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

Timeless Truths in the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death Penalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concerning the saved:

Now for the central passage of today’s article:

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

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

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

Trying to Find Contradictions in the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essentially, that’s the definition of a miracle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise known as The Rapture!

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

Is there an answer to this paradox?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tree of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solving the Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay with me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see(d) that?!

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

OUR REDEEMER LIVES!

Hallelujah!

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

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Amazing 20th & 21st Century Developments

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

Part 1: Global Impact of Last Day’s Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, strange bedfellows are seldom compatible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Still and Watch God Fight for Israel!

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

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

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

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

King Jehoshaphat

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

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

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

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

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

King Hezekiah

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

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

Let’s go directly to the shocking finale.

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

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

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

Gog/Magog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Is the Messiah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17)

Words of Warning / Also of Hope

Listen to Messiah Jesus as he summarily describes the terrible devastation of the Great Tribulation, which the signs of our generation show to be so very near:

“For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Then Jesus declares what will happen to bring an end to this horrendous period of destruction and judgment: “…And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Verse 30).

Mainly from the Book of Revelation, but also from the books of Daniel, II Thessalonians, I John, Zechariah, and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke this unparalleled time of trouble—immediately after the Rapture of believers to heaven—includes but is not limited to:

Reappearance of the Antichrist beast from the abyss; an unheard of 7-year treaty orchestrated by Antichrist Nero between Israel and other nations; a brief semblance of global peace; devastating wars, famines, and diseases; the disastrous Gog/Magog invasion of Israel headed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey (disastrous for those nations, not for Israel); Antichrist’s breach of the treaty after 3 ½ years; twenty-one cataclysmic judgments from God through natural and supernatural disasters; global defiance and cursing of God himself; two mighty prophets (Moses and Elijah) who will, “strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish”; Antichrist’s coalition of ten nations joining forces with the Kings of the East to arrogantly do battle with the King of all kings; the crushing defeat of Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and their armies at Armageddon.

(Valley of Megiddo in Israel, Site of the Final Battle of the Ages)

(Many Eye of Prophecy articles have been written about these events and others. I’ll cite just three: Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, posted 6-6-15; End of the World Events … In Chronological Order, posted 2-25-17; Stunning Catastrophes of the Tribulation / Their Timing and Purpose, 11-4-17)

And one other incredible occurrence portrayed by John in Revelation as the woman sitting on the beast. In keeping with the theme of this week’s final article of the trilogy that began two weeks ago: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17) and last week’s Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17), we’re going to examine the fateful finale (justifiably deserved) of this woman.

An Unholy Union

One of the most intriguing expressions in the English language is one of several two-part English words; a phrase that conveys both a literal and metaphorical meaning: Bed-fellow.

Webster’s Dictionary defines this thought-provoking term as, “one who shares a bed with another.” (Hello … of course). Yet this term also bears a meaning that is, by far, the most contemporary application which Webster defines as, “a close associate: Ally (political).” The idea of bed-fellows has come to mean two or more political, national, social, or religious entities that are at odds with each other, but who are willing to “share the same bed” to accomplish their respective agendas.

Scripture uses a similar analogy to convey the decadent relationship between “the great prostitute” and “the kings of the world.” But the Bible uses more explicit and harsher words than bed-fellows to paint a politically and religiously sordid picture of the Woman who sits on the Beast. Said the angel to John:

“…Come with me … and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality” (Revelation 17:1-2).

Prostitute, kings, adultery, drunk, immorality; stronger words to illustrate the same kind of image created by bed-fellows. That’s exactly what you will find when comparing the interactive political chronicles of the kings/queens of Europe, Great Britain, and Asia Minor alongside the religious history of the Roman Catholic Church, including popes and high-ranking officials of The Holy See.

The Holy See

Simply stated, The Holy See is the episcopal (governance by bishops) dominion of the Roman Catholic Church in and from Rome. The Bishop of Rome is the Pope—the universal leader of the Catholic Church—also held to be the infallible representative (Vicar) of Christ on the earth. Although the Vatican or Vatican State is not technically the same entity as the Holy See, for all practical purposes they are inseparable. Think of the Holy See as the organism of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican as the location where the brain and heart of the body reside and from which they function.

(The Vatican, No Coincidence That It’s Called Vatican City … that “great city”)

The designation of See is derived from the Latin term “sedes” meaning seat, which embodies the Episcopal throne or the “Diocese of Rome.” The Vatican State was created from the Lateran Treaty in 1929 (June 7th, day before yesterday 89 years ago) to: “ensure the absolute and visible independence of the Holy See.”

As stated, the main purpose of creating the Vatican was for the Holy See to continue in Rome as a recognizable autonomous sovereignty and member-state in the global community. In fact, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with at least 180 individual nation states, with the European Union, and even with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Vatican City is also a member of or observer in multiple international organizations such as: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Trade Organization (WTO), UNESCO, United Nations General Assembly, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In short, the Vatican City-State interacts dynamically with many governments and NGOs of the world.

Formation of the Vatican State was also a desperate measure to revive and then actively reinstate the Holy See to international prominence; to restore and maintain diplomatic influence that had greatly diminished for the preceding 200 years or so. There were several reasons for this demise, such as the Protestant Reformation (beginning with Martin Luther and his 95 Theses in 1517), rise of democratic and parliamentary governments, and scientific discoveries that began to undermine Catholic dogma with a more secular view of the world. Hence, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to return to the glory days in which she and her predecessor (ancient Rome) “…rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18).

Continuation of this rulership before, during, and after the fall of the Roman Empire was achieved by a cunning makeover (form and substance) of the woman … the great city.

This period of “bed-fellow” relationships with European governments lasted off and on for hundreds of years. One that continues in the 21st century but in a more limited capacity, yet also in a more global context. Those limitations will be largely lifted when Roman Catholicism (along side of Islam) soars once again to preeminence led by “his eminence” the Pope shortly after the Rapture of true believers in Messiah Jesus.

So, what about the Holy part of the Holy See? Or the Holy Roman Empire? Or the Holy Roman Church?

The word holy in Hebrew (kadosh) and its counterpart in Greek (hageeadzo) primarily means: set apart or consecrated for a special purpose. It does not mean perfect or flawlessly pure, unless the term applies to God, himself. When the Lord said to the Hebrews, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45), he was referring to his deliverance of the Jews from Egypt for the express purpose of making them a distinct, unique people separated from the pagan nations of the earth; destined to serve God and be a light to the Gentiles, as eventually accomplished through Jesus, the Messiah.

Yet, when examining the history of the Roman Catholic Church, applied to both the concept and implication contained in the term Holy See, there is one unmistakable connotation: Divine excellence that purportedly qualifies the Holy See to exercise God-like authority and influence in all things pertaining to religion and state. It is the supposed sovereign right of rule allegedly based on divinely granted holiness that supersedes heads of state and all religious groups. It is usurping that definitive component of Holy that belongs only to God, not to sinful man and certainly not to any organization no matter how holy it claims to be.

Thus, the Pope is essentially considered to be infallible. When the Pope issues a decree, even if it’s plainly unbiblical such as granting indulgences or infant baptism or the doctrine of papal infallibility, the edict is, for all practical purposes, also flawless. In turn, all those who disseminate and defend papal decrees are not to be questioned, even if the proclamation is a blatant contradiction of or a doctrinally false addition to Scripture itself.

Biblical Salvation vs. the Holy See (or any other religious order)

God’s righteousness is imputed to every person who personally believes and receives Jesus Christ as Savior (II Corinthians 5:21). This accreditation (justification) applies exclusively to each believer in Christ as individuals. Believers are then set apart (sanctification) to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to live for him (I Corinthians 1:2; II Peter 3:18). Our final purification (glorification) won’t take place until the Rapture, when believers are given new immortal bodies (I Corinthians 15). Then, the true Church (body of Christ) will be presented spotless and blameless before God (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Justification, sanctification, and glorification—all beginning with and part of true redemption by the grace of God through faith in Christ alone.

Said Jesus: “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24, italics to emphasize the immediate present tense possession of eternal life the moment we accept Messiah Jesus as personal Savior).

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

The Holy See & Monarchs Divine Right of Rule … Historical Examples

Inherent in this “divine right of rule” was belief that the Pope—based on apostolic succession that retroactively began with the first Pope designated by the Catholic Church (the apostle Peter)—possessed divine authority over both church and state. It took some time for nation states to fill the power vacuum left by the fall of Rome, but by the 9th century several states or regions saw the rise of monarchs who began to challenge the sometimes subtle, but nonetheless pervasive influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the “affairs of state.”

For several hundred years there was a cyclical waxing and waning of Catholic dominance over governments, kings, and of course the church (as defined by Catholicism) itself. Sometimes kings would prevail; other times the Pope would come out on top. Sometimes there was direct confrontation; other times geopolitical negotiations, diplomatic maneuvers, reluctant compromises, and outright concessions ruled the day. There were unscrupulous tactics including but not limited to: false accusations, imprisonment, torture, and murder. There were scandalous escapades that would lend literal meaning to the Bible’s spiritual analogy of adultery, prostitution and obscenities between the kings of the world and the woman on the beast.

In a moment, we’ll examine just three of dozens of historical highlights (lowlights) that reveal the Roman Catholic Church’s embedded association in and collusive or confrontational relationship with the kingdoms of the world. Which is the exact opposite of what Christ intended for his church. While on trial, what did Jesus say when Pontius Pilate asked him if he was the King of the Jews?

“Jesus answered, ‘My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world’” (John 18:36).

How ironic that the term ecclesiastical is mostly identified with the Catholic Church; when, in fact, the word ecclesia means “called out” (from the world and worldly systems). Again, listen to the words of Jesus: “…And the world hates them (his true followers) because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world … They do not belong to this world any more than I do” (John 17:14-16, parenthesis mine). Jesus was specifically referring to his disciples and generally to all believers, then and now.

If Peter was, in fact, the apostolic rock on which the Catholic church would be built, why didn’t he assume that role and assert himself as the first Vicar on earth? If Peter had chased such an ambition, you can rest assured that Paul and John and other apostles would have confronted Peter and reminded him that Christ was the only Head of the Church, both in Heaven and on the earth. All believers are said to be ambassadors for Jesus; but nowhere in Scripture does Jesus (or the Apostles) command that his (a) substitute (and an infallible one at that) be appointed to wield ultimate control over the body of Christ—the true Church. And most assuredly not to form alliances with earthly kings and kingdoms, nor to exert “ecclesiastical” authority over them.

Yet, the Roman Catholic Church has not only pursued alliances with heads of state but also created and imposed its own divine government with the misguided, non-Scriptural notion of establishing a tangible Kingdom of God on the earth. Rather than acknowledging that (until Christ himself returns to set up the Kingdom of God), the Kingdom of Heaven lies within the hearts of born-again believers on this earth.

First Example: Collusion & Cooperation / Between the Pope and King

In 800 AD, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne (Charles the Great) who was already King of the Franks (Germanic tribes) as “Roman Emperor” which provided the papacy with a foothold in asserting sovereign rights over subsequent Holy Roman Emperors. This demonstrated conclusively that there was a movement to restore the ideal and fabric of the fallen Roman Empire. Both the Holy See and monarchs had the same basic objective; it’s just that they often disagreed on who should oversee this devious design.

(Portrait of Charlemagne)

(Extent of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire During His Reign)

Second Example: Confrontation … Pope/Church Prevailing over the King/State

Pope Gregory VII had ex-communicated King Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire, because Henry would not yield to Gregory’s insistence that only the Church had the right to appoint local church officials, particularly bishops. In 1077 this conflict came to a head when Henry began to fear local rebellion of his subjects. He travelled a long distance only to wait outside in bitter cold for three days before Pope Gregory finally agreed to see the King. Henry begged for mercy and the pope repealed Henry’s excommunication.

Third Example: Confrontation … Monarchy Triumphing Over the Papacy

In 1534, Henry VIII, King of England, revolted against The Holy See and Pope Clement VII by making himself the Supreme Head of the “Church of England.” Ironically, Henry VIII still followed Roman Catholic doctrine, but would not accept the Pope’s refusal to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine. Henry didn’t wait for ex-communication; he struck first by establishing a completely different church. This took place not long after Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in 1517, proclaiming justification (salvation) by faith in Christ alone. Not by being a member of the Catholic Church; which blindly adhered to non-Scriptural (or misinterpreted) sacraments and extra-biblical catechism such as the purchasing of indulgences to reduce or eliminate time in Purgatory, a place that doesn’t exist (try finding it in Scripture).

This conflict of the ages (at that time) precipitated a gradual decline of the Holy See’s influence regarding its supremacy over heads of state

In case anyone thinks that I am isolating the Roman Catholic Church as the only religious system that has perverted the Gospel of Jesus Christ by changing and channeling the truth of this Good News into a man-made, governmental-type Kingdom of Heaven on earth, I am not. For example, the Church of England that broke away from Roman Catholic domination and later morphed into the Anglican Church wielded a great deal of influence over both the religious and political affairs of England, as well as individual groups of Christians. It was for this reason that the Puritans sailed to America and founded the first real colony in the New Land. Following the same principles of freedom from religious and state monopoly, the colonies rebelled against England which led to the Revolutionary War.

What I am saying is that the Roman Catholic Church for all the reasons presented in this article and the previous two, precisely matches the characteristics ascribed to the woman of Revelation Chapter 17.

The Woman Identified by Her Clothing

I never cease to be amazed by the meticulous historical and prophetic detail found in so much of the Bible. Most of three full chapters (Revelation 17, 18, & 19) talk about the Beast who reappears from the Abyss at the outset of the Great Tribulation and the Woman who sits on the Beast. As we’ve seen in this trilogy of Eye of Prophecy articles (and prior articles in the category of Antichrist), the Beast is Nero and the Woman is both ancient Rome and the subsequent Holy See.

One of these astonishing features conveys the actual clothing worn by the woman in John’s vision. Let’s see how this apparel corresponds to the attire of the Roman Catholic Church … figuratively and literally.

“The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls….” (Revelation 17:4a).

Why would the vision given to John include a description of the woman’s attire? Answer: For the same reason that most of the visions in Revelation provide precise portrayals of people, places, and things (past, present, and mostly future)—to explain what to look for and what will happen during the unfolding of the last days, including the Great Tribulation.

For example: “The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses” (Revelation 19:14).

The “him” of this verse is Messiah Jesus; the “armies” are all believers in heaven who will accompany Jesus during the final battle of Armageddon. White linen represents purity and the good deeds of believers (Revelation 19:8)—cleansed by the blood of Christ that results in doing good things for our Lord—but the color white is also literal in Revelation 19 and other passages in the Bible. Same thing with the woman on the beast: The colors purple and scarlet literally adorn the woman; also, they represent royalty and power respectively.

Notice the sequence of the colors in Revelation 17:4: purple first, then scarlet. That’s not just a random order. Only the Roman Emperors were permitted to wear the “trabea” which was a deep purple toga, because purple was the color of both royalty and divinity in the Roman Empire and later with other nations/monarchs. Purple was considered an enhancement over blue; which also was a royal color in the ancient world—one that began with God’s people, the Jews, as found in the Torah. In fact, to eliminate competition on who and what was considered divine, the Romans outlawed Jews (and Jewish Christians) from extracting the blue dye (from snails) that was used in consecrated Jewish clothing, including the tzitzit (tassels of the Jewish tallit—prayer shawl).

Subsequently, scarlet would be the predominate religious royal color of choice by the Roman Catholic Church.

(Israel’s Flag … Hebrew word for blue is “tekhelet”, found 49 times in the Torah–Old Testament)

The preeminent color of the Roman Catholic Church is still red or scarlet; even though there are four main hues used in Catholicism—white, purple, red, and green—depending on the specific celebration, occasion, or rank of papal officials.

The Roman Empire was recognized for its vast wealth. So was and still is (less overt display in our times) the Roman Catholic Church known for its opulence and lavish display of precious metals in/on clothing, edifices, artifacts, and instruments involved in the sacraments. “The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls…” (Revelation 17:4a).

Not until the Roman Catholic Church began to consolidate authority over individual churches did purple and scarlet begin to replace white as the prevailing liturgical colors.

The Woman Identified by Her Coat of Arms

For those not familiar with Coat of Arms, it’s an insignia normally in the shape of a shield worn (as clothing) or carried on flags or banners by kings/queens, nobility, and soldiers to herald the sovereign identity of a nation or kingdom.

Webster’s Dictionary defines heraldry as, “the practice of devising, blazoning, and granting armorial insignia…”

Not long after kings and kingdoms began using (more frequently) emblems in the middle Ages, the Holy See followed with its Coat of Arms. For the last 800 years or so, each Pope has designed his own coat of arms in addition to the traditional symbols found on the Apostolic See’s Coat of Arms, such as two crossed keys … one gold and the other silver. Again, this demonstrates a pattern throughout Roman Catholic Church history to rival and exceed the authority of kings, whether these kings endorsed Catholic dogma or not.

The current Pontiff is Pope Francis who in 2013 succeeded Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), who inexplicably and suddenly resigned. In keeping with previous popes, Benedict chose a coat of arms displaying symbols that represented what was important to him—traditionally, theologically, and personally. The three emblems on the front of Benedict’s shield (Moor’s head, bear, and a scallop shell) have a strange, enigmatic history. The dominant color of the shield is red/scarlet, with gold as a strong second color.

What we need to focus on is the shape of the shield itself, which is the most universal motif in Roman Catholic heraldry: a chalice. Synonyms for chalice are: cup, vessel, and goblet. Many know about the Holy Grail, from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The legend of this grail (the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper) began some 1500 years ago; though the actual cup used by Jesus has no literal or symbolic importance in Scripture whatsoever. It’s the wine in the cup that bears profound significance.

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

The Catholic Church attaches great importance to this relic (cup) itself; thus, the composite chalice shape of the Coat of Arms is not a coincidence. There is an unmistakable connection between the chalice imagery of Roman Catholicism and the golden goblet held in the hand of the woman on the beast. It’s one of several identifying features of the woman of Revelation 17&18 that can be seen explicitly throughout Roman Catholic history and in the modern-day world.

(“Scarlet” Priest and “Golden” Cup … Goblet)

The Woman Identified by Her (lack of) Morality

“…In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality” (Revelation 17:4b).

The Greek word for obscenities (abominations as found in other Bible translations) is: bdelgma, pronounced bdel-oog-mah. It means foul or detestable. Since we’ve already touched on this subject, and because the primary purpose of these articles is to disclose and document the two-part (ancient Rome + religious makeover to the Holy See) identity of the woman who sits on the beast, there is no purpose in elaborating on some very questionable (understatement) episodes throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Except to say that several past and contemporary incidents involving the Catholic Church can only be construed as abhorrent and immoral, not the least of which is the ongoing world-wide scandal of Catholic priests and the abuse of children. Both social and religious leaders attribute this abuse primarily to the vow of celibacy required for all Catholic priests. Nowhere in the New Testament does it command that church leaders take a vow of celibacy for any purpose whatsoever, other than personal preference … which doesn’t require a vow. Even the so-called (first) Pope of the Catholic Church, Peter, had a wife!

Regrettably, there also have been some distasteful dishonors involving Protestant and even Evangelical church leaders, but nothing approaching the enormity of disgraceful incidents throughout Catholic Church history. This is not just a comparison based on the number of offenses; rather, it’s a matter of matching the historical development and record of the Catholic Church to prophetic passages found in the book of Revelation.

The Woman Identified by Her Persecution of Jews and Believers (Jewish or Gentile)

“I could see that she was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement” (Revelation 17:6).

The legacy of the Catholic Church is repulsively replete with periods of repression, deprivation, torture, and killing of those classified as heretics, dissident, unorthodox, or even non-conforming trouble-makers. Who hasn’t heard or read something about the Crusades, Joan of Arc, or the Spanish Inquisition; just to mention a few major incidents of oppression against anyone who would dare defy the Supreme Pontiff and Roman Catholic divine right of rule. Wars (both cold and hot) were fought between Catholics and Protestants, between the Papacy and Monarchs, between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, and within the Catholic Church itself.

Nowhere in Scripture do we find that the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth (currently in the hearts of individual believers) is to be established, defended, or extended by force, i.e. overt or covert persecution, suppression, or by warfare. Only when Christ returns will there be the need to conquer the enemies of Christ, of Israel, and of tribulation saints.

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

As Scripture states: this will be a just and righteous campaign … contrary to the unjust and unrighteous subjugation of dissenters to the Catholic Church (or to Islam).

The Inglorious Future of the Woman

Although the comprehensive influence of the Catholic Church has somewhat declined in the last 200 years or so—more so in the political and economic arenas—she will once again rise to power during the Great Tribulation. After all, the Catholic Church claims around 1.3 billion members in today’s world, an imposing force by sheer numbers. And, we have seen a resurgence of interest in and world attention to recent popes, particularly the previous two (Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI) and certainly the current Pope Francis. Not long after ascending to the pinnacle of the Vatican, Pope Francis reached the number one position in a poll of the most “talked-about” person in the world.

Soon after the Rapture followed by reappearance of the beast (Nero), the woman will sit on the beast for both support and control. However, what so often happens to incompatible bedfellows, especially with unholy alliances, will also happen to the woman as graphically depicted in Revelation.

“The scarlet beast and his ten horns all hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire” (Revelation 17:16).

These are exceptionally strong words/images that declare the demise of the Woman. But there’s more:

“How terrible, how terrible for that great city! She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens, decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls! In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone! And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance. They will cry out as they watch the smoke ascend, and they will say, ‘Where is another city as great as this?’ And they will weep and throw dust on their heads to show their grief…” (Revelation 18:16-19).

Although Rome is inland from the Mediterranean Sea, if even a portion of the city went up in flames, the smoke could be seen by those on ships near the Mediterranean coast. Not so with Babylon (Iraq). Just another passage to validate that the woman (the great city) is Rome and all that Rome contains, including the Vatican.

(Rome is only 16 miles from the Mediterranean, and is significantly elevated in places … the seven hills of Rome)

Note: There are two main visions of the beast given to John as recorded in Revelation. In Chapter 13, the image is of a beast but in Chapter 17 it is that of a scarlet beast. The reason is clearly evident: the bedfellow relationship between the Antichrist beast and the woman who wears scarlet and purple clothing.

Summary

The liaison between the woman on the beast and the kings of the earth will reach its climatic zenith during the Great Tribulation. The Roman Catholic Church (and other ecclesiastical systems with false creeds including Islam) will seek an alliance with the Beast (Nero) who reappears from the Abyss, and his ten-kingdom coalition. (See Eye of Prophecy article, The Vatican and Islam … A Perfect Match for Antichrist. Posted 6-4-16)

For a short time, this unholy union will succeed; but with great indignation and fury the Beast will turn on the woman and destroy her. God himself will orchestrate first the destruction of Babylon the Great (Rome), then total victory over the Beast and all nations who would dare oppose Messiah Jesus. “For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out his purposes. They will agree to give their authority to the scarlet beast, and so the words of God will be fulfilled. And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:17-18).

Many left behind at the Rapture will yield their allegiance and even worship of the beast who (miraculously) reappears from the Abyss, which means that the woman on the beast will have no alternative but to go along with the ride.

It will be Antichrist (Nero) and his ten-nation confederation who will annihilate the (modern-day) woman characterized as the prostitute, as we read earlier in Revelation 17:16. This is a direct reference to the Holy See or the Vatican—the city within the great city of Rome. This will most likely take place at or just past the mid-point of the Tribulation, when Nero breaks the treaty with Israel. Near the end of the Tribulation the Lord himself will destroy the rest of Rome as dramatically detailed in Revelation 18, which takes place during the last and most awesome of God’s judgments of the earth.

“…And a great earthquake struck—the worst since people were placed on the earth. The great city of Babylon (Rome) split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble. So God remembered all of Babylon’s sins, and he made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of his fierce wrath” (Revelation 16:18-19).

Note: I trust the word “cup” didn’t escape your attention!

With both events summarized as follows:

“…Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants … Praise the Lord! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!” (Revelation 19:1-3).

After the Vatican and then the rest of Rome is demolished, Messiah Jesus returns to do battle with Antichrist and his armies who have joined forces with the kings of the east.

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet … Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:19-20).

(See Eye of Prophecy article: Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events. Posted 2-3-18)

Thus, Satan’s two-front war consisting of hostile elimination of believers in Christ through kings and governments along with Satan’s subtle strategy of infiltration through a religious system that distorts the truth of the Gospel and seeks to capture and destroy the very souls of men and woman, will be utterly defeated by the King of all kings (empires) and the Lord of all lords (ecclesiastical).

Things to Ponder

Unfortunately, many who hold membership in the Catholic Church and other organizations like it will miss the Rapture and suffer through The Great Tribulation. Unless, that is, they call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Joel 2:32)—by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Nothing else is needed, certainly not a baptismal entrance to and membership in any formal religious system. Baptism is like the wedding ring. The ring doesn’t marry us, it only shows that we are married.

The Holy See (the woman … the city within the great city) will be ignobly humiliated and decisively crushed during the Tribulation. As will all the religious and secular “isms” that exert powerful influence and control over much of the world’s population. In fact, when Messiah Jesus gloriously returns (just in time) at the end of this global conflagration, all religions and world philosophies will cease to exist.

“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).

Hallelujah and Amen!

Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17)

Whatever happened to reading a good book next to a fireplace?

Or reading The Good Book anytime, anywhere?

Communication in today’s make-it-quick world has been radically reduced to brief Bytes, terse Twitters, fleeting Facebook images, and immediate Instagrams. Does anyone read an article of 3,000 words any more, let alone a 300-page book? Are sweeping stories and milestone movies like Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Gone With The Wind an endangered species?

Fortunately, some understand that certain things are important enough to spend more than just a few minutes chewing and digesting. Why am I here? What’s life all about? Will evil in the world continue indefinitely? Is there really one man who can make all things right, who can bring justice and peace to this planet? And such things as one’s redemption and eternal destiny.

The Bible is an epic book commencing with the classic creation of all things including time itself.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31).

Scripture continues with one sweeping saga after another, providing a panoramic picture of the marathon battle between good and evil, between life and death—all the way to the blockbuster finale of this age, an end that is more imminent than ever before.

Between the beginning and the end, more extraordinary epics are portrayed in the Bible:

Mankind’s disobedience which brought the disease of sin and death to humanity; God’s Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and King David; the Lord’s abandonment of Israel because they broke the Mosaic Covenant of the Law; the marvelous New Covenant God promised to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah and implemented through God’s very Son, Messiah Jesus, also extended to the Gentiles; a plethora of prophecies announcing God’s promise to unilaterally restore the Jews to Israel as a people and as a nation; the formation of the body of Christ—the true Church, composed of those who have believed and received Jesus as personal Savior; Satan’s schemes to destroy Israel and the Church. First by force, then by distortion and deceit through false religions and philosophies. Not the least of which is the woman sitting on the beast and John’s reaction: “…I stared at her in complete amazement” (Revelation 17:6).

The Metamorphosis of the Woman as a City Within the Great City

Note: I encourage you to read last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, which began the shameful saga of the woman sitting on the beast as dramatically depicted in Revelation 17. Next week’s article will finalize the saga of this woman as continued in this week’s post. To wit: The transformation of the woman from the mighty city of Rome and its Caesars ruling over kings and kingdoms to the subsequent form and substance of the woman beginning in the 4th-5th centuries and continuing to this very day. Described as, the prostitute ruling over people of every nation and language (Revelation 17:15).

Throughout the chronicles of mankind, a handful of happenings have changed the course of history. The greatest of these events took place when the Son of God became the Son of Man. He came for one purpose: To die for our sins and deliver all who would believe in him from an eternity separated from God; to purchase our pardon and restore us back to our Creator. That’s as epic as it gets.

All other historic markers as well as the day-to-day features of the human story fit within and are universally and eternally affected one way or another by the phenomenal Virgin Birth of Jesus, his profound teaching and spectacular miracles, his once for all atoning sacrificial death, and his miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Although secular historians have marginalized the significance of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his impact on the world is irrefutable. His birth changed the recording of time itself (BC to AD). His death and resurrection separated the Old (Covenant of Law) from the New (Covenant of Grace); whereby, we now have the awesome position and privilege to access directly the very presence of God.

Soon after Jesus arose from the dead and returned to his Father in heaven, Satan went to work again. He launched a cruel campaign against Christians intended to stop the church cold in its tracks. Since he had failed miserably to prevent Messiah Jesus from accomplishing God’s magnificent plan of salvation, Satan took it upon himself to select the ruler prophesied by Daniel. To mentor this ruler called the man of lawlessness by Paul and unleash this “little horn” of Daniel to wreak havoc on both Jews and Christians in the first century.

Little did Satan realize that his man, Nero, would be preemptively killed by Christ, revived, then banished to the Abyss. Satan would have to wait nearly two thousand years for his protegé to reappear as the beast-king of Revelation … released by God from the Abyss to give Satan one last chance to accomplish his warped devilish plans.

When he couldn’t crush Christianity through the sadistic suffering initiated by Nero and to a lesser extent perpetuated by subsequent Roman Emperors, Satan switched to a strategy of infiltration. Sadly, this plan has caused more disruption and damage to the Christian faith than Rome’s brutal repression (including murder) of thousands of Christians in the first three centuries. This vicious vendetta against true believers in Messiah Jesus continued off and on until another world-changing event occurred.

Constantine the Great

With an incredible turnabout and in short-order fashion, the Roman Empire stopped its ruthless campaign to suppress and even eradicate Christians. Beyond the wildest imaginations of both believers and unbelievers, the Roman Emperor Constantine (reigned from 306-337 AD) not only put an end to persecution of Christians; he became an advocate for and patron of the Christian faith. In his Edict of Milan (313 AD), Constantine proclaimed, “that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best…”

This exceptional edict guaranteed religious freedom to all Christians, much like we have in the United States today—even more so. America had to fight the British to preserve our “inalienable rights” including worship of God, when and where we chose. The 4th century Christians were handed this liberty virtually overnight.

(Sculpture of Constantine the Great)

Constantine replaced the Roman Emperor Diocletian who was the last in a succession of Caesars to promote persecution of Christians that began with Nero—the first Emperor to initiate such wide-scale oppression, with unparalleled savagery. Among other appalling activities, Diocletian ordered the demolition of Christian homes, burning of their sacred books, arrest, torture, starvation, and more death in the arena. Although co-emperor Galerius first granted Christians the right to practice their faith, it was Constantine who made this privilege official … the law of the land. Suddenly, it was politically correct to be a Christian!

Time/space does not permit elaboration, nor do historians agree on whether Constantine’s “conversion” to Christ was real or politically convenient. Nevertheless, Constantine’s approval of the Christians was a remarkable reversal of the status-quo harassment and killing of believers. The historian Eusebius records a great celebration and euphoria within the Christian community of the Roman Empire.

Constantine supported the Church politically and financially—providing funds to erect basilicas, exempting churches from certain taxes, returning confiscated property to Christians, offering land grants, and promoting Christians (especially those designated bishops) to high-ranking offices. He also abolished crucifixion and replaced it with hanging … a much more humane way of execution. It’s the thought that counts!

For all practical purposes it was a State-sponsored endorsement of the Church; followed by a rise of some Christians (both real and in name only) to positions of power within the Empire. But in reciprocal fashion (herein is the rub), the appointment of non-believers to high positions within the Church. Although unbelievers had infiltrated the assembly of believers in several cities throughout the Roman Empire, by and large their intent to distort the true Gospel of Christ Jesus and deceive his true followers was unsuccessful during the Apostle Paul’s time and for several decades thereafter.

Constantine’s and successive emperors’ placement of their unbelieving constituents within what became rather swiftly a State Church (bordering on Church State) was a blatant contradiction of New Testament principles that tell true born-again believers: We are in the world but not of the world.

(See Eye of Prophecy articles, Separation of Church and State … For or Against? Part I & II posted 4-2 & 4-9-16)

This was the beginning of Satan’s back-up plan, i.e. sabotage and corruption of the truth of the Gospel by redefining salvation and remodeling the Church, internally and externally. One result of these stealth tactics was a precedent setting policy for a “Christian” Emperor to interact extensively with church officials. Although the Emperor did not make or interpret doctrine—only the bishops could do that—Constantine enforced doctrinal declarations, ferreted out heresy, and fostered ecclesiastical harmony.

Said the Apostle Paul:

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

‘I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them…’” (II Corinthians 6:14-17).

Theology & Definitions

It’s imperative that we define Biblical truths and principles in the context of Scripture. Not through extra-Biblical decrees or dogma cleverly crafted and arbitrarily imposed by leaders of cultic counterfeits of the Christian faith nor by an ecclesiastical hierarchy that claims (whatever fits the times and situation) superiority over the Bible, the very Word of God.

What is the definition of “The Church,” both then and now? Why is it even necessary to define precepts of the Christian faith? To answer that question let’s first look at the definition of definition!

Webster’s’ Dictionary states that definition is: “the action or the power of describing, explaining, or making definite and clear.” Also, “distinctness of outline or detail.” Think of the blueprint and foundation of a skyscraper or even a modest house. Proper definition is to truth and reality as design and foundation is to the shape, support, distinctness, and structural integrity of a well-built building.

There’s a disturbing trend in both secular and religious circles to minimize and/or mock theology and all things doctrinal.

“Don’t bother me with all those theological terms,” is the mantra of many, even by some who claim to be believers. Yet there are some things that must be delineated. Otherwise, which Jesus do we follow? The Jesus who claims to be the Son of God and the only way to God, or the non-Divine Jesus that (for many) is only a great humanitarian and accomplished teacher. To which church do we belong? The church building on the corner that bears the name of a certain denomination; the Catholic church that purports to be the universal church; the “Latter-Day Saints” church that contends the Book of Mormon (supposedly God’s final revelation) supersedes the Bible.

Or, to the Church explained in the Bible: Those who have placed their personal trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and are, thereby, called “children of God”; those who are “called out” from the world; who comprise the “body of Christ”; who are “in Christ.”

Said Paul to the believers at Corinth, some of whom were seriously listening to false teachers:

“But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed” (II Corinthians 11:3-4).

Jesus Christ is the only head of the church. For sure, evangelists, pastors/teachers, elders, deacons, and apostles were given as a functional gift to believers; to preach the gospel and help believers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. *Note: The apostles were only for the early Church. Why? The main qualification for being an apostle was that of having been with or having seen the risen Messiah—Jesus.

However, the New Testament is very clear: All who accept Christ as personal Savior become priests. “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).

According to this incredible passage, each believer is not only a priest (direct access to God anytime, anywhere), but also “living stones” in the real temple (church) of God.

Essentially, then, believers don’t need a church building and certainly not a consolidated, centralized national or international forum whose administration determines what rules and rituals must be followed, or what extra-Biblical edicts they must obey to earn salvation and avoid potential excommunication. There’s nothing wrong with a church building, as many local Christian congregations are too large to meet in homes. The problem is when the building (organization) becomes (displaces or replaces) the true church … the body of Christ.

From Triumph to Tragedy

What should have been one of the greatest achievements of the Christian faith—Roman Emperor Constantine’s protection of Christians … an abrupt turnaround of state sanctioned persecution of believers—turned out to be one of the most tragic episodes of the early Church. So disastrous that it led to a thousand-year period of gloom and obscurity which historians now refer to as The Dark Ages. Even in our more enlightened age we are still experiencing the fall-out of the woman’s (the great city) transformation (Revelation 17). This transmutation has directly affected and infected true Christianity like nothing else before or since.

What could have been a triumphant explosion of freedom to intensify the spread of the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, heretically morphed into what is commonly called Christendom, with its governmental hierarchy of ecclesiastical councils; commencing with a state church of the Roman Empire by edict in 380 AD.

Nowhere in the New Testament do we find any evidence whatsoever that Jesus needed a seat of government, permission from a king, or endorsement by ruling officials or religious leaders to fulfill his mission on earth. Just the opposite occurred. He was rejected by the religious leaders and then by the greater populace because they assumed the Messiah would rule and reign from Jerusalem and deliver Israel from Gentile oppression. That will, in fact, happen one day (soon) when Christ returns to this earth.

But the Old Testament was crystal clear: The Messiah must first suffer and die to liberate mankind from its worst enemy … from tyrannical enslavement to sin. Which is, after all, what produces the unjust, criminal conquest of rulers and nations against each other. And just as disastrously: the disruption and devastation of individual lives resulting from pride, greed, jealousy, lust, theft, immorality, sorcery, lying, and murder.

Nor do we find any indication in Scripture or early church history that believers were commissioned to establish a centralized system of administration that would unite all individual “churches” into an authoritarian hierarchy. Which, in turn, would produce layers of ecclesiastical officials ruling in various capacities over individual believers.

Early Christians met in their homes and were so identified in Paul’s epistles as (for example), “God’s holy people in the city of Colossae.” Or the “church of God which is at Corinth.” But never (for example) to the “church of Rome.” When Jesus addressed each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3, he referred to “the church in Ephesus, the church in Thyatira, the church in Philadelphia” and so on.

This is much more than just semantics, i.e. in or at versus of. This distinction constitutes the very essence, identity, and definition of the church. It is the breathing vibrant church of God and of Christ; all true believers are, “…living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple…” (I Peter 2:5).

Not a structure or system or seat of centralized, ecumenical power that claims ultimate authority over all who belong to that system; and that compels admission to and membership in (beginning with baptism, including infants) as a fundamental requirement for salvation and, thus, qualifies its’ members to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Or, at least, places the members in good standing and gives them a head-start toward heaven, if they remain in a state of grace. A state the hierarchy defines (sort of), through regulated rituals and crafted catechisms that are ambiguous, at best.

Jesus emphatically contradicted this misdirected avenue of salvation (entrance to, affiliation with, and inclusion in any religious order) by declaring:

The man to whom Jesus spoke was, of course, Nicodemus; a member of the elite Jewish Sanhedrin, whose every colleague was thought to be securely connected to God. And, thereby, would qualify for the Kingdom of God. Instead, Jesus said that a spiritual rebirth—made possible only by personally believing and receiving him as God’s Savior to mankind—was the ONLY way anyone would ever see the Kingdom of God.

No one is saved by becoming a member of a religious order. Rather, we become a member (child) of God’s family when we are saved.

And how are we saved?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“But to all who believed him (Messiah Jesus) and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:12-13).

*Note: Although the book of Galatians is written to the “churches of Galatia”, the word of is needed because there were several congregations (plural) in the region of Galatia. When writing to believers in a specific city, Paul always uses the functional preposition in or at. Thus, the church was so identified by the presence of believers in or at a certain location. Not by a structure or centralized organization that exercised a governmental-type regulation over believers. The highest degree of administration over any individual church should be no more than the church board, normally composed of pastors and elders.

Transformation of the Woman

It’s time to officially identify the woman (the great city) and why/how she picked up where the ancient city of Rome left off; thereby, changing her appearance to accomplish Satan’s plan of subversion from within. Obviously, I’m not the first to make this connection.

It’s undoubtedly safer to be politically correct. But in today’s world PC is virtually the same thing as not telling the whole truth, or suppressing it, or changing it. Yet, I, and untold thousands of believers the world over, believe God’s truth is eternal; not fashionably relative to whatever any society or religious group decides is relevant at any given time. Thus, many would say, “what’s true for you, may not be true for me. So, let’s not make such a big deal over things like Jesus claiming to be: the only way, truth, and life and that no one can come to God except through him” (John 14:6).

Although most who are reading this article (or perhaps last week’s Eye of Prophecy post) already know or suspect, I’m still compelled to confirm the altered identity of the woman sitting on the beast—the one that has deluded the nations since the 4th century. To attain by deception what the Roman Empire couldn’t accomplish by force. Only for the old woman to be united (for a brief period) with the new woman when Nero Caesar (who returns at the outset of the Tribulation) aligns his political and military forces with the political and religious position of this altered-state woman.

Who or what is this woman in today’s world? When and why did she alter her appearance and change her tactics from military dominance over kings of the world at the height of the Roman Empire to subtler, but equally destructive, schemes that include: political intrigue, corruption, greed, power, opulence, manipulation through intimidation—all of which are rooted in a devious plan that is diametrically opposed to the basic tenet of the true Christian faith?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

The woman transformed herself from the military might of the Roman Empire to the most dominant religious system in the history of mankind. It became a city within a city but is still the great city itself. Flaunting a distinctive kind of supremacy, it still represents and reflects the man-made glory of the Roman Empire, attempting to achieve its ungodly agenda through a seditious strategy of acquisition and authority. This woman of Revelation 17 has unwittingly (or deliberately … take your pick) accomplished Satan’s plan to preserve and perpetuate Rome’s conquest of the secular world and of the true Church by the shrewd introduction of a prefix.

That prefix is Holy, as in Holy See. Which is interchangeable with Holy Roman Empire or Holy Roman Church.

I am referring to: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Summary

In next week’s final article of this trilogy we will focus on The Holy See, also known as The Vatican or Vatican City State, and how it has prolonged the legacy of the ancient Roman Empire. We’ll also look more closely at Revelation Chapter 18, which foretells the demise of Babylon—both the city itself (Rome) and the false religions and philosophies of “Babylon the Great.”

“Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds” (Revelation 18:4-5).

This (corporeal and corporate) punishment is dramatically detailed in Chapter 18. The sins of Babylon listed in Revelation 17 & 18 are those corporately committed by the, “Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World” (Revelation 17:5).

Sin is sin. Although God’s final Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20) is for every individual who has refused God’s saving grace through Messiah Jesus, he punishes false religions, deceptive ideologies, and corrupt political systems collectively for their sins and evil deeds. God’s divine retribution against such entities have been administered throughout history (such as the complete destruction of the ancient city of Babylon or like the Roman Empire’s total demise); or will be dispensed during the Great Tribulation, e.g. the catastrophic ruin of the 21st century Holy Roman Empire.

These verses are saying that there are some believers in Christ within (corporately) this counterfeit system, called “Babylon the Great.” Individually, they have been born-again (John 3), yet they remain in this ecclesiastical pyramid mainly because they hold on to “church membership” as an (possible) entrance into heaven or they fear ex-communication. However, Revelation 18 is also challenging just how genuine the faith is of those who claim salvation by trusting in Christ alone (thereby, spurning all additional non-Biblical requirements imposed by Catholicism, Mormonism, or any other “ism”). Those who have sincerely and exclusively placed their trust in Messiah Jesus as personal Savior will see the night and day difference, and they will “come away from her.”

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine… (II Corinthians 13:5).

The Lord fully understands that the real problem is the sin nature and the innate rebellion within each human heart.

Unless our heart is supernaturally changed by believing in Christ, there can be no forgiveness for and freedom from the enslavement of sin. It’s the inherited disease of sin that must be dealt with, not the symptoms which are individual transgressions that every man, woman, and child has committed. What doctor on the planet would only treat the symptoms of cancer if a known cure had been discovered? Thus, Biblical salvation is not reforming someone from the outside in; it is total regeneration (new birth) of the heart and spirit from the inside out.

Jesus did warn individuals that their unbelief in and rejection of him as the only One who could forgive and take away their sins would result in judgment, but he didn’t condemn them for their individual sins, as such. All of us were born sinners; for those who reject Christ as Savior, they are already judged … they condemn themselves.

Nevertheless, Christ blasted the religious leaders of Israel as the blind leading the blind. Telling them that they would, “…die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). *Note– Jesus didn’t say they would die because of their sins; instead they would die in their sins. They would die (spiritual death or eternal separation from God) because they refused to “believe that I AM who I claim to be…”

Scripture is clear, both Old and New Testament: God is extremely harsh on those in position of religious leadership who are part of and promote any system that claims salvation or a right relationship with God or the path to Heaven is available only through keeping the law of Moses, or membership in the church—be it Catholic, Mormon, or even Protestant. God’s judgement will be exceptionally severe against those who assert that their religious hierarchy is the ultimate go-between God and members of its organization.

In the “Woe unto you” (King James Version) indictments against the Jewish religious leaders (extended to all future religious leaders who have legalistically distorted and rejected God’s truth of Biblical salvation), Jesus says in the first of these accusations:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either” (Matthew 23:13).

When religious leaders are blind, how can we expect their followers to see?

“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 2:5-6).

Things to Ponder

When it comes to defining things like right and wrong, good and evil, doesn’t it all begin with the definition of truth? What is true and what is not true? The Bible often talks about God’s truth and his revelation of that truth to mankind. Amazingly, however, Scripture doesn’t really define truth with a dictionary-style set of synonyms or concepts.

Instead, truth is defined as and in a Person! That person is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

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

When we match universal truth and reality to the very source and embodiment of truth (Messiah Jesus), then we will also find the only way to God and the very meaning of life, now and forever more.

Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17)

An Unusual Introduction to This Week’s Article

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

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

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

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

The first repost referenced above was, Why the Rapture? (A Revisit), posted 11-5-16.

Of the 253 Eye of Prophecy articles to date (one each Saturday), those are the only two published a second time, albeit with some modifications.

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

Reasons for reopening this six-article set: Visitors during the first year or so of Eye of Prophecy were significantly fewer than those of subsequent articles (to be expected for any new website). However, readership was disproportionately low, for that very reason—six parts … too many! Nevertheless, there is some good stuff in those articles. But, then, I would say that as the author!

Sometimes in my articles, excerpts from previous Eye of Prophecy posts are included… in italics or quotations marks. However, because of the extensive makeover, there will be no excerpt quotes from the original six articles, as it would disrupt the continuity of this week’s post, as well as the next two. Rather, previous contents will be blended in with the new material. Technically, I think this is permissible (no plagiarism or failure to acknowledge), as I am the author of all Eye of Prophecy articles. Trust that meets with your approval!

So, let’s begin by restarting the engine of a six-cylinder vehicle originally produced as, The Woman and the Beast.

Enjoy the ride! But be sure to get out of the car before it plunges over a precipice that will spell the end of the woman part way through the Tribulation and final fate of the beast (who had returned from the Abyss) at the end of the Great Tribulation. You will escape this fatal destiny-altering crash if you have believed and received Messiah Jesus as personal Savior (John 3:16). He is the one who will, “…defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him” (Revelation 17:14).

Revelation Chapter 17 … Where It All Began

A year or so after my first book—O Israel … the end is the beginning for those left behind—a novel published in 2007, I began a sequel. After writing just a few chapters, the Lord dramatically interrupted this project one night in November 2008. He did so with a dazzling disclosure (discernment) that the Antichrist beast of Revelation had already lived and died before John’s visions of the beast as recorded in Revelation 13 & 17.

The pivotal passage is: “…I will tell you (reveal to you) the mystery of this woman and of the beast… The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:7-8, parenthesis mine).

Immediately, I stopped writing the sequel and embarked on a stirring literary voyage, “…to the ancient Roman world, to the very origin and lair of the beast, to the first-century church, to the abyss and back again, to the pre-emptive death and eternal destruction of the Antichrist, to the mesmerizing visions of John, Daniel, and Zechariah.” To, “expose and declassify that which has been concealed and classified; the secret of the beast presumed to be confidential until the body of Christ is taken from the earth.”

The above quote is taken from the back cover of my second (non-fictional) book: Out of the Abyss … can the number of the beast be solved, 666? Published in February 2011. Followed by the inception of Eye of Prophecy website in July 2013.

To say that the Book of Revelation contains some of the most apocalyptic events known to man would be the proverbial understatement. One of the most captivating is John’s amazing vision of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast. Moreover, it is one of only two revelations in which an angel explicitly explains the mystery of what John had just witnessed. As said in a previous article or two: a mystery revealed is no longer a mystery.

In this current trilogy, we’re going to identify and examine the woman and the beast upon which she sits. Considerably more attention will be given to the woman, as several Eye of Prophecy articles have dealt extensively, even exclusively, with the Antichrist Beast.

“So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality. A mysterious name was written on her forehead: ‘Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.’ I could see that she was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement” (Revelation 17:3-6).

Who is the Beast?

My book, Out of the Abyss provides ample evidence to answer that question. As do parts or the whole of 50 Eye of Prophecy articles posted to date in the category of Antichrist. The beast is Nero!

If you find that conclusion to be incredible or inconceivable, then I encourage you to read the book and/or some of the articles. You will find Biblical documentation, historical evidence, and sound reasoning to support this astonishing identification: The early Christians knew and so, too, can we know. The number and name of Antichrist has been solved!

(Regarding both Christian and secular Roman views about Nero particularly prevalent in the first four centuries (A.D.), see Eye of Prophecy article, The Legendary Return of Nero, posted 4-4-15. Also, Reappearance of the Beast, posted 9-21-13).

Who, Then, is the Woman?

Let’s get right to the answer. In the angel’s explanation of the woman and the beast to John—with a qualification that understanding and wisdom were needed to fully grasp this clarification (Revelation 13:18 & 17:9)—he discloses the identity of the woman: “And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18, italics for emphasis).

Which begs another question: Which city is the great city. It’s not as hard as you might think, because there are only two viable choices: Babylon and Rome. Although it’s conceivable that Antichrist Nero upon his return will maintain an office in Brussels, Belgium (headquarters of the European Union), his command center will be in and his loyalty to “the great city.”

Babylon

A common if not prevailing view—held, for example, by the authors of the Left Behind anthology, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins—is that the ancient (supposedly restored in the last days) city of Babylon is the proper choice. With the following rationale:

  • The wording in Revelation 17:5: “A mysterious name was written on her forehead: ‘Babylon the Great…’”
  • The entire 18th Chapter of Revelation that describes in graphic detail the utter destruction of Babylon, beginning with verse 2: “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!”
  • Some Old Testament prophecies announcing the destruction of Babylon, particularly Isaiah 21:9 which also reads, “…Babylon is fallen, fallen!”
  • The attempt of Saddam Hussein to rebuild Babylon during his dictatorship in Iraq. Which came to a screeching halt with the capture, trial, conviction, and execution of this evil tyrant.

(Hussein fancied himself as the reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar)

Let’s test the validity of Babylon as the choice.

First, the mysterious name of Babylon the Great does not tell us that the woman (the great city) is, in fact, Babylon. Rather, it states that Babylon the Great was written (symbolically of course) on the woman’s forehead. So, what or who is Babylon the Great? Revelation 17 also answers that question: “Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.” In other words, Babylon the Great is not actually a city at all in the context of the woman being the “great city that rules over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18).

Rather, Babylon the Great is the mother that would bear children who would seek to “prostitute” the eternal existence and imperishable Word of the true and living God and of his Messiah. This corruption and distortion of God’s everlasting truth is the core foundation of all non-Christian world religions, religious organizations that are Christian in name only including cults, and anti-religious systems such as the occult New Age movement or communism or even globalism.

Through graphic description and by contextual implication, the great city of Revelation 17 would be the dwelling place of the worst of her children, as also vividly depicted in Revelation Chapter 18. Thus, when the great city is crushed (during the tribulation), Mother Babylon which birthed the woman sitting on the beast is also destroyed.

Another passage in Isaiah refutes the idea that a renovated modern-day Babylon is the great city symbolized by the woman:

“Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, the flower of Chaldean pride, will be devastated like Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed them. Babylon will never be inhabited again. It will remain empty for generation after generation…” (Isaiah 13:19-20). Then the last verse of that chapter tells us, “Babylon’s days are numbered; its time of destruction will soon arrive.”

About 170 years later Babylon was annihilated by the Medes-Persians … beyond recognition.

Today’s Babylon is a virtual wasteland compared to the glory of ancient Babylon. In fact, just two verses earlier in Isaiah 13, we read: “Look, I will stir up the Medes against Babylon…” (Verse 17). This emphatically places Isaiah’s prophecy of Babylon’s destruction (once for all time) in the context of what is now historical fact that the Mede-Persian empire destroyed Babylon.

Both Isaiah and the angel of Revelation foretold the obliteration of Babylon; with, as indicated, Isaiah’s prophecy coming to pass (in 539 B.C. to be exact). However, neither Isaiah nor the angel of Revelation are saying that Babylon will twice be destroyed. They repeat the stunning prediction for dramatic emphasis, but the angel of Revelation repeats it for another reason.

Consequently, when the angel announces that, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!” (Revelation 18:2), the fall (that takes place during the Tribulation) includes both the great city itself—symbolized by the woman, not by the ancient city of Babylon—AND Satanic systems that seek to replace the everlasting truth of the true and living God. Systems such as occult astrology, pantheism, or polytheism that were promoted by and flourished in the ancient Babylonian kingdom. Then continued by Rome during the glory days of the Roman Empire. And continuing to this very day, but in vastly different way and form … as we shall see in this trilogy of articles.

Thus, the angel’s repetition of Babylon’s fall applies: (1) Tangibly to “the great city” destroyed during the Tribulation. (2) Intangibly to “Babylon the Great, Mother of all Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World” (Revelation 17:5).

ROME (Roma)

Why is Rome the only feasible choice as the great city of Revelation Chapter 17? Let’s begin the answer with a few more questions.

What realm had conquered most of the known world when the book of Revelation was written? Easy answer: The Roman Empire. What city was the political, cultural, economic, and military center of this great empire? An even easier answer: Rome. And what would happen to Christians if a newly written scroll that contained some of the most astounding revelations ever witnessed and recorded had mentioned Rome as the “Mother of All Prostitutes, holding a goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality, drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus…” (Revelation 17:4-6)?

Or conversely, a city “hated by the scarlet beast and the ten horns (kings) who would strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire” (Revelation 17:16)? For Roman citizens, Roman Generals and Roman Legions, but especially to Caesar: had Rome been identified by name, these would have been defamatory words of disrespect and even treason. In short order, many more Christians would have been rounded up and executed. Thus, it was necessary to disguise the great city of Rome as the woman and Babylon. The Christians were also protected in Revelation Chapter 13 when the angel and John encoded the identity of the Beast (Nero, the Antichrist) within the number six hundred sixty-six; then encouraged believers to solve the mystery of this number (Revelation 13:18).

Returning to Revelation 17:18: “And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world” (italics for emphasis).

The word (rules) is obviously a present tense verb. With the clear connotation that this great city was ruling over other kings and their nations, as Rome did, when Revelation was written. As discussed in several prior articles, the beast (Nero Caesar) had already died, but the woman who sits on the beast was still thriving—Rome. At the beginning of the tribulation period, the beast will reappear from the Abyss and, with the allegiance given to him by ten kings who will have risen to power (Revelation 17:12), the beast would eventually turn on the woman and annihilate her.

Babylon (the ancient city, itself) could not possibly be the woman of Revelation 17, for at least two reasons: (1) it had already been destroyed and, according to Isaiah, would never return to any form of greatness, whatsoever. (2) When Revelation was written, Rome was the only city “that rules over the kings of the world.” This present tense verb “rules” would extend to the end times, as the woman (great city) would be alive and well during the onset of the Great Tribulation and will be, at first, in collaboration with the beast.

However, the Roman Empire was destroyed in the 5th century AD.

How, then, could Rome (the heart of the Roman Empire) qualify as the great city, with an ongoing relevance through the Dark Ages, through the political and military prominence of European kings/queens, during the Protestant movement and ensuing Renaissance, right up to the present time? How can the present tense “rules” be extended to the Great Tribulation? The answer to that question resides in the answer to another question: Since the fall of the Roman Empire, What did and also what will the woman (the great city) look like, signify, represent, or characterize during the end-times?

I’m not suggesting a Revived Roman Empire, because I firmly believe there is no such thing in Scripture. In my book Out of the Abyss (Chapters 15 & 16) and several Eye of Prophecy articles such as, Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence Part I & II (Posted 3-18 & 3-25, 2017), significant evidence is presented to demonstrate that the seven heads of the beast are kings, not kingdoms (Revelation 17:9-11). Instead, there will be a Revived Roman Emperor. A man (Nero) who had already lived and died even before John first saw visions of him as the Antichrist beast; who would suddenly reappear from the Abyss at the outset of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 17:7-8).

Concerning the woman, you will see that it’s the same woman, but she has taken on a new appearance after the fall of the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the woman will be in alliance with and gain support from the beast-king but will also attempt to influence him. Just like this same woman’s adultery (spiritual and political) with the kings of the earth to manipulate them and control the people of their kingdoms since the fall of Rome (Revelation 17:2).

Can you find another verse in Revelation Chapter 17 that also conveys the rule of the woman in the (ongoing) present tense? If you can locate this verse, you will find more evidence that the woman (both the ancient version and the modern version—because “rules” is present tense throughout) is Rome. A strong hint: What city was built on how many hills?

The Rise & Fall of the Mighty Roman Empire

Invincible! Such was the mindset of the Caesars, the Roman Legions, the Roman Senate, and most Roman citizens during the zenith of the Roman Empire. Moreover, nearly all the peoples and nations conquered by Rome felt the same way. Who could stand against such a powerful empire? Who could consistently defeat the Romans in battle? Who would dare oppose such a massive domain that, by the end of the 1st century dominated much of the civilized world and civilized, by ruthless force if necessary, parts of the uncivilized world? How could Rome ever fall from glory?

But fall she did, exactly like the Prophet Daniel predicted one thousand years earlier: “I continued to watch because I could hear the little horn’s boastful speech. I kept watching until the fourth beast was killed and its body was destroyed by fire” (Daniel 7:11).

The little horn was Daniel’s description of the ruler who would later be called the man of lawlessness by Paul, the beast of Revelation, and the Antichrist in I John 4. The Roman Empire would become the “beast” of Daniel’s prophecy, the fourth and final Gentile kingdom (directly pertaining to God’s plan for Israel and the Messiah). Though it was the mightiest and most terrible of the four kingdoms, it would one day cease to exist.

For nearly six hundred years, the woman (the great city) that John saw in his vision would “…rule over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18). For most of those six centuries Rome was the largest city in the world. Historians place the demise of the centralized Roman Empire at 476 A.D. However, the eastern portion of the empire continued for hundreds of years with its capital of Constantinople (now called Istanbul). No other nation on the face of the earth, including the United States of America, has ever attained the pinnacle of supremacy like the Roman Empire. But one by one the Roman emperors fell; piece by piece the colossus crumbled from within, until European barbarians dismantled her beyond recognition.

The woman continues to rule but in a far different way. Before we explore the transformation of the woman from a ruler “over the kings of the world” (Revelation 17:18) to “the great prostitute, who rules over many waters” and with whom, “the kings of the world have committed adultery” and by whom, “the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality (Revelation 17:1-2), let’s examine the strategy of the one who is behind the formation of Godless empires and ungodly world systems. Whose degenerate plan is to depose and displace the true God and His Messiah.

Satan’s Tactics

Because Satan cannot see into the future, he is forced to react to human events the same way we do … in the linear unfolding of time, from day-to-day. But throughout Biblical and secular history we see two distinct patterns of Satan’s designs and operations. (1) An immediate attempt to destroy by external power whoever or whatever stands in his way and interferes with his evil schemes for mankind. (2) When sheer force doesn’t work, he resorts to attacking from within. He does so through a sinister agenda of perverting God’s truth—by deceit, distortion, lies, counterfeit imitation, compromise, immorality, apathy—with the predictable result of rebellion against God and substitution of God’s eternal Word with false man-made beliefs and ideas.

The historical and contemporary evidence is incontrovertible: The evil that men do—including unjust wars or atrocities initiated by one nation against another, one ethnic group against another, or one race against another—begins with a belief system. Thus, the Third Reich sought to annihilate the entire Jewish race, because Hitler harbored the depraved idea of Aryan supremacy which led to a shocking view that Jews were sub-human. This ungodly, immoral, racial hatred comes straight from hell.

Conquest by Force

The following is an excerpt from my second book, Out of the Abyss. It provides an overview of Satan’s plots to eliminate all those who would dare oppose him and his ultimate plan for world domination by vainly trying to usurp God’s universal authority; his warped and unattainable goal of being like the Most High God. In italics:

Satan wanted to crush Christianity as soon as he could…. If you examine Scripture, you will find this preemptive strategy and pattern of Satan in every situation that involves the promised Messiah or Israel as the racial ancestry of the Messiah. You only need to look at the historical proximity between the prophesied event or person and the timing of Satan’s preemptive attack.

It began with Cain’s murder of Abel, who Satan thought was the direct progenitor (seed) of the Messiah … He acts on what he thinks is going to happen next, meaning soon. He tried to preempt Moses from his role as deliver of Israel; thereby, holding Israel under Egyptian bondage and keeping them from the Promised Land. He tried to exterminate Israel through the powerful, but wicked Persian official Haman. In the same pattern as Moses, Satan stirred Herod to kill all the newborn children in Bethlehem. He tried to get Jesus to sin in the wilderness, thereby, discrediting Christ from being a perfect sacrifice. He was instrumental in killing Jesus by crucifixion, hoping that Jesus could not arise from the dead. And now, he was diabolically obsessed with the destruction of the early Christian Church by means of killing all the Christians.

This blueprint continued throughout history, culminating with the Holocaust—a depraved attempt to exterminate all Jews, which would prevent them from returning to Israel, which in turn would prevent Yeshua from returning to Jerusalem to establish Messiah’s kingdom. Satan knows the signs of the end times. He knew that Palestine had been declared a two-state region by Lord Balfour; it would be just a matter of time before the Jews would, in great numbers, fulfill hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that the Jewish exiles would return home. On and on we could go in demonstrating that Satan launches his attack as soon as he realizes that there is yet another event that could destroy his plan for the human race.

And don’t forget what happened right after Israel miraculously became a state in 1948. Not in a year, or a month, or even a week—the very next day Arab nations attacked the Jews with the express intent of destroying Israel. That is as now as it gets!

Do you see this? Satan never waited before. Why would he wait for an unknown, unspecified, interminable length of time for the Christian church to flourish and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth? Revelation hadn’t been written yet, so Satan didn’t know the rest of the story. His arrogant ambition and pernicious pattern is always now. That’s why he selected Nero to be the king prophesied by Daniel.

Alas, the rebellion abruptly ended; rudely interrupted when Satan’s superman (Nero) left the scene before all the terrible things Satan wanted to do could be completed! Satan must have been furious a Nero, at the Roman Empire, at the Church, and at Christ. Satan never learns or doesn’t care that evil feeds on itself and ultimately self-destructs. In fact, except for the intervention of Messiah, the world would self-destruct during the Great Tribulation. (Pages 225-226).

Not until the Lord revived Nero and imprisoned him in the Abyss, then the book of Revelation was written, did Satan realize that he would be given one last chance during the end times to establish his kingdom of pure evil on the earth. Though he knows that God always wins, he’s wickedly vain enough to still try; to take as many people with him to their fate in the Lake of Fire as he can. This last desperate attempt will itself bring about his end. As God will for the second time in human history respond by judging the entire world because of the global defiance of God and Messiah Jesus—instigated by Satan, Antichrist Nero, and the False Prophet.

Internal Conquest by Infiltration and Subversion

When force doesn’t work, when Satan’s best laid plans are foiled by God, then Satan reverts to his Plan B to defeat God and God’s people, whether the people are Jews of the Old Covenant of Law or the new man (Jew and Gentile … one in Messiah Jesus) under the New Covenant of Grace.

An early Biblical and well-known example of this strategy is the idolatrous golden calf made by the Israelites who grew impatient for Moses to return from Mt. Sinai. Many of these same people who had witnessed God’s powerful and persuasive miracles of the Egyptian plagues, yielded to the voice of a rebellious few within the Israelite camp … wanting a god they could see and worship visibly.

This happened just a few weeks after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the stunning rescue of the Jews from annihilation when their backs were to the Red Sea. You remember: God parted the waters and his people walked across the sea on dry land! And what happened to the Egyptians? They had the audacity and arrogance to ignore this stupendous miracle and pursued the Jews. As a result, the Egyptians drowned when God caused the walls of water to collapse on them. Did Pharaoh and his army seriously think that God would deliver the Israelites by supernaturally parting the waters, only to allow them to be massacred on the other side? If he had carefully contemplated the whole thing, Pharaoh would have stayed on his side of the sea!

Satan couldn’t destroy God’s people by force, so he reverted to discord and disgrace from within the ranks. Hence, the golden calf and subsequent apathy, complaints, and rebellions from a discontented few.

So, stop trusting in God to get you to the Promised Land. Devise and implement a plan, an idea … someone, something (money, power, prestige, flattery) to get you where you want to go or be. But whatever it takes or whatever you do, be sure to leave God and His message to humanity (the Bible) out of it. In the proverbial nutshell that’s Satan’s lie to the world and even to the people of God.

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (II Corinthians 4:4).

“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).

Satan’s switch to Plan B doesn’t mean that he abandons his diabolical determination to literally destroy Jews and Christians whenever possible. He does this oblivious to the historical reality that the harsher the persecution of Jews or Christians, the greater the good that came out of even the most horrendous hate and vicious brutality. Hence, the exponential growth of believers during their persecution by the Roman Empire. Or the unthinkable horror of the Holocaust precipitating the prophetic rebirth of the state of Israel and the massive return of Jews from the four corners of the earth.

In today’s world, there is increasing oppression of true believers in Christ Jesus, including atrocities committed by Muslims in several African nations, as well as some Arab countries. As well as a reprehensible return (rise) of Anti-Semitism.

As developed in next week’s article, we’ll see that it was internal subversion of the true Gospel of Messiah Jesus through an ecclesiastical hierarchy that caused far more damage than external persecution by those who hated the (true) Christians.

Things to Ponder

As seen, the woman (great city … Rome) was ruling over the kings of the world when Revelation was written. This same woman would also be in existence during the Tribulation as clearly shown in Revelation 17:12-17, which says, for example:

This transformation from ancient Rome with its Caesars that ruled over kings and kingdoms to the subsequent form and substance of the woman beginning in the 4th to 5th centuries and continuing to this very day will be developed in more detail in the next two articles.

The only other thing to ponder is to not miss those articles!

That and the infinitely more important near-future reality: “Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His (Messiah Jesus) kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27, parenthesis mine).

Jerusalem / City Above All Cities

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Great Cities of the World

The creativity God gave to humanity is truly remarkable. But, then, the Lord is The Creator … of all things. And he created us in his image. Although we tend to focus on innovation that produces music, paintings, sculptures, and literature (fiction, non-fiction), everyone is gifted in some way or another. Each person has a special intelligence; an aptitude to be or do something better or different than most.

I am particularly impressed with those who design and build (architects, draftsmen, engineers, contractors, and craftsmen) such things as automobiles, ships, trains, airplanes, giant cranes, and intricate equipment and machinery of all kinds. But especially buildings— spectacular skyscrapers, colossal castles, beautiful museums, exquisite galleries, grand theatres, splendid stadiums, luxurious hotels, and just ordinary houses, that one after another grow into great cities all over the earth.

One of my favorite television programs is called Aerial America, which began as a flyover (with a historical narrative) of every state in the United States; and, recently, has morphed into Aerial Cities. There’s nothing like the stunning vista of mountains, valleys, canyons, rivers, lakes, prairies, landmarks, buildings, and entire cities from the air.

Preferring an aisle seat when flying, I, nevertheless, peer left or right through an airplane window to view the city as we approach it. The experience gives visual validation to the maxim: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The geographic size and demographic population of dozens of large cities world-wide is staggering. Because there’s more than one criterion to measure the size of a city, on-line statistical sites vary in their rankings of cities by population. But there seems to be near-unanimous consensus of the largest city in the world. Do you know which one it is?

In answer to that question, the web-site I chose was www.worldatlas.com

Answer: Tokyo, Japan. By far. Population: 38,001,000.

The next largest: Delhi, India, 25,703,168.

Third place: Shanghai, China, 23.740,778.

Sixth place: Mexico City, 20,998,543.

New York City sits in 10th place: 18,593,220. Paris, 25th place at 10,843,285. And London comes in at number 28: 10,313,307.

(Seoul, South Korea … population nearly 10 million)

These and others are considered great cities, at least in terms of the first definition of great as found in Webster’s Dictionary: “Notably large in size.”

Now, some shocking news: with a sudden shift to the final (21st) and most devastating of God’s judgments portrayed in the apocalyptic book of Revelation. I’ve quoted this passage in a few Eye of Prophecy articles, including an article that dealt extensively with the man-made carnage plus God’s wrath poured out on a wicked world—during a seven-year period that will be more devastating than all previous man-made and natural calamities combined: Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (Posted 6-6-15).

“Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck—the worse since people were placed on the earth. The great city Babylon (Rome) split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble … And every island disappeared, and the mountains were all leveled. There was a terrible hailstorm, and hailstones weighing as much as seventy-five pounds fell from the sky on the people below” (Revelation 16:18-21, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Can you wrap your mind around what you just read? I hope you can do a better job that I have, as indicated in the following excerpt from the article referenced above (in italics):

Every time I read it, I shake my head in disbelief. I repeat the words, but they still do not compute. My imagination lags far behind the stunning reality of it all.

I went on to say:

Once again, absolutely incredible! Not just cities all over the earth crumbling into rubble, or every single island—think of the Hawaiian Islands—completely disappearing (giant tsunamis that not only inundate but sink the islands), and all the earth’s mountains flattened into level plains. No, that isn’t what causes the unrepentant who are left on the earth to curse God once again. It was the giant hailstones that obviously were even more devastating than the other colossal calamities.

An Intriguing Correlation

Jesus gave a lengthy answer to his disciples’ question, “…What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Early in his response, Jesus used the following analogy: “But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Verse 8).

In the 20th century, we experienced the first of the birth pains. Some, like the rebirth of Israel, are exceptionally good. Others, like two World Wars and countless other wars, rumors of war, and international terrorism are not good (to say the least).

In this 21st century, I firmly believe we are in the more to come phase of labor pains. One of the more to come is the completion of the coalition that has recently begun to take shape with what many considered to be an unlikely, if not impossible, alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey—the three prominent nations of the Gog/Magog confederation.

(Let’s admit it men, we’ve never worked–labored this hard in our life)

Messiah’s analogy to a woman’s birth pangs is precisely what’s happening in our world. The contractions (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis) are increasing in record numbers and severity. The painful spasms of wars and rumors of war and ethnic rivalries continue with kaleidoscope intensity. But birth pains also signal that something so very good is about to happen. Concerning God’s providential purpose and plan for humanity, it is the birth of the Kingdom of God on earth, headquartered in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, The City That God Loves Above All Cities on Earth

The rebirth of Israel (May 14, 1948) as a sovereign nation was both miraculous and peculiar.

This is how the Lord foretold it through the prophet Isaiah:

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

That’s exactly what has transpired with Israel; she was reborn in record time—one day. Then after her birth, the labor pains began in the form of intense persecution from surrounding Muslim nations resulting in four major wars and subsequent suicide bombings, terrorist attacks, and BDS actions that continue to this day.

This paradoxical birth was extraordinarily evident this past Monday. Some 800 Israeli and United States officials celebrated Israel’s 70th anniversary as a nation. At the same time tens of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza (now in its seventh week of rioting) stormed the fenced border, and certainly not as peaceful protestors. In an acceleration of this rampage, Palestinians hurled firebombs, grenades, and stones at IDF troops. They fired guns toward the IDF and attempted to plant land mines near the fence. Many brought with them cutting tools to breach the fence. And they continue to attach fire bags to kites and fly them into Israel. Thus far, hundreds of acres of Israeli cropland have been destroyed.

Such a peaceful “Right of Return” march!

Sixty Palestinians were killed (most of them Hamas terrorists embedded in the huge crowd of Palestinians estimated at 40,000, with some “civilians” paid by Hamas to breach the fence) by the IDF who has every right to defend their people against the real intention of Hamas. To attack and overrun Israelis—many of whom live only a short distance from the border.

(For the past six weeks, every day that Palestinians march on the border, they burn tires–a literal smokescreen to try to breach the border fence)

The next day (May 15th), even more Palestinians were to march on Israel, as it was Nakba Day (Arabic for day of disaster). In remembrance of the Arab’s painful defeat when five Muslim countries attacked newborn Israel on May 15th, the day after Israel declared statehood.

Instead of the projected 100,000, only about 4,000 Palestinians showed up. Two more Palestinians died while attempting to breach the fence.

What happened? Why the drastic (fortunate) reduction in the number of Palestinians streaming to Israel’s border?

What happened is something the mainstream media has not fully reported; however, a handful of media outlets have. The following excerpts are from a May 16th, 2018 article by Daniel Siryoti posted in on-line news source Israel Hayom (in italics):

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was summoned urgently to Cairo Monday, where Egyptian officials severely admonished him over the terrorist’s group’s insistence on instigating violent demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza Strip border.

General Intelligence Service head Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel leveled scathing criticism at him over Hamas “riot policy.”

…Egyptian officials were stunned by the high number of casualties and angered by information provided by Israel that proved Hamas was paying civilians, including children, to place themselves in harm’s way by approaching the fence and clashing with IDF soldiers so as to allow Hamas operatives to blend into the crowd and try to carry out terrorist attacks….

Quoting the Egyptian official being interviewed, the article’s author writes:

“Kamel kept Haniyeh waiting outside his office. It was humiliating. When Haniyeh was finally called in, you could hear him (Kamel) yelling. Haniyeh didn’t answer back.

“Haniyeh was told, in no uncertain terms, that the blood of the dead was on his and (Hamas military leader) Yahya Sinwar’s head…”

The official said that “Haniyeh was stunned” by the Egyptian rebuke… Egyptian intelligence officers, “made it clear to him (Haniyeh) that the Hamas leadership will be held responsible for any more deaths in border riots. They told him history won’t forgive the Hamas leadership for such senseless deaths.

“Kamel demanded that Haniyeh order his people to cease the border riot campaign immediately. It was a very stern message,” the official said.

…As a result, the Nakba Day demonstrations on the border on Tuesday … were far less violent than expected.

Egypt still has a great deal of influence over Gaza Strip Palestinians and their terrorist organization Hamas, from the days when Egypt controlled Gaza almost exclusively. Despite Egyptian President Abdel el-Sissi and his government’s animosity toward the Muslim Brotherhood—the parent organization of Hamas—Egypt has allowed the Palestinians (under Hamas) to do pretty much want they wanted, in terms of hostility toward Israel. However, Egypt wants the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) Palestinian Authority to resume control of the Gaza Strip, something that could happen were it not for Hamas refusal to give up their weapons. A condition imposed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

(Photo of Mahmoud Abbas to the right and of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to the left. Among other tirades against Israel Haniyeh has said: “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be removed and uprooted.” Some 4-5 years ago when his one-year old daughter was seriously ill to the point of death, he asked and was given permission by Israeli officials for his daughter to be treated in an Israeli hospital. They saved her life!)

Egypt is currently one of only two Muslim nations (Jordan is the other) that officially recognizes Israel has a sovereign nation. However, most Egyptians continue to loathe the idea of a Jewish State and many still deplore Jews as a people. Which makes Egypt’s ultra-harsh reprimand of Hamas’ leaders dumbfounding. Here we have a Muslim nation (Egypt) supporting the truth espoused by the United States and Israel and a couple of other nations like Australia: it is Hamas who is responsible for the death of their own people. As opposed to Muslim heads of state and several leaders of other nations (particularly in Europe) that are holding Israel exclusively responsible for the Palestinian deaths, because they refuse to accept or they lie about the obvious—this so-called right of return march is anything but peaceful. At the very least, they assert that Israel’s response is disproportionate.

Please see Eye of Prophecy article, The Right of Return … For Palestinian or Jew? Posted (4-7-18) during the first week of this march on Israel, which not only explained the ulterior motive and not so subtle methods of Hamas, but also dealt extensively with the real right of return belonging to the Jews.

Another unexpected event took place this past Wednesday: Hamas official Salah Bardawil admitted that 50 of the 60 Palestinians killed on Monday and Tuesday were members of Hamas. Weeks prior to that, Hamas refused to acknowledge that more than just a handful of those killed or injured up to that time were Hamas operatives. The connection of Egypt’s scathing criticism of Hamas’ top official (Haniyeh) to another Hamas official making this concession is unmistakable; as is the huge reduction of rioters on Tuesday. It’s deductively clear that Hamas made this admission to placate Egypt … by revealing that most of the Palestinians killed were Hamas agents, not Palestinian “civilians.”

At best this concession is a technicality, considering that non-Hamas Palestinians killed had either been paid by Hamas or ideologically and materially support terrorism. On the other hand, it exonerates Israel (not that Israel’s needs acquittal) from biased world-opinion that “innocent, non-violent” Palestinians are being indiscriminately wounded or killed.

The Heart of Israel Has Been Transplanted Back to Jerusalem

Let’s get back to the prophetically fulfilled good news that Israel is 70 years old, a significant generational benchmark of end-times prophecy. And in that context, a liberated, reunified Jerusalem is 50 years old, which is a representation of the 50-year Jubilee of Scripture (See Eye of Prophecy article, Jubilee and Messiah … They Go Together! Posted 1-23-16).

For nearly two thousand years, exiled Jews all over the world frequently and passionately exclaimed, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Beginning in 1948 and continuing in greater numbers to this day, many Jews are instead saying, “This year in Jerusalem!” (Here we are!) Nearly 6.5 million Jews are now living in the land promised to them by God, himself.

Said U.S. President Donald Trump in a video message played in Jerusalem during Israel’s 70th Birthday celebration on May 14th, this past Monday:

“Today, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government; it is the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli Supreme Court, and Israel’s prime minister and president. Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Yet for many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious. The plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy to the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem.”

President Trump went on to say that the embassy opening was, “many, many years ahead of schedule.”

Said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the ceremony: “What a glorious day for Israel. Remember this moment. This is history. President Trump, by recognizing history you have made history. All of us are deeply moved, all of us are deeply grateful. The truth and peace are interconnected. A peace that is built on lies will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern realities. You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish State.”

Although those in attendance were obviously focused on this remarkable historical achievement, they were not oblivious to what was happening at Israel’s border with Gaza. Said U.S. Middle-East Envoy Jared Kushner: “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

That’s another way of saying that Palestinians in particular and others (Muslims and some national leaders even from Western nations) in general are not facing the reality that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years, long before Muhammad invented Islam as a religion. Let alone the absurd claim that Arabs were in Israel before the Jews. Or ignoring the equally embarrassing evidence that Jerusalem is not mentioned even one time in the Koran, as opposed to over six hundred references to Jerusalem in the Bible.

(See Eye of Prophecy article, The Myth of Al-Aqsa Mosque, posted 4-16-16. It is primarily this myth on which Muslims base their false narrative that Jerusalem belongs to Arabs and Muslims).

(Depiction of Muhammad’s fictitious night journey to heaven from Jerusalem)

Said Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, “America made the first courageous and bold move, and now we expect other states to follow. Do they want to take part in history or miss out? It’s theirs to decide, but Jerusalem is here to stay.”

I do not know whether Naftali Bennett has read Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel’s restoration and Jerusalem’s reunification as Israel’s capital. However, whether observant or secular, nearly all Israelis understand the monumental magnitude of Jerusalem as the physical and spiritual heart of Israel—indeed, of the entire world.

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns … Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them” (Jeremiah 33:6-9).

The fulfillment of this prophecy and others like it is underway in our generation. Paving the way for an even more spectacular fulfillment of prophecy when Messiah Jesus returns as the King of all kings to rule and reign from Jerusalem.

“For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever” (Jeremiah 33:17).

God’s Providential Plan for Jerusalem’s Destiny

The striking significance of Jerusalem as the City of God, as the eternal capital of the Promised Land of Israel, cannot be emphasized enough. Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God for about four hundred years—in the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple on Temple Mount. It is to Jerusalem that Messiah Jesus will return to set up his Kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace for 1,000 years, immediately after the Great Tribulation ends. It is in the New Jerusalem where the magnificent Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—will dwell throughout eternity with all those (Jew and Gentile) who have been redeemed by believing and receiving the salvation offered by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the substitutional sacrificial death of God’s Son, Yeshua.

Let’s examine Jerusalem’s prominence as promoted in Scripture in the framework of the following terms: Her Personification, Purpose, Protection, Prosperity, and Peace.

Although there are hundreds of passages in Scripture, by obvious restriction of time/space in this article, each of the listed categories will come with only two or three references.

The Personification of Jerusalem

“Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth….

Never again will you be called, ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride…” (Isaiah 62:1-4).

Then later in that chapter:

“They will be called, ‘The Holy People’ and ‘The People Redeemed by the Lord.’ And Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Desirable Place’ and ‘The City No Longer Forsaken’” (Verse 12).

The personification (image, name characterization) of Jerusalem described in the above passage will be even more prominent in the not-so-distant future, exemplified by the presence of God with and love for his people. It is love that a husband has for his bride (but infinitely greater).

“But Judah will be filled with people forever, and Jerusalem will endure through all generations. I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardon; and I, the Lord, will make my home in Jerusalem, with my people” (Joel 3:20-21).

*Note: Pardon for crimes (sins, transgressions against God) for Jews (and Gentiles) individually took place when Israel’s Messiah died for the sins of the whole world, then rose from the dead to seal the New Covenant. God’s discipline of Israel as a nation ended in 1967, when Gentile domination of Israel ceased through the liberation and reunification of the Holy City of Jerusalem in the Holy Land of Israel.

In one of the many Old Testament Messianic passages, we read what the Lord (God the Father) says about His Messiah (God’s Son as established in other passages):

“…He has sent me (Messiah) against the nations which plunder you (Zion … Jerusalem), for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8, NASB, parenthesis mine).

That’s personification at its best … Jerusalem as the apple (pupil) of God’s eye.

The Purpose for Jerusalem

“Rather, you must seek the Lord your God at the place of worship he himself will choose from among all the tribes—the place where his name will be honored” (Deuteronomy 12:5).

As we know, Jerusalem became God’s central choice (eternal capital of Israel) where his name would be honored. Moses’ prophetic admonition (just quoted) was confirmed in the following passage:

“May the God who has chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place to honor his name destroy any king or nation that violates this command and destroys the Temple. I, Darius, have issued this decree. Let it be obeyed with all diligence” (Ezra 6:12).

After King Solomon’s death, Israel’s ten northern tribes rejected Judah’s rightful heir (king) in Jerusalem. However, Jews—both before the Babylonian captivity and afterward—knew full well that Jerusalem was the heart and soul of Israel, where the Lord was to be honored in all the ways the Lord had specified to his people. Such as the requirement that all Jewish men travel to Jerusalem to attend three of the seven Jewish festivals—Passover, Festival of Weeks, and Festival of Shelters (Sukkot).

Astonishingly, here (through the Lord’s providential appointment and divine orchestration) we see a Gentile king issuing a decree for the “Right of Return” of the Jews to Israel … to rebuild the Temple. Sure enough, God’s prophecy through this king came to pass. Both the Babylonian and Roman Empires that destroyed the first and second Temples, were themselves destroyed by other nations.

The Lord’s ultimate purpose (in our near future) for Jerusalem is stunningly foretold by the prophet Micah.

“People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore” (Micah 4:2-3, italics for emphasis).

Do you see the (unmistakable) correlation between the word of the Lord—proclaimed primarily by Messiah Jesus during his Millennial Reign on earth—and no more war? Under his divine leadership, there will be many astounding changes on the earth. But can you think of anything better than NO MORE WAR. Not even any training or preparation for war!

The Protection of Jerusalem

As in the glory days of King David, King Solomon, and a few kings thereafter—like Hezekiah—God will (has once again begun to) protect Israel and Jerusalem to the point of invincibility.

“But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 54:17).

Then in the above captioned chapter we read: “Even the strongest will quake with terror, and princes will flee when they see your battle flags, says the Lord, whose fire burns in Zion, whose flames blaze from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 31:9)

Even before the dynasty of Israel’s kings, God providentially protected his people from their enemies if they trusted and obeyed him. That Mosaic Covenant condition is no longer applicable.

Why is God’s protection and preservation of Israel unconditional in these last days? Because the Lord has unilaterally begun to accomplish His destiny for Israel, by fulfilling the promise set forth in his Covenant with Abraham. The hundreds of years when God withdrew his protection of Israel was for a prophetically set period (See Eye of Prophecy trilogy, Seven Times Seven (to the 4th power) and The Omega Generation, posted January-February 2014). That time of Israel’s discipline is over.

Plus, when Israel and Jerusalem experience one last perilous time as Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition commence the last days battle for Jerusalem (toward the end of the Great Tribulation), all Israel will turn their undivided attention and loyalty to and unwavering trust in their Messiah—Jesus of Nazareth who will return to deliver them one final time.

“The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel” (Joel 3:16).

The Prosperity of Jerusalem (all Israel)

Since her rebirth in 1948 as God’s special possession, the tree of Israel has grown straight and tall and has produced bountiful fruit, just as the Lord said would happen in the last days and beyond.

“I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing. The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety…. And I will make their land famous for its crops, so my people will never again suffer from famines or the insults of foreign nations … And they will know that they, the people of Israel, are my people, says the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 34:26-30).

Israel’s agricultural accomplishments since 1948 (in a mostly arid land) is stunning … the envy of even the most productive nations on earth. Her irrigation and water/land conservation systems are state of the art. Israel is also exceptionally avant-garde regarding computer, cell-phone, medical, and other sophisticated technology.

The Palestinians falsely claim that Israel belongs to them, the Arabs. Okay, then. Do they really think that they could continue the remarkable success of the Jews in agriculture (and other areas of technology and commerce), let alone improve on it—in direct reversal to the desolation of the land when the Arabs outnumbered the Jews in Israel and oppressed them? The few prosperous Arab/Muslim nations in the world are so for one reason only … Oil. Even then, only a small portion of Arabs in these Gulf-states share in this wealth.

Since Israel was reborn in 1948, the Jews have flourished collectively as a people and nation. Israel now has the sovereign state freedom and authority to determine her own destiny, to include entrepreneurial endeavors that are (in proportion to their population) amazing.

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

(A Terraced Vineyard in Israel)

The Peace of Jerusalem (means peace for the whole world)

From time immemorial, events in and conditions of the world have demonstrated that mankind is not capable of establishing ongoing regional peace and certainly not global peace. Peace has proven as elusive in our generation as it ever has been. Not only in the Middle East, but in every continent on earth. In fact, even harmony within nations is evaporating as fast as a morning fog.

Here in the United States, we need go no further than our country’s boundaries to realize that not since the Civil War has America been so socially, culturally, economically, and politically divided as we are now.

To be sure, we are to strive for peace. Our President’s bold decision to fully and finally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital, attested by his action of moving the U.S. Embassy, is a step in the right direction. (See Eye of Prophecy article, U.S. President Agrees with God … Jerusalem Is Israel’s Capital, posted 12-9-17).

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6, NASB). In Hebrew, the first part of that verse reads: Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim.

When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are praying for the (soon) return of Messiah Jesus. Because, ultimately, lasting peace will come only through him as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). And this peace will come only from Jerusalem, the City of God.

In a sweeping announcement of Messiah’s first and second coming, we read these powerful promises:

“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt. I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9-10).

Things to Ponder

“On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the Lord. He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel” (Psalm 87:1).

If the Lord loves Jerusalem more than any city in Israel, we can know for certain that this love is more than any city on earth.

“When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy…” (Psalm 126:1).

Joy and laughter filled the land of Israel when she was reborn as a nation in 1948. Then again in 1967 with the liberation of Jerusalem. And other times of festivities in the 70 years of Israel’s resurrected existence. Then this past Monday’s 70th celebration of Israel’s birthday, combined with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, when this Psalm was quoted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. That dream has become reality in Israel!

Soon to come is the reality of Jerusalem’s everlasting elevated position, literally and figuratively, over the entire earth. Earlier we read about cities flattened and mountains leveled by the final judgment of God during the Great Tribulation, in a world intent on defying God and destroying Israel.

“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name along will be worshipped. All the land from Geba, north of Judah, to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become one vast plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up in its original place….” (Zechariah 14:9-10).

Listen to more amazing words of another prophet: “In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship” (Micah 4:1).

This is not virtual streaming on a computer or smart phone screen. This is actual streaming (travel) to Jerusalem which will, by that time, have been literally elevated above all other places.

Jerusalem is forever the heart and soul of Israel, and one day will be for the entire world.

Jerusalem is the center of the universe! It is the City of God!

Daniel’s 70 Prophetic Weeks & The Number Seventy!

Did you really believe it would happen?

If just one current event had dominated world headlines, you would probably know to what this question refers. However, considering the recent flurry of global incidents, the normal response would be: What happening … which one?

To the ominous increase of missile strikes between Iran and Israel? To President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the infamous Iran Nuclear Deal? To the scheduled summit between the United States and North Korea? To U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s skillfully orchestrating the release of three Americans unjustly imprisoned by North Korea? To the extraordinary espionage pulled off by Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad—removal of a huge volume of incriminating Iranian (nuclear) documents from Tehran, right under Iran’s nose?

Notable as these events are, I’m referring to a milestone achievement that will take place this coming Monday. One that was set in motion when U.S. President Trump announced this past December 6, 2017: the U.S. Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Thereby, affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s (eternal) capital. Even with Trump’s disclaimer that Jerusalem’s geographical borders are still a matter of negotiation, it was still a courageous decision, considering global resistance to such a move.

Not only did our President make good on his campaign promise, he accelerated the Embassy transfer by several months, if not years. Instead of waiting for the cumbersome process of selecting a suitable site in Jerusalem, then the zoning and building process, our Executive staff decided to utilize the existing U.S. Counsel facility in Jerusalem as the temporary headquarters for the Embassy.

There was only one reason for this lightning-quick (as these things go) opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The reason is the date itself: May 14th.

Do you recognize the monumental significance of that date? May 14th is the 70th anniversary of Israel’s remarkable rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948.

Technically, Israel has already celebrated her 70th birthday that falls on the Jewish calendar 5th of Iyar, which occurred a few weeks ago on the Gregorian calendar of April 19th, a Friday. If, however, the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday—beginning of Jewish Sabbath at sundown—then Israel’s anniversary as a nation is celebrated on Thursday (this year beginning at sundown on the 4th of Iyar).

Most of the Gentile world uses the Gregorian calendar, thus we identify May 14th as the historical event when Israel was reborn from the floods of dispersion and the fires of Nazi death camps.

Neither U.S. President Trump nor Vice President Pence will be able to attend; however, there will be dozens of dignitaries representing the United States such as Senator Ted Cruz and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. As well as the usual U.S. Executive Staff delegation to Israel—Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt and, of course, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Plus, several journalists, educators, business leaders, congressional representatives, and religious leaders.

The 70th anniversary of Israel’s prophetic rebirth as a sovereign nation is nearly as stunning as the rebirth itself. One of, if not the main reason: the striking significance of the number seventy. Whenever we encounter that number in Scripture it applies directly to Israel. And concerning Biblical prophecy, it refers specifically to Israel in the context of the end times, the final (Omega) generation of which we are living. With a generation defined in Scripture as 100 years; also, the more common time-frame of 70 years (Psalm 90:10).

(One of the celebrations when Israel declared Statehood in 1948; Centered is Israel’s First Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion)

Here is an except from Eye of Prophecy Article, The Omega Generation (Posted 2-15-14):

Some Christians are confused about or don’t entirely understand the role of the Church and Israel during the last days beginning with the Rapture. Please fathom one critical premise/truth: Although the Mount of Olives discourse indirectly applies to the Church (composed of all Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by Messiah Jesus), the whole purpose of Christ’s majestic return is to set up the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) on the earth IN the Holy Land and THROUGH / FOR his chosen people, the Jews. And what triggers the need for Christ to return to Israel is none other than the ultimate and final rescue of the Jews (Israel) from conquest and destruction at the hands of Antichrist.

Concerning the Church, the sole purpose of the Rapture is to snatch away believers from the earth so that we do not have to experience the final wrath of God poured out on an ungodly generation of unbelievers. Otherwise, ALL Old Testament prophecies concerning the Last Days or End Times focus on Israel, not the Church; in fact, the Church (consisted of all Jews/Gentiles who place their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death) doesn’t even come into existence for over 400 years after the last book of the Old Testament was written. Moreover, from the 4th Chapter through the 18th Chapter of the book of Revelation, the Church is not even mentioned, as such.

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel

Virtually all Biblical prophecy focuses on Israel and the Messiah who would come from the tribe of Judah, through the lineage of King David. Let’s begin with a passage that I described as, The Most Panoramic Prophecy in the Bible. (See Eye of Prophecy articles of that same title, Part I & II posted in January 2018).

The following is one of the most recognized prophecies in all the Bible … obviously important for all believers, both Jew and Gentile. However, seldom do commentators indicate that the prophecy is directed specifically to and primarily concerns the Jews and Israel. For now, we’ll examine just the first verse of that passage, the composite of which is found in Daniel 9:24-27.

“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, italics for emphasis).

Some Bible translations describe the seventy sets of seven as “seventy weeks.” A prophetic week in the Hebrew Scriptures is seven years. Thus, a total of seventy weeks would be 490 years. However, the passage divides these seventy weeks into two basic periods of time. Fine tuning it even more, there are three periods; two of the three (seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven—Verse 25) combining to make sixty-nine weeks (483 years).

Then later in the passage (Verse 27), Daniel refers to the final week of the seventy by equating it to the seven-year treaty that the same ruler—whose armies destroyed Jerusalem and the (2nd) Temple—would make with Israel. As documented in my book Out of the Abyss and many of the 50 Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist, that ruler is the Roman Emperor Nero … who as the beast of Revelation will return from the Abyss (Revelation 17:7-8).

For purpose of this week’s article, we want to concentrate on the fact that Daniel’s prophecy in Chapter 9 is specifically addressed to (like so many other Old Testament prophecies) “your people and your holy city (Jerusalem).” It encompasses the prophetic timetable of Israel’s future in the panoramic context of Messiah’s First and Second Advent, as well as the appearance and reappearance of the Antichrist.

All but one of the six specific events detailed in Daniel 9:24 will be finally fulfilled during and shortly after the 70th week—the seven years of the Great Tribulation followed immediately by the beginning of the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus. During that time: (1) any rebellion (of remaining unbelieving Jews in Messiah) will be finished; (2) their (national) sin of rejecting Messiah will come to an end; (3) everlasting righteousness will commence with the Millennial Reign of Messiah who will establish justice, righteousness, and peace on earth; (4) the prophetic vision (all prophecies concerning the end times) will be confirmed—realized; (5) the rebuilt Temple (Most Holy Place) will be anointed … by the very presence of Messiah.

The one prophecy in this list of six that would come to pass before the 70th week (the final seven years) is: “to atone for their guilt.” This took place when Messiah Jesus died on the cross as the final, once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of God’s people, the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. How do we know this atonement would take place before the 70th week began to unfold? We know because of verse 25:

“Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes…”

This was exactly 173,880 days or 483 Jewish years … 30-day months of the Jewish calendar.

Astounding!

Several Eye of Prophecy articles have discussed this phenomenal date-dedicated prophecy, beginning with the article, An Incredible Time-Lapse Prophecy (Posted 1-18-14).

Later, we’ll return to the Daniel 9 passage specifically in the context of Israel’s 70th anniversary, as part of the final generation just before the Rapture will take place. Which then ushers in the 70th and final week (seven years) of Daniel’s prophecy, having been interrupted (postponed) for 2,000 years by what believers call the Church Age—the New Covenant of Grace for personal salvation to both Jew and Gentile. For now, let’s look at more examples of the number seventy in Scripture to see its significance as pertaining directly to Israel.

*Note: Including the phenomenal 70 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy, there are a total of seven (7) substantial Biblical episodes involving the number seventy. Imagine that! Truth be known, I didn’t realize that until I counted them.

Jacob & His Family Move to Egypt

When Joseph invited his brothers, his father (Jacob), and their families to move to Egypt, do you know or recall the size of Jacob’s extended family?

Though Israel (the Lord had already changed Jacob’s name to Israel) was not yet a nation, Jacob and his family consisted of and represented God’s chosen people, the Israelites—who would later be called Jews after Jacob’s fourth son, Judah.

“These are the names of the sons of Israel (that is, Jacob) who moved to Egypt with their father, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. In all, Jacob had seventy descendants in Egypt, including Joseph, who was already there” (Exodus 1:1-5, parenthesis in the text, italics for emphasis).

(Depiction of the Wrestling Scene when the Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel … Genesis 32:22-30).

Obviously, this number of seventy applied exclusively to God’s chosen people through the Patriarch Jacob, whose twelve sons would be the ancestral catalyst of Israel’s exponential growth during their 400 years of bondage in Egypt, leading to the nation of Israel.

“In time, Joseph and all his brothers died, ending that entire generation. But their descendants, the Israelites, had many children and grandchildren. In fact, they multiplied so greatly that they became extremely powerful and filled the land” (Exodus 1:6-7).

By the time Israel became a nation (when they agreed to God’s Covenant with Moses in the wilderness or when they entered the Promised Land 40 years later under Joshua—either time could be considered Israel’s inception as a nation), her population was around two million people. From seventy to two million!

God’s Special Invitation to Select Elders of Israel

Beginning with a question. Where and to whom did God give the Ten Commandments? Most would answer that question with a roll of their eyes: Practically everyone knows God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

True enough: “By the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) the Ten Commandments were emblazoned on two tablets of stone; given along with other commandments to Moses while he was on Mount Sinai. But that was not the only occasion, nor was it even the first time.

The initial disclosure of the Ten Commandments was given by God in an audible voice (thunderous, Exodus 19:19 … you can bet that all two million Israelites heard God!) at the foot of Mount Sinai. The people were so terrified of God’s majestic voice, they pleaded with Moses: “…You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19).

Later, Moses ascended the mountain where the Lord engraved the Ten Commandments on solid stone, as a written testimony of those Commandments.

Do you recall what happened while Moses was on Mount Sinai?

Correct: The people became impulsively impatient and decadently rebellious by crafting a golden calf idol (with Aaron’s help no less); thereby, breaking at least two of the Ten Commandments they had already promised to keep. As a result, three thousand Israelites died that day. Because Moses broke the stone tablets in anger, the Lord told him to ascend Mount Sinai a second time, where God again etched the Ten Commandments in stone. This, then, would have been a third bequeathing of the Ten Commandments.

Shortly after God’s audible presentation of the Ten Commandments directly to the entire camp of Israel and before Moses ascended alone to the summit of Mount Sinai, the Lord said that a select group of Israelites could accompany Moses part way up the mountain. Prior to and after that special exemption, no one was to set foot on the mountain (except for Moses and Joshua) on pain of death. Just before this unique invitation, God (through Moses) had reaffirmed to the people his covenant with their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Said the Lord:

“And I will fix your boundaries from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the eastern wilderness to the Euphrates River. I will hand over to you the people now living in the land, and will drive them out ahead of you. Make no treaties with them or their gods. They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry” (Exodus 23:31-33).

In the very next verse we read the Lord’s special summons; however, it came with conditions:

“Then the Lord instructed Moses: ‘Come up here to me, and bring along Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders. All of you must worship from a distance. Only Moses is allowed to come near to the Lord. The others must not come near, and none of the other people are allowed to climb up the mountain with him (meaning to the summit)” (Exodus 24:1-2, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Before these “VIPs” began to climb part way up Mount Sinai, Moses read aloud to the people those laws which God had already given to him, prior to Moses (40-day/night) stay on the mountain to receive much of the Law, including the engraved Ten Commandments.

The people responded, “…We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey” (Exodus 24:7).

After Moses confirmed the Covenant between God and the Israelites with blood from animal sacrifices made earlier that day, we read one of the most amazing scenes in all of Scripture. An event that this select group was extremely lucky (using that word in its optimum connotation, i.e. favorable, fortunate, or privileged in a providential way) to witness.

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

Incredible!

This was one of the Pre-Incarnate appearances of God the Son (Messiah Jesus), of which there are several recorded in the Old Testament. Please refer to Eye of Prophecy articles, Does God Really Have a Son? Part I & Part II (Posted 10-31 & 11-7-15).

Thus, whether it was Jacob wrestling with the Lord, or Joshua meeting Him just before the battle of Jericho, or Abraham visited by the Lord to reaffirm that Abraham and Sarah would miraculously conceive a child (Isaac) in their old age—all were appearances of God’s Son in human form.

Scripture is unequivocally clear that God the Father is Spirit and that no one can look on Him and live. That even applied to Moses. Said the Lord to Moses: “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live…. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen” (Exodus 33:20 & 23).

(Exodus 33:9:  “God spoke with Moses face to face” (a figure of speech) on a regular basis. However, Moses was shielded from God’s glory by a dense, dark cloud. Even then, God’s brilliant light caused Moses’ face to glow)

A Second Selection of Seventy Jews … To Assist Moses

Fairly soon after the Israelite’s Exodus from Egypt, Moses heeded his father-in-law Jethro’s advice to appoint administrators to help Moses with the judging of disputes among the people. Then about 14 months after the Exodus, the Lord lifted the cloud (by day, pillar of fire by night) over the Tabernacle. “So the Israelites set out from the wilderness of Sinai and traveled on from place to place until the cloud stopped in the wilderness of Paran” (Numbers 10:12).

Shortly thereafter, the Israelites again began to grumble and mumble against the Lord and against Moses because they were fed up (pun intended) with their diet. “…Oh, for some meat! They exclaimed … Our appetites are gone. All we ever see in this manna!” (Numbers 11:4 & 6).

Reading on: “Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? … Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? … The load is far too heavy. If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!’” (Numbers 11:10-15).

I thought to myself: Could even Moses talk to God like that? I’m not sure I would or could, no matter how miserable. Then realizing: I’m certainly no Moses. Not only Moses, but David, other Psalmists, and several prophets sometimes bluntly expressed their feelings to the Lord and did so in a way that seemed to give up on or even challenge God. Such as Elijah: “…He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life…’” (I Kings 19:4).

I/We also realize that the Lord can certainly “handle” those challenges and does so with compassion and sovereign wisdom. If, that is, they are from a sincere (hurting) heart and they are not intended to, as such, defy God.

Seldom did the Lord respond directly to the precise words of the prophet’s or the king’s complaint. Nor did he engage them in a detailed (therapeutic-like) discussion of their problems, nor reprimand them for being so abrupt. He let them get it off their chest (so to speak) and then proceeded to give them practical solutions to alleviate their predicament. In fact, with Elijah, it was a gentle whisper from the Lord.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone” (Numbers 11:16-17, italics for emphasis).

Although Scripture doesn’t tell us, quite likely some of the 70 elders who accompanied Moses on Mount Sinai were part of this group of 70 administrators who would assist Moses in bearing the burden of the people.

Have you heard the term, Sanhedrin? If so, do you know what it is? One of the most well-known scenes in the New Testament is that of Nicodemus coming secretly to Jesus at night to determine just who Jesus might really be. Was he the Messiah? From that encounter, we get the most quoted verse of Scripture, at least in the New Testament (John 3:16).

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, an organized Jewish council (the Greek word means assembly) of 70 men, with its reintroduction traditionally believed to be by Ezra after the return of some Jews from the Babylonian captivity. But historically (records) traced only to the 3rd century B.C.

During the 400 silent years the (Great) Sanhedrin consisted mostly of Sadducee nobles and priests, with a few Pharisees, scribes, or elders of Israel. It was patterned after the 70 leaders of Israel of whom we just read. Subsequently, the Sanhedrin expanded to 71 members, primarily to break any tie in voting. But the original design was that of a 70-member body. Subsequently, due to Roman Empire suppression and oppression, the Sanhedrin dissolved in 425 A.D.

However, the Sanhedrin has been revived in today’s Israel. Though it doesn’t possess the political or even religious power it once held, it is nevertheless recognized symbolically as a viable organization in Israeli society. Observant Jews ardently anticipate that when the 3rd Temple is built, the Sanhedrin will be the governing authority over religious life in Israel, perhaps even replacing the (secular) Supreme Court of Israel.

Also, it was members of the Sanhedrin who had Jesus arrested and who violated their own laws by an illegal mock trial in the middle of the night. Then they handed him over to the Romans to be crucified.

(Scene from the Acclaimed Movie, Passion of the Christ, showing the High Priest and members of the Sanhedrin. Film released in 2004, which happened to be the year that the Sanhedrin was reinstituted in Israel)

The Seventy Jewish Disciples

Many, even unbelievers, know that Jesus chose twelve men to be his inner circle of disciples. But that wasn’t the only group of followers whom our Lord selected for a special purpose.

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come” (Luke 10:1, NASB).

Messiah Jesus sent the seventy specifically to towns in Israel to, “…heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9, NASB).

Then Jesus issued a severe warning of (final day) judgment to those towns that rejected the message of the Kingdom of God, which would have been established then and there in Israel had Messiah’s own people not spurned him.

Said Jesus to the seventy: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16, NASB).

I don’t believe it’s mere happenstance that Jesus selected seventy of his Jewish followers to proclaim that Israel’s Messiah had arrived. Seventy, the same number of Jewish elders who assisted Moses in the administration of the Old Covenant. The new set of seventy would announce that Jesus was God’s Son who had come to mediate the New Covenant announced by Jeremiah hundreds of years earlier.

Seventy Times Seven

The following is another widely known passage of Scripture.

(I’ve even heard unbelievers quote “seventy times seven!” Including some Hollywood movies)

Obviously, Jesus’s reply was figurative in principle. We need to forgive others as many times as it takes—something that is sometimes hard to do even once. However, Jesus did literally say, “until (up to) seventy times seven.”

Thus, it was no coincidence that our Lord selected seventy (times seven) in this formula for forgiveness. In fact, I’m convinced the correlation to the passage with which we began today’s article, concerning the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy, is crystal clear.

“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to…” (Daniel 9:24).

To what?

In the context of what Jesus told Peter concerning Peter’s brothers (the Jews): “to atone for their guilt…” (Same Verse 24). This took place 69 weeks or 483 years after Daniel’s prophecy (up to that point) culminating in Messiah Jesus’s sacrificial atonement for sin once and for all. Next would come the (final) 70th week—the seven-year Tribulation preceded immediately by the Rapture which is precipitated by the final (Omega) generation that includes the rebirth of Israel and the restoration return of Jews to Israel foretold in many Old Testament passages.

Seventy times seven said Jesus. A period of seventy sets of seven as prophesied by Daniel.

Returning to the Old Testament for our last example, which is:

Seventy Years of Babylonian Exile

A frequently quoted verse in Scripture, treasured by Jewish and Gentile believers and by non-Messianic Jews alike, is one of the most (and there are many) encouraging promises the Lord makes to Israel.

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

The italicized words (Verse 11) is the part of this passage most often quoted. But in reading the following verses, we see that the plans, future, and hope are specifically linked to the return of exiled Jews to their Promised Land … the final restoration of the Jews, of Israel, and of Jerusalem. The beginning of which took place when Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948, seventy years ago!

Many also overlook the verse immediately preceding verse eleven. Examining the context of this passage more closely, we read:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again” (Jeremiah 29:10, italics for emphasis). Then verse eleven begins with: For I know the plans I have for you…

Because God’s people never really returned to him, nor did most of them even return to Israel from Babylon or from Persia; and because hundreds of years later they rejected their very Messiah (Jesus), the ultimate fulfillment of this prophetic promise (the plans I have for you) would not begin to unfold for another 2,500 years.

In advance, the Lord (through Jeremiah) not only told the Jews that the southern kingdom of Judah would fall to and the Temple demolished by Babylon, he also specified the precise time of their exile—70 years.

The fact that what God says will happen, always happens; what he says he will do he always does, doesn’t diminish the drama of the Jews returning to Israel after seventy years captivity in Babylon. Then the even more dramatic return of Jews from the four corners of the earth when Israel was reborn in 1948. Since then Israel’s population has increased tenfold—from approximately 600,000 in 1948 to 6.5 million today. Well over a million Jews have made Aliyah to Israel from many nations, especially from Russia. Over six million Israelis in modern Israel to poignantly represent the six million Jews ruthlessly killed in the Holocaust.

(Aliyah–Immigrants Coming to Israel)

Is there a (prophetic) correlation between the 70 years of Israel’s exile in Babylon and the (ultimate) fulfillment of God’s promise to return his people to Israel, which began to take place 70 years ago? I would answer that question with a question: How could there not be?

The full passage (Jeremiah 29:10-14) establishes that link.

In that regard, was it mere chance that the 2nd Temple was destroyed in the year 70. A.D.?

The Bible is replete with the significance of some numbers and their pattern connection with events and/or examples of God’s interaction with humanity. Such as the number three, seven, twelve, forty, seventy, and four hundred. Several Eye of Prophecy articles have focused on this Biblical emphasis regarding certain numbers.

For example, the article: Countdown to Armageddon … End of the Fourth 400-Year Era (Posted 7-29-17). Here is an excerpt from that article:

Jesus of Nazareth is the prophesied Messiah who came to this earth to accomplish the two providential plans that God conceived for the human race, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile:

(1) To bring salvation, through the Jews, to every Jew and Gentile who believes and receives Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior.

(2) To fulfill God’s promise that Abraham’s descendants would possess the Promised Land of Israel forever.

In the last 70 years both of these magnificent plans have been in high gear and are now in the final stages. Tens of thousands of Jews have come to Christ especially since the Six-Day War of 1967, as have millions of Gentiles the world over. Israel has been reborn as a sovereign nation, with Jews immigrating to or being born in their homeland in great numbers.

Things to Ponder

What an amazing time of history we’re living in!

Israel born in a single day, May 14th, 1948 … a direct fulfillment of Isaiah 66:7-9.

Jews returning from virtually every nation on earth. A miraculous accomplishment, one foretold by dozens of Bible passages.

The Gog/Magog terrible trio of Russia, Iran, and Turkey forming an unheard-of alliance, considering the animosity of these countries one toward another just a few years ago. Precisely as predicted by Ezekiel (Chapters 38 & 39).

Alongside their Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ, tens of thousands of Jews believing and receiving Jesus as Messiah and Savior, especially in the last 70 years. Waiting for Messiah’s return to, “…lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace…” (Micah 5:4-5a).

Israel’s economy is booming and agriculture flourishing unlike any time in her history since the glory days of King David and King Solomon. Not only bountiful crops, lush vineyards, and beautiful gardens planted and blooming, but the Jews themselves planted and prospering in their ancient home.

There’s still trouble ahead. The seven-year Tribulation will be more terrifying than anything ever experienced on Planet Earth. But after it’s over, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11).

For those, Jew and Gentile alike, who have believed and received Jesus as Messiah and Savior, God will spare us from this time of great misery and calamity.

If you don’t know Messiah Jesus as your personal Savior, I implore you to call upon the name of the Lord. You will be saved immediately (from your sins and the penalty thereof) and from the Great Tribulation soon to come.

Are you in awe of the spectacular 20th and 21st century end-times fulfillment of Biblical prophecy? I certainly am.

“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!…” (Psalm 96:4).

Let’s rejoice with Israel over her 70th birthday!

Jewish Christian / Christian Jew … An Oxymoron?

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Oxymoron: What a weird word.

The term consists of two conflicting Greek words: oxys, meaning sharp or keen (including mentally sharp) and moros, which means foolish.

Webster’s Dictionary defines oxymoron as a: “combination of contradictory or incongruous words (such as cruel kindness).”

Many, particularly observant Jews, consider the terms Jewish Christian or Christian Jew to be oxymoronic. They simply don’t go together. Like east and west … never the two shall meet. In Orthodox or Conservative Judaism, it is beyond just a foolhardy contradiction for a Jew to become a Christian. A Christian Jew is a traitor to Judaism; renouncing all that is Jewish, both physically and spiritually. It is siding with those who have persecuted the Jews for hundreds of years … be it the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the pogroms, or worst of all—the Holocaust.

However, the greater majority, by far, of those involved in these horrific events were Christian in name only. They were those who distorted the true Christian faith with extra Biblical man-made dogmas such as found in Roman Catholicism and pseudo-Christian cults. Even a few Protestants (such as Martin Luther) who rightfully exposed the false teachings of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, wrongly believed the true church has replaced Israel by inheriting (usurping) all the promises God made to the Jews concerning their destiny as a nation, especially Israel’s future restoration.

See Eye of Prophecy articles, Replacement Theology Part I & II (Posted July 2014).

Or those like Hitler and his Third Reich—an ungodly, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Christian, perverse, occult regime that used the insidious lies of Replacement Theology to justify murdering Jews, but also turned on both Catholics and Protestants. Hitler and Germany’s Third Reich were no more Christian than the Ayatollah and his Republican Guard of Iran.

Jewish Christian … Christian Jew. Both designations mean the same thing with a slightly different emphasis. However, both are represented by the term that has, in the 20th and 21st centuries, reversed the rationale that a Jew can’t be a Christian and remain Jewish. That term is: Messianic Jew. They are Jewish Christians and they are Christian Jews.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article, Messianic Jews … Who Are They? (Published 4-25-15).

Jewish Christian: One who has experienced a spiritual rebirth by placing their trust for salvation and eternal life in Christ (Messiah) Jesus; yet one who remains Jewish by keeping the Jewish dietary standards, the Jewish Sabbath, and the Jewish Festivals.

Christian Jew: A Jew who has become a born-again believer (true Christian) without in any way, shape, or form ceasing to be a Jew … birthright descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Or a Gentile believer who had previously converted to Judaism.

Neither descriptive term nullifies the heritage of one who is born a Jew. Nor is a Jewish Christian (Christian Jew) obligated to continue Jewish customs or required to stop them. In Christ, we all have the liberty to observe certain days or not, to eat certain foods or not…. (Romans Chapter 14).

Whichever designation is preferred or whatever a better definition of these two terms might be, they no longer rely on Judaism as a religion to save them or to make them righteous before God. Messianic Jews (and Gentile Christians) recognize that the criteria for being made right with God is exclusively through faith in God’s Promise to Abraham. Specifically, that Isaac would be the first child of promise who would bring the ultimate Child of Promise (Messiah Yeshua) as the world’s Savior, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile.

“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:25).

The Jewish Apostle Paul continues:

“Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin. Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!

“…So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith” (Romans 4:8-13, emphasis added).

The Most Jewish Thing a Jew Can Do

It has been said that the most Jewish thing any Jew can do is to believe and receive their Jewish Messiah, Jesus. I fully agree. Why?

Because a Jewish Christian’s heart has been circumcised which is what God really wanted from his people in the first place.

“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem…” (Jeremiah 4:4, NASB).

Thus, it’s a matter of the heart … complete trust in the Lord’s Promise for redemption. As opposed to a circumcision (cutting away from pagan nations by keeping the ceremonial and civil law) of the flesh to be right with the Lord.

And because a Christian Jew has become a spiritual descendant of Abraham; thus, fulfilling the very reason why God chose Abraham and Israel in the first place—to bring Messiah to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. When a Jew becomes a spiritual child of God (through Abraham’s ultimate Child of Promise) that doesn’t annul their national identity or inheritance as a Jew/Israeli. Nor when a Gentile becomes a spiritual descendant of Abraham (by the same faith in Messiah Jesus) does it mean he/she qualifies as a physical descendant of Abraham, with entitlement to the national promises God made to Abraham … the eternal possession of Israel and Jerusalem by God’s chosen people.

Just ask any of the tens of thousands of Messianic Jews all over the world, and they will tell you why this is true. They will tell you that the veil that prevented them from seeing the source of their salvation has been lifted from their eyes. That once they were blind but now they see what spiritual redemption is all about. Shortly, we’ll look more closely at that veil.

With an added footnote: Neither Jew nor Gentile should dismiss out-of-hand the phenomenon that many Jews the world over have acknowledged Jesus as their Jewish Messiah. This is far more than just a token number of Jews. It’s no coincidence that this world-wide wonder of many Jews embracing Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah as their Savior is a direct result of Israel’s miraculous (God-directed) rebirth as a nation in 1948, and especially since the reclamation of Jerusalem as the Holy City of the Holy Land in 1967—which gave rise to dozens of Messianic ministries and hundreds of global Messianic congregations. No different than thousands upon thousands of Jews in the first century (A.D.) who believed in Jesus as Messiah while Israel was still a nation.

In contrast to their unbelieving Jewish brothers and sisters in the flesh, Messianic Jews fully realize that one can be made right with God even though the Old Covenant Levitical sacrificial system of atonement was terminated with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. It was no mere coincidence that the loss of the Temple occurred in less than a generation after Jesus arose from the dead to prove that he was the Son of God. Who came as the New Covenant sacrificial Passover lamb to forever replace the need for ongoing sacrifices mandated by the Law of Moses (see the entire book of Hebrews). And certainly, no accident that the curtain which separated and kept sanctified the Holy of Holies was torn apart when Jesus died on the cross.

See Eye of Prophecy articles, The Cross and the Torn Curtain, Part I & II (Posted February 2016).

The Law of Moses and Its Purpose Compared to the Promise

What about the Law of Moses? Must a Jew discount or even disregard the ceremonial, civil, and cultural parts of that Law when he or she accepts the Jewish Messiah Jesus as personal Savior? The answer is found in and prefaced by the all important need to identify exactly what the Law was intended to do in the first place. That and balancing the realization that: (1) the Law itself was very good. With the fact that: (2) no one can keep (all points of) the Law. Therefore, keeping of the Law is NOT the means of salvation … to be made right with God.

That’s precisely why God announced through Jeremiah that—after giving his people hundreds of years to (unsuccessfully) demonstrate they could earn right standing with God by keeping the Mosaic Law, especially the moral component found primarily in the Ten Commandments—a New Covenant was necessary.

Listen to the Apostle Paul, whose entire belief system and life as a devout Jewish Pharisee was forever changed by his direct encounter with Messiah Jesus whom Saul (before his name was changed to Paul) had violently opposed, by persecuting Jewish Christians/Christian Jews:

“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law… For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law” (Galatians 2:16).

Paul is not saying the problem is with the Law itself. Rather, Paul contends that it’s the notion (based on what the Jews had erroneously began to assume not long after the Law was given) that the keeping of the Law was the foundational basis for them to be accepted as righteous before God.

Paul wrote the book of Galatians primarily to Jewish Christians in the province of Galatia (modern-day Turkey) to remind them that they had been redeemed exclusively because of their trust in Messiah Jesus, with nothing to be added to the Gospel, i.e. religious requirements of the law, like circumcision. And certainly not for Gentiles to first convert to Judaism before they could be saved by believing in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.

Paul continues: “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, NASB).

Then Paul gets even more serious by asking a probing question with this blunt introduction: “Oh, foolish Galatians! … Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ…. In the same way, Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith” (Galatians 3:1-9).

*Note: Please see Eye of Prophecy article, Times of & Fullness of the Gentiles … What Do They Mean? Recently published on 4-21-18. Which addresses at length the difference between God’s two magnificent plans for humanity, a vital distinction to grasp for both Jew and Gentile.

One for the individual identity of God’s chosen people the Jews and national identity as his special possession, Israel, including Israel’s final restoration. The nation of Israel and Jerusalem will be the centerpiece of the soon to come Kingdom of God on earth.

The other plan is that of personal salvation to all people, beginning with the Jews and then extending to the Gentiles.

Thus, when Paul declares that the true children of Abraham are those who place their faith in God, he’s referring to the spiritual plan of God to save both Jew and Gentile through the person of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus.

Continuing in Galatians:

“But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.’ So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law … This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, ‘It is through obeying the law that a person has life.’” (Galatians 3:10-12).

Which is the reason that the Lord told his people that a New Covenant and the Messiah of that covenant was the only remedy to rectify their failure to keep the Old Covenant of Law.

Paul continues:

“This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be cancelled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.

“Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised…. Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.

“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed…. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus … There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:17-29).

Observant (and even some non-observant) Jews in Paul’s time right up to the present day have not forgotten the reason why God chose them in the first place; to be separated from pagan nations, as the conduit of God’s Word and blessings for themselves and for all peoples. What some have misunderstood, and others marginalized is that these blessings would ultimately come through the Messiah, not by keeping the law of Moses, which they could not and would not do. They’ve dismissed to the point of rejection the historical evidence that Messiah and the New Covenant came to them with the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in the first century. And that Messiah’s soon appearance will be his RETURN.

Messiah was announced at the very beginning in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15); then to Abraham through the first child of promise, Isaac, not Ishmael (Genesis 17:15-19); to Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19); through King David (Psalm 2, 22, & 110); the prophets beginning primarily with Isaiah (Chapter 53); and Jeremiah’s announcement of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31). And other passages.

Then the final prophet, Malachi, after which God did not speak to his people through prophets or angels, until the angel Gabriel made this glorious announcement: “…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 2:10-11). Jesus brought and bought (with the enormous price of his very blood and life) the New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Removal of the Veil

The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant rested and where God’s very presence dwelt until a few years before Solomon’s Temple was destroyed) from the rest of the Temple was torn asunder the moment that Jesus died on the cross. Then, just as Jesus had prophesied: less than 40 years later the Temple was demolished, and the Levitical sacrificial system was no more.

Paul contrasts the glory of the Old Covenant with the greater glory of the New Covenant:

“…This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!” (II Corinthians 3:5-11).

Unlike the Gentiles, whose laws (such as they were or didn’t exist at all) were both capricious and corrupt, God’s Law—beginning with the Ten Commandments—showed the Jews right from wrong, good from evil, life over death.

In principle, the Law would give them life, but ONLY if they kept every aspect of the law. Alas, no one ever did, is doing now, or will ever do. Except one Man—Messiah Jesus! It’s not the Law that failed. The failure belongs to Jew and Gentile alike because we could not AND would not keep it. Thus, in practical reality, the Law can’t give life (eternal). Instead, the Law—as morally perfect as it is—became a curse. Trying to keep the law as a means of getting right with God is not only impossible, it’s a breach of God’s spiritual promise to Abraham. Which is the gift of God’s grace (unilaterally and unconditionally) to ALL who accept the gift by faith in the Child of Promise—Messiah Yeshua.

That’s why Jesus, himself, said: “…I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose” (Matthew 5:17). What was that purpose? To make people right with God IF they completely obeyed (kept) the entire law and writings of the prophets. They/we couldn’t, but Jesus could and did!

Which is why Jesus also said that when all is said and done, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29, referring to himself).

Next, Paul alludes to the Temple’s curtain by comparing it to Moses’ veil even before the Tabernacle (a portable forerunner of the fixed Temple), was built.

Paul writes: “Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’s writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Corinthians 3:12-17).

It all began when the curtain veil of the 2nd Temple was (supernaturally) ripped in half, signifying that all who believe and receive the mediator of the New Covenant, Messiah Jesus, have the awesome privilege of entering the Holy of Holies … God’s very presence.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters (referring directly to Jewish Christians the main audience of the book of Hebrews, but also Gentile Christians), we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him…” (Hebrews 10:19-22, parenthesis mine).

Paul wrote that “to this day … the same veil covers their minds … and hearts.” Sadly, to this day has continued into the 21st century to most of the house of Israel. But that will all change and soon, for we are living in the Omega Generation. The final generation that will see the return of Messiah Jesus in “power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Listen to Paul’s impassioned plea and hope (as is mine and other believers who love the Jewish people and Israel):

“…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. For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands.

“But faith’s way of getting right with God, says … If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:1-6a, 9-10).

That’s exactly what the New Covenant is and does, as first written about in the very Hebrew Scriptures (Torah … Tanakh) that so many Jews claim are the only Scriptures given by God.

Ever so sadly, in so doing, they deny the clear evidence that Jesus of Nazareth historically fulfilled (matched) all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Including the Virgin Birth of Christ, his life in which he performed mighty miracles, his sacrificial death on the cross, and most of all his miraculous resurrection of the dead to ratify the New Covenant as recorded in the New Testament. Via the same Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who inspired writers of the Old Testament as well as writers of the New Testament (II Timothy 3:16).

(Or Brit Hadashah, Which is Hebrew for New Testament)

“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 brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord.

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord. I will put my 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 31:31-34).

Said the Jewish Apostle Peter to the rulers and elders of Israel, “For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ For 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).

All the Jewish Apostles and thousands of Jewish Christians in the first century, thousands more Messianic Jews of today’s world, and millions of Gentile believers the world over passionately echo the Apostle Paul who said:

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life’” (Romans 1:16-17, quoting Habakkuk 2:4).

Summary

A Jew doesn’t stop being a Jew when he or she accepts the Jewish Messiah Jesus as personal Savior. It is not a conversion from one religion to another, because the Christian faith is not a religion. Instead, it is a reconciled restored relationship with God, which is the very reason that God created us in the first place.

A Christian Jew has recognized that the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah is the new and far better way to God. In fact, it’s the only way to God.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

As a born-again Christian, a Jew is still a physical descendant of Abraham with all the rights of national inheritance and destiny afforded to God’s chosen people. And MORE: He/she is also a spiritual heir of God’s promise to Abraham, inheriting eternal life through the Child of Promise.

A Jewish Christian doesn’t need to give up their Jewish traditions. Jesus, himself, observed the Sabbath, attended the Jewish Festivals, and taught in the Temple and in Synagogues as a Rabbi. However, not like the other rabbis. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law” (Matthew 7:28-29).

See Eye of Prophecy article: The Incomparable Power & Authority of Jesus Christ (Posted 5-28-16).

(Depiction of Jesus in the Synagogue, When He Effectively  Announced That He Was the Messiah, as Found in Luke Chapter 4)

The Jewish Apostles and other Jewish Christians of the first few centuries continued to observe the Sabbath and the Jewish Festivals, as do most Messianic Jews today. With, however, the understanding that each of the Festivals represented and pointed to Messiah. They keep the Sabbath (most on Saturday) but recognize that Messiah Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He is our Sabbath rest. They understand that the tabernacle and the temple were earthly patterns of the true heavenly temple. That each believer in Messiah becomes a temple of God, each believer a priest of God, each believer a living stone in the house of God, and a member of the body of Christ (I Peter 2 & I Corinthians 12).

Regarding terms or labels, we gentile believers should be called Gentile Christians. With the term Christian applying first and foremost to (1st century) Jewish believers in Jesus. They were not called Messianic Jews to begin with. Jewish Christians (Christian Jews) were simply called Christians, and only then to identify themselves as belonging to the New Way (Covenant); in contrast to the Old Covenant that constituted what had become the ritualistic religion of Judaism.

There is only one thing that a Jew must give up. Not the law itself. Rather, it is dependence on (keeping of) the law to make them right with God … meaning for salvation.

Yet this is no different than any religion or belief system—be it Roman Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Cult (isms), Humanism, or whatever. Good works, religious observances, or achieving some irreligious ethereal plateau of paranormal existence, will never ever save anyone. It’s not God’s way. Just ask Abraham!

The following passage sums this up as well as any: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so one of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Nor is this or should it be anything new, particularly to Judaism. It’s a New Covenant, because it permanently replaces the (temporary) old Covenant that God’s people couldn’t keep. But God’s Grace isn’t new. And it was a matter of faith in God’s forgiveness and pardon of sin through the shed blood of innocent animals to begin with. First with Adam and Eve, then Abraham (Genesis 15), then the Exodus Passover, then the Levitical sacrifices. All of which served as a prototype pattern to prepare both Jew and Gentile for the final, once-for-all substitutionary sacrifice of the precious blood and life of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus.

Things to Ponder

Although the significance of the Sabbath and Festivals for Jewish Christians has changed to a Messianic emphasis and remembrance, you can still observe them with unbelieving Jewish family members or friends, if they will let you. I’m sure it’s not easy, and especially painful if they refuse to even allow your presence during (for example) Passover. Yet all believers, Jew and Gentile, will experience some measure of resistance, resentment, or rejection, just as our Lord did.

Perhaps everyone in your immediate family is a Jewish Christian! If so, praise the Lord!

Whether a Gentile Christian or a Jewish Christian (Christian Jew), we want to keep the Lord’s commandments. Any celebration of the Festivals, the Lord’s table (communion), and/or observance of the Sabbath (Saturday or Sunday) is in gratitude for what Christ has done for us that we could never do for ourselves—pay the ultimate price for forgiveness of sin and pardon of sins penalty.

We DON’T observe these things to get right with God. We DO them because we have been made right with God through faith in Messiah Jesus. We love him because he first loved us.

Can a Jew be a Christian and remain Jewish? Absolutely. (For example, Romans 11:1. If the Jewish Apostle Paul could, anyone can!)

Conversely, must you stop observing the Festivals or Sabbath or Kosher foods or any other Jewish custom? Absolutely not. The choice is yours.

If you’re a non-Messianic Jew or unbelieving Gentile, please read at least one of the Gospels of the New Testament—perhaps the Gospel of John. You’ll see what Jesus is really like, who he really is, and what he has done for you. He is the Messiah!

Now ask Him to be your Savior.

And thank you Lord for grafting us believing Gentile branches into the spiritual tree of Israel (Romans 11)!

Has Antichrist Already Died … How, When & Why

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The consensus reaction to the title question of this week’s article most likely would be: Since the Rapture hasn’t occurred and the Tribulation hasn’t begun—therefore, the Antichrist hasn’t appeared yet—how could he have already died? At face value, that’s a reasonable response based on the logical presumption that the Antichrist will be a modern-day born man.

Reasonable and logical? Yes.

Historically and prophetically accurate? No.

My second book, Out of the Abyss (published 2011) and Eye of Prophecy articles in the category of Antichrist provide an abundance of documentation to support the following premise: The Bible presents all necessary clues pertaining to the identity of the Antichrist, who is none other than the Roman Emperor Nero.

Let’s begin with a summarized list of all ten Bible passages about this evil man, which contain the six designations by which he is known: little horn, king, ruler, man of lawlessness, beast, and Antichrist. There is a 7th term—worthless shepherd—however, this label contrasts with the Good Shepherd (Messiah) and incorporates all Antichrist’s roles identified in Scripture.

Then, more evidence will be presented to address the questions posed in the title of this week’s article.

Passages on the Antichrist in Biblical Sequence:

(1) Daniel 7: Described as a little horn and king. This very first passage about the Antichrist tells us that he would “suddenly … appear” on the Tribulation scene as a king who is directly from the 4th World Empire—Rome. He will not appear in a Revived Roman Empire during the Tribulation, as there is no such empire in Scripture. Instead, it is the arrival of a Revived Roman Emperor who will control a ten-nation coalition; but not as a World Government, as there will be leaders and nations who will oppose him. Scripture does not portray this man as a super statesman or political/military genius; rather, the Bible depicts him as a boastful tyrant who blasphemes God himself.

(2) Daniel 9: Here the Antichrist is described as a ruler, whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple AFTER Messiah arrived on the scene. By subsequent (now historical) fulfillment, this passage can stand alone to confirm that Nero was the ruler prophesied by Daniel some 560 years earlier; and, when combined with all other passages, yields air-tight evidence of Antichrist’s identity. It was Nero who ordered his Generals Vespasian and Titus to crush the Jewish rebellion that began in 66 A.D, with Jerusalem eventually sacked and the Temple destroyed in 70 A.D. Daniel 9 also fast forwards to the Tribulation.

(Bust of General Vespasian, Who Later Became Caesar, Ruling 69-79 A.D.)

(General Titus–Vespasian’s Son; Succeeded Vespasian as Emperor in 79 A.D.)

Bible teachers and students sometimes overlook or even dismiss the clear composition of Daniel 9:26-27. Which is: The ruler who would arise is directly linked (contextually and grammatically, by a possessive relationship) to the armies (Roman Legions) that would destroy the Temple. Then it’s this same ruler who will trigger the Tribulation through his seven-year treaty with Israel. The only way this could happen would be for the ruler to reappear during the Tribulation.

(3) Daniel 11: Here the Antichrist is called a king (King of the North), whose treacherous tactics are similar to a prototype antichrist also prophetically described in Daniel 11—fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the 2nd century B.C. Nero, like Antiochus, will invade Israel. During this invasion, “…his time will suddenly run out” (Daniel 11:45); referring directly to the last days of the Tribulation, specifically Armageddon.

(4) Zachariah 11: This little-known passage in the Old Testament depicts the ruthless actions of the “worthless shepherd” (Antichrist) against God’s people during the Tribulation. It also presents an intriguing description of the wounds that would cause Antichrist’s death, the same fatal wounds that the world will see and be in awe of when he (Nero) returns to earth.

(5) II Thessalonians 2: The Antichrist is called the Man of Lawlessness by the Apostle Paul. Since the main subject of this week’s article concerns that designation of the Antichrist—particularly his death—we’ll focus on this passage later.

(6) Revelation 13: Here the Antichrist is referred to as a beast (rising from the sea, literally). This passage also tells us precisely why people all over the world will “marvel at” the beast. For one reason only: the “miracle” of recovery from his fatal wounds and subsequent return to earth … some 2,000 years later. And, of course, this is the chapter that challenges the reader (with a mind of understanding) to solve the mystery of the number of the beast—six hundred, sixty-six. That has been done through Hebrew Gematria, which is the way Jews counted (numerical system) back then. Lo and behold, six hundred sixty-six matches with Nero Caesar.

(7) Revelation 16: We see the Antichrist (along with Satan and the False Prophet) joining forces with their enemies—the kings of the East—to do battle at Har Megiddo (Armageddon) with Messiah Jesus who has returned to Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14) to fight alongside of the Jews.

(8) Revelation 17: This chapter is another phenomenal passage that shows us beyond any doubt whatsoever that the Antichrist beast/king had already lived and died (in the 1st century) before John’s visions of the beast.

This chapter also provides a biographical overview of the beast’s geopolitical origin; one of the seven kings of the 1st century (Roman Empire), specifically one of the five who had already died BEFORE John’s vision of the beast. Which makes Revelation 17:7-11 historical to John. With the rest of the chapter fast forwarding to the future Tribulation—a confirmation of an elaboration on Daniel Chapter 7.

(9) Revelation 19: Soon after the battle for Jerusalem (Zechariah 12 & 14), Antichrist and all the armies aligned against Messiah Jesus are completely conquered in this final battle of the ages—Armageddon. Antichrist and the False Prophet are captured and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20) which tracks with II Thessalonians 2:8, one of the key verses we’ll examine regarding the main subject of today’s article.

(Two Other References to the Lake of Fire)

(10) I John: This is the only book of the Bible in which the term Antichrist is found. The Apostle John first explains “antichrist” (lower case) in general terms as: “…Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist” (I John 2:22).

Then John makes a remarkable observation that “the spirit of the Antichrist” … indeed is already here” (I John 4:3). Although John referred to the “spirit” of antichrist, he also specifically said, “the Antichrist” … as in “the” Antichrist himself. Nero had already lived and died before John wrote his epistles and before the book of Revelation was written (by either the Apostle John or another John of the first century). Either way, the Apostle John is telling believers of the 1st century that the Antichrist had already been there, because he referred directly to the spirit of “the Antichrist.” Not just of “an” antichrist.

This list of all passages on the Antichrist is a thumb-nail sketch compared to the detailed depth of my book Out of the Abyss, and 49 Eye of Prophecy articles written in the category of Antichrist to date, with each article emphasizing select features of and passages on this deplorable man.

The Man of Lawlessness

Because the Apostle Paul wrote I & II Thessalonians in 51-52 A.D. which pre-date the books of I John and Revelation, neither he nor other 1st century believers had yet been introduced to this man as Antichrist or the beast. As detailed in the Eye of Prophecy trilogy, A Beast by Any Other Name … Is Still a Beast (Posted 3-14, 3-21, & 3-28-15), there is a specific purpose for each Biblical designation of Antichrist.

The Old Testament titles for the Antichrist are little horn, ruler, and king—all prophetically pointing to the rise of a powerful leader from the 4th World Kingdom—fulfilled in and through the Roman Empire. They are terms denoting an imperial position common to anyone’s understanding in Daniel’s day, or of any generation.

However, the New Testament appellations are more metaphorically descriptive, portraying the contemptible characteristics of this evil ruler during his initial disclosure as a (the) man of lawlessness of the first century. Then his reappearance from the Abyss as the Antichrist beast of the Tribulation to perpetrate on a global scale (in the 21st century) what he began to a more limited (but still terrible) degree in the first century. King is also a designation of Antichrist in the book of Revelation; to add a literal component to the symbolic descriptions and is used in the immediate context of Nero’s reign as Caesar.

The Apostle Paul was the only one who referred to Antichrist as the man of lawlessness and did so for a special reason. However, the Lord didn’t reveal to Paul that this man would reappear as the Antichrist beast of the Tribulation. Consequently, Paul didn’t know the man of lawlessness’s desecration of the Temple and deification of himself as God (II Thessalonians 2) would take place after this wicked man returned (to earth) from the Abyss.

It’s clear that the Lord had revealed the identity of this man of lawlessness to Paul as Nero. However, Paul wouldn’t mention Nero by name because of the imminent danger that would create for believers in the Roman Empire. Thus, after calling him the man of lawlessness and citing the rebellion against God that Nero would begin in the 1st century (to be continued upon his return from the Abyss, which Paul wasn’t privy to), Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he had previously discussed this matter with them.

(One of Several Busts of Nero)

Secret Lawlessness & Its Restraint

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

The words I’ve italicized in this passage are enormously significant to fully grasp that the present-tense (in Paul’s day) Machiavellian-like schemes in the Roman Empire were precisely what Paul was writing about.

As follows: The “what” is holding “him” (the man of lawlessness) back is not a person—including the Holy Spirit. What is an impersonal pronoun. Plus, this lawlessness (that would lead to and soon reveal the man of lawlessness) was “already at work secretly.” And that it was a person (“the one”) holding “it” back, with the it (impersonal pronoun) not a person; rather the “it” was the secrecy of the lawlessness already at work.

Much detail, as summarized in the above paragraph, has been provided in Out of the Abyss and a few Eye of Prophecy articles. For example: Does the Holy Spirit Restrain (the Man of) Lawlessness? Posted 3-4-17.

The “what” (is holding him back) was the Roman Government—institution of law and order designed and implemented by the Roman Senate and enforced by the Roman Legions. It was not the Holy Spirit, because NEVER in Scripture is the Holy Spirit referred to as what. If a pronoun is used in place of the noun (Holy Spirit) it is ALWAYS the personal pronoun, he or him.

The “one” (who is holding “it” back) was Claudius Caesar before he was taken out of the way by his wife. Notice that the “what” (Roman law and government) was holding “him” back; meaning the man of lawlessness (Nero) from ascending the throne until his time came (albeit unlawfully). Whereas, the “it” that was being held in check (by Claudius— “the one”) refers antecedently in the context directly to the secrecy of the lawlessness, which was already at work … at the very time that Paul wrote his two epistles to the Thessalonians. There is absolutely no way to dismiss or avoid the present-tense context of this passage.

Paul was not referring to a distant-future man of lawlessness nor some far-off future lawlessness. One that most Bible scholars believe won’t take place until the Tribulation, because of the notion that the Antichrist will be a modern-day man—not one who returns from the ancient past. That lawlessness was (secretly) taking place in Paul’s time, one that would lead directly to the revealing of the man of lawlessness as the next Roman Emperor—Nero.

It’s vital to know that Paul wrote II Thessalonians about two years before Nero ascended to the throne at the age of 17. Also, that Nero was not the lawful heir to the throne. It should have been Claudius’ natural son, Britannicus, to have taken Emperor Claudius’s place. Nero’s mother Agrippina who (incestuously) married her uncle (Claudius) couldn’t wait for her husband to die a natural death. So, she poisoned him … according to historians either with Nero’s knowledge or complicity.

(Sculptures of Nero & His Mother, Agrippina, Not Long After Nero Became Caesar, He Had His Mother Killed)

History tells us that Claudius was very fond of his step-son, Nero, favoring him even above Claudius’s natural son, Britannicus.

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

Obviously, Claudius wanted Nero to succeed him, but certainly not as a result of Claudius being toppled from power by anyone, let alone his wife, Agrippina. Thus, Claudius was part of the scheme that would bypass his natural son’s right to the throne in favor of his step-son Nero. Little did Claudius realize that this plot would thicken with Agrippina’s lawless sub-plot to prematurely take him out of the picture; to remove him from power by revealing her true intention—that of Nero’s immediate unlawful ascension to the throne (Page 201).

Answer to the Questions of Today’s Article Title

Obviously, the Tribulation has yet arrived, because the Rapture has not yet taken place. So, what about the seemingly irrelevant question: Has the Antichrist already died? If so, how, when, and why?

Before answering these questions, remember that when John saw (his first vision) the Antichrist, the man (depicted as a Beast) had already recovered from his deadly wounds. The world will consider this to be a miracle to even surpass that of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. Thus, the greater majority of those left behind at the Rapture will be amazed at such a feat and will yield their allegiance to the Beast to the point of worship. (Revelation 13:1-8).

How (by what means) is the Man of Lawlessness Killed?

Earlier, I quoted II Thessalonians 2:5-8a, intentionally stopping after the first part of verse 8 which reads: “Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed…”

The Apostle Paul then makes an astonishing statement to complete that verse: “…but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:8b).

Despite the staggering significance of this verse, it is seldom referenced or explained by Bible teachers and students of prophecy … whether through sermons, books, articles, or commentaries.

Paul not only announces that the man of lawlessness—who would later be called the Antichrist and the Beast—would die; he also makes it crystal clear that Jesus, by the breath of his mouth, would slay this man.

“By the breath of his mouth,” is another way of saying that Jesus (the true Christ) would intervene and preemptively terminate the man of lawlessness—Nero. It’s like the linguistic imagery used in Revelation when, during the final battle of Armageddon, we read: “From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations…” (Revelation 19:15).

Through Christ’s divine sovereignty, he would cause the death of Nero … an untimely death in the eyes of the Roman Empire and Satan, himself. Yet a timely part of God’s remarkable plan to set in motion another time for the man of lawlessness to return as the Antichrist beast during the end times.

This sovereign preemption of the man of lawlessness contrasts with the normal cycle of life and death, in which God prophetically knows the course of every person’s life but allows the cycle to complete. However, the Bible contains several examples that illustrate God’s proactive intrusion leading to the death of some people, before their time.

In my book Out of the Abyss, I cited five of these incidents (there are many more than five), in which the Lord—who has divine power over life and death, physically and spiritually—preemptively ended the life of a person or a group of people. Invariably, the reason was because the person or people involved, in word or deed, defied the Lord or recklessly violated his Laws (Word).

Throughout history, God obviously hasn’t struck down everyone who arrogantly denigrates him or arbitrarily disobeys him. But who would ever want to take that chance?

(Artist Depiction of King Herod Agrippa I; Struck Down After He Accepted Worship By the People as God … Acts 12:21-23)

“God says, ‘At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked’ … I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance.’ … It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall” (Psalm 75:2-7, italics for emphasis).

God’s sometimes swift judgment even included his own people, the Jews; as well as one New Testament case involving two believers—Ananias and Sapphira. And on one occasion, resulted in the (at the hands of just one of God’s angels) overnight death of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers! Due exclusively to the Assyrian King Sennacherib’s taunts of and boasts against Israel and especially against the God of Israel (See II Kings 18 & 19).

When Is the Man of Lawlessness Killed?

First, a quick one-question review quiz. Who does Jesus kill? Correct: the man of lawlessness.

Before we discover when and more specifically how (then why) he was slain, I’d like to quote an excerpt from my second book. Purpose of which is to explain why three distinctive New Testament terms are assigned to the man who virtually the entire world refers to as Antichrist.

In italics:

Man of Lawlessness: 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 … outside the God-given laws of morality and nature.

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

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

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

I then go on to say:

When a man kills (murders) another man unjustly and unlawfully, the murderer obviously terminates the body of the victim … But the real motive is to get rid of the very persona and spirit of the victim from the face of the earth…

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 A.D.), 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 the Antichrist and the beast bodily in the lake of fire (Page 205).

Once again, we need to wrap our mind around the startling fact that when John first saw the beast/king, this man had already recovered from his fatal wounds and had returned to the earth in the same body in which he had died.

Then Scripture gives us even more proof by the angel’s unveiling of this mystery when John experienced his second vision of the beast as recorded in Revelation 17.

Although I’ve quoted this verse several times in prior articles, it bears repeating—if we are to fully grasp the incredible evidence that the beast had already lived and died BEFORE John saw it (him). Said the angel to John: “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 and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world … will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died” (Revelation 17:8, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

Yet, when the beast died, he died as the man of lawlessness.

What difference does that make? Are we splitting hairs semantically? Aren’t the beast and the man of lawlessness (as well as Antichrist) one and the same man?

Answer: The names of Antichrist make all the difference in the world, if we are to accurately ascertain that this man is not just future-tense (during the 21st century Tribulation). He also has a past … dating back to the 1st century.

Again, referring to Out of the Abyss:

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

History shows that by a sudden change of the Roman Senate’s and the Roman Legion’s loyalty to and fondness of Nero, they turned on him and ordered his torture and execution. Already a Roman General, Galba, had been selected to replace Nero as Caesar. No Internet back then! But news still traveled fast in the Roman Empire and Nero rapidly learned of his impending fate. As a result, he tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide but was too much of a coward to do himself in. Consequently, his servant, Epaphroditus finished the job with a sword.

Note: The fatal wounds sustained by Nero are prophetically depicted by the prophet Zachariah in Chapter 11, where the Antichrist is called a worthless shepherd. This is another imitation of Messiah Jesus (who bore the scars of the nails and spear), by anti-Christ Nero, who will flaunt the scars of his fatal wounds upon his return from the Abyss.

Why Did the Man of Lawlessness (Nero) Die by the Word of Messiah Jesus?

In general, this question has already been addressed via the precedence (principle) of God’s sovereign intervention in the lives of some people throughout history.

There are two more specific reasons, both of which fit into God’s providential plan to establish the Kingdom of God on earth to replace Satan’s kingdom. In doing so, the Lord will give humanity one last chance to prove that they don’t need God in their selfish schemes to achieve paradise on earth. And, thereby, to judge those who choose Antichrist instead of Jesus Christ.

First Reason: Historically fulfilled as a catalyst to set in motion the second (future) reason. Here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss:

Nero’s cold-blooded murder of family, friends and complete strangers, his unprecedented ruthless savagery toward Christians—taunting them with his “light of the world” sarcasm, as they slowly burned and succumbed to a horrible death—his self-appointed supreme god-like status, the boastful erection of a monumental statue to himself that was thirty feet higher than the one built for Nebuchadnezzar; all crossed the divine line that shouldn’t be crossed. Enough was enough. Christ would step in. Nero’s personification and inimitable perpetration of this lawlessness would end.

“But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God… And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21). History tells us that Nero specialized in these practices. When Nero reappears on the scene, he will mesh perfectly with the wickedness of the world. The world will embrace him as a leader who allows, endorses, and even initiates this immoral, ungodly, and contemptuous fist shaking at Almighty God (Page 213).

(People Will Also Curse God During the Tribulation, But Many Will Still Not Repent)

Second Reason: We know that the beast will arise up out of the Abyss (literally beneath the seas) as/when he returns to earth. To come out of the Abyss, he would have had to be placed (imprisoned) there. According to Scripture, the Lord alone has the authority to confine and release beings from the Abyss, which is not the same place as hell (See Luke 8, II Peter 2, Jude, and Revelation 17).

Thus, after the Lord revived Nero, he banished him to the Abyss for the express purpose of giving those left behind at the Rapture what they want … the very lie they wish to believe in the first place. The lie that Jesus is not the Messiah; yet, they’re all too willing to follow someone who opposes but also counterfeits Messiah Jesus. Someone who is just like them, who will promise them the power and pleasures they so desperately want.

Someone who, “…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” (II Thessalonians 2:10-11).

Continuing this thought with another quote from Out of the Abyss:

Nero was born shortly after Jesus went back to heaven. He rose to power through a sequence of lawless events. He will be allowed to return from the Abyss, but not to actually duplicate the resurrection of Christ. Antichrist will not arise from the dead in the fashion of the true Messiah and Christian saints. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Only the Trinity has the true power of resurrection. Yet, the reappearance of the beast will, by all intents and purposes, resemble and mock the very cornerstone of the Christian faith, which is none other than the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This will be the “lie” (II Thessalonians 2:11) that billions of people will believe during the Tribulation (Page 215).

Things to Ponder

In closing, let’s return to the last part of II Thessalonians 2:8 following the amazing fact that Jesus would kill the man of lawlessness. Then we read: “…and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.”

At first glance, Paul is being unnecessarily redundant. Meaning, how can someone be killed and then destroyed? Aren’t they destroyed when they are killed? Thus, we must more closely examine the text. Paul is referring to two separate events, the first during the life of the man of lawlessness who Paul knew was Nero. In fact, Nero was Caesar (54-68 A.D.) during much of Paul’s ministry. However, as indicated, the Lord hadn’t revealed to Paul that the man of lawlessness would return from the Abyss (as the Antichrist beast) after he was killed by Christ. But he did know that Messiah Jesus would (finally) destroy this man upon the glorious return of Jesus.

The word “and” (destroy him by the splendor of his coming) contextually and grammatically is not a connective word in this passage that might otherwise link the clauses on either side of it just to emphasize each clause as being the same thing but expressed differently … kill and destroy. Rather it is used in its more common meaning of, in addition to. First, Jesus would kill this man, and (then—at the second coming of Christ) would “destroy” him. The man of lawlessness would not be destroyed until he had returned—as the Antichrist beast.

The term “man of lawlessness” is not used in Revelation or in the apostle John’s epistle. That doesn’t imply that Nero won’t be the epitome of lawlessness upon his reappearance. It just means that he was (prematurely) terminated by the word of Jesus after his (Nero’s) initial revealing as the man of lawlessness.

A final except from Out of the Abyss:

Revelation 17:8 tells us that the beast would come from the bottomless pit and, “go to eternal destruction.” There is, therefore, a first coming and a second coming of Antichrist, to replicate and counterfeit the First Advent and resurrected Second Advent of our true Messiah. Jesus came the first time to die for the sins of the world, as the Son of Man. His miraculous triumphant bodily resurrection completely validated the fact that he was the Son of God; that the Gospel of Christ was and is, in fact, the truth.

Jesus met the requirements of the Law and fulfilled the Law of Moses, thereby creating a new covenant between God and man, the Covenant of Grace. Nero came as the man of lawlessness. He was killed by Christ for Nero’s own heinous sins that crossed the divine line of God’s toleration. Yet, Christ will permit him to reappear bodily with the spirit of Antichrist to deceive the world through a lie.

Moreover, it would make all the sense in the world for the respective advents of the true Messiah and false messiah to occur within a very close proximity of time, but in a manner that God chose. Jesus, who is the way, truth, and life because he perfectly fulfilled the Law of Moses, arrived on the scene first. Then came the man of lawlessness who would seek to pervert and destroy this way, truth, and life. Nero arrived on the scene of humanity some three and a half years after Jesus ascended to heaven. Nero will be allowed to reappear some seven years before Messiah returns, but Nero’s ultimate authority during that time will be for three and a half years. Thus, Christ will have the final say in this matter. Yeshua is the First and the Last (Pages 207-208).

Meanwhile, we who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Messiah Jesus: “…should 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” (Titus 2:12-13).

Times of & Fullness of the Gentiles … What Do They Mean?

Are you familiar with one or both terms, Times of the Gentiles and Fullness of the Gentiles?

Bible teachers and students sometimes use these terms interchangeably or may even ascribe the same meaning to both. One expression originated with Jesus himself; the other coined by the Apostle Paul some thirty years later.

Although both designations end with “of the Gentiles,” they are different. What makes them different is the prophetic setting which defines them and determines their significance. Each phrase relates specifically and separately to one of the two remarkable plans that God has conceived for humanity, which I’ve mentioned in a few previous Eye of Prophecy articles. Scripture is abundantly clear that God relates to all people, individually and as nations, in the parameters of these two providential plans.

Before either blueprint was implemented, God gave humanity the opportunity to determine if we could and would fully appreciate the reason for our very existence. Which was to revere and worship the Lord by: thanking him for life itself; obeying his instructions that would mean the difference between life and death; trusting (faith) him to provide for all our needs, both physical and spiritual. In short, to experience the full benefits and blessings of a paradise on earth … forever.

Both plans were conceived before “the foundation of the world” because God knew what would happen. Like any parent, but infinitely more so, God wants people to love, trust, and obey him because they want to, not because they’re forced.

Thus, he gave men and women that which is essential to the very core of our existence; which we value above all else to the point of dying if necessary to gain and maintain it—Liberty. It is the freedom to choose—right from wrong, good from evil, life over death. Not freedom from God; but freedom with God. It is as theologians call it: Free Will.

That purpose came to a screeching halt when Adam and Eve decided they would devise their own rules and determine their own fate. Although they had God-given authority over nearly all the Garden of Eden, they would expand that control by touching and eating from the one small part (tree) of the Garden off-limits to them. They believed Satan’s lie when he said they wouldn’t die if they ate the forbidden fruit; instead they would be like God himself. It was a fateful decision, to say the least.

Borrowing from the titles of John Milton’s two epic masterpieces, it would be Paradise Lost, but Paradise Regained. God would not leave mankind without a redemptive remedy that would restore men and women back to where they began—intimate fellowship with God who created us … body, soul, and spirit.

God’s Two Plans for Humanity … One Spiritual, The Other Physical

First PlanSpiritual: Personal Redemption through Messiah Jesus.

This individual salvation for all people would be made possible through one man—the 2nd (perfect) Adam … Romans 5—as first announced in Genesis 3:15.

Then again by Moses: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Then God said: “I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf” (Verse 19, italics for emphasis).

For every person, salvation is personal (John 3:16).

As are the (eternal) repercussions if so great a salvation is spurned (John 3:36).

Some 1,300 years later, Moses (along with Elijah) heard these same words from God. Words spoken for the benefit of three Jewish disciples (Peter, James, and John) as well as the whole world. “As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus … a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him’” (Matthew 17:2-5, italics for emphasis).

Every person is given the freedom but also the responsibility to make that choice: To listen to Messiah Jesus or not. To believe him (or not) when he says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

God’s Plan of Salvation is the simplest of plans. Yet people make things so complicated, what with all the irreligious existential philosophies or religious rules and regulations. The common denominator of which is trying to agnostically attain some enlightened plateau of paranormal self-realization or to religiously please or appease their god(s) with good works or ritualistic observances.

You can throw out all the metaphysical maneuvers along with religious ruminations that people have concocted, through which they have attempted to categorize (with descriptive names and titles and the such) belief systems. That won’t work with God. That’s not His way (See I Corinthians Chapters 1 & 2).

God’s plan of personal salvation is so basic that he has divided humanity into two categories … spiritually.

People are either: Saved or Unsaved.

That’s how he sees us and relates to us. We are born unsaved—spiritually dead. We are saved when we listen to Jesus who said that we need to be born-again (spiritually … John 3:3-8). By agreeing with Scripture: “And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The Christian faith is not a religion, it’s a new-birth restored relationship with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the way it was in the beginning.

Second Plan—Physical: Through a People (the Jews) & In a Land (Israel)

To accomplish the First Plan, God called Abraham to begin a nation through whom God would reveal himself (recorded in God’s Word, the Bible) in extraordinary detail. A people chosen to bring the truth of God’s attributes and salvation to all nations. The inclusive essence of that truth and the exclusive source of that salvation would be the Messiah (Jesus) who is the: “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). He is the Son of God who, “…radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” (Hebrews 1:3).

The nation of Israel with its capital Jerusalem would be the land promised by God to Abraham and his descendants FOREVER. This unilateral covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was unconditional. As opposed to the conditional Covenant of Law given through Moses that mandated the people’s obedience to God to remain in the Promised Land. Because Israel abandoned the Lord, he substituted the Covenant of Law with the Covenant of Grace.

“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 brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31-32 … Jeremiah goes on to explain this New Covenant).

It’s vitally important to understand that the New Covenant of Grace would replace the Mosaic Covenant of Law—NOT the Abrahamic Covenant. God told Abraham that covenant would be in perpetuity: “…from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant; I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).

As there are two categories of people (spiritually) in God’s Plan of Salvation, so there are two groups of people (physically) in God’s Second Plan for mankind.

People are either: Jew or Gentile.

Consequently, the Bible distinguishes between God’s interaction with Israel and with Gentile nations. Historically, Scripture explains in detail Israel’s inception and rise to prominence as a great nation, then her decline leading to two agonizing exiles. As well as numerous prophecies that God would restore Israel as a nation and bring the Jews back to the Promised Land from Gentile nations all over the world.

Nowhere in the Bible does it state or even imply that the physical nation of Israel and her people the Jews would be replaced by the Church—the spiritual body of believers … the saved. Several Bible passages, including Romans 9, 10, & 11, explain explicitly that Israel’s formation, restoration, and perpetual existence is corporeal in God’s plan and execution of that plan. The Church via spiritual rebirth in the New Covenant does not under any circumstances or conditions take the place of national Israel’s inheritance derived from her original birth and rebirth.

Although the two plans are distinctive, they’re both based on a rebirth.

Distinguishing Between the Two Plans

It’s imperative that we distinguish between God’s heavenly rebirth (spiritual) plan of salvation—which makes believing Jews and Gentiles one in Messiah—and God’s earthly rebirth (physical) plan for Israel as the nation from where Messiah Jesus comes and from where he will rule and reign in the Kingdom of God.

Thus, when the Jewish Apostle Paul states that, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.… There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you” (Galatians 3:26-29); he is referring to God’s spiritual plan that was set in motion by the Lord’s Covenant with Abraham (the second plan).

That spiritual feature relates exclusively to Abraham’s faith in the ultimate purpose for God choosing him (and his descendants to bring the Messiah); a faith that would “save” Abraham and all peoples (Jew and Gentile alike) who would exercise that same faith in the ultimate Child of Promise (Messiah Jesus).

“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6). Which led directly to the physical component of the Abrahamic Covenant as stated in the very next verse:

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

Paul cites Genesis 15:6: “In the same way, Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God” (Galatians 3:6-7).

Does this mean that the Lord has disinherited the Jews and disenfranchised them as a people? Has the Lord abrogated his covenant with Abraham regarding Israel as the land promised to Abraham’s (physical) descendants? Absolutely not, as explained emphatically by Paul.

“I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin. No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning…” (Romans 11:1-2).

Then he writes, “So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have … but the hearts of the rest were hardened” (Romans 11:7).

As in the first century when Paul penned these words, so, too, in the 20th & 21st century there have been thousands upon thousands of Jews who have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. But the clear majority have not. Not yet.

Paul asks another rhetorical question: “Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12).

Therefore, the real children of Abraham—Jew and Gentile alike—are those who have been reborn spiritually by placing their faith in Messiah Jesus, who physically descended through King David’s lineage from the tribe of Judah.

*Note: I’m using the concept of two plans for clearer understanding of God’s purpose and role for the Jews within the framework of God’s plan of salvation, PLUS the unique destiny of Israel as a nation. If someone prefers the alternative of saying there’s one plan with two parts, that’s fine; if, that is, each of the two parts are correctly (Biblically) seen as unique.

Concerning the subject title of this week’s article, one of these plans includes the “Fullness of the Gentiles.” The other relates to the “Times of the Gentiles.”

Let’s examine the distinction. Beginning with:

Fullness of the Gentiles

Quoting one of the most recognized passages in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul states: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

Why was the Gospel of Jesus Christ (death, burial, and resurrection) first presented to the Jews instead of the Gentiles? The main answer to that question was summarized earlier in today’s article. The fact that the New Covenant (of Grace), as historically detailed and recorded in what we now call The New Testament, was originally prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah specifically to (but not exclusively for) the Jewish people … to Israel (Jeremiah 31).

Other reasons why Israel would be first invited to receive the New Covenant is interwoven with the primary reason why the Lord chose the Jews in the first place—to be the source of salvation’s light and life to all people, beginning with themselves.

Read with me Paul’s expanded answer to the question of why, “to the Jew first.”

“They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them (during the Exodus, at Mt. Sinai, in the Tabernacle, in the Temple). He made covenants with them (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic) and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshipping him and receiving his wonderful promises” (Romans 9:4, parenthesis mine).

One of the splendid promises God gave to Israel was the New Covenant. Not long after Jeremiah wrote about this Covenant, the Babylonians conquered Judah and tore down Solomon’s magnificent Temple. By that time, God’s glory (God himself) had left the Temple because of the detestable sins of the people, including the priest’s defilement of the Temple (see Ezekiel Chapters 8-11). Even after the 2nd Temple was built, God’s Shekinah Glory (his presence) never returned. That is, not until God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, visited the Temple during his time on earth. Then in 70 A.D. the 2nd Temple was destroyed, and the Levitical Sacrificial system ended, still gone to this very day.

When most of God’s people no longer acknowledged or even cared that faith (trust) in the Lord was the real source of being made right with God—just like Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God)—their Levitical sacrificial system became perfunctorily rote and ritualistic.

When the Jews—socially, politically, and most of all spiritually—stubbornly stopped trusting God to provide for all their needs (instead turning to false gods for security and prosperity), the Lord unilaterally proclaimed, then initiated a New Covenant. One that still was/is based on trusting God, but one in which God provided the (final, once for all) sacrifice himself—his very Son.

Please see, Eye of Prophecy trilogy, Where Is the Temple? Part I, II, & III. Posted 11-29, 12-6, 12-13-14. The theme of those articles was tendered primarily to capture the attention and stir the hearts of God’s chosen people who are still in denial as to how and why the loss of the Levitical Sacrificial System has dramatically affected Judaism, for both observant and secular Jews. The rolling premise in those articles was:

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

Writes the Jewish author to the Jews in Israel: “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said, ‘The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah” (Hebrews 8:6-8).

The author of Hebrews continues:

“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. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins… For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant” (Hebrews 9:11-15).

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

While on the cross, Jesus spoke these poignant words:

Certainly, his accusers (the Jewish religious leaders) and the executioners (Romans) knew what they were doing to Jesus. Jesus meant they didn’t understand that their wicked actions would result in the very source of their salvation—if they would only repent (change their minds) and receive him as Messiah and Savior. Which some later did, beginning right then and there with the thief on the cross and the Roman centurion.

Even at the cross the first to be saved was a Jew, then a Gentile. It’s highly unlikely that the thief on the cross was a Roman (Gentile) as most Romans in Israel were either military personnel or government officials (and their families). The Romans executed their own by beheading. If by crucifixion it was for treason, not lesser crimes.

Yet in terms of preaching the Gospel—throughout Judea, Samaria, and the Roman Empire—after Jesus ascended back to heaven, it was to the Jew first. The New Testament records the fact that thousands of Jews, including rabbis and priests, did, in fact, believe and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior—their Messiah. Including, three thousand in one day! (See Acts 2).

Sadly, most Jews did not believe Jesus was their Messiah, which led to proclaiming the Good News to the Gentiles.

Grafting Gentiles Into the Tree of Israel

The Apostle Paul compares this mystery—to include Gentiles in God’s (First Plan) of salvation—to a tree, specifically Israel (Abraham’s tree) by saying:

“…God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead! … For if the roots of the tree are holy (the original tree of Israel planted through Abraham), the branches will be, too.

“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 to Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you (Gentiles) must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root” (Romans 11:13-18, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

A pause here to re-emphasize: The entire Jew-Gentile paradigm that Paul established in Romans Chapters 9-11 (especially the above passage) categorically refutes and rejects the deceptive theory of Replacement Theology. Which speculates that the Church has replaced Israel by (erroneously) thinking that all the promises God made to the Jews as a people and special possession as a nation have been stripped from Israel and arbitrarily transferred to the Church.

Paul continues: “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 … So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong” (Verses 23-24).

This brings us to the meaning of “fullness of the Gentiles” which is how the term is phrased in older translations of the Bible, like the King James Version and American Standard Bible—including up-dated versions of both translations.

In the very next verse, Paul then states: “I want you to understand this mystery … so that you (Gentiles) will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of the Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

Once the full number of Gentiles (“fullness of the Gentiles”)—the number of which is known only to the Lord—comes to a saving knowledge of Messiah Jesus, then all Israel will be saved.

My Pastor, Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church in Phoenix Arizona, on more than one occasion has described what happens when the “fullness of the Gentiles” takes place.

He said (paraphrasing): Someday there will be one final person (Gentile) who will be saved, and immediately afterward the Rapture will take place. Can you imagine what that person would say. Something like, “Wow, Lord, that was quick! This salvation really works! Thank you!”

That’s not to say that the last person saved just before the Rapture will be a Gentile. He or she could very well be a Jew. In keeping with Paul’s explanation, it means that when the last Gentile (known by the Lord) comes to Christ for salvation, then the Rapture will take place; followed by the Great Tribulation, culminating with “all Israel being saved” … spiritually.

Thus, the fullness of the Gentiles is directly linked to God’s First Plan for humanity. Which is the ongoing individual salvation (rebirth) of both Jew and Gentile. Beginning, however, with the Jews.

Times of the Gentiles

This is not the same as the Fullness of the Gentiles. Rather the Times of the Gentiles is linked directly to Israel as a people and nation—their history, exile, and national rebirth. Then rescue and final restoration during the last phase of the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus in the Kingdom of God on earth, from Jerusalem.

Care to venture a guess where in Scripture that Times of the Gentiles is found?

Hint: It’s found in just one of the Gospels, even though three Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—record in varying detail the scene containing this expression. A stronger hint: Because the scene takes place on the Mount of Olives directly across the Kidron Valley from Old Jerusalem, Bible scholars and teachers call it, The Olivet Discourse.

Most of the quotes or references to these three gospel accounts of the Mount of Olives Discourse usually concentrate on Matthew’s gospel, for the primary reason that Matthew’s account is the longest and most detailed … the entire chapters of Matthew 24 & 25.

For sake of time/space, I can only summarily state that both Matthew and Mark’s account of Jesus’s stirring explanation of the end times (in response to his disciple’s question, “Tell us, when will all this happen”) was exclusively related to the pre-Tribulation birth pains and the Tribulation itself, culminating with Jesus’s triumphant return to earth in power and great glory.

The disciple’s question was prompted by Jesus’s prophecy that the entire Temple would be demolished. Said Jesus:

(Also in Mark 13:2 & Luke 21:6)

The answer to the question of where “the times of the Gentiles’ is found: It’s in Luke’s Gospel.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation in near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave … because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written must be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24, NASB, italics for emphasis).

The times of the Gentiles began when Israel and Jerusalem were conquered by Babylon in 586 B.C. That initiated a virtually uninterrupted Gentile subjugation of the Jews and of Israel. Even though a remnant of Jews returned to Israel 70 years later and rebuilt the Temple, followed by rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls a few decades after that; from the Babylonian captivity forward, Israel was never again an autonomous nation. Next came Persia, then Greece, then Rome’s domination of Israel, then exile to the four corners of the earth.

That is, until 1948. When Israel was REBORN as a nation, to prophetically continue (fulfill) the corporeal feature of the Abrahamic Covenant—God’s second plan for humanity.

As detailed in several prior Eye of Prophecy articles, especially in Seven Times Seven (to the 4th Power), Parts I, II, & III (Posted 1-25 through 2-8-14), followed by the article, The Omega Generation (2-15-14), an amazing prophetic passage in Leviticus Chapter 26 predicts (by applying God’s seven times over discipline of Israel to actual years, beginning with the Babylonian captivity of 586) to the very year when God’s discipline would end. By doing the calculations on the Jewish calendar, that time expired in 1967. Which just happens to be the year when the Jews liberated Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967. That’s when the Times of the Gentiles ended!

No longer will Jerusalem be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles. Never again will God’s chosen people be under the thumb of Gentile nations, helpless to defend themselves. Today, despite her small population and miniscule land mass, Israel possesses one of the most powerful militaries on earth. Never again will there be another Holocaust. Although Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition will invade Israel and Jerusalem (even setting up shop in the outer “Gentile” courtyard of the rebuilt Temple), the Jews will fight ferociously. And they will do so alongside Messiah! (See Daniel 11, Zechariah 12 & 14, and Revelation 11). Also see Eye of Prophecy article, Armageddon & Messiah’s Return … An Amazing Sequence of Events! Posted 2-3-18.

If you read all three gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse (it’s not found in John’s Gospel), you’ll find a composite account of everything Jesus said. However, like other words spoken or actions taken by Jesus during his ministry on earth, one or more than one Gospel may record different features of what Jesus said and did. With each Gospel containing at least one thing not found in the other three. (Especially with the Gospel of John).

This is no different than any reporter or historian highlighting certain features of a speech or event, with other reporters emphasizing different aspects of what is being said and done. In addition to how much of Jesus’s discourse is recorded in the three gospels respectively, there is sometimes a variation to the order (sequence) of what Jesus said. That is also common with any news source, including contemporary journalism.

Several verses of the Olivet Discourse read virtually the same in all three Gospels, including the first part of the passage already quoted in Luke’s Gospel, in which Jesus warns the inhabitants of Jerusalem to flee the impending danger, i.e. “Woe to those who are pregnant…”

However, as we’ve seen, Luke follows this passage with Jesus’ statement not included in Matthew and Mark. Which is:

Whereas, Matthew and Mark follow Jesus’s warning to flee Jerusalem with the following: “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, NASB; also Mark 13:19-20).

Jesus is clearly referring to the Great Tribulation, still to (soon) come. Whereas in Luke’s account, Jesus follows the warning of “woe to those who are pregnant…” with an additional (separate) follow-up description of the brutal Roman demolition of the Temple that took place less than 40 years after Jesus’s prophecy.

What is the reason? Why the difference?

In general terms, the answer has already been explained: The gospels don’t contradict each other, they complete and correlate. But sometimes part of the narrative is not always recorded in all the gospels, nor chronologically identical, nor the sequence of Jesus’s words or actions always the same.

A more specific explanation is that Luke’s gospel was written primarily to and for the benefit of Gentiles; to illustrate that Messiah Jesus is the Savior to the Gentiles as well as to his own people, the Jews. Consequently, Luke recorded the part of the Olivet Discourse where Jesus refers to “the times of the Gentiles’ in the immediate context of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. But also in the greater context of the Diaspora that would last until the Gentiles no longer had dominion over Jerusalem.

Summary

The Times of the Gentiles has ended. Which is one of the significant prophetic events spoken of by Jesus to signal the birth pains (alongside of all the other signs Jesus mentioned combined with the O.T. Prophets and N.T. Apostles) of the last days—of which this generation is a part.

The cessation of the times of the Gentiles (which took place in 1967) precedes and precipitates—in this same Omega generation in which we are living—the fullness of the Gentiles, when one last Gentile will accept Jesus as personal Savior.

Then boom! The Rapture. Yes, there will be a global noise equivalent to or exceeding a sonic boom. See Eye of Prophecy article, The Shout Heard Around the World (Posted 4-22-17).

Things to Ponder

On the Gentile Gregorian calendar Israel was reestablished as a sovereign nation on May 14th, 1948. On the Jewish calendar it was the 5th of Iyar. Thus, this past Thursday, beginning at sunset, Israel joyously celebrated its 70th anniversary!

For nearly two millennia, the ardent anticipation and passionate plea of Jews has been, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Through millions of native-born Israelis and well over a million Jewish immigrants, that dream has come true. Millions more (especially from the United States) could return if they wanted to. And one day soon they will (want to).

(One Group of Many Celebrating Israel’s 70th Anniversary)

May 14th, 1948 marked the rebirth of Israel, a prophetic realization of the Abrahamic Covenant, which was the beginning of God’s plan for Israel to be the center of world attention and the source of God’s blessings to the nations. A land from which God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—would literally live with his people. As he did for hundreds of years before disciplining Israel during the Times of the Gentiles. A restoration of national Israel followed by a liberating reunification of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel (in 1967), the city loved by God above all others.

Have you seen in person or pictures the astounding agriculture accomplishments since the Jews returned to Israel? Heard or read about the tremendous technological advancements in medicine, science, geology, and other fields of physics? Been informed of the new and restored beautiful buildings throughout the cities and towns of Israel? They will only get better, because never again will God’s people be removed from the Covenant Land of Promise given to them by the Lord God.

All these achievements were foretold long ago.

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

To be followed soon by the national spiritual rebirth of Israel when the Fullness of the Gentiles arrives.

The Unsaved (Jew and Gentile) are living in such a time as this.

The Saved (Jew and Gentile) are living for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).

 

This short, but inspiring video ends with Yom Ha’atzmaut Semeach (Saw-ma’ach)which means Happy Day of Independence