bury someone himself, let alone conceal the burial site?

*Note: A pause to answer that rhetorical question. No other person in Scripture was buried by God. In fact, the Lord even prepared Moses by telling him ahead of time when Moses would die and where (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). Because Moses was still healthy at age 120, it’s as if God “took” him in the fashion of Enoch and Elijah; except that for Moses it was by death. You may want to read the account of Moses’ death and burial as found in Deuteronomy Chapter 34.

(Moses overlooking the Promised Land from Mount Nebo.  I wonder?: If the Lord hadn’t forbidden Moses to enter the Promised Land because of Moses’ disobedience, would the Lord have later taken Moses to heaven without dying?)

But since Moses died, let’s continue in Out of the Abyss with the reason Satan argued with Michael over Moses’s body.

Moses would be raised from the grave with his original body intact, and this didn’t set well with Satan… It is entirely credible that Satan reminded Michael (and God) that the curse of sin was physical death and bodily decay. God had no right to make an exception to this rule, as it was God’s decree in the first place that Adam and Eve would surely die if they sinned….

In no uncertain terms, Michael reminded Satan that God is in control; God has the final say in all things. If the Lord wanted to take Enoch from the earth directly to heaven (and later Elijah), then the Lord would do just that. Same thing with Moses; the only difference is that Moses had died, but that’s a mere technicality with God.

…Plus, Moses needed more help than Elijah, as Moses was dead! He needed the Archangel Michael’s assistance, whereas, Elijah needed only a chariot of fire!

…I am with those Bible students who believe Elijah and Moses will be the two witnesses, all the more because of Jude’s account of Moses’ body. That means Elijah will die once, and that Moses will have to die a second time at the hand of the Antichrist as depicted in Revelation 11; but then so did Lazarus and a few others have to die twice (pages 243-245).

Things to Ponder

The spectacular, but surreal special effects and portentous plots of Hollywood movies, television programs, and Si-fi novels are preparing the world with virtual apocalyptic images of supernatural beings who suddenly are transformed, or do extraordinary things in their natural bodies—both heroes and villains.

Pure fiction.

However, these four beings of the Tribulation appearing from the distant past are alive and real.

Two of them diabolically evil; anti-God and anti-Christ, with an equally wicked accomplice who appears for the first time … the False Prophet.

The other two are mighty men of God who will demonstrate His power as they did in times gone by.

For those left behind, there will be a crystal-clear choice to make. No more doubt or indecision or fence-riding. Either believe in Messiah Jesus, whose 144,000 Jewish post-Rapture born-again followers (Revelation 7 & 14) and whose two powerful prophets performing miracles of old (Revelation 11) will challenge the world to choose Christ.

Or believe the counterfeit miracles of the False Prophet and a colossal statue. Both will speak and act for the Antichrist, whose astonishing reappearance from the grave will profess to rival and replace the true Messiah, Jesus. With the dragon (embodied Satan) empowering and egging them on from the sidelines.

Above all, the most magnificent return will be that of Messiah Jesus. In the same glorified body and at the same location where he ascended to heaven 2,000 years ago—the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

“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 9:7).

Hallelujah to the King of kings!

Diplomacy With Israel Despite Anti-Semitism / A Puzzling Paradox

Puzzling Paradox is an understatement. It is a pendulum swinging so swiftly to either side that it appears to hover in the middle of the 21st Century spotlight. One side of the pendulum is perplexing and pernicious; the other side profound and perceptive.

On the one hand, hundreds of millions mostly from Islamic blocs but also some Western nations continue to harbor and express hostility toward the Jews and Israel. On the other hand, many governments including a few Muslim regimes have recently extended olive branches to Israel in abrupt U-turn fashion.

Hardly a day goes by without some media reference to what politicians, military personnel, sport and entertainment celebrities, socioeconomic pundits, and common citizens the world over are saying about Israel … good or bad.

But that’s exactly what the Bible predicted long ago. In the end times, focus on Israel will be contentious and continuous.

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Global Obsession with Jerusalem … In Biblical Proportions! Posted 1-6-18. *Note: Not until I elected to refer to that article in this week’s post, did I realize that it, too, was the first article of the year. I suppose it’s fitting to cite it in the opening article of a brand-new year—2019.

Happy New Year!

As follows (in italics):

As the first Eye of Prophecy article for a new year, there is no more fitting topic than the world’s fanatical focus on the tiny state of Israel, smaller in population than many cities on earth. It is political, racial, religious, and social OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder) on steroids and on a truly global scale. Since her rebirth as a sovereign state in 1948, no nation on earth has received more world-wide attention as has Israel. It is mind-boggling. We only need to look at the United Nations—to which virtually every nation on earth belongs— to confirm that this obsession is not an exaggeration.

Among other matters, that post commented on the relentless UN resolutions against Israel. Continuing:

No matter the ideology—whether eastern mysticism or western pragmatism, whether religious or non-religious, whether political or apolitical—there is a convergence of world opinion that something must be done about Israel … good, bad, or somewhere in between. Nations are taking sides for or (mostly) against Israel with such a powerful polarity that they will not allow Israel to determine her own destiny.

…This ambivalent, puzzling disposition of nations toward Israel is exactly what Scripture said would happen, especially when the Gog/Magog coalition invades Israel. This massive campaign led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey (all three of which have a military presence in Syria right next door to Israel) will occur not long after the Rapture.

Concerning Israel: even before 2018 there had been a remarkable diplomatic shift of several nations from animosity to amiability, but it has accelerated rapidly during the past year. This administrative friendliness toward Israel is mostly superficial and self-serving; nonetheless, it is a dramatic departure from prior demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel. At the same time, many people of those nations continue to denigrate Israel and Jews outside of Israel.

Let’s look at a recent incident that reflects this baffling fluctuation towards Israel, i.e. antagonistic personal attitudes vs. favorable governmental dispositions.

Stepping on the Israeli Flag

This past Sunday, officials of Israel’s Embassy in Jordan filed a protest over Jordan’s Information Minister Jumana Ghuneimat deliberately stepping on Israel’s Star of David Flag, which occurred on 12-27-18. The flag had been painted on the threshold to Jordan’s Trade Union building, along with foot prints designed to entice (test) employees and visitors. Would they deliberately follow the foot-prints or walk around the flag?

The incident was initially reported by the Associated Press. According to a subsequent article posted on the United with Israel website: “Jordan Prime Minister Omar Razzaz reportedly knew about the flag and the controversy it might generate and entered the building using a side door.”

But not Information Minister Ghuneimat; with the clear connotation that she intentionally defaced the flag which obviously shouldn’t have been painted on the floor in the first place.

The article also quoted Jordan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Majed Qatarneh’s response to the Israeli complaint: “The Israeli side was informed that the building is a private one and the minister (Ghuneimat) entered it from a main entrance for an official meeting. We have emphasized that we respect the peace treaty with Israel.”

The article also states, “Ghuneimat was lauded on social media in Arabic as a hero.”

In the greater context of problems that plague the Middle East and the fact that this incident garnered little international attention, many might say: “What’s the big deal? Doesn’t this incident pale in comparison to everything else going on in Israel and the Middle East?” Such as the incessant Palestinian attacks against Israelis, that recently intensified as detailed in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article: Palestinian Terrorism & UN Resolutions / Neither Will Defeat Israel.

First: Only two Arab/Muslim nations have a treaty in place with Israel which includes recognition of Israel; those two nations are Egypt and Jordan. No other Muslim nation officially acknowledges Israel as a sovereign state. And many non-Muslim nations barely tolerate Israel’s existence.

Second: Without Israel’s next-door presence and assistance, Jordan would be less successful economically and much less secure militarily against some Muslim countries at odds with Jordan, such as Iran. Israel’s strong objection to the desecration of the Israeli flag by a Jordanian official is a reminder that Israel has done as much or more for Jordan than any other nation, even though Jordan was once an avowed enemy of Israel.

In the context of this week’s article, our focus is on the opposite reactions between most Jordanians and Jordan’s government; indicative of what’s happening all over the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Jordanian government officials placated Israel with assurance that they still, “respect the peace treaty with Israel.” Which, if you think about it, is (oddly) a disproportionate response than would otherwise be expected to a relatively isolated—perhaps even innocuous—incident.

On the other hand, Jordanians and Palestinians in Jordan widely voiced their personal approval of this government official’s deliberate affront to Israel. Thus, there was a strong contrast between Jordan’s political posture of respecting Israel and Jordan’s personal (social) preference of degrading Israel.

In nearly every Islamic country that has a 50%+ Muslim population majority (52 such nations) and in many non-Islamic nations, the greater populace despises Jews and loathes Israel. With major media sources like The New York Times skewing Israel’s image in favor of Muslim narratives. This in stark contrast to:

Israel’s Diplomatic Advances

Due largely to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initiative and diplomatic skills, Israel has recently experienced remarkable success in international relations, especially in 2018—via personal meetings between Netanyahu and heads of state all over the globe.

Prime Minister Netanyahu most recently met with Brazil’s President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro, who had promised that Brazil’s embassy in Tel Aviv would be moved to Jerusalem. As had Guatemala’s Prime Minister earlier in 2018 in support of US President Trump’s accelerated relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14th, 2018—to coincide with Israel’s 70th statehood anniversary. Israel is in discussion with several other countries regarding the move of their embassies to Jerusalem. One of them has pledged such a move—Honduras.

(Benjamin Netanyahu With Jair Bolsonaro–to the right)

Brazil’s newly elected President expressed his and his government’s about face view of Israel: “I will move the embassy to Jerusalem. It’s not a question of if, just a question of when.”

Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world.

Primarily through Netanyahu’s efforts, Israel also has established political and economic interaction with several Eastern European countries and strengthened previous ties with prominent Western European countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. He has met with Prime Ministers and Presidents of African nations some of which are predominately Muslim, and not that long ago traveled to the Gulf State nation of Oman and met with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. And with leaders of India, China, and Japan.

There is a strong rumor that he may also touch base with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia’s Islamic government is (unofficially for now) courting Israel’s favor, as both countries consider Iran as their main enemy.

As much or more than any Israeli, Prime Minister Netanyahu was responsible for the recent completion of the Israel-Italy-Greece-Cypress deal that will undertake a massive engineering project to build a sub-ocean pipeline from Israel’s huge natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea to the coastal mainline of these countries. (See Eye of Prophecy article: Gog, Magog and Leviathan, posted 1-3-15; regarding these huge natural gas deposits in Israeli waters coveted by Russia).

(Named “Leviathan”; One of four natural gas rigs off the coast of Israel)

In summary, I’ll quote US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman: “The world now sees Israel through a new lens. Diplomatic and strategic relationships that were unthinkable a decade ago are emerging in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.” (I would also add Central America and Eastern Europe to that list).

For the most part, the world referred to by Ambassador Friedman consists of governments and their leaders who, for various reasons, see Israel in a different light. But not necessarily many of their people.

Administrations of successful nations (success loosely defined as varying degrees of freedom and a relative level of prosperity) are attracted to other thriving nations. Former adversaries have begun to recognize Israel’s startling advancements in technology, agriculture, medicine, and communication. In 2018 Israel realized a record $110 billion in exports. A nation that, despite seemingly endless turmoil with its non-citizen Palestinian residents, saw the largest increase in tourism during 2018 and another 30,000 Jews immigrating to Israel—mostly from Russia (10,500) and even from the United States and Canada (3,550).

Since Israel’s statehood in 1948, some 3.5 million Jews have made Aliyah, 42% of the Jewish population in Israel.

Said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog: “Every Jew who comes to Israel and establishes a home here completes another piece of the wonderful mosaic of the Jewish people in their historic homeland.”

This vacillation between growing governmental favoritism toward Israel and a large part of their populace still denigrating Israel and Jews in general (antisemitism) is both bewildering and unprecedented. Nevertheless, it is precisely as Scripture characterizes the time just before the seven-year treaty between Antichrist (Nero) and Israel, followed shortly by the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel. Both events will take place soon after the Rapture, which means that what’s happening regarding Israel’s newfound status in the world is yet another sign that the last days are upon us.

However, there are a handful of nations whose current hostility toward Israel encompasses both their people and their government. Of those countries, the most prominent are Iran and Turkey—two main members of the soon to come Gog/Magog coalition.

The Astonishing Return of a Roman Emperor Who Will Orchestrate a Stunning Treaty

Very soon after the Rapture, Antichrist (Nero) will reappear to the amazement of those left behind. I have written extensively about this in my second book, Out of the Abyss and most Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist. According to Daniel 9:27, the Antichrist will orchestrate a seven-year peace treaty between Israel and her enemies. This treaty will be almost as astounding as Nero’s return from the grave (Abyss). It will be an agreement that the entire world sought after but couldn’t achieve just a short time before.

I’m convinced that even President Trump’s “deal of the century” (whenever his staff reveals it, as it has again been delayed due to early Israeli elections to be held April 9, 2019) between Israel and the Palestinians will fail. It will be rejected by one or both sides; if accepted, it will fall apart soon thereafter. Scripture is clear that it will be Antichrist who arranges this (seven-year) treaty; albeit it one that Nero himself will break.

There are two main reasons why Nero will accomplish what no one else has.

First Reason: The return of a man from a 2,000-year old grave (actually from the Abyss) will generate instant awe and adulation from billions. While simultaneously diverting their attention from the post-Rapture chaos over the departure of hundreds of millions from the planet and focusing on (what to the world will be) a god-like man to whom they will listen and yield their allegiance.

“The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon (abruptly) come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:8).

*The Antichrist beast had already lived and died before John wrote the book of Revelation!

While some are still processing the incredible return of a Roman Emperor—trying to decide if he’s for real and just how much loyalty to give him—Nero will do what no one has done since King David of old.

Except for those who will see through this Messiah-imposter and not be so amazed by his reappearance (because they knew who he would be ahead of time!), the world-at-large will be dumbfounded by this impossible treaty. If Nero (anyone) could single-handedly bring peace between Jew and Arab (the essence of the treaty) and an unheard-of calm in the Middle East, then peace would be possible throughout the earth. For there could be no greater treaty than between the longest lasting foes known to mankind … Jews and Arabs.

Second Reason: As the theme of this week’s article indicates, there will be a leftover (between pre-Rapture and post-Rapture) global atmosphere of increased cooperation between Israel and several Gentile governments, including some Muslim countries.

Without this reduced (not eliminated) hostility, even a man returning from the grave couldn’t bridge the chasm between Jew and Arab/Muslim. Since Israel’s rebirth as a nation, no one has come close to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—let alone a treaty between Israel and multiple Islamic and non-Muslim nations generally unfavorable toward Israel. Because it is so inexplicable and implausible, only the Lord in all his sovereignty could prepare Israel and the nations (then giving temporary authority to Satan and his false messiah) for such a treaty.

Nero was idolized by most Roman citizens during his tenure as Emperor. However, he fell out of favor with the Roman Senate later in his reign (54-68 A.D.) because of his preference for Greek culture and entertainment, instead of his duties as Caesar as well as his excesses … foremost of which was wholesale murder of Christians. Even after his mysterious death and burial, the common people revered him; to the extent that many believed he hadn’t died or would somehow return from the grave to resume the Pax Romana (world peace, Roman style) that Nero promoted. This belief persisted for some 400 years and historically has even been labeled: Nero Redivivus Legend. (Several Eye of Prophecy articles have explained this phenomenon, particularly, The Legendary Return of Nero, posted 4-4-15).

Several historians consider Nero’s greatest geopolitical achievement to be that of negotiating a treaty.

The following is an excerpt from Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666? (In italics):

Of all things, it was a treaty that Nero engineered between Rome and Parthia that helped endear him to the Roman Senate, the Roman Legions and the Roman citizens. Rome and Parthia had been at war until 63 A.D…. Suffice to say that this peace deal was a substantial victory for Nero, both politically and socially. His popularity increased dramatically….

After the Rapture… Most Arabs and many Jews will be among the left behind. The world will be ripe for conciliation, for unity, for peace, for order. Nero will capitalize on this pandemonium by orchestrating a treaty, one that will allow the Jewish Temple to be built…. I use the word orchestrating, because one of Nero’s talents was that of arranging and synchronizing things, such as a group of people with dissident views or like a musical play, of which he wrote and performed several—in Greek.

And, who in the world is going to argue with a man who returns to the earth after a two-thousand-year absence? With regard to the sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., all Nero need say is that the Roman Generals went way too far. He will probably remind tribulation Jews that he died in 68 A.D., two years before the Roman Legions destroyed the Temple. That he had not intended for the Jews to be exiled from Judea or for the Temple to be destroyed…

He will also placate the Arabs, telling them that if there is a god to follow or worship, Allah would be that god. He will remind the Jews and Arabs that his hostility as a Roman Emperor was rightfully and justifiably directed against the Christians—those narrow minded, bigoted, self-righteous hypocrites whose disappearance has done mankind a favor by cleansing the earth of religious intolerance.

If you like, you could come up with any number of lies that a resurrected Nero will fabricate and foist on Israel and the nations. But the bottom line is that untold millions will follow him for the same reason that many have followed Jesus Christ. RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (Pages 179-180).

Did you know that Parthia was one of several provinces in the ancient Persian Empire … what is today’s Khorasan region of northeastern Iran? After Cyrus the Great (the same ruler who permitted the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild Solomon’s Temple, just as God said would happen 150 years earlier), defeated the mighty Babylonian Empire and then the Empire of the Medes, who were initially aligned with Persia, Parthia acknowledged him as supreme ruler.

Later Parthia revolted against Persian King Darius I, and subsequently surrendered to Alexander the Great who conquered the Persian Empire. Eventually, Parthia also defied Rome. Overall, this mini-empire lasted from 227 B.C. to 224 A.D.

With exception of the wicked Persian official Haman (whose genocide plot against the Jews was short-lived … see the Book of Esther), by and large, ancient Persia and Parthia were sympathetic toward the Jews. You may also recall that another Persian King, Artaxerxes, allowed his Jewish cup-bearer, Nehemiah, to return to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

Not so with today’s Persia … Iran!

Today’s Persia has vowed to annihilate Israel, in the same fashion and with the same vile rhetoric as forecasted by Scripture. For example: “They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence’” (Psalm 83:3-4).

The Psalmist goes on to list several ancient nations/peoples that wanted to accomplish this diabolical objective, a sinister plot that is just as prevalent in today’s world. With, however, the contemporary (end times) paradox that some governments have attempted to placate Israel, despite the Anti-Semitic disposition of many of their people.

Iran and most of its people detest the Jews and hate the very existence of Israel. Iranian military leaders and government officials (all the way up to the Ayatollah Khomeini) have sworn to destroy Israel … the sooner the better. On several occasions, Khomeini has issued threats like the one he made public a few months ago, saying: “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.”

There is no rational reason why Iran should want Israel and the Jews destroyed. It is nothing more than irrational Anti-Semitism, exhibited in different degrees by people the world over. It arises from the deeper desire to eliminate any influence of the Judeo/Christian heritage; a revolt against and replacement of the true and living God with man-made gods, religions, and agnostic state autocracies, e.g. communism and fascism.

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

“But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. For the Lord declares, ‘I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain’” (Psalm 2:1-6).

Israel’s Peace Treaty That Will Imperil Her Survival

The Gog/Magog invasion of Israel encompassing several nations including Iran and Turkey, spearheaded by Russia will be a direct result of Israel’s seven-year treaty. Here’s why … God addressing Gog/Magog:

“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them… 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” (Ezekiel 38:7-8).

We are the generation of that distant future!

Russia, Iran, and to a lesser extent Turkey have been entrenched in Syria, adjacent to Israel, for the past 3-4 years. Their armies are mobilized! Israel has recovered from four conventional wars with Arab nations (1948, 1956, 1967, & 1973) and is currently enjoying a measure of international peace unmatched since a few years before Ezekiel penned this extraordinary prophecy!

Continuing in Ezekiel:

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

Israel will be confident … overconfident and under prepared; thus, caught off guard because of the 7-year peace treaty arranged by Antichrist Nero. However, this invasion won’t come from Nero and his ten-nation coalition, as he will still be in the process of consolidating and strengthening his regime. He will sit idly by and wait to see what happens. If Israel is destroyed, so much the better. Other nations will do to Israel what he planned to do … later.

*Note: Because the United States will be decimated by loss of millions of believers at the Rapture (and to a lesser extent Canada and Australia), America and other nations will not be able to defend Israel; as would be the case if Israel was invaded by a huge army right now. Some of these (can’t do anything about it) nations will be part of Nero’s empire (Eye of Prophecy article: “One Ring to Rule Them All…” posted 11-21-15).

Although Israel’s reaction time would be swift and her defense formidable, it won’t matter how militarily strong she is. The Gog/Magog alliance will be far too powerful, in terms of soldiers and armament. But that won’t matter either. Because God’s sovereign plan for the unfolding of Tribulation events is that: (1) His power and glory will be revealed early in the Tribulation by the most astounding victory in the annals of warfare. One that won’t require Israelis to lift a military finger against Gog/Magog. Israel’s real war of survival will take place near the end of the 7-year Tribulation against Antichrist’s ten-nation empire and the Kings of the East … Daniel 7 & 11, Zechariah 12 & 14, Revelation 16 & 17.

(2) Against that subsequent end-of-the-tribulation invasion, the Jews must fight; and fight they will—furiously and ferociously. That is when Messiah Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives to do battle alongside his chosen people. Culminating a short time later with his majestic descent from heaven (along with all believers) to Megiddo … Revelation 19. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events! (2-3-18).

A Recent Iranian Boast

In a long-line of Iranian threats and taunts against Israel, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Haqdi, deputy commander of the Iranian Republican Guard (supposedly an elite force within Iran’s military) said in a recent interview that Saudi Arabia’s military pales in comparison to Iran’s … that Iran could easily destroy it. He then bragged that Iran would also destroy all American military bases in the region if the United States attacked Iran in any way.

Who knows, he may be right on these two counts, especially if President Trump follows through with his decision to withdraw American special forces in Syria.

This arrogant general finished the interview by turning his attention to Israel (as would be expected). He crowed that Israel will, “be destroyed and wiped out … the Zionists annihilated and destroyed.”

(Typical signs displayed in Iran)

He boasted that he personally will raise the Iran Islamic Revolution flag in Jerusalem!

Might he be right about that prediction?

If you said, “No, not even close!” you would be 100% correct. Neither he nor any other Iranian (or Russian or Turk) will step foot in Jerusalem waving their national flag!

Why?

Because the Lord says so.

“…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 … Your men will turn their swords against each other. I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rains, 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).

There’s more. And its graphic!

“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 … And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts…” (Ezekiel 39:4-6).

Then the passage dramatically declares that the people of Israel will gather the armaments of these defeated nations; the material will be used as fuel that will last Israel seven years! Which is another reason to place this invasion early in the Tribulation. Along with the descriptive evidence that the supernatural disasters previously cited are nearly identical to the 6th & 7th seal judgments and the 1st and 2nd Trumpet judgments of Revelation. Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, 11-4-17.

Reading on:

“And I will make a vast graveyard for Gog and his hordes … east of the Dead Sea…. 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….” (Ezekiel 39:11-14).

In this most lop-sided victory in the archives of military conflict, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) won’t need to fire a single shot. God will do it all! The only thing Israel need do is to pick up the pieces … literally.

Summary

At a time of unparalleled post-Rapture peace between Israel and her enemies (already in the making), Russia, Iran, Turkey and smaller nations will move against Israel. In fact, that (false) peace treaty will be the match that ignites this first major assault against Israel during the Great Tribulation. One, however, in which God alone will strike back; the first time he will do so since one of his angels killed 185,000 Assyrian solders in a single night (701 B.C.).

In Israel’s litany of battles and wars, rarely does God alone defeat Israel’s enemies without Israel needing to fight at all. In fact, there are only two in the Old Testament. Three if we include parting of the Red Sea and drowning of all the Egyptians who vainly pursued the Israelites at Pharaoh’s order. However, at the time of the Red Sea miracles, Israel didn’t have an army as such.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Stand Still & Watch God Fight For Israel! Posted 7-30-16.

As we’ve seen: God’s victorious rout of Israel’s enemies in the time of Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah was nothing short of stunning….

Against Gog and Magog, the Lord doubles down. He strikes this massive alliance of several nations—what presumably will be hundreds of thousands or even millions of troops aligned against Israel—by turning the forces of nature against them and causing their troops to turn on each other.

Yes, this will be the third time in the chronicles of warfare that God alone will destroy Israel’s enemies without the Jews needing to fight at all. As with Jehoshaphat and his people, the Israelis will simply, “stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” As did Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s time, all of Israel will watch Gog (if he survives) flee the scene with the proverbial “tail between his legs.”

(Depiction of Angel Slaying the Assyrians)

Yet, the staggering death toll (in just a few hours) of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in 701 B.C. will be dwarfed by the incredible devastation wreaked on the Gog/Magog armies. Just like the Assyrians never set foot in Jerusalem in Hezekiah’s time, neither will Gog and his allies reach the Holy City.

Which, in turn, will be exponentially eclipsed by the apocalyptic casualties inflicted by Jesus himself against the massive armies of Antichrist, the Far East, and other nations who would dare to join them in this final futile attempt of evil triumphing over good.

With a combination of symbolism (grapes, winepress) and the literal results, we read what will happen at Armageddon:

“The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle” (Revelation 14:20).

Things to Ponder

“…The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

This announcement that God and His Messiah had begun to reign comes just before the 7th Trumpet judgment.

Then later in the chapter: “…It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

The 7th Trumpet judgement and even more destructive seven bowls of God’s final wrath were yet to be poured out on an evil world, with these judgments of mind-boggling magnitude directed almost exclusively at Antichrist Nero and his empire.

“And I heard a voice from the altar, saying, ‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just’” (Revelation 16:7).

Ultimately, the only way to bring everlasting peace to this wicked world is by an all-out righteous war. No negotiation; no appeasement; no containment; no partial or temporary victory. Only total triumph over evil and those who embody it.

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11).

All praise, honor, and glory to the King of all kings.

He is our Prince of peace!

Palestinian Terrorism & UN Resolutions … Neither Will Defeat Israel

It’s a dark world we live in. And it’s getting darker.

“Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth…” (Isaiah 60:2).

Darkness caused by sin has plagued humanity from time immemorial; sins of pride, greed, immorality, lawlessness, tyranny, terrorism, unjust wars, murder, and derivative ills like famine, disease, and millions of displaced refugees.

However, the prophet Isaiah is referring to an intense (black as night) darkness on a truly global scale during the last days that will generationally precede the return of Messiah (Jesus)—the light of the world (John 8:12).

This darkness began to envelope the planet in the First World War. A war supposedly to end all wars. Only for another world war of far greater magnitude to explode twenty-one years later; World War II dwarfed the unthinkable (at the time) casualties of World War I. A second world war that, in turn, will be exponentially exceeded in destruction and death during the seven-year Great Tribulation.

Since World War II there has been relentless regional and sectarian violence in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and the Middle East … with millions killed. Ruthless dictators like Stalin (Soviet Union) and Mao (China) killing tens of millions of their own people. As you are reading this article, there are 10 official wars and 64 tactical conflicts involving over 500 militia-type groups taking place world-wide.

We’ve witnessed an Arab Spring in many countries deteriorate into an Arab winter. Muslim nations fighting other Muslim nations and Muslim sects fighting each other within those countries. With radical and even so-called moderate Islamists still intent on eliminating Israel as a Jewish nation. And militant Muslims persecuting and killing Christians by the thousands.

The entire planet is undergoing an unprecedented political and social polarization. A divergence that has torn the very fabric of national and international societies. A volatile separation of ideas and people (no longer agreeing to disagree) that has split and even toppled governments. Right verses left; populism vs globalism; democracy vs despotism.

The primary reason that dozens of national and regional conflicts haven’t erupted into another World War is because of the double-edge sword of nuclear deterrence.

The as black as night darkness foretold in Isaiah 60 also has produced a helplessness and hopelessness that paradoxically defies the reality of many nations enjoying the highest standard of living ever experienced on Planet Earth. Apprehension and unrest that belie the remarkable technological advancements of construction, transportation, and communication that should (otherwise) make our world a better place in which to live.

It is a darkness that has generated an unparalleled 20th & 21st century denial of the absolute truths of salvation and morality given to us by the true and living God and his Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. A darkness that has undermined the Biblical Judaic/Christian values upon which the democratic principles of life and liberty birthed the United States of America and a few other western democracies. Dark shadows that, in the name of tolerance and political correctness, have triggered an intolerant hatred and abuse of both Jews and Christians.

But there is a beacon from Israel’s past that penetrates the darkness. Messiah Jesus came into the world 2,000 years ago to bring the light of salvation. A spiritual redemption in the hearts of believing Jews and Gentiles that will in due course dispel the darkness altogether and bring about the final (national) restoration of Israel and rescue the planet from self-destruction.

“In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali (representing Israel and the Jews), beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined” (Matthew 4:15-16, quoting Isaiah 9:1-2, parenthesis mine).

Isaiah’s Prophecy of Darkness and Light Pertains to the End Times

Many of Isaiah’s prophecies apply to the last days, as do several other Biblical prophets. We know that darkness blanketing the entire earth is one of those prophecies of the final (Omega) generation—in which we are living. Read with me the greater context of the earlier quote from Isaiah Chapter 60 and note the return of God’s people to Israel (by the millions in the 20th & 21st centuries) is a significant sign that we are in those days.

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

“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home. Your eyes will shine, and your hearts will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands” (Isaiah 60:1-5).

In the very next chapter Messiah himself is speaking, the One who is the source of this shining light:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor (spiritually and physically). He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives (within themselves by sin and from without by their enemies) 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 61:1-2a, parenthesis mine).

Jesus cited this passage while teaching in a synagogue. He suddenly stopped reading after the words just quoted.

“He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. ‘The Scriptures you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!’” (Luke 4:20-21).

Some three years later, Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead to seal God’s New Covenant with Israel. His sacrificial atonement for sin would bring peace between God and all those who would believe and receive him as personal Savior, Jew and Gentile alike.

Now, it’s just a matter of (a short) time before Jesus Christ will return to once and for all establish peace between peoples and nations. This will be achieved only after the darkness that covers the nations is removed by Messiah’s direct confrontation with the Satanic evil that brings that darkness and victory over Satan’s Antichrist who will attempt to spread that darkness even more.

Isaiah 61:2 concludes with: “and with it, the day of God’s anger against their (Israel’s) enemies.”

When that day ends, “Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed” (Isaiah 61:9).

And then: “The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere” (Verse 11).

Earlier this week much of the world celebrated Christmas, and earlier this month Jews rejoiced over Hanukkah. The title of last week’s Eye of Prophecy article posed this question: Hanukkah & Christmas / Do They Have Anything in Common?

In addition to being observed at about the same time of the year, both Holy Days focus on Light.

Hanukkah’s Menorah lights that, for a time, rededicated the Tempe and restored the Jews to God, their source of atonement. Followed by an even greater salvation offered first to the Jews; then to the Gentiles through Messiah Jesus … the Light of the World who was born of a Virgin on Christmas Day. Both Christmas and Hanukkah are special seasonal times to light up the world with the truth of God’s redemptive rescue for Jew and Gentile alike.

Israelis have experienced freedom, prosperity, and security unequaled since before they were conquered by Assyria and Babylon over 2,500 years ago. Although the time is near when Messiah Jesus returns to fill the earth with God’s righteousness, justice, and peace; it is not quite here yet.

With one resolution after another, the United Nations persists in its demonization of Israel. Although these resolutions are drafted by Muslim countries, many nations of the world eagerly jump on this Antisemitic band-wagon, voting to delegitimize the only democracy in the Middle East. A democracy that offers more freedoms to its Arab citizens and privileges to its Palestinian non-citizens than do Muslim nations that surround Israel.

(You’ll find these same kind of numbers/percentages in many other years since the UN began bashing Israel)

Hanukkah’s light was darkened earlier this month by a succession of events in two arenas: (1) Anti-Israel UN Resolutions; (2) Deadly Palestinian attacks against Israeli Jews.

(1) United Nations Reprehensible Resolutions

Let’s begin with some good news (sort of), in the form of an unheard-of event in the United Nations.

The UN backed a joint Israeli / United States sponsored resolution. Not that long ago, neither Israel nor the United States would have bothered to draft a proposal promoting Israel’s position in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Or for that matter anything which supported Israel’s posture in the family of nations. It would have been an exercise in futility.

On December 6th, in the middle of the eight-day Jewish observance of Hanukkah, the General Assembly voted in favor of condemning Palestinian Hamas of Gaza for its terror campaign against Israel.

Well, almost in favor … we’ll get to that in a moment.

With 87 nations voting to pass the resolution, 57 against, and 33 abstentions, the United Nations condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns, in addition to the use of civilians as human shields to protect Hamas’ military sites in Gaza’s infrastructure. Effectively, 85 nations agreed with Israel and the United States: Hamas is a terror organization disguised (not so subtlety) as a government in the Gaza Strip.

This strong majority was a signal for U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to praise the 87 countries as a sign of, “a new day at the U.N.”

Yes, it was a new-day but only a partial day … say (symbolically) from sunrise to noon. It was still a dark day with nightfall coming much earlier than usual.

Why?

Because technically the resolution didn’t pass after all; this clear majority was not enough.

A short time before the resolution was put to a vote, a few Muslim nations persuaded the General Assembly to cast a “pre-vote” that would require a two-thirds majority of nations to endorse the sanctions against Hamas, rather than a simple majority. Some nations who subsequently voted to approve the resolution also voted in favor of a two-thirds, versus a 50+% majority. Go figure!

Thus, the United Nations resolution did not actually pass; there was no censure of Hamas whatsoever. As I’ve said before, the UN should change its name to: Nations United Against Israel.

There’s more: Shortly after the (technical) failure of this sanction against Hamas, the United Nations passed yet another resolution condemning Jewish “settlement” by a vote of 156-5, with a few abstentions. Only the United States, Israel, Australia, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands voted against this reprehensible resolution. Even more repugnant because it was voted on during Hanukkah. Yet another dark chapter in the UN’s narrative to extinguish the light (true history) of Israel’s God-given legacy to possess, occupy, and settle the Promised Land.

As expected, the Palestinians—Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah (Palestinian Authority) in the West Bank—regarded the outcome of both resolutions as a resounding victory. Hamas official Khalil al-Haya spoke for other Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives, claiming that it was a: “big boost for the Palestinian resistance.”

(2) Palestinian Attacks on Israeli Jews During & Shortly After Hanukkah

On December 9th (the day before Hanukkah ended), a Hamas sponsored West Bank Palestinian drive-by shooter opened fire on Jews at a bus stop near the West Bank community of Ofra. Seven people were wounded, including a 7 ½ -month pregnant Israeli woman who sustained serious abdominal gunshot wounds; her husband was also wounded in this brutal attack. Her premature baby was delivered by emergency C-section, but (sadly) the child lived only three days.

(Amachai Ish-Han and wife Shira wedding photo from earlier this year)

(Shira and her husband a few days after the attack; blood transfusions helped save her life)

Four days later, two Israeli soldiers were gunned down in another drive-by shooting. Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef (age 20) and Cpl. Yosef Cohen (19) died from their wounds. A third soldier was severely wounded. During that same period, there were also stabbing and car-ramming assaults against Israelis.

These attacks proved the predictive premise voiced by Israeli officials, journalists, most Jews, and anyone who knows what’s really going on in Israel: the outcome of these recent UN resolutions would further inflame and embolden Palestinian terrorism. With its sinister short-term goal of terrorizing Israeli Jews and the loathsome long-term objective of eliminating all Jews from Israel. The Palestinians don’t want a state alongside Israel; rather one in place of Israel.

That dark and gruesome goal is written in the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Charter (1964) and regurgitated even more menacingly in Arab Palestinian ideology as contained in the Hamas Charter.

For example, Article 6: “The Islamic Resistance Movement strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine (Israel)…”

And Article 13: “There is no solution for the Palestinian issue except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

Not only Israeli Jews and those of us who support Israel; even a few Arabs grasp the true issues of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Such as well-known author and columnist, Bassam Tawil, who is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East. Someone who (like a fellow Muslim writer Khaled Abu Toameh) recognizes Israel’s sovereign right to statehood and consistently exposes the real Arab agenda.

Concerning the failed UN Resolution against Hamas, Bassam wrote in an article posted by online media source Gatestone Institute on 12-10-18:

“What Hamas is telling the UN and the rest of the world is: ‘Now that you have refused to brand us terrorists, we have the right to launch all forms of terrorist attacks and kill as many Jews as possible….’ When Hamas and its supporters celebrate (which they did upon the death of the Jewish baby … parenthesis mine), the few Palestinians who are described as moderates and pragmatists and who are opposed to violence and terrorism, will have to hide.”

Bassam Tawil concluded his column by stating:

“Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah (of the Palestinian Authority) have boasted that what happened at the UN was a ‘slap in the face of the US and Israel.’ In fact, what happened at the UN is a severe blow to the ‘moderates’ among the Palestinians and to any chance of reaching a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Thus, with this move, the UN has expertly torpedoed even the remotest possibility of peace talks. Thanks to the ‘peace-loving UN,’ December 2018 may well go down in history as the day the UN gave the green light to Palestinian terrorists to continue perpetrating violence on Israel and Jews. The blood of the next Jewish victim will be on the hands of the UN…”

As contained contemptibly in both the Hamas Charter (which avows destruction of Israel via armed struggle) and recent rhetoric of “renewed resistance” (which means more intensive, as such resistance has been ongoing for years), the Palestinians consider themselves to be “resistance fighters.”

(Israeli “Settlements” are cited as the predominate reason for Palestinian “resistance” after the Six-Day War of 1967. WRONG! Palestinian terrorism began before that, as did ethnic cleansing of the Jews. No Jews were permitted to live in Jordanian controlled east part of Jerusalem and most of the West Bank or to step foot on Temple Mount, prior to 1967)

To demonstrate just how warped the Palestinian logic has become (always was but increasingly so): Soon after the IDF and Shin Bet launched searches of the West Bank to capture those terrorists who (temporarily) escaped the crime scenes, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ staff accused Israel of “acts of terrorism and aggression.”

In fact, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erakat claimed that the Israeli “intrusion into Ramallah was carried out with the backing of US President Donald Trump.” He summoned the global community to hold Israel accountable for its “crimes” and to provide international protection for Palestinians.

In other words, the Palestinian Authority is absurdly asserting that Israel is committing crimes and acts of terrorism by hunting for the Palestinian murderers of Israelis in “occupied Palestinian territory.”

As columnist Bassam Tawil said in another article (12-13-18): “According to the logic of Abbas’s ministry, Israeli soldiers searching for terrorists is an ‘act of terrorism,’ but not the shooting of a pregnant woman and six other Israeli civilians at a bus stop.”

Resistance Fighters

Are Palestinian terror cells and lone-wolf assassins resistance fighters? Do they have a legitimate cause? Or is the Palestinian narrative of resistance a license for random aggression and premeditated murder?

Although the questions are rhetorical, it’s imperative that we objectively define and thoroughly understand the terms. Otherwise, a terrorist is someone else’s freedom fighter. Which, unfortunately, is much of the world’s impression … borne of confusion, ignorance, or deliberate distortion of the cause and effect of Palestinian violence in Israel.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Can A Murderer Be a Martyr? (Posted on 1-30-16… not long after the Palestinian Knife Intifada began in October 2015). In italics:

Thus, it is incomprehensible that an unrepentant murderer could ever be a martyr for any cause whatsoever … because the concept of martyrdom cannot exist in a vacuum. Meaning that for one to be a martyr or be martyred, there must first exist a condition that is inherent in the concept and understood within any rationale, reasonable, logical, and most of all moral framework. Which is that the person killed for their belief must first be innocent of murder, not only by actual commission of the crime, but also by intent. By simple definition and common-sense morality, a martyr must be innocent of shedding human blood of otherwise innocent victims.

Unless, that is, you are a Palestinian. Or, in the broader scope of this wicked world in which we live, you are a militant Muslim who indiscriminately murders innocent people (mostly Jews and Christians). This includes less aggressive adherents to Islam, who nevertheless condone and even celebrate the death of innocent Jews and Christians and sometimes other Muslims.

After noting the difference between “ordinary” murderers all over the world and people’s reaction to those crimes, contrasted to the mindset of terrorists and those who support them including entire populations like the Palestinians, I went on to say:

…Surely the parents, families, national leaders, and fellow citizens don’t glorify the (ordinary) murderer in these kinds of killings. Conversely, they are appalled.

Not so with the Palestinians. If they, in turn, are killed in the commission of their hideous crimes, their own people (including parents and leaders) and religion can call them martyrs to their heart’s content. But by all the universal laws of morality, of right and wrong, of good and evil, there’s no way that a murderer or would-be murderer (in case they don’t succeed) can be considered a martyr for a cause that is anything but righteous or a religion that is anything but peaceful.

Which is another compelling argument that there must be (and is) a universal standard of law and truth that can objectively define right and wrong. Moreover, these universal truths have, in fact, been given to us by the true and living God through the Bible.

Otherwise, we are left with the moral and spiritual dilemma that a murderer is someone’s martyr. That a terrorist is another one’s activist. If that were true, then all Nazis (participating in Jewish genocide) who were killed during the Second World War or who were tried and executed for war crimes after the war could be designated as martyrs “for their cause.”

To legally and morally qualify as a legitimate resistance, those whom you are resisting must be consciously and consistently oppressing your rights and suppressing your freedom. They must have unjustly deprived you of property, safety, livelihood, and constitutional rights. In short, a tyrannical government. Just like the one that American colonists revolted against in 1776.

None of these conditions even remotely apply to Palestinians in Israel, as I have written about in several prior articles. The only thing that Palestinians are resisting is simply the existence of the Jewish nation of Israel; of the Jewish people living in Israel. Hence, their oft-repeated mantra:

Which is another way of saying that all Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea belongs to the Arabs of Palestine. No matter that “Palestine” has never existed except as a morphed substitute name given by a 2nd century Roman Emperor for the ancient land of Israel.

Moreover, genuine resistance against tyranny (real or perceived) doesn’t target innocent civilians like Palestinians do with Israelis Jews. Their resistance (defiance) is expressed through mayhem and murder: via shootings, stabbings, car-ramming, rocket and mortar launchings, stone-throwing, fire bombs, and burning kites. That’s the very definition of terrorism: random violence against innocent people to get a political or religious point across. Stooping to such a low-level invariably demonstrates that these causes are unjustified and not based on historical facts on the ground.

The Palestinians (as do many national leaders who are uninformed or turn a blind eye to the real history of Israel) often use the word, “occupation” when referring to the Jews and the Palestinian “right” to “resist” this occupation. In today’s world, occupation and settlements (settlers) are viewed almost exclusively in the negative connotation of what are otherwise legitimate terms (concepts) that apply to rightful indigenous ownership and possession of land within the geographical boundaries of a sovereign nation. In Israel’s case, a nation that has exited for over 3,000 years.

Jewish Right to Occupy the Entire Land of Israel’s Borders

As indicated, I have written extensively about modern Israel’s justified existence and the Jews God-given historical right to all of Israel, even though the Israelis have permitted Palestinian jurisdiction over sizeable swaths of the Promised Land. The West Bank (properly called Judea/Samaria) is some of the choicest land in Israel … its very heartland. The Gaza Strip is an idyllic topography of southwestern Israel along the Mediterranean Sea. By every international principle of what constitutes an autonomous nation defined by recognized borders, it is the Palestinians who are the occupiers (negative connotation).

The following is a partial (there are more reasons than presented) power-point sketch of why Israel is the Jewish Promised Land. Surrounded by Arab/Muslim countries that enormously exceed Israel in land mass, resources, and population. Yet Islamic nations and Palestinians cannot abide the thought of a Jewish state—the size of New Jersey … smaller if the West Bank and Gaza are (illegitimately) excluded from Israel—existing on Planet Earth. Nor Jews living in that land.

(1) God Himself Gave Israel to the Jews

Nearly 4,000 years ago, the true and living God chose Abraham as the progenitor of a people who would possess a relatively small but special place on earth; from which God would reveal himself and his plan for Abraham’s descendants, and for the whole world.

“Then the Lord told him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out of the Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.’” (Genesis 15:7).

This everlasting promise continued through the miraculous birth of Isaac, not the jumping ahead of God’s plan via the birth of Ishmael, from whom the Arab race descended. Although hundreds of years later the Lord disciplined his people for their disobedience and exiled them (twice), this unconditional promise was not nullified. God’s Covenant with Abraham would be kept. In fact, the interrupted fulfillment of that Covenant has resumed before our 20th & 21st century eyes.

However, the Arabs would not face the truth of God’s plan for His people and for all humanity. As a result: some 2,500 years after Abraham and 600 years after Abraham’s ultimate Child of Promise (Jesus), the Arabs invented their own religion and their own god—Allah (moon-god); who was one of many pagan gods worshipped by the Arabs. This was nothing more than Muhammed’s counterfeit copy to rival and replace the (only true) Judaic/Christian God and His Word, the Bible.

The Arabs have been envious of the Jews because God chose Isaac, not Ishmael, as the promised child of the covenant, and all the blessings that come with it (Genesis 17:17-22). This jealous hatred is the underlying (racial and religious) reason why Muslims deplore Jews; denying and defying the right of Israel to even exist.

Regarding Isaac:

*Note: As I (and others) have said before: God’s sovereign purpose for his special possession Israel is reason enough to acknowledge the Jews right to possess, occupy, and inherit Israel in perpetuity. But for those (and there are many) who have a problem with anything old, let alone ancient, there’s more than enough contemporary proof of Israel’s right to exist.

Jews have inhabited Israel from the time of Abraham, and as a nation from the time of Moses.

In today’s world, Jews once again outnumber Arabs living in Israel. All because of another miracle, which leads to the next reason why Israel was and always will be a Jewish State. One that allows citizenship for Arabs (1.8 million in Israel) and self-governing autonomy for non-citizen (by choice) Palestinians. See Eye of Prophecy article: Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law, posted 8-11-18.

(2) Israel’s Rebirth (Revival) as a Nation

No other nation or people on earth have been and are still being restored like Israel and the Jews … unprecedented in human history. Not only the fact that Israel was reborn in a single day (May 14, 1948), as predicted in Scripture (Isaiah Chapter 66); but the against all odds Jewish victory in their War of Independence against five Arab armies that attacked Israel the day after statehood was declared.

Many conveniently forget that just six months earlier (November 1947), the United Nations approved a partition plan for the British controlled territory of Palestine in which both the Jews and Arabs would be allowed to create their own states within the boundaries of what is now Israel and Jordan. In fact, Jordan, originally called Trans Jordan, comprises 70% of that land mass. The Arabs (not called Palestinians until the 1960s) flatly refused a state of their own if it meant any territory (west of Jordan) that existed alongside a Jewish state.

One of several current Palestinian demands is that Israel’s (internal) borders revert to the pre-1967 Six Day War configuration. No matter that these borders were nothing more than cease-fire lines pending further negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

However, Palestinians more often consider the 1947 UN partition plan as the core of their (perceived) problem, demanding that it be rendered null and void. In fact, they go all the way back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which they also label as a “crime.” The League of Nations and later the United Nations endorsed these plans (respectively) which could have created two states, had the Arabs consented.

(3) Israel’s Reclamation and Liberation of Jerusalem and All the Land

Like the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Suez Canal conflict, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War (unheard of in the annals of military history) was a defensive war fought by Israel against primarily Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. In just six days Israel reclaimed all Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Effectively, comprising today’s Israel as defined by her borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

Despite their demoralizing defeat, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and nine other non-combatant Muslim countries that formed the Arab League (at the time), met in Khartoum in August-September of 1967. They signed a pact which includes the now famous three “No’s.” No peace with Israel; no negotiations with Israel; no recognition of Israel. Had any other country or group of nations done this, the victorious nation(s) would have cancelled the cease-fire agreement and resumed their military campaign to preempt the foregone conclusion of more attacks from their hostile foes. Which is exactly what Egypt and Syria did again in 1973, when they brazenly attacked Israel on its most holy day of the year … Yom Kippur.

After another devastating defeat in the Yom Kippur War, Egypt relented and signed a peace treaty in 1979 with Israel, which cost Egypt it’s membership in the (at that time) 20-member Arab League. In 1983, Jordan followed suit. To this day, they are the only two (of nearly 60) Muslim countries that recognize Israel’s state sovereignty.

Under more international pressure following the Six-Day War, Israel relinquished administrative control of the West Bank (to include part of what is referred to as east Jerusalem, including Temple Mount) back to Jordan and the Gaza Strip back to Egypt. Later, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Most people forget or don’t want to know (be bothered with the facts) that it was Jordan and Egypt that (illegally) seized control of the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. It was NOT the Palestinians, many of whom refused to be called Palestinians back then, because the label Palestinian was mostly applied to the Jews.

Either way, Israel had and still has every right to maintain autonomy over these regions which are part and parcel of all Israel by virtue of victory in war(s). Which leads us to another valid reason that Israel’s current borders (found on any map) legally represent and define Israel’s geopolitical sovereignty.

(4) International Law & Precedent Regarding Land Rights

Which recognize that a nation’s victory in a defensive war fought for security and survival—as opposed to unprovoked aggression by that nation—entitles that country to keep (even to annex) all disputed territories for and from which the war is waged. For which Israel paid dearly in blood and tears.

Just because Israel agreed to temporarily (until further negotiations could be undertaken) return administrative jurisdiction of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Arabs doesn’t mean that the Palestinians have the right to claim those territories as legally theirs. They forfeited these alleged privileges when they rejected two opportunities to form their own state, i.e. Balfour Declaration of 1917 and UN Resolution or 1947. Five chances when you throw in two generous but ill-advised offers in 2000 and 2008 by Israeli Prime Ministers to cede virtually all the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Plus, the equally ill-advised withdrawal of all Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Thus, Palestinians have neither the legal nor moral right to say that the Israelis have no right to occupy, settle, or otherwise exercise whatever measure of governmental control Israel chooses within ALL of Israel’s borders.

As indicated, Israel voluntarily vacated her settlements in the Gaza Strip. Which was an error (all governments make mistakes) of swapping land for peace; for which Gaza Palestinians thanked the Israelis by lobbing thousands of mortars and rockets into Israel, year after year. And, Israel has far fewer settlements in the West Bank than do the Palestinians. Does that mean that either of these areas are off-limits for the Jews? Absolutely not. But don’t tell the Palestinians that. You just may be handed a kite to play with, one ablaze with fire! Or worse: stabbed in the back … literally.

Things to Ponder

As a reminder, it was the Palestinians who created the contemporary terrorism model of killing Jews, including but not limited to suicide (homicide) bombings. Subsequently emulated by world-wide copycat terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and most recently ISIS … extending terrorism globally to both Jews and Gentiles.

Beginning with the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of 11 Israeli athletes (including one trainer) by Palestinian terrorists. As well as the spate of airline hijackings that targeted mainly Israelis. Such as the airplane commandeered by several Palestinians (and two virulent antisemitic German terrorists) in 1976 that prompted the astonishing Israeli raid on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

The brilliant plan and extraordinary execution of that plan by the IDF and Mossad resulted in the stunning rescue of 106 Israeli hostages, with only four Israeli civilians killed in the crossfire between the IDF, Ugandan soldiers, and the terrorists. Equally remarkable: only one IDF soldier was killed. Do you know or remember who he was? He was the commander of the operation called Thunderbolt: Lt. Col. Yonatan (Jonathan) Netanyahu—the older brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Americans (Jews and Gentiles) should also be proud of this heroic mission, as it took place on July 4, 1976—our nation’s 200th anniversary (My daughter was born that year, on November 11th. She is my Bicentennial Baby!)

The incredible Entebbe Mission and other Israeli operations in and outside Israel have proven that the living God was with his people. Not the least of which are Israel’s astonishing victories in four conventional wars against larger and more well-equipped enemies. Each one could be considered a miraculous Hanukkah victory of its time.

The Jews and Israel will continue to face turbulent times, right up to Messiah Jesus’s return to save them from a massive coalition of armies’ intent on their annihilation near the end of the Great Tribulation.

Yet, Israel will never again be disgraced, demoralized, or defeated on anything approaching a national level. The indomitable spirit of the Jews will prevail.

After the Holocaust, the Jews vowed: NEVER AGAIN.

God will see to it.

Concerning the Lord’s discipline of Israel through Gentile exile (ending in 1948), and Gentile domination (“times of the Gentiles” ending in 1967), the Lord says:

“Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again … And I will never again turn my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 39:28-29, italics for emphasis).

Never again will they be led like sheep to slaughter (Babylonian and Roman conquests, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, Holocaust).

No matter what nations or terrorists say or attempt to do about Israel, God will have the final word. You, me, Israel’s friends and her enemies … everyone can count on that!

Says the Lord God about his special possession Israel: “…Never again will my people be disgraced” (Joel 2:26).

Hanukkah & Christmas / Do They Have Anything in Common?

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Tis the season for Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

These two glad greetings and good-byes are still echoed globally in homes, in churches and synagogues, on the streets, in the market places, and even the halls of some governments … except for the “politically correct” Happy Holidays among us.

It has been said that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas. Is it?

An immediate reaction would be: No way. Not if you’re Jewish, especially an observant Jew!

However, a 2013 poll disclosed that 32% of American Jews put up Christmas trees. Also, 34% of the Jews interviewed said it’s possible to believe that Jesus is Messiah and still be Jewish.

Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Jewish Christians / Christian Jews … An Oxymoron? Posted 6-30-18. With the summary conclusion that the most Jewish thing a Jew can do is to embrace Jesus as Messiah Savior; as did thousands upon thousands in the first century. Tens of thousands of (Messianic) Jews world-wide are Jewish Christians, many of whom currently celebrate both holidays.

After all, Jesus was a Jew through and through. He was a descendant of King David from the tribe of Judah. He taught in the Temple and synagogues; observed Sabbath and the Jewish festivals, including Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah).

Did you know that several Jewish composers have written Christmas songs?! And several Jewish singers have performed these songs. One of them is regarded as the greatest song ever sung (most played): White Christmas. Composed by Irving Berlin and originally sung by Bing Crosby in the hit movie Holiday Inn (1942). Granted, however, none of these (that I know of) Jewish composed carols such as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or a Holly Jolly Christmas contain any reference to Jesus, in contrast to traditional sacred Christmas songs. Like: Joy to the World or O Come All Ye Faithful.

Equally intriguing: Not only Gentile and Messianic Jewish believers in Christ Jesus, but also millions of unbelievers the world over sing or listen to both sacred and secular Christmas songs. They, too, exchange gifts and put up Christmas trees and lights, although the 21st century trend is to call them Holiday trees and lights.

And not only people sing these songs.

Hark … the Herald Angels Sing!

A Connection Between Hanukkah and Christmas?

At face value there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between the two.

Hanukkah is the commemoration of the successful Jewish Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Dynasty under the rule of Antiochus Epiphanies IV in the 2nd century B.C. Not long before this uprising, Antiochus had desecrated the Jewish Temple, killed some 40,000 Jews, and enslaved another 40,000. The Maccabean victory is still considered one of the greatest military upsets of all time—not unlike the miraculous Israeli victory in their 1948 War of Independence against overwhelming odds of five Arab armies. Or their spectacular victory in just six days of June 1967.

A second miracle remembered during Hanukkah was a one-day supply of the sacred oil used to light the seven Menorah lamps, that lasted for eight days. Thus, the traditional Hanukkah Menorah of eight lamps or candles … nine including the candle that lights the other eight. As originally ordained by God (Exodus 25), the Menorah had seven lamps, shaped from one solid piece of gold! However, because the Menorah was to be kept in the Temple and not duplicated, Jewish tradition holds that other menorahs could have fewer or extra stems, but not seven.

So, we ponder the question: What, if anything, does Hanukkah have in common with Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ (Immanuel … God Incarnate with us)? If so, what is the significance of this correlation(s)?

Based on Biblical evidence and secular history, I firmly believe there are parallels between the two. Just like the seven God-instituted Biblical festivals bear a significant prophetic relationship to the First and Second Advents of the Messiah (Jesus).

Refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah and the Jewish Festivals … An Extraordinary Connection! (Posted 9-24-16).

Followed by five consecutive articles that explain in detail these correlations for all seven festivals. Each of these memorial feasts were harbingers of who and what the Messiah is and will do for his people and the whole world. Such as the (Passover) “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Proclaimed by John the Baptist, the next prophet after Malachi. And to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) as the Messiah who will dwell (tabernacle) among us upon his return.

Two Clear Correlations between Christmas and Hanukkah

(1) Physical Parallel

Physical, in the sense of proximity—the day of the month and time of the year when both are observed.

The celebration of Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev (Jewish calendar). On that day the Jews (after defeating the Greek/Syrian armies) began the cleansing and rededication of the 2nd Temple, which had been desecrated by Antiochus IV.

The Hebrew month of Kislev overlaps the months of late November and all of December on the Gregorian (Gentile) calendar. Although Hanukkah almost always pre-dates Christmas, the first day of Hanukkah matched perfectly with Christmas Eve in 2016, something that hadn’t occurred since 1978.

Christmas is observed on December 25th. As some may know, the historical choice of that date was both complicated and somewhat arbitrary. And is most likely not the actual day that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Some Bible scholars, including me, strongly believe that Jesus was born between mid-September and mid-October, probably during the week-long Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The important thing: there is a day to remember this magnificent milestone of human history.

In 336 A.D, the Roman Emperor Constantine—the first Christian Caesar (whether a true Christian or one in name only is still debated)—chose December 25th from among other dates as the day to remember the birth of Messiah Jesus. A few years later, Pope Julius I declared December 25th as the official day of Christmas.

The historical evidence also suggests that one of the factors in choosing the 25th day of December was because Hanukkah (referred to as the Festival of Lights by Historian Josephus …the Books of the Maccabees called it the Dedication, the Hebrew meaning of Hanukkah) also began on the 25th day … of Kislev.

(2) Spiritual Parallel

Summed up in one word: LIGHT.

The kind of light that is often expressed by the spoken and written word in the spiritual sense of light and darkness.

It is God’s light—through His truth that would illuminate mankind—revealed to the Jews then extended to the Gentiles. Reflected literally and symbolically in the original Menorah, which also represented the (purifying) fire of God’s holiness.

Most Jewish Rabbis—both past and present—agree that God made Israel his special possession to bring the light of God’s Attributes and Word to Israel and through Israel to the nations. They are right about their status as God’s chosen people … the Jews. However, they see this light exclusively in the context of the Old Covenant Mosaic Law. They still deny that God’s New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has been implemented, because they do not believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.

Since the first century birth, life, death, resurrection, return of Jesus to heaven, and the ensuing Christian faith (that most Jews regard exclusively as Gentile) embraced by hundreds of millions claiming Jesus is the Messiah and Savior, Judaism was forced to reinterpret (misinterpret) several Messianic passages of the Old Testament. Such as Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 49, and others.

Another reason is that the different sects of Judaism and even those within sects don’t agree on just how much the Messiah can or will do for Israel upon his appearance … according to Judaism, one and only arrival. Whether he is Divine or merely a man. And what or how much the Jews must do to prepare for or (some say) even precipitate Messiah’s appearance.

The second-most visited Eye of Prophecy article of the 275 posted to date (Where is Messiah? Is He Already Here? June 2016) begins as follows:

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

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

In general terms, it is Biblically true that Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles. Yet originally (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately (Israel didn’t obey the Lord, let alone disseminate the light of God’s Word to the Gentiles) the Messiah who would come from the descendants of Abraham would be that LIGHT. The Jews themselves, both religious and irreligious, need that same light (of salvation). The miracle that produced the Hanukkah lights would herald an even greater miracle when the Christmas Light of the World was born of a Virgin.

A pivotal passage referred to often by many Jewish rabbis is found in Isaiah. Usually, however, they ascribe and promote the subject of this passage as Israel, not the Messiah, himself—despite the clear use of the personal pronouns “I” and “me.” Or the fact that Israel is the object of what the personal Messiah would accomplish. At the very least, they confine the subject of the passage to Israel.

Here are the words of Messiah, who speaks not only to Israel but the entire world:

“Listen to me, all you distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name…. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory’” (Isaiah 49:1 & 3).

You are my servant Israel is interpreted as the nation of Israel by rabbis. Whereas, this is the case in, for example, Isaiah Chapter 41, it is not the correct application in Chapter 49. For three main reasons: (1) Isaiah 49 is clearly identifying an individual (Messiah) via personal pronouns, as already indicated; (2) The Messiah here is identified as Israel itself because he is the exclusive essence of and composite hope for Israel’s redemption and restoration, as well as the Gentiles; (3) The fact that Israel cannot save or restore herself back to God.

To further establish point #3, let’s continue the passage:

“And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me (back to the personal pronoun depicting Messiah) in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him…. He says, ‘You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:5-6, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

If Israel is the subject of this passage, then the following portion of this passage would read: who commissioned Israel to bring Israel back to him (God the Father). According to the Bible, Israel saving herself is both physically and spiritually impossible. Beginning with the Exodus, Scripture time and time again reveals that only the Lord could (ultimately) deliver Israel from her enemies and from herself. The latter part is why the Lord replaced the Old Covenant of the Law with the New Covenant of Grace—as prophetically announced by Jeremiah (Chapter 31).

This same analysis applies to the next portion of the passage that states, “You (the Messiah) will do more than restore the people of Israel to me.”

If the I, Me, and You of this passage is Israel, then the sentence would read: Israel will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. Which is nonsensical.

Thus, it is Messiah (Jesus) and only he who will bring light and salvation to both Israel and the (Gentile) nations.

Arguably, the most well-known Messianic passage in the Old Testament is Isaiah Chapter 53; although some observant Jews do not consider the chapter Messianic, as such. Those who consent to Chapter 53 as Messianic, do so by realizing that the description of the Lord’s suffering servant begins in the last three verses of Chapter 52. With verse 15 plainly referring to the Messiah:

“And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence…” And before that verse 13: “…he will be highly exalted.”

And verse 14 says:

(God sometimes refers to Israel as his son, daughter, servant, special possession, chosen ones, but not as “a man”)

The last part of Isaiah Chapter 52 and all of Chapter 53 is both a sorrowful description of the suffering Messiah and a glorious account of what that suffering would accomplish. But Judaism has been unable to reconcile this passage (and a few others) with the Messianic promises of Israel’s conquering King who will rescue Israel from her enemies and establish God’s Kingdom on earth through Israel. To the extent that many Rabbis believe there will be two Messiahs, not just one.

See Eye of Prophecy article, More Than One Messiah? Posted 12-5-15).

In Isaiah Chapter 53, Judaism (particularly after Jesus Christ changed the very keeping of time when he came to this earth) also substitutes the nation of Israel for what is an unambiguous depiction of Messiah.

If I counted correctly, there is the amazing total of 37 references in Isaiah 53 to God’s suffering servant (Messiah) using the personal pronouns, he, him, or his (a total of 45 if you start with Isaiah 52:13). Moreover, there is the same scenario so evident in Psalm 49 that we just covered: Israel cannot save itself and certainly not atone for her own sins, individually or nationally.

“…And because of his experience (Messiah’s suffering and death on a cross— “pierced for our rebellion” Isaiah 53:5), my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:11, parenthesis mine).

Under the New Covenant: Messiah himself would (once for all) bear all their sins. Because the Lord, “…laid on him the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Biblical salvation is the only way to a right standing with God—sins forgiven for all time, with eternal life in heaven awaiting those who simply say, “Yes,” to Messiah Jesus. Who agree with the Lord: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

No one on this planet—past, present or future—can save themselves; no matter what we think, say, or do. Salvation is a gift to be received, not merited or inherited.

Scripture declares that: “The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6 & 33:16). We have none of our own.

The Lights of Hanukkah

Rabbis (correctly) contend that the event of Hanukkah was pivotal in reaffirming God’s destiny for Israel by accomplishing two things of great significance: (A) Reestablished Israel to a greater degree of national autonomy not experienced since before the Babylonian exile. (B) Rededication of the Temple as the center of Jewish worship; thereby, renewing the tenets of Judaism on a national level. It was a victory over the secular Greek Hellenism of the time that threatened to assimilate the Jewish religion and the Jews themselves into pagan Gentile culture.

However, the Maccabean revival didn’t last much longer than the spiritual turnaround of the Jews after Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s time. When Jesus arrived, Judaism had splintered even more into rival sects (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, and others), each claiming religious or secular authority (or both) over Israel; and each adjusting to the Roman subjugation of Israel in their own way. These dichotomies and divisions led directly to the zealot’s revolt of 66 A.D. that ended in the greatest tragedy experienced by Israel until the Holocaust.

All because God’s chosen people (as a whole) flatly rejected Jesus’s claim that he was the Messiah (the Light of the World). A claim confirmed by his numerous miracles that had never been seen before; and his teaching with power and authority that amazed both the secular and religious among them.

Messiah Jesus … Light of the World

He spoke these words during one of his many visits to the Temple. Specifically, he was in the Court of Woman near burning candles that symbolized the pillar of fire that protected and guided God’s people in the wilderness.

Not long after declaring that he was the light of the world, we find Jesus observing Hanukkah.

“It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, ‘How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly’” (John 10:22-24).

*Note: Like the religious leaders repeatedly demanding heavenly signs from Jesus to prove he was the Messiah, the people in the Temple also had seen Jesus’s many miracles and/or heard his astonishing messages. Reading on:

“Jesus replied, ‘I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is in the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me … The Father and I are one” (John 10:25-28 & 30).

Then Jesus said in that same scene: “But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” (Verse 38).

Those (his sheep) who believed and received Jesus as Lord and Savior knew he was the Messiah.

They believed not only with their eyes, but with their mind and heart. He was the superior Prophet spoken of by Moses, the Great Shepherd, Immanuel, the living Word of God, the Menorah Light of the World, and all the other things written about and names given to him by God the Father through the prophets. John began his New Covenant Gospel with this magnificent tribute to Messiah Jesus:

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God…. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-2, 4-5).

The brutal death of Messiah Jesus did not silence him nor extinguish the light of God’s salvation through him. In fact, it purchased and sealed that redemption for all who would believe in him.

Satan did not defeat him. Death would not finish him. The grave could not hold him.

He is who said he is. Because:

If Hanukkah is so highly regarded, then why disregard (to the point of denial) the illuminating light of Jesus’s miraculous Virgin birth, his astounding teachings and miracles, and (most of all) his supernatural resurrection from the dead?

Didn’t both Hanukkah and Christmas occur after the canon of the Old Testament was complete; after God stopped speaking to his people for over 400 years?

There is another stunning prophecy that has been regrettably overlooked by millions of Jews and even dismissed by nearly all (non-Messianic) rabbis. A prophecy that is seldom spoken of by rabbis or written about in Jewish literature … be it books, articles, or commentaries. One that documents beyond all doubt that Messiah (first) arrived in Israel long ago. Here is another excerpt from: Where is Messiah? Is He Already Here? (which focuses on just a portion of one verse of the totality of these powerful prophecies in Daniel 9:24-27):

After this period of 483 years, “…the Anointed One 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)

Daniel’s prophecy is unambiguously clear: The Messiah would appear before the destruction of the Temple, which took place in 70 AD. And that’s exactly what occurred … Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection some 40 years before the Romans sacked Jerusalem, which irrefutably validates the accuracy of Daniel’s prophecy.

Whereas, the religious leaders and people of Jesus’s time scorned him for the reasons given thus far—most prominent of which was ignoring the plain evidence for the time of Messiah’s appearance and marginalizing or outright rejecting his teachings and miracles—all those who deny that he is Messiah after the Temple was destroyed have no grounds whatsoever to refute the Messiahship of Jesus.

Why?

Because they have the 20/20 hindsight of history, right up to the present day. The Messiah would come at the end of 483 years, exactly when Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem … hailed by the people as the Son of David, the Messiah.

Then the Messiah would be killed BEFORE the Temple was destroyed by the armies of a ruler who would arise (shortly) AFTER Messiah arrived and was killed.

According to the time-line of Daniel’s prophecy, there is no way that the Messiah could (first advent) arrive on the scene of history AFTER the Temple was destroyed.

As Zola Levitt, a well-known Messianic Jew used to say: “And that’s all there is to that.”

The Severe Consequences of Israel’s Missed Opportunity

God’s precious promises of end-times redemption and restoration for his special possession Israel are already in the making, beginning prominently with the 20th century rebirth of Israel and the ancient Hebrew language.

But for now, it is as it was in the first century when the Jewish Apostle Paul penned these words:

“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 then they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12).

Then Paul states: “…Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of the Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26).

In the previous Eye of Prophecy article posted 12-8-18 (Peace Between Israel & Judah … Then World Peace!), I quoted Jesus’s compassionate words for his people not long before his crucifixion.

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

Luke’s Gospel presents part of Jesus’s words not recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, also concerning what would happen to Israel at the hands of the Romans and why.

“But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long (less than 40 years would transpire) your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation’” (Luke 19:41-44, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Most Jews in today’s world, particularly the observant, are still turning down God’s offer of salvation through the New Covenant that Jesus brought to them and the whole world. It’s no coincidence whatsoever that the curtain which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple interior was suddenly torn in two as Jesus died on the cross. (See Eye of Prophecy articles. The Cross and the Torn Curtain I & II … posted 2-6 & 2-13-16).

It was another of God’s manifest miracles to demonstrate that anyone can come directly to Him any time and any place through His Son, Messiah Jesus. The barrier (curtain) between God and people and between Jew and Gentile was removed when Jesus sacrificially gave his life as a once for all atonement for Jew and Gentile alike.

The torn curtain was only the beginning. Less than 40 years later, the Temple itself was demolished and the Levitical Sacrificial System ended when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. As noted, Jesus even predicted this horrific event, even though it broke his heart that it would happen and the reason why.

As Jesus Mourned for Israel, So Israel Will Mourn for Him

Whether Gentile or (especially) Jew, have you considered the question of why Israel will mourn over Messiah’s appearance? Yes, that will take place.

Which is unfathomable—considering numerous Biblical prophecies and the modern-day fact that nearly every Jew, religious or irreligious, longs for and will rejoice greatly when Messiah appears (returns).

Why would they mourn over such a fantastic life-saving (literally) event? There is no reasonable explanation for such a response … save one.

The prophet Zechariah graphically portrays the initial sorrow of Israel when they see their Messiah and gives the (one) reason for that grief. It is anguish so deep and distressing that: “All Israel will mourn, each clan by itself, and with the husbands separate from their wives…” (Zechariah 12:12).

Sorrow so painful that the Jews must be alone for a while to bear it.

The Pre-Incarnate Messiah himself explains the reason by speaking in both the first and second person.

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died” (Zechariah 12:10).

Near the end of the Great Tribulation, the remnant of Israel will see and acknowledge their (the) Messiah. Who is the Son of Man, Son of David, and Son of God (Psalm 110) whom King David prophesied would be “pierced” (hands and feet … Psalm 22:16).

Confirmed by Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins…” (Isaiah 53:5).

None other than Jesus of Nazareth.

“Away with him, they yelled. ‘Away with him! Crucify him!’

‘What? Crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.

‘We have no king but Caesar,’ the leading priests shouted back.

“Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.

“There they (the Romans) nailed him to the cross…” (John 19:15-16 &18a, parenthesis mine).

But when the mourning is over, there will be jubilation despite Jerusalem surrounded by a huge Gentile coalition of armies (led by Antichrist). Messiah Jesus will rally the people and their soldiers (IDF) and they will rally around him.

“The Lord will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah. On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be a mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord (a title found throughout the Old Testament for the Pre-Incarnate Messiah) who goes before them! For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:7-9, parenthesis mine).

The final victory will be won as dramatically depicted in Revelation 19. Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon and Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events. Posted 2-3-18.

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

Things to Ponder

As said before in some articles: I love the Lord and His Word, and I love Israel and the Jews.

Every morning I conclude my Bible and prayer time with: “Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim; beshem Yeshua HaMashiach” (I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, in the name of Jesus the Messiah).

To pray for such peace is to pray for Messiah’s return, when all Israel will be saved—physically and spiritually.

To echo the passionate hope of the Jewish Pharisee Saul who met the risen Messiah Jesus and was supernaturally saved; born-again as are all who place their trust in Jesus’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. Whom the Lord renamed Paul and appointed him to be a witness first to Israel, then to the Gentiles. Said Paul:

“…the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved” (Romans 10:1).

For God’s people to finally see and receive the light of their salvation—Messiah Jesus.

When that happens: “…All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel” (Isaiah 49:26).

He is the mighty Triune God, whose Royal Son the nations will obey (Psalm 2).

The Royal Son, born on Christmas Day.

Messiah Jesus is the Menorah Light of the World. Both Christmas and Hanukkah are special seasonal times to light up the world with the truth of God’s redemptive rescue.

Hanukkah was celebrated earlier this month (12-3 through 12-10).

Christmas is just three days away.

A time to gaze at the lights and gladly give gifts. In remembrance of the most brilliant light to ever shine and the greatest gift ever given. The gift that keeps on giving … forever!

Peace Between Israel and Judah … Then World Peace!

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Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

Not since the creation of man and woman has there been enduring peace on this earth. Not with the best of governments; nor through education or man-made religions or treaties of all kinds. Not between nations; nor within nations, states, cities, communities, or families.

Even the Garden of Eden was short-lived when Adam and Eve fatefully disobeyed God; thereby, forfeiting the beautiful fellowship and Shalom (peace and tranquility) with their Creator.

The first murder was one brother of another. Whether through premeditated murder or justifiable homicide (such as in defensive wars), killing is the direct opposite of peace between people.

And so is (polarized … not even agreeing to disagree) political, social, and economic discord and disparity that affects the well-being of people all over the planet to some extent or another. In fact, one of humanity’s saddest ironies is that war unites people more than times of peace. But then, exposing another perplexing problem: war unifies ethnic groups and nations against other nations.

Despite the amazing advancements in 20th & 21st century technology and communication, there has been less peace in the world than ever. Two world wars and numerous regional and national conflicts bear witness that we have not progressed morally or spiritually. It’s just the opposite.

How can that be? Shouldn’t mankind by now have proportionally improved our relationships on all levels, beginning with the family? Will we never learn from our mistakes?

No, we won’t; not until we embrace God’s plan for peace—with God and (then) between people.

“…So love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

The above order is not arbitrary. First love truth, then peace (will follow).

Jesus is the ONLY WAY to peace, the ONLY TRUTH about peace, the ONLY LIFE of real peace.

Such peace was proclaimed at his birth by an angel of the Lord: “…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! …. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:10-14).

“And it is impossible to please God without faith…” (Hebrews 11:6).

The object of the faith that pleases God: “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:17-18).

Peace Will Come Only Through Israel and The Messiah

Immediately following the verse quoted earlier (so love truth and peace), we read:

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

What better exemplification of peace could there be, than representatives from entire nations and cities making pilgrimages to Jerusalem to receive the Lord’s blessings. May the Lord bless and keep you … and give you his peace (Shalom).

“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt” (Zechariah 9:9).

In ancient times when a king rode into a city on a donkey, it was a symbol of peace (to come).

In fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, Messiah Jesus first came to Israel as a righteous (without sin) king, one who would implement God’s New Covenant with people through his sacrificial death on a cross for the sin of the world. A covenant forever making people right with God. With only one thing required of us:

“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” (Romans 10:9-10).

The victorious feature of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem will be fully realized with his final conquest of the forces of evil. Then he will come as the, “Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne” (Revelation 5:5).

A conquering ruler would enter a city on a horse, emblematic of a king who established peace by force … a just war.

Referring to Christ Jesus, John writes:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11).

Continuing with Zechariah: “I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, 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, italics for emphasis).

Immediately followed by: “Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood (the New Covenant), I will free your prisoners…” (Zechariah 9:11a, parenthesis mine). Note the past tense, made. Which precedes Messiah’s return to earth in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Then later in that chapter and chapters 12-14, Zechariah provides a stirring scenario of how furiously and heroically the Jews will fight against Gentile armies, which are led by Antichrist and his coalition. But this time it will be different. Messiah, himself, will fight with them, when he “appears above his people” (Zechariah 9:14), as he descends to step foot on the Mount of Olives to begin his rescue of all Israel (Zechariah 14:3-4).

First, however, Zechariah says something unusual: “Judah is my bow, and Israel is my arrow. Jerusalem is my sword, and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks (Gentiles)” (Zechariah 9:13).

It’s a prophetic foregone conclusion that the Lord will save (all) Israel from final attacks during the Day of the Lord, i.e. the Great Tribulation; and restore her physically and spiritually to the nation God intended for the Jews from the time he called Abraham out from among the Gentiles.

So why mention both Israel and Judah? Why not simply say Israel (or Jacob)?

Answer: Both Israel (ten northern kingdoms) and Judah (two southern kingdoms) will fight their enemies together in unity; something that has not happened since King David unified all twelve tribes of Israel from one city … the Capital city of Jerusalem. Even though the miraculous rebirth of Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948 and the liberated reunification of Jerusalem with the rest of Israel in 1967 has resulted in more unity among the Jewish people than existed since King David’s and King Solomon’s time, there is still disagreement and even division within many sectors of Jewish society, both in and outside of Israel (Diaspora Jews).

This ultimate unification of Jews from all over the world will be a fulfillment of another prophecy, in the context of world peace and prosperity. One of paramount significance. So much so that global peace will not take place until there is unified peace between the still divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Kingdoms (plural)? Divided?

Your first reaction might be: The divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah are a thing of the past. Aren’t the ten northern tribes (called Israel or Ephraim in Scripture) the “lost tribes.” Aren’t they long gone, never to be heard from again? What do modern-day Israelis in Israel and Jews living outside Israel have to do with these divided Jewish kingdoms of ancient times?

As is said (not as funny as it once was): I’m glad you asked!

Although the designations of Israel and Judah are sometimes used interchangeably in Scripture (when the Lord is addressing his people as a whole), they are also used separately to identify which nation God refers to through his prophets.

The lost tribes of Israel are not at all lost to God. He knows from which tribe every single Jew on the planet is descended, even though most Jews themselves do not know. Israelites from the ten northern tribes didn’t cease to exist, any more than did the Jews from Judah (designation of two southern tribes), who also were exiled—first to Babylon, then to nations all over the earth when the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

For now, I’ll point to just one passage … albeit it one that is still future. To demonstrate that Jews from the twelve tribes (a slightly revised list to match what happened in Jewish history) are still intact. I’m referring to Revelation Chapter 7, in which 12,000 Jews from each tribe will be sealed (appointed) by God to be witnesses for Messiah Jesus during the soon to come Great Tribulation. Moreover, I’m convinced that among the approximately 14.7 million Jews on Planet Earth today, the 144,000 are among them! (See Eye of Prophecy articles, One Hundred Forty-Four Messianic Jews Part I & II. Posted 4-23 & 4-30-16).

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 which led to the rebirth of Israel was the beginning of the end times last (Omega) generation. Which includes the final rescue reunification of Jews, physically. A reunion that will culminate in the entire remnant of Israel—those who survive the Tribulation—being saved spiritually through faith in Messiah Jesus.

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

The Jewish Apostle Paul goes on to say: “Many of the people of Israel are now (still are to this day) enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles (when the greater majority of Israel rejected the Gospel, it was then extended to the Gentiles). Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Romans 11:28, parenthesis mine).

This persistent enmity with the New Covenant has resulted in a continuing dichotomy among the Jews. See Eye of Prophecy article, The Jewish Dichotomy In & Outside Israel (Posted 6-30-18).

In that article, I wrote: 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.

Those three divisions: (1) Observant and Secular Jews; (2) Israeli and Diaspora Jews; (3) Messianic and non-Messianic Jews—the most obvious and deepest division.

*Note: There is a fourth dichotomy, i.e. right versus left (conservative/liberal), but that is common to virtually every people and nation.

Another excerpt from that article:

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.

I then summarized by saying:

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 Israeli 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.

(Actually, its Verses 19 & 20)

Following God’s severe discipline of Israel (by Assyria) then Judah (by Babylon), there were three notable times when God’s people missed a golden opportunity to, as a nation, return to the Lord and to each other.

The first was after the return of some Jews to Israel from Babylon. Alas, their loyalty to God didn’t last long. They repeated the same mistakes of their ancestors. Read the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi for details of what (started out to be) could and should have been a permanent reunited restoration of the Jews to the Promised Land.

Then again, when the Maccabees of Judah miraculously defeated the mighty Syrian/Greek armies under Antiochus Epiphanes IV and the Hellenistic Jews that were disloyal to the God of Israel.

(Today’s Eye of Prophecy post is on day six of Hanukkah’s eight-day festival in celebration of that miracle and another one: the one-day supply of Menorah lamp oil lasting eight days).

But Jews and Judaism split into even more sects, each claiming superiority over the others in terms of what was best for Israel. They united only long enough to rally around their denial that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah—despite first hand evidence of his miracles before and after his crucifixion (his resurrection).

Had they accepted Jesus as Messiah (the third and by far greatest opportunity to reunify) the Messianic Kingdom of God would have been established right then and there. However, God knew that His Son would be rejected. This refutation would result in the fulfillment of the Lord’s redemptive plan for humanity.

Israel & Judah / How They Depict Dichotomies of the Jewish People in Modern Times

Obviously, the following differences between Israel and Judah (from ancient times to present day Jews and Judaism) is a generalization. But then, in addition to specific variations, the Bible also makes general distinctions between the two kingdoms; noting that there were faithful Jews in both kingdoms. And, we know that Judah, too, fell into idolatry and disobedience to the Lord by repeating the sins of the ten northern tribes. Yet Judah lasted for some 150 years after Israel fell to the Assyrians. There was a reason for that; thus, the main differences between the two kingdoms identified in Scripture.

Israel: Immediately after splitting the Davidic kingdom and establishing a separate capital in Samaria, the ten northern tribes began to worship man-made gods. False prophets emerged and many of their priests were not from the tribe of Levi, as God had ordained. None of their kings followed the Lord; nor did, by the ungodly leadership of king and religious leaders, the people (greater majority).

Judah: Most of the faithful prophets and priests were aligned with Judah, even though some of them warned Judah as well as Israel to return to the Lord. Several of Judah’s kings loved the Lord and followed him, as did the people—for a while. Most important: Jerusalem was (to always be) the capital of the Promised Land and the location of the Temple—where God dwelled among his people. For three of the annual (seven) Jewish Festivals, Jews were required by the Lord to travel to Jerusalem.

(Depiction of Jews traveling to Jerusalem and the Temple on Passover)

In today’s Judaism (the world over), the ten northern tribes of Israel are exemplified primarily by Diaspora Jews (those living outside Israel)—mostly secular; if observant, many belonging to Reformed Judaism. They are the more liberal Jews as represented by (for example) democrats in the United States; or, within Israel—Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties of Israel’s Knesset.

Whereas, Judah is characterized more by observant Jews … predominantly conservative in their political, social, economic, and religious world-view. Represented, for example, by the Likud (30 of the 120 Knesset seats) and Shas coalitions. Proportionally, there are more observant Jews in Israel than in their Diaspora counterparts.

As indicated, these are broad generalizations. However, they track with Israel’s and Judah’s history and are parallel with contemporary times.

Yet, when it comes to the tens of thousands of Messianic Jews the world over, they are a cross-section of all Jews … no matter from which tribe they’ve descended. That’s the incredible power of God through Messiah Jesus to save his people—a prelude to salvation of all Jews (the remnant) when Christ returns to accomplish Israel’s final redemption and reunion—physically and spiritually.

Many forget or don’t even know that most Christians of the 1st century were Jews. Three thousand Jews from at least fifteen countries and regions in and around Israel were born-again in Jerusalem (in one day) after listening to the Jewish Apostle Peter’s (a fisherman by trade) stirring message about the resurrected Jesus.

Two named members of the Sanhedrin—Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus—believed in Jesus as the Messiah. The Apostle Paul had been a strict Jewish Pharisee whose life and eternal destiny was radically altered when Jesus interrupted Paul’s (Saul) trip to Damascus to arrest and imprison Christians. The Apostles John and his brother James also were fisherman and Matthew was a tax collector. In today’s world, there are Jews from all walks of life … conservative and liberal, religious and irreligious, who have acknowledged Jesus as Messiah and accepted him as their Savior and Lord.

Another Crisis in Israel’s Government

The parliamentary Knesset is an extraordinary example of a fragmented fraternity within a nation. A disunited unity! With (currently) 11 parties trying to run a government instead of the usual two, three, or four parties of most nations.

However, too much friction expressed too often can cripple or even topple a government at the most inopportune time. Israel narrowly avoided that a few months ago. See Eye of Prophecy article: A Government Crisis in Israel (Posted 3-17-18). Here is a summary excerpt from that article with a broader perspective (in italics):

Thus, the current crisis—seemingly resolved between the involved Knesset parties, but one that could erupt again—is ultimately good for Israel. It’s good because both secular and observant Jews realize that too much disunity could adversely affect Israel’s solidarity within the nation; but also jeopardize Israel’s security with its enemies. It’s good because the secular among them will hopefully see more clearly that ultimate (optimum) uninterrupted unity is only possible by once again returning to their God, the God of Israel. For secular and religious alike to fully realize that God’s appointed Messiah (the Son of God, Psalm 2, Psalm 110) will be the only one who can (and will) redeem and restore Israel to what God intended for them in the beginning—a nation of born-again priests—who will rule and reign with Messiah in Israel. And yet who are one in Messiah (Jesus) with Gentile believers, who have been grafted in to the prophetic tree of Israel. In that regard, they will fulfill their (Israel’s) destiny.

It’s also good for the United States and other nations/peoples when we more fully appreciate the miracle of Israel itself. That against all odds, Israel has won (survived) four wars against Arab nations. And not only survived but has grown in prosperity and posture among the nations.

Despite the sometimes-debilitating disputes among themselves, Jews in Israel (and all over the world) passionately exhibit one unifying trait and defend 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.

Jewish citizens of Israel synthesize over one common denominator: 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.

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

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned his post (in protest over the government’s alleged lack of toughness with Hamas’ launching of some 450 rockets into Israel as well as the now eight-month Palestinian rioting at the Gazan border with Israel) and withdrew himself and his coalition party … six-member Yisrael Beiteinu. Thereby, reducing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition from 67 to the bare minimum of 61 seats. Shortly thereafter, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (leaders of the Jewish Home Party—8 Knesset seats) threatened to exit the majority coalition government if Netanyahu didn’t appoint Bennett to Defense Minister to replace Lieberman.

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

Out of cycle elections are a drain not only on legislators and government officials, but also the entire population. Worse, any government in a transitional crisis cannot deal nearly as effectively with national security issues.

Time/space does not permit more elaboration on this crisis except to say that Prime Minister Netanyahu once again demonstrated his skillful leadership of Israel by tirelessly working to resolve this divisive dilemma; successfully maintaining a majority coalition government (61 of the 120 Knesset seats).

(Naftali Bennett with Benjamin Netanyahu–on the right)

The following are excerpts from one of Netanyahu’s speeches just before Naftali Bennett withdrew his demand and agreed to keep his party in the majority coalition:

“I’m telling you from experience that we are currently facing one of the most complex security situations. This is not the time to dissolve the government. At a time like this, you don’t go to elections. That would be irresponsible. We have an entire year before the (scheduled) elections, and we are now in the middle of war—you don’t walk away in the middle of a war. You don’t play politics in the middle of a war. The security of the state is beyond politics, and the security of the state is also beyond personal considerations.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu summed up that speech with these words:

“You’ve seen the efforts that I’ve been making in recent days to prevent unnecessary early elections. I spoke with all the coalition leaders and I told them that it is time to display responsibility. Don’t topple the coalition, particularly in this security climate. I warned them not to repeat the mistake made in 1992 when a Likud government was overthrown and the replacement government brought about the Oslo disaster. We mustn’t repeat the mistake from 1999, when the Likud government was overthrown and the government that rose to power gave us the (Second) Intifada and more than 1,000 deaths. I hope that this time all the partners will act responsibly and won’t allow the government to fall.”

Truth That Leads to Freedom and Peace

Israel’s failure to keep God’s Covenant of the Law through Moses led to her division into two kingdoms some 2,900 years ago … around 930 B.C. Things only got worse, but God knew this would happen. At the proper time, he announced that a New Covenant would replace the Old (Jeremiah 31).

Jesus Christ put into effect this New Covenant that would forever change Israel’s and the world’s destiny … spiritually and physically.

“After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you’” (Luke 22:20).

This New Covenant would also divide Jews (and later Gentiles), but with a division that makes the difference between eternal life and death. An enormous partition between the truth of God’s salvation to Jew and Gentile alike versus humanity’s way of trying to get right with God through good works or keeping rules that they could and would never keep in the first place. New Covenant truth that brings perpetual peace with God and, therefore, true freedom and peace among people.

Jesus said to his disciples (all believers): “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27, NASB).

Jesus contrasted his (real) peace to a (fleeting) peace that the world thinks it can attain without acknowledgment of God in the affairs of people.

However, Jesus also made this startling statement:

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against. Father will be divided against son…” (Luke 12:49-53a).

Jesus is not contradicting God’s Word that he, as Messiah, would ultimately bring peace and unity to Israel and to the whole earth. The truth of God’s Salvation will burn away the dense, dark undergrowth of man-made religions. Of philosophical and political systems that foster false hope and promote pretentious peace that lasts only until the next conflict—among families, cities, states, and nations.

Messiah Jesus & The Prophecies Concerning Israel and Judah’s Reconciliation (Peace)

The Lord extended many opportunities and plenty of time (hundreds of years) for the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah to return to him and reunify as one people. But they would not do so. Jesus summarized this refusal in these poignant words not long before his people (the Jews) demanded his crucifixion and the Romans (Gentiles) put him to death:

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

Now listen to the prophetic words of Jesus (the Pre-Incarnate Messiah) hundreds of years earlier. In this Messianic passage, he is speaking specifically of and to the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The prophecy is harsh compared to the compassionate expression of love for his people we just read in Matthew. Harsh because God would complete his discipline of Israel as foretold first by Moses (Leviticus 26) and then through other prophets, by intensifying this split between Israel and Judah until they finally reached up and out to Jesus as their Messiah Savior.

The passage begins with the Good Shepherd (Messiah) who cared deeply for the flock (all his people), despite their rebellious divisions—but only to a point.

“So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter—the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and named one Favor and the other Union … But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, too. So I told them, ‘I won’t be your shepherd any longer. If you die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And let those who remain devour each other!’

“Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations (most translations read “peoples”). That was the end of my covenant with them…” (Zechariah 11:7-11, parenthesis mine).

The covenant that would be revoked when Messiah came to earth was the Old Covenant of the Law through Moses, which also was to include foreigners (Gentiles) who wanted to know and follow the God of Israel. A New Covenant would take its place, as Jeremiah had already foretold.

“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… They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31-32, italics for emphasis).

Returning to Zechariah, the passage even specifies that Messiah would be sold (valued at) 30 pieces of silver; precisely fulfilled when Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders for that sum of money.

Zechariah continues: “Then I took my other staff, Union, and cut it in two, showing that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken” (Zechariah 11:14, emphasis added).

This complete cut of an already torn Israel took place within a generation after Jesus ascended back to heaven. The sectarian strife among 1st century Jews and within Judaism contributed significantly, if not exclusively, to the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 A.D. Which ended four years later with Israel’s crushing defeat and exile for nearly 2,000 years.

The grievous cut finally began to heal at Israel’s rebirth in 1948 and especially with the liberation of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. Although the staff is currently taped together, it is not yet solidly welded. It won’t be joined permanently until after the worthless shepherd of Zachariah 11 (Antichrist)—who many Jews (and most Gentiles) will follow upon his reappearance—attacks Israel near the end of the Tribulation. And Messiah Jesus intervenes to forever bond the break between Jews both in and outside of Israel.

Things to Ponder

Even before Messiah’s prophecy (through Zechariah) of the debilitating disunion of Israel, God promised that Israel would be restored and reunified, as would the whole world as a result.

Isaiah Chapter 11 is one of the most well-known Messianic and Millennial passages in Scripture, which includes the famous description of the wolf and lamb living in harmony together (most people say lion and lamb). Then a little later in that chapter we read:

“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 (undivided Israel, to also include Gentile citizens) will be a glorious place… He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah (once and for all … see Matthew 24:31) from the ends of the earth. Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end. They will not be rivals anymore” (Isaiah 11:10, 12-13, parenthesis mine).

Ezekiel uses the same illustration. “Now hold them together in your hand as if they were one piece of wood. When your people ask you what your actions mean, say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take Ephraim and the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one piece of wood in my hand’” (Ezekiel 37:17-19).

Then all the last days promises to and blessings for Israel and Judah will come to fruition. Such as:

“…But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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 gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:10-14).

“But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you…. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings” (Zechariah 8:11-12).

The time is short.

Let’s intently listen to, love, and learn from the Lord. Let’s also keep our eyes on Israel.

As Israel and Judah go, so goes the world. Global redemption and peace to the Jew first, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

Does Jesus Himself Say Anything About The Rapture?

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You may be a believer in Messiah Jesus and know a lot about the Rapture or only a little.

You may be an unbeliever who knows virtually nothing about the Rapture, except for hearing about it from time to time. Wherever you are in this spectrum, the question posed in this week’s Eye of Prophecy article may be puzzling.

Some will respond incredulously to the question: Of course, Jesus spoke of the Rapture.

Others might think: I know that the Apostle Paul writes about the Rapture, because the (two) passages in which he describes it are the ones that many people cite exclusively. However, I don’t think Jesus himself spoke of the Rapture.

Still others might say: I think Jesus talked about the Rapture. But I’m not sure what words he used or where to find them. And if he was referring to the Rapture or just his second coming to the earth, or both?

And, there are those who don’t believe the Rapture will take place at all. What they do with I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15 is beyond me, but that’s okay. If they have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, they’ll know for sure when they ascend from the earth in their brand-new bodies to meet the Lord in the air! It’s likely they will exclaim, “It’s really happening?!”

For those of us who know the Rapture is for real, a shorter version: “It’s happening!”

Some think that the Rapture and the return of Messiah Jesus to the earth to end the Great Tribulation are one and the same.

You may or may not know that the term (Rapture) isn’t found in the Bible. However, the event itself is, including amazing details of what transpires and the sequence thereof. The Latin word is employed as a summary of all features of the event originally encapsulated in the Greek word, which means a catching or seizing up of believers by Messiah Jesus to heaven.

(See, Eye of Prophecy article, Biblical Terms Not in the Bible … Are They Biblical? Posted 3-10-18)

The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus will bring about the Rapture. But did Jesus, himself, say anything about this extraordinary event?

Answer: A resounding, YES!

Stay tuned and discover that, in fact, Jesus directly disclosed all the revelations concerning the Rapture, including the two passages recorded by the Apostle Paul.

But first, a brief review of:

The Spectacular Surge of Biblical Prophecy in the 20th & 21st Centuries

After Israel’s remarkable rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948 and especially following the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem with the rest of Israel in the miraculous Israeli victory of the 1967 Six-Day War, there has been an explosion of interest in Biblical end-times prophecy unequalled since the first century A.D. Both events were part and parcel of hundreds of Biblical prophecies and both were accomplished against all (natural) odds. Not only on Israel; the world’s 20th century attention riveted on two World Wars and a host of other unprecedented events (like the formation of dozens of new nations) continuing into our 21st century that billions of people, believers and unbelievers alike, consider to be apocalyptic. A beginning of the end.

So much so that it didn’t even take another major war, or natural disaster, or ominous geopolitical or economic event to galvanize global awareness on what many believe to be the last days of the end times.

You remember the year 2000, don’t you?! The realization that it was not only a new century but a new millennium, generated an apocalyptic apprehension that swept over the planet.

Many predicted a millennial meltdown of computer chips and systems, which in turn would wreak havoc on the infrastructure of nations. Power grids would collapse; machinery would stop running; complex military, government, and economic networks would fail; and (worst of all!) the internet might self-destruct.

Most Christians were convinced that the Rapture would take place sometime during that fateful year. After all, it was the beginning of the third millennium since the birth of Messiah Jesus. And the seventh millennium of recorded time. There was nothing left in Biblical prophecy as a prelude to the Lord taking believers from the earth … to spare them from the Great Tribulation in preparation for Messiah’s second coming to this earth. Could there have been any time more prophetically pertinent than the year 2000?

I was one of what seemed to be only a few believers who were convinced that the Rapture would not take place that year. This certainly isn’t criticizing my brothers and sisters in Christ, as I, too, had the same fervent expectation that such a pivotal year in the history of mankind would be the year of Messiah’s Rapture of the true church … those who have placed their personal trust in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus and have accepted him as personal Savior. I passionately hoped they would be right about the Rapture in 2000. And I was disappointed that they were wrong.

My exclusive reason for being persuaded that the Rapture would not take place in 2000 was based on what Scripture says. Which essentially is: when least expected. The Apostle Paul compares the event of the Rapture to: a thief in the night.

Although this analogy was mostly in the context of how the Lord’s return will affect unbelievers, it also applied to the expectation level of believers. Whereas Jesus and Paul (also Peter) encouraged believers to be ready and alert, waiting patiently and watching eagerly for the Day of the Lord, they also emphasized that it would happen at a time least expected—even for believers. This certainly relates to notable days, months, and (as we now know) to the year 2,000.

For example: many believers—both Jewish and Gentile—believe that the Rapture will occur on a major Biblical festival, such as Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, or Sukkot. Or perhaps Christmas or Easter or even Hanukkah! Non-Messianic observant Jews, who contend that Messiah’s arrival will be his first, also speculate that he will appear on a significant Holy Day.

Yes, it could be one of those days, but likely as not, it won’t be. Those days are too obvious!

In contrast to unbelievers who will be shocked at the Rapture and ensuing Tribulation, Paul compliments believers by saying that they: “…aren’t in the dark about these things … and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:4). However, not being surprised relates to the surety that the Lord will return. Intensified by the awesome privilege of knowing beyond doubt why the Rapture part of his return will take place. “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (Verse 9).

The anger referred to is none other than: “…then disaster will fall on them (unbelievers)” during the Tribulation, shortly after the Rapture takes place. (verse 3).

Believers not being surprised at the event of the Rapture is different than the Rapture occurring when least expected. Jesus said so himself: “You (talking to believers) also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:44, parenthesis mine).

In the last 50 years, the imminent return of Messiah Jesus so enthusiastically embraced by the early Church, has once again been the “talk of the town.” What God says will happen has always happened and will continue to unfold before our 21st century eyes. However, despite the clear evidence that hundreds of Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled, most unbelievers scoff at the idea, “that Jesus is coming again” (II Peter 3:4).

And, when they see the first part of his Second Coming (the Rapture) for themselves, many of those left behind will still mock. Good riddance; we’ve got the whole world to ourselves now.

The Imminent Return of Messiah Jesus (in Two Phases)

The term that Bible scholars, teachers, and students use most often to identify the return of Messiah Jesus is: Second Coming. Or: Second Advent.

In addition to coming and appear, Jesus also uses the term, return. “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13).

The Second Coming of Messiah Jesus is part of what Old Testament prophets referred to as the Day of the Lord.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way:

Jesus was the first to warn that his (second) coming would catch an unsuspecting world off guard. However, he also spoke of many things that would transpire before his powerful and glorious appearance (return) to earth. These events are revealed in both general and specific detail throughout Scripture, especially in the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, and Revelation.

For example: Messiah’s spectacular return to earth to do battle with the combined armies of the Antichrist and Kings of the East as recorded in Revelation Chapter 19. Which clearly doesn’t take place until after the entire chronological sequence of the Great Tribulation. With the obvious conclusion that his Second Coming to earth will not be at all unexpected and will be preceded by signs and wonders for all those left behind at the Rapture to see. With multiple opportunities (depending on how long they survive) to know beyond any doubt that the same Messiah who took believers to heaven before the carnage began would be returning to judge the world. Sadly, most of them will still reject the true Messiah in favor of the one vainly parading himself before the world as God.

Yet, both Jesus and Paul tell us that the Lord’s return will (also) come like a thief in the night, unexpected and without warning. The only possible way to accurately juxtapose what seems to be a paradox between unexpected and clearly expected is to fully understand that Jesus’s return is in two parts … two distinct phases.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Messiahs’ Return and the Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16. In which this subject was covered in detail.

In keeping with today’s article (title), we’re going to focus more on what Jesus, himself, said about his Second Coming. Identifying critical passages pertaining to the first part of his appearance (Rapture) in contrast to his second (final) physical return to the earth.

Which will help to better understand that the imminent aspect of Jesus’s Imminent Return, concerns the Rapture phase of his Second Coming … only for believers. Whereas, the return part applies to his glorious appearance to the entire world, an immediate prelude to his victorious conquest of Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and rebellious humanity that had spurned the true and living God and His Messiah. This second phase comes with myriad events preceding his actual return to earth, unfolding with prophetic precision just like Scripture said they would.

Don’t be confused or even puzzled over this phenomenal two-part event; one at the beginning and the other at the end of seven years of the last days of the end times.

In fact, it is one of the four epic events of God’s interaction with humanity, all of which involve two parts or phases. Four (and its multiples … forty, four-hundred) is one of those divinely significant numbers found in both natural and supernatural conditions throughout human history.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Countdown to Armageddon … End of the Fourth 400-Year Era (Posted 7-29-17). The excerpt, in turn, was taken from a prior article, Four Locusts Kingdoms! (8-22-15). In italics:

Several numbers in the Bible bear a great deal of meaning … we are going to see how the number four relates to and explains a huge portion of Israel’s history; in the context of God’s providential direction for the Jews and their interaction with mighty Gentile nations.

The number four derives its significance from God’s creative work especially pertaining to the earth, including God’s dealings with and disposition (rise and fall destiny) of nations. It is the number of wholeness, totality, entirety, and summation. It is a number concept that would be completely incomplete if we eliminated just one of the component parts of any given foursome.

If we want to move from one place to another, we must go forward, backward, left or right. Up or down doesn’t count; if we go beneath or above the earth, we must then travel in one of four directions.

…There are four seasons, four primary lunar phases, and four sides to what is probably the most perfect geometric object we can think of … a square. And many more fours:

I went on to list fourteen more fours prominently displayed in Scripture and the universe, including one that you may not have thought about…. Which is, as quoted from Four Locusts Kingdoms:

“Each day has four component parts: Seconds, minutes, hours, and day. One day is cyclical … it begins, ends, and starts all over again. Weeks, months, and years are linear, continuous.”

In addition to the two-part Imminent Return of Messiah Jesus, the other three grand Biblical events also come in pairs—each of which is typified by and reflected in the juxtaposition between the Covenant of the Law (Old Testament) and the Covenant of Grace (New Testament).

They are:

God’s Two-Part Plan for Humanity: I’ve discussed these panoramic plans at varying lengths in prior articles. They are: (1) Selection of Abraham to father the Jewish race. With Israel as the perpetual Promised Land and Jerusalem as its eternal capital for Abraham’s descendants. Through the Jews would come the Messiah, which is part two of God’s magnificent design for humanity. (2) Messiah Jesus’s redemptive sacrificial death for the sins of all who believe and receive him as personal Savior. Followed by his astonishing resurrection that will (soon) enable believers to also be resurrected with the same glorified body in which Jesus arose.

God’s Discipline of Israel / Two Exiles and Twice Return of Jews: (1) Israel’s ten northern tribes conquered by Assyria, then the two southern tribes by Babylon; for their disobedience to and abandonment of the Lord. The southern tribes (remnant) returned to Israel after exile to Babylon, but lasted only until: (2) Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the second Temple, which began a far lengthier exile of Jews to the four corners of the earth. This was a direct result of God’s people as a nation rejecting their Messiah, the one who brought the New Covenant to them and the whole world. See Eye of Prophecy article: Double Israel’s Trouble and Double Her Blessings! (8-13-16).

Messiah’s First and Second Advent: (1) Jesus of Nazareth born of a Virgin at the appointed time that changed the very keeping of time (B.C. to A.D.). He came 2,000 years ago as, “…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). (2) He will return as, “…the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne…” (Revelation 5:5). Each advent is prophesied several times in the Scriptures. In Isaiah Chapter 9, both events are proclaimed in just two verses. Beginning with: “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…” (Verses 6-7a).

Each of these two-part plans/events correlate with the other. They prophetically and existentially validate the profound observation that:

And now to look more closely at the fourth of these (two-part) monumental milestones.

Messiah’s Rapture of Believers / Followed Seven Years Later by His Return to Earth

(1) The Rapture

This phenomenal event precedes the even more spectacular physical return of Christ; thus, it is separate from his return. The Rapture is the catalyst of, but not his actual return to rescue Israel by conquering her enemies; thereby, saving the entire world from annihilation. The Rapture is the trigger-point of the Great Tribulation, which includes God’s wrath poured out on the world, followed by Messiah’s Millennial Reign on earth from Jerusalem.

Let’s begin with Jesus’s direct disclosure to the Apostle Paul, one of the most well-known passages in the Bible.

However, to note that this wasn’t the first time Jesus had revealed something to Paul through direct communication with him. These divine encounters began when Paul saw and heard Jesus on the road to Damascus; a life-changing, destiny-altering meeting with the risen Messiah. Even changing his name from Saul (a die-hard Jewish Pharisee who persecuted Christians) to Paul—the greatest apologist for the Christian faith who has ever lived.

Another example (precedent) is found in Acts 18:9-10, when Jesus spoke to Paul in a vision. Saying, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you…”

Then later Jesus said: “…Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you much preach the Good News in Rome as well” (Acts 23:11).

Now, the famous passage which contains Paul’s first reference to the Rapture (he wrote I Thessalonians before I Corinthians). Notice that he begins by telling us this is a direct revelation from the Lord Jesus.

We tell you this directly from the Lord. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18, italics for emphasis).

Just a couple of brief comments concerning this passage:

First, “we” that begins the passage (as opposed to what would be the usual first person, “I”) refers to Paul and the Lord together. Secondly, to make the major distinction between the Rapture and the Return of Christ, Paul specifies that all believers will meet the Lord in the air. Messiah Jesus does not come down to earth. That will take place (about seven years later) when he physically returns to end the Great Tribulation.

Subsequently in I Thessalonians Chapter 5 (verses 2 & 10), Paul uses the term return … of the Lord. Return (also used by Jesus) is an all-purpose description that incorporates both phases of Jesus’s Second Coming or Imminent Return. Nonetheless, we can distinguish between the two and determine which part of Messiah’s return is being described, by whether Jesus and Paul are attaching the word (return) to that which will take place unexpectantly … imminently, meaning The Rapture. Contrasted to his physical return that will take place only after the succession of events that constitute the Tribulation.

In other words, the purpose (timing) of these two phases of return is identified and characterized by HOW Jesus will appear and to whom.

A feasible analogy could be as follows:

A press release from the United States Executive Staff announces that the President is scheduled for a breakthrough engagement with the leaders of several European countries. This sojourn in Europe will last seven days, then he will return to the White House. However, before the seven-day period begins, the President will make a stop in Great Britain to personally arrange with England’s Prime Minister the send-off of the United States ambassador to a brand-new home on an island paradise for a long-anticipated rest (retirement from the affairs of this world).

The transfer of the ambassador was imminent, but the exact day or hour would not be announced. This to accommodate the flexibility of the President’s schedule. Also, for the world at large to focus on the critical seven-day period during which time the development of ominous world events would be discussed. Though the European leaders intensely disliked not knowing when the President’s imminent trip to Great Britain would take place, the President would consent to meet with those leaders who would agree to drop what they’re doing and welcome him.

(Note: Jesus’s parables of the Ten Bridesmaids and the Master and three servants in Matthew 25:1-30, part of his Mount Olivet end-times discourse, relate primarily to the time between Messiah’s First and Second Advents. But they also pertain to the time (second-chance for those left behind) between the Rapture and physical return of Christ to earth. They’re obviously much better analogies than mine!)

My analogy is limited but you can you see that the President’s trip is distinctly divided into two parts: one unannounced, the other itinerary known to the entire world, including the fact that the President would return in seven days. So it will be between the imminent Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation, the end of which will come when the Son of Man returns to the earth (His white house will be the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem!).

The other well-known passage of the Rapture written by Paul is preceded by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to Paul, in which the fact of the resurrection and the spiritual bodies of resurrected believers is explained. See I Corinthians 15:12-50.

Then, however, Paul abruptly shifts the narrative to precisely what will happen to cause this tremendous transformation of believer’s bodies (dead and living) to our immortal spiritual bodies. Once again, pay special attention to the beginning of this passage, as it, too, confirms that this revelation came directly from the Lord.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation itself, not the entire sequence of the Rapture as presented in I Thessalonians) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown…. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:51-53, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

(For the detailed sequence and proposed time-lapse of the entire Rapture, please see Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World (Published 4-22-17).

This secret or mystery was directly from the Lord, just like Jesus revealed a mystery to John in Revelation 1:20, and an angel of the Lord to John in Revelation 17:7-8.

This was Jesus’s second direct revelation to Paul concerning the Rapture, one that expanded on the first disclosure in I Thessalonians 4.

In the first revelation, Paul tells us, “…that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectantly, like a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2). That “day” is the day when the Rapture will take place … without warning, just like a thief would strike.

Followed soon by the onset of the Great Tribulation, with Paul graphically portraying the world’s lifestyle and condition at the time. “When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor paints begin. And there will be no escape” (Verse 3).

Jesus uses the same kind of illustrative warning with his analogy to God’s first world-wide judgment of the Great Flood. We know that he’s referring specifically to the Rapture phase of his return as he prefaces his comparison by one of the four statements that he makes … no one knows the day or hour of his return.

One of those four is as follows:

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Noah entering the ark is a parallel to the Rapture. At that point he and his family were safe from what was about to happen.

By the time the horrific Tribulation nears an end—with all the shocking plagues, some man-made, others inflicted by God himself—no one is going to be surprised. Especially during the last half of the Tribulation, nearly everyone will have fully realized what was happening and why. Sadly, most will still not repent and turn to the Lord.

However, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of revelry and carefree things going on. Not with millions of people dying all over the earth on a regular basis. The terrible turmoil of the Tribulation won’t end until Messiah Jesus returns to the earth to set things right. The partying referred to by Jesus is prior to the Rapture, which will precipitate the Tribulation.

The above verses are followed immediately by another startling statement from Jesus, which continues his reference to the Rapture, confirming that it will be completely unexpected. An explanation affirming that believers will be taken from the earth and unbelievers will be left behind at the Rapture. Just like Noah and his family and Lot and his family were taken out of harm’s way and saved from God’s wrath, so will believers taken at the Rapture be spared from God’s final judgment of the earth.

Said Jesus: “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left” (Matthew 24:40-41).

The context is crystal clear: This could only happen at the Rapture, as the taking is abrupt … without warning, at any time. As opposed to the ensuing Tribulation that will affect only those who are “left” (behind) to experience seven-years of calamities that will literally shake the world to its very core.

(2) Part Two: The Second Coming of Jesus Personally to the Earth

Other than the astonishingly abrupt reappearance of the Antichrist (Nero) at the outset of the Tribulation, there’s nothing unscheduled during the Tribulation itself. As thoroughly and sequentially (the twenty-one plagues) recorded in the book of Revelation, with the resulting conclusion that they come with plenty of warning (2,000 years’ worth) in contrast to the unexpected Rapture of which no one knows the day or hour. In fact, anyone left behind at the Rapture who cares to read the seven seal, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments of Revelation, will know exactly which one is coming next. And WHO is coming afterward!

Sometimes specific—like the moon turning to blood—but usually in more general terms (composite effect) the catastrophes of the Tribulation also are prophesied by Old Testament prophets. And, by Jesus, himself in Matthew 24:4-29, in which he is describing the Tribulation, not the Rapture. His words about the Rapture come later, some of which we’ve already covered.

[*Note: Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 13) also records Jesus’s Mount of Olives discourse. As does Luke’s Gospel, except that Luke discloses one additional feature. That of Jesus including the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (which took place in 70 A.D.) as a (parenthetical) prelude to the Great Tribulation. Specifically in the context of Gentile domination of the Jews until the last days (during the birth pains immediately preceding his return). Referring to the Roman conquest of Israel/Jerusalem, Jesus says: “They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end” (Luke 21:24). (See Eye of Prophecy article: Times of & Fullness of the Gentiles … What Do They Mean? Posted 4-21-18]

In conclusion to what he calls, “greater anguish than at any time since the world began” and later in the chapter, “the anguish of those days” (Matthew 24:21 & 29, respectively), listen to Jesus’s dramatic description of his actual return, which is accompanied by a sign in the heavens.

“And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Thus, there is a clear time-lapse differential between the Rapture and Messiah’s return to the earth.

See Revelation 19:11-21 for a stunning account of Jesus’s final descent to the earth. There’s more: We believers will be with him, also descending to the earth. We’re not going up, we’re coming back down—after seven years of (blissful) waiting in heaven for this glorious moment.

Here is how I summarized it in Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & the Rapture (Same or Separate Events?)

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

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

Things to Ponder

Indeed, Jesus had much to say about the Rapture.

In fact: He is the ONLY ONE to directly reveal the unfolding of this awesome event.

Am I saying that the Apostle Paul didn’t tell us point-blank about the Rapture?

Answer: Yes, I am saying that!

With, however, the qualification that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God through the Holy Spirit as Paul and Peter tell us (II Timothy 3:16 & II Peter 1:20-21, respectively). But that applies primarily to the specific writing (recording) of the Word of God as a Biblical whole. The Holy Spirit brought to remembrance and directed the thoughts and words of the actual composition of Scripture through individual writing styles of the various authors.

God proclaimed his Word to mankind through prophets, apostles, and angels … through dreams and visions and actual appearances. With much of Scripture containing the direct spoken words of God the Father and God the Son—Messiah Jesus.

“Thus, saith the Lord,” is a frequent expression of and representation by the Lord regarding direct verbal or visionary revelations to people. This is not a superior means of disclosing God’s truth. It’s just different; a more direct way than the Holy Spirit guiding and motivating the recording of these revelations and historical facts of people, places and events. A Holy Spirit inspired synthesis of, for example, the three parts of redemption—justification, sanctification, glorification—for all those who accept God’s atoning salvation through His Son, as presented in the New Testament epistles.

All Scripture is intrinsically equal in importance and impact. But when we read words spoken directly by God and His Son, we get a first-hand, up close and personal appreciation of the Lord’s direct involvement in and concern for the eternal life or eternal death of every human being. From the beginning God gave us the freedom to choose between the two and tells us in his own words why the choice will determine our eternal destiny.

Said Jesus:

And then the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the prophets and apostles to fuse God’s (Father and Son) powerful and precious Words of light, life, and truth into sound doctrine.

The significance of the mysterious Rapture being revealed directly by Messiah Jesus himself reinforces the absolute truth that God’s plan of salvation revolves around and is found in what He did for us that we could not do for ourselves. Beginning with his First Advent to sacrificially die for our sins, the efficacy of which was validated by his resurrection from the dead.

Culminating in his Second Advent that begins with the Rapture, in which he will resurrect dead believers in Christ and transfigure the bodies of all believers—dead and alive—into a spiritual body equipped to live forever in heaven.

“We tell you this directly from the Lord…” (I Thessalonians 4:15).

“So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

Then: The Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Antichrist / A “Back To The Future” Prophecy

What does the past have to do with the future Antichrist?

After all, isn’t the Antichrist a component of end-times prophecy that includes the Rapture; his appearance at the outset of the seven-year Tribulation; defeat at Armageddon by the true Messiah; then thrown into the Lake of Fire? Don’t the predictions about his arrival as found in Daniel 7, 9, and 11; Zechariah 11; II Thessalonians 2; Revelation 11, 13, 16, 17, & 19 apply to the future, by the very definition of that which is prophetic?

Yes and no.

Webster’s Dictionary defines prophecy (noun) as: “the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose; an inspired utterance of a prophet; a prediction of something to come.”

That definition accurately reflects the dual dynamic of Biblical prophecies: (1) Forthtelling—telling it like it is in the context of blessings for trusting and obeying the Lord and (contrasted to) warnings for distrust and disobedience. (2) Foretelling the future.

Scripture contains an abundance of both.

The verb form prophesy (prophesying or prophesied) is similar, but with more of an emphasis on: “to make a prediction.”

Old Testament prophets and John, the prophet of Revelation, certainly prophesied the future, but they also professed and refreshed God’s sovereign plan for the present and past.

God is timeless; therefore, the past, present, and future are simultaneous to him. For humanity, time is linear … unfolding one moment to the next. In the context of future tense prophecies, a reminder of the present and past was sometimes included as a backdrop to better understand the full scope of the prophesied event. A more panoramic perspective as it were.

Will the Antichrist (logically) be a modern-day man? If so, then no one would know anything about his pre-Antichrist life until he becomes Antichrist. But what if Bible prophecies about this evil man also speak of him in the past tense before he appears on the Tribulation scene? If they do, then he wouldn’t be born in the Omega (final) generation of the last days … The Day of the Lord.

Borrowing the title of the blockbuster movie, fasten your prophetic seat belt as we ride the high-octane vehicle of Biblical prophecy and go Back to the Future.

Prophecies Applying to Select People

There are only a handful of Biblical prophecies that apply directly to individuals chosen by God in advance for an express reason to accomplish His plans for Israel and all humanity. For example: Samson … to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines; John the Baptist … to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

For a few, the Lord instructed the parent(s) to give the child a name that God had selected, e.g. Ishmael, Isaac, John (the Baptist), and Jesus.

God revealed the name of Cyrus to the prophet Isaiah, as the ruler who would issue a decree for the Jews to return from Babylonian captivity and rebuild the Temple (Isaiah 44 & 45). This was some 150 years before the Persian King Cyrus was born and named!

By far, the prophets foretold of the Messiah more than any other person, with several titles ascribed to him such as Prince of Peace and Immanuel. Yet, it was not until the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, when Messiah would be given his Incarnate name of Jesus. It was an awesome announcement that would propel into motion God’s magnificent plan of redemption—the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (Chapter 31).

Said Gabriel to Mary: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever. His Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:31-33).

Then later to Joseph—who had decided to break his engagement with Mary because of her “unfaithfulness” to him—an angel explained what really had happened and what Joseph must do.

“…Joseph, son of David … do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us’” (Matthew 1:20-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14).

The prophecy of Messiah Jesus given to Joseph relates to God’s plan of redemption—to the Jew first, but also to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16). Concerning Mary, the prediction pertains to Jesus’s rule and reign over the Kingdom of God on earth … fulfilled upon his glorious return.

There’s another feature of Messianic predictions fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth that is unique in the annals of prophecy. At that time, he was the only person prophesied who had a past long before he arrived on the earth as the Messiah. Several passages in Scripture testify to this. We’ll look at just two: one in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past” (Micah 5:2).

Then, the Jewish Apostle John tells us that Jesus’s existence stretched beyond even the distant past.

Jesus existed with his Father (and the Holy Spirit) before time began. That’s as far back as anyone can be! But, then, Jesus is also God.

The Prophecy of One Other Man Who Also Had A Past

One other prophesied person in Scripture also has a past (tense). No suspense here, as he (his designation) is identified in the title of this week’s Eye of Prophecy article. It is this past that will enable him to mesmerize billions left behind at the Rapture; to be worshiped as Christ even though he is Anti-Christ.

He is also referred to as the little horn (Daniel 7); prince/ruler (Daniel 9); king (Daniel 7, Revelation 17); worthless shepherd (Zechariah 11); man of lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2); the beast (Revelation … all chapters previous cited). Each of these titles relate to specific things this depraved man would do; even more importantly, when he would do them. As Roman Emperor from 54 – 68 A.D; then as the Antichrist beast who returns from the Abyss (Revelation 17) at the commencement of the Great Tribulation.

Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: A Beast by Any Name…. Posted 3-14, 3-21, & 3-28-15.

Those articles provide extensive Biblical and other historical evidence and rationale to show that each of the labels assigned to Antichrist (the most common reference to this evil man) is for a special reason. Not the least of which is to ascertain his identity, which is also to understand that he had a past long before his (short) future will begin again in the (near) future.

No secret here either, as my second book, Out of the Abyss along with many of the 54 Eye of Prophecy articles (to date) in the category of Antichrist, document in detail. The Antichrist is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero.

The reason for the prevailing presumption (logical and reasonable, but not what the Bible is telling us) that the Antichrist will be a modern-day born man is because we’ve missed this very fact: He has a past. One that was already past tense when the book of Revelation was written!

When he comes up out of the Abyss and arrives on the scene at the outset of the Tribulation, it will NOT be his first appearance on earth.

However, Nero’s past is nothing like the true Messiah, i.e. from the very beginning of time.

Obviously, the appellation of Antichrist (found only in I John) means the exact opposite of Christ. He will claim to be both Messiah and God when he reappears from the Abyss. Just like he declared during his 14-year reign as the fifth Roman Emperor—designating himself as both God and Savior. When, in fact, he is everything that Messiah Jesus isn’t: evil, ruthless, deceitful, ungodly, unholy, lawless, and other characteristics of all that is “anti” Christ.

Antichrist is also a term and characteristic that signifies one who will mimic the true Messiah, but in a cruel counterfeit way. In a way that will be allowed by God because that is what/who most people left behind at the Rapture will want. They want a messiah, but not the Messiah. (See Eye of Prophecy article, The World Wants A Messiah … But It Needs (The) Messiah. Published 1-28-17).

I, too, was (once) among those mainstream Bible scholars, teachers, and students who subscribed to a modern-day born Antichrist. What or who else could he be? Although I’ve studied Biblical prophecy for several decades, it wasn’t until November 2008 that the Lord gave me some mind boggling insight. I wrote about the details of this discernment in Out of the Abyss, published February 2011.

This disclosure (I call it that because it was a dramatic departure from contemporary conceptions about the Antichrist) was staggering in its implication.

It was a passage in Revelation Chapter 17 that riveted my attention, that launched my journey into a deeper study of all other passages on the Antichrist. As captioned on the back cover of Out of the Abyss:

On an unforgettable voyage to the ancient Roman world, to the very origin and lair of the beast, to the first-century church, to the Abyss and back again, to the pre-emptive death and eternal destruction of Antichrist, to the mesmerizing visions of John, Daniel, and Zechariah, and to high-level heavenly counsels. Out of the Abyss will expose and declassify that which has been concealed and classified: the secret of the beast presumed to be confidential until the body of Christ is taken from the earth.

The Book of Revelation

Bible teachers, students, and commentators who are familiar with the book of Revelation to some extent or another, easily recognize that the first three chapters of Revelation are a present tense record of what John witnessed. In real-time he saw the majestic risen Christ, who told him what to write to the seven churches—all of which existed at that time in John’s life.

However, Revelation Chapter 4 begins with: “…Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” Instantly, John was taken to heaven “in the Spirit” (Revelation 4:1-2).

Without doubt, nearly all of what John heard and saw thereafter would take place in the future, which is still our (soon to come) future nearly 2,000 years later. Please see Eye of Prophecy article, End of the World Events … In Chronological Order! (Posted 2-25-17). Also, Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose (11-14-17).

But not everything that John saw from then on was exclusively future. As previously indicated, some Biblical predictions include past and present conditions for clearer context and better comprehension of what was to come.

For example, Revelation 12:1: John states, “Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance…” Yet, the first part of what he saw included images that represented what had already taken place, i.e. out of Israel the birth of the Jewish Messiah just a few decades earlier; also, Satan and one-third of the angels cast out of heaven (in ancient times).

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, A Mysterious Sign in Virgo … What Does It Mean? (9-13-17). Which among other things, examines Revelation 12 in more detail.

Another partly past tense passage is Revelation Chapter 18, which describes the astonishing annihilation of Babylon (Rome). As a build-up to this future catastrophe, much of the chapter depicts Rome’s notorious past and present, which obviously included the 1st century in which Revelation was written … when the Roman Empire was arguably at its peak. But also, a back to the future panorama of Rome (the woman) morphing from a secular empire to a religious one. Summarized by: “For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds” (Revelation 18:5).

Three of a few Eye of Prophecy articles on that subject are: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17); Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17); Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17). Posted 5-26, 6-2, & 6-9-18, as a trilogy.

(The Vatican in Rome)

A little later, we’ll examine the past tense verses of Revelation 17, which will help refine and even revise the otherwise reasonable assumption that the Antichrist must be a modern-day born man.

We need to wrap our minds around another highly significant feature of Revelation. One that is obvious, but one that we tend to neglect (not think about) because everything from Revelation 4 onward is viewed from the perspective of being exclusively future.

We need to remember that John saw all these visions in the PRESENT TENSE; on the Isle of Patmos on the Lord’s Day—Sunday. Most of what John sees concerns the (still future) Day of the Lord, particularly what will take place during the Great Tribulation and thereafter. If the present tense reality of John’s visions is overlooked, then it’s easy to forget that some of what he sees has already happened. This is especially true for Revelation 17 after his 2nd observation of the beast; the angel does something different after this vision. He tells John, “…I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits” (Revelation 17:7).

The main reason that the angel called John’s second vision of the beast a mystery (this time with a woman sitting on the beast) is because the beast, in fact, was past tense—in addition to the future tense of the Antichrist during the Tribulation. Unless the angel had explained the reality of the beast’s past, we wouldn’t be able to accurately identify the beast and his origin (which the angel challenges us to do in Revelation 13:18 and again in Revelation 17:9).

Revelation Chapter 13

From books, articles and commentaries I’ve read, and messages heard about the Antichrist beast, Revelation 13 is the passage referred to and discussed most often. In and of itself, there’s obviously nothing wrong with this.

However, a problem arises when we don’t carefully correlate Revelation 13 with ALL other passages on the Antichrist, especially Revelation 17. Then, to compare these Scriptural references to first century church and secular history. Especially that of the Roman Empire and the Caesars—the seven heads of Revelation 13 & 17 who are seven kings just as Revelation 17 says they are. That and three misapplications that many (including myself in the past) mistakenly make in Revelation 13.

(1) Misperceived Profile of the Antichrist:

The primary premise is that Antichrist will attract a world-wide following because he is a political, economic, and military genius. Yet, that conclusion is reached via a circular argument. Which is: he must be a genius (no one else could do what he will do) because he’s able to galvanize global allegiance to himself. But that is not how Scripture profiles him nor the Biblical reason why so many will follow him. In Daniel 7 & 11 and Revelation 13, we are told that he is a tyrant who comes out with both barrels blazing blasphemies against God.

For example, neither Adolph Hitler nor Antiochus Epiphanes IV (the Biblical prototype forerunner of Antichrist … Daniel 11) were considered genius as such. Both were cunning and charismatically compelling because of their oratory and boasting, but they weren’t necessarily brilliant. Hitler not only ill-advisedly assumed direct logistical command of the Third Reich armed forces, he made several strategic blunders to the dismay of some authentically intelligent German generals.

(Hitler and some of his generals … He often wore a military-style hat)

However, nowhere in Scripture do we find a direct or even indirect description of the Antichrist as a great orator, a consummate politician, a brilliant military strategist, or even a charismatic leader. A despotic boastful blasphemer of God, yes.

In fact, the subsequent miracles that will compel many to take the mark of the beast or his name on their forehead or right hand will be performed by the False Prophet, not Antichrist (Revelation 13:11-16). It’s also quite evident in that passage that the False Prophet does most of the speaking for the beast.

There is one and only one reason (will be considered a miracle) that billions left behind at the Rapture will worship the Antichrist. I’ve commented on this in some prior articles and in Out of the Abyss.

The reason is plainly stated: “I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshiped the dragon (Satan) for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’” (Revelation 13:3-4).

How can anyone (those who may want to oppose the beast) fight or kill someone who has already been killed and come back to life?! Not three days after he was died, but 2,000 years later!

There is no other reason given for this sudden world-wide devotion to a man many will believe is both God and Messiah. Or at least a messiah who will usher in a utopia.

(2) Misunderstood Time of Antichrist’s Death:

The prevalent presumption is that Antichrist will be killed during (most say half-way through) the Tribulation, then come back to life. Again, this stems from portrayal of the Antichrist as contemporary man born a few decades before the Rapture will take place.

First, a reminder that it is Jesus, himself, who kills the man of lawlessness. Only the Apostle Paul refers to him by that term.

“Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:8).

It’s important to know that the beast will be killed as the man of lawlessness. To explain that, I’ll refer to an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss. As follows (in italics):

Expressing it another way: Jesus did not kill the beast; he killed the man of lawlessness. Although the man of lawlessness and the beast are one and the same (Nero), this is not a contradiction. Why … because the Holy Spirit, through Paul, is telling us when the beast would be killed. The beast would be killed by Christ while the beast was the man of lawlessness, before he reappeared as the beast! As the beast, Nero will be cast into the Lake of Fire, alive. (Note: Lake of Fire is fulfillment of the second part of II Thessalonians 2:8).

According to the prevailing view, the Antichrist is murdered like millions of people have been murdered in the course of history. Many scholars speculate that he is killed at the hand(s) of a Jew, or maybe a member of Antichrist’s inner circle, or whomever. This same impression maintains that when he comes back from the dead, Antichrist is completely possessed by Satan, displays his true colors, begins his blasphemy against God, and leads the world to total destruction.

Again, I repeat: It’s the Lord who slays this man of lawlessness. And again, I would ask: What reason would the Lord have in killing Antichrist at this point, or any point in the beast’s tribulation reign? Why wouldn’t the beast simply be allowed to run his seven-year antichrist course?

…Of equal significance: If, in fact, a modern-day Antichrist is murdered during the seven-year tribulation, why would Jesus imprison him in the Abyss? Why wouldn’t the man follow the path of all the unsaved before him and travel to hell? (Page 206).

The Lord hadn’t revealed to Paul that the man of lawlessness would later be called Antichrist and beast. Those labels came after Paul died.

(Depiction of the Apostle Peter crucified upside down. The Apostle Paul was beheaded. Both executions took place during Nero’s reign)

In Out of the Abyss and a couple of Eye of Prophecy articles, I explain why Jesus killed the man of lawlessness (Nero) before John’s visions even took place. Time/space does not permit elaboration in this week’s article.

In Revelation 13, John sees (first vision of the beast) the beast rising from the sea, which is where the Abyss is located. The very next thing he observes is the deadly wound that had been healed, which generated world-wide awe. He says nothing about the beast being killed during the vision (meaning during the Tribulation).

When John first saw the beast, its deadly wound had already been healed. I’m convinced that if the beast was killed after he (re)appeared on the Tribulation scene, the Lord would have revealed this to John. Just like John describes the world’s reaction of glee over the death of the two witnesses (Revelation 11); he certainly would have seen and recorded the world mourning over the beast’s death. If that is, the beast dies during the Tribulation—which he won’t.

The sequence of events in Revelation 13 and the compelling rationale presented above makes for a strong argument that the beast is not killed during his Tribulation tenure. However, Revelation 17 provides a stronger case, one that complements Chapter 13 and greatly enhances our understanding that the beast died long before he reappears shortly after the Rapture. Indeed, one that is watertight and makes any deductive reasoning that the beast will not be killed during the era of the Tribulation a moot point. We’ll get to Revelation 17 in a moment.

(3) Presupposition That Antichrist’s Identity Can Only Be Known After the Rapture:

This widely disseminated hypothesis has been stated in several ways. Such as: “If you think you know the identity of the Antichrist, then (unfortunately) you have missed the Rapture.”

This conjecture is tendered despite the crystal-clear statement of the angel to John, which was more in the form of a stimulating challenge … albeit one that required a healthy dose of wisdom.

“Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666 (six hundred and sixty-six)” (Revelation 13:18, parenthesis mine).

As found in other translations, it reads (as directly from the Greek): six hundred, sixty-six. Which is the key to solving the number of the beast.

If first century Christians and all believers right up to the Rapture were not meant to know the identity of the Antichrist, then the angel would have made this clear to John. If his identity couldn’t or shouldn’t be known until after the Rapture, then why urge the early Church and subsequent believers to exercise wisdom and find out? Why even mention the number of the beast, let alone stipulating that it could be solved? Soon after the Rapture, everyone would know anyway.

In fact, near the end of Revelation the angel told John: not to seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near (Revelation 22:10). Contrasted to Daniel’s prophecies that couldn’t be fully understood until Messiah arrived, followed by more end-times prophecies, many of which came from Jesus, himself. Such as:

Thus, we are meant to understand the essentials of Revelation, INCLUDING the identity of the Antichrist beast. In Revelation 13, the specific criterion was the number of the beast. It just so happens that Nero’s name matches Hebrew gematria (that’s how Jews counted back then) of Nero’s name in Greek—the language of which the New Testament is written. And, as indicated, there are other persuasive passages in Scripture to match Nero to the ruler prophesied by Daniel, the man of lawlessness described by Paul, and certainly the beast of Revelation—whose (Tribulation) future is intricately linked to his past tense existence in a back to the future phenomenon.

Now let’s look at the passage that rocked my understanding, one that prompted a refitting of the prophetic puzzle concerning the Antichrist and a handful of other prophecies. However, with my restated respectful acknowledgment of other prophecy scholars who have skillfully and accurately assembled most of the prophetic puzzle; but not all pieces—including those pertaining to Antichrist. Not what he will do upon his reappearance, for that is understood by most students of prophecy. Rather, who he is. AND, who he was.

Revelation Chapter 17

John had just witnessed his (2nd) vision of the beast, along with the first introduction to the woman. Once again of paramount importance: we need to realize that John’s vision is over … ended. He’s already seen the beast and (this time) the angel tells John not to be so amazed, because the mystery of the beast (and the woman) would be explained to him.

“Why are you so amazed? the angel asked. 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, at any time) come up out of the bottomless pit (Abyss) and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:7-8, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Please read again just the first set of italicized words, then I’ll ask you a couple of easy questions.

Question: When is the now of the verse?

If you’ve never thought about it before, now you know the obvious answer. The now is right then and there at that precise point in time in the first-century A.D. The wording is unambiguous and the meaning irrefutable: The beast had already lived and died! Once alive but isn’t now.

The life and death of the beast also had to be in the first century, not long before John saw the visions recorded in Revelation. Which is confirmed by more of the mystery unveiled by the angel.

To wit: “This calls for a mind with understanding (same challenge as in Revelation 13): The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills (of Rome) where the woman rules. They also represent seven kings (a totally different Greek word than kingdoms). Five kings have already fallen (died), the sixth now reigns (at that very time when John saw the vision), and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief (all seven kings were Roman Emperors). The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer (more validation that the beast is past tense), is the eighth king. He is like (Greek word is ek, meaning of, out of, from, one of, like) the other seven…” (Revelation 17:9-10, parenthesis mine for additional commentary).

What had John witnessed? Answer: He had prophetically witnessed the same thing those left-behind at the Rapture will see and be utterly amazed at (still in the future … beginning of the Tribulation).

What will amaze them? Answer: the reappearance of this beast (Antichrist) who had (already) died. Or, as phrased in Revelation 13: they will marvel at the miracle of the beast whose fatal wound had been healed.

It is a back to the future spectacle that will mesmerize the world’s attention and capture their loyalty like no other since the resurrection of the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Summary

Once a secret is revealed, it is no longer a secret. When the angel explained the mystery of John’s second vision of the beast, it would clarify and confirm John’s first vision; the beast was one of the seven heads, also the composite beast (man) as a whole. Also, to dispel any doubt as to when the fatal wound was inflicted. The solved mystery would provide insight to the very origin of the beast—one that also corroborates Daniel’s disclosure that the little horn (Antichrist) comes directly from the fourth Gentile Kingdom—the Roman Empire.

Not from a (7th kingdom) Revived Roman Empire, because there is no such empire identified in Scripture.

I repeat for emphasis: no such kingdom because there are only four Gentile kingdoms designated by Daniel—known to be Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The kings of Revelation are just that: kings … seven Roman Caesars. Of which Nero was one of the five who had died before John saw him in the symbolic form of a beast. The ten kingdoms are those that belong to the ten kings in existence during the Tribulation; they will yield their kingdoms to the beast who reappears from the Abyss. Thus, the past tense (seven heads) and future tense (ten horns) unveiling of the mystery.

For sheer emphasis, here is an excerpt from the last portion of Out of the Abyss (in italics):

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

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

Things to Ponder

As said before, I believe that the longer-term purpose and benefit of identifying (correctly) the Antichrist is for those who will have missed the Rapture. That some left behind will quickly realize the awesome accuracy of God’s Word the Bible. That there will be some unbelievers who will not be so amazed at the reappearance of the beast who had died long ago.

Just like John’s amazement ended when the angel revealed to him the mystery of the beast’s and woman’s identity, without naming names to protect believers in the first century from even more Roman retaliation. The names are: Nero and Rome, the beast and the woman, respectively.

Also, for believers and unbelievers alive now. For those of us whose loved ones still have not decided to believe and receive Messiah Jesus as personal Savior. With love and concern, we eagerly want them to make that decision, NOW. So, they don’t have to experience the horror of the Great Tribulation. But if they are left behind, perhaps they won’t be so amazed at this evil man when he abruptly reappears from the Abyss.

Instead, they will choose the true Messiah, Jesus … even on pain of death.

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’

“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Now that will be truly amazing!

The Three Greatest Trials of All Time

Wars; rumors of war; natural and man-made disasters; political, entertainment, and holiday events; exceptional economic fluctuations; lifestyles of the rich and famous; personal milestones—all captivate our interest.

However, for sheer suspense concerning innocence or guilt, right or wrong, and even life or death decisions, hardly anything arrests our attention like a sensational trial that grips an entire nation … indeed, the whole world. Some of which have long-term repercussions.

In the United States, we’ve come to call some of these historical trials: “The Trial of the Century.” It doesn’t matter that, by definition, there can only be one trial of the (a) century. Any court drama that grabs national and sometimes international headlines can be granted that title.

We are mesmerized by high-profile trials because it’s not our fate that hangs in the balance. We even get to choose sides. We reach our own verdict of guilty or innocent and impose our own sentence on the accused, sometimes before the trial begins. Some rely on the facts; others on the personalities involved. Some people like loopholes, others do not. Some put themselves in the place of the accused, or a witness, or a jury member, or prosecutor, or defense attorney, or judge. What would we do and say?

Top 10 Trials of the 20th Century

That is the title of an article posted online at the website of History Lists. The list was not necessarily arranged according to the author’s opinion as to the historical rank of the trials, i.e. from ten to one in prominence. Some of these were:

  • The Scopes Monkey Trial (1925): Should evolution be taught in the public schools of Tennessee as opposed to Biblical creation? Evolution lost that battle. Nowadays in most public-school systems, the Biblical account of creation cannot be taught—only evolution.
  • The Rosenberg Trial (late 1940s): Husband/wife Julius & Ethel Rosenberg found guilty and executed (1953) for treason, i.e. espionage in passing secret documents on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The Rosenberg’s maintained their innocence; claiming that they were arrested and convicted because they were Jewish.
  • The Nuremberg Trials (1945-46): Twenty-two Nazi leaders such as Herman Goering and Rudolph Hess tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were acquitted; twelve found guilty and executed; seven convicted and sentence to life or lengthy imprisonment.
  • Lindbergh Kidnapping Trial (1932): 20-month old son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh kidnapped and murdered by Bruno Hauptmann. Although the title had been casually used before, this case was constantly referred to as, “The Trial of the Century.” Decades after Hauptmann was convicted and executed, legitimate questions arose as to his innocence.
  • O.J. Simpson Murder Trial (1995): Another trial with racial overtones. Many African-Americans wanted him to be acquitted even before the trial began. Americans were glued to this televised trial in the same fashion as a miniseries or a daily soap-opera. Hardly any other sensationalized trial generated such agony or ecstasy at the verdict.

Two trials of the 21st century also garnered international headlines: The Michael Jackson Trial of 2005. And Saddam Hussein’s capture and trial, 2004-2006.

(Charles Lindbergh & his son)

Top Ten Historical Trials That Shook the World

The above titled article authored by Matt Hayes and Igor Itkin, posted on 11-13-2012, can be found in the on-site location of ListVerse.com. The authors expanded the Trial of the Century concept to the top ten trials throughout history. However, this list ranks the ten trials, “that shook the world” in order of prestige, counting down from ten to the one most notable of all. These ten and dozens more can be found on other internet websites.

The authors cite a common denominator for all ten … that of an injustice against the accused. Whether these top ten were chosen because of that injustice or whether the outcome of the trials just happened to include an unjust verdict is difficult to ascertain. Yet one fact stands out: They did shake the very fabric of society at the time, with some of those repercussions continuing to our post-modern world.

Only six of them will be presented … each identified by its’ number rank.

Number Ten – Salem Witch Trials (1692): A few movies and T.V. programs have been aired and numerous books and articles have been written about this infamous trial.

Number Nine – Alfred Dreyfus Trial (1894): Many allege that anti-Semitism motivated the wrongful arrest, trial, and conviction of this Jewish official for alleged treason against France. Several years later, Dreyfus was exonerated on all charges.

Number Eight – Martin Luther’s Trial (1521): Charged with heresy, Luther was imprisoned and excommunicated. He escaped prison and remained in hiding for most of his life. His courage to confront the hierarchy of Roman Catholicism was the foundation of the Protestant Reformation back to the basic truths of the Christian message: Salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice alone … not by membership in or keeping of unbiblical sacraments of a church organization.

Number Three – Joan of Arc Trial (1431): Another notorious trial of heresy with the Catholic Church verdict of guilty and execution by burning her alive at the stake.

Number Two – Trial of Socrates (399 B.C.): Accusations of corrupting social and moral values.

Number One – Crucifixion Trial of Jesus Christ (around 30 A.D.): Whether a believer in Messiah Jesus or a religious or secular unbeliever, billions were and still are familiar with what is undeniably (in terms of both human and divine impact) the most famous trial of all time.

(Depiction of Martin Luther on trial)

Introduction to the Three Greatest Trials of All Time

The crucifixion of Messiah Jesus ended the first of the three greatest trials of the ages. The other two have not yet taken place. But they, too, will surpass all other court cases because, like the trial of Jesus, each of them directly involves God. Each one was prophesied in the Bible long before the occurrence. Each marks the end and then a new beginning of three epic periods of God’s providential interaction with humanity. They will determine the destiny of all nations and peoples.

The trial of Jesus marked the end of the Old Covenant of Law and beginning of the New Covenant Age of Grace. It is the only event in history in which God, himself, was on trial … literally, not symbolically. The very Son of God (Second Person of the Triune God) stood accused. In the next two monumental court hearings soon to come, many people will be on trial.

Class action trials, so to speak.

The second trial will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation just before the magnificent Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus begins. In fact, he will be the judge. The verdict of this trial will be imposed on nations of the earth which oppressed and persecuted Jews all over the earth during the final generation of the last days in which we are now living … particularly during the Tribulation period.

The third and final trial of all time will include all raised to life unbelievers, those who are the unforgiven. It will take place at the end of the Millennium … the trial to end all trials. For this will be the beginning of ETERNITY. A glorious timeless and trial-less existence in heaven and the New Jerusalem for all of God’s people.

First Trial: Arrest, Interrogation, Verdict, and Execution of Messiah Jesus

To say that the trial of Jesus Christ was unique (one of a kind) would be the understatement of “the century.” Of any century. Indeed, it was God on trial; for a radical reason with far-reaching, everlasting results.

With his illegitimate arrest, illegal trial, and unwarranted crucifixion, Jesus Christ not only stood trial for mankind; he also suffered the penalty of a sentence for every person who ever lived.

“For the wages of sin is death… (both physical and spiritual)” (Romans 6:23a, parenthesis mine).

However, a verdict that can be overturned by a once for all pardon of sin and guilt (spiritual death—eternal separation from God;) if we only believe and receive the one Person who took that sin and guilt for us … Messiah Jesus.

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

He is the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, the innocent for the guilty.

Here are some of the other remarkable differences in the trial of Jesus:

Predicted Hundreds of Years Before It Happened (In Parenthesis, O.T. & N.T. Passages)

The birth, life, death, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied dozens of times in the Old Testament. All fulfilled in decisive detail by Jesus of Nazareth. None more so than his trial—from the time he was arrested to when he arose from the grave.

Including but not limited to: rejection by his own people (Isaiah 53:3 … John 1:11); betrayal by a friend—one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (Psalm 41:9 … Mark 14:17-20); beaten viciously (Micah 5:1 … Mark 15:19); silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7 … Matthew 27:12-14); unjustly tried and condemned (Isaiah 53:8 … Matthew 27:1-2); nails driven into his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16 … Matthew 27:35); dice thrown for his garments (Psalm 22:18 … John 19:23-24); given vinegar and gall (Psalm 69:21 … John 19:28-29); buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9 … Luke 23:50-56). And of course, his resurrection (Psalm 16:10 … Luke 24:1-7, 47).

Prophesied by Jesus, Himself

As recorded in the Gospels, at least three times Jesus predicted his death at the hands of his enemies. How could he have known with any degree of certainty that this would happen, let alone with the details he gave, unless he was the divine Son of God? In the first of these, we read: “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things… He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead” (Luke 9:22).

By that time, Jesus’s disciples, as well as thousands of the common people and many of the religious leaders, had heard of or had seen first-hand his tremendous teaching and magnificent miracles. Many believed in Him. Yet most still would not accept him as the Messiah, the Son of God. Despite the irrefutable evidence, they chose not to believe. Jesus knew they would reject him, and he knew that the result of that rejection would cost him his life.

Yet, the prophetic announcement was just one of several distinctive features of Jesus’s trial.

Jesus’s Trial from Beginning to End Was Illegal

It’s one thing to accuse and try an innocent person. Sadly, that happens. Even worse: when the innocent is found guilty for any number of reasons, such as inaccurate testimony—either deliberate or inadvertent. In that regard Jesus’s trial was not unique.

However, it’s a seriously different matter when the trial itself is illegal.

Jesus was tried in the middle of the night which was a violation of Jewish law. The Jewish Sanhedrin and its High Priest Caiaphas knew this. They also knew that for serious charges an accused must be brought to the High Council’s regular chambers; they tried Jesus in Caiaphas’ home.

(Jesus and the Sanhedrin, from the movie Jesus of Nazareth)

False witnesses were produced. Normally Jewish trials involved a sophisticated protocol of screening witnesses to assure that true justice would prevail. Nor was a prisoner to be struck or physically assaulted during a trial. In short, the entire trial was conducted surreptitiously without due process, a violation of the Law of Moses that the Jewish officials were so keen to enforce.

Because the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus (knowing they needed permission from the Romans) before the Sabbath began, they circumvented all the Law’s procedures and principles. To the point where the Sanhedrin elected to cut to the chase and bluntly asked Jesus, “Tell us, are you the Messiah…?” (Luke 22:67; Matthew’s Gospel includes, “…Messiah, the Son of God”).

Jesus was then handed over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who further interrogated him. All born-again believers know (or should know) as do millions of unbelievers that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent of the crime of treason (the bogus reason given by the Jews, because they knew a religious violation of the Law of Moses was not a concern to the Romans). Moreover, Pilate could have released Jesus instead of Barabbas according to an annual tradition of freeing one Jewish prisoner on Passover. Do you know or remember what Pilate said and did after he capitulated to the demands of the Jews to crucify Jesus?

“Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!’ And all the people yelled back, ‘We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!’” (Matthew 27:24-25).

Not only were the Jews responsible for Jesus’s unjust death, so were the Romans (Gentiles). The Jews had the first chance to release Jesus, and the Romans had the last chance. Both were complicit in his death, as are we all.

Thank God! The story doesn’t end there.

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5, parenthesis in the text).

The Accused’s Right to Defend Himself; Jesus Was Silent Before His Accusers

The rule of law both civil and criminal (patterned after traditional Jewish law) was ingrained in the Roman Empire. Everyone had the right to a trial and to innocence until proven guilty. In today’s world all democratic nations are founded on this principle.

Would the accused (especially if they’re innocent) remain silent in their defense? At the very least the accused would seek a lawyer or advocate to speak for them.

Concerning the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away” (Isaiah 53:7-8a).

In answer to the confrontational demand as to whether he was the Messiah, Jesus did speak. He also answered Pontius Pilate’s question as to whether he was the King of the Jews. Essentially, that’s all Jesus said. Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah being silent was a direct reference to the critical component of Jewish law … those accused had the right to speak, or to be spoken for by an advocate. To include as much evidence and time reasonably needed to establish that defense.

Jesus could have responded with a long dissertation demonstrating why he was, in fact, Messiah? He could have quoted passage after prophetic passage in the Old Testament, then cited (for example) three dozen miracles he had performed. Then asserted his rights that the “court” bring in some of those he had miraculously healed from crippling deformities and diseases. He could have produced proof that he was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by the prophet Micah; not in Nazareth as mistakenly assumed by the religious leaders. That he was a direct descendant of King David from the tribe of Judah. And he could have summoned Lazarus to testify that Jesus had raised him from the dead!

In that regard, Jesus did not by any stretch of the imagination offer a defense, let alone extensive evidence that he could have presented. His only reply was that of answering the crucial question of his Messiahship.

Here is part of Yeshua’s response to the Sanhedrin:

“…If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.

“They all shouted, ‘So you are claiming to be the Son of God?’

“And he replied, ‘You say that I am.’” (Luke 22:67-70).

Thus, Jesus was agreeing with them; he was, indeed, The Messiah—the Son of God.

Concerning the question(s) he could have asked them as well as their unbelief, he had already posed several probing questions to the religious leaders during his ministry that they could not answer. In fact, they were dumbfounded at his astounding questions and answers. That’s why the religious leaders were so jealous of Jesus. They also were envious of the common people’s responses to what Jesus said and did. For example: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law” (Matthew 7:28-29).

(Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ; posted 5-28-16).

Jesus also declined to defend himself in front of Pontius Pilate. Neither Pilate nor any other Roman official or court of law could imagine anyone not speaking up in their defense, especially when the accused’s life hung in the balance.

(Jesus before Pilate, from the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Barabbas is portrayed on the right)

As with the Jewish leaders, the only response Jesus gave concerned Pilates’s question, “…Are you the king of the Jews?”

Part of Jesus’s reply was, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world … You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into this world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:33-37).

Indeed, the offense for which the Jewish leaders tried Jesus was part of the Mosaic Law that warranted the death penalty, i.e. claiming not only to be Messiah, but (even more blatant to the religious leaders) saying that he was God’s Son. Though Jesus was completely man, he was also fully God. Therein lies the rub. If he was exclusively a human being, then he would have been guilty of the charge.

That was/is the crux of the matter. For two reasons: (1) The Hebrew Scriptures unequivocally state that the Messiah is divine (Isaiah 9, Micah 5, other passages). This fact was missed, dismissed, or erroneously explained away by many Jewish rabbis—then and now. Considering Jesus’s claim to be the (divine) Messiah, the very Son of God, the Jewish leaders and people should have closely examined their Scriptures to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. (2) This benefit of the doubt was denied outright despite the extraordinary evidence that Jesus had performed many miracles, not just one or two. For example, would they have believed Lazarus’ testimony? Perhaps. Would it have made a difference? No.

Jesus knew that the hearts of his accusers were rock-hard; their eyes irreversibly blind; ears irrevocably deaf. No matter if or how he defended himself, he would have been condemned. He didn’t speak a word in his defense. The only words he spoke affirmed the accusations.

What other trial in history resulted in the execution (and an excruciating inhumane one at that) of someone who was found innocent by the ruling court?! And this someone wasn’t just some-one. He was and is the Messiah, the Son of God. He is Lord and Savior for those who believe in Him.

Our Redeemer lives!

Jesus Stood Trial and Died Voluntarily

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd… So I sacrifice my life for the sheep (referring to Israel, the lost sheep). I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold (Gentiles). I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd… I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:14-18, parenthesis mine).

Although Jesus knew precisely what would happen, he did nothing to orchestrate the sequence of events relating to his trial and crucifixion. As the Son of Man, he left that to the inexplicable, incomparable sovereignty of his Father, Almighty God.

As a man, he even asked his Father if there could be another way to accomplish God’s plan of redemption. Do you remember what he said in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was arrested?

“Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will…. (Mark 14:36, NASB). Go ahead and finish Jesus’s words.

Yes, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life. As the Son of God, at any time he could have stopped what was happening to and around him.

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

Just after he was nailed to the cross, with incredible love even for those who crucified him, we read these stirring words:

Just before Jesus died on the cross, he uttered these amazing words that would forever change the course of history: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

Those words meant the debt of sin had been paid once and for all.

It was a trial unlike any other before or since; the trial of a lifetime … yours, mine, everyone who has ever lived on this planet. One that determined our destiny of eternal life or death, depending on what we decide about Jesus—who he is and why he died. An unjust trial and sentence willingly endured by Messiah Jesus. His was the greatest sacrifice ever made by the highest price ever paid.

Second Trial: Judgment of the Nations / Trial of the Sheep and Goats

To some extent or another, several prior Eye of Prophecy articles have addressed God’s two universal plans for humanity: (1) Individual redemption for all—Jew and Gentile alike—who place their trust in the only source of salvation, the Jewish Messiah for all people. The final trial/judgment for all people who have died without acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Savior will take place at the end of the Millennium. That is the 3rd greatest trial of the ages, which will be discussed shortly.

(2) God’s second plan is Israel. It is tied into the first … salvation would come through the Jews and the nation of Israel, specifically through the Messiah. God’s Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob first and foremost guaranteed that the Promised Land of Israel would always be the permanent inheritance (possession) of their descendants, the Jews. All nations of the earth that bless Israel will be blessed. Those countries that denigrate and delegitimize Israel would be severely punished (Genesis 12).

The final phase of this punishment will take place during the Tribulation culminating in the 2nd greatest trial in human history at the end of the Tribulation. This is commonly referred to as the separation of the Sheep and the Goats, as announced directly by Jesus. It will usher in his Millennial Reign.

Those who survive the Great Tribulation will stand before Jesus Christ, separated into nations or ethnic groups that supported Israel (the sheep) and those that fought against Israel (the goats).

Prior to this trial, God will have already destroyed the coalition of Gog/Magog nations in the early part of the Tribulation. Then Messiah Jesus will crush the ten-nation coalition led by Antichrist (Nero) near the very end of the Tribulation … Armageddon. (See Eye of Prophecy articles: End of the World Events … In Chronological Order, posted 2-25-17; and Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events, 2-3-18).

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

In the rest of that chapter, Jesus explains the explicit criteria for this trial and the verdict.

Concerning the sheep who generously help the Jews:

(Matthew 25:40)

The brothers and sisters of Jesus are his Jewish kinsfolk in the flesh.

For those in the goat nations, it will be just the opposite. Their hostility toward God’s chosen people will result in: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (Verse 46).

Judgment of unbelievers alive at the end of the Tribulation will be based primarily on their (national) treatment of Israel, as such treatment was though they had done it (good or bad) for Jesus himself—Israel’s King. Both the (sheep/goat) trial of the nations and the Tribulation pre-trial destruction of the armies of these anti-Semitic nations are found in several Old Testament prophecies. Such as:

“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 3:2).

“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).

Right in the middle of the well-known prophecy that depicts the four Gentile world kingdoms, and the little horn’s (Antichrist Nero) sudden appearance (reappearance or return from the Abyss as found in Revelation 17) at the outset of the Tribulation, Daniel switches to a stunning vision of the Messiah:

“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, italicized to emphasize that Jesus will divinely judge and rule over nations).

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Ascension & Coronation … Seen Long Before It Happened! Posted 5-27-17.

And the oft-quoted passage: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Third Trial: The Great White Throne Judgment

The Great White Throne Judgement was discussed in a very recent Eye of Prophecy article; however, with emphasis on the resurrection of dead unbelievers, only to face their eternal fate. (Resurrections / How Many Will There Be? One, Two, or Could There Be Three? Posted 10-27-18).

This final trial, verdict, and sentence is profoundly personal and permanent as found in Revelation 20:11-15, in contrast to the more corporate punishment of the sheep/goat nations which pertains to the treatment of Israel and the Jews. It ends the Millennial era and initiates the age of Eternity.

One of the exceptional features of this trial is that the verdict is not directly based on the offenses (sin) of those being judged … all unbelievers. Yes, you read that right.

Here is what all unbelievers are being judged by: “…And all were judged according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:13). It doesn’t say according to their sins. In fact, some of these acts were undoubtedly good deeds. Unless done from strictly a selfish motive or gain, no good deed or work (objectively defined by all involved) is a sin.

They were “judged” (measured or cross-examined) on the only defense that unbelievers can and will offer. This argument is based on the most perfidious perception and malignant misconception ever befallen humanity. Which is: The good things I’ve done should be given greater weight than the wrong things.

But the actual sentence (Lake of Fire) was based on something much more comprehensive, one with eternal consequences, which we will see in a moment.

During their life on this earth, what all the unsaved ultimately want to be measured by is their accomplishments, mainly through “good works” which they will try to argue should be enough to merit God’s approval. That will be their defense before Almighty God, who will not beg to disagree during this trial. That disagreement had already been unequivocally quantified:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).

God is both just and fair. He will allow unbelievers at this final trial to be judged (measured) by their works. If anyone can prove to Him that their deeds are enough to earn and reach God’s perfect standard of righteousness, then they’re home free. Or are they?

“No one is righteous—not even one” (Romans 3:10). None of us has any innate or earned righteousness of our own.

“…The Lord is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).

Thus, Messiah Jesus is the ultimate test of those on trial before the Great White Throne of Father God.

When the people asked Jesus what they could or should do to perform works acceptable to God, Jesus summarized the whole basis for right standing with God (righteousness) with these words: “This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).

Therefore, the final sentence (Lake of Fire) of all unbelievers is based on what they did or didn’t do about Jesus—who had already been judged by God for their sins and the penalty thereof. That is why we read:

“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). The unbelievers standing on trial before God had not accepted the only remedy that could have pardoned them from their sins … trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus holds the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:18). He conquered death when he arose from the grave. Only Jesus can unlock the door (prison) of physical and spiritual death.

He is the Book of Life. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

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

Summary

The Great White Throne passage doesn’t specify just how this trial will unfold. Will the Lord “cross-examine” every unbeliever one at a time? Though speculation, I would suggest that God will extend the opportunity to all those who want to speak up in their own defense to present their case. Most will simply remain silent, knowing the futility of their defense. Certainly some of the religious among them will step forward to remind the Lord of the great things they did for him.

Everything except the most important … to acknowledge and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Only then, after it’s too late, will they bow their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

Jesus mentions them: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day (Great White Throne Judgment) many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’” (Matthew 7:21-23, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

And what is the “will of my Father” referred to by Jesus? We’ve already read that: Believe in the one (Jesus) whom God sent.

Things to Ponder

Nobody needs to be tried as a goat or according to their works. No one need be sentenced to the worst fate imaginable—eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. A guilty verdict that could have been set aside with the right answer to the life-changing, destiny-altering question posed in Jesus’s deposition of all people. One that must be answered in this life-time on earth.

“But who do you say I am?

“Simon Peter answered: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:15-16).

God loves you. Jesus died for you.

Say, “yes,” to him before it’s too late.

Grace and Law … A Biblical Balance

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Though not a major variation from most Eye of Prophecy articles, this week’s post is a slight departure.

Certainly not different in content, as I’ve touched on the Old Covenant of Law contrasted to the New Covenant of Grace through faith alone when it fit the main subject of several articles. In fact, the entire content of three articles discusses this topic in detail. See articles, Age of Grace, Part I, II, III (Posted 1-24; 1-31; & 2-7-15).

With a few revisions, today’s article is a reproduction of a letter I sent to a friend several years ago. Written in (tough) love and with consideration for the person involved; yet a message that unequivocally exposed the age-old error of adding works and law to Biblical redemption. Salvation so great and glorious that it needs nothing else except to believe and receive the essence and object of that grace: the powerful and precious sacrifice of Messiah Jesus to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with our Great God and Savior.

The modifications include paragraph restructuring; some changes or improvements in the wording; the obvious addition of sub-headings and pictures (for visual illustration). However, the heart of the letter remains intact.

If you’re uncertain about or even struggling with a Biblical balance between Law and Grace, hopefully this article (letter) will be of some help.

A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Old Covenant of Law & The New Covenant of Grace

Regarding your regular email commentaries to those on your address list, specifically regarding Grace and Law, I have remained silent. But no longer. Your most recent statement that, “…Some say we’re living in a period of Grace and the laws were done away with, NO, NO,” is simply not Biblical.

In fact, it’s walking on thin ice. It’s the kind of thinking that Paul warned the Galatians and Ephesians and Romans about in those epistles. Over and over the apostle Paul tells us that the Grace of God not only saves us but keeps us saved. Trying to keep the law to get saved or stay saved is not only impossible, but an affront to God.

You frequently quote part of Matthew 5:17 where Christ says, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

But Paul says in no uncertain terms that Christ, himself, did away with the law. “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations….” (Ephesians 2:14-15, italics for emphasis).

So, who’s right: Jesus or Paul? Of course, that’s a senseless question because they’re both right; even though they’re saying what appears to be (at face value) opposite things.

Many verses in Scripture are completely stand-alone verses, such as John 3:16.

(Another of many Biblical stand-alone truths)

There are other passages, however, that must be compared, Scripture with Scripture (the whole counsel of God), and not quoted as a means to defend a viewpoint or position that is wrong to begin with; because the verse is used either out of context or apparently (if not adequately explained and understood) contradicts other passages. The Bible never contradicts itself. If there are two or more passages which seem to do just that, then they must be carefully analyzed, correlated, and explained together as a whole. As you well know, all cults are based on a handful of verses that, when not compared to other Scripture, will distort the main truths of the Bible (especially salvation) and create a whole new religion, which Paul calls a false gospel.

Why do you keep repeating Jesus words of fulfilling the law, unless you’re trying to “protect” the law or convince yourself and others that unless the law is of paramount importance in their lives, there’s no way to be born-again and/or successfully live the Christian life?

You went on to say in that email, “If we didn’t have the laws, how would we know when we were breaking God’s commandments, Laws?”

That statement is entirely correct. But the problem is that you are giving your audience the impression that the Law is still necessary to accomplish one or all of the following: (1) stay saved or keep God’s grace intact right up to the time of death, in order that one not lose or forfeit their salvation; (2) gain God’s favor/blessing; (3) those who are unsaved would think that grace without the law is not enough to be born again.

In other words, do you fully understand why Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, which is the Mosaic Law? What did Jesus mean by saying that? A correct understanding will reconcile and balance what Jesus and Paul taught.

Jesus said this to emphasize and fully confirm that it was he, and only he who fulfilled the law. Which totally qualifies him as the only one who could make the once and for all sacrifice for our sins. Christ said this to reinforce the fact that no human being could ever fulfill the law either as a means of salvation or to keep us saved, or to gain favor/blessings during our walk with the Lord. When he says, “I came to fulfill the law,” the emphasis is on “I,” … Christ, himself.

He didn’t say or mean that he fulfilled the law in order that we, too, must strive to fulfill it. Just the opposite: he fulfilled it because we couldn’t. He did that in our place, then paid the penalty for our sins by dying in our place.

Once he fulfilled the law, there was no need for any of us to try or keep trying to satisfy it ourselves; we can’t … never could and never will. The New Covenant of Grace focuses on Jesus alone. Conversely, for us to stop relying on (impossible or at least inconsistent) obedience to the Law that could never save us in the first place, nor guarantee our salvation … keep us saved. Daily and life-long obedience to the Lord and His Word will then come more naturally (supernaturally).

The Moral Law of God Will Always Remain … But Not as The Means of Redemption

Christ is saying that the law itself will never be abolished.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and other commandments will always be God’s moral standard of conduct; however, no one can or ever will keep the whole law. Break one law and you break them all, as you know. Of course, the Ten Commandments are still a moral standard and compass that is every bit as applicable today as it was when the law was given. But what about the hundreds of years before the law was given, going at least back to the time of Abraham? How were those folks made right with God, when there was no law?

You are thinking and saying that the Ten Commandments are still relevant, which they obviously are. However, you are mistaken when you think that Christians (me or any other believer who emphasizes Grace) deliberately sin because Grace is always there to forgive and forget. Of course, we shouldn’t see Grace that way or abuse it. However, most wrongs that we all do does not involve an elaborate mental process of thinking that I’ll go ahead and sin, knowing that God will forgive. I (and most Christians I’ve talked to or read) simply do not think in those terms, any more than you do.

According to Jesus and Paul, the most grievous sin of all is the sin of the Pharisees, whom Jesus called sons of the devil, sons of hell, hypocrites. Why? Because not only did they consider themselves righteous by keeping the law, they also were making others “sons of hell” by telling them that the only way to gain God’s favor and forgiveness was by keeping the law of Moses. And not just the Mosaic Law, but dozens of requirements that they added to the Law. That’s why they rejected him; to them the Mosaic Law was the only way to God.

Jesus told the religious leaders: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life” (John 5:39-40).

Then he made this startling statement (indictment) about the self-righteous religious leaders: “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me” (John 5:45-46).

How could Moses condemn anyone for keeping the law? Because they placed the law above the only way of true righteousness—faith in Christ (and before Jesus came, faith in the promise of his coming).

The only thing abolished is: keeping of the law or fulfillment of the law to be saved and to stay saved.

In fact, that never existed in the first place … meaning salvation through the law. But neither is trying to live the Christian life ever successful or even recognized by the Lord through self-effort attempts to conform to the law. That’s why Paul told the believers in Galatia that they were “foolish.” (Galatians 3:1).

He went on to say, “Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ (grace through faith) … How foolish can you be … why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Verses 2-3).

Paul continues: “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 (meaning Christ as a final prototype of Isaac) who was promised….” (Galatians 3:19). Scripture is crystal clear that the law was only temporary. It’s purpose was to show us just what sinners we are, so that we will stop trying to keep the law as a means of salvation or as a means of trying to please God and keep in good standing with him after we’re saved.

We can try all we want to “fulfill” the law or any rules and regulations that we impose on ourselves and others, and it will do us absolutely no good, whatsoever. In fact, it only leads to frustration and failure.

Unbelievers in general as well as Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and even some born-again Christians are constantly trying to earn God’s favor by keeping/fulfilling the Mosaic law or whatever precepts they follow. Frankly, that’s an insult to God because it contradicts and replaces the source of a right relationship with God … Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that when we make the law our primary focus and falsely believe that maintaining it will keep us in good standing with God, we are “crucifying Christ” all over again.

The Apostle Paul had much more to say:

“But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law–I stopped trying to meet all its requirements–so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:17-21, italics for emphasis).

Keeping the law is a result of our salvation, not the means. When we trust in the Lord, we acknowledge that his grace is more than enough for us to be born (again), to live, and to grow in Christ.

Legalism v. Living by Grace

Christians who have a legalistic mindset are those who live by a list of do(s) and don’t(s), including the law and other things they think must be followed. They (erroneously) believe that God’s favor is earned by good behavior.

True Christianity is expressed by those who live in gratitude for the (free) gift of grace and eternal life. They realize that “keeping the law” or “fulfilling the law” is impossible on anything approaching a consistent and regular basis. For you to tell others that Christ came to fulfill the law without explaining what that means or without explaining that both salvation and the Christian life, itself, is through grace and grace alone, is to confuse and mislead them. Cults do that all the time. They take one or two verses and make an entire doctrine out of them, without fully explaining them or without comparing them to the whole counsel of Scripture.

A few years ago, during a two-hour conversation I had with a devout Mormon, that’s exactly what he was preaching. He maintained that the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross (which true believers accept as a gift, through the grace of God) is simply not enough. To enter God’s complete favor, this man insisted that: “the commandments must be kept.” For him, the commandments were the Mosaic Law plus all the rules/regulations/requirements of the Mormon church.

But it doesn’t matter whether this man was a Mormon or Catholic or misguided Protestant; the fact is he placed the “law” above the grace of God. The Age of Grace is nothing more than completion of the ancient promise God made to Abraham; this promise of the Messiah and redemption through him (by faith) would come through Isaac. Not through Hagar’s son Ishmael, both of whom were symbols of the law. You know that, but unfortunately you still want to mix law with grace.

Paul explains the ultimate purpose of the law: “…The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we would be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian” (Galatians 3:24-25).

Going back to the last part of what Jesus said concerning the law and the prophets: “I have come to accomplish their purpose.” His statement is that he came to fulfill the purpose of the law. That purpose is presented in the verse just quoted in Galatians.

Absolutely, Jesus fulfilled the law. Only the Son of God could do such a thing, which qualified him to be the one and only perfect sacrifice for our sins. He fulfilled the law so we wouldn’t have to, either to get saved or to stay saved; or to earn his favor or anything else that we try to obtain through our merit, worth, good works, or whatever. God knew that we could never, ever in a thousand lifetimes completely keep the law. That’s why the Levitical sacrificial system was given as a foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice for sins through Messiah, himself … the only sinless person in all humanity.

Nor did Jesus abolish the Law. What Jesus replaced (did away with) was the purpose of the Law.

Is obedience better than sacrifice? Yes, but only when we understand what obedience truly is. Which is: we obey because we want to obey; not just because the Law tells us that we must. In that respect, Paul said that the Gentiles didn’t even need the law, because conscience was their law. Innately we know right from wrong. What the law did was to make it “official.” Meaning that if we have any doubt as to the consequences of breaking God’s moral laws, the law will erase all doubt that (for example) it’s wrong to steal.

We obey because we love the Lord, and we love him because he first loved us. We also realize that we disobey (all too often). And then we even better comprehend why Jesus kept the entire law … to qualify as the absolute, perfect sacrifice for those who could never even come close to keeping (fulfilling) the law. Which includes complete forgiveness for breaking God’s laws for those who have placed their trust in Jesus.

There is no condemnation whatsoever for those who are (born-again) in Christ Jesus, including condemnation for failure to keep/obey the law. (Romans 8:1). Jesus took that condemnation for us; the penalty of sin was poured out on him.

Technically, it’s not our sins that will send us to hell; rather it’s rejecting the perfect sacrifice for those sins. That’s crystal clear in Scripture. The legalistic Galatians were giving people the impression that the law (and fulfilling it) was as or even more important than God’s grace. In doing so, they were preaching a false gospel.

Please, don’t get me wrong or misunderstand: I am NOT saying that the Law is unimportant. I’m just saying what Paul said (and what Jesus pointed out to his disciples and to the Pharisees).

Here’s how Paul puts it: “…You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you” (Galatians 1:6-8). Then he goes on to explain in detail what that different gospel was/is. In a nutshell: mixing law with grace. The two simply do not go together.

That doesn’t imply the law is invalid. It only means that when you add keeping of the law to salvation through faith in God’s grace, then you have a destructive hybrid that will send those who mix the two straight to hell. Millions of people down through the ages have sadly died in their sins because they wouldn’t let go of works (keeping or fulfilling the law or just doing good deeds in general) as the way of achieving a right relationship with God.

So, when someone tells a believer (and certainly an unbeliever) that keeping the law (because Christ did) is imperative to, in some measure, earn God’s favor or forgiveness, then they are doing exactly what the legalistic Galatians were doing. They were imposing impossible standards of obedience to the Jewish laws, with the insidious implication that salvation and staying saved depended upon performance as opposed to our position in Christ.

God doesn’t measure us by our performance. If he did, no one could possibly measure up. He relates to us exclusively through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son; then our faith to believe and receive that gift which is exactly what the Grace of God and the Age of Grace is all about. Same thing with the Christian life. He doesn’t grade us based on how well we keep or don’t keep the Mosaic Law. It is our position in Christ and Christ (through the Holy Spirit) in us that guarantees the eternity of our salvation.

The Lord doesn’t look at us as law-keepers. Rather as fruit-bearers.

Said Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB). Meaning … can do nothing right (in God’s sight).

There’s Danger in Adding Law to Grace

Paul also told the Galatians that he, “feared for them.” Those who were trying to put the fear of God into others for not meticulously complying with legalistic rules and conduct, best be afraid for themselves. As Paul described it: “…fallen away from God’s grace” (Galatians 5:4).

For sure, abusing and misusing God’s grace is wrong. Deliberate, planned sinning just because God will forgive when confessed, is a serious error. But the falling away from God’s grace was a twofold danger about which Paul warned the legalistic Galatians. (1) Falling from grace does not mean loss of salvation to those Galatian believers who truly had been born again. Rather, it means a falling away or departure from the Grace of God as the basis for Christian living, in favor of legalistic rules and behavior. (2) However, it also applied and was a warning not to mislead unbelievers who were/are on the bubble of whether to rely exclusively on the grace/mercy of God. Or to take matters into their own hands and devise ways to help God show his favor (grace) to them … by first observing the Law of Moses.

(A pause here before continuing this letter to my friend with a notation that the following was italicized for even more emphasis).

The best thing any of us can possibly do is to say, “Lord, I can’t do this (meaning keep His law); please, you do it through me.” And, yes, that is possible only when we yield to Him, but that yielding is not a matter of keeping rules, whether imposed by the law or by ourselves or by others. By the very fact that we say that we can’t do this on our own, we are yielding to the grace of God that says he will do it through us. That’s the difference between Works and Grace. Works (keeping the law and doing good) says, ” Thanks anyway, but I’ll do this myself, because it’s up to me to see that it’s done.” Grace says, “I’ve tried, but I can’t do it. Thank you, Lord, for doing it for me, all the way to the Cross. Your grace is sufficient to get me through this day, no matter what happens.” (And that also means if I mess up, i.e. disobey).

Once more, read what the Holy Spirit through Paul says, “You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you … I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles–free from those laws…” (Galatians 4:10-12).

What an astounding statement! Paul is telling the legalistic Jews that the law no longer had any hold on him; he was free from the law just like the Gentiles who made no effort whatsoever to keep the Jewish law in the first place. Thus, the only thing that would/could save the Gentiles and condemn them if they refused, was believing in and accepting the Grace of God through the gift of salvation … by Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Paul wanted the Jews to understand the same thing (salvation was by grace through faith plus absolutely nothing else) regarding redemption and as the means of living the Christian life.

The observance of certain days, etc. was just one example of many that Paul could have given. In fact, he also talked about Galatian Jews who had demanded circumcision for the Gentiles to be saved or stay saved. In other letters he wrote (such as Romans), Paul talks about eating certain food and drinking (wine). In other words, he includes all those things that legalistic Christians impose on themselves and others including the Law of Moses.

Paul rebuts that by explaining that if the Galatians are going to insist on circumcision (or anything else that they demand obedience to), then they must keep the entire law ALL THE TIME. (Galatians Chapter 5). And if they can’t (which is obvious), then stop trying to convince themselves and others that they must continue keeping the law in order to be righteous and stay righteous through their own effort, merit, or self-worth, including good works. Good works and obedience are a heartfelt RESPONSE to and RESULT of our salvation, not a means to it; nor a means of maintaining a right relationship with the Lord.

Trusting in the Grace of God Is A Much Better Way—It Is the Only Way of Redemption & Living the Christian Life

We are not only saved by GRACE, we live by it every day, or at least we should. There would be no need for grace or forgiveness if each of us could “fulfill the law.” The Lord, through Paul, is telling us to stop trying to keep the law as a condition before, for, and after salvation by grace.

Jesus blasted the Pharisees for their self-righteousness which they claimed was achieved (exclusively) by adhering to the law. But especially their mindset that the law was above (more important and more rewarding) and better than the Son of God, himself; who introduced a whole new “law” … the Law of Grace. The Law of Grace says that the old law is no longer the way to righteousness with God; in fact, it never was. Instead, it was trust in the Lord’s forgiveness via shedding of innocent animal blood, a forerunner of the ultimate sacrifice through the blood of Messiah Jesus.

Faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice is the NEW WAY, the new law. In fact, Paul terms it: “the law of Christ.” The Law wasn’t even given to the Jews until Moses, hundreds of years after Abraham died. It was Abraham’s faith that was credited to him as righteousness.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith…” (Hebrews 11:6). If that precept applied to obedience, the verse would read: “without obedience….” But it doesn’t say that.

For example, should we expect a special blessing or God’s favor or the certainty of our salvation just because we obey the commandments such as, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.” No, it’s expected that we keep the commandments. But in the age of Grace, it’s imperative that we do not insist that our relationship with the Lord depends on our law-keeping performance. That’s exactly what the legalistic Jewish Christians were doing and why the Holy Spirit through Paul reminded and warned them that the Christian life (from start to finish) is lived in, by, and through the grace of God.

Trusting the Lord IS obedience. Because it comes from the heart, not from an external, superficial sense of obligation to keep the law to obtain God’s favor.

Of course, obedience is important; but because we, in fact, disobey, then how much obedience is necessary (considering our frequent disobedience) in order to please God? Do you know how much, does anyone? But even a little faith (trusting the Lord) as small as a mustard seed can move mountains … meaning that God will honor that faith and do great things for/through us.

I truly am saying these things for your benefit, not to condemn you. You do well in your emails when you talk about Jesus as our source of salvation. Unfortunately, you dilute that when you constantly tell your family/friends that grace is not enough (that is what you are telling them whether you realize it or not). That they have an obligation to obey the Ten Commandments and the laws of the land (which is true). BUT NOT AS A MEANS OF SALVATION OR STAYING SAVED OR GETTING TO HEAVEN or any other favor that the Lord might bestow on them.

(My letter ended with some kind remarks to my friend and an invitation to dinner)

Things to Ponder

Though this friend has since departed the earth, I believe the letter did help clarify the balance between Law and Grace.

As recorded in the Bible, God’s letters to us are far more important.

Listen to the Jewish Apostle Paul … a devout Pharisee and defender of the Law of Moses until he met the risen Messiah:

“If the old way (Covenant of Law), which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way (Covenant of Grace), which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which remains forever! (II Corinthians 3:9-11, parenthesis mine).

It was God’s very Son who established the everlasting New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah.

Resurrections / How Many Will There Be? One, Two, Or Could There Be Three?

Let’s begin with a three-question quiz; a Q&A for eternity.

The choices are: Yes___, No___, I don’t’ know___.

Is there life after death?

If so, will there be a bodily resurrection of the dead?

If we live forever, will everyone be in heaven with God?

For those who selected, “No” to the first question (now or at any time in their life), the next two questions would be irrelevant to them. Why? Because it’s evident they haven’t read the Bible or don’t believe what it says if they have? Even if they acknowledge the Bible as God’s Word, it’s apparent that they prefer the temporary enticements of this world to the incomparable paradise of everlasting life in heaven.

Scripture is crystal clear that the answer to the first two questions is a resounding, “Yes!” With the answer to the third question a solemnly sad, “No.”

For believers in Messiah Jesus, Heaven awaits us. For unbelievers when they die … Hell. Followed by the “second death” (eternal separation from God) in the Lake of Fire after they, too, are raised from their graves. They remain under God’s wrath for not believing and receiving God’s Son as personal Savior (John 3:36).

The promise of Romans 8:1 applies only to believers: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

As does, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of underserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Romans 5:1-2).

If you answered, “I don’t know” to one or more of these questions, my response would be, “Why? Don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to be sure?” The Bible plainly states that we can know, we can be sure.

Why is that? Because the historical fact is that Jesus Christ arose from the dead, attested to by many who saw him and were with him.

“…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (I Corinthians 15:3-6, italics for emphasis).

In addition to this greatest miracle of all time, the Bible is replete with numerous other miracles performed by God and by His Son. As well as hundreds of prophecies that have come to pass, with 100% accuracy. Such mighty miracles and perfectly fulfilled prophecies cannot be found in any man-made religion or so-called sacred texts. Nor can their adherents be certain of where they will spend eternity, because all man-made religions and cults are based on self-worth or good deeds. They cannot know for sure if they’re good enough or have done enough.

In stirring contrast, God’s salvation is a matter of believing and receiving Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior, who did for us what we could do for ourselves. Who was and is what we could never hope to be without him.

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

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John says, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (I John 5:13).

Concerning the third question in the quiz, let’s look at:

The Righteous (Saved) & the Unrighteousness (Unsaved)

When the Lord bodily appeared to Abraham as the Pre-Incarnate Messiah and confided in Abraham his intentions to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked God to reconsider if there were but 10 righteous people in the city. Said Abraham: “…Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25, a rhetorical question).

Hundreds of years later after God chose Moses to deliver the Israelites, we read:

“Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty…” (Exodus 34:5-7a).

Who are the guilty … the unsaved, the unrighteous according to God? Numerous Bible passages answer that question, both Old & New Testament. The guilty are those who have refused to place their trust in God’s simple yet profound plan of redemption. A plan that began when God shed the blood of an innocent animal to provide clothing for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Clothing necessary because their sinful disobedience had taken away their innocence (exemplified by their nakedness) and had exposed them to God’s guilty verdict of death … both physical and spiritual. Remember, the word death throughout Scripture means separation, not annihilation.

A plan culminating in the once for all substitutionary sacrifice of God’s own Son, Messiah Jesus; to replace the Old Covenant of the Law which required ongoing animal sacrifices to cover the sins of the people.

The Bible is decidedly clear that God divides people into two human hemispheres: the righteous and the unrighteous … believers and unbelievers. And it is by faith in the Lord’s gift of salvation through His Son that gives us right standing with God … righteousness. The same faith through which God declared Abraham righteous long ago also saves us today.

The only difference is that Abraham and Old Testament saints were looking forward to Messiah’s redemptive remedy for sin. The truth of which was foreshadowed in the Levitical Sacrificial System; though offerings to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were already underway before the Law of Moses. Thus, Jesus’s once for all sacrifice is adequate for all people—past, present, and future. However, we must make that salvation personal.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

God’s creation plan of eternal existence for every person ever born has not changed, except for one thing: RESURRECTION!

A bodily resurrection … for both the saved and the unsaved.

The New Testament offers considerable testimony regarding the resurrection of the dead. But there is also ample evidence in the Old Testament, as God systematically revealed his plans to the prophets.

Messiah Jesus definitively declared: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25). Before that dynamic disclosure, even the prophets didn’t completely comprehend how the unrighteous could stand before God one day and the righteous would live with God forever.

Would it be a literal resurrection of the body, or in spirit only? Would there be a single resurrection for both the righteous and unrighteous, or more than one … separated by time and space? The prophets and those who listened to them and followed the Lord faithfully didn’t know all the details; still, they believed God and his promises.

“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

Said Jesus to his disciples about the many who didn’t believe in him: “…For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Then a few verses later: “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” (Verses 16-17).

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had planned. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

Despite his great suffering and despair because he had done nothing wrong to deserve the loss of his family, possessions, and health, Job believed that God would vindicate him. Despite not knowing why these things happened, and despite coming up with inaccurate cause and effect correlations and conclusions (by both Job and his “friends”), Job uttered an astounding affirmation of faith and hope.

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27).

I, too, am overwhelmed with this terrific truth: Resurrection … body, soul, and spirit!

King David (along with Isaiah) understood eternal life as well or more than anyone in Old Testament times, including the remarkable revelation that the Messiah would die for our sins and be raised again bodily.

(Words of King David from Psalm 23, that begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This Psalm is known by many, including unbelievers)

In the first Gospel message preached after Christ ascended to heaven, Peter emphasized above everything else the resurrection of Jesus from the dead—to prove that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. In part of his message to the crowd (of which 3,000 would accept Jesus as Savior that day) Peter quoted David, “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave” (Acts 2:27, quoting Psalm 16:10).

Peter went on to say: “…David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us… David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection… God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this” (Acts 2:29-32).

Both Elijah and Elisha raised a boy from the dead. However, like a handful of resurrections recorded in the New Testament, those raised (for example, Lazarus by Jesus) died again. Thus, many observant Jews believed that resurrection was possible; yet most refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, let alone that his resurrection would be permanent … forever!

See Eye of Prophecy article, There’s Resurrection … And There’s Resurrection! (Posted 3-19-16). Which is a comparison of Old and New Testaments resurrections to the once for all resurrection of Messiah Jesus.

Will There Be More Than One Resurrection of the Dead? If so, How Many?

To eliminate suspense or to confirm what you may already know (but can you explain your answer?), the question will be answered now; then supported with examination of some decisive passages.

There are TWO (types of) Resurrections. However, there will be three separate times when these two resurrections take place. That is not a contradiction!

In Revelation Chapter 20, the return to life of the Tribulation saints is called the “first resurrection.” There’s also the resurrection of the dead in Christ that occurs at the Rapture, which precedes the tribulation believers. Then, after the Millennium, Revelation 20 dramatically describes yet another raising of the dead—those who are unbelievers.

First (foremost) we need to remember that the Rapture and physical return of Messiah (Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19) to the earth are separate events. Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Published 12-3-16. And, End of the World Events … In Chronological Order! (2-25-17) Also, Armageddon and Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events. (2-3-18).

Let’s examine the chronological order of these three resurrections. With documentation and commentary to show that the first two are bundled together in what the Bible labels the “first resurrection.”

(1) Resurrection of Believers at The Rapture

After the risen Messiah ascended back to heaven, 1st century believers eagerly expected him to return any day. Though 2,000 years have gone by, the reality of his imminent return (at any moment) is as relevant today as then. In fact, his return is more imminent that ever, considering other Biblical prophecies unfolding in the 20th and 21st century, paramount of which is the rebirth of the State of Israel. (See Eye of Prophecy article: Just How Imminent is Messiah’s Imminent Return? Posted 1-18-17).

For unbelievers who have ridiculed Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world as well as his return, and for some believers who sometimes wonder when and even if this will happen, let’s not forget what the Apostle Peter said not to forget:

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created’” (II Peter 3:3-4, emphasis added). *Note: the italicized words are rendered “first” or “first of all” in several Bible translations. Later, you’ll see the importance of this as we analyze the first resurrection.

Peter continues: “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends. A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly as a thief…” (II Peter 3:8-10a).

Like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am so eager for that day to arrive. On the other hand, I’m eternally grateful that the Lord has waited this long. Because the question (thought) is: If he had returned before I was born, then would I have been born … let alone born-again to experience the Rapture? Note: Thanks to one of my sibling sisters for that thought/question.

Including this week’s post, 42 Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of The Rapture deal extensively with this spectacular subject. Such as: The Tremendous Transfiguration of Believers, posted 7-23-16. And, of course, the first five articles published in July/August 2013; concerning the What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture. Since the purpose of today’s article is to clarify the number of resurrections, discussion of the Rapture will be limited.

Beginning with an excerpt from Why the Rapture? In italics:

Primary Purpose: Resurrection (both dead and living believers) with a spiritual body equipped to live forever.

Secondary Purpose: Sparing believers from the tribulation. And giving unbelievers one last chance (up to seven years) to accept the true Messiah over the false Messiah….

If Jesus had not arisen from the dead, there would be no credibility to his or the Bible’s claims that redemption comes exclusively by God’s grace (unmerited favor). But Christ did arise, so all the Biblical truth and promises about salvation in Christ are true….

Perhaps the most absorbing is the Apostle Paul’s introductory use of the term, “spiritual bodies.” Think about it: Aren’t these two words mutually exclusive? How can there be any such thing as a “spiritual body.” Our earthly bodies are flesh and bone; they house our soul and spirit, which are anything but physical. Has anyone ever seen the spirit of another human being? Have you ever seen your own soul?

See Eye of Prophecy articles, Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms? Part I & II. Posted 9-26 & 10-3-15.

Continuing with the excerpt:

But for Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual body is a perfectly “natural” fact that will one day be physically experienced by all who have been raptured … not virtual, computer-generated, or cybernetic reality, but actual reality. Just how real is the new resurrected body? Jesus, himself, showed us how awesomely real it is: After he arose from the dead, he walked, he talked, he ate with his disciples, and he could be touched! How real is that?

Listen to what Paul says, “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 in glory … 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).

I see this spectacular change taking place in the same light (pun intended) of what happened to Jesus during his transfiguration on the mountain, when Elijah and Moses appeared with him (Matthew 17: 1-7). In fact, I believe the term transfiguration is the best way to describe what will take place at the Rapture. Why transfiguration? Webster’s Dictionary defines transfiguration as, “a change in form or appearance….”

How will this transfiguration take place? The question concerns only the transfiguration itself, not the chain events of the Rapture as explained in I Thessalonians 4. For a detailed account of the fascinating sequence of the Rapture and approximately how long it could take, please read Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World (4-22-17). Which expands on the older article, How the Rapture (will take place).

(In trying to depict believers ascending to heaven artists have inadvertently corrected the prevailing premise that the entire Rapture sequence will happen in the blink of an eye. Only the actual transfiguration will be that quick. Those left behind will hear and see the entire sequence of the Rapture)

Read with me the Apostle Paul’s second revelation of the Rapture, following the entire sequence of this extraordinary event as first disclosed in I Thessalonians Chapter 4:

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation or transfiguration) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown, for when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (I Corinthians 15:51-52, parenthesis mine).

One more excerpt from Why the Rapture?

To live on this earth requires a special kind of body that God so wonderfully, uniquely, and masterfully created: one that can breathe life-giving air; drink life-sustaining water; eat life-growing food; feel life-producing pleasure and life-warning pain; see and hear life-enabling sights and sounds; produce life-perpetuating children; and know life-changing truths. However, the bodies we currently possess are not in any way, shape, or form adequate to live forever in the new earth and the new heavens that the book of Revelation so majestically portrays.

God has promised and will give us a brand new “heavenly body.” One that far surpasses the limitations of our earthly space suit. One immune to pain, sorrow, suffering, sin, disease and most of all, death itself. (See Revelation 21:4). One that can “leap tall buildings with a single bound and is faster than a speeding bullet!” Okay, a little facetious here; but isn’t that the underlying idea of Superman? Christ is the only “Super Man” who ever lived, and he will give us a heavenly body like his, to enable us to do extraordinary things, above and beyond our wildest expectations. I, for one, want to fly! And I’m not talking about jumbo jets.

Now for the other well-known passage that describes the Rapture’s startling sequence of events.

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

As clearly indicated by Paul, this resurrection applies only to believers in Messiah Jesus—the saved; those declared righteous by God, both Old and New Testament saints. See article, Old & New Testament Saints … Is There A Difference? (Published 7-7-18).

In I Thessalonians Chapter 5, Paul continues with more details on the Rapture that triggers the Day of the Lord, which encompasses the Tribulation and the Millennium.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10).

This is one supporting passage for those of us who ardently believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of true believers in Christ. The anger of God referenced by Paul in this verse is in the immediate context of the Rapture and the Day of the Lord—which includes God’s final judgment (wrath, anger poured out on the world) during the Tribulation.

(2) Resurrection of Tribulation Saints

“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death 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 in the text).

Two integral features of the passage just quoted will be clarified to hopefully eliminate any confusion even among Bible scholars and teachers. One is whether the resurrection of believers at the end of the Tribulation (those who “had not worshipped the beast … nor accepted his mark…”) is exclusively the “first resurrection.” If it is, then what do we do with the Rapture resurrection of believers? This will be discussed under Part A to follow.

The other focal point of this passage: whether only the Tribulation saints will reign with Christ during the Millennium. Which, in turn, would presumably (absent astute analysis and careful correlation of this passage to other passages) exclude hundreds of millions of believers, both living and dead who will be caught up to heaven before the Tribulation begins … at the Rapture. This will be covered in Part B to follow.

(A) First Resurrection

There are two (main) reasons to conclude that the first resurrection identified in Revelation Chapter 20 includes all believers … those raptured before and those who died during the Tribulation. They are: (1) The Greek word translated first; (2) Other key phrases in the text itself.

A (1) Greek Word for First:

There are over a dozen Greek words in the New Testament conveying the concept of first in succession, one (of many), principal, prototype, etc. In Revelation 20, the Greek word employed by John is: Protos. This translated Greek word is found frequently in the New Testament. For example: 156 times in the New American Standard Bible.; sixteen times in the book of Revelation.

Thayer’s Greek Dictionary contains three applicable definitions for protos.

*Note: Whenever there are two or more meanings (variations thereof) for any defined word, the context of the passage—compared to other passages if necessary—will determine the primary or best application.

Protos is defined as: “1. first in time or place. a. in any succession of things or persons. 2. first in rank. a. influence, honor; b. chief; c. principal; 3. first, at the first.”

This multiple application of the Greek word protos is affirmed by its English translation.

First is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: “preceding all others in time, order, or importance.”

Protos—translated as first (resurrection) in Revelation 20—is (should be) the key application or meaning of rank, influence, chief, principal; a prototype but not necessarily first in chronology. The secondary application of protos in Revelation 20 does relate to sequence, but in contextual contrast to the next (2nd) resurrection, which is that of unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment.

The primary contextual meaning is that of chief in rank or honor, because raising of the Tribulation believers is part of the preeminent resurrection of all believers … vital extraordinary events during the end times Day of the Lord. Both of which (Rapture and Tribulation saints) precede the 2nd resurrection, which is also an important event (at the end of the Millennium). But one without the prominent eternal joy and triumph of the resurrection of all believers, beginning with the Rapture and culminating with the raising of the Tribulation saints seven years later. Both of which are components of the “first resurrection.”

Instead, the second resurrection (of unbelievers) will be one of hopeless gloom and eternal doom, as every one of them will be thrown into the Lake of Fire along with Satan (and the Antichrist and False Prophet, who were consigned to the Lake of Fire before the Millennium begins).

In Revelation 20, the pyramid order of protos (first) is that of principal, chief, or first in rank; secondarily, that of chronology—both of which are in the immediate context of and comparison to the 2nd resurrection of the unbelieving dead in Christ.

It’s the predominate meaning in some other New Testament passages where protos is used.

Such as: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking…” (II Peter 3:3, NASB). *Note: Recall, this verse was quoted earlier from the NLT with the wording that of “most importantly” instead of “first of all.”

The “first” (of all) is not primarily referring to chronological order; rather it’s applying to what is foremost important to understand. We sometimes blend the two together in a common English phrase: First and foremost.

Although the resurrection of believers at the Rapture and those at the end of the Tribulation take place at separate times, that doesn’t mean they are two DIFFERENT resurrections, which are separate or distinct in rank, i.e. a first then a second kind. In fact, they are the same type or in the same category (in contrast to resurrection of dead unbelievers). Both are part of the first resurrection of the dead in Christ. The only thing that makes these resurrections of believers distinctive is that of knowing (or not) when they will take place. The Rapture will happen without warning; whereas the Tribulation believers will be raised as part of an exact enumeration of events during the last days of the Tribulation.

A (2) Key Phrases of the Text:

Other wording in Revelation 20 is also of vital importance to realize both raptured and tribulation believers are part of the first resurrection.

To wit: “Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power…” (Revelation 20:6a, italics for emphasis).

Although the immediate reference is that of the Tribulations saints being raised to life again, the broader context of Revelation 20 includes a sequence of events: Satan imprisoned in the Abyss for a thousand years; bodily resurrection of Tribulation saints; the Millennial reign of Messiah; release of Satan for the final battle of all time; and the raising of the unbelieving dead in preparation for the Great White Throne Judgment and their 2nd death in the Lake of Fire.

John is classifying the resurrection of Tribulation saints as the “first”; but is doing so in the general succession of events and in specific juxtaposition to the subsequent (next, or second) raising of the (unbelieving) dead.

In fact, immediately after he employs the term first resurrection, we find the following in parenthesis—highlighting this contrast: “(The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)” (Revelation 20:5).

Hence, John extended and incorporated the first resurrection to all believers, not just those at the end of the tribulation. He does so with the all-important phrase of those, “who share in the first resurrection.” Who else could John have been referring to but those who were already in heaven having been raised from the dead at the outset of the Tribulation (Rapture). This sharing convincingly combines both set of believers into the first resurrection. It is the resurrection of the saved that happens first and foremost; to be followed by the (2nd and final) resurrection of the unsaved.

Do you see that … first and foremost?!

B. Reigning with Messiah During the Millennium

The question of whether just the Tribulation saints will reign with Messiah throughout the Millennium has already been answered by amplification of the scope (sharing) and inclusiveness of “first resurrection.”

Of course, Raptured believers will rule with the Lord during his magnificent Millennial reign as King of all kings. This is cemented by the wording of the last part of verse 6:

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death hold no power; but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6, emphasis added).

Early in the book of Revelation, we read:

Who are the “us” of this verse? None other than all believers (both dead and alive) when Revelation was written and all those who would become believers thereafter. (Also, see I Peter 2:5).

(3) Resurrection of Unbelievers

Indeed, this is the third resurrection that will take place in chronological sequence. However, it is still the second resurrection concerning prototype or rank or principal. With the Rapture and Tribulation believers’ part of the first (type of) resurrection.

“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it… I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne… The sea gave up its dead and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

These verses expand on what was revealed earlier in verse 5: “The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.”

John doesn’t specify this Great White Throne Judgment as a (the) second resurrection. Rather he refers to the eternal fate of all unbelievers as the, “second death.” Nonetheless, the passage is crystal clear that all those standing before God had been raised from their graves. Because this takes place 1,000 years after the Tribulations saints are raised from the dead and because it comes after the first resurrection which we’ve already covered, it must by default be the second (the one to follow the first) resurrection of the dead.

Things to Ponder

In his breathtaking description of the resurrection of believers, then transfiguration and transportation of both the living and the (raised) dead in I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4, the Apostle Paul didn’t use the term, first resurrection. He didn’t need to; it was understood that this was the resurrection spoken of by Old Testament prophets and by Jesus, himself—the one that is first and foremost in rank.

On the other hand, John in Revelation labels the resurrection of believers who died during the Tribulation as the first. But he did so in the immediate context of and contrast to the ensuing resurrection of unbelievers. John also says that (all) those who “share in the first resurrection” will reign with Christ for a thousand years. Therefore, all believers—those at the Rapture and those raised seven years later—will participate in the first resurrection.

Officially, however, the first resurrection in a body that would live forever was that of our Lord and Savior, Messiah Jesus.

“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection. Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (I Corinthians 15:20-23).

When does Messiah return (come back)? Answer: during the Day of the Lord. Which begins with the Rapture (resurrection, transfiguration) and culminates with his majestic bodily return to the earth, seven years later. Both of which include resurrection of dead believers, all of whom share in the first resurrection.

The first (foremost … most significant) resurrection is unto eternal life. The second resurrection is unto eternal death … the living dead as it were.

Except for one thing, both pre-Tribulation and Tribulation believers in Messiah Jesus have everything in common, which includes partaking in the (first) resurrection.

What is that one thing?

Tribulation saints were unbelievers with everyone else on earth the moment after the Rapture.

They did not heed the warnings of Scripture; thus, they will not be spared from the Great Tribulation.

However, the Lord is so loving and merciful.

He is the God of second chances!