Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?)

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Faith, Love, and A Glorious Hope

The Bible is packed with powerful prophecies, profound principles, and precious promises. From beginning to end we marvel at the majestic Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as Creator and Redeemer of the human race. From Genesis through Revelation we are amazed at the absolute attributes of our Great God and Savior, including, but certainly not limited to, his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

Through Scripture we learn the real meaning of such things as truth, righteousness, justice, unconditional love, and peace, because we see them from God’s viewpoint. More than that: with an open mind and heart we understand that God is Truth, Righteousness, Justice, Love, and Peace. These divine concepts are available and attainable to the human race only through God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, who is the perfect embodied expression of God.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

Because God created us in his image, he has graciously given us the capacity for kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and consideration for others. God also gave us free will to choose right from wrong, good from evil. Because Adam and Eve chose wrongly, we now have a fallen twisted nature to be and do the exact opposite of what is good and right. Hence, the purest expression of these aforementioned positive qualities and others like them are possible only when Christ through the Holy Spirit is living in us and through us (Galatians 6 & Ephesians 5).

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There are:

“Three things (that) will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).

Love

“God is Love” (I John 4:8 & 16).

This love was expressed unconditionally through God’s grace, the greatest gift of all time: the sacrificial death of God’s Son on the cross for forgiveness of sin and pardon from the penalty of that sin—eternal separation from God. We are mercifully delivered from eternal judgment, and graciously given everlasting life (John 3:16).

Without God’s love and his initiative to express that love for us, there’s no way that any human being can possess and convey the same kind of unconditional agape love to others as described in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians. We love God and others, because he first loved us (I John 4).

Although salvation and eternal life is given to us for all time (never to be taken away) the moment we believe and receive Christ Jesus as personal Savior, it takes a lifetime of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ to better understand and express that kind of love to others. (II Peter 3:18).

Faith:

From the very beginning, all Adam and Eve had to do to live forever in paradise was to believe (have faith and trust in) what God had done for them and what he had said would come to pass if they didn’t obey him. Obedience to God is a direct result of trusting him and in him. Tragically (for our original parents and the human race), they failed this simple test of trust. Long before the Law of Moses was given, we find that trusting and obeying the Lord was all that was required of Abraham. This faith resulted in the most splendid thing that a human being could ever have or hope for: a right standing (righteousness) with God (Genesis 15:6).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Ephesians 2:8-10, King James Version).

None of our works or deeds is really good in God’s eyes, until and unless we have been created (born-again) in Christ Jesus by placing our trust in God’s gift of grace—manifested through the death, burial, and resurrection of His matchless Son.

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Hope

God’s Biblical plan of Salvation gives us something else that the Apostle Paul said would last forever: hope. This hope looks longingly for the culmination of so great a salvation—resurrection from the dead and transformation of those still alive when Christ returns, to a brand new body equipped to live forever in heaven. That is the main featured focus of today’s article; born-again believers enduring expectant hope for the Day of the Lord to begin.

Because of the remarkable 2,000-year influence of the Christian faith on this earth, many unbelievers have heard or know something about, The Second Coming. Virtually all true believers know of this phenomenal prophetic promise; however, even some Christians are confused about the Rapture and the Return of Messiah to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

Are they one and the same, or are they two distinct events? If they are separate events, will they happen at virtually the same time at the Second Coming of Christ Jesus?

There are two ways to approach this subject: (1) Provide Scriptural evidence first, then reach the conclusion based on that verification. (2) Answer the questions up-front, then examine the Biblical evidence to confirm the premise.

There would be more suspense in the buildup afforded by option one, but I will choose number two for the following reasons: (A) Although this is the first Eye of Prophecy article devoted entirely to the subject of contrasting or equating the Rapture to the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, several prior articles have made reference to the Rapture and the Return of Christ in the context of the main theme of those articles.

(B) Some Christians who have studied Biblical prophecy to some extent or another, understand these two events and know the correct answer to the questions, including at least a familiarity with the sequence of events that comprise what the Bible calls as a whole, The Day of the Lord.

Premise: The Rapture and the physical Return of Christ to the earth are, indeed, two distinct happenings that will take place at conspicuously separate times. Yet it’s also important to grasp the Biblical evidence to support that conclusion.

Different Degree of Emphasis in Scripture

Here, I’m referring to the sheer quantity of Biblical prophecies, both Old and New Testament, on the First and Second Coming of Messiah compared to the relatively few passages about the Rapture. That doesn’t mean that the Rapture is of less importance; only that the Rapture is just one part of what the Bible calls, The Day of the Lord, and what Bible scholars and teachers label, The Second Advent of Messiah.

To be as Biblically literate as possible concerning end-times prophecy, it’s of paramount importance to comprehend that the return of Christ encompasses a sequence of five events or phases. Beginning with the Rapture, then the Great Tribulation, then the Return of Messiah to the earth, then the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth to establish the Kingdom of God, and finally the perpetual existence of this Kingdom that includes among other amazing things: the New Jerusalem and a new heaven and earth (extreme makeover). Thus, when Jesus spoke of his return (as did the apostles Paul and Peter and John), we need to distinguish between references to the Rapture and the physical return of Messiah Jesus to the earth.

The Rapture

Found only in the New Testament, there are three definitive expositions of the Rapture: Matthew 24-25, I Thessalonians 4, and I Corinthians 15. There are also two Biblical incidents that provide prototype parallels of the Rapture in the form of a mysterious catching up of two men before disaster strikes the earth. One is Enoch in the Old Testament (Genesis 5:21-24) who was suddenly and mysteriously taken (alive) from the earth to be spared from God’s first world-wide judgment of mankind … the Great Flood. Then, the author of Revelation, John, was suddenly caught up to heaven to witness the second and final judgment of God on the earth … The Great Tribulation.

“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’” (Revelation 4:1).

Come up here. I’m convinced that these same words Jesus spoke to John will be the shout heard around the world along with a series of trumpet blasts to herald the Rapture.

As a reminder, the word Rapture is not found in Scripture. Nonetheless, it is an accurate term that vividly conveys and portrays what actually takes place. The Greek word used in the Rapture passage of I Thessalonians Chapter 4 is harpazo, which means to suddenly seize or catch up (to heaven). Please refer to the very first Eye of Prophecy article, What is the Rapture? (Posted 7-26-13). Followed by four more articles on the Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture (8-3 through 8-24-13).

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The Second Coming of Messiah

In the Old Testament the (second) coming of Messiah is referred to as the day of the Lord or the end times or the last days. However, there are other passages that don’t use a catchphrase, as such. Rather, they simply describe what takes place when God, through his Messiah, brings all things together to accomplish his purpose for mankind at the end of time. Meaning that time itself won’t end … only God’s specific plan for that particular time or times. Furthermore, both Messianic and non-Messianic references to the last days found in the Old Testament are specifically written about Israel—her physical and spiritual restoration. And, of course, there are many prophecies pertaining to Messiah’s first arrival to bring salvation to all—Jew and Gentile alike.

Different Purposes

Perhaps the biggest distinction between the Rapture and the Return of Messiah to the earth is found in the respective purpose they serve. Rapture is exclusively for the Church, the body of Christ, consisting of all Jews and Gentiles who have placed their faith in our Jewish Messiah, Jesus. The Second Coming of Christ to the earth is for the preliminary purpose of rescuing Israel from total destruction and the Jews from annihilation at the hands of the Antichrist. In doing so, Jesus will destroy the armies of Antichrist; thereby, completing the wrath of God on a very wicked world.

The Rapture of Believers

The primary purpose of the Rapture is to preemptively save believers from the Great Tribulation, with a secondary reason of dramatically and traumatically getting the attention of those left behind. To demonstrate that they have one last chance to receive God’s pardon through His chosen Messiah.

Messiah Jesus was the first to introduce the specific event of the Rapture, and he did so in the broader context of his astounding Mount of Olives message found in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, with a more condensed account in Mark Chapter 13 and Luke Chapter 21. In those riveting portions of Scripture, Jesus covers the entire episode of his Second Coming—the Rapture, the Tribulation, and his glorious return to the earth—although not necessarily in sequence. Here is his dramatic descriptive allusion to the Rapture, which will trigger the ominous apocalyptic events of the Tribulation culminating in his actual return to the earth:

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

“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. So, you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:37-42).

Those “taken” in the Rapture are believers in Christ; just as Noah and his family were removed and relocated in the ark, and Lot and his family taken (literally grabbed by the angels) out of Sodom. Those who experienced God’s judgment were not taken out of harm’s way; they were the ones left behind to die on the earth. Likewise, those left behind at the Rapture are unbelievers who will go through the terrible Tribulation.

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(Some Will Be Taken, Many Left Behind)

It’s important to grasp the fact that when Jesus spoke of his Second Coming, he incorporated the Rapture, Tribulation, and physical return to earth—as three phases of a continuous comprehensive series of events. He distinguishes between these three stages by explaining what will happen. It’s then up to us to separate and match his descriptions to these three phases of his Second Coming. We do that by comparing them with all other Biblical end times prophecies, or at least enough passages to know which one he is describing … Rapture (to include global birth pains leading up to the Rapture) Tribulation, or his Return.

The purpose of believers “taken” from the earth is presented by the Apostle Paul after he discloses the astonishing sequence of the Rapture itself in I Thessalonians 4:15-18.

“For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10).

The very fact that we are spared from God’s anger (which isn’t released globally until the Great Tribulation) means that the Rapture must take place before the Tribulation which will last for seven years. Therefore, the Rapture is a uniquely different occurrence from the physical return of Messiah Jesus to the earth, near the end of the Tribulation.

When Paul uses the phrase, “when he returns” he, like Christ before him, is referring specifically to the first three of the five phases of the Day of the Lord, i.e. the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Messiah Jesus. The remaining two phases are the Millennium and what some Bible scholars refer to simply as Eternity ushered in by the final defeat of Satan and those who subsequently oppose Messiah at the end of the Millennium. These final two epic ages are described in such passages as Revelation Chapters 20-22 and Isaiah Chapter 11.

In fact, before Paul illustrates the actual catching up of believers (Rapture), he cites the reason that the Lord Jesus so graciously and generously revealed this astonishing prophetic hope for believers. This is the part of the Rapture passage in I Thessalonians 4 that isn’t often quoted or is overlooked in favor of the more well-known portion of this passage.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 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. 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” (I Thessalonians 4:13-15).

First and foremost the Lord is telling us through Paul that the resurrection of dead believers in Christ will not only take place at the Rapture; it is the Rapture itself! So also will believers still alive when the Rapture occurs be given new resurrected bodies. In effect, this, too, is a resurrection from the dead … a deliverance from our decaying, dying bodies. This remarkable transformation is vividly portrayed in I Corinthians Chapter 15.

Return of Messiah to the Earth

We’re still in the category of Different Purposes between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, with the aforementioned purpose of the Rapture to spare believers from the wrath of God and the madness of Satan and Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.

There are several passages in both the Old Testament and New Testament that clearly convey the fact of and purpose for Messiah Jesus’s physical return to the earth. None more so than the following:

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war … and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty … On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).

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That is exactly what Paul said earlier in I Thessalonians: “…we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” And, of course, believers who are still alive at the Rapture also will accompany Christ upon his glorious return to the earth.

But first, both the dead and living in Christ must be taken up to heaven in order for the, “armies of heaven dressed in … pure white linen to follow him on white horses.”

Different Time/Different Places

The Rapture

“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).

At the Rapture, born-again Christians will “be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” We will go up. We will not meet him on the earth or descend with him back to earth at the Rapture; nor is there any mention of Messiah Jesus actually coming to or stepping foot on earth during this first phase of his return.

Moreover, the Rapture will occur over a short span of time to include “the blink of an eye” transfiguration of our bodies (both dead and living).

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:51-53).

Please read Eye of Prophecy Article, How the Rapture (posted 8-24-13) showing that the entire progression of the Rapture (described in I Thessalonians 4) will take place in real time over several minutes, not in the blink of an eye. The only thing that takes place in a nanosecond (blink of an eye) is the actual transfiguration of our bodies, which is the last thing that happens during the Rapture sequence before believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the sky.

There will be no immediate warning that the Rapture is about happen. It is the Rapture phase of the Second Coming of Christ that will come abruptly as, “a thief in the night.” Which is why no one knows the day or hour when it will take place; and why it will stun an unsuspecting, unprepared, unbelieving world like nothing before in human history since the Great Flood.

Conversely, there will be many warning signs before Christ returns to the earth, including all of the Tribulation events. Plus, the fact that his physical return will take place seven years after the Tribulation begins—maybe to the day, or maybe a few days before the Tribulation ends. Many of the redeemed saints and even some die-hard unbelievers during the Tribulation will accurately predict the day of Jesus’s actual return to the earth.

The Return of Christ to the Earth

Here is Messiah Jesus’s description of his post-Tribulation return to earth:

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

Zechariah 14:3-4 tells us that Messiah will step foot on the Mount of Olives which is one of the most well-known Old Testament prophecies that Christ will actually descend (return) to the earth. This magnificent reappearance as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, as King of all kings (contrasted to Messiah’s first appearance as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world) will begin when the Son of Man is seen coming “on the clouds.” From there, he will descend to the earth along with all of the (previously) raptured believers.

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(Pictorial Depiction of Messiah’s Two Advents)

There is not only a grammatical difference between in the clouds/air and on the clouds (of heaven); there is also a positional and purposeful variation. On the clouds of heaven represents a position of authority and power with the originating purpose of dispensing justice on the earth. In the clouds of the air is where we will be gathered as brothers and sisters in Christ to first meet our wonderful Lord and Savior.

With regard to the timing of these spectacular first and third phases of the Lord’s return (Tribulation is the 2nd phase) we have already established the fact that believers are not destined to experience the wrath of God (I Thessalonians 5). By default, then, the Rapture must take place before the seven-year Tribulation begins. Scripture is equally clear that Messiah Jesus will not return to the earth until the end of the Tribulation. Thus, the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth itself cannot possibly be the same event. Nor, as two separate events, will they take place at the same time (back to back). The Rapture and the return of Messiah to the earth are separated by seven years of unprecedented terror on planet Earth.

The respective timing of the Rapture and Jesus’s physical return to the earth is further reinforced by the marvelous wedding feast of the Lamb that raptured born again believers in Christ will celebrate as the “bride of Christ” with the bridegroom. Some say this will last for the entire duration of the seven-year Tribulation. Because it is not mentioned until the Tribulation is about over, I personally believe it will take place over a period of several days. Most likely seven days, as this was the traditional duration of Jewish wedding celebrations in Israel.

Listen to the stirring words of John recording another marvelous vision late in the book of Revelation after all of the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of God have taken place.

“Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: ‘Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people” (Revelation 19:6-8).

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This is the same “white linen” worn while we descend with our Great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus as he “strikes down the nations” (Revelation 19:15).

The Rapture and the Return of Messiah Are not “Yo-Yo” Events

Although the Biblical evidence is conclusive, we can also rely on the common sense of it all. Or in reverse, the nonsensical notion of being caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds/air, only to immediately go back down to the earth with the Lord to dispense the final wrath of the Lamb at the final battle of Armageddon.

All phases of the Second Coming of Christ will take place in real time and space (place), not virtual time or reality. Among other things, how is it possible for the wedding feast with our Savior to take place before we return with Christ at the final battle of Armageddon, if we’re caught up to heaven at the same time Christ is coming down to the earth? Revelation is crystal clear that believers will celebrate the wedding feast with Messiah BEFORE Jesus returns to do battle at Armageddon.

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

Different Meaning/Different Results

In this category of explaining the differences between the Rapture and Messiah’s physical return to earth, we can actually combine the two events; but only with regard to and in the context of the different meaning and results between believers and unbelievers.

Believers

Neither believers nor unbelievers can know the day or hour of the Rapture. However, for the believer, the Rapture that initiates the sequence of events that we lump together with the phrase Second Coming of Messiah or Day of the Lord (synonymous in terms of meaning and results) is a source of great hope for the born-again Christian. That’s why Paul instructed the believers at the end of his first disclosure of the Rapture, “to encourage each other with these words.”

Giving and receiving encouragement is tantamount to maintaining consistent and persistent hope for the resurrection of the dead in Christ and those alive to be transfigured to our new heavenly bodies. It’s what keeps us going in and giving to the unsaved world the wonderful truth of so great a salvation granted to us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus—to all who believe and receive him as personal Savior.

It’s what motivates fellow believers in the Lord to, “…live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:12-14).

That wonderful day that Paul alludes to is none other than The Day of the Lord. Thus, for the believer, the Rapture then the physical return of Christ to conquer the forces of evil on this planet are equally wonderful. In that regard, they have the same meaning and results. The Rapture will spare us from the most terrible time and horrible happenings that ever has or ever will be experience by mankind. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, posted 6-6-15).

And we will return with our Messiah to watch his stunning victory over, “the dragon (Satan), the beast (Nero), and the false prophet … all the rulers of the world … and their armies gathered for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty … to a place with the Hebrew name, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-16, my parenthesis, italics already in the text).

To that end, all believers will be prepared for the Rapture, preempted from the Tribulation, and participate in the glorious return of our Savior to set all things right in this wicked world we live in. We are prepared because we are IN CHRIST, now and forever.

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For those saved by the atoning blood of Messiah Jesus, the Day of the Lord will be one of unspeakable joy … a great and glorious day. With the Rapture being, the first day of the rest of our lives.

It is everlasting life in a beautiful heaven with the angels, fellow believers, and most of all with our awesome God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Unbelievers

Not so for those who have chosen not to accept what Jesus has done for them, who have rejected the Way, Truth, and Life and the fact that everyone must come to God through Christ Jesus (John 14:6).

For them the Day of the Lord will mean going through the carnage of the Great Tribulation.

It will be:

“…the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!” (Joel 1:15).

It will be a time of great dread, distress, debauchery, destruction, and death.

“For see, the day of the Lord is coming—the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light. I, the Lord, will punish the world for evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the might of the mighty … For I will shake the heavens. The earth will move from its place when the Lord of Heaven’s Armies displays his wrath in the day of his fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:9-13).

Things to Ponder

Neither the first nor the second coming of Messiah to the earth has been a mystery. Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies tell of his first arrival … hundreds more of his return. But the Rapture of the Church (Messiah’s bride and body) was a mystery, not revealed until our Lord himself said some would be taken, others left (behind).

I can’t think of any greater hope for people all over the world than that of global peace and security, both individually and nationally. And I would dare say that the vast majority of people on this planet would, if seriously speaking their mind and sincerely sharing their heart, agree that the best (if not only) way to achieve peace is through one Man who can set aside all the cultural, racial, religious, national, and international differences that divide the human race.

That day will come and soon. When Messiah Jesus returns as the Prince of Peace, all religions will be eliminated (the Christian faith is not a religion, it is a relationship with a Person who is Truth and Life itself … the only redemptive way to a right standing with God our Creator); all earthly rulers and nations will acknowledge him as Lord; there will be peace on earth, good will toward all people.

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

If you are alive when the Rapture occurs, but have not yet accepted Christ as your personal Savior, you will be given a second chance for as long as you stay alive during the Great Tribulation. But as God is my witness, you don’t want to wait until after the Rapture.

Although the decision of which messiah to follow will be the clearest choice ever made, it will be agonizingly difficult to choose the true Messiah Jesus over the false messiah (Nero). Most will opt for temporary security on earth over eternal life in heaven, because to choose everlasting life through Christ will mean instant poverty, persecution, and peril at the hands of Antichrist.

On the other hand, that would be the most short-sighted decision of all time, even as it is now before the Rapture will take place. For to reject the only hope of salvation and eternal life through the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man is to sentence one’s self to eternal separation from God.

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

“It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

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

Aftermath of America’s Amazing Election

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Such a Campaign and Election!

It was one of, if not the most poignant, passionate, and polarized United States presidential campaigns ever. Followed by one of the most astonishing elections in our country’s history. That’s what bewildered journalists, editors, political pundits, and millions of dazed citizens across this nation are saying. Many are still reeling from the results, especially the pollsters!

It was a stunning turn of events; an upset to rival the embarrassing reversal of newspaper headlines when the media and political experts prematurely claimed that Thomas Dewey had defeated Harry Truman in 1948.

Did you, along with millions of Americans, vote against one of the candidates instead of voting for the other candidate? Or did you “vote your conscience.” Or was your conscience too numb to vote at all? Whether you voted for Clinton or Trump or were too upset with both candidates to even vote at all, quite likely you were as shocked as I was with the election results.

Other than disbelief, what has been your reaction? Have you given up on American politics? Or have you celebrated what appears to be a victory over what many believe to be establishment “politics as usual?” Have you protested in the streets and sworn that Donald Trump is not your President, now or ever? Conversely, if Hilary Clinton had won the election, would you also challenge the results … claiming that the election was rigged?

Scripture is abundantly clear that the true and living God of the Bible is sovereign over all things, including governments, their leaders, and the rise and fall of nations. Yet, the Bible is truthfully transparent that God has given mankind free will to choose right from wrong, eternal life over death, and good leaders instead of bad ones. Eventually and inevitably, God’s majestic plan for the human race will be accomplished. Our Great God and Savior will triumph over evil … including the greed, injustice, corruption, and indifference that tarnishes even the best of human governments and taints the integrity of even the noblest of leaders.

In the meantime, God allows men and woman the world over to try to prove to themselves that they can govern and achieve peace between peoples and nations without first seeking peace with God through redemption purchased by Messiah Jesus. Or at least acknowledging the Lord in all the “affairs of state.”

One day (soon):

“The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations … Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord” (Psalm 22:27-30).

These two verses are near the end of Psalm 22, which is the most recognized Messianic Chapter of the Old Testament, along with Isaiah 53. In those passages, several prophecies of the coming Messiah were subsequently fulfilled by Jesus, mostly those that took place while he suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.

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Whether a nation is governed by a monarch, a constitutional parliament, an oligarchy, a pure democracy, or a republic, down through the ages revolt against elected or appointed (including self-appointed) officials often has proved disastrous. I’m not talking about revolutions that led to the formation of a new nation, not the least of which was our own American Revolution against Great Britain. Or even the greater majority of people who attempted to overthrow repressive regimes controlled by a ruthless dictator. However, even then, that nation was seldom better off than before. Either a new dictator would emerge or a coalition type government would unravel.

Rather, I’m referring to situations like what happened in Israel some 3,000 years ago when ten of the formerly united twelve tribes in Israel rebelled against King Rehoboam, the rightful heir to King Solomon. (See I Kings Chapter 12). Though the leaders of those tribes believed their cause was right, defiance of the newly appointed king was because they had decided, he was not their king.

Civil war followed that continued periodically (and contributed to) until the ten northern kingdoms (Israel) were conquered and deported by Assyria a little over 200 years later. Then the two southern tribes (Judah) were destroyed and exiled by the Babylonia Empire some 150 years afterward. Israel would never be the same again until her miraculous rebirth as the State of Israel in 1948; made possible because that was and is God’s supreme and sovereign plan for the Jews and for the land promised to them, Israel.

One of the most tragic examples of a nation literally splitting in two with unparalleled devastation and loss of life was our own American Civil War. Though the root cause was the issue of slavery, eleven southern states succeeded from the Union, with the mindset that Abraham Lincoln was not their President. In fact, they formed a Confederate Union and elected their own president … Jefferson Davis. Currently, there are residents of California who want to succeed from the United States of America and make that state a separate nation. Some call it the Calexit movement. Likewise, some people in Oregon have called for that state to leave the Union and form the “People’s Democratic Republic of Oregon.”

God often allows us to do and have what we want, even if it’s not close to being what is best for us, and ends in failure. In fact, depending on our response, failure often brings us back to God … with whom we should have stayed in the first place.

Dow Hits Record High

Were you among those who invested more or for the very first time in the stock market in the past few days? Causing headlines posted this past Tuesday such as, “Dow Hits Record High … Stocks Soar.” If you voted Republican, are you sure that your president-elect and the republican led Senate and House can and will implement domestic and foreign policies that will “make America great again.” If you voted Democrat, are you at least hoping these polices will do something good for this country whether you like Trump and his cabinet appointees or not?

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If you’re one of the tens of millions of Christians (truly born again or just Christian in name only) what has been your response? Anger? Euphoria? Angst? Hope? Dismay? Delight? Or perhaps indifference and resignation?

Have you infrequently or never prayed for your city, county, state, and federal officials … not even for the President of the United States? If not, is it because you don’t think your prayers will make that much difference, like many think their one vote doesn’t matter much or at all?

Perhaps you’ve forgotten or don’t really believe what God has said through his Word, the Bible:

“…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield it crops” (James 5:16-18).

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us:

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:1-6).

One of the most powerful petitions any Christian can present to God our Father and to Messiah Jesus our Savior is that our President and other leaders will treat Israel with respect and dignity. To honor her as God’s special possession and Jews the world over as God’s chosen people through whom God’s Messiah came to the world 2000 years ago. Ultimately, our success and security as a nation is in direct proportion to our support of Israel and favorable treatment of Jews (Genesis 12:1-3).

Our President-Elect and Israel

In Eye of Prophecy articles, I write sparingly about politics. When I do the articles are in the broader context of Biblical prophecy and principles on such things as the rise and fall of governments, rulers, and nations that are directly related to their behavior toward Israel and recognition that God is the source and sustainer of peoples and nations.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good” (Psalm 127:1).

On the other hand, this is the first United States Presidential election since the Eye of Prophecy website began nearly 3 ½ years ago, So, I’m compelled to offer commentary on this election in general and the more unlikely of the two candidates who won, in particular.

We are living in the last days of the end times. Like never before, how individuals and nations regard the Jews and Israel will determine their fate before and after the Rapture, especially when Messiah Jesus returns to this earth. Although God will judge the nations during the Great Tribulation and pour out his wrath on the ungodly who have chosen to follow and serve the Anti-Christ and also those who will oppose this man of lawlessness but still refuse to acknowledge the true and living God and his Messiah, Jesus, I fear that the Lord will not reserve all of his fury just for the Tribulation.

If the United States of America continues on the course charted by our current administration that often includes denunciation of Israel for such things as building houses and apartments on land that belongs to them in the first place; or for promoting a Palestinian State without secure defensible borders for Israel, then this country will literally have “hell to pay.”

There’s not much I could say that hasn’t already been said or seen regarding the enigma that is Donald Trump. This past election may just be the most definitive example in all of America’s political history of a love/hate relationship with a President, who isn’t even officially President yet. There are still many Democrats who are passionately trying to persuade several Electoral College officials to change their electoral vote on December 19th from Trump to Clinton. With their main rationale that Clinton leads Trump with the popular (majority) vote, nationwide.

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(Republican-Red; Democrat-Blue; Results of Electoral Votes, with Hilary Clinton garnering 48.03% and Donald Trump 47.01% of popular vote)

Much has already been written about his pre-office domestic plans and foreign policies, and much more will be published after Donald Trump is sworn in as President on January 20th, 2017. Today’s article will be confined to potential (hopeful) keeping of promises already made (or at least proposed) by President-elect Trump concerning Israel.

We, who have been redeemed by our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus, need to plead with the Lord that our President and his staff will support Israel in word and deed.

Some of what we know about Donald Trump’s regard for Israel is as follows:

Financial Support for Israel

Donald Trump has provided generous monetary aid to Israel on more than one occasion; such as giving millions of dollars to help resettle Jews who had been evicted from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Though I love God’s special possession Israel and God’s chosen people the Jews—with great admiration and respect for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—like leaders of many nations, a few former Israeli Prime Ministers have made costly mistakes. In this case, now deceased Prime Minister Ariel Sharon forcibly removed all Jews from the Gaza Strip with the apparently good intention (at the time) of Israel better able to protect those Israelis if they were no longer living in the Gaza Strip. Instead, the terrorist organization Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, and launched mortar and missile attacks into Israel.

Likewise, Donald Trump’s father had donated millions of dollars to worthy Jewish causes in the United States and Israel.

United States Embassy in Israel

In the Eye of Prophecy article, Jerusalem … A Capital Without a Country? (Posted 6-13-15), I wrote extensively on the incredible irony that Jerusalem is not accepted by virtually every nation on earth as the undivided, exclusive capital of Israel. This despite Biblical and historical evidence and validation that this holy city is the very heart and soul of Israel and the Jewish people. In italics, here are the first two paragraphs of that article which follow the title and heading, Jerusalem … A Capital without a Country:

Or is it: Israel … A Country without a Capital? It’s a shame that either of these two concepts should even be in the form of a question. But they are, and they must be faced head-on and answered. Any response depends entirely on whether a sovereign nation possesses the inherent right to choose its own capital; which is a reasonable presumption, or it should be. So we’ll begin with both barrels blazing and boldly assert: Of course, a sovereign state has that right! For Israeli Jews, the answer is as obvious as it would be to an American citizen who would never question whether Washington D.C. is the Capital of the United States of America … Jerusalem is the (eternal) capital of Israel.

Yet, the United States and virtually every nation on earth does NOT recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Instead, they have placed embassies in Tel Aviv; thereby, telling Israel that Tel Aviv is its seat of government, not Jerusalem. So drop the capital and the issue actually becomes: Jerusalem, a City without a Country? That is precisely how the US President and his staff, as well as most governments, classify Jerusalem—which reduces it to the same status as the Vatican … a city-state inside a country but without a country.

On more than one occasion, President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would do whatever necessary to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Which is what three Presidents have not done since the United States Senate voted in 1995 to move the embassy to Jerusalem. With each of these Presidents, to some extent or another, reluctant to implement the Senate ruling over fear of irritating Muslim nations in general and the Palestinians in particular.

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(U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv / I’ve Been There!)

Just this week, Donald Trump announced that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had accepted his appointment of her as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Governor Haley was the first governor in the US to pass legislation against the insidious BDS movement designed to cripple Israel’s economy, with the more sinister agenda to delegitimize and demonize Israel.

One of the many posts and positions that Donald Trump is considering for his Presidential staff is Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor (twice a Republican candidate for President), as the US Ambassador to Israel. As many know, Huckabee is a staunch supporter of Israel. Mostly because he is a born-again Christian who loves Israel, and who recognizes that God has not forgotten either of the two sweeping plans proclaimed throughout the Bible. One of which is the restoration of Israel as a nation that will be the center of the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem (government of Messiah … see Ezekiel 37 and many other passages) and final redemption of the Jews.

God’s other plan of the ages is that of completing the New Covenant salvation for Jew and Gentile alike (one in Messiah) through the astounding resurrection of the dead in Christ and transfiguration of those alive (at the Rapture) to our eternal heavenly bodies. Included with that marvelous promise is to rule and reign with Messiah Jesus during his magnificent Millennial kingdom on earth.

The Kingdom of God on earth will be headquartered in Jerusalem. God will see to it. But why not seek God’s pre-millennial blessings now by recognizing and honoring Jerusalem as the Holy Capital of the Holy Land of Israel. Enough with the politically correct excuses to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv. Pray that soon-to-be President Trump will get that embassy of ours moved to Jerusalem where it belongs!

“On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the Lord. He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel. O city of God, what glorious things are said of you!” (Psalm 87:1-3).

The following prophetic promise began its fulfillment when Israel was reborn as a sovereign state in 1948:

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God’” (Zachariah 8:7-8).

Let’s read what will take place after the Lord delivers the Jews and Israel from imminent annihilation by the armies of the world led by Antichrist Nero at the end of the Tribulation. In fact, the first part of this passage is already underway.

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

Iran Nuclear Deal

Nearly everyone that has kept current with the election campaign and post-election news, understands Trump stated intentions to revoke what is arguably the worst deal that the United States has ever made with another country, let alone a nation whose avowed goal is the destruction of the United States and Israel. Certainly, President-elect Trump’s main concern is an Iranian nuclear threat to America. If, however, he can persuade the other P5 + 1 nations who co-signed this pact with Iran to uncompromisingly enforce it; or if he will simply circumvent the deal by reinstating US sanctions against Iran, this would be of tremendous long-term benefit to Israel’s security.

Palestinian Two-State Solution

Preliminary evidence shows that Donald Trump does support the general idea of a Palestinian State in Israel (who doesn’t among world leaders, despite the fact that this is absolutely contrary to God’s purpose and plan for Israel, i.e. that the Promised Land is not to be divided). However, at least Trump prefers that Israel and the Palestinians decide this and other issues through direct negotiations. Not through a United States led or approved UN Security Council resolution that would unilaterally (without participation by or the voice of Israel heard) partition Israel into two states … especially with pre-1967 borders that would render Israel virtually indefensible from its enemies.

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(Map of Israel: According to the Palestinians, Israel is Still Palestine. They want all of Israel for a State, not just the West Bank and Gaza)

Whether a Palestinian State is created or not and whether President-elect Trump follows through with his positive promises toward Israel remains to be seen. But it’s evident at this time that he does place Israel’s interest at a high level of importance. This includes a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a reciprocal approval from many Israelis of America’s choice for President. They see Donald Trump’s presidency as one that will reignite the flickering flame that has become a mere pilot light barely illuminating the dark tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu that has adversely affected relations between America and Israel over the past several years.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that Donald Trump is, “a devoted supporter of Israel,” and eagerly anticipates that Trump will follow through on his campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. He extended a warm greeting to Trump, saying, “I am full of hope for your support for our activities for building in and developing Jerusalem for all her residents, and I invite you to visit the capital of Israel.”

The United States, Israel, and Russia

Many Israelis also have welcomed the thawing of once frozen foreign relations between Israel and Russia. This includes an unprecedented number of visits between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the last eighteen months or so. However, this unexpected, even stunning (to some), easing of tensions between Russia and Israel is substantially one of political and economic expediency, if not tolerance, for both countries.

Several factors have led to this most unusual cooperation, but time/space in this article permits identification of only one.

Which is: Russia’s obvious interest in establishing a foothold in the Middle East primarily through and in Syria. With its ultimate agenda that of gaining control of Israeli natural gas fields off the coast of Israel, and eventually Israel itself. Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu knows this or at least suspects that Putin’s motive is not pure, nor Russia’s intentions so altruistic. Thus, his tactical response is to demonstrate to Putin that Israel will not be bullied by any nation that has been or still is a threat to her survival. And if your enemy (Russia) is led by someone (Putin) who recognizes and respects a people and nation (Israel) that has both the determination and the military and economic resources to defend itself even against powerful nations, then why not seek some degree of dialogue and some extent of cooperation that might benefit both sides. Yet this tenuous political, economic, and cultural “truce” between Russia and Israel is not necessarily based on anything approaching a high level of mutual admiration between Putin and Netanyahu. As alluded, it’s predicated primarily on pragmatism.

Not so, with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Just how serious and genuine it is now or will be after Donald Trump takes office in January, would be anybody’s guess. However, Trump and Putin have begun what appears to be a mutual admiration society between the two of them, even before Trump won the election. Moreover, a recent post-election survey of Russians yielded some remarkable facts: (1) Only four percent of Russians would have voted for Hilary Clinton; (2) Over one-third of Russians believe Donald Trump will be America’s best president ever.

Ordinarily, this would be a paradox if not an obstacle to any restoration of head of state interaction between the United States and Israel; were it not for the equally strange behavior of Vladimir Putin in his courting of Israel.

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(Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu)

The Two Tribulation Attacks Against Israel

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have been written about the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, which I firmly believe will occur within the first year or so of the seven-year Tribulation. In this week’s post, we’ll examine just one feature of that massive coalition against Israel: how the United States and our President will react … what they will do or can do, and not do.

In proportion to our population, the United States undoubtedly has as many or more Christian believers than any other nation on earth. Thus, America will be affected by the Rapture (loss of people) more than any other country. Our armed forces will still be formidable. But only because of our vast technological military that requires less personnel (soldiers and civilians), relying significantly on heavy armaments—such as missiles, ships, tanks, drones, bombers, fighter jets—rather than troops on the ground. Yet the fact remains: America’s military capacity and infrastructure will be weakened by sheer loss of people when the Rapture takes place.

Equally evident is that the three main countries making up the Gog/Magog confederacy (Russia, Iran, and Turkey) will lose very few people at the Rapture. By default, Russia will catch up overnight to the United States in military might, and probably exceed it. Even a President like Donald Trump won’t be able to stand up to this massive alliance, nor want to. His response will fall under the proverbial perception that, “discretion is the better part of valor.”

For one thing, the revived Roman Emperor, Nero (Antichrist) will be in the process of persuading, then forcing three nations to join the seven who have already yielded their governments and military to him (Daniel 7). Please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article, One Ring to Rule Them All article (posted 11-21-15), for the most likely line up of the ten nation coalition controlled by Antichrist Nero. The seven kingdoms that will immediately join Nero are projected to be: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and a Persian Gulf State Arabic coalition.

The three nations that will reluctantly join forces with Nero’s coalition will quite likely be: United States, Canada, and Australia. Here is an excerpt from One Ring to Rule Them All, explaining why these three countries will be part of the Antichrist’s ten-kingdom empire (in italics):

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

Which is the primary reason that the United States will not be able to economically or militarily do anything about the Russian-led (Gog/Magog) invasion of Israel soon after the Rapture. Nor will America, Canada, or Australia pose any obstacle to the enormous bloc of eastern nations. And certainly not to Nero’s agenda of establishing a powerful dictatorial ten-kingdom federation to include these three countries that, though considerably weakened, will still exert an impressive influence on this global scene of temporary anarchy. The natural resources and technology of these three countries would be enticement enough for Nero.

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

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

Gog/Magog Invasion of Israel & the Response of Nations, Including America

Over 2,500 years ago, God through the prophet Ezekiel prophesied against Gog/Magog:

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

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Then we see the reaction of some nations (to certainly include the United States and the other countries that will comprise the ten-nation empire of Antichrist Nero), which in Ezekiel Chapter 39 are identified as the “allies who live safely on the coasts.” Leaders from virtually all nations will sit back and watch and only some will voice criticism or condemnation of the Russian, Iranian, Turkish (and other smaller nations) onslaught against Israel. They will say:

“…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).

This will be armchair boasting and bravado at its hypocritical best (worst).

Once again the Lord says about Gog and many nations who will do nothing to help Israel:

“…At that time in the distant future, I will bring you against my land as everyone watches, and my holiness will be displayed by what happens to you, Gog. Then all the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Verse 16, italics for emphasis).

God knows that the United States and all other nations will stand down indifferently, ineptly, or even expectantly to what the world will consider an imminent end to the State of Israel. Thus, God will supernaturally intervene and divinely destroy this awesome, but arrogant, Gog/Magog confederacy. Read Ezekiel 39 for the spectacular severity and finality of Gog/Magog’s destruction and demise. As for Israel: she too will only watch as God fights for her. This will be the first of two massive campaigns against Israel during the Tribulation. The other will be led by Antichrist and his ten-kingdom empire in the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation.

No matter what we think of Donald Trump, some of his traits that have emerged during the election campaign would indicate that he is: independent, determined, assertive, and tough. I’m sure you can come up with other adjectives (positive or negative) to describe this most intriguing and perplexing man who, against all odds, has been voted in as the 45th President of the United States of America.

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(U.S. President-elect Donald Trump)

Hopefully, he will follow through on his preliminary support of Israel in general, and his commitments to Israel in particular. Whether he is the United States President after the Rapture and at the outset of the Gog/Magog assault against Israel remains to be seen. Right now, however, Donald Trump fits hand in glove with Scripture’s description of what the “coastal” nations, of which America is one, will do (not do) when Russia and her allies march against Israel. At the very most these nations will give only lip service to whatever previous promises they had made to support and even defend Israel in time of peril.

Then there’s the added factor to the equation—which is Donald Trump’s affinity toward Vladimir Putin who, if still President of Russia when the armies of Magog attack Israel, would be none other than Gog of Magog.

How will President Trump balance Russia and Israel?

Scripture is clear on that matter. Those opposed to the Gog march on Israel will do so by rhetoric only, not by actions. It is God who will take action, with devastating results for Russia, Iran, Turkey, and their smaller allies … a massive defeat that will be unrivaled in the annals of warfare. God, himself will supernaturally defend Israel.

Given the sure word of Biblical prophecy coming to pass (in this case the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel), what then can Christians do?

Answer: Stand up for Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. That the Lord will protect and prosper Israel NOW, not just in the future. And with widespread prayer and support for Israel, the Lord will also bless and protect this country; and maybe (his will be done) “make America great again” … at least for a while longer.

Things to Ponder

While we watch and wait for God’s prophetic promises to be completely fulfilled, we can at this Thanksgiving time of the year be thankful for what he have … partial peace in much of the world.

And we can be even more grateful for what we don’t yet have but will, beyond all doubt, soon realize: true global peace for every person in every nation, through one man—The Prince of Peace—predicted by the prophet Isaiah long ago.

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

Satan in Bodily Form … When & Why (Part II)

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Living In The Omega Generation

“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty…” (Psalm 90:10).

Less than two months ago, I reached my 70th birthday, with 70 years as one of the two time spans that fits the Biblical definition of a generation; the other … 100 years (see Genesis 15:12-16). If you think about it, those segments of time accurately define the longevity of most people on this planet; unless a person succumbs to an untimely or premature death from illness, through war, or by an accident. A few live to be one-hundred, or even longer.

Currently, the oldest person in the world is an Italian woman, Emma Marano, at 116 years of age. On November 29th, she will turn 117, the only person alive to have been born in the 1800s (1899)!

Jesus assigned the term generation to narrow down the time frame beginning with the “signs of the times.” He cited the “birth pains” leading to the Rapture of all believers followed by the seven-year Tribulation, culminating in his glorious return to bring justice and peace to this wicked, weary world in which we live.

In Eye of Prophecy articles, Look Up, Redemption is Near Part I & II (posted 7-11 & 7-18-15), I’ve listed and summarized twelve significant events or ongoing developments in the last one hundred years (especially in the past seventy years) that are fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Such as:

World Wars, Rebirth of Israel, Recapture of Jerusalem, Exponential Increase in Natural Disasters, False Messiahs, Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information, and others.

There’s another phenomenon that has taken place in this 70-year and 100-year generational period of time. It is global preoccupation with the supernatural, the paranormal, the occult, and the mystical—anything and everything that the mind and heart of man can imagine, fantasize, or conjure. Virtually nothing is off limits.

Books on the supernatural have been around for centuries, but nowhere near the number published in the past few decades. Then came horror movies in the 1930s and 1940s depicting otherworldly creatures such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. They were scary at the time. But compared to subsequent films that have paraded the grotesque, the gory, the gruesome, and the ghastly—tormenting, terrifying, and also slaughtering unsuspecting victims by human and inhuman monsters of all types—the original horror movies were no more frightening than Alice in Wonderland. Off with her head!

Beginning primarily in the 1950s, extraterrestrials, both bad and good, came to visit us. As if planet earth didn’t have enough problems, we also had to do battle with oversized mutated reptiles, insects, and birds! Currently, films with an apocalyptic end-of-the-world plot are plentiful. Fortunately, planet earth is saved again and again by genius scientists, brave warriors, and one coalition after another of superheroes!

On the more serious side, in the past fifty years or so, a new genre of horror films and television productions have flooded the big screen and little screen with the speed of light … the light of cameras, film, and projectors. The emphasis was more on satanic or demonic beings that either possess humans or take on some type of macabre physical form to intimidate, violate, and kill innocent people.

In what was one of the earliest and definitive prototype movies of its kind, an embodied Satan spawns a child by raping a woman. I’m referring to the film released in 1967, Rosemary’s Baby; with Mia Farrow (as the violated woman), John Cassavetes, Ralph Bellamy, and Ruth Gordon—who won a best supporting actress for her performance. In 2014, this movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Reasons given for this honor: the film’s, “culturally, historically or aesthetically significance.”

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This movie generated other less well-known films that focused almost exclusively on Satan and Satan worship, such as, The Brotherhood of Satan.

Later, came The Exorcist in 1973.

Then another box-office smash, The Omen; this time concentrating on the Antichrist and his infamous number, 666. Released in 1976 it featured Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, whose adopted child, Damien, wasn’t just bred by Satan. He was actually the Antichrist. Three more Omen movies followed the original.

Several TV shows are currently carrying this ghoulish torch of the paranormal, such as The Walking Dead and Salem.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of novels, films, and television shows and documentaries about Satan, demons, and the powers of darkness have been released during the last 70 years. Across the board, they are Biblically inaccurate and scripturally illiterate. Nevertheless, Rosemary’s Baby is somewhat on point concerning the ancient cohabitation of fallen angels with women on the earth before Noah’s Flood. In part, this was covered in last week’s article. As indicated, this unholy, depraved breeding was abruptly halted when the fallen angels were imprisoned in the Abyss.

No matter the degree of fantasy found in Hollywood or televised productions, the intriguing fact remains that the 20th & 21st centuries have seen an unprecedented rise in the portrayal of the supernatural, made progressively more fantastic through special effects. This includes many depictions of demons and Satan, himself, in a material visible body.

Writers, producers, directors, and actors are inadvertently grooming hundreds of millions left behind at the Rapture to view the paranormal as normal, the supernatural as natural, and the spiritual as physical. And also to prepare unbelievers to accept what so many the world over sadly don’t believe now: Resurrection from the Dead. (Not reincarnation … there is no such thing. Rather, resurrection/transformation of the same body).

Instead of believing and, thereby, giving their loyalty and life to the true risen Messiah, Jesus; they will embrace a Roman Emperor (Nero) in what they perceive is his miraculous return from the grave. They will ignore or reject the real evidence prophesied 2000 years ago by John that their “superman” actually returns from the Abyss; having been struck down in his (perverted) prime of life by Christ. Then revived by the Lord and confined to the Abyss awaiting the time God when would release him. At about this same time, Satan will be permanently thrown down to earth in his real and tangible body, and will immediately extend his power and authority to Nero.

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(Bust of Nero)

Restating the Premise

Let’s continue our study by restating a startling premise from last week’s Part I article; one that a hundred years ago or even seventy years past would have been considered incredible. In fact, the Biblical evidence to support this premise is still misunderstood, minimized, or not known even by many Christians. Here is the premise (quote) from last week’s Eye of Prophecy article:

In addition to the amazing (in the eyes of unbelievers) return of Nero in his original body, both angels and demons will be seen in their actual bodies by the entire Tribulation world. And not only angels and demons; Satan, himself, will appear on the earth in bodily form. Hundreds of million the world over will be stunned by these “signs and miracles” They will worship what they see … the Beast (Nero), a statue of him that actually speaks, and the embodied Satan.

Last week we focused on the Antichrist beast (Nero), fallen angels (demons) and good angels. We also examined Biblical passages that dealt with this most evil of all beings as Lucifer, the original name given to him. After expulsion from his heavenly residence and lofty position as one of the highest ranking angels created by God, he is called Satan, the Devil, and in Revelation, the Dragon.

It’s the appellation of “dragon” that will demonstrate and confirm the above stated premise: During the Great Tribulation, Satan will be confined to and observed in his corrupted, distorted, altered physical form of what was long ago, “full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12).

Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, and the Dragon

Before we get to Lucifer as the dragon, let’s look at his other names … Satan and the devil.

Satan:

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. ‘Where have you come from?’ the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, ‘I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on’” (Job 1:6-7).

The first two chapters of Job, indeed, these two verses tell us volumes about Satan—his sphere of influence, meaning of his name, and what God allows him to do or not to do.

The Accuser:

His very name, Satan, means accuser. In fact, he is the Accuser or the Satan. He accuses anyone and everyone who truly searches after the true and living God, especially believers in Messiah Jesus.

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Beginning with Adam and Eve, Satan’s personal and primary purpose concerning the human race is to tempt us to disobey God, do our own thing, and go our own way … arrogantly or apathetically independent of our Creator and Savior. He even tempted Messiah Jesus to prove to Satan and the whole world that Jesus was the Son of God. But in order to do so (at that time), Jesus had to submit to Satan, agree to his demands, and even worship him. Our Lord would have none of that.

Here is an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss (in italics):

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

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

The prophet Zechariah records another incident in which Satan attempts to discredit the Jewish high priest (following the return of Jewish exiles from Babylon) as God’s choice to restore the sacrificial system of the rebuilt Temple. In this spectacular scene, we see a Pre-Incarnate appearance of Messiah Jesus and Jeshua, a type of all believers who would become priests (see I Peter 2) under the amazing New Covenant that would begin with Jesus some four hundred years later. Satan is also with them, and (true to form) claims that Jeshua is sinful; thus, unworthy of God’s favor (grace), let alone Jeshua’s right standing with God.

Unlike Job, whom God allowed Satan to test and torment—as all believers are to some extent or another—this time the Lord flatly rejects Satan’s indictments against a man whose sins would be forgiven (right in front of Satan). This is an extraordinary example of all who would be clothed with God’s righteousness when they believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas the Lord allows Satan to accuse believers after they are “born again,” he does not permit Satan to disqualify anyone from receiving their new birth in Messiah Jesus. No matter how sinfully bad anyone has been, there is no one beyond the Lord’s reach when it comes to redemption and the gift of eternal life. All anyone need do is to believe and receive Jesus as their personal Savior.

“Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘I, the Lord, reject your accusation, Satan’ … Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ And turning to Jeshua he said, ‘See, I have taken away your sins, and now I’m giving you these fine new clothes’” (Zechariah 3:1-4).

Satan’s Dwelling Place in the Universe:

Improbable as it may seem, God allows Satan access to heavenly places, including high level counsels called by the Lord himself. Here is another except from Out of the Abyss:

From the account in Job, it’s evident that Satan only appears personally before God periodically, with the clear implication that God chooses when to allow Satan to stand before him. Satan can only be in one place at a time, therefore, he isn’t in God’s face every time he accuses believers in Christ. Note that God ask Satan where he came from to attend this high level conference. Satan replied, “I’ve been patrolling the earth…”

We know that God knew this. What we have here is a rhetorical question tantamount to a divine jab at Satan. God simply reminded Satan that God had foreclosed on Satan’s dwelling place in heaven. But when God asks a question, even Lucifer is obligated to answer. I’m thinking that Satan cringed when he was forced to reply. He probably thought, okay, you don’t have to rub it in … I know my place in the universe.

But Satan has enough pride to fill all the oceans; thus, I’m equally certain that Satan boasted when he said that he had been patrolling the earth, watching everything that goes on. This was nothing more than a mockery of God, who, as Scripture tells us, also watches everything that happens on the earth. It’s another example of Satan imitating God, which demonstrated Satan’s distorted unattainable goal: to be like the Most High God (Page 221).

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(Depiction of Job and His Friends)

The Devil:

In the New Testament Satan is also called the devil. There are at least two reasons for this: (1) what the term devil means as we will shortly see. (2) Satan (the devil) and his demons became vastly more active during Jesus’s time on earth since Noah’s Flood, or will again until the Great Tribulation.

His infamous title of devil is more of a generic term relating to the meaning of the word, originally from the Greek, diabolos. Which, according to Webster’s Dictionary means: “slanderer … often used as an interjection, an intensive, or a generalized term of abuse.” That is the definition of devil in the generalized, lower case. Whereas, The Devil is a characterization of Satan as, “…the personal supreme spirit of evil … the leader of all apostate angels ….”

More than anything else, devil depicts and defines Satan’s character … deceiver, liar, murderer, and hater (of all that is right and good); and any number of other appalling traits that a being who is pure evil can and will display.

Referring to Satan as the devil, Jesus said: “…He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Paul writes to the Ephesian believers reminding them that before God adopted them into his family and gave them an everlasting spiritual (salvation) and physical (literally in heaven) inheritance through Christ Jesus:

“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loves us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-6, parenthesis in the text itself).

The Dragon:

As proposed in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article: Just as the Antichrist is also called the man of lawlessness and the beast, so is it important to recognize that the various names of Satan throughout Scripture are given for a reason. With both Antichrist and Satan, their different titles tell us what they have done, when, and why. And also when they will continue to do what they do best (worst) during the last days that will lead to their final destruction.

As most people know, the Bible’s first introduction to Lucifer (his designated name before he rebelled against God and was evicted from his heavenly dwelling) was that of “serpent.” But don’t think of a snake. A snake is what the serpent would become after God cursed it … a lowly loathsome creature reduced to crawling on its belly; far removed from, “…the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made…” (Genesis 3:1).

Undoubtedly, the Garden of Eden serpent was as or more beautiful than all of the animals. Not only that, the serpent could talk! Moreover, neither Eve nor Adam were at all shocked or even surprised that the serpent could speak. Most likely that’s why Satan chose the serpent to appear before Eve and to (successfully) persuade her to disobey God.

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God cursed the serpent first … then Eve, then Adam. God’s judgment was not only against the physical body/form of the serpent, but also included the Lord’s magnificent plan of the ages for mankind and inevitable destruction of Satan and his wicked forces of fallen angels. Right there in the Garden of Eden, the Lord announced his plan of redemption to Adam and Eve that would include Messiah’s ultimate triumph over Satan, even though the serpent would strike first.

“And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

Soon, we will learn the identity of the woman, who/which is much more than just a reference to Eve, the woman (mother) of all human beings thereafter.

The expose of Satan as the dragon in the book of Revelation is probably the greatest irony of all time. It will give a whole new meaning to, “justice is served.”

To restate the earlier mentioned premise, based on what I see as crystal clear evidence in Scripture: During the Tribulation, Satan will appear in bodily form.

He will most likely often stay in the background out of sight, probably due to his shocking appearance; while granting power and authority to his Anti- Christ, the revived Roman Emperor Nero. The very fact of Satan’s visible presence will be a shocking experience for people the world over. Shocking could, but not necessarily, mean appalling. It could also relate to a synonym of shocking … that of stunning or spectacular.

Before we examine the Bible passages to confirm Satan’s total banishment to earth as “the dragon,” let’s state in summary fashion what this justifiable irony is and how it will come full circle to haunt Satan forever.

As alluded, God allowed Satan to appear to Eve as the serpent. This most clever of all animals was likely the most alluring and striking in appearance. However, the very fact that Satan did not appear in his originally created dazzling form as a “model of perfection” is because he couldn’t appear like that. Reason: Either God forbade it or Lucifer had lost (been stripped of) his “exquisite beauty” in which he was created. (Ezekiel 28).

Either way, Satan chose the serpent through which to deceive Eve and Adam; thereby, infecting the entire human race with the ugliness of sin and the sure penalty thereof … death, both physical and spiritual.

For emphasis, I will italicize the following conclusion:

Satan as the serpent signaled the end of the beginning for this once mighty cherub.

God will allow Satan one last chance to prove that he is greater than God; that Satan’s anti-Messiah is superior to the true Messiah. And God will provide like never before, one last chance for people the world over to choose everlasting life over perpetual death (separation from God).

But the last day’s scenario will be different in two ways: (1) this will be God’s final direct and massive intervention (judgment) in the affairs of the human race. (2) Accordingly, he will restrict Satan and his man of sin to a limited time (7 years total, 3 ½ years of concentrated mayhem) to wreak havoc on the earth. Also, Satan will have no choice but to appear and function in his fallen form. He will, in fact, be forced to arrive on earth in his actual spiritual body. Furthermore, we’re told what his form will be. It will be like that of a dragon, commensurate with his initial appearance to mankind as the serpent.

With equal emphasis: As the dragon it will be the beginning of the end for Satan.

It will be full circle from his initial appearance to the human race in bodily form as the serpent to his final manifestation as the dragon.

*Note: Time/space doesn’t permit elaboration on the details of Satan’s dragon-like appearance during the tribulation; plus it would be too much speculation. Except to say that we probably shouldn’t visualize dragons depicted in literature, paintings, and film. I’m referring to fire-breathing creatures with horns, scales, tails, and the like. A dragon is the best imagery that John of Revelation could convey, given his (all of us) limited language and imagination. Exactly what Satan’s dragon-like features will be … well, the post-Rapture world will find out soon enough.

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(Fairly Typical Depiction of Satan as a Dragon, But with More Human Features)

With some spiritual speculation, in general terms I personally envision “the dragon” as a blemished, adulterated, scarred (from evil), and darkened, more “shocking” version of his original angelic splendor. In that regard, John’s use of the term dragon is that of illustrative imagery. It conveys a correlation between Satan’s initial arrival on the earth as the serpent and a dragon-like creature portrayed by writers and artists and tellers of tales for thousands of years as man’s worst nightmare.

Satan Embodied in the Descriptive Form of a Dragon

Most of the book of Revelation is obviously about the future, i.e. amazing descriptions of the Great Tribulation, Millennial reign of Christ, and eternity. But it is not entirely future tense. Chapters 1-3 are exclusively present and past tense, as is the first part of Chapter 4 which is a preview of the Rapture when John is caught up to heaven. The first part of Chapter 12 and Chapter 17:7-11 describe past events; with the passage in Chapter 17 disclosing the astonishing fact that the Antichrist beast had already lived and died, but would return from the Abyss (at the outset of the Tribulation period).

In Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, Jesus refers to Satan four times in his messages to the seven churches in existence during the first century. Thereafter in Revelation, Satan is identified as a dragon and even “the dragon.” When the term Satan is used in Chapters 12 and 20, it is to make sure the reader identifies the dragon as Satan, the Devil. We’ll get to that shortly.

Up to that point in the Bible, Satan had never been called a dragon. Why, then, is Satan referred to as a dragon in Revelation Chapters 12, 13, 16, and 20?

Answer: To convey, clarify, and confirm to the reader that Satan (like all “spiritual” beings) has a body, and that he will be visibly seen in that (now distorted) figure by many during the Tribulation. This is equivalent to the Antichrist described as a beast in Revelation; the beast represents a man (Nero) returning from the grave in his original body.

Revelation Chapters 4 through 11 are pretty much chronological, including the seven seal and trumpet judgments. Whereas, Chapter 12 is what we call a parenthetical chapter—set aside as an interlude to relay both past and future contextually connected information to the reader.

“Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth” (Revelation 12:1-2).

Many Bible scholars, including me, agree that the woman is Israel, giving birth to the Messiah. This is the same woman mentioned in Genesis 3 whose offspring would crush Satan and his kingdom. None other than Messiah Jesus, from the tribe of Judah and from the lineage of King David.

Next comes John’s first vision of Satan as the dragon.

“Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born” (Verses 3-4).

Satan had long ago been evicted from his heavenly dwelling and took one-third of the angels with him. This occurred even before Adam and Eve were created.

Continuing in Verse 5: “She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.”

Again, this had already taken place when Jesus was born, lived, died, rose again from the dead, then ascended to heaven prior to John’s vision as recorded in Revelation.

The scene then fast forwards to the Tribulation days. “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days” (Verse 6).

Next is the stunning event seen by John that would also take place in the future Tribulation.

“Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night’” (Revelation 12:7-10, italics for emphasis).

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(Depiction of Michael and Satan at War)

Note that John makes sure the reader understands that the “great dragon” is the ancient serpent of Genesis … “called the devil, or Satan…” Serpent and dragon are who and what he is: an angelic turned demonic (spirit) being unseen during his heyday as prince of the power of the air. Yet he will be permanently thrown down to the earth in our earthly space and time dimension as a corporal, tangible, visible being.

Putting it another way: If the dragon wasn’t a real embodied being, then there’s no reason whatsoever for John to see and use the term dragon. He would have exclusively employed the name, Satan or the devil.

Satan Confined to the Earth

When does this “war in heaven” take place? When are Satan and his fallen angels “thrown down to earth?”

I firmly believe this will take place just before the stupendous Rapture of believers.

Why?

Because believers in Christ will be taken to heaven at the Rapture with our new resurrected (the dead in Christ) and transfigured (those in Christ alive on the earth) everlasting bodies. Satan will no longer be allowed in heaven to accuse believers, certainly not face to face which would be the case if his access to heaven continued after the Rapture. The timing of this war in heaven and Satan’s total banishment to the earth is confirmed by the verse following his irrevocable expulsion from heaven.

“It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God” (Verse 10). This is a sweeping pronouncement encompassing the Day of the Lord, applicable to the entire span of the Tribulation period and beyond.

“When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (Revelation 12:13).

Satan’s realization is much more than knowing he’s now on planet earth. That will be obvious to him. What Scripture is telling us here is that Satan will fully comprehend that not only has he been permanently confined to the earth (no more access to heavenly places), but that he also is irreversibly restricted to earthbound space and time in bodily form (the dragon).

That will make the dragon furious, and he will unleash his fury against Israel and the Tribulation saints.

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

Well, we know who wins, don’t we!

At the final battle of Armageddon, the Antichrist Beast and the False Prophet are captured and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. Their armies are completely destroyed by Messiah Jesus.

Let’s see what happens to Satan (the dragon).

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

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(Depiction of the Real Angel Who Will Bind Satan With a Real Chain)

For emphatic corroboration, this is the second time John is telling us that Satan (as the dragon) will be seen and dealt with in bodily form. There is nothing metaphorical going on in Revelation Chapter 20. Contrary to what most people think: relative to the amount of content and length of the book, there is not that much nonliteral imagery in Revelation.

The thousand years is a thousand years.

An angel “seizes” the dragon. As in a literal capturing, grabbing, holding, and clutching the dragon.

The bottomless pit is a real place, under lock and key.

The chains that will bind the dragon are “heavy.” There is absolutely no literary need to describe an allegorical chain as heavy. If it’s symbolic, it doesn’t matter whether the chain is heavy or light.

To be in heaven you need a “heavenly body.” (See I Corinthians 15). That includes the good angels; Jesus, himself, because he returned to heaven in a glorified body, but a human body nevertheless; and all believers in Christ in our transformed bodies.

So, too, with the fallen angels, including Satan their chief. When Satan is thrown down to the earth (for all time), he will no longer have the capability to roam the “unseen world” or heavenly places. He will be limited to time/space on earth in what will be an earthly body … subject to earthly dimensions.

But, then, isn’t that how Satan first introduced himself to mankind? Such divine irony don’t you think? After the Tribulation he will be kept in the Abyss under the earth in solitary confinement. The only one he will be able to tempt is himself. Perhaps he will tempt himself to repent and acknowledge God as God, his Creator?

Nah! That’s not going to happen! See Revelation 20:7-10 for the rest of the story.

Things to Ponder

“Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion. I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name … And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

‘Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name! For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed’” (Revelation 15:1-4).

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Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!

Satan in Bodily Form … When & Why (Part I)

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Living in the Last Days

More Biblical prophecies have come to pass or have partially unfolded in the 20th century and 21st century than in all the centuries since the wonderful arrival of Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, on this earth, and time itself was changed from B.C. to A.D. Beginning with the trailblazing Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the miraculous birth of the nation of Israel in 1947-48, special events have taken place within the two Biblical definitions of a generation … 100 years (Genesis 15) and 70 years (Psalm 90). Which makes Jesus’s promise remarkably relevant to our times:

“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. 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” (Matthew 24:32-34).

Our Lord is referring to the signs he gave to his disciples in answer to their question: “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

In the context of this week’s article, I will quote only one of Jesus’s warnings:

“For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:24, italics for emphasis).

In Eye of Prophecy articles, Look Up, Redemption is Near, Part I & II (posted 7-11 & 7-18-15) you’ll find a list of the twelve “flash point” Biblical prophecies that have taken place—fully or partially in the past 100 years, most of them in the last 70 years. The first six pertain primarily to Israel (Part I), with the remaining six applying to the rest of the world. Number 10 on the list is: False Messiahs and Prophets.

Here is an excerpt from Look up, Redemption is Near (Part II):

Christ is (mostly) referring to messiahs and prophets who will surface in the last days from religious sources, such as the many cults and false religions in today’s world. For example, Muslim leaders in several nations (especially Iran) have been telling the world that the 12th Imam is about ready to leap onto the stage of history. In fact, that’s why Islam is in the midst of launching a world-wide Intifada; as they believe their messiah won’t appear until such an uprising begins.

But I believe that Jesus is not referring only to religious leaders who claim to be a messiah or that their messiah will soon appear. The great signs and wonders and deceit of these Messiah imposters can and does also apply to world leaders of the 20th & 21st centuries, who arose to power on the premise that they would rescue or save or liberate or enhance the lives of their people. In ancient times both good and bad monarchs didn’t rise to prominence on a platform of saving their people from this or that. They were simply part of an ascension to power that represented and reflected the emergence of an empire, such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Ottomans, Holy Roman Empire, British, and others.

Not so in the last one hundred years. For example, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao Tse-tung (China) soared to power largely through grandiose promises to save their nations from economic, political, and military ruin. They were messiahs to their people, particularly Adolph Hitler, who even mislead thousands upon thousands of Christians. The same is true of several contemporary African and Arab rulers, whether Muslim or not. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is seen in a messianic light by tens of millions of Russians. With the preliminary prototype exception of Napoleon, we had not seen such a rise of messiah figures until the 20th and 21st centuries.

The underlying motive and method of all of these false prophets and made-up messiahs is that of deceit. None more so than the final and most obvious would-be messiah of all time, the Antichrist.

Because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, by default Jesus also included all Biblical end times prophecies, both Old and New Testament … along with the specific signs he disclosed to his disciples.

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For example: the Apostle Paul’s definitive expose of the secret lawlessness underway that would (just 3-4 years later) give rise to the Man of Lawlessness, who would later be called Antichrist by the Apostle John and also “the Beast” by the author of Revelation. Thoroughly explained through Biblical and historical documentation in my book, Out of the Abyss, and in several Eye of Prophecy articles found in the category of Antichrist, this man of lawlessness is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero.

What’s In a Name?

Although the Lord had revealed details of the Rapture to Paul and of the (initial revealing … Nero’s unlawful ascension to the throne) man of lawlessness, he had not divulged to Paul specifics of the Tribulation or particulars of the reappearance of this evil man later called Antichrist and Beast. Those labels for the man of lawlessness came subsequently with the Apostle John in his first epistle and the author of Revelation, respectively.

As with everything in Scripture, there is a reason for this: Found in II Thessalonians 2:8 (the Man of Lawlessness chapter) that tells us Jesus, himself, will kill this despicable man and then later (after Nero is allowed to return from the Abyss … Revelation 17:8) will bring about his final destruction in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20).

My book, Out of the Abyss, explains why these three different designations are assigned to this lawless tyrant, instead of just the one term that most people use and recognize in today’s post-modern world … Antichrist.

Out of the Abyss discusses at length the oft overlooked verse of the otherwise pivotal passage in II Thessalonians 2, where the apostle Paul reminds believers that this man of lawlessness was already (present tense) being held in check until he would be revealed through an unlawful ascension to the throne. Paul would not actually identify this man (Nero) by name, as that would have meant a fairly swift death for him and many Christians. Paul did eventually die at the hands of Nero, but not until his mission for Jesus on earth was complete.

Here is the verse that most teachers and commentators seem to skim over, especially the part stating that the man of lawlessness is actually killed by (orders of … providentially) Jesus, himself.

“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).

Now the excerpts from Out of the Abyss (in italics):

Remember it is the apostle Paul and only Paul, who specifically tells us that the Lord Jesus will strike down this man … Who does Jesus kill? Answer: The man of lawlessness. When is the lawless one killed and why? Let’s examine the evidence.

I’m convinced that the three designations given to his man are for a reason. Otherwise, why wasn’t the same name employed by the Holy Spirit when giving these revelations? At face value, it would have been a little easier, had the Holy Spirit employed just one of these descriptive labels in Daniel, II Thessalonians, I John, and Revelation.

(A reminder. The three New Testament terms are: Man of Lawlessness, Antichrist, and Beast).

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 positional or title reference to this man as 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 the children of God….

The bestial image of Revelation vividly depicts the physical nature (body) and corporeal deeds of this man, and all that entails. We still use 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.

Even if you don’t necessarily see this body, soul, and spirit connection between the three names of Antichrist, the fact remains that, when Jesus kills this man, the man is referred to as the man of lawlessness….

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 and the beast bodily in the lake of fire. Yes, I did say, “preserve!” Stay with me, and I will show you how this was done, as supported by the Bible….

Expressing it another way: Jesus did not kill the beast; he killed the man of lawlessness. Although the man of lawlessness and the beast are one and the same (Nero), this is not a contradiction. Why … because the Holy Spirit, through Paul, is telling us when the beast would be killed. The beast would be killed by Christ while the beast was the man of lawlessness, before he reappeared as the beast! As the beast, Nero will be cast into the Lake of Fire, alive (pages 204-206).

We know the man of lawlessness died before John saw him as the beast. Listen to the words of the angel explaining the astonishing vision John had just witnessed:

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

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(Beast Arises From the Sea Out of the Abyss, Which is Below the Seas (Revelation 13&17)

This refresher course reminds us that the Antichrist is a man; that this man (Nero) had already died before John observed and described him in the physical image of a beast. That Nero would reappear in the same body in which he died (and was revived) is important to grasp in the context of this week’s and next week’s article.

Beginning with a startling premise: In addition to the amazing (in the eyes of unbelievers) return of Nero in his original body, both angels and demons will be seen in their actual bodies by the entire Tribulation world. And not only angels and demons; Satan, himself, will appear on the earth in bodily form. Hundreds of million the world over will be stunned by these “signs and miracles” They will worship what they see … the Beast (Nero), a statue of him that actually speaks, and the embodied Satan.

Satan and Nero … A Perverted Pair

The apostle Paul writes about Nero and Satan:

“This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).

As indicated in Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles, the one thing that will compel many unbelievers left behind after the Rapture to immediately give their undivided loyalty to both the beast and Satan is this perceived miracle of resurrection.

Here is what John, the author of Revelation, tells us after he saw a vision of the Beast for the first time:

“I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. ‘Who is as great as the beast?’ they exclaimed. ‘Who is able to fight against him?’ Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:3-5).

What is it that separates the Tribulation coalition of Antichrist Nero from previous evil despots?

Answer: (1) Nero’s incredible return from the grave (from the Abyss, but the world won’t know the difference).

(2) Followed by Antichrist’s abominable assistant, the False Prophet, who will perform, “…astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast (Antichrist), he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life” (Revelation 13:13-14).

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Although this will be a demonstration of, “counterfeit power and signs and miracles” (II Thessalonians 2), it, nevertheless, will captivate many left behind. Counterfeit in the sense that they will appear to be divine signs and wonders to, in the eyes of the world, rival or exceed those normally attributed to God himself. Which is why Satan (the dragon) and Antichrist Nero (the first beast) will be worshipped as God and Messiah.

Counterfeit is defined as: “to imitate or copy closely with intent to deceive; made in imitation of something else; forged; marked by false pretense; something likely to be mistaken for something of higher value” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).

During the seven-year Tribulation, the supernatural will become natural; the paranormal will seem normal; spirit beings will be visible in earthly space/time dimension of sight, sound, and touch. This mystical metamorphosis will both amaze and frightened people into radical submission to the Antichrist, to the False Prophet, and also to Satan.

Yet, these occult phenomena will pale in comparison to the mighty and miraculous things that the true and living God will do in the heavens and on the earth.

The worst of God’s wrath will be displayed directly against Antichrist and his followers, as found, for example, in the first five bowl judgments (See Revelation Chapter 16). A reminder that in chronological order there are three sets of seven judgments: Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls. Early on, by the time of the sixth seal judgment, unbelievers the world over will have recognized the source of these cataclysmic events.

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

However, this reaction will be that of dismay, not of repentance. Later, after the sixth trumpet judgment, we read:

“But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons … And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).

Lucifer’s Legacy

Let’s examine what will be one of the more mind-boggling events that will take place after the Rapture … during the Great Tribulation.

It is the fact that Satan will be confined to the earth and will be so as an embodied being!

That’s not nearly as farfetched as it sounds. First, this most evil of beings will have no choice. He will be banished from heavenly places that he has been allowed to roam.

Second, this confinement to earth and the materialization of his angelic (demonic) body to our earthly dimension of sight and sound will infuriate him. To the point of unleashing all of his wicked forces through Antichrist Nero and the False Prophet with the malicious motive of terrorizing and annihilating Jews and Gentiles who have chosen the true Messiah … Jesus.

When Lucifer (his name when first created by God as an angel) defied God and brought evil into the world, he was evicted from his heavenly residence and stripped of his lofty position. See Isaiah Chapter 14 for the reasons why Lucifer rebelled against his Creator. However, then (long ago) and now he was not restricted to the earth; he still has access to heavenly places … visiting rights as it were (see Job Chapters 1 & 2).

We later learn through the prophet Ezekiel more about Lucifer’s original station and splendor before great pride caused him to try to be equal to God. Said the Lord God about Lucifer:

“…You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone … all beautifully crafted for you and set in finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained you and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian (cherub). You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you … and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:12-16).

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Then in one of the most intriguing chapters in all of the book of Revelation, with every chapter in Revelation replete with spectacular disclosures (both past and future) we get a brief but sweeping review of Lucifer’s expulsion from his heavenly home, taking one-third of the angels who supported his rebellion with him. Then Israel giving birth to the Messiah (Jesus), then Jesus’s ascension to heaven. From there, Revelation Chapter 12 fast forwards to the end times of the Great Tribulation. More on this compelling chapter in next week’s article, including Satan’s final and permanent banishment from heaven and when that takes place.

Before we take an up close and personal look at Satan’s time on earth in bodily form during the Great Tribulation, let’s look at precedent examples in Scripture to confirm that the spiritual realm of the unseen world will become corporal, i.e. both angels and demons will literally be visible to the entire world. Unlike several instances found in the Gospels of men and women inhabited by demons (cast out by Jesus), there’s no indication during the Tribulation that there will be actual demon possession. Instead, both fallen and good angels will appear just as they are.

Scripture is clear that all created beings have a body.

“…For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15:44).

It’s just that angels and demons are normally limited to another (unseen) dimension.

In fact, during the preparation of today’s and next week’s two-part series, my previous thoughts that Antichrist Nero might actually be possessed by Satan has changed … up-dated. A devil-possessed Antichrist has also been the view of most Bible scholars. However, there’s no indication in Scripture that this will take place. It is speculation, based on the supposition that no man, even the powerful beast of Revelation, could do the things he’ll do unless he is possessed.

What Scripture says specifically is that God will allow Satan to grant authority and power to the Antichrist, not actually inhabit or possess him. Even then, it’s the False Prophet who, “…exercised all the authority of the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. He did astounding miracles…” (Revelation 13:12-13).

Prior to the False Prophet performing wonders on behalf of the first beast, the most spectacular miracle (in the eyes of the world) accomplished by Antichrist Nero will be his return from the grave (Abyss). From all other Biblical references about the Antichrist, it’s quite evident that this despicable man doesn’t need the possession type influence of Satan. Nero displayed all the brutality and evil that a human being is capable of during his 1st century rule as Caesar; and will do so again during his Tribulation reign of terror … to an even greater extent. But he will not be possessed by Satan.

Instead, Satan will be bodily present during Nero’s time of terror and destruction on the earth. We’ll see how that works in next week’s article.

Fallen Angels … Demons

Before and After the Great Flood

Let’s look at an astonishing disclosure in the one-chapter book of Jude, which makes reference to the Nephilites on the earth before all people (except Noah and his family) were destroyed because of their wickedness and depravity and violence (See Genesis 6:1-8).

“And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment” (Jude 6).

Before the Great Flood of Noah’s time, some of the fallen angels took on human form and cohabited with women on earth. Time/space does not permit extensive elaboration, except to say that God permitted Satan and his fallen angels to exercise their free will—just as man and woman were given the authority and freedom to choose. But when certain divine red lines are crossed, the Lord steps in and implements his justice and judgment on the spot. In this case, those fallen angels who took on human form were banished to the Abyss where they will remain until the Tribulation.

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(Depiction of Nephilim)

From the time they were incarcerated in prisons of darkness (Abyss), there is no Biblical record of fallen angels (demons) taking on human form. Nor is there any evidence whatsoever (except in Hollywood movies, television, and the like!) of Satan, himself, becoming a man. Why? Because fallen angels learned their lesson quite well. They do not want to be banished to the Abyss (see Luke 8:26-33)! I wrote about this in Out of the Abyss, and also have touched on it in a couple of Eye of Prophecy articles.

No longer can fallen angels, “…not keep their own domain” or “abandon their proper abode…” (Jude 6 … NASB translation). Currently, the nature and extent of their “domain” and “abode” is that of occasionally assuming varying degrees of control over the mind and spirit of some human beings, i.e. demon possession.

*Note: Based on several passages of Scripture, it’s equally certain that demons CAN NOT possess a believer in Christ. There are several reasons, the most obvious of which: A person who has been redeemed by believing and receiving Jesus as personal Savior is immediately indwelt by the mighty Holy Spirit of the Triune God. There’s no way under heaven or on earth that a demonic spirit can dwell alongside the Holy Spirit.

The other fallen angels who were not as audacious as their excessively evil counterparts (those under lock and key in the Abyss) have been confined to their original angelic (turned demonic) “spiritual bodies.” They can possess human beings but cannot take on human form to deceive people in that manner. Spearheaded by Satan, these are the real enemies behind flesh and blood kingdoms, tyrants, and ungodly people. They are the, “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world … mighty powers in this dark world … evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

It Will Be Different During the Great Tribulation

Fallen angels will be allowed to appear in physical form during God’s second and final world-wide judgment (by fire) that will take place during the Great Tribulation. Not as human beings, but in their own corrupt, warped, diabolically twisted (spirit) body.

They will be seen in real time and space as they wreak havoc on the earth, especially and ironically against those who take the mark of the Antichrist beast (Nero). Beginning with the exceptionally evil angels who have been confined to the Abyss all this time. They will be released during the fifth trumpet judgment which is the first of three Terrors (including the sixth and seventh trumpets) directed at unbelievers on Planet Earth. (See Eye of Prophecy articles Terror, Terror, Terror Part I & II, published 12-12 & 12-19-15. Followed by A Trilogy of Terror, posted 12-26-15).

When the fifth trumpet is blown, out of the Abyss:

“…locusts came from the smoke and descended on the earth, and they were given power to sting like scorpions. They were told not to harm the grass or plants or trees, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:3-4).

Verses 7-10 provide a chilling description of these devilish beings, including, “…their faces looked like human faces.”

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(Depiction of Demonic Angels of Revelation 9)

Then the sixth trumpet releases 200 million demons (or a combination of demons and humans) that end up killing one-third of those on earth who haven’t already died.

Please understand: Although John in these portions of Revelation is using some metaphorical imagery, it is only because he’s trying to describe what (who) he saw in the best words available to him. The fact remains: he actually saw these demonic creatures. As will the entire world in the not so distant future. That is part and parcel of the end time’s tribulation in which beings of the otherwise unseen spiritual world will become visible in our physical dimensions of sight, sound, and touch. It’s going to be unbelievably painful when unbelievers are stung by these demons, so much so that: “…They will long to die, but death will flee from them!” (Revelation 9:6).

Good Angels

Throughout Scripture, some of the two-thirds of angels who remained loyal and faithful to God—their (and our) Creator—occasionally appeared to men and woman, but did so in the form of men; not as or in their angelic bodies. Such as the “two white-robed men” who suddenly appeared while Jesus was ascending to heaven in front of his disciples (Acts 1:9-11).

Or the “two men … clothed in dazzling robes” who said to the women at Jesus’s empty tomb, what I consider to be the greatest announcement ever uttered by angel or man: “…Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” (Luke 24:5-6).

These “men” were obviously angels; in fact that is the term used by John in describing the resurrection scene. These manifestations and nearly all of the others in both the Old and New Testament indicate that the angels took on human form; although the attributes of their human appearance clearly indicated that they were angels.

There are rare exceptions, such as when man’s fellowship with God was broken and Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, never to be allowed to return.

“After sending them out, the Lord God stationed a mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden…” (Genesis 3:24).

Or when Ezekiel saw the four “living beings” (cherubim) accompanied by an appearance of the Pre-Incarnate Christ (Ezekiel Chapter 1).

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(Depiction of the Four Living Beings and the Throne of the Lord)

And again, on the day when Messiah Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary for the express purpose of reconciling us back to God through his supreme sacrificial death and his powerful resurrection from the grave. “An angel of the Lord” appeared to the shepherds to announce that the long-awaited Messiah had arrived. The angel proclaimed: “…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:9-11).

Then this angel, “…was joined by a vast host of others … praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’ When the angels had returned to heaven…” (Verses 13-15).

Long before that, we find angels descending and ascending from/to heaven with the Pre-Incarnate Christ at the top of a heavenly stairway. However, this was a dream that Jacob had, not a direct encounter with angels. (Genesis Chapter 28).

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The Biblical isolated exceptions of angels seen in their actual state of existence will become the norm during the Tribulation, including the same four living beings seen by Ezekiel. In fact, nowhere in Revelation do we see angels appearing as men; but as themselves … angels of God, in their splendid angelic bodies.

Such as:

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire … He stood with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. And he gave a great shout like the roar of a lion…” (Revelation 10:1-3).

“And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to the world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. ‘Fear God … Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7).

Yes, angels have wings. They can fly!

Don’t miss next week’s article, to see how this precedent and pattern of spiritual beings visibly seen by the Tribulation population will also apply to our greatest enemy … Satan.

Things to Ponder

Above all, the world will see our great God and Savior Messiah Jesus in all the glory of his incomparable resurrected eternal body. Just as John saw him before all the other revelations given to John, Christ will first be seen by those of us whom he has redeemed, as Savior and Lord.

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

“Those who belong to this world” … the ungodly, unrepentant, lovers of the lie foisted on them by their false messiah and false god, will at the end of the Great Tribulation see the majestic “…Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

But for them, it will be too late. They will meet him as their judge dispensing truth and justice; the Alpha and Omega who, “…judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11).

They will see and know beyond their deliberate doubt and disbelief that Christ Jesus is, indeed, King of all kings, Lord of all lords.

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They will grudgingly admit that when Messiah Jesus first “…appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

Consequently, they will acknowledge: “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names…” (Verse 9).

And then: “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God and to the Lion from the tribe of Judah!

Why the Rapture? (A Revisit)

Foreword to This Week’s Article

Though I hoped it never would, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

After 171 consecutive weekly Eye of Prophecy articles, some three years and three months after this labor of love began in late July of 2013, the inevitable took place “later.” Later is usually better, for which I thank the Lord—from whom, through whom, and for whom this Website exists in the first place.

You’re probably wondering: “What’s he talking about? What happened?”

My laptop had to undergo a heart transplant. The hard drive died a fairly swift death; presumably, suffering little pain! At least not as much anguish as I experienced earlier this week, when I realized that replacement of the hard drive, restoration of files and programs, and the need to reestablish all the valve connections to the heart of this machine would take too long to complete the new Eye of Prophecy article for this week.

Fortunately, the computer surgeons successfully completed the operation(s), and here we are again. However, this week’s planned article will need to wait until next week for posting.

But I do not like the idea of leaving you without any article at all. So, there are two options:

  1. Select a previous Eye of Prophecy article you haven’t read. For example, you might want to consider reading, To Be or Not to Be … In Heaven, posted 11-1-14. Not only does the date (two years ago) corresponded with today’s date (11-5-16), but I consider it as one of the author’s five favorite articles. Yes, some authors (like me) have their favorites!
  2. Read today’s re-posted article, entitled, Why the Rapture? It’s fairly short and is the second article ever posted on this website (8-3-13); but one that fits somewhat with next week’s article (in progress) especially when talking about “spiritual bodies.” In that regard, you might also want to take a look at, Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms, Part I & II, posted on 9-26-15 and 10-3-15.

So, thank you for your patience and your visit to Eye of Prophecy. It is my joy to write for the Lord and for you.

*Here is the re-posted article (slight changes made, including paragraph separations and photos not in the original article):

Rapture! (What, Why, When, Who, & How)

“Why in the world did this happen?” laments the woman who just lost her job of twenty years, and has no clue what to do next. “Why her, why not me?” exclaims the husband, moments after his wife disappears in the early morning hours from their bed; later confirmed by media sources the world over that hundreds of millions were taken from the earth. My guess is that most people prefer to know why things happen, although I suppose there are exceptions to that rule. Meaning that some would say, “I’m ready to go. As long as the Rapture is true and will take place, that’s good enough for me … I don’t need to know any more details than that.”

Even if you’re not that concerned about the reasons that Christ will return for his own, I’m thinking that if someone asked you (anyone who was genuinely and sincerely interested), wouldn’t you want to, at least, explain the basics. Why? Because the Rapture IS the resurrection of deceased believers from the dead; AND, the rapture is the transportation of all believers to heaven. The Rapture signals the FINISH LINE of our race here on earth, but the STARTING LINE of eternity in heaven for those who have been redeemed by the death and resurrection of our Messiah. That is why Jesus is referred to as Alpha & Omega–beginning and end, first and last, author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Careful study of Scripture shows us two primary purposes for the Rapture … why this stunning event must and will take place.

TO BE LIKE CHRIST

In order for us to live forever, we must have the same incorruptible, indestructible, resurrected body that Jesus had (still has and will have forever more) when he arose from the dead. His triumphant resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, and has been historically documented, based on hundreds of eye-witnesses. It is the heartbeat of Christianity, which is a term that, surprisingly enough, I prefer not to use; as Christianity sounds like a religion, alongside of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other world religions, including some “Christian” cults that have corrupted the true Gospel of Christ.

But, I suppose that we must give our faith a name, a label, an identity; in order to distinguish it from non-Christian world views. But oh, what a distinction! Christ, our ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King has risen from the dead. He has risen indeed! There is an empty tomb in Jerusalem to prove that. All other prophets or so-called holy men of other religions are still in their graves. Personally, I choose to stake my eternal destiny on the One who arose from the dead!

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The reason that Christianity is not a religion is because it doesn’t fit at all with the basic thread or common denominator of all world religions, i.e. what mankind must do (normally a sufficient number of good works or elevation of oneself to a higher plateau of morality or spirituality) to gain salvation from or favor with whatever god that a particular religion promotes or spiritual level that is required (like Nirvana).

Conversely, the Christian faith/belief is that Christ did for us what we could not possibly do for ourselves: pay with his death on the cross the penalty for your sins and my sins; thereby, restoring a relationship to God, which is the very reason that God created us in the first place … to relate to him and He to us. A spiritual fellowship and intimacy that exceeds all other relationships known to man. To be allowed access to the very presence of God anytime, anywhere, which otherwise is impossible unless and until God has covered us with the righteousness of his Son, and pardoned us (forever) from all the wrong things we have done.

God is absolute Love, with unconditional love for you and me beyond human understanding; but he is equally holy. A Holy God cannot tolerate the presence or existence of unforgiven sin, either now or for all eternity. And sin cannot be forgiven unless we believe who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

Why?

Because Christ paid for our sins on the Cross. And this sacrifice was fully accepted by God as a substitutionary payment (the highest price ever paid … the blood and life of God’s Son) that legally purchased a pardon for the penalty of our sins. So, it’s a done deal! All we need do is to believe, and say, “Yes, I agree!” It’s that amazing, and yet that simple. Thus, it’s not a matter of religious requirements or duties or memberships; rather it’s a relationship with the true and living God and His Messiah.

If Jesus had not arisen from the dead, there would be no credibility to his or the Bible’s claims that redemption comes exclusively by God’s grace (unmerited favor). But Christ did arise, so all the Biblical truth and promises about salvation in Christ are true, such as Romans 3:24-25, “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…”

In other words, Jesus didn’t die for no reason! (Double negative for emphasis).

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Another Spectacular Passage on the Rapture

In the previous article (What is the Rapture?) we looked at the fascinating and perhaps most well-known Bible verses about the Rapture, found in I Thessalonians Chapter 4. Today, let’s examine another pivotal passage found in I Corinthians 15. If you feel really ambitious, I encourage you to read I Corinthians 15: 35-58. Or, even better, the entire chapter! This text gives us a remarkable description of the different types of “bodies” that exist in the universe. Perhaps the most absorbing is the Apostle Paul’s introductory use of the term, “spiritual bodies.” Think about it: Aren’t these two words mutually exclusive? How can there be any such thing as a “spiritual body.” Our earthly bodies are flesh and bone; they house our soul and spirit, which are anything but physical. Has anyone ever seen the spirit of another human being? Have you ever seen your own soul?

But for Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual body is a perfectly “natural” fact that will one day be physically experienced by all who have been raptured … not virtual, computer-generated, or cybernetic reality, but actual reality. Just how real is the new resurrected body? Jesus, himself, showed us how awesomely real it is: After he arose from the dead, he walked, he talked, he ate with his disciples, and he could be touched! How real is that?

Listen to what Paul says, “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised in glory … They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies” (I Corinthians 15: 42-44). Then later in this same text, “What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man” (verses 46-49).

To be sure, this phenomenon can only be accomplished through a supernatural change, but then our God specializes in the supernatural. As the Bible says, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). If Christ can rise from the dead, he certainly can and will transform our earthly bodies into a heavenly body (think body, not just spirit) like his.

I see this spectacular change taking place in the same light (pun intended) of what happened to Jesus during his transfiguration on the mountain, when Elijah and Moses appeared with him (Matthew 17: 1-7). In fact, I believe the term transfiguration is the best way to describe what will take place at the Rapture.

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Why transfiguration? Webster’s Dictionary defines transfiguration as, “a change in form or appearance….” That is exactly what Paul is telling us in I Corinthians 15; that is, we will be glorified just as Christ was glorified. Glory means or conveys the idea of the sheer essence of someone or something, including the expression of that essence.

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (I John 3: 2-3).

The “friends” that John addresses are believers in Christ, which qualifies them to be God’s children. So, then: We may not know all the details, but we do know it’s going to happen and why it’s going to happen. We need to be, and are going to be like our Savior. In fact, we must be like him and possess the same kind of body; otherwise, there’s no way we can live forever.

To live on this earth requires a special kind of body that God so wonderfully, uniquely, and masterfully created: one that can breathe life-giving air; drink life-sustaining water; eat life-growing food; feel life-producing pleasure and life-warning pain; see and hear life-enabling sights and sounds; produce life-perpetuating children; and know life-changing truths. However, the bodies we currently possess are not in any way, shape, or form adequate enough to live forever in the new earth and the new heavens that the book of Revelation so majestically portrays.

But not to worry; God has promised and will give us a brand new “heavenly body.” One that far surpasses the limitations of our earthly space suit. One immune to pain, sorrow, suffering, sin, disease and most of all, death itself. (See Revelation 21:4). One that can “leap tall buildings with a single bound and is faster than a speeding bullet!” Okay, a little facetious here; but isn’t that the underlying idea of Superman? Christ is the only “Super Man” who ever lived, and he will give us a heavenly body like his, to enable us to do extraordinary things, above and beyond our wildest expectations. I, for one, want to fly! And I’m not talking about jumbo jets.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I can’t think of anything more super than to worship, undefiled, my Lord and my God with the host of Heaven … forever. And to serve Him when, where, and how he wants me to during the Millennium and for all eternity. All the while resting like never before from all the hard work, terrible trials and tragedies, and ever-present grief that seems to grab us, even during the “good-times” on this earth.

Great is our God, and greatly to be praised!!

TO SPARE BELIEVERS FROM THE GREAT TRIBULATION

We touched on this in the first blog article (What is the Rapture): The second reason (why) for the Rapture relates to God’s merciful rescue of believers, so we won’t have to experience that “Great and terrible Day of the Lord.” There are dozens of Biblical references to the Day of the Lord, which primarily includes and defines the tribulation period. For example, the prophet Zephaniah describes this horrific time as follows: “For I have decided to gather the kingdoms of the earth and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy” (Zephaniah 3:8).

If you want to see first-hand just how horrendous (but nevertheless necessary and just) God’s judgments will be, then read about the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls in the book of Revelation. Compared to the Great Tribulation, Pharaoh and Egypt never had it so good.

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Time/space does not permit reference to several Biblical passages that clearly demonstrate a pre-Tribulation rapture of the true Church, to spare those who have placed their personal trust and hope in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, I will cite only one passage, which, not coincidentally, is also found in I Thessalonians, our main text from last week. In fact, this verse is a continuation of the Chapter 4 monumental disclosure of the catching away of believers.

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

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

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

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(The Time Is Short)

But thanks be to the love, grace, and mercy of God, he has chosen to spare the bride of Christ (believers) from this dreadful apocalypse, so shockingly devastating that approximately ½ of the world’s population will perish.

Things to Ponder

  • What are some things that we won’t need in Heaven? Electricians and all things electrical come to mind. Why? The Bible tells us that the glory of God will illuminate everything, literally. In fact, we won’t even need the sun or moon. (Revelation 21:23)
  • Can you think of other, secondary reasons WHY the Rapture will occur? Examples found directly in Scripture or through logical reasoning
  • Would you rather be taken in the Rapture or remain behind on the earth? Before you say, “That’s a silly (even stupid) question,” keep in mind that even after some of God’s Tribulation judgments, many people on earth will still refuse to “repent” (which means to change their minds about the whole thing, and realize that the only escape is to call on the name of the Lord for salvation). There are those who just don’t want to give up what they consider too valuable on this earth … pleasure, power, pride, profit, prestige, and popularity (See Revelation 9:20-21)

UNESCO / “Theatre of the Absurd” Against Israel

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More Sanctions On Israel

Earlier this week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); labeling it as, “A Theatre of the Absurd.”

As did Israel’s delegate to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, but using only the word, “absurd.” Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called the most recent UNESCO resolution against Israel, “total madness.”

Benjamin Netanyahu went on to say: “The forces of radical Islam are destroying mosques, churches, and antiquities, with Israel being the only country in the region that protects such places and allows freedom of worship for all religions. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee should be condemned, not Israel.”

The Israeli Prime Minister’s reference to the World Heritage Committee (WHC) was intentional because this was the SECOND resolution endorsed by UNESCO in less than two weeks. With the first resolution passed on October 13th (ratified on October 18th) by the entire body of UNESCO composed of 52 nations. Whereas, the WHC consists of only 21 countries.

Oh, but there’s more! It was the third such resolution passed this year, the first taking place in April.

A resolution is a resolution is a resolution. But when all three say and do virtually the same thing, it becomes the height of redundancy, the pinnacle of repetition … the “theatre of the absurd.”

All three resolutions were fabricated through a pathetic perversion of historical facts; from the Islamic religion that came on the scene 2,500 years after Judaism, and 600 years after Christianity. Furthermore, the sheer recurrence has made these resolutions absurdly childish, much like a child on a long trip (or even a short one) saying over and over, “Are we there yet?”

However, the sinister motive is crystal clear: Tell a big lie often enough, and many will believe it. And in the case of UNESCO as a supposed stately and reputable component of the United Nations, pass enough resolutions and maybe the whole world will think the lies about Israel are true.

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UNESCO’s First Resolution … What Was It?

I wrote about the first ruling in the Eye of Prophecy article, An Islamic United Nations? Posted 5-7-16. Here is an excerpt from that post:

In light of yet another anti-Israel resolution by the United Nations, this week’s Eye of Prophecy article could have been entitled, Peace or a Palestinian State … Which Will It Be? Or: More Palestinian Lies. Or: The Legacy of Temple Mount. Or: The Myth of Al-Aqsa Mosque. But it can’t because those are titles of articles already written.

Maybe each Saturday’s article should be posted late in the day instead of first thing in the morning. But that wouldn’t work either. Although Eye of Prophecy articles are published weekly and many of them are in the category of Current Events, they cannot keep up with the almost daily barrage of media reports on the Middle East in general and Israel in particular.

Just hours after I posted The Myth of Al-Aqsa Mosque article on April 16th, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution “officially” (for the UN, not for Israel or anyone who knows the true history of Temple Mount) classifying Temple Mount by its Arabic name, Al-Haram Al Sharif; which in English is translated to Noble Sanctuary. But disregard the English translation. Even though English is recognized as the main international language, only the Arabic name is to be used.

Among non-Muslim nations voting in favor of this contemptible resolution, France was the most conspicuous with (dis)honorable recognition for Sweden and Spain.

What will these Western nations do when Muslims change the identity of revered religious, national, cultural, or political sites in European countries, exclusively to Islamic names, with demands that only the Muslim designations be recognized? And if city or national governments do not comply, then they, too, are guilty of Islamophobia or religious and cultural intolerance or being PI (politically incorrect).

Stop shaking your head! It could come to that, just like Sharia Law could be implemented in some jurisdictions.

I wonder what the Muslim name for the Statue of Liberty will be. Perhaps, Mohammed’s Torch of Freedom?

*Note: Later in this week’s article, we’ll see the irony of France’s vote in favor of this April resolution, in the context of UNESCO’s origin, headquarters, and “The Theatre of the Absurd.”

Let’s return to additional excerpts from the article, An Islamic United Nations?

This latest resolution to denigrate and discredit Israel by renaming Temple Mount and insisting that all nations use the Arabic term for Temple Mount is yet another pitiful attempt to deny any association whatsoever of the Jewish people to their most holy site in their most holy city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, the resolution was on the very day of Passover, which has been an integral part of the Jewish tradition in Israel for nearly 3,500 years. With Jerusalem and the Temple (Temple Mount) established 3,000 years ago by King David and King Solomon.

Yet UNESCO is doing nothing more than the United Nations, as a whole, has done for nearly 70 years: Castigate Israel fanatically and frequently. Whereas most of the anti-Israel sanctions are initiated by Islamic countries, other nations often vote in favor of these reprehensible resolutions which number far more than those against truly rogue and dangerous nations such as Iran and North Korea.

Will this resolution have any real impact on the world at large? Absolutely it will. The idea is really quite simple: If national leaders and government officials begin to use the label of Al-Haram Al Sharif in reference to Temple Mount, they will soon (if they haven’t already) consider Temple Mount as belonging—historically, religiously, and culturally—to Islam and to Arabs.

The Second Such Resolution

As suspected, this resolution was initiated by and for the Palestinians in Israel. Once again, in direct contradiction of historical facts as found in the Bible and also secular history, UNESCO passed its resolution entitled “Occupied Palestine” identifying all of Judaism’s holiest sites as exclusively Islamic, while accusing Israel as the source of violence in the region. Moreover the resolution was passed on October 13th the day after Yom Kippur; then ratified on October 18th, during the week-long celebration of Sukkot.

Wouldn’t surprise me at all that UNESCO originally planned to pass this bill on Yom Kippur itself, just to rub it in against Israel. Could be that too many of the nation’s representatives who would obviously vote in favor may have overslept that day!

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(Jewish Sukkot Celebration at the Western Wall)

The semantics and intent of this (second) resolution generically regurgitated the one passed in April. Which was to call for international recognition that Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock must be referred to exclusively as, “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al-Sharif.” Only Arabic/Muslim names are to be used for this site (Temple Mount) and other sites in Hebron and Bethlehem because they are, as alleged in the resolution, “a Muslim holy site(s) of worship and an integral part of a world cultural heritage site.”

Integral part of a world cultural heritage site? What in the world could that mean in the context that Temple Mount and the other holy Jewish sites in the Jewish nation of Israel have been around thousands of years longer than any Muslim holy site? Or that Israel has been recognized as a sovereign state in the world’s family of nations since 1947, and through a United Nations resolution at that. Not to mention (but I will anyway) that Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third holiest site in Islam and this mosque is not even the actual site identified as, “the farthest mosque” in Islamic tradition. (Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Myth of Al-Aqsa Mosque, posted 4-16-16).

Naturally, the resolution targets Israel and all things Jewish; by default it also eliminates any reference and credibility to the sites holy to Christians.

Some of the pernicious and provocative points listed in this resolution are as follows:

  • Condemning Israel for restricting freedom of worship on the Temple Mount. The resolution doesn’t use the term Temple Mount. God forbid that anyone would call it by its name, Temple Mount, even to replace that historical name with another! In fact, the only mention of anything Jewish was to eliminate the, “new Jewish prayer platform south of the Mughrabi Ascent in Al-Buraq Plaza, ‘Western Wall Plaza.’” You read that right: even the Western Wall (Kotel in Hebrew) must now bear an Arabic name! The facts are absolutely irrefutable. It is the Jordanians in principle, as they have been given jurisdiction over Temple Mount, and the Palestinians in practice who have verbally and physically abused non-Muslims; and otherwise have tried to prevent them from so much as whispering a prayer on Temple Mount. Anyone with minimum knowledge about what goes on at Temple Mount knows the Palestinians are the aggressors. There are eye-witness accounts and actual film footage to show who does what to whom.
  • Nations that voted in favor of this repulsive resolution agreed with another deceptive point. Which is: Israelis “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.” (See first point for the absurdity of this statement). Incidentally, isn’t it much easier to say, “Temple Mount,” than “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif?” I would have voted against the resolution for that reason alone!
  • Same thing with changing Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron to Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi. Actually this otherwise low-key name change (in comparison to the other blatantly false points of the resolution) is equally absurd … theatrically so. Why? The Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and Jacob’s wife, Rachel were OBVIOUSLY Jews, whose lives and history are recorded where…? Of course you know. The book of Genesis in the Bible. Written by Moses some 2,000 years before the Johnny-come-lately religion of Islam made its debut, then the error-filled and subsequently often-changed and “corrected” Koran came along.
  • In a similar mendacious twisting of facts, the resolution claims that the source of all the violence comes from, “the constant aggressions by the Israeli settlers and other extremist groups against Palestinian residents.” This denies and defies the obvious evidence of the callous “lone-wolf” attacks by Palestinians that number in the hundreds since this intifada began a little over one year ago; with dozens of Israelis murdered and dozens more injured. It is so patently brazen as to even ignore the fact that the actual extremist groups are Hamas in the Gaza and other terrorist cells under the purview of Fatah in the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank. All of whom constantly suppress, oppress, arrest, imprison, torture, and kill each other over power struggles and ideological differences.
  • There are other reasons, but this in-fighting among the Palestinians is the main factor why a Palestinian State is simply not feasible. Civil War would follow.

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(Even if Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agree on one Palestinian State, they would insist on a corridor of land connecting the two areas. This would cut Israel in half)

Nations Involved in the Vote on October 13, 2016

I’m doing my best to reduce the reader’s confusion over the number of and number for the resolutions. Actually, I’m having a bit of a problem with the numbers myself! Because the latest resolution of October 26th is referred to by journalists, op-ed writers, and the media in general as the Second Resolution, the first having taken place on October 13th. To clarify, we need to remember that the first resolution took place earlier this year in April. Which means the next resolution was not the first, it was the second. With the second one being the third.

I guess that wasn’t so hard after all!

Seriously, and as expected, the second resolution that we just covered (October 13th and 18th) was drafted and submitted by countries that are entirely or partially Muslim. They are:

Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan.

In addition to these seven sponsor nations of the resolution, seventeen other UNESCO nations voted approval. In alphabetical order:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, China, Dominican Republic, Iran, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

A total of 26 countries abstained from the vote, which can be interpreted as silently supporting the resolution without overtly doing so. Or, in quiet opposition to the resolution. Either one depending on your point of view. The nations that did not vote were:

Albania, Argentina, Cameroon, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and Nevis, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, and Ukraine.

Two countries were completely absent during the vote: Serbia and Turkmenistan.

Now for the drum roll announcing the nations that supported Israel by voting against this repugnant resolution. Let’s make it a really big drum roll, despite the sad fact that there were only six such nations. But six is better than five, and so on. They are:

Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and (hurrah) the United States.

Israeli and International Reaction to This Second Resolution

In addition to the Israeli Prime Minister’s strong reaction to the latest (third) resolution of 10-26-16, cited earlier in today’s article, read with me his response to the second resolution passed on 10-13-16 (ratified on 10-18-16) in which he also cited, “the theatre of the absurd:”

“The theater of the absurd continues with UNESCO, and today the organization has made its most bizarre decision by saying the people of Israel have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.”

Although all three resolutions are attempting to dispossess the Jews and their heritage from Israel itself, the language of the second resolution is stronger (than the one in April). It stipulates directly and indirectly that the two Temples (Temple Mount) and other Jewish holy sites either never existed as Jewish or existed at all. That they are Muslim holy sites, exclusively. The resolution in April was geared more to identification of these sites by use of Arabic names only.

Benjamin went on to say:

“Obviously they have never read the Bible, but I would advise UNESCO to visit the Arch of Titus in Rome, where they can see what the Romans brought to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Temple Mount two thousand years ago. One can see engraved on the arch the seven-branched menorah, which is the symbol of the Jewish people as well as the symbol of the Jewish State today.”

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(Arch of Titus in Rome)

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(Another view of Arch of Titus … Can you see the Menorah carried by victorious Roman soldiers in the lower right portion of the photograph?)

Just a brief pause to comment on Netanyahu’s reference to the Bible, which is ultimately the very heart of the matter. As some Bible scholars and teachers have written, including me in several Eye of Prophecy articles: The real Arab agenda and Muslim (Palestinian) animosity toward the Jews is an ancient one, as found in Scripture. From the very onset of the Islamic religion (all religions … with as I’ve often said … the Christian faith is not a religion, but a relationship with a Person, Messiah Jesus) the crucial question to answer: who is the true and living God? Is it Allah—the moon-god selected by Mohammed from one of several Arabic gods at the time? Or is the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac (the promised child instead of Ishmael), and Jacob the one and only God? In this article, time/space permits only one distinction, but it is a monumentally significant one: Only the God of the Bible has made hundreds of prophecies that have come to pass; and more that will surely be fulfilled … and soon.

The Bible is the most historical book ever written because it contains God’s interaction with all of mankind (Jews and Gentiles alike) through the ages. Scripture contains an astounding amount of facts and an astonishing number of people, places, dates, events, genealogies. As well as a vast volume of spiritual truth of the Old Covenant of the Mosaic Law and the New Covenant of salvation through faith in God’s grace—gift of His Son, Messiah Jesus to die for our sins. Then the eternal destiny of every man and woman who has ever lived … based on their relationship or lack thereof with God and His Son.

Actually, the Bible consists of 66 books written over a period of some 1,500 years by 40 authors, all of whom are “on the same page.” How could that be possible? Easy answer: God inspired each author, either by directly speaking to him (such as the prophets); or the spoken words of Jesus and hundreds of other people in Scripture; or eyewitness accounts of events; or through inspiration of the Holy Spirit to write exactly what the Lord wanted to be written, with regard to Biblical truths and precepts.

Speaking of the Roman General Titus, who led the legions that finally conquered Israel and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the prophet Daniel predicted that event about 600 years before it happened (see Daniel Chapter 9). I’ve also written much about that spectacular prophecy, as it involves the Roman Emperor, Nero; who is and will be the Antichrist beast of the book of Revelation, when he returns from the Abyss. See any number of Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist. Better yet, read the book, Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved?

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(Depicts Roman Legions Destruction of 2nd Temple)

Benjamin Netanyahu could also have cited more secular history that indisputably documents the existence of a Jewish Temple (on Temple Mount), not the least of which was Josephus’ account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans.

Here is a another quote from Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to the October 13th UNESCO resolution.

“Surely UNESCO will say that Emperor Titus was a part of Zionist propaganda. To say that Israel has no connections to the Temple Mount and Western Wall is like saying China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. With this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it once had. However, I believe the historical truth will prevail.”

Amen to that! The historical and Biblical truth will prevail powerfully. These truths will triumph when Messiah Jesus returns to set all things right in this hypocritical politically correct, upside down, inside out, good is evil and evil is good, morally relative, tolerance obsessed, pluralistically mad, and fanatically inclusive world in which we live. That is: tolerant and pluralistic and inclusive of everyone except Christians and Jews.

Then, one more quote from Prime Minister Netanyahu on October 18th, following the final UNESCO executive approval of the October 13th resolution; which, as a reminder, is still pertaining to the second resolution, not the third one passed the following week. Here he unloads with a satirical analogy, one that in my opinion fits the preposterous UNESCO resolution:

“What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?”

Here is a quote from Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who told Prime Minister Netanyahu in a personal meeting between the two leaders: “To say that the Jewish people have no connection to Jerusalem is like saying the sun creates darkness.”

He also expressed regret that Italy abstained from the vote rather than voting against the resolution, with the not-so-valid reason that it was understood before the actual vote that no European country would vote in favor of the resolution. Instead, EU nations who were members of UNESCO would abstain.

My opinion: The nations that abstained didn’t want to be accused by other member nations of Islamophobia had they voted against the resolution.

Two countries that voted in favor of this revolting resolution later expressed regret, and said they would abstain from similar votes in the future. They were Mexico and Brazil. Unfortunately they were correct. Undoubtedly, there will be “similar votes in the future.”

The Third Resolution—That Began Today’s Article

However, the second resolution (the first of the most recent ones) wasn’t enough, even though it came through the United Nations entire administrative body of UNESCO. The World Heritage Committee within the organization of UNESCO decided to reinforce the October 13th & 18th passage by rubbing the proverbial salt into Israel’s wound … to pound more nails into the coffin that they so arrogantly think will bury Israel.

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There was as much reaction from high ranking Israelis and Jews the world over, as well as from some leaders of prominent nations, as there has ever been to a United Nations sponsored sanction against Israel. As already indicated, this had much to do with the abjectly “absurd” allegations of UNESCO’s decision. These assertions were truly over the top.

All of things and people, even UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova issued a statement strongly denouncing the resolutions, calling the Temple Mount’s Western Wall, “the holiest site in Judaism.” She also promised to combat anti-Semitism. We’ll see?

One such reaction from Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat echoed both the serious and justifiably sarcastic imagery comparisons voiced by Benjamin Netanyahu. Said Mayor Barkat:

“I was outraged to hear of UNESCO’s vote today which denies thousands of years of Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Would UNESCO vote to deny the Christian connection to the Vatican? Or the Muslim connection to Mecca?”

*Note: I don’t support the idea that the true Biblical Christianity has a connection to the Vatican, but that’s beside Mayor Barkat’s point of comparison.

He goes on to say:

“The UNESCO vote claims there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall. In fact, it is the UNESCO vote that has no connection to reality.”

UNESCO as a whole and this sub-division entity called the World Heritage Committee were apparently oblivious to world reaction, presumptuously thinking they would further influence world opinion against Israel. But it’s also evident that the Palestinians were more than a little concerned how global response might affect the subsequent vote of the WHC.

One main reason for this concern was the part of the prior resolution that also included the Western Wall bearing no connection to Israel or Judaism. This was the first time that the Western Wall had been included with all of the other Jewish holy sites in Israel. That crossed a huge red line with Israelis, with Jews world-wide, and with some leaders from non-Muslim nations.

I’ve been to Jerusalem and the Western Wall, also to Temple Mount. I can guarantee you that there were no Muslims at the Kotel when I was there; because all men (Jew and Gentile) including tourists must wear a kippah or other acceptable head-cover while at the Wall. No Muslim in his right (or wrong) mind would do such a thing. Also, it’s highly unlikely for any Muslim to have been at the Western Wall since June, 1967 when Israel recaptured all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Gaza, and most of all Temple Mount and the Western Wall from the Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians, and Palestinians. Only to relinquish Temple Mount jurisdiction back to Jordan, West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians, and later the Sinai back to Egypt in capitulation to pressure from many other nations.

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(All men wear a Skullcap, Orthodox Jewish hat, or Tallit–prayer shawl at the Western Wall … Even President Obama who was undoubtedly making a token appearance!)

Well, UNESCO, I’ve got news for you. Go ahead and try to enforce your resolutions. But make sure your enforcers wear a kippah while approaching the Western Wall, if they even make it that far!

“Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls”

That was the title of this third resolution passed on October 26th. Much of the language was the same as the previous resolution ratified on October 18th, but even harsher in that it contained not one reference to Jewish or Christian affiliations with Israel’s holy sites.

However, something interesting happened on the way to the World Heritage Committee forum.

This sub-division body of 21 nations (nearly all of them different from the 52 countries that currently comprise UNESCO itself) didn’t do what the Palestinians told them to do. The Palestinian Authority wanted this newest resolution to pass by consent of all 21 nations. Evidently, most WHC decisions are unanimous from the beginning, without the need to vote. If the entire WHC didn’t agree up front to comply with what was tantamount to a rigged election vote, then Jordanians and Palestinians who drafted the resolution would alter it to be even more anti-Israel than the previous resolution passed by UNESCO itself (the main body).

On occasion WHC apparently votes by secret ballot, rather than an open assembly session. The Palestinian Authority (which has observer status at the UN) and the Muslim nations belonging to WHC were certain there would be a consensus; thus, no need for individual votes from each of the 21 countries.

Wrong!

Although the resolution passed (technically) with the harsher measures, the vote tally was much less than unanimous. Nations in favor of the resolution: 10. Nations opposed: 2. Countries that abstained: 8. One country, Jamaica, was absent (didn’t participate). The two nations that voted against the resolution were, Tanzania and Croatia.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu saw the glass as half full. He considered the abstaining nations as those not supporting this follow-up resolution, one that was totally unnecessary. One, however, that the Muslim nations and Palestinians believed would bolster world opinion against Israel. It backfired on them. Reason: Because there was no consensus, UNESCO’s Secretary-General said the WHC resolution won’t be implemented. I don’t fully understand that or how it would have been “implemented,” but that’s neither here nor there. Fact is: On this rare occasion a United Nations organization (WHC) didn’t even exceed 50% agreement on an anti-Israel resolution!

The WHC membership is composed of the following nations:

Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

UNESCO & the Theatre of the Absurd

Whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew there was a tangible connection between UNESCO and the “Theatre of the Absurd” is unknown. He probably does know. Either way, his characterization of UNESCO’s absurd play on the world stage is right on. Let’s see why.

From one of the UNESCO websites (http://en.unesco.org/) the following excerpt is quoted:

“In 1945 UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.

Three power points follow; I will quote just one: “Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.”

Then from the last paragraph of this website: “UNESCO is known as the ‘intellectual” agency of the United Nations. At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, people must rely on the power of intelligence to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a new humanism….”

Much could be said regarding UNESCO’s ultimate goal of creating a “new humanism” (one that has no room for the God of the Bible or for the “the people of the book”, both Jews and Christians). For purpose of today’s article, only the following will be said:

Though a glaring unintellectual grasp of even the basics of Israel’s history (the Jews were in Israel long before the Arabs … the Jews ARE Israel), UNESCO isn’t even close to accomplishing the, “protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity.”

Instead they have made a mockery of their own stated objectives by protecting the site of Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and other Jewish Holy Sites in Israel exclusively for the Palestinians and Muslims … at the total expense of the Jews and in the face of the obvious cultural and historical (both Biblical and secular) evidence. This is the height of hypocrisy. It is not diversity; it is divisiveness. It is not moral; it is amoral. It is not intelligent; it is stupid.

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(UNESCO’S Main Assembly Hall)

Question: Where is UNESCO headquartered?

Answer: Paris, France.

Theatre of the Absurd

First, the definition of Absurd: “Ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous … meaningless … lacking order or value” (Webster’s Dictionary).

From Wikipedia on the Theatre of the Absurd: “(French: theatre de l’absurde) is a post-World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s… Their work focused largely on the idea of existentialism and expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down, in fact alerting their audiences to pursue the opposite. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.”

My observation: Fits UNESCO to a tee. They and their incessant anti-Israeli resolutions serve no purpose, have no meaning, and are irrational and illogical. Thus, they should be SILENT.

Three of the most notable “absurdist” playwrights were born in France: Jean Genet, Jean Tardieu, and Boris Vian. Many others moved to France during the heyday of the “theatre of the absurd.”

Paris was considered the home of this bizarre literary and stage experience.

Such a coincidence, don’t you think?

I’m certainly not berating or blaming France for this ironic connection between UNESCO and the Theatre of the Absurd. However, France’s (more recent) record regarding their treatment of French Jews (mostly at the hands of Muslims living in France) has been dismal. Which is one reason why more Jews are making Aliyah to Israel from France than any other European country in recent years.

Things to Ponder

There is absolutely no absurdity found in the Bible, other than found in some of the people and nations—their apathetic actions or defiant disregard for God and his magnificent plan for the human race and destiny for his special possession, Israel. On the contrary, the Word of God is replete with life’s value, meaning, purpose, and everlasting promises for those who have believed and received God’s gracious gift of His Son, Messiah Jesus, for redemption.

King David knew this and trusted the Lord God implicitly, when David said:

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Jesus himself promised: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:9-10, NASB).

There are several events in Scripture, where it’s quite evident God has a sense of humor. After all, he created us in his image … with a remarkable array of characteristics, including humor. Who doesn’t like to laugh?!

So, let’s close with some Jewish humor as found in the Levitt Letter (Zola Levitt Ministries), October, 2016 edition. As follows in italics:

The rabbi was an avid golfer and played at every opportunity. One Yom Kippur, the rabbi thought to himself, “What’s it going to hurt if I go out during the break and play a few rounds? Nobody will be the wiser, and I’ll be back in time for services.”

Sure enough at the conclusion of the morning service, the rabbi snuck out of the synagogue and headed straight for the golf course.

Looking down on the scene, Moses complained to God, “Look how terrible—a Jew on Yom Kippur—and a rabbi at that!”

God wryly replied, “Watch, I’m going to teach him a lesson.”

Out on the course, the rabbi stepped up to the first tee. When he hit the ball, it careened off a tree, struck a rock, skipped across a pond, and landed in the hole for a hole in one! Seeing this, Moses protested: “God, this is how you’re teaching him a lesson? He got a hole in one!”

“Sure,” agreed God. “But who’s he going to tell?”

To be sure, God has taught his chosen people a lesson down through the centuries. One that required serious discipline for some 2,500 years. But that’s over. He is restoring his people to the Promised Land in great numbers. He is fulfilling his original promise to Abraham.

“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 on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).

This blessing began through Isaac, the child promised to Abraham. But ultimately through Isaac’s descendant, Messiah (Jesus). The CHOSEN ONE. (See Isaiah 9:6-7).

Blessing in the fullest sense of the word. Summed up in the Hebrew word: Shalom … Peace.

Not just absence of war. Also wholeness, security, serenity, fullness of joy… Go ahead and fill in some more blessings.

And ultimately, spiritual salvation and physical restoration of all Israel. With untold blessings to the Gentile nations during the glorious reign of Messiah Jesus on earth.

UNESCO, the United Nations, indeed all peoples of the earth would do well to heed the promises but also the warnings issued by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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

One day (soon), there will be Arabs at the Western Wall. From the Kotel and from Temple Mount, they will be welcomed by Jews who have, themselves, recognized Yeshua as THE MESSIAH. And Jesus, himself, will embrace both Jew and Gentile for choosing Him as their Savior and Lord.

Only Almighty God and his majestic Son, Messiah Jesus, can make the impossible, possible!

Sukkot … The Forever Festival!

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We Finally Made It!

It took five Eye of Prophecy articles instead of the intended two, but here we are at the seventh and final one: the Festival of Shelters—known in Hebrew as Sukkot. And just in time, because today’s article falls on the 6th day of this delightful celebration, which began this past Monday.

It’s no coincidence that this God-ordained observance is number seven on the list. Seven, the Divine number of finality, wholeness, and consummation of the Lord’s purpose and plan for Israel and for the entire human race.

If you haven’t already, you might want to consider reading one or more (perhaps all four!) of the preceding Eye of Prophecy articles that discuss—from a Biblical, historical, and prophetic viewpoint, each of the first six Festivals—why they are observed and when. All seven feasts were instituted as commemorative examples, representative shadows, and prophetic types of the real object and purpose for each. With the first four completed and perfected by Messiah Jesus upon his first arrival, and the last three to be fulfilled upon his glorious return to Jerusalem to establish the incomparable Kingdom of God on earth.

In review the Festivals are: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and today’s subject, Festival of Shelters or Booths.

I’m sure the Lord loves to see the Jews celebrate Purim and Hanukkah, both of which memorialize deliverance of the Jews from those who sought to destroy them (the wicked Persian official Haman in the 5th century B.C. and the vile Greek/Syrian despot Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the 2nd century B.C). Yet, each of these holidays was established by the Jews long after the time of Moses; not directly by God himself.

Certainly, God miraculously delivered the Jews through Queen Esther and the Jewish leader Mordecai from genocide at the hands of the Persian Empire. Through the Maccabees, the Lord providentially rescued the Jews from a great slaughter initiated by Antiochus IV, and spared the second Temple from further desecration. But unlike the Seven Festivals of the Torah, there is no direct prophetic preview correlation between those two historic Jewish milestones and Messiah.

There is, however, a pattern precursor connection between ancient Persia and modern-day Iran, as Iran is one of the prominent nations that will participate in the massive but ill-fated Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, with the contemptible intent to utterly destroy the Jews and the State of Israel (Ezekiel 38 & 39). Moreover, Antiochus IV was a megalomaniac model of the even more evil and tyrannical ruler (Antichrist Nero) who will seek to crush Israel during the last days of the end times that are nearly upon us (Daniel 11).

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(Coin of Antiochus IV Epiphanes … He Even Looked Like Nero)

The Festival of Shelters

As done with the first six Festivals, let’s examine the Biblical record of God’s instructions to Moses and the people. Sukkot is the only one of the individual seven festivals (although Passover and Day of Atonement are explained earlier in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus, respectively, before all seven are listed in Leviticus Chapter 23) for which the Lord reminds his people to keep. Aside from that, there is a collective reminder to keep all seven.

The initial directives began as follows:

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. Begin celebrating the Festival of Shelters on the fifteenth day of the appointed month (seventh month)—five days after the Day of Atonement. This festival to the Lord will last for seven days. On the first day of the festival you must proclaim an official day for holy assembly, when you do no ordinary work. For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord. The eighth day is another holy day on which you present your special gifts to the Lord. This will be a solemn occasion, and no ordinary work may be done that day” (Leviticus 23:33-36).

That eighth Holy Day is an extra day (called Simchat Torah by the Jews … rejoicing in God’s Law, the Torah) of enthusiastic emphasis on the entire week of Shelters.

Verses 37 and 38 are parenthetically noted in Scripture. With the Lord’s command that all seven festivals must be kept throughout the year at the appointed times in addition to the regular weekly Sabbath days.

Next, is the Lord’s special reminder to keep this Festival … including additional instructions to the people.

“Remember that this seven-day festival to the Lord—the Festival of Shelters—begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed (seventh) month after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest. On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees—palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the Lord your God for seven days … This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month from generation to generation. For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:39-43).

The little shelter is called a sukkah in Hebrew, which means a makeshift hut. In English, we might also use the word shack. Sukkot is the plural … shelters.

Until the recent series of Eye of Prophecy articles on the Festivals, I had not written about them exclusively, with one exception … The Festival of Shelters (Tabernacles or Booths).

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(Festival of Booths … A Modern-Day Sukkah)

An entire Eye of Prophecy article was devoted to this one Festival; entitled, Festival of Tabernacles … Part I, published 10-18-14. Followed by a sequel mostly on that subject, Let’s Celebrate … Forever! Posted 10-25-14. *Note: There was a reason I chose not to entitle the sequel as Part II. I just can’t remember what it was!

Since it’s been almost two years to the day when Festival of Tabernacles was posted and readership of Eye of Prophecy posts has increased considerably in the last 1 ½ years or so with most visitors to the website reading more recent articles (logically), I’d like to quote in some length from that older article.

As follows, in italics:

Jews all over Israel and in many countries of the world construct their own version of a temporary sukkot booth or hut in their backyard or on balconies or in open fields. There, for a week, they eat (mostly evening) meals, relax, sing songs, and entertain family and friends; some go so far as to actually sleep in the makeshift shelter at night. Included in their ceremonies are times of prayers and waving a bouquet—a collection of mostly leafy branches from the etrog (citrus type tree), palm and willow branches, and myrtle (boughs of thicker branched trees).

In addition to the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—before and during the great trek through the wilderness—the Psalms and many other Old Testament books frequently refer to the miraculous delivery of the Hebrews from Egypt after the fact. And there are several review type references in the New Testament. Through all of these passages we can vividly see two distinct reasons why God wanted his people to keep this Festival for all time: To remember God’s faithful Protection of and Provisions for his people.

Through a warm-hearted invitation from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, children throughout Israel helped him furnish his own sukkah. The youngsters hung decorations, all the while singing holiday songs. Although the Israeli office of President is mostly ceremonial (the Prime Minister is the actual head of government), this presidential interaction with Israeli children and citizens was truly remarkable.

I suppose it would be equivalent to the US President inviting a sampling of children in America to decorate his Christmas tree; to truly remember that Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus Christ, the divine light that shines brilliantly in a dark world. Do you suppose our President would ever do such a thing!? Or for the President to summon a cross-section of America to wave sparklers and flags at an Independence Day festival in front of the White House, in remembrance of our deliverance from a tyrannical English king? Personally, I think it would be a great tradition for the next President to institute.

Listen to the words of President Rivlin: “Dear children, you are fulfilling an important task by decorating our sukkah. It’s important that everyone who comes to the president’s sukkah feels he is at home, a home which is a symbol. We have disagreements, but we are one nation and celebrate the holidays together.” Then he continued, “The sukkah symbolizes what we were before we became a nation. We are now celebrating to remember our exodus from Egypt; that we were slaves but now we have a country of our own, and that we must not treat others like we were treated in Egypt.”

Then later in that article (3rd paragraph below), the two primary purposes for Sukkot are reiterated (did you catch them in one of the above paragraphs?), which will be placed in bold font for purpose of today’s article.

Because the adults who were delivered from Egypt disobeyed God and refused out of doubt, fear, and lack of trust to enter Canaan, only those less than twenty years began the 40-year passage. When they finally arrived at the threshold of Canaan, here is what Moses reminded them, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

The Bible’s inherent definition and meaning of fear of the Lord is not running scared or being frightened. Rather it means reverent respect and deep awe that leads to worship. It also implies complete trust in the Lord … that he is who he says he is and does what he says he will do.

Included in the Lord’s commands would be, of course, to celebrate the Festival of Shelters—which above all the other festivals depicted the awesome protection and provision God lavished on his people, even though they didn’t deserve it and certainly didn’t earn it. The Feast of Tabernacles would remind them of God’s faithfulness to protect and provide; that he could and should be trusted at all times, for all things, no matter what.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The all-inclusive lesson(s) to be learned by the ancient Israelites regarding the unnecessary generation they spent in the wilderness and how this is part and parcel of the need to always remember what happened, and this remembrance should be summoned at least once a year by observing the Feast of Tabernacles, is powerfully expressed in Psalms Chapter 78.

“Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. They even spoke against God himself, saying, ‘God can’t give us food in the wilderness. Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.’ When the Lord heard them, he was furious. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel” (Psalms 78: 17-21).

And what exactly was it that made God angry, the opposite of which is the very thing that pleases God? The very next verse in this chapter answers that question and provides a succinct summary of just how the Lord places all of the things we do or don’t do in a box (so to speak). And this box has a label with but two words: Trust Me.

The Lord’s anger rose against Israel because, “…they did not believe God or trust him to care for them” (Psalms 78:22).

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Sukkot Will Be Mandatory in the Kingdom of God

The final Old Testament reference to the Festival of Shelters tells us in commanding and convincing fashion that it will be celebrated forever in the final Kingdom of God on earth … the only Festival that the Lord requires to be observed by all nations.

“In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain. If the people of Egypt refuse to attend the festival, the Lord will punish them with the same plague that he sends on the other nations who refuse to go. Egypt and the other nations will all be punished if they don’t go to celebrate the Festival of Shelters” (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Later, we’ll learn more as to why Sukkot is the only Festival mandated by the Lord to be celebrated perpetually. Although some of the other six festivals were to be kept as “a permanent law … observed from generation to generation” (see Leviticus 23:21 as an example), this commandment from the Lord applied only while the Mosaic Covenant was still in effect. When the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant, keeping of the Jewish Festivals became optional. But as stressed in last week’s article and several others, the very essence of not just Passover and the Day of Atonement, but all festivals, was the sacrificial offering of innocent animals. However, the entire Levitical Sacrificial System ended with the destruction of the 2nd Temple.

The Majestic Kingdom of God

Let’s examine one of many passages in the Old Testament that dramatically describes both the glorious Kingdom of God and extraordinary events leading to and taking place in the Millennium (1000 year reign of Messiah). Nearly all of these passages speak of Israel in fulfillment of her destiny to be the very center of the Lord’s government on earth. It will be a Divine Monarchy, with Messiah Jesus as King of all kings, and Lord of all lords. We’ll also see why a (truly) divine monarchy is, by far, the best form of government.

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance. Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home. Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands” (Isaiah 60:1-5).

Continuing in Isaiah Chapter 60 including a phenomenal prophetic description of airplanes some 2,600 years before they were invented, we read:

“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel, like doves to their nests? They are ships from the ends of the earth, from lands that trust in me … They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away, carrying their silver and gold. They will honor the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has filled you with splendor. Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns, and their kings will serve you … The kings of the world will be led as captives in a victory procession. For the nations that refuse to serve you will be destroyed” (Isaiah 60:8-12).

Later in this chapter:

“Though you were once despised and hated, with no one traveling through you, I will make you beautiful forever, a joy to all generations. Powerful kings and mighty nations will satisfy your every need, as though you were a child nursing at the breast of a queen. You will know at last that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel … I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler. Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there” (Verses 15-18).

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Here is an excerpt from the Eye of Prophecy article, Kingdom of God (posted 1-17-15) to illustrate that God and His Messiah’s Divine Monarchy surpasses all forms of human government:

Paul proceeds to tell us more about God’s splendid plan for the human race. In fact he calls it a mystery, because at the time that God gave it to him even the new Christians didn’t completely understand the eternal implications of what Christ would achieve at his first coming and would continue at his second coming. Listen to these extraordinary words:

“God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

That plan is none other than: THE KINGDOM OF GOD (on earth). Revealed by Messiah Jesus himself as recorded in the Gospels; and consolidated into the everlasting tenets of the Christian faith by the authors of the epistles and Revelation.

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.

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Speaking of kingdoms and kings, listen to this powerful prophecy of Daniel who refers to the four mighty empires of the past (Daniel’s future) and the coalition of nations currently being assembled in our generation in preparation for the Day of the Lord:

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

A Person Is the Final Purpose for Celebrating the Festival of Booths

More than any other festival, the Festival of Shelters was a joyful reminder of God’s protection, provisions, and also presence (Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle). Israel’s triumphant entrance into the Promised Land of Israel in Moses time; the resolute return of God’s people and remarkable restoration of the Promised Land in our time; and the regal reign of Messiah from this same Promised Land in the near future has as much or more meaning through Sukkot than any other festival.

Although all the festivals were types and shadows of the Pre-Incarnate and then Incarnate Messiah, none more so that Sukkot. For unless the Lord God had been with them through the ages (even during the Lord’s severe discipline of his people) and had given the remnant among them shelter from their enemies and from the storms of life, they would never have made it to the Promised Land. Not the first time with Moses and Joshua, nor the second time with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Ezra, and Nehemiah; nor the third time led by the likes of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Theodore Herzl, and David Ben-Gurion—each of whom burned with passion to restore the Hebrew language, revive Zionism, and reinstate the sovereign State of Israel (respectively).

They and others longing for Israel’s final renewal believed their Scriptures when God said to his chosen people: “…For though I have destroyed you in my anger, I will now have mercy on you through my grace” (Isaiah 60:10).

Tabernacles was the last of the seven festivals for a reason. To be observed after the FINAL harvest of the year in the land promised to their patriarchal fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to remember their arduous journey through the wilderness while sheltered by the Lord, literally and figuratively … physically and spiritually.

Sukkot has been described by the Jews as “The Season of Our Joy” (Zeman Simchatenu). It is the most joyful time of celebration in Israel. During this time more than any other, Jews would search the heavens for signs of Messiah’s coming. Alas, if they had only believed their Scriptures, especially Daniel’s astonishing prophecy that Messiah would come before the second Temple would be destroyed. Then there’s the Star of Bethlehem that only Gentile (perhaps one or two were Jews) wise men from the east believed would lead them to the Christ-child … the Savior (then) and King (soon to come) of Israel and the whole world.

The final harvest commemorated by the Festival of Shelters will be accomplished by Messiah Yeshua’s glorious return. Jesus referred to this final harvest of souls redeemed by his New Covenant substitutionary sacrifice as the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man (Matthew 13:39). And the conclusive ingathering of all his chosen ones (Jew and Gentile alike) who turn to him during the great Tribulation (Matthew 24:31).

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Thus, Sukkot will be celebrated by both Jew and Gentile throughout eternity. Here again is the ultimate reason that all nations (perhaps delegations from those countries) will to travel to Jerusalem after the Kingdom of God is established:

“…to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters” (Zechariah 14:16).

The following is an excerpt from the aforementioned Eye of Prophecy article, Let’s Celebrate … Forever!

What makes this celebration so different from all other holidays, both Jewish and Gentile, different even from the contemporary observance of Tabernacles? The Answer: Messiah Jesus, himself, will be there! It’s all about Jesus! As well it should be. For he is our Way, our Truth, and our Life. (John 14:6). Once again, the purpose for keeping the Feast of Shelters by traveling directly to Jerusalem during the Millennium is to, Worship the King.

The Festival of Shelters will be celebrated not just in remembrance of the past, but also in reverence of the present and in anticipation of the ongoing glorious future of God’s people. And what does that future presence hold? Just like the small shelters (sukkah) constructed for the Feast of Shelters symbolize God’s sovereign protection and provisions, the Cloud by Day, Pillar of Fire by night, the Tabernacle, and later the Temple contained the very divine presence and glory of God … the Shekinah glory.

This same glory—the very essence of God—visited the human race through … a Child born to us and a Son given to us (Isaiah 9:6) prophesied by Isaiah; fulfilled when the angel confidently announced to Joseph: “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

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

Upon his glorious reappearance, Jesus of Nazareth will once again be among us on earth and then in the New Jerusalem forever and ever. IMMANUEL! God with us!

Yes, one day soon will see the once-for-all permanent fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy, God with us, take place when Christ returns to Israel. The nations will travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and to worship the King who first came as a child to Bethlehem to tabernacle (live) among us. But his sojourn was all too brief … only thirty-three years. But, oh what a visit! When he ascended to heaven after he arose from the grave, he left God’s mighty plan of salvation on the earth, available to all who call upon the name of the Lord.

Yes, Messiah will return for all time as Immanuel. This is why so many will gladly make this wonderful pilgrimage to Jerusalem: to show their eternal gratitude that God is with us.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’” (Revelation 21:3-4).

“And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city” (Revelation 21:26).

Things to Ponder

Hallelujah! Messiah is soon to come!

Jewish rabbis, observant Jews, and even the secular among them long for and are convinced of that Biblical fact … Messiah will arrive any day. And so are Messianic Jews and we Gentile Christians brimming with anticipation over his arrival. In fact, the New Testament is where you’ll find the concept of Messiah’s imminent return … meaning any day after he ascended back to heaven.

Yet, based on Scripture, as explained in a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles, particularly Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here (posted 6-25-16), their climatic last day’s repentance will be that of only one thing: Severe sorrow that they could not and would not see Yeshua as Messiah. Not just when he came to Israel 2,000 years ago, but deep regret of rebuffing him to the very moment when he delivers them from destruction by their enemies.

Yet, their intense bereavement will turn into great rejoicing when they realize that (most of all) Messiah Yeshua will bring final deliverance from themselves … from their transgressions.

Says the Messiah:

“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 … All Israel will mourn, each clan by itself, and with the husbands separate from their wives…” (Zechariah 12:10-12).

Their remorse will be so soul-searchingly strong, that wives and husbands won’t be able to bear grieving together. They’ll have to grieve alone. This anguish will not just come from deep distress over their past denial that Jesus is Messiah, but also fear over what Messiah might do to them.

However, those who embrace Yeshua as Messiah—to realize that he returned because of his and his Father’s great love for them—will be saved from their sins and from their enemies.

“On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).

“And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, ‘The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins’” (Romans 11:26, quoting the New Covenant announcement in Jeremiah 31:31-34).

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

Through the 3rd Person of the Triune God—the Holy Spirit poured out on them—they will honor and praise God the Father and His magnificent Son Messiah Jesus.

From that time on God’s people, indeed, all peoples, will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

They will come to: Worship the King!

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Yom Kippur / With Or Without Atonement?

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Such a World We Live In

Do you sense that something big is about to happen? I mean really enormous … earth-shaking and apocalyptic in scope. At the very least are you uneasy over the upheaval taking place in the Middle East? What with the Arab Spring revolutions having turned into Arab Winters in Muslim nations. Including an entire country, Syria, suffering devastating destruction and on the brink of complete collapse—politically, economically, and socially.

What is your level of insecurity over menacing events conjectured by some geopolitical and socioeconomic experts? Such as: the dysfunctional disintegration of the European Union that could cause a chain reaction melt-down of the entire European economy; collapse of the financial system in the United States linked to or independent of Europe’s demise; Iran launching a first nuclear strike to make good on its threat to wipe Israel from the face of the earth and the United States along with it; North Korea doing the same thing; Russia’s ominous intrusion into the Middle East, potentially taking on the United States should we do anything to oppose Russia’s real agenda for being there; an all-out conventional attack by a powerful Islamic coalition of nations against Israel; and other harbingers of man-made catastrophes and natural disasters.

Today’s article is not about these fateful global signs, as many Eye of Prophecy posts have thematically focused on these and other things like: Israel’s rebirth as a nation; return of millions of Jews to their Promised Land; the Rapture; the Gog/Magog campaign against Israel; Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition that will also march against Israel; Messiah’s glorious return at the end of the seven-year Great Tribulation; and much more.

Rather, they are noted to once again convey this fact: The vast majority of Biblical prophecies and their fulfillment are centered on and around two crucial components of God’s magnificent plan for the human race. (1) The State of Israel. (2) The Messiah.

Specifically, that Israel and the Jews were chosen by God to be a conduit of the redemptive light to the Gentile nations. And Messiah Jesus would be salvation’s light to, “…the Jew first and also the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

Without Israel, there would be no Messiah. Without Messiah there would be no Israel. Without either, there will be no final Day of Atonement.

Though the Jews rejected their Messiah, one day soon they will embrace him individually and nationally.

“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, quoting Psalm 118:22).

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There are many indicators of the end of this age, which have taken place or are currently unfolding in breath-taking stages in the 20th and 21st centuries; none more so than Scripture’s repeated emphasis that the entire world will be focused on Israel in the last days of the end times. That many nations will seek in some fashion to eliminate the State of Israel or at the very least “solve the Jewish problem.” Then, the Bible is conclusively clear what God will do to these nations and people who seek to harm Israel.

In fact, the Lord himself will orchestrate this prophetic alignment of peoples against Israel that will lead to his final judgment of the nations.

For example: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

It is distressingly evident than many nations are already intoxicated. We only need to look at their unreasonable unruly behavior over anything Jewish, their arbitrary attitude toward and callous contempt of Israel, and their irrational hatred of the Jews. You would think that the gruesome genocidal attempt of Hitler and his Third Reich to kill all European Jews would have made the entire world stand up and lastingly take notice of the senseless wicked barbarity that anti-Semitism produces. Yet, this absurdly unjustified animosity toward Jews in particular and Israel in general is every bit as rampant in today’s world as was found in Germany during World War II (and before).

Our own United States Executive Staff and many European Union leaders are displaying the demeanor of someone staggering under the influence of too many anti-Israel cocktails (one is too many). Never mind that hundreds of thousands have been killed in Syria and millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other Arab countries have fled their homes … mostly to Turkey, Jordan, and now in great numbers to Europe and the United States. Disregard the imminent possibility (some say probability) that Russia and/or Iran will establish a permanent presence in Syria, right next door to Israel.

What we hear from Western leaders much more often is the “unacceptable” building of a few Jewish housing units in Judea/Samaria (so-called West Bank). Even more ridiculous is the uninformed misguided notion that the creation of a Palestinian State (that even many Arabs don’t want) will solve all of the real or perceived problems not only in Israel but the entire Middle East.

Israel’s Ardent Anticipation for Messiah and Final Redemption

It’s been over 2,000 years since the Jews have so passionately looked for (collectively) the coming of Messiah. In the first century the Jews longed for Messiah’s arrival to rescue them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. Sadly, despite the unmistakable evidence found in their own Scriptures, they did not see that Messiah must first liberate them from their sins, individually and nationally. (Among other passages, see Isaiah Chapter 53).

Nor could they accept a humble carpenter from Nazareth—though he was born in Bethlehem as prophesied by Micah—as their long-awaited Messiah. Thus, they chose to ignore the mighty miracles and unparalleled divine teaching of Jesus. Even his resurrection from the dead was not enough to convince and change the minds and hearts of many, especially the religious leaders.

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Permit me to quote from an Eye of Prophecy article written not that long ago, but one that has already received the fifth most reader visits of all 169 weekly articles to date. That article tracks with today’s focus on the Jewish Observance of Yom Kippur … Day of Atonement.

From: Where is Messiah … Is He Already Here? Posted 6-25-16. (Excerpts in italics)

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).

The major premise of this article is compressed in the verse just quoted: Isaiah is referring to the initial appearance of Messiah for individual salvation; but also his return to accomplish Israel’s national redemption.

Contrasting the Old Covenant of the Law to the New Covenant of Grace, we read:

“…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).

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 of 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).

There is one common dream, one prevailing hope, one unified passion: Messiah will ultimately redeem Israel and Jews the world over. And the time is near … so very near.

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur in Hebrew), the Sixth Jewish Festival

Yom Kippur took place this past Wednesday and Thursday (sundown to sundown, October 12th and 13th). Though it may not be the most often observed of the Jewish festivals, it certainly is the High Holy Day most solemnly reflected on by those Jews who keep it.

If you haven’t you may want/need to read the previous three Eye of Prophecy articles, concerning the first five Jewish Festivals. As indicated, all of the Seven Festivals are patterns and types that point to the Messiah. In astounding fashion, Jesus fulfilled the first four and will complete the last three upon his return … Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

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Let’s read some of God’s instructions to Moses and the people concerning the Day of Atonement from the chapter that lists all seven festivals.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves, and present special gifts to the Lord. Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with the Lord your God’” (Leviticus 23:26-28).

Of paramount importance is that offerings (sacrificial slaying of innocent animals) must be made for the purpose of making the people right with the Lord your God. It’s abundantly evident that these offerings were a source of on-going redemption for God’s people UNTIL the New Covenant would be initiated by God with the Jews that, unlike the Old Covenant, would also extend (universally, not just in Israel) to the Gentiles. Although the New Covenant wouldn’t be specifically mentioned for several generations—through Isaiah and Jeremiah directly and many other prophets indirectly—the Lord told Moses that the building of the tabernacle, all the furniture and instruments therein, and the entire Levitical System of Atonement were to be patterned precisely after God’s (heavenly) model.

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you” (Exodus 25:8-9).

If there had been no higher Prototype (purpose), there would have been no reason for the Lord to even mention this to Moses.

During the rebuilding of the second Temple under the supervision of the new Governor, Zerubbabel, the encouragement of the post-exile prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and the spiritual leadership of the High Priest, Jeshua, the Lord said:

“Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch … and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:8-9).

Generations earlier, both Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied about “the Branch,” who was none other than the coming Messiah. In fact, after introducing the New Covenant that God would make with his people (to replace the Old Covenant that the people couldn’t and wouldn’t keep) in Jeremiah Chapter 31, Jeremiah provided more details on The Branch:

“When those days come, at that time, I will cause to spring up for David a Branch of Righteousness. He will do what is just and right in the land. When those days come, Y’hudah will be saved, Yerushalayim will live if safety, and the name given to her will be Adonai Tzidkenu [Adonai our Righteousness] (Jeremiah 33:15-16, Complete Jewish Bible).

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The Branch and the Temple

The coming Messiah would do something unheard of … in fact, prohibited by God until Messiah arrived: The Branch would be both King and High Priest of Israel and the whole world!

“…This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Here is the man called the Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of the Lord. Yes, he will build the Temple of the Lord. 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 his two roles” (Zechariah 6:12-13).

Notice that Zechariah doesn’t say rebuild the Temple, which could also apply prophetically to the Third Temple (literally) as prophesied by Ezekiel. Since the second Temple was already under construction and considering the fact that the preliminary and primary purpose of the Branch (Messiah) was to first save his people from their sins, the Temple mentioned by Zechariah is the spiritual Temple of the Lord, composed of all believers in Messiah (Jesus) both Jew and Gentile. This is the heavenly model, the real thing that would be the new and permanent promise and reality that members (believers) of this heavenly Temple can directly enter the Holy of Holies and meet with God personally.

This application to a spiritual Temple is reinforced by the words, “he will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of the Lord.” Which also indicates that the Temple (body of Christ or the true Church) isn’t confined to one place, but will branch out; later confirmed by Messiah Jesus’s words to his disciples (all believers) shortly before he ascended back to heaven:

“…And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Written to all believers in Yeshua, the Apostle Peter said:

“You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (I Peter 2:4-5).

Then again from the book of Hebrews that provides a marvelous consummate contrast between the Old and New Covenants, not the least of which is the completion and replacement of the Levitical Sacrificial System by the once for all supreme sacrifice of God’s anointed High Priest (chosen after the higher order of the eternal King/Priest Melchizedek) … His very son, Messiah Jesus. (See Hebrews 7 and Psalm 110:4).

“Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands” (Hebrews 8:1-2).

Then commenting on the many Levitical priests of the Old Covenant, the author of Hebrews states:

“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” (Hebrews 8:5-6).

More Details on Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement

The very core of the Day of Atonement constituted the Lord’s annual forgiveness of the sins of Israel as a whole … as a nation. With emphasis placed on those sins that the people had not confessed throughout the year. Kippur comes from the Hebrew word, kapara, which means atonement. Yom means day in Hebrew.

Most Jews, many Christians, and even some Gentile unbelievers know or have heard about the Scapegoat sacrifice that took place on the Day of Atonement. Or at least they know what a “scapegoat” is. The term scapegoat is commonly used even in modern vernacular, enough so that the word made it to Webster’s dictionary.

Scapegoat: “1: A goat upon whose head are symbolically placed the sins of the people after which he is sent into the wilderness in the biblical ceremony of Yom Kippur. 2: a person or thing bearing the blame for others.”

A detailed description of the Day of Atonement can be found in Leviticus Chapter 16, with the much shorter summary reminder in Leviticus Chapter 23. I would encourage you to read the entire 16th chapter.

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In summary, there was one ram and two goats sacrificed during this annual Holy Day. It was the one day of the year that (only) the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. The ram sacrificed would purify the High Priest (forgiveness of sins) himself. The blood from one of the two goats, along with the ram’s sacrifice, would purify the Inner Sanctuary (Most Holy Place) and would also forgive/purify the people of Israel.

The second goat was not killed; instead it was released into the wilderness to symbolize complete removal of the people’s sin, guilt, and shame. It was a culmination of the total cleansing of Israel’s sins for that year. The scapegoat was a sign that Israel’s rebellion through their sins had been transferred out of their lives … banished as it were from the congregation of the people. The slain goat was one of forgiveness. The scapegoat was one of removal (carrying away).

This was heartbreakingly, but beautifully completed and perfected by Messiah’s sacrifice that purchased the once for all forgiveness of our sins through his death. Then removal of the guilt and penalty for sin through his astounding resurrection.

And to this day: Our Redeemer Lives! In heaven, not in the wilderness!

However, as we know, Yom Kippur had to be repeated under the Mosaic Covenant, for purification of the people, individually and nationally, “…making them right with the Lord each year…” (Leviticus 16:34).

As tragic as it was to the Jews when their temple was destroyed yet a second time and they had to compensate with extra-Biblical Jewish traditions to somehow keep and explain the purpose for Yom Kippur (and other Jewish Festivals) minus the God-required sacrificial offerings, all this was foreseen by and part of God’s majestic plan to give his people a much better and longer lasting (as in permanent) New Covenant.

It was a covenant that would enduringly perfect and forever fulfill the temporary purpose of the Old Covenant, both the Law of Moses and the sacrificial system that commenced with Aaron.

I’ve quoted it before, but it bears any amount of repetition necessary to get the attention of Judaism, of all religions of the world … anyone who questions whether their sins can be forgiven and removed forever by the Lord God. Did I say forgiven and removed? How remiss of me to forget to say that the Lord will also FORGET our sins forever.

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord. I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

God forget? Yes, that’s exactly what he said he would do! Can you and I forget the wrong things that we’ve done and have been done to us? Forgive, yes … we should. But forget…?

Forgetting is equivalent to an eternal pardon of sin and guilt. Under the Old Covenant, God forgave and removed but did not forget. Thus, Atonement was an ongoing process. Not so under the New Covenant. Forgive, remove, and above all … Forget! As in, ONCE FOR ALL TIME.

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Paul quotes the New Covenant promise in Jeremiah, preceded by: “…Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say…” (Romans 11:25-26). Then Paul quotes from Jeremiah 31.

Yom Kippur in Today’s Judaism

Regarding observance of Yom Kippur, there is a vast difference between keeping this God-ordained Holy Day since the second Temple was destroyed, many Jews killed with the survivors exiled by the Romans from Israel, and the Levitical sacrificial system brought to a crushing end; compared to the original instructions given by the Lord outlining the meticulous requirements on the Day of Atonement.

Since then, Judaism has been in denial that it can continue to function without the compulsory sacrificial system mandated by God, himself. Please see the Eye of Prophecy trilogy of articles entitled: Where is the Temple, Part I, II, & III? (Posted 11-29, 12-6, and 12-13-14). Here is an excerpt from the basic premise of those articles that encapsulates the essence of the problem.

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

The period of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Ten Days of Awe or Days of Repentance. Many Israelis, even the secular among them, visit the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem and the Western Wall as much or more during this time of the year. Many thousands attend the Selichot (penitential) prayer service presided over by Israel’s Chief Rabbis.

For sake of time/space, we’ll condense the present day keeping and emphasis of Yom Kippur to the following three power points:

Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal (in the “Book of Life”). Yet this renewal can only be questionably hoped for, as Jews don’t know for sure if their standing in the Book of Life will be initiated, then renewed each year during the Day of Atonement.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said to his staff after a press conference that lamented the recent death of two more Israelis at the hand of a Palestinian lone-wolf assassin:

“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.” This saying is prevalent among Jews during Yom Kippur.

Messiah and Yom Kippur … They Go Together!

There is a Book of Life, as mentioned in Revelation Chapter 20. But it’s all too evident throughout the New Testament (Covenant) writings that only those who have been redeemed on their day of atonement (whatever day they accept Messiah Jesus as personal Savior) will be found in this book.

Of our High Priest and King Christ Jesus, the Bible states:

“He is … the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made as a Kingdom of priests for our God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).

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Indeed, repentance is a key ingredient in Yom Kippur, but in and of itself it is not enough. It is good to reflect, repent, and renew. But none of these will result in atonement without the shedding of innocent blood to make the people “right with God” which was the very heart of Yom Kippur. Not enough, that is, until the final once for all supreme sacrifice of God’s own Son to complete and perfect; and to, therefore, replace the ongoing animal sacrifices that were intended only to be a shadow of the Ultimate Sacrifice to come.

“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be made whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him (Messiah) the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

Then, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins” (Verse 11, italics for emphasis).

ALL their sins. Not just the ones from the past year.

As the devout Jewish Pharisee Saul (later called Paul)—who had an attitude-altering encounter with the risen Messiah Jesus—said about his brothers in the flesh (Jews):

“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).

Paul’s passion is also mine. That is why I write so much about my love for Israel and her people, both Israelis and Jews the world over. Yet it must be tough love, to help shake them out of their denial over the loss of the sacrificial offerings—thinking they can still be made right with God through good works and keeping the Mosaic Law. The Lord himself said they couldn’t and wouldn’t keep it; therefore, he gave them the New Covenant of Grace, which is God’s gift of the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son for their (our) sins.

That is how we are made right with God. Thus, the only repentance God requires of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (indeed, of the whole world) is to change our mind about the life-giving, life-changing, destiny-altering final sacrifice of Messiah Jesus for the human race. To turn from unbelief, and believe that Jesus is Messiah … to open our hearts to him.

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

We can reflect all we want to on whatever we think needs reflected on; we can express sorrow for (repent) every sin we can think of; we can renew our thoughts, promises, and charitable acts hoping that the Lord will somehow accept that our good deeds will outweigh the bad and grant us status in the “Book of Life” for the time being. But none of that will assure us of God’s ultimate pardon for our sins and the penalty of those sins—eternal separation from the Lord.

Only one thing will seal the deal. Only One Person can guarantee our eternal salvation, our permanent record in the Book of Life. And it’s not just a matter of wishing. It is a matter of fact … of knowing. Listen to the assurance given to all who believe and receive Messiah Jesus as Savior:

“But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31, NASB).

Again John the Jewish disciple writes: “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (I John 5:11-13, italics for emphasis).

Not thinking, or wishing, or wondering, or even hoping for the best.

We can KNOW our sins are forgiven, removed, and forgotten by the Lord; that we have absolute assurance of eternal life in Christ Jesus. God himself has testified to this, as we just read. Moreover, this testimony was confirmed beyond any doubt, whatsoever, when Messiah Jesus arose from the dead.

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Summary

Yom Kippur was originally designed by the Lord to be an example, a forerunner, and a temporary model of what would be the final Day of Atonement. This ultimate Day of Atonement, exclusively through faith in God’s gracious gift of his son for redemption, began when Messiah Jesus came to earth the first time.

The prophet Daniel gave us a spectacular prophecy concerning the triumphant culmination of so great a salvation when he says about Israel:

“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place” (Daniel 9:24).

He goes on to announce the coming of Messiah that would take place BEFORE the destruction of the second Temple (which hadn’t yet been rebuilt in Daniel’s time!), the killing of Messiah, and the destruction of the Temple by the armies of the ruler who would come … the Roman Emperor, Nero. And this same ruler would make a seven-year treaty with Israel, which meant (as explained in great detail in my book, Out of the Abyss and several Eye of Prophecy articles) that Nero must return from the Abyss (Revelation 17:8).

Well, I’ve done it again. Plain and simple … not enough time and space to do justice to the seventh and final Jewish Festival, Sukkot—The Feast of Tabernacles. No other choice but to make it the topic of next week’s Eye of Prophecy article.

Things to Ponder

We who love Israel will continue to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalms 122:6). Praying for peace is the same as praying that all Israel will someday soon be saved (Romans 10:1).

For until and unless Israel comes to a saving knowledge of Messiah Jesus and is made right with God by believing and accepting him as God’s only remedy for sin, individually and as a nation, there will be no peace with God. Unless there is Shalom with God, there cannot be real peace between peoples.

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When all of Israel is saved by changing their minds and hearts about Messiah (who he is and what he has done and will do for them), then the Jews will have accomplished the very purpose for God choosing them as his special possession. Which is to be a source of light to the Gentiles: through the Promised Messiah from the tribe of Judah and the genealogy of King David—descended from Isaac, the promised son of Abraham.

Says the Lord about his Messiah: “…You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

While in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus 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).

For a brief, shining moment, Christ Jesus while on this earth brought back the Shekinah glory of God to the Temple. And he will do so again upon his imminent arrival to this war-torn, wicked, and weary world.

Yes, Israel, your Messiah has already come. And he will return soon in great glory and power (Matthew 24:30).

If only you could see that. If only you could somehow realize that the horrible things that men have done to you were not Christian (Christ ones) at all—who misused and abused and distorted the true Christian faith. Also, there are some Christians who have misapplied the Scriptures; who have erred grievously in thinking that the true Church (body of Messiah) has replaced Israel. We have not. Rather, we are a product of and a partner in the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny. We have seen the light that God has shone through the Jewish Messiah.

To believe in Yeshua as your Messiah is the most Jewish thing you could ever do or be.

We, who have truly been born again by the precious blood of Messiah Jesus, love you and long for your Day of Atonement.

But most of all, Hashem, the Lord your God loves you. So much so that he sent his beloved Son, to die for you. (Isaiah 53 & John 3).

Blow the Trumpets … Messiah Will Come!

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Hurray … It’s a Holiday!

Most of us love the holidays!

Each one of them provides a purpose for celebration, a cause to pause and ponder. Whether it be two days of thanksgiving in November for anything that generates gratitude, including the food with which we stuff ourselves; or the delightful days of Christmas to exchange gifts in honor of the greatest gift ever given by God to the world—Messiah Jesus. Or Easter Sunday to rejoice in the risen Messiah; to remember what he said he would do and then did for us:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

“Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’” (John 11:25-26).

Put your name in place of Martha. Do you believe Jesus? Do you believe in him?

Despite the sometimes hectic preparations, we relish the reasons for the seasons and can’t wait for the next holiday to interrupt the daily routine of our lives and enhance the quality of life.

Though holidays mean different things to different people, they all have one common value: time off from work! Even those of us who are officially retired from the everyday working world still fondly remember the week days when we didn’t have to work. Or for those required to work on a holiday, they get equivalent days off. There is one holiday fittingly designated just for that … Labor Day.

I would dare say that time off from work is the main, if not only, reason many look forward to the holidays. That is not necessarily meant to be a negative observation; I, too, valued my “extra” days off from work. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary defines holiday as: “a day on which one is exempt from work; a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event; a period of relaxation.”

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Nonetheless, holiday is in the dictionary as a concession to the secularization of the original word, holy. More specifically, Holy Day(s). Which is the English translation from the Hebrew word (kadash—verb; kadosh-adjective; kodesh-noun, all beginning with the kah sound) that goes back thousands of years to when God gave the Torah—Old Testament, beginning with the five books written by Moses–to the Jews. In fact, holy day has been changed in our pronunciation from a long “o” vowel (as in wholly) to a short “o” sound (as in holly …deck the halls with…) and the “y” substituted with an “i” to make one word out of two.

The meaning of Holy, then and especially now that Christ Jesus has set apart the New Covenant from the Old Covenant and changed time itself (BC to AD) is to: “set apart to the service of God (the priesthood); commanding absolute adoration and reverence (the Trinity); evoking or meriting veneration or awe (the cross)” (Webster’s Dictionary, parenthesis part of the text itself).

[*Note: Webster’s definition of holy tracks fairly close with the Biblical meaning. With one major distinction to be made. The “priesthood” is no longer the Jewish priestly system and certainly not the Roman Catholic priesthood. When our High Priest, Messiah Jesus, sacrificed his blood and life once for all time, he gave all who believe and receive him the awesome privilege of approaching God directly. All believers in Christ are now priests. (See Hebrews 4:14-16).

Listen to this remarkable truth given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter to all believers:

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (I Peter 2:5).

And, “…You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (I Peter 2:9).]

Then Webster defines holy day as: “a day set aside for special religious observance.”

It’s just that our Holy Days such as Christmas and Resurrection Day have become holidays to so many. And there are many of the many that won’t even use those terms. So it’s Happy Holidays and Happy Easter.

For the one or two out there that harbor some degree of guilt over celebrating any Holiday, except Labor Day—especially the true Holy Day(s) like Christmas—just to get out of work, don’t be too hard on yourself! Did you know that God, himself, originally ordained the Jewish Sabbath and Festivals (which became the forerunner prototypes of holy days (holidays) to Gentile nations, with instructions that the Jews desist from their daily work in observance of these most Holy Days?

Yet the cessation from work was not an end unto itself; rather, it was a special day or days that were sanctified as holy—set apart to focus on the Lord and what he had miraculously done and would do for his people in the future. And, now for the whole world through Messiah Jesus.

All Jewish Festivals Portray and Point to Messiah (Jesus)

As demonstrated in the last two Eye of Prophecy articles, Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus) completion and perfection of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits Harvest Festivals was nothing short of amazing. He is the Passover Lamb slain on the cross for forgiveness of our sins and the once for all pardon from the penalty of those sins. He arose from the dead with the first (fruits) resurrected body to seal the New Covenant between God and mankind, which one day soon will mean a brand new resurrected body for all of us who believe in Christ and have received him as personal Savior. With the first three Festivals accomplished by Jesus in the same time frame (8 days … Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday) as these three feasts are commemorated. Then the fourth festival Shavuot (Pentecost) taking place 50 days later; with the Holy Spirit coming to earth to indwell New Covenant believers 50 days after Jesus ascended back to heaven.

There’s more to come! Upon his stunning return at the appointed time, Jesus will fulfill the final three Jewish Feasts ordained by God. Collectively, they are called the High Holy Days of the Fall Festivals. All will be accomplished during the great and glorious (terrible for unbelievers) Day of the Lord, precipitated by the catching up (Rapture) of believers to be spared from the catastrophic carnage of the Great Tribulation.

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Let’s take an up close and personal look at these three festivals, the first of which occurred this past Monday (Rosh Hashanah). The second (Yom Kippur) will take place this coming Wednesday October 12, and the third (Sukkot) beginning on October 17 lasting through the 23rd. Then, as was done in/with the first four festivals, to see the remarkable correlation of Messiah Jesus to these milestone monuments of Jewish heritage, as well as their connection to all Gentiles who have been grafted as wild branches into the roots of the olive tree of Israel.

“But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree … those branches (the Jews) were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe… And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree … I want you understand this mystery dear brothers … Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of the Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:17-26).

The New Year Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah in Hebrew)

Beginning with a belated, but hearty Shana Tova: “Happy New Year” … Jewish style!

And not just any new year. Last Monday the Jewish calendar turned to the year 5777. What a significant set of numbers! Five is the Scriptural number representing God’s grace. Three sevens is the divine (Trinity) perfection of the number seven, which also represents completion of God’s ultimate plan for the human race. Will this Jubilee year be THE YEAR? (See Eye of Prophecy article, Jubilee and Messiah … They Go Together! Posted 1-23-16)

Literally, Yom Teruah means the “the day of blowing the shofar.” The first month of the Jewish calendar was designed by God to begin as Nissan (March/April on the Gregorian calendar), and the Feast of Trumpets was to be held on the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei (September/October). Many Jewish rabbis believed that God created the world on the first of Tishrei; thus, that day subsequently became the civil new year in Judaism—Rosh Hashanah, or “the head of the year.”

“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘in the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord’” (Leviticus 23:23-25, NASB).

Other translations say, “…a memorial of blowing of trumpets” or “blasts of trumpets.” Whatever translation you prefer, the text is crystal clear that there are trumpet blast(s), plural … as in many. In ancient Israel there were 100 blasts of the shofar so that all the people could hear, and shouts of praise to the Lord on Rosh Hashanah.

Unlike the first four festivals and the final Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement that follows were not designated by the Lord to be a memorial for any past event or series of events as such. Also, there were trumpet blasts to signal every new month on the Jewish calendar.

Thus, Judaism incorporated Rosh Hashanah into the Feast of Trumpets, which gave them a more celebratory reason to sound the shofar with many blasts; even though the Lord clearly indicated that this was a special kind of Sabbath (High Sabbath) whether the 1st of Tishrei might fall on a regular Sabbath day or not.

Jewish Rabbis added their own interpretations as to the purpose for, significance of, and activities on Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). They are oral traditions handed down and then contained in written form in such texts as the Talmud. Even in the context of the Mosaic Covenant of the Law, the traditions remain speculative. Only when examined in the light of the New Covenant of Grace and the equally God-inspired New Testament, can the connection be fully comprehended. Because that correlation is linked to spectacular events that have yet to take place. In that regard, they are like all the other festivals: pointing to the first coming (first four festivals) and second coming (last three festivals) of Messiah Jesus.

Yet, it’s obvious that the Festival of Trumpets was a special occasion made holy (set apart) by God.

Why? What was its ultimate significance?

Why didn’t the Feast of Trumpets (and the Day of Atonement) symbolically memorialize a milestone in Israel’s national history? Why was there was no specific explanation given by God to Moses that would link either the Feast of Trumpets or the next festival, the Day of Atonement, to any past momentous event?

Answer: Both of these festivals were to be kept on the basis of unwavering faith in God that their ultimate significance would be revealed in due time. It actually began before Moses, with Abraham’s explicit trust in God’s perfect plan and will even though the Lord had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God graciously provided a ram in Isaac’s place. Not only was this the first and greatest object lesson of the coming Messiah to be offered for the sins of the world, but thereafter the blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar) was a signal of both warning and announcement of very special times and events.

Subsequently, through some of the prophets, God made it clear to Israel and Gentile nations that the sounding of trumpets would usher in the end times.

Such as: The passage depicted in the following photo:

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*Note: Any “alarm sounding” was always done with trumpets or shofar.

And, “That terrible day of the Lord is near. Swiftly it comes—a day of bitter tears, a day when even strong men will cry out … a day when the Lord’s anger is poured out … a day of darkness and gloom … a day of trumpet calls and battle cries…” (Zephaniah 1:14-16).

Also, “In that day the great trumpet will sound. Many who were dying in exile in Assyria and Egypt will return to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on his holy mountain” (Isaiah 27:13). Here, Assyria and Egypt are representative of all Gentile nations, particularly those who have harmed Israel.

When answering the question of his disciples concerning the end of the age, among many things Messiah Jesus said: “And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” (Matthew 24:31).

In the final revelation of Jesus Christ as recorded in the book of Revelation, seven of God’s judgments are preceded by the sounding of trumpets.

Some Jews and their rabbis think (hope) that Messiah will appear on Passover, Yom Kippur, or Sukkot. But most believe that he will arrive on Rosh Hashanah, to usher in a new year (age) of redemption and restoration. So, too, do many Messianic Jews and evangelical Gentiles endorse the idea that Jesus will return on the Feast of Trumpets or perhaps the Feast of Tabernacles, with the difference, of course—that this will be Messiah’s second coming.

If Jesus should return during one of these (or other) festivals, I, too, believe it will be on the Feast of Trumpets. However, it’s unlikely our Lord will appear precisely on any of these High Holy Days. If for no other reason than his statement that he will return when “least expected.”

For that matter, it would be extra special (for me) if the Rapture took place on my birthday, September 28th—which often arrives during the Fall Festivals of the Jewish calendar. (I’m sure many believers out there like the idea of Jesus returning on your birthday … why not!). On the other hand, my birthday came and went recently, and I don’t want to wait another year for the Lord to take me/us home!

In the final analysis, it really doesn’t matter what day or hour it is. What is supremely important is the very fact that he will return! And soon!

Messiah’s actual arrival on earth will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation to rescue Israel from the armies of the Antichrist and the world from annihilation. Seven years before that he will appear in the clouds to take home all Jew and Gentile believers (Rapture), which will initiate the awesome Day of the Lord. The sound of trumpets will be heard around the world when the Rapture occurs.

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This will be the climatic fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets!

*Note: When I say that Messiah Jesus most likely will not return on a High Holy Day (rather, when least expected, i.e. an ordinary day), I’m referring to the Rapture. Not to his physical return to earth when he steps foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). That could very well be on one of the Festival Days. Those left behind at the Rapture who care at all will know the approximate day or week as it will be seven years (give or take a few days or even weeks) after the Rapture that our Lord triumphantly and majestically appears on the earth to set all things right.

Listen to the splendid promise given by the Lord to Paul concerning the Rapture of and for all believers, Jew and Gentile alike:

“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” (I Thessalonians 4:15-17, italics for emphasis).

Then 3-4 years later Paul writes to the believers in Corinth:

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed” (I Corinthians 15:51-52, “it” italicized for emphasis).

That, my friend, is what the Feast of Trumpets is all about!

In A Moment … In the Blink of an Eye

I think it’s important enough to (once again) clarify the misinterpretation that most Christians have made concerning the Rapture.

The Misunderstanding: the entire sequence of events during the Rapture will take place in a nanosecond.

The Clarification: The descent of the Lord in the clouds, his shout, the voice of the archangel, the blasts of the trumpet (shofar), the resurrection of the dead in Christ, then finally those alive being supernaturally transfigured with new everlasting bodies will NOT take place in the “blink of an eye.”

To confirm this clarification, I will provide a few excerpts from the fifth article ever posted in Eye of Prophecy, which was also the final in a series of five articles on the Rapture (What, Why, When, Who, and How of the Rapture, published 7-26-13 through 8-24-13). I would encourage you to read one or more of those articles (which are fairly short). If you want to graduate from the class of All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about the Rapture, But Didn’t Know What to Ask, then read all five of these articles on the Rapture! Seriously, I’m convinced you’ll have a much better understanding of this glorious event if you do.

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First, however, an apology is in order. I’ve heard that writers should never make apologies for their work; hence, this is my first and last apology!

The Confession: this week’s article was intended to be the third in a trilogy of posts on the Seven Jewish Festivals and Messiah Jesus’s fulfillment of each one. With today’s post designed to cover the last three feasts, all of which will be perfected at Christ’s magnificent return to the earth. But there just isn’t enough time/space to examine all three. Thus, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Festival of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will come next week. Which makes this Trilogy of articles whatever “ology” four articles make!

Is that okay?

Good … I see heads nodding!

So let’s continue with some excerpts from How the Rapture, posted 8-24-13 (in italics): *Note, You might first want to scroll back a few paragraphs and read again the passage of I Corinthians 15:51-52, paying special attention to the one italicized word.

To Exactly What Does the Blink (Twinkling) of an Eye Refer? (Back to I Corinthians 15)

Here is where we students of the Bible (I’m including myself) overlooked or took for granted one little (impersonal) pronoun. Because we skimmed over this two-letter word, we missed or dismissed the important textual relationship of this pronoun to the antecedent that immediately precedes it. And shame on me in particular, as my major in college was English/Literature! I’m sure you just thought or said something to the effect, “What in the world is he talking about?” Very reasonable question; I’ll answer it, by first defining “antecedent.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines antecedent as: “One that goes before … a substantive word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun …a word or group of words replaced and referred to by a substitute…”

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

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

Second, the pronoun, “It“, which begins the very next verse, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye….” Can you make the connection? What specifically is “it” referencing or taking the place of in the text? You got it: It is referring to and the same thing as what Paul just said would occur which is, “…but we will all be transformed.”

Next, the Apostle Paul elaborates on “it” (meaning the actual transformation itself, which as you already know is the transfiguration of our earthly body to that of our brand new heavenly, resurrected body) by explaining how it (the transfiguration) will take place. What does he say? He says, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye” When will it happen? “…when the last trumpet is blown.” For added emphasis and understanding, what will happen in the blink of an eye? You’re right: “It.” And again, what does it refer to? Right again: It refers exclusively to the just mentioned clause, “we will all be transformed!”

In the New American Standard translation, we read, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet….” (I Corinthians 15: 51-52). Notice, that the pronoun (it) is not found in this translation. Why? Because the connection between the action of “changed” (transformed) and the how of the change (twinkling of an eye) is inseparable, irrefutable, and exclusive. Both passages contain essentially the same composition; with the New Living Translation and other translations (such as the Jewish Bible) accurately and emphatically reinforcing the translation from Greek to English, by use of a pronoun that substitutes for the mystery of the transformation itself.

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

…It’s fairly simple: Think about it for a couple of minutes (or longer). Does it make any sense that the entire sequence of events … could happen in “the blink of an eye?” …Or, how could we as believers possibly “process” and experience in real-time (not virtual time or reality) the entire progression –the Lord descending, the trumpet call of God, the dead rising first, then those alive being caught up in the air—in a tiny fraction of a second?

There is no evidence, whatsoever, in these two passages that the Lord will set aside time, or otherwise stop the clock. In fact, wouldn’t the Lord want us to absorb (take it all in) the majesty and wonder of the whole thing in real-time? If the sequence of I Thessalonians is over in the twinkling of an eye, then why would the Lord even bother to explain the amazing order or arrangement as described in Chapter 4?

Of course, the Lord could do all this in a split second, if he wanted to. But why would he inexplicably reduce such an astonishing and majestic event to a microsecond and, thereby, deprive us of the awesome splendor of his glory and the ensuing sensory, spiritual, mental, and emotional real-life, real-time experience? (If the Lord does temporarily change the hands of time, I actually hope that it might be in slow-motion!) Wouldn’t you agree: It makes much more sense that these events–from the moment Christ descends from heaven to the instant our bodies are transfigured and everything in between–would transpire in actual time, i.e. at least a few minutes? Yet, the prevailing consensus in the Church is that all these things are over in an instant…

The Shout Heard Around the World:

Most know about, “the shot heard around the world,” that started the American Revolutionary War. At the Rapture, it will be the “shout heard around the world.” The shout of Christ, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet call of God will shake the world like it’s never been shaken before. It will give a whole new meaning to “shock and awe.” And, the entire sequence of events involving Jesus descent from heaven, loud shout, voice of the archangel, trumpet call(s) of God that lead to the last blast of the trumpet, will take several minutes. This literal lapse of time needed for a literal series of visual and audio events to occur will NOT take place in a blink of the eye. Only the grand finale of it all will happen in the twinkling of an eye. Which is, as you know by now, the supernatural transformation of our earthly body.

*Note: In the article, How the Rapture, quoted today, I explained in detail how the Old Testament sounding of the shofar took several minutes, with four basic phases of blowing the Shofar to announce a momentous event. This will also happen during the Rapture, i.e. several blasts of the trumpet. Which is why Paul says the actual transformation of believer’s (bodies) will take place, “when the last trumpet is blown.” (Emphasis on “last”).

*At the end of this week’s article, please click on to the link that will take you to a short video of these shofar blasts.

Continuing with the excerpts:

In fact, the more I think about it, the more inclined I am to propose that those left behind may even witness our newly resurrected (the dead) and transformed (the living) bodies ascend to heaven. Why not? Isn’t that part of the whole sequence? We’ve mistakenly (meaning without any direct support or evidence from Scripture), assumed that the microsecond change of our bodies’ means that those bodies instantly vanish or disappear from sight. Since the blink of an eye phenomenon relates only to the actual transfiguration itself, why do we also equate that with a split second disappearance?

I Thessalonians 4 tells us that we will be “caught up” in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Why would caught up necessarily equate to an instant vanishing? Remember how Jesus ascended to heaven as described in Acts 1: 9-11? All who were with him saw him rising into heaven, until they could no longer see him. One of the two angels who showed up even said, “Why are you standing here staring into heaven?” There was no vanishing going on. Picture watching a hot-air balloon ascending. Why wouldn’t our meeting Jesus in the clouds be just like His ascension to heaven? Our transformed bodies will be like his … why not our rising to meet him be similar or identical?

*At this point in the article quoted, a summary is provided.

Thus, I believe that common sense, reinforced heavily by Biblical precedents and even more so by accurate examination of the Rapture passages (that we’ve done in this article) lead to a very convincing conclusion: The entire episode of the Rapture from start to finish will take several minutes. This will allow time for such things as: pulling cars over to the side of the road; awaking in the middle of the night from a deep sleep; turning off the T.V or loud music; stop the yelling at someone; hugging your un-believing spouse or friend good-bye; the short, but most intense praise and worship ever experienced by Christians on this earth; and, hopefully, a few minutes for some foxhole conversions all over the world.

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

This is the way the Lord intended it to be, and this is the way that the Bible passages on the Rapture tell us it will be. I believe the evidence—as summarized in this article—conclusively demonstrates that the blink of an eye relates only to the miraculous transfiguration of our mortal bodies. Whereas, the progression of events that culminate in this instantaneous change will take several minutes of actual time.

Things to Ponder

All Jewish festivals point to Messiah Jesus, as do hundreds of Old Testament prophecies.

As so succinctly summed up in the last book of Scripture, Jesus is the very essence of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).

If you look carefully, you can also find him in every American holiday. Please see the Eye of Prophecy article, Merry Christmas … What’s It All About, posted 12-20-14, which also connects the meaning of other holidays to Christ.

To quote from last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, Passover & Messiah Are Inseparable:

“All of the Seven Festivals were extraordinary events under the Old Covenant. But they were also shadows, patterns, and preview types of what was to come. When Jesus initiated, executed, and sealed the New Covenant with his sacrificial blood, the new replaced the old. The shadow became the real image. The type yielded to the Archetype. The pattern turned into the finished product.”

“All you inhabitants of the world and dwellers on earth, as soon as a standard is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and as soon as the trumpet (shofar) is blown, you will hear it” (Isaiah 18:3, NASB).

At the Rapture, I believe each of the four phases of the Shofar blasts will take place three times or more.

Passover & Messiah Are Inseparable!

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The Purpose of Passover

Almost all Eye of Prophecy articles begin with an introduction that fits the article’s theme, designed to capture the reader’s attention before getting to the topic at hand. Isn’t that what a writer is supposed to do? Due to time/space restraints, and assuming that I have your attention by commenting on your attention in the first place, let’s get right to it!

With, however, an encouragement to read last week’s article, if you haven’t, and next week’s post; because they are two parts of this trilogy that explores the extraordinary correlation between Messiah and the Seven Jewish Festivals.

Jewish celebration of Passover since the 2nd Temple was destroyed (70AD) is much more focused on deliverance from Egypt which was designed by God to be remembered primarily by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. With the true meaning and commemoration of the Feast of Passover relating specifically to God’s passing over (sparing) the Israelites during the tenth plague of Egypt. This Pass Over was made possible by the sacrifice of innocent lambs.

Yes, God passed over the Hebrews. This stunningly significant event in Israel’s history was God’s first disclosure to them as a nation that the shedding of innocent blood was necessary to spare them from God’s judgment of the wrong things they had done. Later, this universal precept would be graphically portrayed in the Levitical Sacrificial System, an integral part of the Mosaic Covenant. Yet that revelation was only a prelude to a much greater, longer-lasting (as in permanent) solution to the problem of sin that separates all people from God and leads to God’s wrath, so vividly exemplified by the Egyptian plagues, especially the last one.

The New Covenant established a much better arrangement between God and man. A Covenant based on God’s Grace (not keeping of the Law that no one could do in the first place) enabling both Jew and Gentile to enter this binding agreement by simple faith in the final substitutionary sacrifice of a sinless man … Messiah Jesus. It, too, was sealed in blood—the precious blood of God’s very Son.

Listen to the words of Jesus less than twenty-four hours before he allowed himself to be killed on a Roman cross so that all who believed in Him would not “die in their sins.”

Known as the Last Supper, Jesus broke the bread in pieces and said: “…This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me. After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).

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Some 3 ½ years before that, John the Baptist—Israel’s greatest prophet ever (according to Jesus)—pointed to Jesus and shouted: “…Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

After witnessing the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus, John the Baptist also attested: “I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God” (Verse 34).

Messiah Jesus the Passover Lamb

It is absolutely no coincidence that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on Passover eve. Though Jesus had (willingly) no control over the Jewish religious leaders arresting him or the Roman soldiers crucifying him, God, nevertheless, providentially orchestrated the sequence of events in order that Messiah Jesus would be the Lamb of God during the time of Israel’s Passover observance.

Later, the Apostle Paul (who kept the Jewish festivals when possible, but from a Messianic viewpoint) said:

“…Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Recall in last week’s article: The unblemished lambs or goats sacrificed by the Israelites were to be chosen, separated from the flock, and kept with each family for four days. Jesus came to Jerusalem seven days before he arose from the grave. Thus, he was in Jerusalem among the people for four days before he was killed as the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God!

Read with me the God-inspired words of a Jewish author to a primarily Jewish audience:

“Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:18-19).

The author’s explanation of the Levitical priesthood (sacrificial system) being “old and useless” was in the context of and contrast to the New Covenant. The author goes on to say:

“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. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant … But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (Hebrews 8:6-10, quoting also Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Then to summarize:

“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 this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

How awesome is that?! For me, great enough to shout aloud, “Amen!” I just did.

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“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins … People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25)

The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi in Hebrew)

Although this seven-day feast begins on Nissan 15—immediately following Passover Day—and is intricately linked to the observance of Passover, it is the second festival and is, thereby, separate from Passover in purpose, practice, and pattern of what would be perfected upon the substitutionary death of Messiah.

All seven Jewish festivals are listed in Leviticus Chapter 23, then again in other passages such as Numbers 28 & 29, and in more limited form in Deuteronomy Chapter 16. With Passover and Unleavened Bread first introduced in Exodus Chapter 12.

“The Lord’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the Lord continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast” (Leviticus 23:5-6).

In Exodus Chapter 12, we find the first mention of the precise purpose for the Unleavened Bread observance.

“Celebrate this Festival of Unleavened Bread, for it will remind you that I brought your forces out of the land of Egypt on this very day…” (Exodus 12:17).

Then again in Deuteronomy:

“…For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, as when you escaped from Egypt in such a hurry. Eat this bread—the bread of suffering—so that as long as you live you will remember the day you departed from Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:3).

The Passover itself is for Israel to remember that her people were spared from God’s judgment of the entire land of Egypt. It was a powerful preview of a more magnificent and meaningful deliverance through the ultimate Passover Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus—permanent pardon from the final penalty for our sins.

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Yeast throughout Scripture represents the infection of sin that leads to the fatal result of both physical and spiritual death (eternal separation from God). In Egypt the Israelites were slaves, not only to the Egyptians but also to their sins. Extraction of the yeast symbolized removal of the people from Egypt, and also spiritual removal of Egypt from the people (Egypt synonymous with yeast, therefore sin).

Thus, the unleavened bread represented their actual deliverance from physical bondage in Egypt, and also the greater problem of spiritual slavery to sin itself. It is an extension of the Passover grace of God to forgive sin and, thereby, spare us from God’s final judgment.

Messiah Jesus Delivers Us from Slavery to Sin (Typified by Yeast in Leavened Bread)

Not only does our Great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus, spare us from final judgment, he also delivers us from bondage to sin. However, not yet from the presence of sin (for believers in Christ are still in this earthly body subject to weakness and still doing wrong things). That will come later when our redemption culminates by the transfiguration of our earthly bodies to glorious resurrected “spiritual bodies.” It’s not that Christians are sinless, but by keeping in close fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we (should) sin less.

See Eye of Prophecy articles, Spiritual Bodies … A Contradiction of Terms? Part I & II, posted 9-26-15 and 10-3-15. Also, Age of Grace, I, II, & III, posted 1-24, 1-31, and 2-7-15.

There are several passages of Scripture that reveal this enigmatic, but, nevertheless, fathomable and fabulous truth of what essentially are three phases of all who have been “born-again” (John 3:3) and have become a “new creation with a new life” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Justification (Our Permanent Position in Christ): The very moment we accept Christ Jesus as personal Savior, we are justified (pardoned, declared not guilty) once for all in God’s sight. God looks at us through the image of his Son: just as if we had never sinned. Our position IN CHRIST is secure forever because Jesus took the punishment we deserved.

Sanctification: (Our Practice & Progress in Christ): Believers set apart by God while we live the remainder of our lives (from the moment of salvation’s rebirth) to be more like Christ. This is possible because God gives us the Holy Spirit to seal, indwell, and empower us to serve and live for our Risen Savior.

Glorification: (Our Final Place and Presence with Christ): Transformation of our body, soul, and spirit to be like Messiah Jesus, and live with him forever when he returns to take us to our heavenly home.

Among several other passages, here is one to sum up these three segments of a believer’s life experience beginning the day of our new birth in Christ.

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).

Then continuing: “Since we have been united with him in death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:5-11).

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Messiah has delivered those who believe in Him from the penalty, power, and one day (soon) from the very presence of sin in our lives (internally). That is the substance (pattern) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as fulfilled and completed by Christ Jesus … spiritual removal of the yeast (of sin) from our lives that infects us individually and collectively as the Body of Christ.

So let us remember to: “…lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB).

All of the Seven Festivals were extraordinary events under the Old Covenant. But they were also shadows, patterns, and preview types of what was to come. When Jesus initiated, executed, and sealed the New Covenant with his sacrificial blood, the new replaced the old. The shadow became the real image. The type yielded to the Archetype. The pattern turned into the finished product.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth … He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).

Now let’s take a look at the next Jewish Festival and why it, too, is a precursor preview of a greater coming attraction … Messiah Jesus!

Third Festival: First Fruits Harvest (Yom Habikkurim in Hebrew)

The first three festivals begin in the Jewish month of Nissan (March/April on our calendar), with the Festival of First Fruits celebrated during the early part of Unleavened Bread, but for a different reason with a unique purpose.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf’” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

The Spring Harvest (normally barley) was made possible by two seasons of planting in Israel, winter and summer; because there were two seasons of rain, fall and spring.

Notice that this festival (and all following feast days) would commence after God’s people entered the Promised Land of Israel. The reason is abundantly evident: As a people passed over (spared) from God’s judgment of the entire land of Egypt; delivered from slavery in Egypt; redeemed from captivity to idolatry and disbelief, they would be rebirthed as God’s chosen people … individually and also (this time) nationally. They would begin this new life in the land promised to their patriarchal fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This new beginning would be in houses they did not build and with abundant crops they did not plant. In other words, it was a resurrection from physical and spiritual death in Egypt to a promising new life in a place prepared for them by the Lord.

Thus, the first cutting of the first crops harvested by the Israelites themselves was to be given directly to God in heartfelt gratitude; for it was the Lord who assured the harvest (any harvest) even after they entered the land. It was in remembrance that God had raised them up and out of an old life that produced nothing but a horrific harvest of Egyptian inflicted, but also self-induced, misery and hopelessness.

Just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of many things they had been told, including the Festival of First Fruits Harvest.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession … put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship…” (Deuteronomy 26:1-2).

Then, Moses instructed the people to say (from their heart with meaning) the following words in the presence of the Lord their God:

“So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! And now, O Lord, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground…” (Deuteronomy 26:8-10).

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(Depicts Joshua Leading Israelites Into the Promised Land of Israel)

Notice also, the Festival of First Fruits was to begin one (complete Jewish) day after the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew) Passover. Not only is the Jewish lunar calendar different from the Gregorian solar calendar, so also is the Jewish day dissimilar. It starts at sundown rather than midnight, which begins the next official day for most of the world.

Passover began at sundown on the 14th day of Nissan. However, the animals were slaughtered at twilight/dusk; technically the same day before the new day actually begins when the sun goes completely down. This is normally referred to as the day of preparation for the Passover.

Remember, the Passover (God passing over the Jews while the Egyptian firstborns were dying) itself took place later that night after the Hebrews had eaten the Passover meal. Thus, the animals would be slain in preparation on the 13th (Thursday, as the Jewish Passover officially begins sundown on Friday).

Messiah Jesus Perfection of the First Fruits Festival

The Feast of First Fruits begins on the first full day after the Sabbath (annual Passover Sabbaths). Since the Sabbath doesn’t end until sundown the following day (Saturday) the First Fruits would then begin on Sunday. Hence, there were three actual days from the time the animals were killed to the beginning celebration of the First Fruits Festival on Sunday.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (Think Jewish days … sundown to sundown).

Many, the world over, know something about what Christians call, Good Friday. True believers in Christ Jesus grasp its significance quite well. As horrible as his torture and death were, it was GOOD for all of us who have placed our trust in Messiah’s once for all atonement for our sins. However, Jesus actually died around 3:00 PM on Thursday, with the Sabbath Passover beginning a few hours later at sundown (Friday). Thus our Lord was in the grave for three (Jewish) days and nights. Believers celebrate the Messianic equivalent of First Fruits on Easter Sunday, what I and some others prefer to call Resurrection Day.

The Apostle Paul was well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures, including the Jewish Festivals. As were the other Apostles and the Jewish author of the book of Hebrews. Eventually all first century Christians would be acutely aware of the amazing New Testament Messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and patterns.

The entire Christian faith, indeed, the very source of everlasting life is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the central subject of all the early messages preached by the Apostles, particularly Paul and Peter. (See the book of Acts).

Paul also recognized the direct connection between the Festival of First Fruits and the Resurrection of Messiah Jesus from the dead in order to give all who believe in him new life.

Listen to Paul’s explanation:

“But, in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection; Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (I Corinthians 15:20-23).

Jesus compared the salvation of all those who believed and received him (from the moment of redemption to the triumphant finale of resurrection) to a great harvest (of souls). But this harvest would not be possible unless Messiah first arose from the dead. Jesus is the first fruits of the harvest, followed by the resurrection and transfiguration of all believers—those dead and alive, respectively, at the Rapture.

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These first three festivals—Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits—all took place in a period of eight days. Essentially, they are observed in today’s Judaism, as a whole, without the Messianic (Jesus) connection. With, as previously indicated last week and in this week’s article: the overriding emphasis on the Unleavened Bread Passover Supper. Minus the authentic sacrifice of a lamb, which is the very essence and preparatory beginning of the Passover itself.

Fourth Festival: Pentecost Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew)

“From the day after the Sabbath—the day you bring the bundle of grain to be lifted up as a special offering—count off seven full weeks. Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later. Then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves of bread to be lifted up before the Lord as a special offering…” (Leviticus 23:15-17).

Moses continues: “Then you must offer one male goat as a sin offering and two one-year old male lambs as a peace offering” (Verse 19).

Followed by: “That same day will be proclaimed an official day for holy assembly…” (Verse 21).

Shortly, we’ll see the relevance of the two loaves of bread, the goat, the two lambs, the holy assembly, and other Shavuot events to the New Testament Day of Pentecost.

Pentecost is the Greek word for fifty.

Many Rabbinic scholars believe that Shavuot (which wasn’t inaugurated until after the Israelites entered the Promised Land) fell on the same day that God came down on Mount Sinai in fire and smoke and trumpeted in God’s own voice the Ten Commandments to the people. The Israelites were so terrified of what they saw, but especially of God’s voice, they pleaded with Moses that God would speak to him, not directly to them.

Later, Moses would receive the Ten Commandments written by God himself on two stone tablets from Mount Sinai, then even later the entire Torah (Pentateuch) … the first five books of Scripture. Other Rabbis believe it was during Moses time on Mount Sinai on which Shavuot falls. The only problem with that application is which of the 40 days that Moses was on the mountain would correspond to the 50th day of celebrating the Feast of Weeks. However, both events match up with the New Testament Pentecost in terms of what took place.

Whether the Festival of Weeks was observed on the anniversary when God spoke the Ten Commandments directly to the Israelites or to Moses on Mount Sinai, the fact remains that the Holy Spirit descended (thereafter to reside permanently in the hearts of believers) on Pentecost (Shavuot). It says so in the text.

“On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

“At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem … They were completely amazed. ‘How can this be?’ they exclaimed. ‘These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!’” (Acts 2:1-8).

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Ten days earlier, Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).

Baptism by the Holy Spirit means immersion in and identification with the Father and the Son through the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the guaranteed seal of the New Covenant believer’s salvation (II Corinthians 5:5); just as the Jews were identified with and set apart by the Law at Mount Sinai. But the Old Covenant would give way to the New.

To further demonstrate that this Festival (all of them) points to the Messiah, the One for whom the Festivals were intended to picture and the One who would complete the greater purpose for them, let’s examine the remarkable parallels between the Old Testament Shavuot and the New Testament Pentecost.

  • The Feast of Weeks was to be observed by the “holy assembly” (holy means set apart) of all of Israel. When God majestically delivered the Ten Commandments to the twelve tribes of Israel, they were assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai. Likewise, with the believers (120 of them at that time) “meeting in one place,” i.e. assembled together. Plus there was a large crowd who saw the spectacular results of the Holy Spirit filling the believers on the day of Pentecost. People from fourteen different nations/languages are identified! Most, if not all, were there to observe Pentecost (Acts 2:7-11).
  • God’s presence at Mt. Sinai was accompanied by thunder, lightning, smoke, and fire and the majestic voice of God himself, which petrified the people. (Exodus 19 & 20). This had to do with the giving of the Mosaic Law, which could save no one, but which was necessary to show the people their sins and the need for atonement through the sacrificial shedding of blood. At Pentecost in Jerusalem the Holy Spirit came upon the believers as tongues of fire. But it was a time of rejoicing. The believers weren’t terrified; they were ecstatic. As the Lord said he would do at Mt. Sinai, he did not again speak to the people directly until Jesus, the Son of God, spoke to all Israel. Then at Pentecost, the Apostle Peter presented the first (and the greatest sermon in the entire New Testament after Jesus ascended to heaven) “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit.
  • After Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, he found the golden calf idol made by some of the impatient and disbelieving Israelites. Most know the story: 3,000 Israelites were killed because of this despicable rebellious act of worshiping an idol (See Exodus Chapter 32). It was no coincidence whatsoever that 3,000 of the assembled crowd at Pentecost, “believed what Peter said,” (Acts 2:41). Peter said a lot during that first New Testament sermon preached by someone other than Jesus. Summarized by his words: “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36).
  • A less obvious, but nevertheless compelling, correlation between the Old Covenant Pentecost and the New Covenant fulfillment was the requirement for the people to offer a male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs as a peace offering. The “one” animal to be sacrificed as a “sin offering” was to remember that the most important feature of the Mosaic Law was the Levitical Sacrificial system, beginning with the Passover lamb. The two lambs sacrificed as a “peace offering” represent Jew and Gentile, both of whom would be recipients of so great a salvation purchased with the blood of the Passover Lamb … Messiah Jesus. This is also symbolized by the two loaves of bread offered at the Festival of Shavuot.

This inclusion of the Gentiles is also presented by the last verse in this Old Testament passage on Feast of Weeks, as beautifully portrayed in the book of Ruth (Ruth a Gentile, Boaz a Jew).

“When you harvest the crops of your land do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22).

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1).

Hence the two-lamb “peace offering” during Shavuot. Jew and Gentile alike (See Ephesians 2:14-15).

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(Jew and Gentile, One in Messiah)

Things to Ponder

In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit would “come upon” certain people … mostly the prophets, but also some of the judges and kings, especially King David, as well as a few “ordinary” people. The purpose was to empower them to do great things for God and the people. The Holy Spirit enabled the prophets to prophesy (a combination of proclaiming God’s truth, both warnings and blessings) and to predict the future. But the presence of the Holy Spirit was never permanent during the Old Covenant.

Not so with the New Covenant. Once a person believes and receives Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells them from that moment on.

Said Jesus to his disciples (and all believers): “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth…” (John 14:16-17, italics for emphasis).

“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26).

For the believer, the Holy Spirit is our Counselor (Advocate … Defender). Also, our Comforter and the One who corrects us when we need correction.

The Holy Spirit is not personally available to unbelievers until they are born-again (the term used by Jesus, himself). Jesus said that the Holy Spirit’s ministry to unbelievers is:

“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” (John 16:8-11).

Rejecting personal salvation through Jesus is the ultimate reason that a person will end up in hell instead of heaven. Because Jesus as a man was limited to physical time and space, righteousness (right standing with God) through Messiah’s atoning salvation would be available globally, via the Holy Spirit’s work. Although Satan was judged and defeated by Messiah’s resurrection, the Lord’s final judgment to complete Satan’s defeat would take place only when Messiah Jesus returns at the appointed time.

Hallelujah to the Passover Lamb of God!

All praise and glory to our great God and Savior, Messiah Jesus who will return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah!

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