The Prophetic Endgame of Gog/Magog

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I’m guessing that nearly everyone reading this article has watched a sporting event of some sort.

Your son’s little league game. Your daughter’s soccer match. A high school football game. College basketball. Professional football. A tennis or golf tournament.

Not always, but most of the time it’s the final quarter, or inning, or set, or hole (golf) that generates the most suspense and excitement. Especially if the score is close and the outcome is still undecided.

Even if the contest is a rout, diehard fans will usually stick around until the “end of the game.” Particularly, if their team or favorite player is winning.

Some sporting contests are called games; others carry the label of matches. And if you want to sound half-way knowledgeable, it’s more than just semantics to know which is which.

For example: Basketball, football, and baseball competitions are referred to as games. Whereas, if you watch or participate in tennis, golf, soccer, or hockey, you’re involved in a match. Yet, in the final analysis, each sport is a game and there is always an end to the game.

Then there’s the “game of chess.” Which I’ve played frequently, but not recently. However, if you’re playing a game of chess with someone, you are engaged in a chess match. With the critical part of most chess matches (especially for those evenly matched) called the “end game.”

In fact, the chess expression (term … a noun) end game became so well known that it was recognized as a definable word in the latter part of the 19th century by Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. With its definition: “the stage of a chess game after major reduction of forces.”

Because of the sometimes-complicated strategy of the game of chess, the term end game became one word (endgame) with an expanded meaning of: “the final stage of some action or process.”

The online Free Dictionary defines endgame as: “the final stage of a chess game after most of the pieces have been removed from the board. The final stage of an extended process or course of events.” Followed by a sentence example: “the diplomatic endgame that led to the treaty.”

Yes, there are even wargames. And nations matched one against another during war time.

(Are you too young to remember this blockbuster movie released in 1983, while the Cold War between the United States and the Russia was going on?)

The Urban Dictionary includes the explanation of endgame: “the final moments of a dramatic encounter, fight or series of events.”

Because the plans or tactics of an individual, team, or even a nation (government) are sometimes questionable, if not devious, one might pose the question: “What’s their endgame?” Which is effectively saying, “What’s their real agenda?” Or, “What are they going to do next?”

Which is a question that appropriately fits what’s happening in the Middle East, specifically in the nation of Syria. And more precisely pertaining to Russia, Iran, and Turkey—each of which boasts a prominent military presence in that war-torn country, adjacent to Israel’s northern border.

In no uncertain terms, the term endgame is contemporarily accurate and prophetically applicable to the three prominent nations of the Gog/Magog alliance—Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Explicitly evident in what is one of the most powerful end-times prophecies in all of Scripture—Ezekiel Chapters 38 & 39. Commonly called the Gog/Magog prophecy.

In fact, these three nations and their leaders are playing a deadly stealth endgame of: “the real reason we’re in Syria has nothing to do with Syria … everything to do with Israel.”

Unprecedented Signs of the Times

There are several Biblically predicted events, either completed or ongoing in the 20th & 21st centuries, which clearly show that we are in the last days of the end times. We are nearing the ENDGAME of the greatest contest of all time—good against evil. God against Satan. Christ against Antichrist. Moses and Elijah against the False Prophet and Antichrist.

From Eye of Prophecy article, Look Up Redemption is Near, Part II (posted July 2015) here is a list of twelve flashpoint events that signal the soon to come Rapture. Followed by the seven-year Tribulation and the triumphant return of Messiah Jesus to earth to vanquish the armies of the world that would dare fight against the King of all kings.

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

This list was preceded by the following excerpt from that article (in italics):

What is different now from then is that all twelve have synchronized with a frequency and magnitude never seen before. With intensity that really can’t get much more extreme or enhanced than it already is. Together they have formed a combustible concoction ready to spontaneously ignite. The accumulative impact of these flash point prophecies fits precisely with the Lord’s comparison to childbirth, all in a generation’s time.

The first six items on the list relate directly to the nation of Israel. Other than the glorious appearing (return) of Messiah to the earth, Israel’s rebirth as a Sovereign Nation is the most extraordinary episode in Biblical prophecy and its fulfillment. If for no other reason that the sheer number of prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the restoration of Israel as a nation and return of the Jews to their Promised Land.

(Another one of many prophecies regarding the Jews returning to Israel)

Israel celebrated its 70th birthday last year (2018).

The Jewish generation that experienced the miraculous rebirth of Israel has seen their children and grandchildren grow up in Israel or make Aliyah there (immigrate to Israel and become Israeli citizens).

This revival of the Jewish nation is predicted in Ezekiel Chapter 37, just one chapter before the sixth item on the above list, i.e. Modern-Day Alignment of Gog/Magog Nations against Israel. It’s no coincidence that the next two chapters of Ezekiel (38 & 39) graphically portray the invasion of Israel by the armies of the Gog/Magog nations.

Let’s examine this phenomenal cause and effect relationship between Israel’s rebirth and the Gog/Magog invasion, to include some recent remarkable events taking place in the Middle East, specifically in the nation of Syria. Generating a clear signal that the Gog/Magog attack on Israel is already in the endgame phase of soon to be fulfilled Biblical prophecy.

Israel’s Rebirth as a Nation

First, a brief review of Israel’s rebirth that led to her stunning victory in four wars over stronger enemies, resulting in Israel’s current status of a vibrantly strong nation—economically and militarily despite the current political disunity and unscheduled elections.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973, some 46 years ago, was the last time Israel’s very survival as a nation was threatened. Since then, Israelis have enjoyed a substantial measure of peace; even if at the bare minimum that peace is defined and represented by an absence of (all-out) war. Thus, the prophet Ezekiel’s amazing description of the Jews return to Israel is directly connected to the Gog/Magog invasion—spearheaded by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. For Ezekiel it would be a long time in coming. For our generation, some 2,500 years later, the endgame is taking shape as we watch.

Listen to God’s words to a man given the name of Gog, leader of the Magog nations:

“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all of the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud” (Ezekiel 38:7-9, italics for emphasis).

In commentary on this passage, the following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Gog Magog’s Prophetic Clock is Ticking, Ticking… (6-16-18):

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

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

Ezekiel Chapters 38 & 39 provide the fascinating yet graphic details of this end-times phenomenon. However, these two chapters are linked directly to the preceding chapters 36 & 37 that foretell the return of Jewish exiles to Israel. These two events are tied together in space (geographically) and time (generationally). Here I’m referring to one of two Biblical definitions of an average generation, i.e. 70 years.

In the last part of Ezekiel Chapter 37, this timeframe is broken down further into children and grandchildren of that generation.

Many are familiar with the remarkable Dry Bones vision of Ezekiel in which God dramatically depicts a valley of broken skeletons that miraculously join and create a vast army of people … flesh and bones and skin and life breathed into them.

Then God said to Ezekiel: “…Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel… O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:11-12).

However, the return of the Jews to their reborn nation begins in Ezekiel Chapter 36.

For example: “I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people… O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:10-11).

Much more is said in these two chapters regarding Israel’s physical return to the Promised Land and spiritual restoration to the Lord. Such as: “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28).

The physical restoration of Israel as a sovereign nation and return of millions of Jews (including those born in Israel since 1948) have resulted in a Jewish population today of some 6.7 million in Israel. That and rebuilt modern cities all over Israel, not the least of which are Tel Aviv and the modern section of Jerusalem.

As with the Gog/Magog attack on Israel found in chapters 38 & 39, some portions of Ezekiel 36 & 37 are awaiting fulfillment. Such as: “I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel (already being fulfilled). One king will rule them all… (fulfilled when Messiah Jesus returns to Jerusalem)” (Ezekiel 37:22, parenthesis mine).

Then, to realize just how closely chapters 36 & 37 are linked to the Gog/Magog scenario of Chapters 38 & 39, we read the same kind of prophetic language with one amazing addition—the actual accomplishment of the return of God’s people to Israel, that was in the form of a prophecy in Chapters 36 & 37.

Read with me as the Lord tells Ezekiel what Gog will think and say just before invading Israel:

“…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 these formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations…” (Ezekiel 38:11-12, emphasis added).

Since 1948 and especially since Israel reclaimed all of the Promised Land in the Six-Day War of 1967 (only to relinquish some of that territory back to the Arabs) the Jews have done exactly what these verses (and many others like it) prophesied they would do: rebuild and live in those cities, having returned from nations all over the earth.

(Tel Aviv, Israel … Rivals any  modern City in the world)

(Terraced vineyard in Israel, representative of how productively the Jews have planted and harvested crops in Israel)

Again, we read that the Gog (Magog) march against Israel will take place:

“…When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will rouse yourself. You will come from your homeland in the distant north with your vast cavalry and your mighty army, and you will attack my people Israel, covering their land like a cloud…” (Ezekiel 38:14-15, emphasis added).

Future Tense to Present Tense!

Now notice how the future tense (Gog saying, “I will go to these formerly desolate cities”) has switched to the present tense when the Lord says to Gog:

“…Are you the one I was talking about long ago, when I announced through Israel’s prophets that in the future I would bring you against my people?” (Ezekiel 38:17).

Is there any significance in that shift from the future to the present tense?

Answer: Absolutely.

What is that significance?

The significance is that we are living in precisely the conditions prophesied by Ezekiel when the Gog/Magog confederacy would launch their assault on Israel. Not only is the State of Israel functioning geopolitically as foretold by Ezekiel; Russia, Iran, and Turkey all have a substantial military presence in Syria, right next door to Israel. That has never happened in history, nor even a decade ago.

In just a moment, we’ll examine what’s taking place in Syria. But first another passage that closes Ezekiel Chapter 37 to demonstrate that all these things—including the subsequent Gog/Magog invasion (which will take place not long after the Rapture)—are happening and will continue to unfold during one (our) generation.

“They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever… I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever. I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Ezekiel 37:25-27).

Scholars differ as to whether David is symbolic for the Messiah in this passage or may very well be King David of old, who will be resurrected from the dead along with all believers when the Rapture takes place. As stated in several prior articles, the Rapture is the trigger point that precipitates the Day of the Lord. Which is the seven-year Tribulation (the Gog/Magog invasion will take place in the first part of the Tribulation); the glorious return of Messiah Jesus to the earth; then the majestic Millennial Reign of Christ.

Yet, the vital component of this passage to grasp in the context of this week’s article is the special identification of those living in the land (Israel) just prior to and at the outset of the Gog/Magog assault on Israel. Which are those Jews who were in a territory called Palestine when she once again became the nation (state) of Israel in 1948, plus those who immigrated shortly thereafter. And not only that first group; also, their children and grandchildren. Today’s Israel demographically and geopolitically (and, of course, prophetically) consists primarily of those three age (generational) groups.

If the Lord only wanted to convey a symbolic or generalized concept of Jews possessing the Promised Land in perpetuity (forever) he would have needed only to say, “…will live there forever, generation after generation” (Ezekiel 37:25). Which obviously God did say. But before that he specifically classified the very generation (including their children and grandchildren) who would be the first to return to Israel upon her rebirth. This process began in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration and has continued to the present day. With, however, the most definitive generation commencing when Israel was reborn in a single day as a nation—1948.

For further clarification, here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Just How Imminent is Messiah’s Imminent Return? (posted 11-18-17). Though that article is two years old, it’s certainly still relevant, with Israel’s population having increased to about 6.7 million since then.

Let’s take a thumbnail look at Israel’s 2017 population, placed in the context of the 100-year generation that began in 1917 (Balfour Declaration); the 70-year generation that commenced in 1947 (UN Resolution or Israeli Statehood in 1948—either one will work); and the 50-year Jubilee of the Six-Day War of 1967.

Of the almost 6.5 million Jews in Israel, 10.3% are 65 and older, which would be approximately 669,500 Jews in Israel over 65. It’s likely these figures are similar with Jews all over the world, not living in Israel. However, life expectancy in Israel has increased ten years since 1970, to the average of 81.2 years for Israeli men and 84.5 years for Israeli women.

(You may want to click onto the following link for more of Israel’s population details, however the following statistics will suffice for purpose of this article. The 8.3 million in population shown on the chart includes about 1.8 million Israeli Arabs).

https://www.populationpyramid.net/israel/2017/

If you click to the above link, and hover over the individual bars online you’ll find that there are 622 men and 895 women in Israel who are still alive at the age of 100 or more. For age bracket 95-99, there are 3,622 men and 5,963 women. For age group 70-74: 106,374 men and 122,671 women. For ages 50-54: 194,684 men and 202,742 women.

Now let’s see the remarkable relevance of these statistics to the remnant of Israel (“they” and “their children and grandchildren” of the Ezekiel prophecy detailed earlier in today’s article).

Using a nuclear fusion term, the “critical mass” of the Jewish remnant ingathering back to Israel was certainly the fusion point of Israel’s national rebirth in 1947-48. The combined number of Jewish men and woman currently living in Israel beginning with the age group of 70-74 (approximately 229,000) would be “they” of the Ezekiel prophecy.

“Their children” (Ezekiel 37:25) would be those in the age bracket of 50-55 (or thereabouts) which total another 397,000 or so. And “their grandchildren” (also verse 25) would be hundreds of thousands more. These age groups represent and are part of the 70-year component of the last (what I’ve termed the Omega) generation spoken of by Jesus.

But it also goes back to the preparatory phase of the return of the Jews to Israel that started very slowly, but surely, in 1917. I’m convinced that a few of these Jews will also be alive to witness the Rapture—whether taken as and with other believers in Messiah, or left behind to experience the terrible Tribulation, but hopefully to choose Messiah at that time. Currently there are about 1,500 Jews who are 100+ years old in Israel. They, too, could be considered first generation of returning Jews in 1917; with their children those in the 70-year generation and their grandchildren those in the Jubilee timeframe. With all three groups part of the 100-year final generation (countdown).

These three pivotal epic events in Israel’s modern-day history are legitimate benchmarks with which to identify the last generation that will witness the Day of the Lord. Both the generation cited by Jesus and the generations identified by Ezekiel (and other prophets) are one and the same literal generational age-groups in the last days.

Here’s what the Lord said shortly after Ezekiel identifies they and them, and their children and grandchildren:

“I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Ezekiel 37:27).

That is a time-capsule prophecy dedicated and applied to the last generation (100-year, 70-year, and 50-year Jubilee).

We are that generation!

“Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it? Asks the Lord. No! I would never keep this nation from being born, says your God” (Isaiah 66:9).

The Sad Saga of Syria

Syria is the only country in the world in which the three most conspicuous nations of the Gog/Magog alliance currently maintain a military presence simultaneously… Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It wasn’t all that long ago that each of these nations were enemies of the others.

(

(Although a long way off, Moscow is due north of Israel. Notice the proximity of Syria, Iran, and Turkey to Israel)

In review of the Syrian conflict, the following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, The Gog/Magog Countdown Has Begun. That article was posted over three years ago (9-10-16). Since then, I firmly believe that the endgame of the Gog/Magog agenda has begun to unfold, which means the Rapture is more imminent than ever. In italics:

The Gog/Magog coalition will take advantage of Israel’s “confidence” generated because the Israelis, “…are living in peace in their land” (Verse 14) …. We also see two malicious motives that seduce Russia, Iran, and Turkey: (1) to capture vast amounts of plunder. (2) The deep animosity of these wicked nations toward the Jews compounded by a jealous hatred which claims that Israel, thinks the whole world revolves around them.” (Ezekiel 38:12).

I then quoted from an Eye of Prophecy article posted the previous week, entitled The Peace Treaty That Will Guarantee War. As follows:

In just the last few months and weeks, Russia, Iran, and Turkey have “mobilized their armies” and have taken “command of them” in Syria, which borders Israel. Although the mobilization is limited, the fact remains that for the first time in history these three Magog nations are conducting military operations in the Middle East. Unmistakably, this is the beginning fulfillment of Ezekiel’s astounding prophecy. It’s just a matter of (a short) time before the full military might of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and other nations descend on Israel to completely bring about the Gog/Magog prophecy.

Returning to the excerpt from The Gog Magog Countdown Has Begun:

The two most powerful nations referenced in Ezekiel’s predictions are Russia, by clear inference, and Iran, by actual name. Once enemies by virtue of the Iranian’s (Persians) national adherence to Islam, directly opposed to Russia’s atheistic communism, Iran is now an ally of Russia. They have set aside their differences for the common cause of establishing a footing in the region, under the pretense of supporting Bashar Assad and his Syrian government. Russia’s main agenda is to take over the gas fields off the coast of Israel and newly discovered oil reserves in Israel. Iran’s objective is much less subtle. Their hatred of Jews and Israel has been repeatedly voiced by their leaders with genocidal threats to: Wipe Israel from the face of the earth.

To demonstrate how much stronger this unlikely alliance between Russia and Iran is getting: Less than a month ago, for the first time ever, Iran permitted a foreign nation’s (Russia, of course) fighter bombers and jets to take off from Iran’s Hamedan Air Base. If you’ve kept up with just a little of what’s happening in the Middle East, you’ll know that this military liaison between Russia and Iran pretentiously serves the purpose of striking ISIS targets in Syria. Because both Iran and Russia support the Syrian Government still led by Bashar Assad, they also bomb and strafe Syrian rebel militia fighting against Assad. These freedom fighters are supported by the United States and some Western nations. Although Iran subsequently restricted Russia’s use of the airfield to refueling only, the sure fulfillment of the Gog/Magog prophecy will eventually lead to unhindered cooperation between these two nations. Their anti-God (of the Bible) and anti-Israel agenda will override any differences.

Fast forward back to the present. Russia and Iran are still in Syria and Turkey has returned.

For all practical purposes, President Assad’s brutal regime has regained power and controls much more of Syria that it did even three years ago. Because US President Trump’s main concern was elimination of ISIS in Syria (not whether Assad remains in power), he ordered the withdrawal of a relatively small contingency of American troops near the Syrian/Turkish border. Even some Republicans criticized this decision as it would trigger Turkey’s immediate entrance into a strip of Syria along the Turkish border, mostly inhabited and controlled by the Kurds who fought alongside the United States to defeat ISIS.

Turkey and its President Erdogan hate the Kurds. Under the pretense of protecting the Turkish border with Syria, he sent troops and armament to secure a segment of Syria that stretches about 75 miles long (on the border) and 20 miles deep into Syria. The Turks agenda was twofold: (1) Drive out the Kurds; (2) Replace them with resettled Syrian refugees now in Turkey that number nearly 3 ½ million. However, Erdogan has wanted to eliminate (ethnic cleansing or actual genocide) the Syrian Kurds for years.

Fortunately, the bloodshed has been limited; only because the Kurds have agreed to withdraw. If or when or why the Turks will leave Syria is anybody’s guess. Much depends on not only pressure from the United States but from other nations of NATO, of which Turkey is the only Eurasian country that is a member of this North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

(Turkish Military Convoy in Syria)

Though they’ve had their differences, the presidential leaders of Russia (Vladimir Putin), Iran (Hassan Rouhani) and Turkey (Recep Erdogan) recently met to ostensibly decide the fate of Syria; at least in terms of their respective interests and involvement in this country ravaged by war and economic hardship.

What To Do With Syria (make that … Israel)

In part, President Trump vindicated his decision to remove United States troops from Syria in two ways: (1) With intelligence assistance from the very Kurds whose security was threatened by absence of our troops, US Special Forces found and raided the compound of ISIS leader (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) who killed himself and three of his children while trying to escape. (2) Instead of withdrawing all military personnel, President Trump repositioned some of them to safeguard the oil fields of Syria and Iraq.

Even then, the Democrat controlled House of Representatives moved forward in their relentless effort to impeach President Trump. Whether the stated reasons to impeach him are legally valid and/or whatever the outcome of this impeachment, the process itself will only intensify the enormous polarity and disunity taking place in America between conservatives and liberals.

Although the main reason why the United States will not come to Israel’s aid during the Gog/Magog campaign will be loss of millions of people in America at the Rapture, the stage is already being set for a hands-off, isolationist mindset that will contribute to America’s disregard for and apathy toward Israel’s fate in the early part of the Tribulation.

Which is precisely what God said would happen through the prophet Ezekiel. Meaning that the only support offered to Israel by the United States and Western allies is that of a half-hearted reprimand of the Gog/Magog assault on Israel. These western nations will merely say to Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the entire Magog confederation:

“…Do you really think the armies you have gathered can rob them of silver and gold? Do you think you can drive away their livestock and seize their goods and carry off plunder?” (Ezekiel 38:13).

As a result of the meeting between Putin, Rouhani, and Erdogan, Russian and Syrian government forces occupied this wide swath of Syria on its border with Turkey, while the Kurds pulled out. Followed by Russian and Turkish troops patrolling the corridor to prevent further fighting. All the while, Iran continues to build and rebuild military installations (those bombed periodically by Israeli airstrikes) throughout Syria, some perilously close to the Israeli border … particularly the Golan Heights.

In keeping with his deceptive attempt to label the Kurds as terrorists (in fact they did more to defeat ISIS than any other group of fighters), Turkey’s President Erdogan said of his country’s recent incursion into Syria and the eviction of the Kurds from the stretch of land in question: “I believe this agreement will start a new era toward Syria’s lasting stability and it being cleared of terrorism. I hope that this agreement is beneficial to our countries and to our brothers in Syria.”

Seriously? What brothers in Syria? Turkey has been an opponent of Syrian President Assad’s government for years. Moreover, Syrian President Assad recently said that he is willing to support any resistance (meaning from the Kurds) against Turkey’s invasion. Whereas, Russia and Iran have sent troops to Syria to enable Assad to defeat the rebel freedom fighters (supported by the United States).

The only reason that Russia, Iran, and Turkey maintain diplomatic and military liaisons with each other and barely tolerate the presence of each other is because all three have their sights set on conquest of Israel. As does Syrian President Assad, who—emboldened by his recent military success in Syria—has recently ramped up his rhetoric against Israel.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey have been and will continue to be that much more entrenched in Syria, ready to strike Israel when the Syrian conflict subsides—at least to the satisfaction of the nations involved. Initially, however, they may actually or under pretense begin to slowly withdraw their military from Syria. Which would track with God’s precise prophetic words to Gog/Magog:

“…Gog, I am your enemy! I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army (including Iran and Turkey) …” (Ezekiel 38:3-4, parenthesis mine).

Then later, the Lord taunts Gog again: “Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them … you will be called into action…” (Verses 7-8).

Again in Chapter 39, God says: “I will turn you around and drive you toward the mountains of Israel…” (Verse 2).

Nevertheless, until the Rapture takes place, the United States would immediately come to the aid of Israel if even one of these nations launched a large-scale military campaign against Israel, let alone all three at the same time. As we speak, neither President Trump nor the United States Senate would sit idly by if Israel is attacked by a massive strike force, no matter which country or countries perpetrated such an assault.

All these recent developments have resulted in another endgame piece of the prophetic puzzle perfectly placed and playing out in our generation, just as Scripture said would happen.

Things to Ponder

“But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day … all the people on earth will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth. I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord. Your men will turn their swords against each other. I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur!” (Ezekiel 38:18-22).

Twice before in Jewish history, God fought for Israel unilaterally, decisively defeating Israel’s enemies without the Jews needing to fight at all. Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Stand Still and Watch God Fight For Israel! (published 7-30-16) for an in-depth examination of those events.

The above quoted passage from Ezekiel depicts the third time in Israel’s epic existence that the Lord God will spring into action and crush those nations aligned against Israel, i.e. Gog and his allies.

There are three reasons why God alone will vanquish the massive coalition of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia and other nations when they invade Israel.

  1. Despite the military might of Israel in today’s world, she will be no match for this “mighty army” (Ezekiel 38:15) that will come against God’s people and the Promised Land of Israel.
  2. The supernatural means in which God will destroy Gog/Magog is part of the beginning of the Lord’s demonstration of his power and authority during the early part of the seven-year Tribulation. This to get the attention of not only Israel but the entire world. The judgments on Gog and Magog are very similar to the 6th & 7th Seal judgments and 1st Trumpet judgment (Revelation 6:12-14; 8:4-5; 8:7). In Ezekiel we read what the Lord says after he smashes Gog/Magog: “In this way, I will demonstrate my glory to the nations. Everyone will see the punishment I have inflicted on them and the power of my fist when I strike” (Ezekiel 39:21). Compare those words to what people all over the world begin to realize and say after the 6th Seal is broken: “…hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?” (Revelation 6:16-17).
  3. To eliminate some of Israel’s enemies in preparation for God’s permission for Antichrist’s (Nero) increased ascendancy to power that will be fully developed during the last half of the Great Tribulation. Then the physical return of Messiah Jesus to defeat Antichrist, this time with the Jews fighting alongside their King (Zechariah Chapter 12).

These things have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen as the oldest part (defined as 100 years), the middle part (70 years), and the youngest (final) part of our generation ends.

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

Keep your eyes on the Middle East. God’s plan for all humanity goes directly through Jerusalem.

As Israel goes, so goes the entire world.

One day soon both individually and nationally, both physically and spiritually, “…all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:26).

First Century Existence of Christ and Antichrist & Their 21st Century Return

What do former leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler have in common? Or George Washington and Joseph Stalin? Or Winston Churchill and Mao tse-tung (China)?

If you said, “absolutely nothing” in the context of and contrast to good and evil, just and unjust, moral and immoral, positive and negative (effect on their nation and the world), you would, of course, be “right on.”

In terms of personal integrity and consideration for others, they were opposites. With entirely different social, political, and military consequences for the people they led; indeed, for the whole world during their time in power.

But these trailblazers and world figures before and after them do have one thing in common: They were born, lived, and died in the generation shaped by their influence and exploits—whether good or bad. And they appeared on the world stage only once.

Your immediate response would probably be: “Of course, they had that in common. That’s simple logic. That’s just the way of it. Always has been, always will be.”

And your reaction would be just as rational as your conclusion: Whether abruptly or gradually, persuasive people through the ages have risen to prominence through the typical course of human events.

Next, you might ask another reasonable question: Where is he going with this?

What’s the point of stating the obvious regarding the natural way of birth, life, and death for all people, including prominent leaders from previous generations?

(Arlington National Cemetery Tombstone of Former US President John F. Kennedy; many longed for his return to complete the Camelot-like paradise of his presidency)

Good questions and sound logic. In fact, so sound, that nearly everyone (including believers in Messiah Jesus) automatically assumes that the Antichrist will be born a few decades before the Rapture and rise to power at the outset of the Seven-Year Tribulation period in the pattern of tyrants before him.

However, this natural and reasonable assumption has three foundational flaws:

First Flaw: Failure to fully realize that the post-Rapture appearance of the Antichrist is (in the eyes of those left behind) as stunning as the Rapture itself. Followed by the spectacular events described not only in the book of Revelation, but also by many Old Testament prophets and by Jesus himself … which are anything but natural or normal. They are, in fact: supernatural, abnormal, and extra ordinary (extraordinary).

Second Flaw: The tendency to forget that the Antichrist is not only the opposite of Christ but also a counterfeit imitator of the true Messiah—Jesus. Those who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior have done so because we believe with our whole heart the Biblical record (plus secular history) that decisively documents the supernatural birth, exceptional life, and marvelous miracles of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Apostle Paul succinctly summarized the pivotal event that changed the course of human history when he penned these words to verify that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah, the very Son of God:

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. 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).

Several Biblical prophecies declare in definitive and dramatic terms that Jesus will return to this earth during the Day of the Lord—Tribulation period followed by the Millennial Reign of Messiah—in the same glorified body in which he ascended to heaven forty days after his magnificent resurrection from the grave. In that respect, he is different from any other person who has ever lived. Scripture (Old and New Testament) is abundantly clear that Messiah’s soon-to-come arrival will not be his first appearance on earth. Rather, it will be his glorious Second Coming to establish the global Kingdom of God.

Listen to the words of Messiah himself as spoken to the prophet regarding the last days of the end times:

“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).

Followed by: “Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south” (Zechariah 14:3-4).

Other than Messiah (Jesus), no ruler will return to complete what he started during his lifetime on this earth.

Except one: The Antichrist. Because the tendency is to think in terms of the natural/normal ascendency of leaders during their “once in a lifetime” position of power on this earth, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the Antichrist will be a (false) replica of the true Messiah. Including his initial revealing (1st Century) and his subsequent return from the Abyss (21st Century).

Messiah’s Second Coming will be mimicked by the Antichrist, also in a supernatural way.

Antichrist will be the only other person to “reappear” on the scene of human history. Thus, he, too, will not be a modern-day born man.

(Fingers have been pointed at Popes, Presidents, and other Dignitaries as the Antichrist. The latest target is Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Advisor)

Third Flaw: As indicated, it’s intuitively reasonable to suppose that the Antichrist will be born and rise to power in the generation of the Rapture and ensuing Tribulation … like all despots before him in their generation.

Consequently, Bible Scholars (including me at one time) to this day have missed or even dismissed some significant statements—some clear, others more like clues—in Scripture which convincingly illustrate that the Antichrist was also born in the 1st Century and will return shortly after the Rapture to finish what he started. But this time on a global scale.

In my book, Out of the Abyss and in most of the 59 Eye of Prophecy articles to date in the Category of The Antichrist, I’ve provided detailed Scriptural and historical evidence to demonstrate that this despicable man is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero. I’ve examined at length ALL Biblical passages pertaining to the Antichrist, such as Daniel Chapters 7, 9, & 11. Also, Zechariah Chapter 11 and Revelation Chapter 13.

Present & Past Tense Existence of the Antichrist in the First Century

In this week’s article, we’ll focus on the two passages that categorically convey the present and past tense existence of Antichrist in the first century, i.e. that he was alive at the very time that the Apostle Paul wrote about this man of lawlessness. And that he had already lived and died BEFORE John of Revelation saw his visions of this perverse man—described symbolically by John as a beast. Respectively, they are II Thessalonians Chapter 2 and Revelation Chapter 17.

In addition, there are only two passages in all of Scripture in which the writer (John of Revelation) challenges believers to—with wisdom and understanding—comprehend and, thereby, solve a mystery. Both exhortations apply directly to the Antichrist beast; that his identity could be known (and was known by 1st Century believers). With that knowledge waning by the 5th Century. See Eye of Prophecy article: The Legendary Return of Nero, posted 4-4-15.

The first challenge is found in Revelation Chapter 13—the initial revelation of the Antichrist beast to John. Even many unbelievers know or know of the infamous number found in this verse:

“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” (Revelation 13:18).

As indicated in Out of the Abyss and prior articles, the title/name of Nero Caesar equals six hundred, sixty-six in Hebrew gematria. Gematria is how Jews counted, via the Hebrew alphabet; then translated to the Greek, the original language of the New Testament. First century believers, especially Messianic Jewish believers, would have easily been able to “solve the meaning of the number of the beast.”

Nevertheless, John was given a second vision of the beast, with even more clues; this time focusing on the biographical and geopolitical status of the Antichrist. Clues so strong that they stand alone to provide more proof as to the identity of the beast. They are found in Revelation 17:7-11. For purpose of today’s examination, we’ll focus on verses 7 and 8. With verses 9 through 11 providing more evidence to narrow down which of the seven kings (Caesars) was the beast … Nero.

For an in-depth study of these seven kings (to document they are kings not kingdoms) please refer to Chapters 16 & 17 in Out of the Abyss. Or, Eye of Prophecy articles, Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence, Part I & II (Published 3-18 & 3-25-17).

Revelation 17:7-8

Let’s look again at these two astonishing verses that Bible teachers/students (including me for several years) have overlooked. With the stated reason that it’s so very difficult to wrap our minds around the startling fact that the Antichrist’s arrival soon after the Rapture will NOT be a contemporary man appearing on the scene for the first time. Instead, it will be his reappearance on earth—straight from the Abyss. Where he has been imprisoned for some 2,000 years after his death and revival by the Lord himself.

“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, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

In further commentary on that passage, the following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Antichrist / A “Back To The Future” Prophecy. Posted 11-17-18 (in italics).

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.

*Note: I then quote the next two verses, which is the 2nd time in Revelation that a challenge is issued by the angel to accurately decipher the clues.

“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).

Continuing with the excerpt:

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.

I then summarized that section of the article with the following observations:

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 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).

Now let’s take an up close and personal look at another passage on the Antichrist which emphatically expresses that this man was alive when the Apostle Paul reminded the believers in the Thessalonica Church what he had already told them about the Rapture in I Thessalonians (Chapter 4 & 5).

II Thessalonians Chapter 2

Paul begins that chapter with: “Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him” (II Thessalonians 2:1).

Why was that clarification necessary?

Answer: Some of the Christians had believed false reports that the Day of the Lord had already begun. In his first epistle to the Thessalonians written just a few months earlier, Paul had explained that the Day of the Lord begins with the Rapture of believers to heaven. Followed by a time of disaster that would fall on unbelievers (those left behind).

Yet, Paul reassured the believers that the Rapture would spare them from this time of great tribulation that Jesus had previously spoken of when he said: “For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:21-22).

In fact, the Tribulation will be limited to seven years. But as Jesus said: what a period of death and destruction that will be. See Eye of Prophecy article: Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (posted 6-6-15).

Returning to II Thessalonians Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul provides another reason or component as to why the Day of the Lord had not yet begun. Which, incidentally, he and all the other apostles including Peter believed would take place in their lifetime … any day.

However, it wasn’t until after Paul and Peter had been executed during the latter part of Nero’s reign that the 1st Century believers were given more dramatic details of the Antichrist, which John saw as a beast. Whereas, Paul labeled him the Man of Lawlessness.

As contained in the Eye of Prophecy trilogy, A Beast By Any Other Name I, II, III (posted 3-14, 3-21, & 3-28-15), it’s vitally important to know why different designations are used of the Antichrist, such as king, ruler, man of lawlessness, and beast. Paul never used the tag of Antichrist or beast because he had not been given full disclosure of the sequence of events during the 1st century … later described in the book of Revelation.

Paul wrote only what the Lord had revealed to him:

“Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship…” (II Thessalonians 2:3-4a).

As contained in Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles, Paul knew that Nero was the man of lawlessness; although Nero hadn’t yet ascended to the throne as the fifth Roman Emperor when Paul penned the two letters to the Thessalonians. We know that Paul knew because of what he says in verses 5 through 8, which we’ll get to momentarily. Paul wrote II Thessalonians in AD 51. Nero surreptitiously claimed the throne as Caesar in AD 54. During his reign, he and the Roman Empire began what Paul said would happen when the man of lawlessness was revealed (meaning coming to power).

There would be a great rebellion against God. Which is exactly what happened when Nero instigated a campaign of terror against the new Christian faith in which thousands of believers were killed. Never (before) had an entire empire persecuted people simply because of their beliefs. This rebellion (persecution) began with the Orthodox Jews—including Paul while he was still a Pharisee named Saul. It was a revolt against God’s New Covenant of Grace which, among other things, declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and Savior of mankind.

Nero also fit the profile portrayed by Paul of exalting himself and defying everything that people call god and every object of worship. He had a monumental statue built of himself and wanted people to worship him as God, not just “a god.”

(Current statue at Anzio, Italy–memorializing Nero at his place of birth. The nearly 100-foot statue Nero had built for himself in the 1st century no longer exists)

Then Paul goes on to predict what else the man of lawlessness would do: “…He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God” (II Thessalonians 2:4b).

The Apostle Paul was beheaded because of his Christian faith during Nero’s reign … most likely at the direct orders of Nero. The temple was still intact at that time, as the Roman Legions under General Titus didn’t destroy the Temple until AD 70. It was Nero who, in AD 66, ordered the assault on Israel and hand-picked the Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus to crush the Jewish revolt. However, Nero died in AD 68 before his legions completed the conquest of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple.

Which fits perfectly with Daniel’s prophecy, of which I’ve also written extensively:

“After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One (Messiah Jesus) 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, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

However, the Lord hadn’t revealed to Paul that the man of lawlessness would later be called Antichrist by the Apostle John and a beast/king by John of Revelation. Although Paul knew that Jesus himself would kill the man of lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2:8), he didn’t know this would happen before the man would desecrate the Temple. Likewise, Paul wasn’t aware that the beast would reappear from the Abyss (at God’s appointed time) and continue his 1st century escapades but in far greater proportion on a global level.

The Present Tense Lawlessness Going On

Continuing with II Thessalonians Chapter 2, we read about the lawlessness secretly at work in the Roman Empire. It is the present tense verbs and adjectives in this passage which convincingly confirm that the man of lawlessness (Nero) was currently being restrained (delayed) from perfecting the plot to make him Emperor.

“Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:5-8).

Because I said it as well then as could be said now, here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Does the Holy Spirit Restrain (the Man of) Lawlessness? Posted 3-4-17.

Now let’s read part of the above quoted passage from the New American Standard Version: “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed” (II Thessalonians 2:6). Then in verse seven, “…only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”

Paul uses the impersonal pronoun “what” (restrains him) but then switches to a personal pronoun “he” (who now restrains). You’ll see who the “he” is later on, but the fact remains that the restrainer(s)—there are actually two sources of restriction —is first referred to as “what.” Which could not possibly be the Holy Spirit for reasons already provided: The Holy Spirit is ALWAYS referred to by the personal pronoun … He, Him, or His.

I then provided an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss. As follows (also in italics):

A torrent of crucial words floods these verses. Let’s begin with the present tense words that clearly convey and confirm the premise that all this was taking place before and when Paul wrote his letter.

According to Paul, the restrainer “is” (at that time) holding the lawless one back. This present tense application is augmented by the fact that what restrains is holding “him now.” Not later, not in some distant future, but right then and there while Paul informed the believers. Paul obviously is not referring to a man who hadn’t even been born yet…

Think about it. How could or why would the man be restrained if he wasn’t already alive? If Paul was referring to this man in the future tense (not what the man would do … that was still future), he would have said, “and you know what will hold him back.” The present tense grammar of the text yields a convincing conclusion: this man of lawlessness was already being held in check.

Newsflash: Nero became emperor in 54 AD, but Claudius Caesar and his wife, Agrippina, were already touting Nero as successor when Paul wrote I & II Thessalonians. Furthermore, all of Rome knew that Nero would not be a lawful successor to the crown… (Page 191).

*Note: Agrippina was Nero’s mother. Emperor Claudius was Nero’s stepfather and the biological father of a son, Britannicus, who should have been the lawful heir to the throne.

(The first five Roman Emperors, known as the Claudian Dynasty. From left to right: Augustus Caesar; Tiberius; Caligula; Claudius; Nero)

To further understand how and why Nero was/is the Antichrist/beast/man of lawlessness, here is an excerpt from A Beast By Any Other Name…Part III (in italics):

Thus, when examined closely in the contextual references to Christ and Antichrist, we find a clear indication that the Antichrist would first be revealed as the Man of Lawlessness (ruler-king of Daniel whose armies would destroy the Temple); then return (reappear) as the beast-king of the Tribulation period. There is, however, one astounding verse in the New Testament passages about Antichrist in which both Greek words are used (referring to the words, reveal and reappear) It is a verse that many scholars (including me at one time) have overlooked regarding the significant impact of what is being said.

“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).

Yes, you read that right! The verse means exactly what it says. There are two distinct events presented in this stunning verse: (1) Jesus, himself, will kill this man. Remember, the passage is not about the beast; rather about the man of lawlessness as revealed by Paul. (2) The Lord will (also) destroy the man when Jesus returns … by the splendor of his coming. The killing and the destroying are not the same occurrence; for one thing they are separated by the all-important connective word, and. Furthermore, two separate distinct words are used, kill and destroy. Although destroy can include death, it is much more than that. It is final conquest, domination, and destruction of one’s enemy, whether the adversary is actually killed or not.

When the time came for the man of lawlessness to be revealed—which happened when Nero became Caesar—Christ would subsequently kill him. Then at the second coming of Christ (the Greek word is epiphany… used with a divine emphasis and connotation, i.e. Jesus the Son of God), Christ would ultimately destroy this man. Which is the fate of the beast when he and the false prophet are thrown bodily (alive) into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20).

… Thus, we have the unmistakable evidence that the beast had already lived and died as the man of lawlessness before John prophetically witnessed his reappearance from the Abyss as described both in Revelation 13 and 17.

In closing, here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss:

Paul’s description as the man of lawlessness points to the soul or persona of the man. Simply put: the man is unruly, anarchistic, uncontrolled, ungovernable … in short, outside the God-given laws of morality and nature. After Daniel’s … reference to this man as a king or ruler or little horn, and our Lord’s reference to false messiahs, Paul was the first to introduce this man.

The term antichrist refers directly to the spirit of this depraved man; in fact, the apostle John equates the Antichrist to the spirit of antichrist. Then John defines what this spirit represents or does: it denies God the Father, and God the Son as Messiah.

It is the spirit of a human being that is regenerated or made alive, when that person accepts Christ as Savior. Then the Holy Spirit bears witness with the redeemed spirit that we are children of God. The spirit of Antichrist remains forever spiritually dead; as does the spirit of every person who denies that Jesus is the Christ….

The bestial image of Revelation vividly depicts the physical nature (body) and corporeal deeds of this man, and all that entails. We still use a beast in modern language to expound the exploits of an individual. We might say, “He fought like a beast!” Or we might reduce the beast-like qualities to a specific animal and say, “She had the strength of a lion!” The soul and spirit of a person expresses all that is evil or good through the flesh or bodily presence of the individual. (Pages 204-205).

Also:

When Jesus, with his divine rightful authority, killed Nero, he eliminated the very soul of this wicked man from the face of the earth, at that specific point in time (68 AD), for a very explicit purpose, with a unique twist to a twisted man. Jesus would preserve Nero’s body for the precise plan of sealing the final destruction of Antichrist … bodily in the lake of fire. Yes, I did say, “preserve!” (Page 205).

The mainstream present-day explanation is that a modern-day Antichrist will be killed (some say his death is faked, but Revelation 13 tells us that it’s a fatal wound, i.e. death) at the hands of a Jew, or perhaps by a member of his inner circle. There are several theoretical scenarios presented by various scholars, but not one that I know of factors in II Thessalonians 2:8—that Christ, himself, will kill the man of lawlessness. However, these theories lead to a moot point. Because Revelation 17 unequivocally states that the Antichrist had already lived and died even before John saw a vision of him as a beast!

Continuing in Out of the Abyss:

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 (in the first century) before he reappeared as the beast! As the beast (during his 21st century return) Nero will be cast into the Lake of Fire, alive. (Page 206, parenthesis added for purpose of this week’s article).

Things to Ponder

Said the risen and ascended Jesus to John:

Then Jesus told John to: “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen” (Revelation 1:19, italics for emphasis).

“Jesus, who is the way, truth, and life because he perfectly fulfilled the Law of Moses arrived on the scene first. Then came the man of lawlessness who would seek to pervert and destroy this way, truth, and life. Nero arrived on the scene of humanity only some three and a half years after Jesus ascended to heaven. Nero will be allowed to reappear some seven years before Messiah returns, but Nero’s ultimate authority during that time will be for three and a half years. Thus, Christ will have the final say in this matter. Yeshua is the First and the Last.” (Out of the Abyss; Page 208)

In closing, here is another excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Antichrist / A “Back to the Future” Prophecy:

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.

“…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 foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

West Bank or Judea/Samaria? What’s In A Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2 … Juliet speaking).

Whether a fan of Shakespeare or not, many are familiar with the tragic story of Romeo (Montague) and Juliet (Capulet) who were born into families that despised each other. The long-standing feud between the Montagues and Capulets was too much to overcome for these young star-crossed lovers.

Through a shocking series of misunderstandings and twisted fate, they both died without fulfilling their dream of love and life together.

The balcony scene is the most memorable. Juliet could not understand why their heritage would be such a hindrance. Why must a family rivalry dominate and determine their future? What would it take to set aside generational animosity between peoples? Did the family names really matter that much?

If only the Montagues would look through the lenses of the Capulets and the Capulets identify with the Montagues long enough to bridge this gulf between the two? As noble as Juliet’s wishes were, they clashed with the reality of it all. Although Romeo and Juliet wanted to end the long-standing hostility between the two families, it was not meant to be. There was something in the names.

(Several Romeo & Juliet movies have been made. My personal favorite is the 1968 release, directed by Franco Zeffirelli; starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting)

If only the Palestinians would agree to accept and refer to the West Bank as Judea/Samaria.

Instead they and those who support the Palestinian agenda employ the designation of West Bank, with the misguided implication that it belongs to the Palestinian Arabs. It does not!

Israel is a Jewish State established by native and immigrant Jews (not by Arabs) no different than France is a French state. Germany is a German state. Spain is a Spanish state … on and on.

All areas within the borders of these nations and others like them are (or should be) under the sovereign jurisdiction of that nation’s government. The United States of America is unique in that her ethnic citizens are Americans … a true melting pot. With, however, Federal authority over political, economic, military, and security matters common to all 50 States as reflected in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of our Republic.

When Israel became a sovereign state, the Jews did not displace the Arabs living alongside them. Instead, many Arabs voluntarily left Israel at the directive of five Arab nations that invaded Israel on May 15th, 1948—the day after Israel declared statehood. Unlike the United States forced dislodgment of some Native Americans, especially during our westward expansion.

The analogy between Juliet’s famous words and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is intriguing but also imperfect … as many analogies are. For one thing: often one side of such long-standing disputes is right and the other wrong. On one side is the truth; on the other side are lies that distort and even rewrite the history of such truth.

What’s in a name?

What does it matter if the identity of Israel’s central region is called the West Bank (merely because Judea/Samaria is on the west side of the Jordan River) instead of its authentic Biblical time-honored designation of Judah and Samaria?

Answer: It makes all the difference in the world.

It is the distinction between historical truth and modern-day fabrications, including but not limited to who has sovereign rights to that portion of Israel. For that matter, to all of Israel. In that regard, the terms that are tossed around casually by most world leaders and certainly all Islamic nations of “West Bank, (Jewish) Settlements, and East Jerusalem” are used for political reasons.

The Biblical Precedent/Truth

The rivalry between the Jews and Arabs (to now include non-Arab Muslim nations and the Arabs within the state of Israel who started to call themselves Palestinians after the Six-Day War of 1967) is ancient in origin.

It began when God sovereignly chose Isaac as the promised child through whom his father Abraham’s descendants would be given the Promised Land of Israel and through whom the Messiah would come to bring redemption to all people, Jew and Gentile alike (including Arabs!).

Not Ishmael, as Muslims claim.

God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham when he said: “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).

The Lord then reaffirmed this two-part unconditional covenant with Abraham … and later Isaac and Jacob (the Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel): (1) Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land of Israel, called Canaan at the time. (2) As subsequently revealed by the prophets, it would be God’s Messiah (his very Son) who would come from the tribe of Judah and be the ultimate source of salvation’s blessing to individuals who believed and received him as personal Savior. Also, blessings to entire nations that would acknowledge the God of Israel and his Messiah.

Regarding Point #1, God said to Abraham: “…Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession” (Genesis 13:14-15).

Just how far Abraham could see is not known, nor was it necessary to know at that time. Rest assured, however, that the boundaries of that Promised Land encompassed much more than modern-day Israel. And one day will again. God later designated these borders of the Promised Land as found in several passages of Scripture, including Joshua Chapters 13 through 21.

(Original and restored future borders of Israel … although the bottom of the red line is extended too far down into Saudi Arabia)

The very existence of the modern State of Israel and the unprecedented return of the Jews from many nations bear irrefutable testimony to the absolute and amazing accuracy of Biblical prophecy. No other nation on the face of the earth has ever been restored like Israel, from the floods of dispersion and from the fires of Nazi death camps. No other dead language has ever been revived like Hebrew, now spoken by Jews throughout Israel.

Yet, the world at large refuses to recognize these astonishing accomplishments.

Instead, they regard the timeless truths and fulfilled prophecies of the Bible as irrelevant to our post-modern world. Entire nations have denied the right of Israeli Jews to sovereignty over ALL Israel, including Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Virtually every nation on earth still pushes for a Palestinian state within Israel despite the clear evidence that this would imperil Israel’s security and its very survival. And despite the undeniable fact that the Palestinians have blatantly rejected several generous offers to form such a state.

The Arabs have persistently denied Israel’s right to exist. Moreover, the militant among them (with silent approval from the so-called moderates) have sworn to destroy Israel. They do not want a state alongside the Jewish state; they want a nation in place of Israel. Yet, the heads of the global heads of state remain buried in the sand, oblivious to the true history of the Middle East and the real agenda of the Muslim world.

One of those passages that I’ve quoted before is from the otherwise obscure book of Obadiah; obscure only because of its brevity (one chapter). Certainly not because of its powerful prophetic impact regarding Israel’s future, which has transpired before our 20th & 21st century eyes.

Here it is as part of an excerpt from the final portion of Eye of Prophecy article, Israel’s Controversial Nation State Law (posted 8-11-18); having already listed seven reasons why Israel is and always will be a Jewish state:

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

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

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

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

“At the time of those events, says the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2).

Moreover, in dozens of subsequent prophecies, the Lord promised that he would return his people to their Promised Land and restore Israel to the full frontiers established by the Lord himself.

Continuing with the excerpt from the previously cited article:

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

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

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

Will Israel Annex Portions of Judea/Samaria?

Fulfillment of end-times Biblical prophecy regarding Israel and the return of Messiah Jesus is taking place at an extraordinary pace. Just like the analogy of birth pains depicted by Christ. The latest of these remarkable developments was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bold announcement that, if he and his right-wing bloc are reelected, Israel would officially annex portions of Judea/Samaria (West Bank) in which there are Jewish communities.

Moreover, Netanyahu said that any such action would not be undertaken until after the 2nd part of the United States peace-plan (Deal of the Century) was formally announced—which President Trump indicated would be soon after the Israeli elections of September 17th (this past Tuesday).

(Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Annexation Announcement)

During a press conference held on September 10th, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared: “It puts a great challenge before us, but also a great opportunity. It’s a historic opportunity—a one-time window of opportunity to extend Israel sovereignty over our settlements in Judea and Samaria and also other areas of importance to our security, our history and our future. We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six-Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years. Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

He went on to say: “There’s one place in which it’s possible to extend Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections if I receive from you, the citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do it… Today, I reveal my intention to annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.”

Along with the Golan Heights—which Israel annexed years ago—he said that the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, “…is the essential security belt in the Middle East.” Furthermore, he promised that (paraphrasing): not one Jew will be uprooted from Judea/Samaria.

Following this stunning news, the on-line op-ed site of Jewish News Syndicate said in an article: “…regarding the annexation of the Jordan Valley, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had notified the White House prior to making the announcement, and that ‘someone in the White House’ had said off the record that ‘Netanyahu’s plan does not impinge on Trump’s.’”

(Note: The White House’s implied support of Netanyahu’s proposal is unprecedented. Despite Israel’s spectacular victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, no U.S. President or Executive Staff had officially extended approval for this annexation, even though they had recognized Israel’s legal and national right to do so).

Said Benjamin Netanyahu in response to the White House’s statement: “That’s saying a lot. For over eight years (referring to Obama’s time as United States President) I blocked the attempt to push us into the 1967 borders, to uproot settlements. Then, in the last three years, I’m changing the course of Jewish history by getting recognition for settlement, for the borders (parenthesis mine).”

Netanyahu’s referral to borders is a slight concession to international presumptions that the demarcation between Israel proper and Areas A, B, & C (established in the 1993 Oslo Accords) of Judea/Samaria were actual borders. They are not. The true geographical boundaries of the Jewish State of Israel are with other countries—Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. They are NOT internal borders within Israel.

Instead they were simply armistice lines agreed to by the Israelis, even though Israel was victorious over her enemies in her 1948 War of Independence, and even more so in the Six-Day War of 1967; having reclaimed ALL Israel, including ALL of Jerusalem.

Because of international pressure to return some of this territory to Jordanian (West Bank) and Egyptian (Gaza and Sinai Peninsula) control, Israel agreed to these truce lines. In fact, both Jordan and Egypt had illegally usurped control of these areas after Israel’s War of Independence of 1948.

Netanyahu concluded by comparing his recent annexation plans to previous agreements with President Trump. That he had, “persuaded Trump to recognize Jerusalem as our capital, move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognize our sovereignty in the Golan, get out of the horrible Iran deal… and now I’m doing the same thing (not only) vis a vis the Jordan Valley, but also all the settlements inside and outside the blocs. This is crucial.”

This isn’t the first time that Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed the view of most Israelis Jews concerning Israel’s sovereignty over Judea/Samaria. Shortly after Israeli elections in April of this year (that didn’t result in a majority government … thus, the need for reelections earlier this week), Netanyahu asserted the need for such autonomy.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Judea/Samaria & Gaza Strip / Who Has Sovereignty? (published 5-11-19, that also explains the demographics of Areas A, B, & C of Judea/Samaria) … in italics:

Not only did President’s Trump’s March 2019 declaration that the United States recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights generate a backlash of criticism, so did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise concerning Judea/Samaria….

In the context of the dismal failure of total Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 that produced previously non-existent Hamas driven terrorism instead of peaceful co-existence between Israel and the Gaza Palestinians, plus the seemingly never-ending Palestinian lone-wolf terrorist attacks mostly against Israeli Jews living in the West Bank, Netanyahu promised to extend Israeli (functional) sovereignty over Area C of the West Bank in which Israeli Jews live.

Immediately most global media headlines conveyed his campaign announcement by saying that Netanyahu (Israel) was going to “annex the West Bank” … or something to that effect. That is NOT what he said, although Israel has every right to annex the entire area of Judea/Samaria if they choose, not just Area C.

Another reason for Netanyahu’s proposal to officially exercise (administrative) sovereignty over Area C is in the event (albeit remote) a Palestinian state is created, which would include the portion of this area crucial to Israeli security, especially the Jordan Valley. Nor will Israel consider dismantling Jewish communities in Area C, causing massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews. It just isn’t going to happen. Netanyahu’s sovereignty promise was a public statement of that fact.

Annexation is nothing more than an official exclamation point on that portion of Israel (like the Golan Heights annexed in 1981) already sovereignly controlled by Israel. But as indicated, Netanyahu stopped short of saying Area C of the West Bank would be annexed.

Now, however, Benjamin Netanyahu has included annexation as the final step in exercising Israeli sovereignty over land that has belonged to the Jews from ancient times. Which lies within the very heart of Israel, the Promised Land that was given to them by the only true and living God as an everlasting possession. Israel’s Prime Minister is doing exactly what the Lord said should and would be done. Ultimately, it will be accomplished by God’s sovereignty over Israel and all nations of the world, though Israel will still go through some tough times during the Great Tribulation.

Listen to the Word of God:

“Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem! And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain … Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play” (Zechariah 8:1-5).

This Divine promise is taking place in our generation and will be experienced fully upon Messiah’s return.

Adverse Reactions to Annexation Plans

As expected, the Palestinians and Muslim nations including Iran strenuously objected to and condemned Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promise to annex the Jordan Valley, where Jews outnumber Palestinians, 13,000 to 6,000. If Jericho is included, then Palestinians outnumber Jews, 53,000 to 13,000; however, Netanyahu’s plan does not include Jericho. The Jordan Valley comprises about 30% of the “West Bank.” Regarding Area C of Judea/Samaria, Jews outnumber Palestinians 400,000 to 200,000.

Said one Palestinian farmer in this region: “It’s our parents and grandparents land. We will hold onto it no matter what it costs.”

Yet, for the Jews, it’s also their parents and grandparents. And much more: It’s generations of Jews that go all the way back to the time of Abraham, some 4,000 years ago.

Said Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat: “It’s impossible to have a Palestinian state without the Jordan Valley.”

Really? The truth is that it’s currently impossible to have a Palestinian State … period!

Because the Palestinians want all of Israel; not just the Jordan Valley, not just Judea/Samaria, not just the Gaza Strip. For that matter, how does Israel negotiate with those who seek her destruction and who have vowed never to officially recognize her existence? And even if they did, with whom does Israel negotiate? Hamas of the Gaza Strip or the Palestinian Authority of the (misleading term) West Bank? Each of whom hate the other and solemnly swear that they alone will be the governing authority of any Palestinian state.

(Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh–to the left & Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Not certain when this photo was taken, but not recently. As these two Palestinian leaders have become bitter rivals)

Not just the Palestinians and Muslim nations and leaders of some European countries; even the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the plan. According to Guterres, the plan: “would constitute a serious violation of international law.” That it, “would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations and regional peace, while severely undermining the viability of the two-state solution.”

Seriously? How is it that the leader of the United Nations can be so ignorant of “international law.” Or the real reasons why a “two-state solution” has not taken place by now? Or that such a solution could bring peace to Israel, let alone the Middle East?

I have written about this extensively in several prior articles. Here is an excerpt from, Two-State Solution & The Seven-Year Treaty … Impossible? (Posted 1-26-19):

Likewise, any (pre-Rapture) agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is equally unachievable.

However, the world at large doesn’t see it that way for two (main) reasons: (1) Heads of states and even geopolitical experts don’t fully comprehend the real underlying issues; not the least of which is the ancient Arab hatred of the Jews, which has morphed into the present-day Muslim loathing of a Jewish nation on earth. (2) They don’t know or care to know what the God of the Bible has to say and what he will do about these matters. The true and living God whose hundreds of prophecies have come to pass and more last days predictions that will happen just as surely.

Globally, there is an intense focus on and incessant demand for what is commonly referred to as the Two-State Solution for Israelis and Israel’s non-citizen (by choice) Palestinians. Flying in the face of reality, the two-state solution is nevertheless the political jousting frequently heard from the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, NGO’s, and common citizens. Even from those, including many celebrities, who know virtually nothing about the origin (history) or contemporary facts-on-the-ground details of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Those (and there are many) who promote such a proposal do so with the misguided assumption that if the Palestinians are granted their own state, there would be: (1) peace within Israel and throughout the Middle East, and (2) no more or at least reduced Arab/Muslim hostility toward Jews—within and outside Israel.

No matter that the Palestinians have four times rejected offers that could have resulted in a Palestinian state. First—the Balfour Declaration of 1917; Second—UN Partition Resolution 181 in 1947; Third—then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer in the year 2000 of some 95% of the West Bank (including what is referred to as east Jerusalem) to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. Fourth—an even more (ill-advised) generous offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.

And from Eye of Prophecy article, The “Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? (4-7-18).

Many people forget that the Arabs had a golden opportunity to create a state alongside the State of Israel in 1948. They forfeited that right by rejecting UN Resolution 181. Which was an international recognition of Israel’s right to statehood approved by the United Nations itself, no matter if the Arabs consented or not. Instead the Arabs viciously attacked the infant state of Israel the very next day. Which leads us to the 2nd reason why Israel legally and legitimately belongs to the Jews, and why the Jews alone had (still have) the Right of Return … for those still in Diaspora.

There is an innate time-honored tradition that any nation or people have the right to reactively or preemptively defend themselves from armed attack. In fact, it’s moral common sense. This includes the prerogative, if exercised, to annex or purchase land (Jews have purchased most of the land on which Israelis reside) within the geographical boundaries of that nation. When obviously justified, it also includes adjacent territory (such as the Syrian section of the Golan Heights) from which an enemy had constantly rained down rockets, shells, and small arms fire.

As opposed to a unilateral unprovoked assault on neighboring nations for the exclusive purpose of taking over all or part of another country … an unrighteous war of aggression.

The historical record is indisputable: Israel was forced to defend herself when attacked by an Arab coalition that far outnumbered and outgunned the Jews. Against insurmountable odds, Israel won her “War of Independence.” An independence that had already been granted by a convincing majority of the UN’s member countries.

But the world at large sees it differently. To this day, many entertain the notion that the Arabs made a mistake. So, give them another chance to reconsider acceptance of the UN Resolution. Or, even that UN Resolution 181 still applies to the Arabs—which it doesn’t because the Arabs rejected it. Or, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ farcical fantasy that Resolution 181 is invalid, much like his accusation that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 was illegitimate.

The Arabs made more mistakes, one after another. I’m referring to three more wars in which Israel was forced to fight for its very survival; Suez War of 1956, Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In the Six-Day War, Israel reclaimed ALL of what was formerly called Palestine, including the historic liberation of Jerusalem itself. Israel had every individual, national, and international RIGHT to keep those liberated lands of the Golan Heights, Judea/Samaria (West Bank), the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and ALL of Jerusalem.

(After the Six-Day War, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt; kept the Golan Heights; withdrew Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005; relinquished administrative control of Judea/Samaria–West Bank– to Jordan and now the Palestinian Authority, to include Temple Mount. Yet, Israel has ultimate sovereignty over all these regions)

[Other Eye of Prophecy articles on this general subject are: Israeli Occupation … Fact or Myth? (5-16-15); United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334) (1-17-17); The Balfour Declaration … Beginning of the Omega Generation, Part I & II (May 2017); What is Palestine & Who Is a Palestinian? (12-2-17); Does Israel Belong to the State of Israel? (5-4-19).]

Summary of the Annexation Proposal

In an article on that same day (September 10th) posted by journalist Sean Savage in Jewish News Syndicate, he quotes Eugene Kontorovich’s (Director of International Law at the Jewish-based Kohelet Policy Forum) reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation statement:

“The Prime Minister’s announcement is fully in line with Israel’s international legal rights. Because these territories were part of the British Mandate, Israel has as much legal right to them as to Tel Aviv. Israel is simply changing the method under which it exercises its jurisdiction over these territories, to make it more governable and equitable.”

Savage went on to say: “The proposed move cannot be described as ‘annexation’ he (Kontorovich) explained, because under international law, annexation means the taking of the territory of a foreign country. Judea and Samaria did not belong to Jordan or any other country when Israel retook control of it in 1967.”

Quoting Kontorovich again, Savage wrote: “Israel waited for more than 50 years to regularize the status of these territories, giving the Palestinians opportunity after opportunity to make a peace deal that would have given them a sovereign state. The Palestinians refused time after time, rejecting initiatives under presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. Israel has now decided that the people in these areas cannot be held in limbo forever; Israelis should not pay the price for Palestinian intransigence.”

Said Dore Gold, well-known expert on the Middle East who currently heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, in comparing what happened when Israel evicted all Israelis (some 10,000) from the Gaza Strip in 2005 to what would happen if Israel relinquished its sovereignty and presence in the Jordan Valley: “We did not get an era of peace. We got three (Gaza Strip) wars. We’re not going to allow that to happen to our east (parenthesis mine).”

No matter the results of Israel’s election, it’s time for Israel’s destiny to be fulfilled.

It’s time for God’s chosen people to exercise their God-given covenant birthright to live in all of Israel; all the while extending equal rights, which Israel does, to Israeli Arab citizens (Palestinians are not citizens by choice). To continue God’s providential plan for Jews to maintain sovereignty over what is an extremely small portion of this earth to begin with, but also to remember what the Lord told them long ago:

“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

I’ve been to Israel and constantly keep abreast of what’s taking place there and in the Middle East in general. For decades, I have studied Israel’s past and contemporary history in detail; including, of course, what the Bible has to say about this amazing land. There is no evidence whatsoever of apartheid in Israel—as alleged by many the world over. On the contrary, there are numerous examples of democratic equality for Israeli Arabs; to the point of serving in all branches of Israel’s government and certainly the right to vote.

Things to Ponder

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

The time (that) will come as promised by God through the prophet Amos is here. In the context of and correlation to many other prophecies of Israel’s future, it is clearly referring to the last days of the end times.

That time is now.

Again, we read: “On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth. I will restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Zephaniah 3:20).

That day of gathering has indeed begun before the watching eyes of the entire world. It won’t be long before Israel will be a beacon to the nations, no longer denigrated by those who loathe her very existence and who have distorted the truth of God’s Word to achieve their own warped agenda, individually and nationally.

All the prophetic pieces are falling rapidly in place for the first onslaught against Israel via the Gog/Magog coalition of Russia, Iran, Turkey (and smaller nations) as demonstrated by the presence of these nations in Syria for the past few years. And a September 16th, 2019 conference in Ankara, Turkey attended by the leaders of this alliance—President Vladimir Putin of Russia; President Hassan Rouhani of Iran; President Recep Erdogan of Turkey. This campaign will take place not long after the Rapture; God will crush the Gog/Magog armies without need for Israel to fight at all!

Followed by the assault on Israel led by Antichrist (Nero) and his coalition during the last part of the seven-year Great Tribulation, which will be dealt a final devastating defeat by Messiah Jesus himself.

Regarding Israel and Jerusalem:

The next verse says: Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home” (Isaiah 60:4).

Have you looked? Do you see (know) that millions of Jews from the four corners of the earth have returned home to Israel? That millions have been born in the land of their ancestors.

“So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28).

The Rapture / Before or After The Great Tribulation?

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

What are the words referred to by the Apostle Paul? Do you recognize the context of this verse?

If your answer is the resurrection of dead believers in Christ, their transformation into immortal bodies along with those Christians who are still alive; then the “catching up” (Greek word, harpazo) of both living and raised believers to meet the Lord in the air, you would be 100% correct.

Congratulations!

This earth-shaking event is commonly referred to as, The Rapture. The following is an excerpt from the very first Eye of Prophecy article posted (July 2013), entitled, What Is The Rapture? (in italics):

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

Thus, we have a captivating combination of the original Latin and Greek words, which is accurately rendered “caught up” in most English translations of the Bible. These words convey the dynamics of the actual time/space sequence involved in this literal transfiguration of the Christian’s physical body, with the spiritual joy, emotional bliss, and mental delight in what is taking place. Those who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior (both the dead and the living), will experience the highest degree of spiritual and physical euphoria possible, as we will be instantly changed and then transported to heaven, there to be with our Lord and King forever. As the sayings go, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” And, “What a way to go!”

Messiah Jesus was the first to dramatically describe the Rapture: “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken (believer), the other left (unbeliever). Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left” (Matthew 24:40, parenthesis mine).

And, “That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left” (Luke 17:34).

Those verses clearly convey that the Rapture will be a global phenomenon. Reason: Half of the earth will be day; the other half will be night.

The Apostle Paul’s amazing account of the Rapture in I Thessalonians 4 contains the full sequence of the Rapture. Every time I read this priceless passage; I’m as thrilled as the time before. Here it is again:

Later, in I Corinthians 15, Paul explains the tremendous transfiguration of believers into imperishable bodies … equipped to live forever.

Although the extreme makeover of believer’s bodies will take place in a nanosecond, the entire episode of the Rapture will take several minutes. Please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles: The Shout Heard Around the World (posted 4-22-17); also, A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture! (4-20-19).

Is that, then, why Paul exhorts believers to “encourage each other with these words”?

Answer: Obviously, yes; but also, no (not entirely).

Yes, because the resurrection of believers who have already died and their transfiguration and transportation to heaven along with living believers is one of the two powerful purposes of the Rapture. It is the grand finale of Biblical redemption that began when we believed and received Jesus as our personal Savior. At that moment, we were given eternal life. The Rapture will then usher us into heaven (also the new earth to come)—our home for eternity.

No (not entirely), because there is a significant second reason for the Rapture; one that some Christians have misunderstood, sometimes to the point of discouragement and disagreement.

More Encouraging Words

A few verses later, The Apostle Paul again urges 1st century believers: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11).

Although the broader perspective of that verse is still that of the Rapture, there is a narrower context which begins with Chapter 5. Paul elaborates on what Jesus had said earlier about the Rapture, both stated and implied: Such as: no one knows the precise day/hour when Jesus will snatch away both living and raised from the dead believers from the earth. And, the Rapture itself will precede the physical return of Messiah Jesus … they are different events. See Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Published 12-3-16.

Consequently, Scripture cautions believers to be on the highest alert and fully aware of the signs and seasons of the Omega (final) generation.

Both Jesus and Paul use the term, “return” or “the Lord’s return.” However, in their description it is explicitly evident that the Rapture phase of Messiah’s return is different than and separate from his physical return; with each stage an integral part of his Second Coming.

Unfortunately, the question that some believers have incorrectly answered is whether the Rapture will take place shortly (days, weeks, months) before Messiah descends to earth. Or whether it will occur before the seven-year Tribulation begins. These two views are identified in the terms: Pre-Tribulation Rapture or Post-Tribulation Rapture. Abbreviated as Pre-Trib or Post-Trib.

I’ve written about this subject in several articles, the most comprehensive of which is: Will Believers Go Through the Tribulation? Part I & II (posted 6-15 & 6-22-19). Later, we’ll concentrate on a couple of other passages, which were mentioned more in passing in previous articles.

But first, in a brief review of the above referenced articles, let’s return to I Thessalonians Chapter 5; one of the most convincing statements to demonstrate that the Rapture will take place before the onset of the Great Tribulation.

There, we find the second purpose for the Rapture, as well as the reason why the Apostle Paul again tells believers to reassure each other, as we just read in I Thessalonians 5:11. In fact, the cause for encouragement is stated just two verses earlier:

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

The saving us (believers in Messiah Jesus) is NOT a direct reference to or in the context of our salvation when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. That is found in passages such as John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10, and a host of others. Nor does it apply to the general trials, tribulation, and suffering during a believer’s time on this earth spoken of by Jesus, Paul, and Peter—which some Christians confuse with the specific seven-year Tribulation. Thus, claiming that believers will go through the Tribulation.

Rather the clear context of God’s choosing “to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ” is still in the parameters of the Day of the Lord, in which God’s final wrath is meted out globally on those left behind at the Rapture who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and his salvation available only through the true Messiah, Jesus. Instead they will follow the false Messiah. They will be, “…on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them … Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:10 & 12).

That’s precisely what Paul is talking about in I Thessalonians Chapter 5; a direct extension of the Rapture revelation in the last three verses of Chapter 4. He’s telling us that—in addition to the resurrection of the dead in Christ and transfiguration of their bodies—living believers will be also be transfigured AND taken from the earth.

Why? Because God has chosen to save us from the Great Tribulation. God has chosen, not to pour out his anger on us (believers). Rather, that wrath will be directed to a wicked, unbelieving world who will embrace the lies foisted on them by Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

As indicated, there are several other passages (covered in detail in a few Eye of Prophecy articles) to convincingly confirm that there is absolutely no way that believers will experience the Great Tribulation. Here, I’m referring to pre-Rapture believers, not those who accept Christ after the Rapture, called Tribulation saints. Even then, many of the plagues described in Revelation will be confined to unbelievers, including most of the seven bowl judgments.

However, this one verse (I Thessalonians 5:9) is more than enough to decisively demonstrate that the Rapture will spare believers from the apocalyptic death and destruction during the inconceivable horror of the Tribulation.

For emphasis, here is the passage again, this time adding verse 10: “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 (Paul is again referring to the Rapture phase of Christ’s return), we can live with him forever. So encourage each other…” (I Thessalonians 5:9-11a, parenthesis mine).

How could this verse be any clearer or more emphatic?

Not just the words of the verse in the context of the Tribulation, but also the common-sense application of it. Certainly, believers could and should encourage each other after Paul’s dynamic disclosure of the Rapture itself, as an enhancement of what Jesus had already said. On the other hand, how could believers possibly be encouraged (again) if they/we must go through the Tribulation?

Webster’s Definition of Encouraging: “giving hope or promise.”

Encouragement: “the act of encouraging; the state of being encouraged; something that encourages.”

Paul isn’t telling the believers to be encouraged despite the Tribulation, i.e. having to experience it.

Instead, he’s telling them to encourage each other because they wouldn’t have to undergo God’s final judgment poured out on a wicked, corrupt world whose left-behind unbelieving inhabitants will follow a man even more perverse than they are. As optimistic as Paul was during his amazing life on this earth and ministry for Messiah Jesus in which he experienced great hardship, he wouldn’t tell his brothers and sisters in Christ to “grin and bear it.” Not in the context of what would be the most terrible time on earth imaginable.

According to the Bible (directly from Jesus and the prophets and apostles) there’s a vast difference between the daily trials and heartaches of life—including varying levels of persecution brought by unbelievers against believers during our lifetime on this earth—and the greatest calamity of all time that will take place during the Tribulation in only seven-years’ time.

Said Jesus:

*Note: The “chosen ones” are God’s chosen people the Jews; time doesn’t permit in this week’s article to document that.

More Evidence of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

In the remainder of this week’s article, we’ll focus on two primary passages in Scripture which I’ve not covered as extensively as other passages in prior articles pertaining to the Rapture and Physical Return of Christ.

First Passage:

“Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.’ And instantly I was in the Spirit…” (Revelation 4:1-2a).

In this remarkable scene, John—the author of Revelation—is instantly transported to heaven from the Isle of Patmos. We’ll see why this is a prototype preview and replica representation of believers taken from the earth during the Rapture. Therefore, why the Rapture must and will take place before the Great Tribulation begins.

Come up here. These are the words of Christ Jesus himself, because it was the same voice that John heard as recorded in Revelation Chapter 1. John had not only heard the voice of Jesus but had seen him in all his resurrection splendor, as well. We know that John was taken to heaven, because Messiah Jesus told him to, “come up here.” In that regard, John was a foreshadow of living believers who will be taken from the earth at the Rapture; thereby, spared from the Tribulation.

Prophetically, John was given the awesome privilege of watching the entire Tribulation unfold before his eyes. Then to record these apocalyptic scenes for all believers.

Although it’s unlikely that raptured believers will witness the seven seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments while we’re in heaven, it’s crystal clear that we will accompany Messiah Jesus upon his final return to earth (Revelation 19:11-21 & Revelation 17:14). But the fact remains that both John (as a prefigure representation) and raptured believers will sit out the Tribulation in heaven. Nowhere in the successive Tribulation scenes of Revelation (Chapters 5 through 19), do we find John personally experiencing any part of God’s solemn and sovereign judgment of the earth. Instead, he is a bystander to and recorder of these cataclysmic events.

NOR DO WE FIND any mention of the church (born-again believers) in Chapters 5 through 18. That fact is intentional, not merely coincidental.

Only the Tribulation saints are identified—those who were left behind at the Rapture but then chose Messiah Jesus over Antichrist (Nero). Not until Chapter 19, when all raptured believers (not including Tribulation saints, for they won’t be raised from being martyred until Chapter 20) will ride to victory with Messiah Jesus. The latter part of Chapter 19 is the final battle of all time, known by virtually the entire world as Armageddon. In this crushing victory Jesus will throw the Antichrist and False Prophet into the Lake of Fire. He will then destroy their entire army, whose military leaders would dare fight against the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Shortly, thereafter, Satan (in bodily form … the dragon) will be cast into and chained in the Abyss for 1,000 years—during the magnificent Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ on earth.

Most believers are familiar, if not well versed, with Jesus’s letters to the seven churches as found in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. The chronological sequence of these letters in juxtaposition to John’s subsequent and sudden ascent into heaven is unmistakable. They were written to seven existing churches in the 1st century but are obviously meant for all churches thereafter. Each of the congregations had its own distinct set of conditions (two of them positive and five mostly negative).

However, the main purpose for the Lord’s assessment of and advice to each church was to prepare them for his return. With rewards of eternal significance for listening and obeying; just as he warned all believers in his end-times discourse found in Matthew Chapters 24-25 to be ready for his two-phase return. First the Rapture, then his physical reappearance on earth to complete God’s final judgment (Armageddon). But nowhere in these letters do we find any shred of evidence whatsoever that these churches (even the miserable, apathetic Laodicean church) would be part of or subject to the final wrath of God poured out on a rebellious and unrepentant world.

Instead, there would be discipline (of churches and individual believers) when necessary.

Specifically, to the church at Laodicea, Jesus said: “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Revelation 3:19).

Followed by one of the most loving and compassionate offers Jesus makes to any believer—especially to those who have gone their own way: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20).

That verse is often quoted as an invitation for unbelievers to open the door of their heart to Jesus. Although there’s nothing wrong with that extended application, the concise context of Jesus’s invitation is to lukewarm believers who were saying, “I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!” With Jesus’s response: “And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

John was still on the Isle of Patmos when Jesus gave him these seven letters. But the very next scene is that of John being whisked away to heaven. The prototype parallel to all born-again believers is clear-cut. Neither the seven churches of the 1st Century—when Christ could certainly have returned—nor believers in the centuries to follow (right up to the present time) would need go through the Tribulation. Like our forerunner, John, we will be snatched away, exempt from the terror to come. In the meantime, we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). And that sometimes includes the Lord’s discipline of believers, when we get bigheaded; or, a little too big for our britches.

In summary: The absence of any reference to individual believers or individual churches during the Tribulation Chapters (Revelation 5 – 18 + 19:11-21), preceded by John’s instant transport to heaven as an observer of (not a participant in) the Great Tribulation, is more validation of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

If there was any possibility that John (representing his brothers and sisters in Christ as stated in Revelation 19:10) would experience the Tribulation, then John would have been given his visions of the future on Patmos. Instead, he was removed to heaven in the Spirit. An electrifying experience so real that he might as well have been there bodily. And, although we don’t know for sure, he very well could have been (Paul said the same thing … II Corinthians 12:1-4).

Which, in turn, is a foretaste of the wonderful immortal spiritual bodies that every believer will be given just before being taken to heaven.

Second Passage (Sets of):

Just before the Rapture segment of I Thessalonians 4:15-18, we read: “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died” (I Thessalonians 4:14).

This is a pivotal verse to further confirm that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation. But we must combine it with verses in and commentary on Revelation 19 & 20 to explain this additional proof.

First, an observation of the obvious: For believers who have died to be (brought back) with Jesus upon his physical return to earth, they must be raised from the dead. Exactly what Paul proceeds to say in the ensuring verses 15 & 16. But don’t forget that this passage is referring to the Rapture, not the physical return of Christ to earth, as our Lord doesn’t descend to earth during the Rapture. Instead, believers will meet him in the air.

Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon and Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events (2-3-18) for an in-depth examination of Jesus’s two-part return to earth, near the end of the Tribulation. The first to fight alongside Israel (Jews) in the heroic battle for Jerusalem (Zechariah 12 & 14). The second (final) time: to crush Antichrist and his coalition, which by then will include the Kings of the East (Revelation 16).

This epic battle in the Valley of Megiddo (Armageddon) is vividly described in Revelation 19 (also a few Old Testament passages). With Christ are, “…the armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.” (Revelation 19:14). These are clearly the raised from the dead (plus raptured living believers) identified in I Thessalonians 4. Or, in the form of a question: Who else could they be?

(Jezreel Valley in Israel; also known as Megiddo Valley, in which Har (hill) Megiddo is location, from which the term Armageddon comes)

So, the all-important question: when will they be raised from the dead? In other words, when will the Rapture take place? Before the Tribulation or afterwards?

To further verify a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, let’s look at a sequential event that happens soon after Christ’s magnificent victory at Armageddon. Chronologically, it comes in the next chapter of Revelation, just after Satan is bound for a thousand years.

“Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. 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” (Revelation 20:4).

Along with a few other passages in Scripture, this verse coupled with believers accompanying Messiah Jesus during his victorious descent from heaven (Revelation 19), presents a serious problem for those who endorse a Post Tribulation Rapture, as opposed to the clear Biblical evidence of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

It goes like this: Those who subscribe to the Rapture taking place after the Tribulation must then explain why believers are able to ride with Christ during the final battle of Armageddon, which is still part of the seven-year Tribulation (the final stage); if they haven’t been raised from the dead yet. Because the resurrection taking place in Revelation 20 doesn’t occur until after Armageddon.

In that same vein, to be consistent with a resurrection of the dead for all believers, a Post-Trib position cannot distinguish between Tribulation saints (which Revelation 20 is referring to) and believers both dead and alive before the Tribulation begins. To hold to a Post-Tribulation Rapture, they must concede that all living believers will “enter” the Tribulation and those killed during that time will arise from the dead along with those who died before the Tribulation began. Which further compounds the same problem: How can dead believers return with Christ at Armageddon, if they’re not raised from the dead (via the Rapture) until the Tribulation has ended—which it won’t until Armageddon?

Revelation Chapter 20 is clearly referring only to believers who were killed (beheaded) during the Tribulation … also see Revelation 7:14. Which doesn’t account for all believers throughout history who died before the Tribulation begins. There are believers who will descend with Christ to earth for the final event of the Tribulation (Armageddon). But they couldn’t be the Tribulation saints, because those believers won’t be raised from the dead until after the Tribulation is over. The only possible explanation is that the believers mentioned in Revelation 19:11-21 were already raised from the dead or were living AT THE TIME OF THE RAPTURE.

By default, then, the Rapture must take place before the Tribulation begins.

There’s another problem with a Post-Tribulation Rapture. How can believers participate in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in heaven (Revelation 19:7-9) which also takes place before Armageddon; if, in fact, they are still on the earth … either dead or alive? (Meaning they haven’t been raptured yet according to the Post-Tribulation theory).

When the opposite of that is so evident: The true Church (all believers both dead and living) must be taken (raptured) BEFORE the Tribulation begins in order to celebrate the greatest wedding feast of all time. In preparation for our victorious ride with Christ from heaven to earth as we watch up close and personal his righteous and just war against the forces of evil.

*Note: Immediately after the tribulation saints are raised from the dead, we read: “This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)” (Revelation 20:5, parenthesis in the text).

Then, “Blessed are those who share in the first resurrection…” (Verse 6a, italics for emphasis).

In Revelation 20:11-15, we’re told of the Great White Throne Judgment which is the final judgment of all unbelievers—those who were raised after the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The “first resurrection” is labeled such in contrast to the second resurrection of the dead. The first resurrection combines the Rapture resurrection of dead believers described in I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15; PLUS, the subsequent resurrection of Tribulation saints at the end of the Tribulation. That is the sharing cited in verse 6. But they are at different times, because the evidence is clear in I Thessalonians 4 that Jesus does not descend to the earth at the actual Rapture. Then the second resurrection is only for unbelievers.

Summary

Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul clearly depict the Rapture as taking place abruptly, without warning. Like Paul’s analogy: “a thief in the night” suddenness. Whereas, all the Tribulation events are prophetically categorized in sequence with a known collective duration of seven-years. Thus, for a Post-Tribulation Rapture conjecture to be accurate, the Rapture would occur shortly after the series of known Tribulation events have run their course.

Question: How could a Rapture at that time be sudden or without warning? It would be fully expected because the Tribulation had ended.

And by that time, why would one person be taken and another close by be left? Left behind for what? Christ has already defeated the armies of the world, arrogantly aligned to wage war against him. Left behind to follow the Antichrist, who “…will use every kind of deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them” (II Thessalonians 2:10)? That’s already taken place throughout and by the end of the Tribulation. Billions have already met their destruction, but pre-Tribulation believers won’t be among them.

If you are a believer in Messiah Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then be totally encouraged that you won’t have to go through the greatest series of catastrophes ever experienced by humanity. You are not destined to experience the wrath of God. He has already promised to save you from that terrible time.

Yes, there will be believers on earth during the Tribulation, but only because they believed and received Christ after the Rapture. Included are 144,000 powerful Jewish witnesses who will lead millions to Jesus. Most of these believers will be killed for their testimony of Jesus.

If you don’t know Messiah Jesus as your personal Savior, now is the time to make that decision.

Not only will you be saved from your sins and live forever in heaven, you will be spared from the Tribulation which could begin any day now, soon after the Rapture. You don’t want to be left behind!

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

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

Things to Ponder

We are living in the last days of the end times. Please see Eye of Prophecy articles: Look Up, Redemption is Near Part I & II (7-11 & 7-18-15), in which I’ve detailed twelve prophetic flashpoints that have been or are being fulfilled in this generation. Here is an excerpt from Part II (in italics):

What is different now from then is that all twelve have synchronized with a frequency and magnitude never seen before. With intensity that really can’t get much more extreme or enhanced than it already is. Together they have formed a combustible concoction ready to spontaneously ignite. The accumulative impact of these flash point prophecies fits precisely with the Lord’s comparison to childbirth, all in a generation’s time.

Here is the list of the twelve in a handy concise format. Check each one to see if they either have been fulfilled or if they have reached or nearly reached their optimum and maximum flash point.

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

Listen to the Apostle Peter’s warning:

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

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

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand days 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 as unexpectedly as a thief…” (II Peter 3:3-10).

“…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (Revelation 4:8).

Three … A Divine Number of God!

A Personal Introduction to This Week’s Article

This is the third time that I’ve begun an article on a personal note. The reason: this week’s post is number 300 since my first article was published.

Given that 300 is an obvious multiple of 3, what better subject than the number three!

After my 2nd book Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved? was published in 2011, a few people asked if/when I would write a third book. At the time, I had no answer for them or for me. But the Lord knew, and it wasn’t long afterward that he answered that question with the inception of Eye of Prophecy blog site in July 2013.

Out of curiosity I searched the statistics available through my blog site host Word Press for the combined word count of all 299 articles prior to this week’s post. That count: 1,400,049 words. Then I divided that number by the manuscript word count of Out of the Abyss (111,470 … 286 pages).

The comparison: these 299 articles would be the equivalent of 12.5 books the length of Out of the Abyss!

This is in no way, a boast. Instead, I’m in awe of the Lord who can and will do for his people, that which we could not do for ourselves … either in quantity or quality.

Said Jesus to his followers: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The profound implication here is that we can do nothing that produces eternal dividends unless we are in Christ and Christ in us.

There are several numbers in Scripture that bear remarkable relevance to the accomplishment of God’s providential plans for his creation, especially humanity. Such numbers as 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 40, 70, 400, 1,000. But none more so than 3 & 7, which are divine in both essence and expression. They are the numbers that, above all, reveal and relate to God’s ultimate sovereignty in all things pertaining to life and death—past, present, and future.

The number three decisively defines who God is; I AM … everlasting to everlasting.

The number seven dramatically demonstrates what God does in the course of his interaction with people and nations, reflecting his creative love but also his consuming judgment of sin and evil. For example: the seven days of creation and seven years of the Great Tribulation, soon to come.

Thus, it’s no coincidence that there are three sets of seven judgments each (Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls in the book of Revelation) in preparation for the magnificent Kingdom of God on earth. Which will bring mankind full circle back to where it all began in the Garden of Eden. Only this time even better and lasting forever—New Jerusalem, new heavens, new earth!

Continuing briefly with the personal introduction of today’s post: In Romans 12:6-8, the Apostle Paul lists the seven gifts given (one to each believer in Messiah Jesus) by the Holy Spirit. They are:

Prophecy (forthtelling, not foretelling as that ended with the closed Canon of the Bible): Declaring the Truth.

Service: Practicing the Truth

Teaching: Explaining the Truth

Exhortation: Applying the Truth

Giving: Supporting the Truth

Leading: Organizing the Truth

Mercy: Ministering the Truth

(Note: Credit goes to my Pastor, Mark Martin; Senior Pastor of Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, AZ for the concise one-word summary of how each believer uses his/her gift to serve the Lord)

The Lord has graciously given me the gift of teaching, primarily through the written word. And by the Lord’s grace, through the discernment and insight given to me, I will do as exhorted by the Apostle Paul: “…If you are a teacher, teach well” (Romans 12:7).

Whether I have taught well is not mine to gauge. That critique belongs first to God, then to the readers.

Whatever the result or harvest, it is a profound privilege and humbling honor to serve him.

One other observation: Today’s article is the 21st in the Category of Devotional / Miscellaneous (one of five categories for Eye of Prophecy articles). Which is meaningful to me in the following way: 3 x 7 =s 21!

The Number Three

The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible. Then the intriguing fact that there are 27 books in the New Testament. Which is 3 x 3 x 3. With the 39 books of the Old Testament also a factor of three … 3 x 13.

Although there are several sets of threes in Scripture, we’re only going to examine the two most prominent. The first set comprising the very essence/existence of God; the second set containing the three primary attributes of God. Plus, a third general group presenting analogies to or examples of threes that track with their divine counterpart.

But first, I need to cite three passages that encapsulate the purpose, productivity, and (hopefully) the profitability (spiritually to the readers) of Eye of Prophecy website. Particularly to help believers, whether students of Bible prophecy or not, to: “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. (II Peter 3:18).

First Passage: “…For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (Revelation 19:10b). Without changing the meaning of this part of the verse, the idea could accurately be expanded to: For Jesus is the very essence of prophecy.

Second Passage: “…defending and confirming the truth of the Good News” (Philippians 1:7b). Because we are near the end of this age, there is no greater time in history for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached, defended, and confirmed by believers, through the gift given to them.

Third Passage: “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (Psalm 96:3, emphasis added). Thanks be to the Lord, people from 189 nations have visited this website.

First Significant Set of Threes: The Trinity

Trinity is a theological term that succinctly describes the Triune God; however, the word itself is not found in Scripture. It doesn’t need to be. Because the existence of One God (the only true and living God) in Three Persons is crystal clear in the Bible: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are even a handful of situations (passages) in which all three are identified at the same time. For example, Matthew 28:19.

Based on this universal, eternal truth, Webster’s Dictionary defines Triune as: three in one; of or relating to the Trinity (of God).

There are multiple references in both Old and New Testaments to confirm the existence of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but in keeping with today’s theme, only three pivotal passages (with relevant associated verses) will be quoted. Beginning with the very beginning of the Bible … the Book of Genesis.

First Passage:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

Most know that the original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew. Elohim—the first of several names/titles of God found in the Bible—is in the plural. In His magnificent account of creation given to Moses, the Lord makes this astounding statement:

“Then God (Elohim) said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” (Genesis 1:26, NASB, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

Although Judaism doesn’t recognize the Triune existence of God and unfortunately will not accept the Biblical evidence that God has a Son as clearly conveyed in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Lord plainly pronounces from the beginning that he is Three Persons in One.

Jewish scholars have tried to explain away this remarkable referral of God to himself as “Us,” by proposing that the plural is used in deference to (God’s) divinity or royalty. Which is sometimes the case with rulers (monarchs) when referring to themselves. At the very best, this is a woefully weak argument as applied to the account in Genesis. If that were the case, then the Lord would have more frequently and consistently referred to himself in the plural throughout the many times he spoke in the first person to Moses and subsequent prophets.

Instead, God uses the plural of his name in a startling manner to specifically reveal (from/in the beginning) that He (Us) created tri-part man/woman—body, soul, spirit—in His image.

God the Father is a Person and has personal characteristics, three of which we will examine shortly. The Holy Spirit is also a (the third) Person of the Godhead and was there at creation, “…hovering over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). God the Son was first introduced immediately after Adam and Eve sinned; disobedience that would devastatingly result in death and all their descendants inheriting that sin nature. A nature that could only be transformed by God’s remarkable plan of redemption, which would come through a special man (in bodily form).

Thus, God said to Satan, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head (an eternal death blow), and you will strike his heal” (Genesis 3:15, parenthesis mine).

This strike on the heel would be a temporary wound (Jesus’s death on the cross) that would providentially lead to eternal salvation to all who believe that God raised his Son from the dead and then receive the Son as their Personal Savior.

“For God loved the world (you/me) so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, parenthesis mine).

Second Passage:

“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’) (Isaiah 7:14, parenthesis in the text).

This is a powerful prophecy of the coming Messiah, a child (son) born of a Virgin. Moreover, this Son would indisputably be from the woman’s seed only … as we read in Genesis 3. With the extraordinary evidence that the child would not be fathered by a man, rather through God’s supernatural means by which the woman (Mary) would conceive her son.

Said the angel 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!’

“Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.… For nothing is impossible with God’” (Luke 1:31-35 & 37).

Returning to the book of Isaiah; just two chapters after God announces that a Virgin will conceive and deliver a son who would be Immanuel (fully man and fully God), we read what is one of my all-time favorite passages in the Bible … though all of Scripture is dear to me.

How plain can anything be? This supernaturally conceived child, this son (of God) IS God, as much as God the Father is surely the only true and living God. Furthermore, the child was born and given to us—the whole world. Which is why Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man. Meaning universally.

Third Passage (Another Messianic prophecy/reality):

“For the Lord declares, ‘I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.’ The king proclaims the LORD’s decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father (the today would be the composite “day” of the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus some 1,000 years later)….’

“Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 2:6-7 & 10-12, parenthesis mine).

The existence of the Trinity is overwhelmingly manifest in Scripture, both stated and implied. Including the exceptional evidence that God has a Son and King David recognized the Son as his Lord (Psalm 110).

Note that these three leading passages have been taken from the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the Hebrew Scriptures. This to once again demonstrate (with love and concern for both non-believing Jews and Muslims) that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit comprise the One God in Three Persons. Whereas, those believers in Messiah Jesus, Jew and Gentile alike, already know that the New Testament is replete with references to our Triune God.

Second Significant Set of Threes … The Three Omni(s)

There are a multitude of attributes ascribed to the Triune God, all of which express the Lord’s glory (essence). Such as: God IS Love; God IS Truth; God IS Righteousness; God IS Justice; God IS Light (literally and spiritually); God IS Immutable (does not change), and God IS (the very source of) Peace.

Yet, there are three features that supremely contain and supernaturally convey God’s sovereign capacity to accomplish his purpose and plan for humanity.

All three of these characteristics begin with the word, Omni.

The word (used almost exclusively as a prefix) Omni is derived from the Latin word omnis which Webster’s Dictionary defines simply as: “all; universally.”

As applied to God’s absolute divinity this prefix, by default, both states and infers that the following three ascendant attributes of God belong only to Him. Not to mankind and certainly not to man-made gods such as the god of Islam, or of any other religion or cult.

God’s Omnipotence (All Powerful)

We’ve already read Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and bear a son (through the non-physical spiritual power of the Holy Spirit). The same Holy Spirit who “hovered above the waters” at Creation. When Mary asked how such a thing could be, Gabriel explained it by summarily saying: For nothing is impossible with God.

Amazingly enough, the first time this expression to communicate God’s omnipotence is found in Scripture regards another miracle birth of a child. Nearly every student of the Bible (and even many unbelievers) know the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac. Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to the promised child, Isaac … impossible!

Do you remember the Lord’s (the first Pre-Incarnate appearance of Messiah Jesus) response to Abraham when Sarah laughed at the thought? Read with me:

“…Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything to hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:13-14, emphasis added).

Throughout Biblical times right up to our post-modern world, we see God’s unequaled power (omnipotence) on display through mighty miracles, not the least of which is Creation itself that established the natural laws of physics in the universe and biological order of life itself.

Then more miracles that transcend those laws; often performed to deliver and defend his chosen people. Each of the ten awesome plagues against the Egyptians that led to the Exodus, fall into the category of “super” natural (above and beyond the natural). As did the Lord’s unimaginable extension of daylight hours, enabling Joshua to soundly defeat Israel’s enemies during the conquest of Canaan. There are dozens of incidents in the Old Testament where God divinely intervenes in the affairs of people to demonstrate his sovereignty and omnipotence.

And, of course, the Gospels of the New Testament are replete with miracle after miracle performed by Messiah Jesus to irrefutably validate that he is the Son of God and God the Son. To wit: Setting aside the laws of nature by turning water into wine and then walking on water. Feeding thousands of men, women, and children with hardly enough food for one person. Healing hundreds (if not thousands) from incurable diseases and irreversible deformities. Casting out demons with but a simple command. Raising the dead. And the greatest of all: his own resurrection from the grave.

Once again in the soon to come Great Tribulation, our Triune God’s incomparable power and authority will be on full display. This time to judge the earth and prepare the whole world for Messiah’s return to establish the eternal Kingdom of God. It will begin with God’s decisive defeat of the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel.

The result: “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 38:23).

By the time that the seven seal, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments have run their seven-year Tribulation course, there will be no doubt whatsoever among all the earth’s inhabitants who have chosen the Antichrist over the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, that: “I am the Lord; there is no other God … so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:5-6).

And, “For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place… I am the Lord, he says, and there is no other…. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right…. For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me. Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other” (Isaiah 45:18-19 & 21b-22).

Did you come away with the same conclusion as I did from these verses (and many others like them): The Lord alone is God and there are no other gods! That assuredly includes Islam’s Allah and the Koran which is virtually devoid of miracles and prophecies in stark contrast to the Bible which contains a plethora of both.

Speaking of prophecies, the second sovereign attribute is that of:

God’s Omniscience (All knowing)

Scripture tells us that God is timeless; indeed, he created time itself. He is everlasting to everlasting … with the past, present, and future the same to him. He knows precisely what will happen tomorrow, next month, next year, and for all eternity. This omniscience is why only God can foretell the future with 100% accuracy and has done so countless times throughout Scripture. Then through his providential omnipotence, he brings his prophecies through his prophets to pass. Thereby, accomplishing his purpose and plans for humanity. With the greatest of these: His (free) gift of salvation through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ to pardon the penalty of our sins.

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

Can anyone know all that God knows? Or do what he has done and will do? Yet, there are a host of philosophies, religions, and geopolitical schemes that purport to know and presumptuously tell billions of people on this planet what’s best for them. With these man-made religions and systems and their adherents, “…refusing to love and accept the truth that would save them” (II Thessalonians 2:10). Whereas, true Christianity is NOT a religion. Rather it is a personal relationship with the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Ever so sadly, billions on Planet Earth have and will continue to reject their only hope for salvation. They don’t want to know and do not acknowledge the truth of God’s Word, such as:

Regarding mankind’s vain search for wisdom and knowledge that excludes the very source of both, God issues a challenge with some fascinating images.

“Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?” (Isaiah 40:12-14).

Despite theory after changing theory, to this day secular scientists still disagree over how the universe came into being.

They still cannot explain precisely where gravity came from or how such an invisible force can hold the heavenly bodies in place. Or the wonders of where a sperm and an egg came from originally or how the union of the two can produce thousands of species after their own kind, the most intricate and most complex of which is human life. How is it possible that certain cells create certain organs, then for these organs to fit and work together with intricate body chemistry, not to mention sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch? And the capacity to inductively and deductively think (the human brain). And how on earth did the blood originate?!

Here is another challenge from the Lord regarding his Omniscience and his amazing ability to predict the future, to include false gods and false prophets not even able to recall the distant past with any degree of accuracy or certainty, let alone the future:

“Present the case for your idols, says the Lord. Let them show what they can do, says the King of Israel. Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen. Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us. But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves” (Isaiah 41:21-24).

There’s more: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens” (Isaiah 42:8-9).

Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul summarized the matchless knowledge and wisdom of the true and living God, but this time in the context of the New Covenant—established and sealed through the once for all shed blood of Messiah Jesus for our sins.

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.’

“So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish…. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:18-24).

What’s your preference? Have you looked to astrological horoscopes or to so-called psychics or to political and socioeconomic pundits to tell you what’s going to happen? Do you seriously believe they can, with 100% accuracy? Or any accuracy at all? Would you really trust them with your life and future?

(The Stars won’t determine our future. But the One who created them will, if we only let Him)

As for me, I have entrusted my eternal destiny to the God of miracles, whose prophecies (promises) are fulfilled 100% of the time. Whose Son rose from the dead to prove that he is who he said he is: “The way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). With the Holy Spirit sealing my salvation and indwelling (guiding, counseling, comforting) me during my time on this earth.

“In him (Messiah Jesus) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3, parenthesis mine).

God’s Omnipresence (Everywhere, All at Once)

Our Great God is confined neither to time nor space, because he created both. He can be anywhere he chooses; at any time, he chooses. If you think about it, that’s incredible. No human being can do that. Nor can any other god, because there are no other gods. Even Satan and his demons (fallen angels) can not be in two places at once.

The Third Person of the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit, is the one who expresses God’s divine attribute of omnipresence. Although Messiah Jesus is Omnipotent and Omniscient and though he has an immortal glorified body since his resurrection from the grave, he can only be in one place at a time. However, the primary purpose and practical performance of the Holy Spirit is to indwell believers in Messiah Jesus world-wide (from every nation, language, and peoples) to do what Jesus would do if he were still on earth. And do so everywhere, all the time.

Listen to these stirring words from Jesus given so his followers would not be discouraged when he returned to heaven until Father God’s appointed time for him to return to earth:

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you (that he would be leaving them). But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.

“…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me’” (John 16:5-15, parenthesis mine).

Which effectively means that Jesus—who is the express image of God and who reveals to us the very essence of God (Hebrews 1:3 & Colossians 1:15 & 19)—is also omnipresent, i.e. through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

By virtue of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers, God the Father and God the Son is with every believer ALL THE TIME, wherever we are. Not just individually, but in groups of two or three or three hundred or three thousand … on and on. No matter how many of these groups happen to be meeting at the same time around the world.

That is truly amazing!

Third Significant Set(s) of Threes

Here, we’re going examine in more general terms examples of threes that represent (analogies to) and/or resemble (examples of) the dynamics of the Trinity.

The Sun: Though it’s nigh on impossible to fully wrap our minds around God’s existence as Three Persons in One, it’s possible to at least partially grasp this phenomenon by considering the intrinsic qualities of our Sun, as applied to the Trinity. It’s a paradigm I and others have used before. The Sun (as a whole) itself represents God the Father. The light of the Sun depicts the Son of God, Messiah Jesus—who said himself that he is the light of the world. The warmth of the Sun is reflective of the Holy Spirit who envelops believers in the wonderful warm-heartedness of God’s unconditional love, protection, provisions, promises, and very presence.

Water: Nearly everyone knows from elementary school science that water can be in three forms or states of existence—liquid, solid (ice) and gas (vapor or steam). This is a three-in-one dynamic because at any time under the right conditions, each of these behaviors of water can become one of the other two. If this prototype of three-in-one exists in the natural (nature), then why not in the spiritual (supernatural).

Human Beings: Although each of us is one person, we consist of three distinct parts—body, soul, and spirit. This unified yet tri-part existence is what makes us in the image of God. Among other things (like language), it is our spirit that distinguishes us from the animals, for our spirit is eternal. (And one day so will the bodies of believers be transformed to that which is immortal … spiritual bodies).

Every(body) is unique, even identical twins. As is our soul (persona, who we are).

However, the human spirit is the same in every person.

It is our spirit that connects us to God. Yet, because we are born with a sin nature, the Bible tells us that our sprit is dead (to God). It must be made alive. Jesus explained the spiritual rebirth (of all who personally accept him as Lord and Savior) as that of being “born again” (John 3:3).

Without the second (spiritual) birth, no one can truly relate to God, be in right standing with him, or spend eternity in heaven with him (Romans 3:22-25).

Measurement & Experience of Time Itself: Past, Present, & Future.

Obviously, we always experience time itself in the immediate present. A second after we live the next moment of the future, it becomes the past. However, think about it: for one fleeting nanosecond, we are essentially in the past, present, and future all at once. Which for all practical purposes, makes these divisions of time three-in-one.

A Three-Branch Government: Until Messiah Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth which will effectively be a Divine Monarchy with Christ as the King of all kings, the best form of government is one of checks and balances via Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. Each is separate from the other, but each serves to identify and (hopefully) unify the people governed as one nation. Whether this is through a Republic or Parliamentary representative system doesn’t matter that much, if the three branches serve in the role designed for each branch without any one branch usurping the constitutional designated authority of the others. At least in principle, this is a three-in-one model.

Things to Ponder

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“When you came to Christ, you were ‘circumcised’ but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature…. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:8-11 & 13-14)

If you were condemned to die, wouldn’t you accept a pardon if freely offered to you as a gift? Especially, if someone else had died in your place to make that pardon possible?

No one can earn God’s favor or work their way to heaven by hoping their good deeds outweigh the bad. It’s not only impossible, it’s an insult to God. Because, if our intrinsic worth or good works could set aside our sins, then Messiah Jesus died for absolutely no reason.

“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!) … God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:4-5 & 8-9, parenthesis in the text).

Now, three more threes:

“…Grace and peace to you from the (1) one who is, (2) who always was, and (3) who is still to come (1 God the Father); from the sevenfold Spirit (2 another name for the Holy Spirit) before his throne; and from (3) Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:4-5a, parenthesis mine).

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (II Corinthians 13:14).

Iran’s Boasts to Annihilate Israel

Global focus on Israel is mindboggling.

People and governments all over the world have an opinion about this tiny Jewish State that is surrounded by a huge land mass of Islamic nations with populations that dwarf Israel in size.

But for Muslims of all nationalities, Israel isn’t small enough. They wish for it to shrink to the point of disappearance from the face of the earth.

News sources repeatedly report on proposals to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Often, with an unbalanced, uninformed, and preposterous premise that Israel is exclusively to blame for not only the plight of the Palestinians, but absence of peace in the entire Middle East.

It’s absolutely astonishing how so many know so little about the real history of Israel—ancient and modern—and yet claim to know so much about what (they think) needs to be done to solve an age-old dilemma between Jews and Arabs.

Other than the United States, just a handful of nations express support for Israel; and, then, only on certain conditions and select occasions. By and large the gamut of those antagonistic toward the only democratic state in the entire Middle East range from toleration (barely) to loathing.

Particularly in Europe, antisemitism has reared its ugly head again. It is a hatred that defies all that is rational. Polls reliably show that most people who dislike or even despise Israel or Jews in general have never been to Israel or have never met a Jew. Even many Palestinians in Israel have never talked to a Jew face to face. Instead they are brainwashed from a young age never to associate with the Jews.

When Muslim nations failed to win four majors wars with Israel (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973—all of which were provoked by the Arabs), they switched their tactics to terrorist attacks that, for example, killed hundreds of Jews in the 2nd Intifada (2000-2005). Although fewer in number since the Jews built a wall separating much of the non-citizen Palestinian population from Israeli Jews in critical corridors of Judea/Samaria (West Bank), these brutal attacks continue to this very day.

Another tactic is that of UN Resolutions against Israel, each one sponsored by dozens of Muslim nations to denigrate and delegitimatize Israel by falsely accusing the Jews of “occupying” land that belongs to them in the first place. (See Eye of Prophecy article: United Nations Downsizing of Israel (Resolution 2334) Posted 1-7-17.

Or of apartheid practices of which there are NONE in Israel. I repeat for emphasis: Absolutely none. There are several dramatic differences between Israel’s democratic state and an apartheid state … as South Africa once was. Most obvious is the fact that Israel allows its’ minority Arab population (Israeli Arabs who are citizens) not only to vote, but to serve in both the national and local governments. You would NEVER find that in an apartheid state.

(One of many signs posted in the once apartheid South Africa. No such equivalent signs in Israel, nor any other “signs” of apartheid)

Yet Israel’s enemies know how to influence the court of global opinion by repeatedly accusing Israel of non-existent abuses, understanding that the world-at-large is prone to believe these lies if told often enough. People love the “underdog.” So much so that they don’t want to be bothered with the evidence, either historical or contemporary facts on the ground. And they conveniently forget that the Jews were the underdogs for centuries. Not only treated like dogs but slaughtered like sheep in the millions, i.e. Holocaust. The State of Israel is the reason that this must/will NEVER AGAIN happen.

The Sinister Strategy of BDS

A strategy to impair Israel that has recently gained even more momentum is that of economic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Although there are differing opinions regarding the impact of this insidious plot to bring Israel to its economic knees, one thing is crystal clear: it negatively affects Palestinian workers as much or more than Israeli businesses.

Reason: Thousands of Palestinian are employed by Israel companies throughout Israel, including the West Bank (Judea/Samaria). For example: BDS actions forced the Israeli business SodaStream to relocate out of the West Bank, which, in turn, cost over 100 Palestinians their jobs. Even worse: if Israelis companies are adversely affected, the majority of BDS activists couldn’t care less about Palestinians losing their livelihood. They’ve harmed Israel; that’s all that matters to them.

Fortunately, BDS from the few in the United States who support this deplorable practice was dealt a decisive defeat in the recent July 23, 2019 bill passed by the US House of Representatives … with an overwhelming vote of 398 to 17 (18 abstentions). Although House bill 246 was a non-binding resolution, it sent a clear message that the United States will not condone attempts to shut down Israeli businesses in the democratic sovereign State of Israel.

And, if you’ve kept abreast of the constant publicity generated by three newly elected members of the House of Representatives (Ilhan Omar/Minnesota; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/New York; and Rashida Tlaib/Michigan), you know that they have spent most of their congressional time in office condemning Israel. At the expense of what they otherwise should be doing that would truly benefit their constituents.

Ironically, Omar and Tlaib have planned a trip to Israel to “learn more” (their words) about the situation over there. By all rights, Israeli authorities should deny visa entrance to someone (anyone) who harbors and overtly expresses hostility toward Israelis and who radically supports the BDS movement against Israel. However, it appears that Israel will allow them to make this trip—which I agree with.

Although it’s highly unlikely that they will visit Israel with an open mind, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for them to see the objective truth of what this miraculously reborn nation is all about. It is a Jewish State with equal rights for ALL its citizens—which includes some 1.8 million Israeli Arabs. Plus, giving wide administrative control for non-citizen Palestinians in the West Bank (Palestinian Authority) and the Gaza Strip (Hamas). In fact, Israel withdrew all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago.

And yet these US Congresswomen have claimed that Israeli Jews are occupying “Palestinian land” including the Gaza Strip. Indeed, they need to learn more!

(Left to right: Rashida Tlaib; Ilhan Omar; Alexandria Cortez; Ayanna Pressley … Pressley did not vote against the anti-BDS House bill, but still criticizes Israel frequently)

Wiping Israel From the Face of the Earth

UN Resolutions and BDS are non-violent but nonetheless perfidious plots hatched by Israel’s enemies (of which there are hundreds of millions particularly in Islamic nations) to disrupt and wear down the State of Israel … politically, culturally, and economically. As insidious as they are, these tactics are not (even close to) the main threat to Israel. That “honor” belongs to Iran. A rogue nation that for 40 years now has repeatedly called for, “Death to Israel.” Also, “Death to America.” And not just most of the populace but from high ranking officials and the top tyrant himself … the Ayatollah.

Beginning with this Islamic Regime’s overthrow of its government in 1979 and taking of dozens of US Embassy hostages for 444 days; to recent acts of aggression—shooting down an American drone and seizing a British oil tanker. Knowing that the Iranian military could never defeat the United States in war, its politicians, religious leaders, and high-echelon military personnel have instead threatened to retaliate against Israel if the United States initiates any military action against Iran.

Moreover, these threats against Israel are not just proportional responses, they are all-out swaggers pledging and predicting Israel’s rapid destruction at the hands of Iran’s lethal arsenal. Of course, this is based on Iran’s presumption that it is a super-power with a superior fighting force capable of an easy victory over the Israelis!

As a result of Israel’s periodic air attacks against Iranian military bases in Syria (past couple of years) to halt the building of even more precision-guided missiles aimed at Israel, Iran has intensified its arrogant threats to erase Israel from the map of the world. And, it isn’t just Iran. It’s their puppet terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad of the Gaza Strip whose only purpose in life is to kill as many Jews as it will take to eliminate Israel.

At one of the many protest marches at the Gaza-Israeli border fences, Hamas senior leader Fathi Hammad crowed on July 14, 2019 that, “There are Jews everywhere. We must attack every Jew on planet Earth! We must slaughter and kill them, with Allah’s help. We will lacerate and tear them to pieces.”

This vile language explicitly expresses the real agenda of radical Islam; yet, it is also silently endorsed by hundreds of millions of so-called moderate Muslims world-wide. To illustrate the duplicity of Israel’s enemies, both within Israel and without: While spewing even more abhorrent rhetoric (as we just read) against the Jews, Hamas’s “diplomatic hand” is now attempting to sway world opinion under the pretense of considering a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem rather than its sworn objective (found in Hamas’ Charter) to destroy Israel.

At about the same time that Hammad uttered these ugly threats against all Jews, Hamas’ main leader Ismail Haniyeh was being interviewed by a Turkish journalist in Istanbul. The post-interview headlines in Turkish news sources read: “Hamas does not oppose the establishment of a (Palestinian) state on the 1967 borders.”

As I’ve written in several prior articles, the only two-state solution that Palestinians will agree to is Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 Six-Day War truce lines … which are NOT borders at all. This would dangerously weaken Israel’s ability to defend its citizens from what is essentially a high-ground advantage of a Palestinian State along those armistice lines.

Palestinian conditions (non-negotiable) for a Two-State solution—which would create more problems that it would solve—is endorsed by nearly all nations of the European Union and, of course, by every Muslim nation on earth. Included in these absurd demands is the “right of return” for millions of so-called Palestinian refugees, which effectively would spell the end of the sovereign state of Israel. Another major pre-condition for a Palestinian State is its capital in the eastern part of Jerusalem—dividing Israel’s eternal capital city. Two capitals in one city is illogical, if not ridiculous; when several West Bank cities would do just fine, especially Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority is currently headquartered.

Returning to Ismail Haniyeh’s interview, Turkish news headlines gave the deceptive impression he was now in favor of some sort of agreement between his Hamas (terrorist) organization and Israel. With the implication that even Hamas, the most militant of the two Palestinian organizations within Israel (the other is, of course, the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank), was willing to talk peace with Israel.

In fact, what Haniyeh said was: “Hamas is not opposed to the establishment of a state on the 1967 borders but insists on not recognizing the Israeli occupation of the rest of the Palestinian territories.”

What Haniyeh means when he refers to, the rest of the Palestinian territories is essentially all Israel. They do not recognize the Israel’s national sovereignty nor even Israel’s right to exist. Which is why Palestinians have flatly turned down the creation of their own state. Not once, or twice, or three times. But a TOTAL OF FOUR TIMES, the latest of which was in 2008. They simply cannot tolerate the thought of a Palestinian State alongside Israel; rather, they want a state to replace Israel.

Here is another quote by Haniyeh in that interview: “We often resort to peaceful and popular resistance. This does not mean, however, that we have given up our armed resistance against Israel.”

When he says Hamas often resorts to peaceful resistance, he obviously means as a last resort.

For that matter what is peaceful to Haniyeh and most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (also in the West Bank) is anything but. If anyone thinks the rioting at the Gaza/Israeli border is peaceful—hurling rocks, firebombs, explosive devices, and burning kites at the IDF with repeated attempts to knock down the fence to allow hundreds of Palestinians to attack Israeli communities—then they’d definitely be interested in some choice swamp land in Florida sight unseen … at a reasonable price, of course.

In an online Gatestone Institute article posted July 22, 2019 entitled, The Hamas-Iran Plan to Eliminate Israel; written by Bassam Tawil (a Turkish journalist who writes mostly about his native country but often in the context of his firm belief that the state of Israel has an undeniable right to exist), he offers his own paraphrased assessment of what Ismail Haniyeh was really saying to the Turkish press and to the world at large.

“If we are offered a Palestinian state next to Israel, we will not say no. While we will take whatever Israel gives us, we will never recognize its right to exist. We will use the state as a launching pad to liberate all Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”

Liberating “Palestine” (a state that doesn’t even exist) from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River is, in fact, an official slogan of Hamas. Often repeated by most Palestinians, as well as representatives from many Muslim nations.

Oh, and did I mention that Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives still (periodically) launch rockets and mortars into nearby Israeli towns, some of which have resulted in Israeli casualties. And that both non-citizen Palestinians from the West Bank and a few Israel-Arab citizens continue to stab and shoot Israeli Jews, and slam cars into them—men, women, and children.

(Israeli buildings near Tel Aviv damaged by Hamas launched rockets a few weeks ago)

See Eye of Prophecy articles: The Real Reason for Palestinian Terrorism (posted 9-30-17); Palestinian Refugees … Are They Really Refugees? (1-27-18); “The Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? (4-7-18); Judea/Samaria & Gaza Strip / Who Has Sovereignty? (5-11-19).

Iran’s Relentless Rants Against Israel

In the same timeframe of Ismail Haniyeh’s interview with a Turkish journalist, Hamas sent a delegation to Iran, presumably to ask for more funding to accomplish their (mutual) warped plot of obliterating Israel.

Listen to the most recent boast from Iran, this one from Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Chairman Mojtaba Zolnour: “If the US attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan.”

Here is an excerpt to include Iranian intimidations of Israel from the previously referenced article of Bassam Tawil (in italics):

In another threat earlier this year, the second-in-command of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that Iran will obliterate Israel if it starts a war, and the Israelis will not even be able to bury their dead. “Our strategy is (to wipe) Israel (off) the world’s political geography and Israel seems to be approaching this reality by its mischief,” Brigadier General Hosseln Salami told reporters in Tehran. If Israel “does anything that leads to a new war, certainly it will be (the kind of war) that will result in their elimination, and the occupied territories will be retaken. Israelis won’t even have a cemetery in Palestine to bury their corpses.”

It’s profoundly clear that President Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the outrageous 2015 Nuclear Deal with Iran that was all take by and no give from the Iranians, plus the renewed economic sanctions has substantially stifled Iran’s economy. Which is a positive development. Because it’s equally transparent to the United States and even to the other five signatory nations to this agreement (Great Brittan, Germany, France, China and Russia … though they won’t acknowledge that the deal has benefited only Iran plus the fact that in a few more years, Iran can start producing higher grade uranium necessary for nuclear warheads) that much of Iran’s income for the past few years has been diverted to its blatant funding of terrorist cells in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.

Bassam Tawil’s assessment of Hamas’ intensified relationship with Iran is accurately expressed in the final paragraph of his article: “The most effective way to stop Hamas from carrying out its plan to ‘slaughter’ every Jew is by increasing international sanctions and other means of pressure on Iran—before it is too late.”

In the context of Hamas-Iran’s bashing of Israel on a regular basis, I might as well include a recent comment from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who also hates Israel. Said Erdogan:

“Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them.”

If you think about it, this is incredible. Here is another leader of a prominent nation whose view of and diplomatic relations with entire countries depends almost exclusively whether they’re on Israel’s side or not! On the other hand, it is another pronounced prophetic development signaling the last days of the end times. In this instance: global attention on Israel.

Since Israel’s rebirth in 1948 and especially the reclamation of all Israel including Jerusalem as her eternal capital in Israel’s astonishing Six-Day War victory of 1967, end-times prophecy has unfolded with kaleidoscope intensity and flash-point frequency.

The Startling Correlation Between Biblical Last Days Prophecy & Iran’s Boasts

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been posted on the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel. For example: Gog/Magog’s Clock Is Ticking, Ticking… (posted 6-16-18).

In just the past 4-5 years, we’ve witnessed military presence in the war-torn nation of Syria of the three prominent nations that will lead this huge confederacy—Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Syria is Israel’s adjacent (unfriendly) neighbor to the northeast. During that span, Iran has ratcheted its malevolent posturing against Israel in both frequency and severity.

(Russia also has several military bases in Syria, and Turkey has sent troops into Syria more than once)

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

This passage related to nations surrounding Israel during Biblical times. However, based on many other Old Testament passages depicting the fate of certain Gentile nations that harm or even threatened to harm Israel in the final generation–beginning with Germany’s devastating defeat during World War II–Psalm 83 extends, at least in principle and pattern, to modern-day nations antagonistic toward Israel.

In a moment, we’ll see how this will play out in the Gog/Magog alliance found in Ezekiel Chapters 38 & 39.

When leaders of a somewhat powerful nation like Iran spew venomous threats that are virtually identical to those cited in the end-times prophecies of Scripture, it’s that much more evident that we are living in the last days of the end-times.

So, too, are the amazing correlations that ironically (God’s poetic justice) depict nations hostile toward Israel suffering the same fate as they audaciously assert will happen to Israel. When nations boast that they will take out Israel, they are taking on the true and living God—who has promised that Israel would once again be a sovereign nation and the Jews would return to their Promised Land. Both of which are taking place before our 20th & 21st century eyes.

Scripture is replete with what God has to say about such haughtiness and hostility toward Himself, toward his special possession Israel, and against his chosen people, the Jews.

The Lord has already punished the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through two painful exiles, the second of which lasted nearly 2,000 years. Those years of heartache for the Jewish people were part of God’s discipline to bring them back to him—specifically for them to fully grasp that the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah was implemented when their (our) Messiah came to this earth in human form … Jesus of Nazareth. To die for their sins; indeed, the sins of the whole world. To bring redemption to all who believe and receive him as personal Savior. To one day (soon) gloriously return as their King; indeed, King of all kings.

God’s wrath will be poured out against the Gog/Magog alliance in the early part of the Tribulation and against Antichrist’s ten-nation coalition in the last half of the Tribulation because they will seek Israel’s total annihilation. Essentially, they are not now (nor will be then) satisfied with the horrible suffering of the Jews down through the ages, not the least of which was the Holocaust. Their perverse plot is to finish what Hitler started.

God’s Poetic Justice

In general terms, especially applicable to leaders of entire nations, God has issued a stern warning against the kind of pride that mocks Him and His absolute truth as contained in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. For example:

“God says, ‘At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked’… I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance.’ For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness—should raise a defiant fist. It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall” (Psalm 75:2-7).

Concerning God’s providential plan for Israel’s restoration, both physical and spiritual, his warnings are even more severe to those people and nations who would dare seek Israel’s destruction (again) and attempted extermination of the Jews (again). This time, God the Father will personally defend and fight for Israel (Gog/Magog invasion of Israel). And, the Son of God, Messiah Jesus, will return to earth to personally fight alongside the Jews in the epic battle for Jerusalem (Zechariah 12 & 14; refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events, published 2-3-18).

Followed by the marvelous Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus from Jerusalem.

Listen, as God speaks to Israel:

“Yes, says the Lord, I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt. All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the Lord will do for you. They will be embarrassed at their feeble power. They will cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them. Like snakes crawling from their holes, they will come out to meet the Lord our God. They will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence” (Micah 7:15-17).

Along with Russia and Turkey, the terrorist state of Iran will experience terror like they’ve never known. They will see once and for all who is God and who is not.

What the Lord will do to Iran and its Gog/Magog allies will stun the world in its scope and severity. It will give a whole new meaning to poetic justice. Before we read part of this spectacular scene, I’m going to repeat the boast of a top-Iranian military officer quoted earlier in this week’s post.

“…it will be the kind of war that will result in their (Israel’s) elimination, and the occupied territories will be retaken. Israelis won’t even have a cemetery in Palestine (he contemptibly still refers to Israel as Palestine) to bury their corpses” (parenthesis mine).

Considering what Russia, Turkey, Iran, and other smaller nations intend to do to Israel, God’s unilateral (Israel will not need to lift a military finger in this awesome display of God’s power) response is one of pure absolute justice. Moreover, it’s the beginning of the Lord’s final judgment on a world gone mad with power, persecution (of Jews and Christians), and perverted pleasure-seeking people not seen since violence and immorality saturated the earth before the world-wide flood of Noah’s time.

Now let’s see what the God of the Bible has to say. Warning: it’s not a pretty sight.

Read with me:

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

*Note: This devastation of mountains and cliffs and walls crumbling will take place world-wide. That and the ensuing graphics (such as fire) as well as the world’s reaction are quite like the 6th & 7th seal judgments as found in Revelation 6:12-17 and 7:3-5. Which is one of the reasons the Gog/Magog campaign will take place in the early part of the Tribulation.

Let’s continue with the ruinous results of God’s colossal conquest over an army of nations that will undoubtedly number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

“You and your army and your allies will all die on the mountains. I will feed you to the vultures and wild animals. You will fall in the open fields, for I have spoken, says the Sovereign Lord. And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts. Then they will know that I am the Lord. In this way, I will make known my holy name among my people of Israel (this will be Israel’s national recognition that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will fight for them as he did in days of old). I will not let anyone bring shame on it. And the nations, too, will know that I am the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. That day of judgment will come, says the Sovereign Lord. Everything will happen just as I have declared it” (Ezekiel 39:4-8, parenthesis mine).

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: What God says will happen, always happens. What God says he will do, he always does. Period … end of story!

Every person’s eternal destiny depends upon whether they agree with God or not. Whether they meet Messiah Jesus who is The Way (to God); The Truth (of redemption) and The Life (everlasting) as Personal Savior now. Or, after it’s too late, to meet him as Judge.

Time and again in Ezekiel 38 & 39 (and other chapters of Ezekiel), God refers to himself as, The Sovereign Lord. In the context of the arrogant alliance of the Gog/Magog nations, including Iran, the Lord is making it undeniably clear that he alone is God. He is sovereign over all the man-made gods of man-made religions, such as Islam and its “moon-god”, Allah. In fact, other than Russia, other Gog/Magog countries will be predominately Muslim.

Now for the grand finale to demonstrate a reoccurring premise and principle of Scripture, summarized in such axioms as: Be careful what you wish for (think, Iran’s boastful wish to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth). Or, paraphrasing Jesus’s words: whatever or how ever someone unjustly or inappropriately judges someone else (whether individually or as a nation), they will suffer that same judgment.

Before we read God’s description regarding the aftermath of his crushing victory over Gog/Magog (including Iran), remember the Iranian General’s boast that Israelis won’t even be able to bury their dead:

“Then the people in the towns of Israel will go out and pick up your small and large shields, bows and arrows, javelins and spears (think in terms of today’s weaponry), and they will use them for fuel. There will be enough to last them seven years! … They will plunder those who planned to plunder them, and they will rob those who planned to rob them, says the Sovereign Lord.

“And I will make a vast graveyard (not just a graveyard, but a vast one!) for Gog and his hordes in the Valley of the Travelers, east of the Dead Sea. It will block the way of those who travel there, and they will change the name of the place to the Valley of Gog’s Hordes. It will take seven months for the people of Israel to bury the bodies and cleanse the land. Everyone in Israel will help, for it will be a glorious victory for Israel when I demonstrate my glory on that day, says the Sovereign Lord. After seven months, teams of men will be appointed to search the land for skeletons to bury, so the land will be made clean again. Whenever bones are found, a marker will be set up so the burial crews will take them to be buried in the Valley of Gog’s Hordes” (Ezekiel 39:11-15, parenthesis mine, italics for emphasis).

Once again, the name of that conceited Iranian military commander who condescendingly said Israel won’t even have a cemetery to bury their dead: Hosseln Salami. I wouldn’t bet against one of those markers set by Israeli burial crews to be next to the bones of Mr. Salami. Yes, the Rapture and the Great Tribulation to follow is that close at hand.

Summary

The near-future devastating defeat of the Gog/Magog coalition to include the smug Iranians is not the first time that God’s (poetic) justice was on display against Persia … now called Iran.

Once before, some 2,500 years ago, an evil man named Haman—the 2nd most powerful official in Persia—surreptitiously persuaded King Xerxes I to pass a law that ordered the extermination of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. Jews of today’s world are well acquainted with this episode of their history. The annual feast of Purim is one of the most festive Jewish celebrations both in Israel and world-wide; a memorial to the deliverance of the entire Jewish race (at the time) from certain genocide.

The Lord’s sovereignty (the Sovereign Lord) is overwhelmingly evident throughout this epic story. Beginning with Persian King Xerxes’ highly improbable selection of a Jewish girl to be his queen, from among hundreds of beautiful Persian women. And Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, encouraging her (for such a time as thing) to boldly approach the king and plead for the Jews to be spared from Haman’s malicious plot of annihilation. Followed by more amazingly timed events (seemingly by chance) that were unmistakably orchestrated by the Sovereign Lord.

(Depiction of King Xerxes extending his scepter to approve Queen Esther’s entrance … even the Queen needed permission to see the King)

With the grand but ironic finale: King Xerxes sentencing Haman to death on a 75-foot high sharpened pole on which Haman had intended to impale his archenemy, Mordecai—a Jewish official in the Persian Kingdom. After Haman’s death, Mordecai was appointed to his position, second only to the king!

Now that’s justice!

Moreover, it’s astonishingly similar (ironic) in precedent/parallel fashion to devilish modern-day Iranian boasts to so utterly destroy Israel, that the Israelis won’t even have a place to bury their dead.

As is said: Famous last words!

Things to Ponder

Echoing the lyrics of the departed Christian songwriter/singer Rich Mullins: Our God is an Awesome God! He reigns from heaven above. With wisdom, power, and love; our God is an Awesome God!

Throughout the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Psalms, we read about God’s perfect justice, often in the poetic sense. Both metaphorically and in some divinely designed circumstances … literally: Those who dig pits to capture and bury the Jews, will fall into those very pits. Those who set traps for Israel and the Jews will themselves be caught in those very traps.

And a passage I’ve quoted in more than one prior Eye of Prophecy article:

“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads. Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history. But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place. And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance” (Obadiah 1:15-17, emphasis added).

Israel’s inheritance of/to the Promised Land was reclaimed in 1948, then expanded in 1967.

Next (soon) on God’s divine agenda is the Rapture of born-again Jew and Gentile believers. A prelude to the Lord’s crushing defeat of Israel’s enemies in two epic battles (Gog/Magog and Armageddon) during the Great Tribulation. This in preparation for the majestic Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus from Jerusalem.

We love you Lord, because you first loved us!

A Revived Roman Empire … Or Not?

In just one generation, two dramatic developments have deeply affected and significantly shaped the short-term course and long-term fate of the world.

Each was a prophetic flashpoint to which all other last day’s events are linked.

They are: (1) the miraculous rebirth of the sovereign Jewish State of Israel in 1948. (2) Israeli victory in the stunning Six-Day War of 1967 in which Jerusalem was liberated and reclaimed as Israel’s eternal capital.

Consequently, there has been a remarkable resurgence in the study of end-times Biblical prophecy. The Middle East, especially Israel and Jerusalem, continues to dominate global headlines.

Hundreds of Biblical passages foretold the against-all-odds return of the Jews to their Promised Land and restoration of national Israel to the glory days of King David and King Solomon. Including powerful predictions of Israel’s final redemption—people and land. Which will be accomplished exclusively by and through the majestic reappearance of Messiah Jesus, this time as King of all kings.

But Christ won’t physically return to earth until the end of the greatest calamity ever experienced by mankind. With the immediate reason for his return that of rescuing Israel from destruction at the hands of Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition. This Great Tribulation will be triggered by an event that is discussed by believers in Jesus Christ as much or more than any other—The Rapture.

Though the term Rapture is not found in the Bible, its meaning is an apt representation of what will take place as breathtakingly depicted in I Thessalonians 4 & I Corinthians 15. See any number of Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of The Rapture for in-depth examinations of this spectacular occurrence that will shake the world. The prevailing presumption by most Bible prophecy enthusiasts is that those left behind on Planet Earth will soon find themselves (willingly or unwillingly) in the middle of a world that is a reproduction of an ancient empire.

The term ascribed to this empire is also not found in Scripture but one that is commonly used by many students of prophecy for decades: Revived Roman Empire.

Will there be such a thing?

Other than the Rapture, it is probably the most scrutinized prophetic subject of many Christians.

Regarding the tremendous transference of believers from earth to heaven, there most certainly is such an event that will take place … any day now.

It’s just that scholars down through the years elected to use the Latin term Rapture as a composite image depicted by the Greek word found in I Thessalonians Chapter 4, … harpazo. Which means catching up or snatching away. It is described in vivid detail not only by the Apostle Paul, but also by Jesus himself in Matthew 24 & 25. Please see two recent Eye of Prophecy articles: Will Believers Go Though the Great Tribulation? Part I & II (Posted 6-15 & 6-22-19).

Concerning a Revived Roman Empire, there’s neither the term nor the model itself delineated in Scripture. Certainly not a replication or duplication of the once mighty, yet long-gone Roman Empire. However, as first explained in my book Out of the Abyss, followed by several Eye of Prophecy articles, there will be a Revived Roman Emperor.

Many of those left behind at the Rapture will give him their allegiance to the point of worship but not because he’s the leader of a so-called Revived Roman Empire or because he will establish a One World Government. There won’t be such a thing during the Tribulation. Please see Eye of Prophecy article, One World Government? (Published 2-28-15).

The verses of Revelation 13:1-4 & 17:7-8 are crystal clear in explaining the one and only reason people will be amazed at the Antichrist: his reappearance 2,000 years after he died. I have written about this extensively in Out of the Abyss and several articles in the category of The Antichrist.

There are two primary passages from which most prophecy scholars derive the idea and nomenclature of a Revived Roman Empire. Incidentally, a few prophecy buffs in the past decade or so have dismissed the idea of a replicated Roman Empire during the Tribulation. In favor of an Islamic Caliphate, with the Antichrist purported to be some notable Muslim (possibly an Imam) from that regime. I’m convinced that theory is even more difficult to support with Biblical evidence than a revived Roman Empire; which, as we will see, has its own serious difficulties to defend.

First Passage: Daniel Chapter 7

Most believers who are even slightly interested in Biblical end-times prophecy are familiar with the 7th Chapter of Daniel. In that chapter we find a second prophetic vision of the four Gentile Kingdoms (symbolized by four different beasts) given to Daniel; the first was given to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar as a dream in the image of a four-part statue (Daniel Chapter 2). Although the kingdoms are the same (Babylon, Persian, Greece, and Rome), there are different purposes for and, therefore, different features of these revelations. For example, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream did not include anything about the Antichrist; whereas Daniel’s vision provides the first disclosure of this evil man, described as a little horn and king.

Because the fourth beast was not in the form of an animal but, nevertheless, more terrifying than the previous three, Daniel wanted to know more about this fourth kingdom. Particularly about the little horn that suddenly appeared, different from the ten horns brandished by this beast.

(Fairly accurate depiction of the four beasts of Daniel Chapter 7)

*Note: It’s exceedingly important to know that this beast is the fourth and FINAL Gentile kingdom, which (several hundred years later) would prophetically be fulfilled in/by the Roman Empire. Neither in Daniel 2 nor Daniel 7, nor anywhere else in Scripture do we find more than these four kingdoms in terms of prophetic significance as they relate to God’s two major plans for humanity. (1) Israel as the Promised Land and the Jews as the chosen people from which; (2) Messiah would come to replace the Old Covenant of Law with the New Covenant of Grace (redemption for Jew and Gentile alike through Messiah’s once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice).

On the other hand, the beast of Revelation 13 & 17 is indisputably a man … the Antichrist himself—the little horn king of Daniel 7 who would rule over the ten horns (kings). And, the ten kings of Daniel 7 are the same ten kings of Revelation 13 & 17; who yield their authority (kingdoms) to the Antichrist during the Tribulation.

Read with me as the angel discloses more dynamic details to Daniel:

“…This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth. It will be different from all the others. It will devour the whole world, trampling and crushing everything in its path. Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them” (Daniel 7:23-24, italics for emphasis).

In just a moment, we’ll get back to that passage, particularly the italicized sentence. First, a brief interlude with an excerpt from Out of the Abyss to explain why the Antichrist is (so) different. In italics:

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

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

That my friend is “different,” and it yields a comprehensive, composite explanation of the fundamental contrast between Antichrist and the ten kings. You might ask, “What specifically is that difference?” I’m glad you asked!

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

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

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

Also, please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Sudden Appearance of Antichrist … Why So Different? (Posted 1-21-17).

Once again to emphasize: any semblance of a (so-called) Revived Roman Empire will be entirely predicated on, portrayed (characterized) by, and reflected in a Revived Roman Emperor.

Returning to the highlighted sentence of the above quoted passage: Its ten horns are ten kings who will rule that empire. This constitutes one of the conditions from which the notion of a Revived Roman Empire developed. As indicated in the About Page of Eye of Prophecy website, all quoted passages from the Bible are taken from the New Living Translation, unless noted otherwise. By and large, the NLT contains one of the most contemporary user-friendly translations of the Bible. However, in the case of the highlighted sentence of Daniel 7:24, the NLT ever so slightly modifies what is really being said here. In fact, this modification could have been influenced by the translator’s/commentator’s endorsement of the Revived Roman Empire hypothesis.

For example, in both the New American Standard Bible and the Complete Jewish Bible, we read: “…out of this kingdom ten kings will arise…” This is also the case with other translations.

Do you see the difference? The better translation is that these ten (tribulation) kings will arise from that kingdom. What kingdom? The kingdom represented by the fourth beast which was the Roman Empire. However, that kingdom is (now) ancient history.

(The Roman Coliseum is a shell of the original)

Therefore, the angel Gabriel is effectively telling Daniel that these ten kings will arise from (what are now modern-day) nations that are roughly in the geographical sphere of the ancient Roman Empire. Which constituted part of but not all contemporary Europe. Also, some of the Middle East and much of what is now North African countries.

But the more precise translations do not say that these kings will rule that empire.

What they will do is clarified even more by Revelation 17: “The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast (Antichrist). They will all agree to give him their power and authority” (Revelation 17:12-13, parenthesis mine).

Once again, do you see the difference? Although the ten tribulation kings arise from (vestiges of) the Roman Empire, there is no (new or revived) empire as such in which they will rule. Instead, they will yield their authority and give their kingdoms (ten in all, not, for example, the 28 nations that now comprise the European Union) to the little horn of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 17, who are one and the same, i.e. the Antichrist. Thus, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that there will be or must be a Revived Roman Empire. And certainly not a One World Government, as Antichrist and his coalition will have enemies—not the least of which are the massively populated nations of the Far East.

For sure, Antichrist’s realm will be powerful, but it will be only one of four major coalitions that coalesce after the Rapture. With the first confederacy that of Gog/Magog consisting of Russia, Iran, Turkey and other smaller nations.

See Eye of Prophecy article, “One Ring to Rule Them All…” (11-21-15).

Second Passage: Revelation 17

In order to support the supposition that there will be a Revived Roman Empire, prophecy teachers/students had to do two things with Revelation 17.

First, they substituted kingdoms for kings in the text. Or, giving them a little more benefit of the doubt (I, too, once subscribed to this premise), they extended the meaning of the word kings to kingdoms. Not only to try and prove the theory of a Revived Roman Empire but also because the seven heads of the beast didn’t track numerically with the number of 1st century Roman emperors, or so it seemed. But they can match up; because from our historical hindsight there’s more than one option to identify the sequence (number) of Roman Emperors.

Time/space doesn’t permit details in this week’s article. Instead, please refer to my book Out of the Abyss and/or Eye of Prophecy articles, Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence Part I & II (3-18 & 3-25-17).

Second, they dismissed or at the very least discounted the personal pronouns of the passage that simply cannot be attributed to an object, in this case kingdoms.

Immediately after the angel announces to John the incredible fact—still overlooked by prophecy students—that the Antichrist had already lived and died before John saw him in the form of a beast (with this same man reappearing from the Abyss at the outset of the Tribulation), we read:

“This calls for a mind with understanding: The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules. They also represent seven kings. Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief. The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer (another statement to emphatically reinforce that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died before John’s 1st century visions), is the eighth king. He is like (Greek word is “ek” meaning one of, out of, from) the other seven…” (Revelation 17:9-10, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Before examining the Greek word for kings (and then kingdoms), we need to fully grasp another notable feature of the beast of Revelation. This beast has seven heads, which are not found in Daniel Chapter 7. In both Revelation 13 & 17, the beast is clearly a man, not a kingdom—as is the fourth beast of Daniel 7. However, both the kingdom beast (Roman Empire) of Daniel 7 and the king beast (man … Antichrist) of Revelation 13 & 17 have ten horns, which are the ten kings who will yield their authority (kingdoms) to the Antichrist during the seven-year Tribulation.

What is the significance of this? Answer: These ten kings yield their personal authority directly and their nations (indirectly) to the Antichrist, not to a Revived Roman Empire. In fact, Antichrist will subdue three of these nations by some measure of force (economic and/or military).

Daniel Chapter 7 provides the initial introduction to the Antichrist (little horn, king) but with an extraordinary emphasis on his sudden appearance among the ten kings whom he will control during the Tribulation. These ten kings will arise from that kingdom, not rule it nor revive it during the Tribulation. Because there will be no such kingdom, i.e. Revived Roman Empire.

There will be no Roman Legions marching on Israel during the Tribulation! That’s more than just a facetious comparison. It’s a representative image to reinforce the fact that it’s a Revived Roman Emperor who will be worshipped by many of those left behind, but there will be no resurgent replication of the once mighty Roman Empire.

The sole purpose for the Antichrist beast of Revelation 17 (first presented in Chapter 13) having seven heads is to give the 1st century believers (and all believers thereafter) a biographical and geopolitical profile in order to identify the (Antichrist) beast of Revelation … the same man as the little horn of Daniel 7. It was more conclusive proof in follow up to the first stunning clue regarding Antichrist’s identity, provided in Revelation 13—the number of the beast.

Putting it another way: The Antichrist has a (1st century) past tense existence as well as a (21st century) future tense reappearance at the outset of the Great Tribulation. When the angel revealed the stunning news to John that the Antichrist (scarlet beast) had already lived and died but would return from the Abyss, he didn’t stop there. He disclosed more extraordinary evidence. The beast is not only the Antichrist (eighth king), he is also one of (from, out of) the seven heads of this beast. These seven kings were obviously (who else could they have been) Roman Emperors of the 1st century. Five of whom had already died, including the beast himself; one who was currently reigning when John saw his second vision of the beast; and the next ruler (the seventh) whose reign would be brief.

First century believers knew immediately who six of the seven Roman emperors were and would soon know the seventh when the reign of the sixth emperor ended. Or the identity of all seven, if they hadn’t read Revelation until after the 7th Caesar’s (brief) rule was over. They could then reduce the choices to the five emperors who had already died, including the Antichrist.

Then by decoding the number of the beast—six hundred, sixty-six—with the use of Hebrew gematria (counting by use of the Hebrew alphabet translated from the Greek name of the Caesars), they could identify exactly which of these emperors was the beast. None other than Nero. Which is why both Christians and unbelievers believed (for different reasons) for some 400 years that Nero would return as Emperor. Known historically as the Nero Redivivus Legend.

(Modern Statue of Nero in Anzio, Italy–his place of birth)

See Eye of Prophecy articles: The Legendary Return of Nero (posted 4-4-15); Nero & The Remarkable Revival of His Name (4-1-17); Antichrist & Anzio … What Do They Have In Common? (4-29-17).

Returning to our emphasis in today’s article that there will be a Revived Roman Emperor rather than a Revived Roman Empire, let’s look at:

Kings Vs. Kingdoms

First and foremost, to underscore the obvious: The word used by the angel unveiling the mystery of the beast (his identity) is kings. The seven heads of the beast are kings. NOT kingdoms. This is of paramount importance to grasp, because in order to support the speculation of a Revived Roman Empire kings must become (substituted with) kingdoms. Thus, (erroneously) presuming that the seven kings are kingdoms and the 7th kingdom will be the Revived Roman Empire.

Regarding the English translation of the Greek word to kings, permit me to ask a rather rhetorical question: Is there a distinction between king(s) and kingdom(s) in the English language … or any language? We’re going to see that there is not only a discernable difference, but that substituting kings with kingdoms is grammatically, contextually, and Biblically incorrect.

I’m going to say it with a little more oomph: Under no circumstances should kingdoms replace kings in the Biblical text!

Let’s find out why.

The Greek word for kings found in Revelation 17 (and other passages) is basileus. Its meaning: leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king. Moreover, it is a masculine noun, which make sense, i.e. men are kings, women are queens. Every time we find the English word king or kings in Scripture (or any other literary source), it ALWAYS means just that: a person (man)!

The Greek word for kingdoms is basileia. With its meaning just as clear: a territory or dominion or base of royal power, subject to the rule of a king (or queen or prince or whatever). Moreover, the Greek (and other languages) noun basileia is feminine. Nearly all nations are referred to in the feminine … a small handful in the impersonal neutral (it). Which personal pronoun would you use in place of America? He or she? Easy answer: She is the land of the free and the home of the brave!

There are other reasons, but the gender quality of any noun is reason enough not to substitute it with the opposite gender, even if the nouns (words) closely resemble each other. Although kings and kingdoms (English) and basileus and basileia (Greek) are similar in spelling, they are also as distinctive as they can be, one from the other.

In fact, after John describes the current status/disposition of these seven 1st century kings (Roman emperors), he then switches (fast forwards) to the ten horns … kings of the Tribulation period. Read with me:

“The ten horns of the beast are ten kings who have not yet risen to power. They will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast” (Revelation 17:12 italics for emphasis to juxtapose and distinguish the kings from their kingdoms).

Regarding that verse, here is an excerpt from Out of the Abyss (in italics):

This verse makes an unambiguous grammatical distinction between the kingdom and the kings of those kingdoms.

I then compared verse 12 to verse nine where the angel first tells John that the seven heads of the beast are seven kings. Continuing with the excerpt:

Why then, would John remotely imply or suggest or leave room for doubt that the kings of verse nine are or could be kingdoms? Though it is somewhat logical that a kingdom must have a king, it isn’t and shouldn’t be an automatic assumption… Following the return of the Jewish exiles to their land, Israel (she) continued as a nation (kingdom) without a king. Conversely, not all kings necessarily have a kingdom. Using the same example as the Babylonian captivity, Israel’s last king, Zedekiah, no longer ruled in Judah….

Still, a king needing a kingdom is not the strongest argument for or against the correct application of the Greek word. By far the most dominate feature of Revelation 17:9 is that John does not use the Greek word for kingdoms that he uses in verse 12…. Although the same word for kings (used in verse 12) is employed for the seven heads in verse 9, they (those who subscribe to a Revived Roman Empire) substitute kings with kingdoms. At the very minimum, that seems to be inconsistent. At the maximum, it’s simply not grammatically accurate.

However strong the presumption that a king merits a kingdom or vice versa, the fact is that the Greek words used for king(s) and kingdom(s) are precise definitive words that delineate and distinguish between the two….

Both Greek words are utilized in the same revelation scene given to John; hence, it’s even more imperative that there is no confusion generated by liberally substituting the actual Greek word for kings with a kingdom interpretation. I believe this would be a violation of the textual and contextual language and meaning.

…To a great extent, one could make a strong case that the Greek words alone would decide the issue here. It is a case that probably would stand the test of any formal debate, in any etymological or linguistic court, as it were. But since there’s more evidence that the seven heads are, in fact, seven literal kings, we will continue (Pages 124-125).

I went on to explain the vital significance of the personal pronouns in Revelation Chapter 17 (which we’ll get to shortly) and of:

World Kingdoms in Scripture

In order to support the supposition that a Revived Roman Empire is the seventh head of Revelation 17, it’s necessary to substitute kings with kingdoms. We’ve already examined the linguistic reasons why that can’t and shouldn’t be done. Now for more Biblical evidence.

Although Daniel Chapters 2 & 7 plainly indicate that there are only four Gentile Kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome), Bible scholars have added three more kingdoms to that equation. With conjecture that, in addition to the 7th (future Revived Roman Empire), the first two were Egypt and Assyria. As already indicated, Scripture is overwhelmingly clear that there are only FOUR such kingdoms in the context of all prophetic events relating to their interaction with Israel, through which God’s plans for humanity will be accomplished. Not the least of which was Messiah’s first Advent and the beginning of the New Covenant during the era of the Roman Empire—the fourth and final kingdom.

Even if there were more than four kingdoms disclosed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the four-part statue and Daniel’s vision of the four beasts (which there are not, plus once again emphasizing that the 7 kings are actual 1st century Caesars, not kingdoms), the following excerpt from my book Out of the Abyss further demonstrates why neither Egypt nor Assyria qualify.

…neither matches criteria of what makes a world empire, as depicted and deductively defined in the statue and beasts of Daniel.

Among other things, the four kingdoms of Babylon, Mede-Persia, Greece, and Rome were successive and were on the scene of history as empires for a known and sequential period of time. There was no overlap of these nations in terms of being concurrent empires that coexisted in their dominance. Also, these four kingdoms like no other nation on earth before or since, truly controlled most of the civilized world; or civilized much of the uncivilized world, albeit with ruthless force.

On the other hand, both Egypt and Assyria were powerhouses at more than one period of history.

*Note: I went on to identify those periods. Continuing with the excerpt:

But the most significant historical event to demonstrate simultaneous rule by Assyria and Egypt was the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. In this battle Babylon soundly defeated the alliance of Assyrian and Egyptian armies. Assyria would seldom be heard from again, and Egypt began what would essentially be an irreversible decline…

Assyria and Egypt dominated sporadically over a long period of time; some 15 centuries and 20 centuries respectively… But the four empires of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 were different. Once they ended as a military world power that was it; no more empire, no resurgence to power, only a shell of their former glory.

If the inspirer of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, wanted us to know that there would be another kingdom before the first (Babylon) or after the fourth (Roman Empire), I believe the information would have been explicitly given to Daniel. Otherwise, there would be far too much confusion and conflict with the subsequent visions of John in Revelation, which is exactly what has transpired in our time, i.e. trying to add three kingdoms that are not found in the book of Daniel. But there is no confusion or contradiction at all if the seven heads of Revelation are seven kings, rather than seven kingdoms.

The fact of the matter is that no kingdom before Babylon or after Rome, including Assyria, Egypt, Napoleon’s France, Hitler’s Germany or even Genghis Khan exclusively dominated the world as did the four empire beasts of Daniel (Pages 132-133).

And now for the striking significance of:

Personal Pronouns

Although Bible teachers/students (including me at one time) have missed or dismissed the astounding disclosure given to John (Revelation 17:7-8) that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died BEFORE John’s vision of him, they do concur that this is a man (not a kingdom).

Not only is it contextually clear that the beast of Revelation 17 (and Chapter 13) is a man—one of the seven kings as well as the eighth king … because of his reappearance from the Abyss—the use of personal pronouns convincingly compels us to not think otherwise. This same paradigm applies just as persuasively to the seven heads of the beast as kings, not kingdoms.

“This calls for a mind with understanding. The seven heads of the beast (the composite beast is the Antichrist, but also one of its seven heads) represent the seven hills where the woman rules (seven hills of Rome). They also represent seven kings” (Revelation 17:9, parenthesis mine).

We’ll stop here for a moment and jump ahead to verse 11, then back to verse 10.

“The scarlet beast that was, but is no longer, is the eighth king. He is like (Greek word “ek” means out of or one of) the other seven…” (Revelation 17:11, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

(Greek word “Ek” as applied to the true church, the body of Christ–born again believers)

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. The Antichrist is referred to as “he” and he is one of the seven kings. Why on earth then, would the other (six) kings be kingdoms? It’s a rhetorical question because in the preceding verse we are, in no uncertain terms, told that these kings are just that … kings, not kingdoms. And this is by/through another (masculine) personal pronoun.

Verse 10: “Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief” (much emphasis added!).

Here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss to put the finishing touches on this unequivocal, undeniable fact that the seven heads of Revelation 17 are kings (Roman emperors) of the 1st century. Five of whom had already died, one of whom was ruling at the time of John’s visions, with the reign of the next king (the 7th) to be brief.

In terms of all the literary and grammatical rules of and applications to any given character of any given story (true or fictional), a personal pronoun refers exclusively to an individual, not to whatever or whoever that person might represent, lead, or otherwise influence. Thus, the seventh king can not be a kingdom, because, “his reign will be brief” …. By overwhelming contextual application and grammatical persuasion, the other kings of verse 10 must also be individual kings (men) (Page 127).

Things to Ponder

Whatever semblance the sphere of Antichrist’s ten-nation confederation bears to the ancient Roman Empire will be limited to, represented by, and in juxtaposition to a Revived Roman Emperor—Nero Caesar.

One final quote from Out of the Abyss:

In this respect, the Antichrist will exceed all tyrants before him, but in a different way. His influence will extend far beyond the somewhat fragile alliance that he runs. Billions of people from nations, tribes, ethnic groups, and languages will worship him; they will care less about his “kingdom.”

…Historically, dictators were unavoidably associated with the nation from which they ruled. And the nation was afforded as much, ore more fear than the tyrant himself. In fact, kings were there and then they were gone. Not so with the man of sin. His reappearance from the dead will stun the world. Thus, he will be elevated to a status as high as Christians have accorded to Jesus Christ. So high, that the world will believe the ultimate lie foisted on them by this man of sin and his accomplice, the false prophet, that he is God.

This is one of several ways that the Antichrist will successfully imitate the true Christ, who was not the head or ruler of a nation or country as such. Rather Jesus and his gospel reached people from all over the world. Our Messiah didn’t need a seat of government from which to teach, heal, perform miracles, die on a cross, and then rise from the dead….

The Antichrist will be given ten kingdoms (not one specific, easily identified kingdom) through which he will share and exert his authority (Pages 133-134).

However, at the height of Antichrist’s arrogant authority, the true Messiah will intervene (to rescue Israel from Nero’s conquest).

Along with other passages of Scripture, we read the spectacular result of Messiah’s victory:

“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 Lamb of God!

Praise and honor and glory to the King of all kings!

Israel’s Government in Limbo … Unprecedented!

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No, I’m not talking about Knesset members in Jerusalem doing the Limbo. An acrobatic dance to see how low one can go by bending over backwards, while passing under a horizontal pole low enough to step over.

Lately there has been very little bending over backwards of Israel’s leaders. Or for that matter leaders of virtually every country on earth, what with the pitiful polarization of people between and from within nations.

I’m referring to that other kind of limbo, defined by Webster’s Dictionary: “a place or state of restraint or confinement; an intermediate or transitional place or state.”

For the first time since Israel was reborn as a sovereign Jewish State in 1948 and following unscheduled mid-term elections just three months ago, the Israeli Knesset failed to establish a majority coalition.

Nonetheless, despite the (sometimes) perplexing parliamentary paradigm of Israel’s government and election process, it truly is one of the most democratic systems in the world. Reason: It combines the best of pure democracy and a representative republic by giving voice to many more platforms than those nations which have just two parties, or even three or four.

When Israelis participate in national elections they vote for a party, not for an individual. Parties that garner the minimum number of votes required (which also determines the number of Knesset representatives) then decide which of their associates will serve in the Knesset. The ruling coalition, which can consist of several blocs, must have a minimum of 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. Israel’s Prime Minister is the recognized leader of the largest party of the majority coalition. In this case, it would have been a reelected Benjamin Netanyahu.

(Interior of Knesset)

(The graph on the left represents the 20th Knesset before mid-term elections were held this past April. With the 61 Knesset members to the right on that graph part of the Likud-led majority coalition)

You may not know about this situation in Israel. Or, if you do, you may not be familiar with the details, some of which will be provided in the context of today’s focus: the prophetic destiny of Israel’s national redemption and restoration. And how that destiny will determine the fate of the entire world.

I’d like to begin with an excerpt from my first book—a novel entitled O Israel. Which was also quoted in a prior Eye of Prophecy article: The Jewish Dichotomy In & Outside Israel (posted 6-20-18). It summarizes the intriguing divergence of the Jewish people (unity despite disunity) as seen through the eyes of one of the main characters—Avram Levitt, a Jewish Scribe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the article referenced above, I wrote:

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

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

Nevertheless, differences between Jews themselves can be troublesome, especially when the Jews as a people and Israel as a nation have so many adversaries….

Though there is significant solidarity of Jews within and outside of Israel, there are three basic Jewish dichotomies.

I went on to identify those dichotomies, with the most noticeable difference between secular and observant Jews, which will be the prominent point of this week’s post.

A Remarkable Turn of Events

On April 9th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party received enough of the popular vote to guarantee 35 seats. But with the same number of seats voted to the (newly formed just for this election) opposition party, Blue and White; co-led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and head of another party (Yesh Atid) that joined Blue and White—Yair Lapid. However, Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing alliance won the election with a coalition total of 65 potential Knesset seats, four more than the required minimum. Or, so everyone thought.

(Leaders of the Blue & White Party, the name of which represents the blue and white Star of David Israeli flag, Left to right are: Moshe Ya’alon; Benny Gantz; Yair Lapid; Gabi Yshkenazi … Gantz and Lapid are the two main representatives)

By Israeli Law, the winning coalition—comprised of smaller parties that unite with the leading vote-getting party—must formally structure a majority government, which is normally not that difficult. This must be done within 42 days after an election, which includes a two-week extension granted by the President (more of a ceremonial position in Israel, but important during the election process) if necessary. In this case, President Rivlin gave Benjamin Netanyahu one more week … to May 28th.

By the time of the extended deadline, the Likud party and its supporting factions could muster only 60 seats—a deadlock. Consequently, the 21st Knesset voted to dissolve itself and schedule another snap election on September 17, 2019.

Why did that happen?

Answer: Even though there were smaller parties supporting Likud (35 seats) with a total of 30 additional would-be Knesset representatives, it took just one party and its leader to dissolve the new Knesset, an unparalleled event in Israel’s modern history. The party: Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home). Its leader: Avigdor Liberman. I mentioned him in Eye of Prophecy article: Peace Between Israel & Judah … Then World Peace! (Posted 12-8-18).

As a background, here is an excerpt from that article:

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…. 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.

However, as a result of other developments—of which Liberman was the main catalyst—the Knesset ended up scheduling a mid-term election anyway (for April 9th, 2019). In principle, both Lieberman and his party had agreed to back the Likud. As a result of the April 9th election, his party was reduced from six to five Knesset members; still resulting in a convincing mandate of 65 seats for the majority coalition. Yet, they reversed their support after the election.

This abrupt turnaround came with an ultimatum imposed by Liberman, summarized in this quote from a June 4, 2019 Associate Press article reposted in the online news source World Israel News: “After appearing to win April 9 elections, Netanyahu was blocked from forming a government coalition by his political ally turned rival Avigdor Lieberman, who insisted on passing legislation that would require young ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted into the military like everyone else.”

This issue of observant Jews serving in the IDF has been controversial for years; it is one of the two main platforms of Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Even though this debate and/or passage of a law one way or another could have waited for official establishment of the 21st Knesset, Lieberman insisted that legislation be passed immediately that would force ALL Orthodox Jews to serve in the military (there are some who voluntarily report for duty). At the very minimum he insisted that the new government must make an advance commitment to mandatory service for the Orthodox.

Liberman further dug in his heels when he learned that Bezalel Smotrich of the United Right Party (ultra-Orthodox) was being considered as the next Justice Minister. Said Liberman:

“To my sorrow, the State of Israel is going to elections (again in the same year). We are natural partners (but only under his terms) in a right-wing government; we won’t be partners in a halachic government. The Likud failed in this work of building a coalition (thanks to Liberman’s rigid and impatient position) … and they and the Haredim are to blame for Israel going to elections” (emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

(*Note: Haredim is a term applied to observant Jews, particularly the Orthodox … in contrast to secular Jews, who far outnumber their religious kindred. Halachic is a Hebrew expression from the root word, halacha. Which means, “the way” or the “way of walking” or path. It encompasses the Torah commandments from God plus additional man-made rules added by rabbis over the centuries. Also, oral traditions handed down through the ages. In short, it’s the idea of an entire community or even a nation—as a whole, majority—following the instructions of the Lord in all areas of life … including politics. We’ll get back to that a little later.)

Although not nearly reason enough to join the Likud-led conservative coalition, liberal Jewish politicians also adamantly oppose any thought that Judaism would be the (a) governing base for the State of Israel. Said left-wing Meretz party member Tamar Zandberg, “It is clear that there cannot be a justice minister serving in Israel who wants to establish a theocracy.”

Which is, in fact, what ultra-Orthodox Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich proposed when he said: “The State of Israel will be run, God willing, as it was run during the days of King David and King Solomon—according to Torah law.”

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is passionately patriotic about Israel and gives considerable weight to Jewish tradition and the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that he often reads; he, too, does not favor what would be tantamount to an Israeli version of a State Church or Church (Synagogue) State. Said Netanyahu in a terse response to Smotrich: “The State of Israel will not be a halachic state.”

When there was some talk that the 21st Knesset might consider the possibility of a 60-seat Likud coalition (instead of the majority of 61 seats) even though it had been dissolved, Liberman again said: “A government of 60 is not a right wing government, but an ultra-Orthodox government that, instead of preserving Israel as a Jewish state, will change it into a theocracy.”

For now, the Knesset remains suspended with the Executive Staff of Israel’s government still intact (on an interim basis). However, no new laws can be introduced or voted on until the 22nd Knesset is formed. Elections are still scheduled for September but not merely because of what Liberman said. Which, in and of itself, is inaccurate, i.e. a 60-seat (or however many seats) Likud coalition government would in no way be an ultra-Orthodox government.

(Avigdor Liberman)

It’s nothing short of amazing that Israel’s dichotomy between secular and observant Jews is, in unparalleled fashion, the overriding reason that this mid-term election (April) did not result in a new government. Instead, another mid-term election is forthcoming. Of all the variables that could have blocked Netanyahu’s Likud-led government from being reinstated (renewed), it was Liberman’s party withdrawal from the conservative bloc that reduced the majority from 65 seats to a deadlock of 60 seats. Moreover, this withdrawal was driven by fear that the Israeli government would be heavily influenced, if not dominated, by the religious minority.

Even to the point of a Theocracy!

A Theocracy?

Should there be a theocracy in Israel? Yes!

But not the kind that many equate with a man-made Church State or State Church system. A hierarchal system such as found with the Roman Catholic Church which dominated many European kingdoms (nations) for hundreds of years, until the Reformation and Renaissance took hold. Or the past and threatening present-day geopolitical/religious Islamic Caliphate sought by both radical and moderate (if there is such a thing) Muslims. Or the antithesis of a government run by a religion (the true Christian faith is NOT a religion but a personal relationship with Messiah Jesus), found in agnostic state secular systems like Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and the like.

Which is why the Crusades, the Catholic Inquisitions, or Muslim conquest of much of the Middle East in the 20th & 21st centuries and a part of Europe hundreds of years ago bear absolutely no resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Simply put: God graciously gives us his precepts as the source of light and life for individuals and for nations, but he NEVER forces anyone or any government to trust and obey him. That’s why he gave us free will. To choose him because we want to, because we love him and are immensely grateful for the salvation freely given to us through his Son.

The following is an excerpt from Part II of, A Religion of Peace? (posted 4-18-15):

…Then by guilt through association, the observable connection between political and religious Islam and Muslims. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to separate the two; because the Koran doesn’t distinguish between Islamic political and religious decrees or demands. Although the number of Islamic militants (including the actual terrorists among them) is relatively small, the prevailing belief of Muslims the world over is that the Koran not only encourages submission to Islam by force if necessary, but actually demands it.

The practical painful result of this religious government can vividly be seen in the Middle East through brutal enforcement of Islam by terrorist atrocities; and to a lesser (in terms of the level of violence) but nevertheless large-scale implementation of Sharia law by national governments, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria. And Turkey is becoming more and more Islamic in its daily administration of national affairs.

Only Messiah Jesus can and will one day establish an absolutely Divine Government on this earth, one that will bring universal peace and prosperity. Indeed, he will administer the Kingdom of God on the earth, and the entire world will be the better for it.

Read with me the inspiring prophecy from Isaiah: “The government will rest on his shoulders … His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

This magnificent Kingdom will be in its purest form a Divine Monarchy, based on God’s truth and justice. But until that time, Jesus, himself, recognized the necessary distinction between governmental administration and personal belief and conduct; between man’s individual interaction with God and his collaboration with the lawmakers and law enforcers of the land, when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:14, NASB).

This was an amazing response (one of many) given by Christ. The implications include acknowledgment that God is ultimately in control, but that he allows and even ordains that men shall be governed by higher authorities. With the strong inference that (given the fallibility of man) governments and administrative authorities cannot successfully legislate morality or spirituality, nor should they try. Meaning the Ten Commandments, as an illustrative example, came directly from God, not from a king or human ruler or government official or even a constitution. A constitution can and should reflect divine values from the true and living God of the Bible and enforce the legislative laws of the land; but a constitutional government of any kind (monarchy, parliamentary, democratic or representative republic) should not dictate its own (dictatorial) scruples, whether religious or secular, whether godly or ungodly. That belongs to the individual, and that person’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Almighty God.

Scripture is fundamentally clear that it is impossible for man (without God’s direct and personal authority through Messiah Jesus) to establish and execute a governmental system built on and from a religion, which is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church and the Islamic Caliphates have attempted to do down through the ages, often with tragic results. Even the Mosaic and Levitical laws (decrees, regulations, commandments) handed down by God to the Israelites were designed for two purposes: (1) A God-like high standard of excellence for human interaction, but also (2) to demonstrate to the Jews and all of mankind that they could not effectively keep God’s laws, either individually or nationally. That only Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law and, thus, qualified as God’s divine sacrificial offering for the sins of every man, woman, and child.

In this context, here is an excerpt from Part I of A Religion of Peace? (4-11-15):

The contextual, historical comparison that needs to be made between God’s instructions to the Israelites to vanquish some of the original tribes of Canaan and the commands from the god of Islam found in the Koran is this: The Old Testament provides an account of a particular historical episode at a specific time in Israel’s (beginning) history, for a precise duration of time, for a special purpose. The Israelites were to be the instrument of God’s judgment on a very perverse people while taking over a relatively small portion of the earth (all of which belongs to God in the first place) to live and serve God. Whereas, the Koran’s instructions to all Muslims is a perpetual edict (to subjugate Christians and Jews and kill them if they don’t submit) that has no historical parameters, no national boundaries (world-wide), and is to continue indefinitely. It is, in effect, an unlimited Koranic license to suppress and kill infidels, i.e. all who refuse to become Muslims. There is a world of difference between these antithetical models.

The State of the State of Israel

What we see taking place in Israel is of Biblical proportions! It is yet another dynamic prophetic development in these last days. It is a dispute between religious and secular Jews in Israel serious enough to temporarily topple a democratically elected government. Unwittingly, both sides are preparing themselves and the nation of Israel for the glorious return of Jesus of Nazareth, their Messiah and Savior.

He is the Jewish Messiah who will first bridge the gulf within Israel and between Jews everywhere. When that takes place, then:

The Orthodox among them have rekindled a burning desire to acknowledge the God of Israel in the affairs of state. This is generally good. What is not so good is that the religious Jews are still in denial that their Temple is gone and with it the all-important Levitical Sacrificial system for atonement of sin. They have refused to accept the reality that the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah to replace the Old Covenant of the Law came to pass when Messiah Jesus died on the cross for their sins (and of the whole world) and rose from the dead to prove that he is God’s own Son.

King David himself recognized that God has a Son, and this Son was also David’s Lord! (Psalm 2 & Psalm 110).

What the Jewish Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago still applies today. Especially now that Israel has been reborn, and observant Israelis once again are able to freely practice their version of the Law of Moses (minus the sacrifices):

“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, 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 10:1-4).

On the other hand, many secular Jews or those just partially observant possess a passionate hope for Messiah to arrive. Even though they know little of their own Scriptures, they have as much or more desire for Israel’s place in the family of nations that affords at least a measure of peace and security, than many observant Jews do. This perplexes the Haredim as their emphasis is on a Messiah who they say will not come until Jews begin to return in greater numbers to halachic (the practice of) Judaism, i.e. keeping of the Torah.

The following are the opening words from Eye of Prophecy article: Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here? (posted June 2016):

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.

Tens of thousands of Messianic Jews have embraced Jesus as Messiah; they have accepted Scripture’s claim that only he can redeem individuals and nations. They believe (along with their Gentile believer counterparts) that redemption is precisely what the Bible and Jewish tradition says it is: a purchase or buy back from slavery. Which is, Biblically, first and foremost an enslavement to sin and its consequences—eternal separation from God.

It is what Webster’s Dictionary defines as: “to free from captivity by payment of ransom.”

The Bible says: “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins, says the Lord” (Isaiah 59:20).

…Isaiah is referring to the initial appearance of Messiah for individual salvation; but also, his return to accomplish Israel’s national redemption.

Many Jews see redemption almost entirely from a more secular meaning of the concept:

“To free from what distresses or harms; to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental; to change for the better; to get or win back.” (Webster’s Dictionary).

Thus, redemption to them means freedom from the constant distress and brutal harm from Palestinian terrorist attacks. They long for peace to overcome and replace the incessant detrimental threats of entire Muslim nations seeking Israel’s annihilation. They seek to exchange the relentless BDS actions against them for a better life of personal and national well-being and security. Some want to get back all the land that has been given to them by God, himself, some 4000 years ago—the entire Promised Land of Israel, including but not limited to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Prophet, High Priest, and King

Returning to the statement made by the ultra-Orthodox politician Bazalel Smotrich: Israel should be, run as it was run during the days of King David and King Solomon—according to Torah law.

Is he right about the reign of King David and his son Solomon, according to Torah law?

In all due respect to his honorable intentions, he is not correct. Why? Because he’s not factoring in all that happened in Israel’s ancient history, including the glory years of David and Solomon.

For that matter, there was a marked distinction between the roles of executive leaders (beginning with Moses) and the mediators (beginning with Moses’ brother, Aaron—the High Priest) who offered sacrifices for themselves and the people when they broke God’s laws given to/through Moses and other national leaders. Whether guided by the mighty prophet Moses, then the warrior-leader Joshua, followed by several judges (like Gideon), and finally kings, Israel’s government wasn’t run by the Torah as such, on anything approaching a consistent basis. Not even during the reign of King David and King Solomon. Time/space doesn’t permit citing several examples.

A true theocracy? It should have been, but it wasn’t.

Why?

God through Moses answers that question:

(New Living Translation: Four times the word choose, or choice is used!)

Who is the Lord addressing here? Israel’s government? No, there was no government as such then. He was speaking directly to the people, every individual. Did he say that his instructions would be forced on them one way or another—by a judge or a king or a prophet or a government? (Note: I’m not referring to the enforcing of ceremonial or civil or criminal laws; that’s not the main point here). No, it must be from their heart. A willing choice to love and obey Him. From the inside out, not outside in.

Though both sought God’s wisdom and counsel to govern Israel, neither King David nor King Solomon made keeping of the Torah compulsive. They knew that the best they could do was to seek and love the Lord themselves, follow his instructions, and be an example to their people. In today’s terminology, they didn’t legislate morality (or godliness). Rather, they endeavored to exemplify God’s standards of righteousness and holiness. But even they failed from time to time.

God’s main purpose for choosing David was threefold: (1) To unite the 12 tribes of Israel into one cohesive nation—Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital. (2) to complete the task that even Joshua didn’t—that of conquering parts of the Promised Land that God had given exclusively to his people. (3) Through David, a King would come who could and would do things even David couldn’t do. This King would redeem and restore Israel to God’s original plan for his special possession … Israel and the Jews. That of being blessed internally and an external blessing to the nations.

Although it was God’s preference not for Israel to have a king, he gave his people what they wanted. But he is omniscient, and he knew full well that His Law given through Moses wasn’t the problem. Rather it was the deliberate disobedience of his people. This is expressed explicitly and frequently in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. For example, in Psalms 78:

“…for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them” (Psalm 78:22).

“But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him” (Verse 32).

And, “Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant” (Verse 37).

Again, “But they kept testing and rebelling against God Most High. They did not obey his laws” (Verse 56).

Thus, invariably and inevitably, it was the preponderance of the people that determined their fate—individually and nationally. Because God has given them/us free will to decide right from wrong, good from evil, he wants everyone to willingly and eagerly choose him and his life-giving salvation. Accordingly, the Lord struck a balance between a nation’s government (governing officials) and its spiritual (Biblical) leaders. He doesn’t want kings (today’s Presidents and Prime Ministers) or their governments to assume the role of ministering to the people as do synagogue or church leaders. And vice versa.

Which is why a priest could be a prophet (example, Ezekiel) and a king could be a prophet (King David). But a priest could never be a king; nor a king be a priest.

Look no further than Judah’s King Uzziah, who for the most part, “…did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight…” (II Chronicles 26:4). But later in Uzziah’s reign, he entered the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple to personally burn incense; thereby, arrogantly assuming the role and audaciously acting on behalf of the priests.

Big mistake! God struck him with leprosy while he was still in the Temple.

Government leaders are to administrate to/for the outer needs of the people. Spiritual leaders are to minister to the inner needs of people. Neither in terms of time nor talents, should one role assume the other. Am I, as a born-again believer in Messiah Jesus, suggesting a separation of Church and State? Yes, but not as perceived by the secular liberals among us, who want all vestiges (even symbolic ones) of God removed from government or public places. That is missing the point ENTIRELY! For a more detailed presentation of this topic, please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles, Separation of Church & State … For or Against? Part I & II (4-2 & 4-9-16).

(President George Washington often prayed in public, before people. Is that a lack of separation of Church and State?!)

Things to Ponder

The Lord doesn’t want his Word and the truth/source of redemption therein that produces eternal life, as well as the powerful promises and precious provisions for everyday living—no matter the kind of government—to be forced (legislated) on the individual or the nation. Even by or through a ruler and/or government whose intentions may be good, but whose faults and frailties and failures will sooner or later lead to laws and enforcement thereof which are detrimental to the greater populace. Producing the opposite effect to which they were intended.

He wants people to seek and serve him because they love and fear him (hold in awe, respect). The more of these people there are in a nation, the greater the Lord will bless that nation (Psalm 33:12; II Chronicles 7:14).

There’s only One Person—he who was, who is, and who is to come—who has accomplished and will one day soon completely fulfill for individuals and nations the redemptive role and governmental authority of Prophet, Priest, and King. He is, MESSIAH JESUS.

The prophet Zechariah spoke of him: “…Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between the two roles” (Zechariah 6:13).

“…For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established. So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of the created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:9-12, italics for emphasis).

In closing here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Kingdom of God (posted 1-17-15):

Jesus spoke often of the Kingdom of God; for example, comparing it to a mustard seed … the smallest of seeds that when planted grows into an enormous tree. Which is exactly what has happened to the body of Christ; an exponential growth down through the ages, to now consist of believers from virtually every nation and language on earth. It is the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts and minds of those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of Christ. Next, will come the final physical Kingdom of God on this earth; at which time all people, all governments, all nations will be brought under the authority of God’s magnificent Son. He will rule the nations with firmness, but fairness.

Isn’t that what most people want? They want law, order, equality, safety, peace. And they want someone who has the kind of authority to realize those dreams, but also someone who is kind and considerate with that authority. One who truly cares about people and what’s best for them; who can rule and judge with impartiality and kindness. A truly wise and benevolent King whose attributes perfectly reflect who and what he is: Love, Truth, Justice, Mercy.

Will Believers Go Through The Great Tribulation? (Part II)

“Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up!”

What father wouldn’t want to hear those words from his son? Or from his daughter, “Daddy, I’m going to marry a man just like you.”

Or a mother whose daughter praises her: “I hope I’m as good a Mom as you.” Whose son hugs her and beams, “You’re the best Mom ever.”

Precedents, prototypes, patterns, parallels, models, blueprints, and examples; both positive and negative. We recognize them. We relate to them. We learn from them. We literally and figurately build on them. World views and lifestyles are influenced by them.

How many times have you read, heard, or said: “For example…”?

One of several definitions in Webster’s Dictionary of example: “one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated; a parallel or closely similar case … when serving as a precedent or model.”

Precedent: “an earlier occurrence of something similar; something done or said that may serve as an example … or justify a subsequent act of the same or of an analogous kind.”

“Have you ever seen anything like that. It’s unprecedented.” Or: “They have a perfect marriage.” Or: “This is a pattern you want to follow.” And: “That’s a blueprint for success.”

On the other end of the spectrum: “What a terrible example.”

Even many unbelievers know that the first book of the Bible is called Genesis—the very name of which means beginnings. In it we find the (unprecedented) origin of all things, the epitome of which is life itself. With the embodiment of God’s masterpiece: creation of man and woman, husband and wife. And, ever so sadly, Adam and Eve’s introduction of sin through disobedience to God’s one and only command not to do something. With devastating results, the most tragic of which is death.

It is a model that has been physically reproduced and spiritually replicated in every person because we all are born with a sin nature, molded by our original parents and inherited from them. A paradigm that has produced all the ills of humanity. A pattern that can only be changed by God himself, by making all those who believe and receive His Son, Messiah Jesus, into new creations. A new beginning; a changed heart and life; a permanent right standing with God; a different eternal destiny (heaven).

This new life begins the moment we consciously accept Messiah Jesus as our Savior. Notice the present tense action (italicized for emphasis) in the following verses:

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

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

This new life will one day soon bring about an extreme make-over of our bodies, the astonishing result (completion) of being born again spiritually. Spiritual Bodies! (I Corinthians 15:44).

“…For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:52-53).

Christ Jesus came to earth as a human being, born of a Virgin—fully God and fully man. His sacrificial death purchased our salvation by the highest price ever paid. But then: HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD! Death could not defeat him. The grave could not hold him. The gates of hell will not prevail against him nor his redeemed followers.

He was the first to rise with an everlasting body. His is the unprecedented prototype. He is our living model and perfect example of what’s in eternal store for all who have believed and received him as Savior. Which will (begin to) take place at the Rapture.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Last week’s article provided direct Scriptural corroboration of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This week we’ll focus on what might be called indirect proof; nonetheless, evidence just as convincing because it includes Biblical examples and precedents.

Here is an excerpt from the previous post in preparation for this week’s article:

Biblical Precedents, Parallels, Prototypes, & Patterns

Virtually everything that happened during early New Testament times and those that will take place in the end-times of the last days (in which we are living), has an Old Testament forerunner—in terms of both correlation and contrast.

In the Old Testament we read: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants his prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Those plans include specific people, places, and events obviously relevant to Old Testament times. But also:

“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (I Corinthians 10:11).

This is God’s way of preparing New Covenant believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to fully grasp the promises that are part and parcel of the New Covenant of Grace. Not the least of which is the Rapture and its two-fold purpose: (A) Resurrection of dead believers followed by their transformation (along with living believers) to our imperishable spiritual bodies equipped to live in heaven forever. (B) Sparing living believers from the Great Tribulation by removing us from the earth.

All of which validate the oft-quoted axiom:

There’s a multitude of Old Testament people, places, events, or things that possess and preview the most prominent and powerful promises of God’s Word the Bible: (1) Individual redemption both spiritually and physically through Israel’s (Jewish) Messiah. (2) National restoration of the Jews to Israel followed by, “And so all Israel will be saved… And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).

Such things as the Old Covenant Tabernacle, then the Temple in which God’s presence dwelt among his people. Giving way to the New Covenant in which the Lord would dwell in the hearts of men and women. Even the furnishings of the Tabernacle were shadow types of the real thing. For example, the Menorah lampstand representing the Messiah.

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’” (John 8:12).

And the seven Jewish Festivals, four of which have been fulfilled literally by the First Advent of Messiah Jesus beginning with Passover. The remaining three to be fulfilled when he returns, the last of which is Sukkot, the Festival of Shelters. “…Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).

The writer of Hebrews compares the Old Covenant with the New: “They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: ‘Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.’

“But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said: ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah’” (Hebrews 8:5-8, the writer then quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Scripture is replete with precedents of something or someone that would be a foreshadow pattern of those things that would take place at the end of the age … The Day of the Lord that would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Such as the parallel pattern of Joseph and his brothers that prophetically portrayed the first coming of Messiah. Were it not for Joseph’s forgiveness of what his brothers did to him, they would not have been saved from famine (starvation).

Jesus proclaimed: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). And, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).

Or King David’s prototype eternal dynasty bequeathed to him by God; to be triumphantly restored upon the soon-to-be glorious return of his descendant, Jesus of Nazareth; who is also David’s Lord (Psalm 110).

Like Joseph’s brothers and their father Jacob were exempted from the massive seven-year famine (no coincidence that the Great Tribulation is also seven years in length) of their time, there are other Old Testament events to show that believers will be spared from the Great Tribulation to come.

Let’s begin with one that nearly all students of the Bible agree constitutes the most prominent prototype. In fact, it’s referred to it as an Old Testament Rapture.

First Example: Enoch

Both the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version read as follows: “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

From the New Living Translation (which I quote from most of the time): “When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah… Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared because God took him” (Genesis 5:21, 23-24).

I’m fairly certain that one of the reasons the NLT translators/commentators chose disappeared was to match the prevailing premise that the Rapture will take place in “the blink of an eye. With the derivative presumption that believers will suddenly disappear without the left behind unbelievers knowing or seeing what happened.

As detailed in three prior Eye of Prophecy with a magnifying glass scrutiny of I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15, it’s impossible for the entire sequence of the Rapture to be over in a nanosecond. Only the actual bodily transformation of dead and living believers will take place in the blink of an eye. With the entire episode of the Rapture itself requiring several minutes.

Please see articles: How the Rapture? (Posted 8-24-13); The Shout Heard Around the World (4-2217); A Dramatic Enactment of the Rapture! (4-20-19).

Whether in the more traditional translations of the Bible or the relatively newer (easier to read contemporary language) translations like the NLT, nowhere in this passage is it stated or even implied that Enoch’s departure from the earth was not witnessed by someone. Or that he was alone at the time. Others certainly saw Elijah taken away.

It’s certainly logical and reasonable to conclude that when God took Enoch it happened quickly, perhaps even, “here one second, the next second gone.” But we shouldn’t presume that no one saw him disappear. Those who assume he did are making a retroactive (reverse) analogy that raptured believers will instantaneously vanish based on that assumption. That’s effectively arguing in a circle. It’s using one presupposed feature of Point A (Enoch) to prove all facets of Point B (Rapture of believers) to further prove Point A.

In fact, Enoch as a composite preview prototype of the Rapture breaks down at this point. Why? Because there are none of the Rapture events described in I Thessalonians 4 that fit with Enoch’s example, excepting that he was taken to heaven while still alive.

Which is why the older translations better reflect what took place. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

How he was taken and whether anyone saw what happened (“He was right beside us. Where did he go?”) is unknown.

If Enoch is, indeed, a foreshadow of raptured believers (and he is but in limited way) there’s only two reasons that God would take him from the earth: (1) For the sake of precedence itself. (2) To spare Enoch from God’s first global judgment of the earth … The Great Flood. As a preview of living believers taken out of harm’s way before God’s 2nd and final judgment of the earth … The Great Tribulation.

Time/space doesn’t permit presentation of the calculations. But based on life expectancy (up to a thousand years) in the pre-Flood world, Enoch very well could have been alive when Noah’s Flood began. Would he have been spared? Of course, for the same reason Noah was delivered. But that’s not what God wanted us to see and know. He wanted New Testament believers to fully realize and marvel at the awesome privileges we have as his sons and daughters in Christ. Which among a plethora of promises is that of being spared from his final judgment of this wicked world.

Thus, Enoch is the optimum example of the Rapture, in terms of why believers will be taken from the earth and when (Pre-Flood and Pre-Tribulation, respectively).

Second Example: Noah

“When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous…. Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created” (Genesis 7:1 & 4).

Here we have another prototype parallel to the Rapture, but only in terms of preserving Noah from the lethal result of God’s first global judgment. It further establishes that New Testament events (linked to the First & Second Advents of Messiah Jesus) including the Rapture, are at the very least generically rooted in Old Testament paradigms.

As stressed in last week’s Part I article: of paramount importance is that God’s judgment of the earth during the Great Tribulation is ONLY on and against the unsaved. So, it was when Noah’s flood occurred. Consequently, Noah (and by God’s merciful exemption of Noah’s family—for his sons and their wives to repopulate the earth) was spared because of his close relationship with God.

“…By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world (condemned because they didn’t believe God or in God), and he received the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7, parenthesis mine).

This was exactly how and why the Lord declared Abraham righteous (in right standing with God for eternity … Genesis 15:6). Since Messiah Jesus’s death and resurrection, people’s faith must now be placed directly in his substitutionary sacrificial death—paying the penalty of our sins to be made right with God. There’s absolutely no other way (John 14:6; Romans 3:21-26, and many other passages).

Obviously, Noah and his family weren’t taken from the earth (to heaven). But they were taken off the earth (on top of the water that covered the earth)! No matter the nature and extent of their departure, they were spared from God’s global judgment. In that respect, they were examples of believers taken out of harm’s way at the Rapture.

Third Example: Lot

“The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. Abraham approached him and said, ‘Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? … Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked… Should not the judge of all the earth do what is right?’” (Genesis 18:22-23 & 25).

“Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation” (Genesis 19:24-25).

This is also one of the most well-known events recorded in the Bible. Beginning with the Lord’s disclosure to Abraham: Sodom (and surrounding cities) were about to be destroyed because, “their sin is so flagrant” (Genesis 18:20).

Then Abraham’s amazing negotiation with the Lord, commencing with his statement of the obvious: the Lord is the righteous judge of all the earth. Surely the righteous wouldn’t be obliterated with the wicked. Abraham began his intersession with a plea for the Lord to spare the cities if 50 righteous people could be found. Six requests later, it was all the way down to 10.

As it turned out, there weren’t even ten. Only 4 escaped this monumental judgment—Lot, his wife, and their two daughters. And as many know, Lot’s wife didn’t make it all the way.

Although the destruction of these wicked cities was regional (as opposed to a global event), it was nonetheless massive … engulfing the plains.

Followed by a few others recorded in Scripture, such as one angel annihilating 185,000 Assyrian soldiers before they could attack Jerusalem … without even one Jewish casualty (II Kings 18 & 19). And who knows how many incidents since the Canon of Scripture was closed with the 66 books of the Bible. For example: I’m convinced that most natural disasters are a direct result of the steady deterioration of and disturbances in the earth; but there are those in which God has directly intervened (caused) to get our attention. We can speculate which ones are which, but we don’t know for sure. However, Tribulation unbelievers will know beyond any doubt when God’s judgements begin.

The dynamics of this ancient yet timeless event is another illustration of God’s perfect justice. Had there been but six more who believed in and trusted the true and living God, all the cities would have been spared. That’s grace and mercy at their divine best. Plus: “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person (in this case Abraham) has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, parenthesis obviously mine).

However, the sins of the inhabitants of these cities was “so flagrant” it was time for the Lord to intervene. Not only to deal with an out-of-control wickedness so perversely detestable that the men of Sodom intended to rape the two strangers (angels of the Lord no less); but as an object lesson for millennia to come.

Some synonyms for flagrant: blatant, brazen, scandalous, shameless, and glaring. The fact that the population of entire cities had openly committed such vile and reprehensible acts was a contemptuous red line crossing of God’s tolerance.

While preparing for this portion of today’s article, there was something I hadn’t considered before.

As we know, the Lord removed Lot from the pending disaster. Which is another forerunner Rapture-like action on the part of God to spare believers from enormous destruction. Like Noah, Lot and his daughters weren’t taken from the earth; however, the practical result was the same.

But I don’t think Abraham anticipated that Lot would be spared, if the Lord carried out his verdict and sentence. Here’s why:

When Noah pleaded with God to spare these cities, they finally agreed on ten. “…And the Lord replied, ‘Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten’” (Genesis 18:32).

There’s no direct or even indirect indication that Abraham expected his nephew (and family) to be spared from this judgment unless there were a total of ten. If there were ten, then no one would be destroyed. Conversely, it’s evident that Abraham confidently anticipated that there would be at least that many. Thus, he didn’t specifically add to his request that the Lord spare the cities, if there were, for example, five.

Then we read: “Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).

Surely, Abraham was distraught at what he saw. Not just because the cities had been destroyed, but also because he assumed that Lot had not been spared. Even though Abraham had reminded the Lord that He was the righteous judge who would (should) not condemn the righteous with the wicked, Abraham didn’t know for sure what would happen. For one thing, he knew all too well that his nephew Lot had made a bad choice to live in Sodom in the first place.

In the very next verse: “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain” (Genesis 19:29).

Since Abraham had not specifically asked that Lot be spared regardless of the outcome, the convincing conclusion is that the Lord listened to Abraham’s heart’s desire (unspoken request) to keep Lot safe. A vivid Old Testament precedent of not only removing him from disaster in Rapture-like manner, but also validated in the New Covenant promise:

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Fourth Example: Elijah

“When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ And Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.’

‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah replied. ‘If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.’

“As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:9-11).

This stunning scene is another renowned event in Scripture. Elijah and his amazing transfer to heaven while still alive is also a (partial) preview of the Rapture. However, in a different way and for a different purpose.

Elijah was taken to heaven without dying. Which fits with living believers caught up in the Rapture. With, however, one major distinction as covered extensively in my second book, Out of the Abyss, then again in Eye of Prophecy trilogy, The Two Witnesses (Posted in June 2014); and Moses and Elijah vs. The Antichrist and The False Prophet (2-10-18). That variance is Raptured believers will ascend to heaven with our transfigured eternal bodies.

The Lord’s reason for taking Elijah became evident when he and Moses met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. In that riveting scene, we know both prophets are in their original bodies. Why? Because Scripture is crystal clear: Jesus would be the first to rise from the dead in a glorified eternal body. Not until he was transfigured permanently at his resurrection (Mount of Transfiguration was a preview of coming attractions!), would or could Old and New Testaments saints receive their transformed bodies.

*Note: Time/space doesn’t allow today; thus, refer to the above articles for dramatic details and compelling commentary that Moses was revived shortly after he died and was buried by God himself.

The above referenced articles also provide elaborate evidence from Scripture coupled with correlative commentary to demonstrate that Moses and Elijah are the two powerful prophets (witnesses) who will return to the earth a second time during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11). For 3 ½ years they will perform mighty miracles which will hold Antichrist and his confederation at bay—for a while. During that period, God will make them untouchable.

Yet, when the time comes, the Lord will allow Antichrist to kill both Moses and Elijah. Which is also why we know that they return to earth (a second time) with the same bodies in which they left the earth. If they were in their new eternal bodies, they would have been indestructible.

As we know, they will be raised from the dead after 3 ½ days. That’s when they will be given their resurrected spiritual bodies.

The following is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article: Will All Children Be Taken in the Rapture? (2-23-19). Part of the evidence/rationale presented in that article includes reference to Elijah. As follows:

…Elijah was taken in preparation for his return in his earthly body to Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation, for the express purpose of doing battle (alongside Moses) with the Antichrist and the False Prophet.

However, both Elijah and Moses will be raptured after their spectacular service to God and dramatic defense of Jerusalem. Their sudden transportation to heaven will vividly depict and convincingly demonstrate to the world how and why believers, both dead and alive, were taken earlier from the earth.

The how of their ascent to heaven was in full view of those left behind. The why was to protect them from the Great Tribulation, equivalent to that of Raptured believers a few months earlier. In other words, their resurrected transference (with eternal spiritual bodies) to heaven will be a Post-Rapture reminder (after the fact) of what the left behind unsaved missed.

You may be asking: “How will/could Moses and Elijah be spared from the Great Tribulation; when, in fact, they’re right in the middle of it and they will be killed?”

Good reasonable question.

Answer: During their 3 ½ years in Jerusalem, they suffer no harm, though it won’t be for lack of intent and action on the part of Antichrist and his followers. Instead, Moses and Elijah will, unscathed, demonstrate and dispense God’s awesome power during their appointed time.

“And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:5-6, NASB).

As I’ve written before, the plagues they inflict on a wicked and rebellious world closely resemble some of the judgments in Revelation.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Major Earthquake in Israel … When & Where It Will Strike (posted 11-25-17). In italics:

Revelation Chapter 11 begins with an (interlude) introduction to the two witnesses; however, it also chronologically continues the set of trumpet judgments ending with the 7th trumpet. Because the two witnesses are killed after 3 ½ years of their time on earth and this occurs between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, I believe we can determine what part of the Great Tribulation during which they testify.

I would encourage you to read Eye of Prophecy article, Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, recently posted on 11-4-17. As explained in that article: Based on the chronological sequence and evidence of all twenty-one judgments (actually twenty plagues as the 5th seal depicts slain tribulation saints, not a judgment as such) in Revelation, we can accurately estimate the approximate time duration of or gap between the judgments. The projected time between a preceding and successive judgment will be 4-5 months. Because the two witnesses are killed (and come back to life 3 ½ days later) between the 6th and 7th trumpet judgments, that would place their time of death at 48-50 months into the tribulation. They would have begun their mission 3 ½ years earlier (42 months) or about 6-8 months after the tribulation begins…

If their 3 ½ years on earth fall within the above period of the Tribulation (which I believe it will approximate), then they, by virtue of being taken to heaven after they arise from the dead, will miss the horrific final eight judgments. That’s as Rapture-like as you can get, considering that they also will not be subject to any of the Revelation plagues while on the earth. Instead, they will themselves dole out some of the punishment!

Killed at the hands of the Antichrist is NOT commensurate with going through the Great Tribulation as such and suffering all the horrors thereof. Rather, their deaths mirror the deaths of the Apostles Paul and Peter as a result of their heroic service for Christ. Ironically, both Paul and Peter were killed by Nero—during his tenure as Caesar before his return from the Abyss as the Antichrist beast.

Things to Ponder

Will Believers Go through the Great Tribulation?

On the authority of Scripture, No. Repeated for emphasis: No way!

In last week’s article we examined several passages to conclusively demonstrate that God’s final judgement of the earth during the seven-year Great Tribulation is directed only against unbelievers.

Consequently, the Rapture will occur BEFORE this great time of anguish takes place. By transporting living believers directly to heaven—after they have been transformed into eternal bodies, along with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already died.

Believers who will go through the Tribulation are commonly referred to as Tribulation saints. Many (most) of them will be killed by Antichrist Nero. They are not spared from this great time of anguish because they were unbelievers when the Rapture takes place.

Those passages directly declaring that believers will be exempt from the Great Tribulation are affirmed by more indirect evidence, in the form of examples found both before and after the Rapture occurs … as we looked at in this week’s article.

Once again quoting Paul who summarized the Day of the Lord with these stirring and encouraging words written specifically within the context of God’s anger released during the seven-year Tribulation.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us (during the Great Tribulation)” (I Thessalonians 5:9, parenthesis mine).

Will Believers Go Through the Great Tribulation? (Part I)

Necessity as the mother of invention has produced unprecedented technological wonders through the ages, especially in the 19th, 20th, & 21st centuries.

The list is long.

We all have our favorites—unrivaled innovations most of which are followed by immense improvements; not just in the side-benefits thereof, but of advances in the invention itself.

What would be the favorite on your list: electricity, radio, the automobile, the airplane, television, the computer, or the smart phone (sure choice of Millennials!)? I’m sure one invention is on everyone’s list—the Microwave!

My choice is mega-ton ships. Oh, I know and at least partially understand Archimedes principal of water displacement, etc. But come on… huge aircraft carriers or titanic cruise ships (lower case “t” so as not to bring up bad memories of that capital “T” ship) are simply stunning. And submarines … above and below the water!

However, when thinking of things that can change not just the external world, but the significantly more valuable internal dimension of our life’s experiences, let’s briefly consider the most remarkable and unparalleled event of all time.

Prefaced by first remembering King Solomon’s astute observation that: there’s nothing new under the sun. He was referring to the basic stuff of life as he penned in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, including true wisdom and its divine source. Then the pleasures and problems encountered in work, recreation, creativity, wealth or lack thereof, human intimacy, and a host of other pursuits.

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

The essence of which has little or nothing to do with technological achievements and the like. The core of which is meaningless unless we consider Solomon’s final conclusion: “Fear (respect, hold in awe) God and obey his commands (the last and most important of which is expressed through God’s New Covenant with mankind), for this is everyone’s duty” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, parenthesis mine).

Some 300 years later, God announced this New Covenant through Jeremiah, one that was without precedent for Israel.

This astonishing New Covenant would be accomplished by and through Israel’s prophesied Messiah, born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14), God’s very Son (Psalm 110). He would die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53 + a plethora of New Testament passages). In unprecedented fashion (resurrection from the dead), Messiah Jesus would bring about a once and for all right-standing with God that would guarantee resurrection and eternity in heaven for those who believed in Him (Psalm 16, Luke 24, John 11:25-26). Moreover, he would be the only Way to God (John 14:6). When his mission on earth was complete, he would ascend back to heaven (Daniel 7:13-14 & Acts 1).

Finally, Jesus as King of all kings will one day rule the nations in the Kingdom of God on earth upon his return to establish that Kingdom (several passages).

Do you believe that? Then say, “Yes,” to Messiah Jesus. If you do:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ…” (II Corinthians 5:17-18a).

The soon-to-come end-times events that comprise the Day of Lord begin with another first-time occurrence in its scope and nature; but not one without a prototype or pattern. Which is referred to as the Rapture of all those who have believed and received Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior.

Although many believers firmly believe that the Rapture will precede the Great Tribulation, there are more than just a few who maintain there’s no such thing as the Rapture; or it won’t take place until the end of the Great Tribulation. Which implies that the Rapture and the physical return of Messiah Jesus to earth are virtually simultaneous.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same Or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16.

What is of more concern is their contention that believers must go through the Tribulation.

Consequently, we’re going to examine:

Biblical Evidence to Confirm That Believers Will Not Experience the Great Tribulation

There are two template-like sources in Scripture to demonstrate decisively that the Rapture will occur and when. Not “when” in terms of the time/date (setting). As you may know, Jesus himself said three times that no one knows the day or hour of his return. He was explicitly referring to the Rapture phase of His Second Coming. Thus, we’ll examine when the Rapture will take place in juxtaposition to the Great Tribulation.

Those two sources are:

(1) Actual Biblical Passages: Discussed in this week’s Part I post. They will be separated into two main components:

(A) Passages cited by those who place the Rapture half-way through or at the end of the Great Tribulation; thereby, concluding that believers will experience the Tribulation either partially or in its entirety. Yet, this deduction is derived from a misunderstanding or misapplication of tribulation in the lower-case (general) meaning of the word contrasted to the upper-case Tribulation, which is the one-time series of events taking place in a designated period.

(B) Companion passages stating succinctly that believers will be spared from the Great Tribulation. That God’s wrath during this 7-year calamity will be directed only to unbelievers.

To that end, we’ll focus on not only the text, but the context of these passages; which is critical to understanding the on-going tribulation, trials, and testing of believers. Contrasted to the specified apocalyptic episodes completely unparalleled in human history, in terms of scope and severity—the Great Tribulation.

Then in next week’s Part II article, we’ll scrutinize another significant paradigm of Scripture. Which will present more convincing evidence that the spectacular experience of the Rapture will precede the Tribulation.

With just a brief overview in this week’s article, I’m referring to:

(2) Biblical Precedents, Parallels, Prototypes, & Patterns

Virtually everything that happened during early New Testament times and those that will take place in the end-times of the last days (in which we are living), has an Old Testament forerunner—in terms of both correlation and contrast.

In the Old Testament we read: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants his prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Those plans include specific people, places, and events obviously relevant to Old Testament times. But also:

This is God’s way of preparing New Covenant believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to fully grasp the promises that are part and parcel of the New Covenant of Grace. Not the least of which is the Rapture and its two-fold purpose: (A) Resurrection of dead believers followed by their transformation (along with living believers) to our imperishable spiritual bodies equipped to live in heaven forever. (B) Sparing living believers from the Great Tribulation by removing us from the earth.

Biblical Text and Context

The Bible is replete with universal truth of and from God concerning the epic matters of creation, sin and its penalty, salvation only through God’s Son, eternal destiny (heaven or hell) and more. There are several stand-alone precepts in which the context is important and interesting, but not necessarily crucial to the truth announced. Such as the most well-known and oft-quoted verse in the Bible:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This powerful life-changing promise could be placed in the framework of virtually any passage of the Bible. That verse and many others like it can be and are reasonably cited independently of the setting or situation, without affecting the essential meaning of the statement whatsoever.

However, of interest and even intrigue about the scene in John Chapter 3, is the fact that a Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus—a member of the elite Jewish Sanhedrin of the 1st century—came to Jesus to find out for himself who Jesus was/is … especially in light of the miracles Jesus had already performed. As well as the way in which Jesus taught, i.e. with power and authority. Quite unlike any of the religious leaders, including Nicodemus himself.

Jesus knew why Nicodemus was there and that even (especially) a Jewish religious leader needed to realize what and who it was that could permanently reconcile him to God, the result of which would be everlasting life. Thus, the first words out of Jesus’s mouth were: “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

On the other hand, background is of paramount importance for many Biblical truths.

To the extent that if the verse or verses are “taken out of context,” or if the context is simply discarded or misunderstood, it could and sometimes will distort the intended purpose and meaning of the message. Also contributing to this error is failure to correlate any given passage with others on the same subject in order to gain a proper perspective on the matter at hand, i.e. the whole counsel of God. Another error is that of skimming over key modifiers, e.g. adjectives, adverbs, definite vs indefinite articles. In short, simply not scrutinizing the text/context with any degree of diligence.

Thus, let’s look at the text/context regarding Points A & B, listed earlier.

(A) Passages Cited to Infer a Post-Tribulation Rapture vs Pre-Tribulation

There are a couple of prominent passages cited by those who contend that born-again believers will go through the Great Tribulation. We’ll examine them in and with their contextual meaning; followed by other passages (also in context) which irrefutably confirm that believers will not be subject to or physically present when God’s Wrath is poured out on a wicked world during the Great Tribulation.

First Passage: You may want to read the entire 16th Chapter of John, the setting of which is just a few hours before Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion. The final three verses are:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world’” (John 16:31-33, NASB, emphasis added).

The Greek word translated “tribulation” in this passage is: Thlipsis.

Synonyms for tribulation: affliction, distress, trouble, persecution, and anguish. Also, trials and sorrows which are the words used in the New Living Translation of this passage.

Note that Jesus told his disciples, “in the world you have tribulation.” He’s clearly speaking in general terms regarding the troubles that believers in Jesus would experience. This is evident by the present tense dynamics of his words … you have tribulation. Meaning now and continuing throughout their/our life as we follow and serve the Lord. The NLT reads, “you will have tribulation.” Which is saying the same thing, i.e. now and throughout our lives. However, note that there is no definite or even indefinite article or modifying terms. Which, conversely, are attached to and expressly define the Great Tribulation—as we will soon see.

In the immediate context, the tribulation described by the Lord is plainly generic.

This foregone conclusion of generalized tribulation for born-again believers (including suffering and persecution) is prevalent in Paul and Peter’s epistles, and to a lesser extent in the book of James. As Christ suffered, so will his born-again followers. To some degree or another, at one time or another—individually or collectively as the body of Christ—anyone who speaks out or lives for the Lord (even sporadically) will experience some measure of rejection, derision, ostracism, or even hostility.

However, thlipsis also entails all of life’s negative experiences, e.g. distress, trial, sorrow, and just plain ole trouble.

In this passage, Messiah Jesus is NOT referring to the Great Tribulation, which is part of the Day of the Lord and will take place between the Rapture and His Millennial Reign. In fact, Jesus had already told his disciples about that coming great time of anguish and did so in dramatic detail, to include the (Pre-Tribulation) Rapture and his (Post-Tribulation) Second Coming … Matthew Chapters 24-25. We’ll get to that in a moment.

So, too, do several Old Testament prophets warn of that great and glorious (for believers) but terrible Day of the Lord (for unbelievers), particularly those who have and will continue to persecute God’s chosen people, the Jews, during the Great Tribulation.

Such as: “At the time of those events, says the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat (which means valley of decision). There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession (Israel), for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2, parenthesis mine).

The time of those events leads us to the 2nd passage sometimes referred to by those who claim that believers must go through the Great Tribulation. Which is found in the 24th & 25th chapters of Matthew, just referenced.

Second Passage (A combination of two passages): In addition to misidentifying the generalized tribulation/trouble that believers face during our time on this earth with the Great Tribulation, another error made by the Mid or Post-Tribulation viewpoint is mistaken identity of the elect.

Said Jesus: “For then there will be a great tribulation (as opposed to general tribulation), such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, NASB, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

If the elect are all believers who enter and experience the Great Tribulation, as proposed by the Post-Tribulation Rapture hypothesis, why would this great time of anguish be cut short just for them? I pose this question in the light of: (1) most of the Tribulation saints (believers in Christ AFTER the Rapture) already have been killed by the Antichrist by the end of the Tribulation … Revelation 7 & 20. (2) For reason #1, if so many of them had already died, the idea of for the sake of the elect is anticlimactic. By and large, it would be too late (for them) when Jesus returns. The massive damage (death) had already been done.

Although I’ve written about this in a few prior articles, time/space in this article doesn’t permit extensive discussion (passages and commentary, much of it from the Old Testament) to demonstrate that “the elect” are God’s chosen people, the Jews. Except to say that when Jesus physically returns to earth, his primary purpose is to rescue Israel and the Jews from annihilation at the hands of Antichrist’s confederation (Daniel 11, Zechariah 12 & 14, and other passages).

After seeing a great crowd of (post-Rapture) Tribulation saints, John was asked, “…Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” Because John didn’t know for sure, he replies, “Sir, you are the one who knows” (Revelation 7:13-14).

If these believers had entered the tribulation (without there being a Rapture yet), he certainly would have known from where they came and why they were there. They would have been born-again believers still in the Church age (body of Christ) alive when the Tribulation began. But John didn’t know, because these saints had been redeemed after the original set of believers in the (our current) Church age were no longer on the earth. It’s a foregone conclusion that John already knew about the Rapture, as it was disclosed not only by Jesus, but by Paul many years earlier. It’s just that neither John nor other believers yet knew—until the book of Revelation was written—that there would be those (post-Rapture) born-again after the Day of the Lord began.

The following is another reason why the Rapture will most assuredly precede the Great Tribulation.

After describing those (birth-pain) Pre-Tribulation events and then the Tribulation itself (explained in much more detail in the final Revelation of Jesus Christ as recorded by John of Revelation), Jesus returns to a description of the days leading to God’s first global judgment of the earth—Noah’s flood. Then he makes a compelling comparison to the unsaved world’s ignorance of and willful oblivion to the 2nd and final of God’s wrath poured out on the earth.

“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 24:38-39).

Then, immediately after conveying the apathetic condition of humanity just before the Day of the Lord begins, Jesus reveals something utterly remarkable:

“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” (Verses 40-41).

In Luke’s Gospel, we read of a third example Jesus presented: “That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left” (Luke 17:34).

Then, of course, the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 4 describes the entire sequence of the Rapture.

This sudden and unexpected taking or catching up (Greek term harpazo in I Thessalonians 4) of some on the earth (believers) right in front of unbelievers is in stark contrast to Messiah’s physical return to the earth, preceded in time and space by signs and wonders during the Tribulation. Not the least of which was: “the sign that the Son of Man is coming…” (Matthew 24:30). Unbelievers, as well as surviving Tribulation believers saved after the Rapture, will have plenty of time and indicators—not the least of which is the linear sequence of the seven seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments—prior to the physical return of Christ to earth. With Jesus first stepping foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Although the physical return of Messiah Jesus to earth will be an awesome event and will stun many, especially the unsaved, it won’t be sudden in the sense of being totally unexpected.

Not so, the Rapture. It will dramatically catch everyone off guard (believers included, but in a good and joyful way).

*Note: When Jesus spoke of his “return”, he was referring to the composite scope and entire length of the Day of the Lord, that begins with one person taken, the other left … the Rapture. Then the agonizing time of anguish (tribulation) to follow. Mercifully ending with his glorious physical return to establish the incomparable Kingdom of God on earth. However, Jesus mixed these stages of his return together, as his greater emphasis was “get ready.”

These three phases are then expounded sequentially by the Apostle Paul and by John of Revelation. Thus, Jesus’s sweeping disclosure of these stunning events is better understood in the context of Paul’s and John’s exposition (I & II Thessalonians and Revelation, respectively). Which, in turn, helps to identify which of the three phases Jesus is describing in the Olivet Discourse.

(B) Direct Text/Context Confirmation of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Apostle Paul’s first letter (epistle) to believers is found in the book Galatians. Shortly thereafter (A.D. 51-52), he wrote I & II Thessalonians; both books speak of the suffering and persecution that believers in Christ were already undergoing throughout the Roman Empire.

At that time, the persecutors were almost exclusively the religious Jews. In fact, Paul himself had been a devout Pharisee who tormented Christians, imprisoning many and even participated in killing them. That is, until he had a life-changing, destiny-altering encounter with the risen Jesus (Acts 9). Gentile persecution began several years later with the brutal murder of thousands of Christians at the hand of Nero Caesar.

James was the first to remind his brothers and sisters in Christ that they would undergo testing, trials, and suffering. In effect, James was echoing Jesus’s words that we looked at earlier … in the world you have tribulation.

Wrote James: “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return… You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near…. For examples of patience in suffering … look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (James 5:7-8 & 10).

Next, Paul, then Peter wrote extensively about persecution that they and other believers were experiencing and would continue to endure. All three men addressed this fact in the context of their eager expectation that Jesus would return very soon—in their lifetime.

However, the Apostles Paul and Peter made it crystal clear that believers alive just before God’s final wrath was poured out on the world would not have to go through that terrible time of terror. This in keeping with Jesus’s startling revelation to his disciples (Peter was obviously present during that discourse), that believers would be taken out of harm’s way.

For it was this great time of anguish that Jesus was warning about, as well as the world’s indifference when it struck. In other words: if believers were meant to go through the Tribulation, then there would be no reason for them to be abruptly removed from the earth, let alone for Jesus to reveal that fantastic fact.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered!

The Apostle Paul writes:

What a magnificent promise! One made in the past tense with a future tense application, which indisputably demonstrates that believers had already (the moment they were born again) been spared from the coming judgment before it even occurred. It was a done deal! Believers had not only been saved from the penalty of their sins (eternal separation from God) in advance. So, too, had they been delivered in advance from the coming Great Tribulation.

Furthermore, this “coming judgment” is clearly referring to and in the immediate context of the seven-year Great Tribulation followed by the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus.

It is NOT referring to the Great White Throne Judgment which takes place soon after the Millennium. For one thing, that applies only to the raised-from-the-dead unbelievers and their final sentence (doom) to the Lake of Fire because they refused to believe and receive God’s Son as the only source of their salvation. (Revelation 20:11-15).

After Paul discloses the sequential details of the Rapture itself in I Thessalonians 4, which is an elaboration on what Jesus had already revealed, he expounds even more on the return of Messiah Jesus in Chapter 5. It’s vitally important to grasp that he’s still talking about the Day of the Lord, having already announced the resurrection of dead believers, transfiguration of both dead and living believers into our eternal indestructible bodies, and being caught up to heaven.

Then Paul writes: “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectantly, like a thief in the night (referring pointblank to the Rapture that he had just revealed). When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape” (I Thessalonians 5:2-3, parenthesis mine).

The people referred to by Paul are obviously unbelievers who will be totally unprepared, both physically and spiritually for the Rapture. Then Paul puts the contextual finishing touches on the entire sequence of events by making this astounding statement of security for believers in Christ:

“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” (Verses 9-10, emphasis added).

God’s anger referenced by Paul unmistakably pertains to God’s final wrath poured out on the world as also prophesied by several Old Testament prophets.

Then again in II Thessalonians, Paul decisively declares by default deduction that God’s (Tribulation-time) judgment applies only to unbelievers. Why? Because Jesus takes believers home to heaven.

“And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven…” (II Thessalonians 1:7a). This “rest” is in the immediate context of the Day of the Lord theme that dominates the last two chapters of I Thessalonians and the first two chapters of II Thessalonians.

It would be the Rapture that would provide rest for them (generation of believers alive) when God’s 2nd and final global judgment of the earth commenced. The word rest also includes the idea of rescue, security, and safety.

Of course, they didn’t know for sure, but Paul and believers in the 1st century eagerly expected that Jesus would return in their time. This rest would be from their present-day sufferings for Christ plus out-of-harm’s-way rescue from the Great Tribulation. A seven-year period (Daniel 9) that would begin when the Antichrist beast (man of lawlessness) would return from the Abyss (Revelation 17:7-8). Which believers weren’t aware of until later, when John saw incredibly detailed visions of the Day of the Lord.

Continuing in the passage: “…He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power” (II Thessalonians 1:7b-9).

The “flaming fire … judgment” is a direct allusion to the Tribulation judgments of God, which are graphically depicted in Revelation. The eternal destruction is a reference to the final fate of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire.

Of paramount importance: God’s anger that will be unleashed on a corrupt and violent world is a specific time-dedicated series of events relayed as a prophesy. As opposed to generic tribulation (troubles) that believers were already experiencing. AND, as Paul explicitly specifies: this final judgment would be only on the unsaved … not believers. God’s way of totally protecting believers from his global wrath is to remove us from the earth. And while he’s at it, the dead in Christ are resurrected and both dead and living believers are transfigured into our spiritual bodies!

As is said: It doesn’t get any better than that!

Will there be believers during the Tribulation? Of course. However, that fact was not revealed until John wrote the book of Revelation. Neither Paul nor any of the Christians (including John the author of Revelation, until the angel told him) knew that would be the case. Which also confirms that the Rapture would take place before the Tribulation began.

One more passage to cement the unmistakable Biblical evidence that pre-Tribulation believers will be taken out of harm’s way, as God’s judgments are directed only at unbelievers.

This time from the Apostle Peter: “And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire (instead of a flood as with God’s first global punishment). They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (II Peter 3:7, parenthesis mine; italics to emphasize that the day of God’s final wrath is only for/against the unsaved).

Summary

Think about it once more: It would make no sense for the Rapture to be one and the same as Messiah’s physical return to the earth as some speculate. What purpose would it serve for the Lord to abruptly take believers home to heaven after they had gone through (the survivors) the horrific Tribulation? The entire reason for Jesus and Paul to remind believers (encourage them because they would be taken out of harm’s way) and warn unbelievers (to take heed and accept Jesus as their personal Savior) is to prepare for the coming judgment.

Summarized in the words of the song, “People get ready, Jesus is coming, to take from the earth his own.”

Here is an excerpt from the Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & The Rapture … Same or Separate Events? (in italics):

Although the Biblical evidence is conclusive, we can also rely on the common sense of it all. Or in reverse, the nonsensical notion of being caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds/air, only to immediately go back down to the earth with the Lord to dispense the final wrath of the Lamb at the final battle of Armageddon.

All phases of the Second Coming of Christ will take place in real time and space (place), not virtual time or reality. Among other things, how is it possible for the wedding feast with our Savior to take place before we return with Christ at the final battle of Armageddon, if we’re caught up to heaven at the same time Christ is coming down to the earth? Revelation is crystal clear that believers will celebrate the wedding feast with Messiah BEFORE Jesus returns to do battle at Armageddon.

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

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

Things to Ponder

In addition to misapplying Biblical passages that describe the general suffering and/or persecution of believers during their life on earth to the Great Tribulation, I’ve also heard and read such things as:

“Why shouldn’t Christians go through the Tribulation? We’re not better than non-believers, just different.”

I totally agree with the second part of that statement. Believers are not innately or intrinsically better than unbelievers, for God loves everyone the same.

But we are (far) better off, by virtue of our irrevocable adoption as God’s children with an unprecedented inheritance that Christ will share with all believers. With spectacular promises such as eternal life, resurrection of the dead in Christ, along with living believers at the Rapture to be transformed into eternal spiritual bodies. And that most assuredly includes being spared from God’s 2nd and final global judgment.

“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (Romans 5:9).

From the whole counsel of Scripture, we know that God’s condemnation entails two distinct events and times: (1) Wrath of God during the Tribulation; (2) Sentencing of unbelievers to the Lake of Fire at the beginning of Eternity.

“We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18).

There would be no encouragement whatsoever if believers in what we call the Church Age of Grace were required to go through the Tribulation. Instead, the comfort comes from knowing that we will be sovereignly spared from the greatest time of calamity ever experienced by humanity.

Great is our God and His Messiah, and greatly to be praised!