Will All Children Be Taken in The Rapture?

A Time of Terrifying Trouble is Coming Soon

Once before, God judged the entire world for its evil and violence.

“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil…. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:5 & 11).

Hence, the Great Flood; a cataclysmic global event that eliminated all but eight people and drastically changed the earth’s geological and ecological dynamics.

Subsequently, God made a covenant with Noah: Never again would a flood devastate the earth, destroying all life. Every time we see a rainbow, we are reminded of God’s promise (Genesis 9:8-17).

But the Lord didn’t promise that the earth and mankind would be spared from another global disaster. Just the opposite: Old Testament prophets, New Testament Apostles, and Jesus, himself, warned of the second (and final) apocalypse. In fact, the Apostle Peter cites the Great Flood in the context of this soon-to-come series of one catastrophe after another.

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

“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed” (II Peter 3:3-7).

Not since before the Great Flood has there been a global saturation of violence and corruption than we have experienced in the 20th & 21st centuries. There are many examples to support this observation, including but not limited to: (1) Two world-wars that caused the combined deaths of some 90 million people, soldiers and civilians alike. (2) Violent terrorism that has taken hundreds of thousands of innocent lives; plus, widespread abortion has snuffed out the lives of hundreds of millions of babies. (3) Political corruption, financial dishonesty, social upheaval, and moral decay that are off the charts.

Jesus also referred to the global flood of Noah’s time. However, his warning focused on the other feature of the world’s condition just before his return (in two phases: first the Rapture, then his physical return to earth).

Please see Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Return & The Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16.

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

Early in that prophetic message to his disciples, Jesus described the incredible devastation (caused by people and by God’s wrath during the Tribulation), including the staggering number of casualties.

“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 (the Jews and nation of Israel)” (Matthew 24:21-22, parenthesis mine).

Who Will Not Survive the Great Tribulation?

Most of the world’s population will be left behind at the Rapture, and most of those left behind will not make it through the Tribulation.

Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation (6-6-15).

If participating in and even passively supporting the Gog/Magog coalition against Israel (early in the Tribulation) or Antichrist Nero and his ten-nation confederation and all those kings and kingdoms who march on Jerusalem via the Valley of Megiddo (near the end of the Tribulation); they will not be spared from the inconceivable carnage. Many of those who don’t die will wish they had. For example, see Revelation 9:1-12; and that’s only half-way through the Tribulation!

Destruction and death at the hands of men.

Plus, God’s divine judgment when he pours out his wrath on those who: “…did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:21).

On those, “…who have caused destruction on the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

On Babylon (Rome): “…because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality” (Revelation 14:8 & Revelation Chapter 18).

On those who “…shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets…” (Revelation 16:6).

On, “…the rulers of the world (gathered) for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty” (Revelation 16:14).

On Antichrist and his ten-nation coalition that, “…go to war against the Lamb…” (Revelation 17:14).

On all those who, “…had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue…” (Revelation 19:20).

(This last set of three sets of seven judgments will be primarily against Antichrist’s empire)

There will also be friendly casualties such as many of the Tribulation saints murdered for their faith in and testimony for Jesus (Revelation 20:4). And, some innocent children born during the Tribulation as well as other innocent children who…. (Stay tuned and see).

Billions will die during this horrific time. Those who survive will experience a time of unimaginable terror and horror, of appalling conditions not thought possible even during the two world-wars of the 20th century. For one thing, there won’t be enough people or time between the twenty-one plagues to bury or cremate most of the dead, individually. The only way to dispose of the countless bodies is through mass graves and massive bonfires.

Which is another picture of how the world will be judged by fire, not by flood.

For those still alive as the 7-year Great Tribulation nears an end, it will seem like 70 years (a lifetime) to them.

Who Will Be Spared (From the Tribulation Itself)?

The answer is known by virtually all believers; a miraculous event that even some unbelievers have heard and wondered about.

It is found in a spectacular revelation given directly by Jesus to the Apostle Paul. Much like God the Father and Jesus in his Pre-Incarnate appearances in the Old Testament directly spoke to (verbally or through dreams and visions) the prophets and a few others. As opposed to the more common inspiration of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit.

Most likely you know or know of the passage; one I’ve quoted several times in prior articles, as have other scholars, commentators, pastors, and everyday believers from time to time. However, I’m going to include two preceding verses not often quoted with the remarkable event itself.

“And now dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people (unbelievers) who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died” (I Thessalonians 4:13-14, parenthesis mine).

“We tell you this directly from the Lord (emphasis added, affirming that the source of the revelation was from Jesus himself). We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up (Greek word, harpazo, from which we get the term Rapture) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18, parenthesis mine).

Then, a few verses later in Chapter 5, Paul explains the purpose of the Rapture: “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

The pouring out of God’s anger is contextually and explicitly referring precisely to the tribulation period when, “…disaster will fall on them (those left behind at the Rapture) as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3, parenthesis mine).

The Apostle Paul also described the Rapture phase of Messiah’s Second Coming as:

Not only did Jesus convey this astonishing sequence of the Rapture to Paul, it was Jesus while he was still on earth who first spoke about the Rapture—as part of his discourse on the multiple features and signs of his Second Coming, culminating in his physical return to earth. After comparing Noah’s time to the condition of the world in the last days of the end times, Jesus provides this stunning disclosure; one that Paul metaphorically relates to a thief in the night as we just read:

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

In his gospel, Luke adds one other scenario spoken of by Jesus: “That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left” (Luke 17:34).

In these examples, Jesus is NOT referring to his physical return to the earth at the end of the Tribulation. When that happens, everyone will clearly see the signs of his impending return (Matthew 24:29-30). Many will be traumatically shocked but not dramatically surprised, as they were when the Rapture occurred seven years earlier.

Sparing Believers from Judgment … Biblical Precedents

Enoch

The soon to come Rapture will take place for two distinct purposes: (1) Resurrection from the grave for believers who have died; (2) Removal of living believers, sparing them from the Great Tribulation.

Yet, both sets of believers will be transfigured to our immortal spiritual bodies and whisked away to heaven to be with the Lord forever!

The phenomenal news that born-again believers in Messiah Jesus would be taken from the earth (Rapture) was a mystery that Jesus unveiled to Paul. It answered the question of the Thessalonian Christians (all believers) concerning their loved ones who had died and what would happen to believers still alive when the Day of the Lord began. However, the reality of the (a) Rapture was not itself new, i.e. the catching up to heaven while still alive. The first incident in which someone was taken to heaven without dying was a prototype precedent for reason #2 above.

As found in Genesis 5:21-24, we read of Enoch: “…Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Verse 24). Then in the New Testament: “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying— ‘he disappeared, because God took him’” (Hebrews 11:5, which quotes Genesis 5:24).

Why did the Lord take Enoch in that fashion?

For the same reason that the Lord will take living believers to heaven before the Great Tribulation begins … to exclude Enoch from God’s global judgment (the Flood) which was justifiably necessary because of the world-wide violence and corruption. The same kind of deplorable conditions this woeful world in which we live is experiencing daily—within families, communities, cities, states, nations, and internationally. This magnitude of evil will intensify even more during the Tribulation.

Because people lived to be hundreds of years old before the flood (albeit no one made it to 1,000 years of age), it’s conceivable that Enoch would have been alive just before the Flood struck. But even if he wouldn’t have been around, he was spared decades of unbridled wickedness that was increasing exponentially to the time the rains began.

Elijah

So, too, was Elijah transported to heaven without dying but not as a prototype of the Rapture, as was Enoch. Rather, Elijah was taken in preparation for his return in his earthly body to Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation, for the express purpose of doing battle (alongside Moses) with the Antichrist and the False Prophet. See Eye of Prophecy article: Moses & Elijah vs Antichrist & The False Prophet (Posted 2-10-18).

However, both Elijah and Moses will be raptured after their spectacular service to God and dramatic defense of Jerusalem. Their sudden transportation to heaven will vividly depict and convincingly demonstrate to the world how and why believers, both dead and alive, were taken earlier from the earth.

Moses and Elijah will be killed by the Antichrist (Nero) 3 ½ years after they begin their mighty ministry on earth during the Tribulation.

Then we read what happens next: “But after three and a half days, God breathed life into them, and they stood up! Terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice from heaven called to the two prophets, ‘Come up here!’ And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched” (Revelation 11:11-12).

Take that Mr. Six Hundred and sixty-six!

Noah & His Family / Lot & His Family

Although not raptured as such, both Noah and Lot (and their respective families) were taken out of harm’s way before God’s judgment. The Flood was obviously massive in scope. The extent of God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah was regionalized, but still extensive (there were five cities destroyed), as no one survived in those towns. Nevertheless, both Noah and Lot were evacuated and relocated directly by the hand of God. Noah through God’s divine architectural blueprint of the Ark, and Lot by God’s angels.

The massive retribution (ten plagues) against Pharaoh and Egypt was another example of God protecting his people without removing them completely from the earth or even the region.

Each of these people and the cataclysmic events from which they were shielded illustrate God’s protection of his people from judgment on an epic scale. With, however, Enoch the representative forerunner (1st world-wide judgment) of believers taken at the Rapture (2nd global judgment).

God Loves the Little Children!

“For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16).

In addition to the most well-known verse in the New Testament, if not the entire Bible (virtually all Christians and even some unbelievers would be able to finish the verse above), there are numerous passages in the Bible that speak of God’s love for Israel and for all people. First, for them to be forgiven and saved; then for believers, Jew and Gentile alike, to experience God’s love during their lifetime and throughout eternity.

Such as: “…I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love” (Jude 1:1-2).

Scripture is also clear that children are exceptionally precious to our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that children are both a gift and a blessing to their parents. They are to be loved, nourished, and protected. Accordingly, God will be particularly harsh on those who (deliberately) harm children … physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Said Jesus: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Our faith (as adults or teenagers) in God and His Son’s substitutionary death for our sins on the cross must be childlike … complete trust in and dependence on God’s plan and means for salvation and living the Christian life.

Combining these two principles of caring for children and childlike faith, Jesus said: “…Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18:16-17).

In fact, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple that a child can understand (enough) and be redeemed.

*On a personal note, I was born-again at the age of eight. I recall believing with my whole child’s heart that only Jesus could save me from my sins (of course children at some point know they’ve done wrong). And, though I don’t remember the exact words, I said so aloud.

What About Children and the Rapture? Will Some Children Be Left Behind?

When it comes to their children, even some Christian parents prefer not to think about the Rapture, let alone talk about it. Although they realize the Rapture is a wonderfully good thing; when it comes to everyday life, the Rapture seems too unsettling, too uncertain, too disruptive, too … whatever. And, unfortunately, many pastors/teachers in the Church consistently avoid teaching on end times prophecy. It’s bewildering, maybe even unnerving. Which, however, begs the rhetorical question that many ask themselves despite the plain answer. Is Biblical prophecy (which constitutes 1/3 of the Bible) all that important?

Although that question is addressed in several Eye of Prophecy articles, I’ll refer you to one of my older articles: Value of Prophecy (Published 8-29-13).

Before we scrutinize Biblical precedents addressing the differences of opinion as to whether all children still at the age of innocence will be taken in the Rapture or not, let me say this: I am sensitive to these thoughts and views about the end times. To relate to those, who, when it comes to their children, are apprehensive about not only the Rapture, but the entire scenario of the last days of this age.

It’s just that sometimes we forget God’s magnificent promises in the Bible (every prophecy is essentially a promise from the Lord). Whether a prophetic promise is good or bad does not depend on one’s point of view. Rather, upon a person’s position in Christ or outside of Christ … saved or unsaved.

Such as Scripture’s declaration to believers (a promise combined with praise): “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20, NASB).

When applied to the Rapture and everlasting life it means that our home and relationships (for example, with our children) in heaven will far surpass even the best of times we have on this planet, more than we can possibly imagine. So, it’s okay mom and dad and kids. At the Rapture, during the Millennium, and throughout Eternity we will fully realize: We’ve never had it so good.

The Prevailing Premise

In the Christian community, the mainstream assumption is as follows: ALL children who haven’t reached the age of accountability will be taken in the Rapture. Alongside of everyone else who has already accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

This rationale can best be summarized as a deduction, based mostly on sentiment; one that is the most appealing. It’s one that any Christian, including me, would prefer. We would not want innocent children exposed to the dreadful things that will take place during the Great Tribulation, even the children of unbelievers. We would hope that they would be spared from the wrath of God’s judgments; and, of course, from the evil that will flood the earth (pun intended), compliments of Satan and his man of lawlessness.

Whereas, on this side of the Rapture, we do not know for sure; I believe there are persuasive precedents in Scripture that present compelling evidence to consider the alternative:

Not ALL children (at the age of innocence) will be taken when the Rapture occurs.

In fact, there is an up-side to children of unbelievers being left behind. Your immediate reaction might be: “How could there be any good from leaving “innocent” children behind at the Rapture?” The answer lies in Scripture (where else)! We’ll get to that passage, shortly.

First, let’s refer to the two Biblical events cited earlier; however, this time we’ll examine them in the immediate context of the question posed in the title of this week’s article.

The Great Flood

Here, I’d like to quote Avram Levitt—one of the main characters in my first book entitled O Israel! … the end is the beginning for those left behind (Published 2007). The setting of this novel is just prior to and a period up to about one year after the Rapture.

In the last of seven emails, Avram explains why some children were NOT taken in the Rapture. He alludes to the Great Flood as it relates to—in precedent and principle—the Rapture:

“Scripture is clear as to the purpose of this calamity: to deal with the irreversible wickedness and depravity of man. But this judgment also gave mankind another chance to acknowledge and serve his Creator. Noah and his family were spared to repopulate the earth. What is the relevance of this example to the question of the children? The significance is that the children were not spared” (Pages 340-341; italics in today’s article for emphasis).

In searching online, you’ll find varied estimations of the earth’s population at the time of Noah’s flood. Anywhere from a few hundred million to several billion, perhaps even as many people as in today’s world. Although I lean toward the lower range, it’s evident that there were many children under the age of accountability. None of them were in the ark.

Sodom & Gomorrah (As indicated earlier, five cities and their inhabitants were obliterated)

As with Noah and his family, only Lot (his wife instantly died when she disobeyed the angel’s command not to look back) and his family (two daughters) were taken out of harm’s way. Because God knows the end from the beginning, he knew the increased wickedness of these cities was inevitable, perpetual, and irreversible. Including the children who would grow up to be as or even more wicked than their parents. Same thing with Noah’s flood.

(Hold tight to the Lord; Press on with hope; Don’t look back)

Which leads to a solemn but reasonable conclusion in the form of a question:

If God did not spare innocent children from the Great Flood or from the utter destruction of Sodom and surrounding cities, is there any reason why at least some children wouldn’t or shouldn’t be left behind at the Rapture and, thereby, go through part or all the Tribulation?

*Note: Only God knows when a child has passed the age of innocence and reached the point of accountability. Some suggest the age of 6, 7, or 8; others say 12 or 13. For example: in Jewish culture a boy or girl becomes a man or woman at the age of 13, after their Bar Mitzvah … Bat Mitzvah (for girls).

Why do I propose that not all children still at the age of innocence will be taken at the Rapture? Saying it another way: Why would only some of the children be left behind at the Rapture?

Whose children, are they?

A Thought-Provoking Passage, Principle, & Precedent Applicable to the Rapture

Let’s look at the passage alluded to earlier that I believe contains the answer. It is a lengthy explanative text primarily concerning married couples in which one spouse is a believer and the other is an unbeliever; however, I’ll quote just two verses:

“For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy…. Don’t you wives realize that your husband might be saved because of you! And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?” (I Corinthians 7:14 & 16, emphasis added).

The Greek word translated holiness (holy) in English does not mean perfection. Instead, like the Old Testament Hebrew word as applied to people, it means set aside for a specific purpose.

The Apostle Paul is telling us that when a wife or a husband, or (by implication and by the same principle) when a child is saved, there’s a strong possibility that one or more unsaved members of that family will also come to Christ for their (personal) salvation.

This holiness is the influence transferred from the Christian family member to unbelieving members.

Both Noah’s and Lot’s children were taken out of harm’s way before the floodwaters covered the earth and before the fire/brimstone destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Though Noah’s three sons and Lot’s two daughters were grown, they were still Noah’s and Lot’s children. In God’s eyes they were innocent, because of their right standing with God (based on their personal choice to trust God), which was a result of Noah’s and Lot’s righteous influence.

So, too, will the innocent children of those adult believers (even if only one parent is saved) be caught up in the Rapture with their parent or parents. But ALL children of unsaved adults left behind will also remain on the earth. Yet, I’m convinced that God will use these children to help influence, if not persuade parents (if they have any love or concern for their children) to turn to Christ during the most terrible time on earth that has ever been or ever will be again.

One more quote from Avram Levitt writing to the unsaved (from O Israel! page 342 … in italics):

Do you love your child? Do you care about your own soul? Are you willing to yield to the false messiah and thereby forfeit eternal life with the true and living God and his Messiah?

Then Avram quoted this passage:

Things to Ponder

All children will go to heaven if they are still at the age of innocence when they die, including those left behind at the Rapture who may perish during the Tribulation.

The Bible is exceedingly clear that salvation and eternal life is only possible by choosing (at whatever age someone is capable of that choice) to believe and receive Messiah Jesus as Lord and Savior. Conversely, eternal separation from God for those who do not believe.

Consequently, Baptism and good works are a result of Biblical salvation, not the means. Which is why infant baptism is a waste of time. Moreover, it’s downright dangerous; as is any religion or cult that requires baptism as a means of redemption and then membership to maintain a good standing in that organization. It gives the child (anyone) a false sense of (eternal) security.

“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe (a conscious choice from the heart and mind) that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:25, parenthesis mine).

Aside from knowing how people, especially children, die “before their time” (disease, famine, war, natural disasters, murder, accidents) we often ask, Why?

I’m not making this observation based merely on generalities; nor based on a detached abstract attempt to commiserate with those who have lost children. On a personal level, I lost a six-week old child to crib death years ago. It hurts deeply. I wanted him to live and watch him grow up as my son. However, one day I will rejoice to see him again in heaven, without concern all these years whether he would have accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.

Ultimately, the individual reasons (particularly the timing of the death) are known only to God. With, however, one overriding explanation as clearly found in Scripture. Not only are all the ills of this world caused by the innumerable wrong things we think, say, and do; so is the ultimate consequence, thereof.

“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a). Beginning with separation of spirit from body when we die physically and culminating in eternal separation from God (second death) for those who have not been made right with God.

But thank God for his Mercy and his Grace through the gift of his precious Son, Messiah Jesus, there is one sure hope.

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

Jesus’s Stunning Statements While on the Cross… A Summary of Salvation!

Without Israel there would be no Messiah. Without the Messiah, there would be no Israel.

Without either, there would be no redemption for humanity.

Praise be to our great and glorious God! It is through Israel that Messiah came, and it is to Jerusalem that he will return.

Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem, Israel from the tribe of Judah, through the lineage of King David; the Son of David, a title for the Messiah. He was born of a Jewish virgin, Mary; the Son of Man (born to and for all mankind). He was conceived by the Holy Spirit; the Son of God—as he always has been and always will be.

As indicated in a few prior Eye of Prophecy articles, God’s panoramic plan for people is in two parts.

(1) His selection of Abraham some 3,800 years ago to be the father of a people who would bring to all nations the Messiah. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the Patriarchs whose descendants became a nation after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and triumphant entrance in and possession of the Promised Land of Israel. Through the extraordinary world-wide return of Jewish immigrants to this Promised Land and the miraculous rebirth of Israel in 1948, this plan is nearing final fulfillment in our generation.

(2) The coming of Messiah some 2,000 years ago as foretold by Jewish prophets; to create the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of all who believe and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. And his magnificent return to establish the physical Kingdom of God on earth. The whole earth will be filled with his righteousness, justice, and peace.

God knew from the beginning that when our original parents decided to go their own way and do their own thing, mankind would be incapable of bridging the gulf between Himself and people caused by sin and rebellion against a Holy God. Thus, it was necessary for the Lord to take the initiative.

To provide a place (Israel), a people (the Jews), and a person (Messiah Jesus) for our lost paradise to be restored, beginning with individual redemption from sin and its awful penalty.

Said God the Father about and to His Son, the Messiah:

The Essence of Prophecy

“…For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (Revelation 19:10b, from the New Living Translation which I cite, unless otherwise noted in my articles). As you’ve probably noticed, this quote is near the top of the Home Page of Eye of Prophecy website.

From the New American Standard Bible, the last part of Revelation 19:10 reads: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

From these or any other translation, the verse is also telling us: Jesus is the essence of prophecy.

Biblical prophecy is a declaration of the end from the beginning, with 100% accuracy in its’ fulfillment. Which is only possible by our Triune God who is the Beginning and the End; First and Last; Alpha and Omega. Which are attributes expressed by the name of God as first given to Moses: I AM. It is the name that contains God’s glory, his very essence. He is everlasting to everlasting. The one who created all things, including time itself. Yet he is above and apart from time.

Jesus confidently used that same name of himself: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!’” (John 8:58).

That is the reason he was crucified—because he said he was/is God, though he had already demonstrated he could do what no other person had ever done, i.e. his multiple miracles. Later, he conclusively proved his bold claim by rising from the dead!

Why is it that so many people casually dismiss, and others outright reject these historical facts? The answer is all too evident. To acknowledge what Jesus said and did (and why … especially on the cross) is to also accept and act on Jesus’s exclusive claim that highlights his Messianic mission on earth to restore people back to God.

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

There is no neutrality with Jesus. Either we believe and receive him as personal Savior, or we don’t. The choice is ours to make, and the consequence is ours to take.

In the first chapter of the last book of the Bible, Jesus declares: “…I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Then in the last chapter of the last book, Jesus again announces: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth… He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together… For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself” (Colossians 1:15-17 & 19-20).

Jesus’s Amazing Announcements While on the Cross

Many sermons have been preached; multiple books, articles, and commentaries have been written about Jesus’s words during the six hours that he hung on that cruel cross. Most of the messages and commentary concentrate on one or two of Jesus’s expressions at a time.

We’re going to examine these startling statements in the broader perspective of God’s panoramic plan of salvation.

We all die. Death is a direct result of sin. But we weren’t born only to die. We were born to live and while alive to make the most important decision (by far) of our lives. A decision that is literally a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Not so with Jesus. He was already eternal; yet he was born as a human being for the express purpose of dying. A sacrificial lamb’s death of the righteous for the unrighteous, just for the unjust, innocent for the guilty.

It’s amazing to me that Jesus could or would say anything while on the cross. Even more remarkable: what he said.

It’s clear that he was already weak from the severe beating in the early morning hours that followed a night with no sleep at all. Being nailed to a cross was excruciating. In fact, we get our English word excruciating from crucifixion. The weight of his entire body borne by the nails in his wrists and feet made it (moment by passing moment) more difficult to even breathe, let alone talk.

Each of his seven statements (the divine number of completion and finality) synchronized the very substance of Biblical redemption. Some of his words were direct quotes from Old Testament Messianic prophecies, applied to himself.

Three of these declarations are found in the Gospel of John, three in Luke’s Gospel, and one (the same one) in Matthew and Mark. They will be presented in the order Jesus spoke them. I’m persuaded that this succession parallels the progression of God’s plan of salvation as first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden.

(1) “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)

Seriously?!

Jesus had been secretively seized (the religious leaders were afraid to arrest him publicly), illegally tried, unjustly accused, brutally beaten, wrongly sentenced to death, and ruthlessly nailed to a cross like a common criminal. Then maliciously mocked—as if slowly killing him wasn’t enough.

He had every (divine) right to retaliate against those who were killing him. To put them on trial before his Father in heaven, pronounce them guilty, and call for God’s punishment of his accusers and executioners right then and there. Instead, the first words out of his mouth was an intercession for the Jews and Gentiles complicit in his impending death. Astonishing!

Why would Jesus say such a thing? The Jewish and Roman leaders knew exactly what they were doing. What was the underlying meaning of and motive for these wonderful, yet bewildering words?

For the benefit of those watching and listening and for millions down through the ages who would later read the account of his death on the cross and reason, thereof, Jesus was referring to more than just what his accusers were doing to him. That it wasn’t the actual act of killing Jesus—one of many sins they had committed (like all people everywhere) that would condemn them. This astounding request to his Father was in the greater context of what they would do about his death once he arose from the grave three days later. Whether they would fully realize that what they had done ultimately could lead to their redemption (forgiveness) if only they would believe and receive as Savior the very person whom they had murdered.

Jesus was asking his Father to give them the benefit of the (their) doubt, even though the horrific consequence was his very death. The real issue was whether they would continue to deny that Jesus voluntarily had given up his life to save them because he was, in fact, the Son of God … The Messiah.

This goes all the way back to Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden.

They, too, knew exactly what they were doing. What they didn’t contemplate, accept, or know (for sure) is whether God would impose the penalty of death on them, just like He said would happen if they disobeyed Him, i.e. the full consequences of their actions. In fact, they did die, but (like their descendants until the Great Flood) not for hundreds of years. Why? Because the Lord gave them ample time and an all-important second chance to set aside the spiritual component of their death sentence (eternal separation from God) by trusting the Lord’s plan of atonement—through the shedding of innocent blood.

Right then and there in the Garden, God announced this marvelous plan of salvation by telling Satan, as Adam and Eve listened, that a Savior would come from the seed of the woman.

This woman would be Israel in general and Mary in particular.

The seed of the woman was the Messiah. From that first prophecy came hundreds more prophecies pertaining to Israel and her Messiah.

Thus, Jesus’s first poignant words were in keeping with the Triune God’s redemptive plan for mankind, that began in the Garden of Eden. His plea for God’s forgiveness of those who had falsely accused him, unfairly sentenced him, and were mercilessly killing him was tantamount to God withholding his immediate judgment against them. Just as Adam and Eve didn’t die on the spot after eating of the forbidden fruit. Just as Jesus had foregone his power and authority to call a legion of angels to annihilate those who arrested him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus caringly asked his Father to give them a second chance to fully realize that what they were doing (at the time) was part of God’s sovereign plan. Eventually, however, they would have to do something about what they had done.

In the first Gospel message after Jesus returned to heaven (preached by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost), Peter concluded with: “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified to be both Lord and Messiah!

“Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?'” (Acts 2:36-37).

Because we were all complicit in Jesus’s death, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“…The message is very close at hand. It is on your lips and in your heart. 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 10:8-9).

If after his resurrection from the dead—which proved Jesus is who he said he is—they still did not believe in Him; then their sins, including putting Jesus to death, would not be forgiven. They would have no excuse whatsoever, because they would be guilty of something even worse, of eternal consequence: Persistently refusing to believe that Jesus was, in fact, their Messiah and Savior (accessory after the fact).

Father forgive them… With these incredibly compassionate words, Jesus expressed the very essence of the Triune God, when God the Father (for the second time) revealed his name to Moses.

“The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! (I AM) The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren…’” (Exodus 34:6-7, parenthesis mine).

During Jesus’s trial, do you remember what the people shouted after Pontius Pilate (who knew that Jesus was innocent) literally washed his hands of the whole matter?

“And all the people yelled back, ‘We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!’” (Matthew 27:25).

They knew what they were doing. Yet, if they would later come to their senses, God would forgive them; for this forgiveness was the reason that Jesus allowed them to crucify him.

But so great a salvation available through the Lord’s “unfailing love and faithfulness” was only possible if they fully realized (knew) and acknowledged as Messiah Savior the very one whom they put to death. Ultimately, the guilty in God’s eyes are those who refuse to believe and receive His Son.

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36).

(2) “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43)

Many, both believers and unbelievers, know of this second surprising statement that Jesus made while on the cross. It was more extraordinary evidence that Jesus was thinking of the eternal welfare of those around him; though he was suffering an excruciating death at the hands of his enemies.

As we know, there were two condemned guilty men crucified with Jesus; one on his left, the other on his right. One of them sarcastically mocked Jesus (both did, but the other one came to his senses). Said this criminal: “…So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” (Luke 23:39).

That’s what the Roman soldiers and Jewish religious leaders were also saying aloud. Did this criminal think that the Romans would take him off the cross if he joined most of the crowd as they ridiculed Jesus? Or was he taunting Jesus out of sheer spite? Or both?

“But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God, even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’” (Luke 23:40-42).

What an unexpected thing for his man to say to Jesus!

Then and there he placed his eternal destiny in Jesus’s hands, by doing the only thing he could do—the only thing any of us can do. He obviously couldn’t be and wasn’t baptized (which is a sign of our salvation, not the means to redemption); nor could he do anything to make up for his sins. He called Jesus by name and put his entire trust in this man who he now realized and believed was the Messiah. It’s obvious that he knew little to nothing about the kingdom. But he knew that this kingdom belonged to and would be ruled by Jesus and would be far better than any man-made domain on earth, because the man said, “your Kingdom.”

Though Jesus had taught frequently about the Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven, not even Jesus’s disciples yet understood that their Teacher’s death (then resurrection) would usher in the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of all who believed in Him. Or the Kingdom of God that would be established on the earth upon Jesus’s return. Whatever or wherever the Kingdom was, this man desperately wanted to be there with Jesus. For all intents and purposes, he was asking Jesus to forgive him and save him from eternal death.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did; because the request was made with the same kind of faith (trust) that Abraham had, which the Lord credited to Abraham as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

Faith that produced an eternal perspective on God’s plan for all peoples: “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed by God” (Hebrews 11:10). Faith that God would restore mankind full circle from the paradise lost to a paradise restored—through the once for all substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah, originally promised to Adam and Eve.

Accordingly, Jesus assured the man that he would be with him that very day in paradise. By granting his request, Jesus made it crystal clear that simple trust in God and his remedy for sin—His Son’s sacrifice on the cross—was the only requirement for citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. And in the ensuing Kingdom of God on earth.

(3) “Dear woman, here is your son.… Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27)

Students of Scripture know the context of this emotional announcement of Jesus, and to whom he was speaking. The woman is Jesus’s mother Mary; the son is Jesus’s disciple John, but John was not Mary’s son. The end of verse 27 says: “…And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (to care and provide for her). It’s evident that Mary’s husband, Joseph, had died by now; otherwise there would be no need for someone else to take care of Mary.

The most common commentary on this verse is twofold: (A) Taking care of the needy, especially widows and orphans, as is so often depicted in both the Old and New Testaments. For example: “Sing praises to God and to his name! …His name is the LORD (I AM)—rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows… God places the lonely in families…” (Psalm 68:4-6, parenthesis mine).

(B) Instead of selecting one of his half-brothers to care for his (their) mother Mary, Jesus chose John; most likely because John was his beloved disciple, one of the inner-circle three—the other two, Peter and James. Or, because John was the only disciple at the foot of the cross.

These commentaries are accurate and applicable to what Jesus was saying. But I believe there’s more: a profounder relevance.

The value of family cannot be overestimated. As a natural progression of marriage, it is the bedrock institution of civilization. The family is the foundation of communities, cities, states, and nations. Yet, the unity of every family, natural or blended, is temporary. Families are inevitably diminished by children growing up and leaving the household and by death of loved ones. Families are prematurely disrupted and even destroyed by abuse and by divorce.

In addition to solving the sin problem for each of us individually, Jesus also came to establish a whole new family unit.

One that would last forever!

It is the family of God!

And who can belong to this family?

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:10-13, italics for emphasis).

To all even included the Gentiles, which must have stunned the Jews—especially the religious leaders. Later, the Jewish Apostle Paul (a former Pharisee steeped in Judaism) who was radically changed when he, too, became a true child of God, wrote:

“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy (set apart) people. You are members of God’s family. Together (Jew and Gentile), we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21, parenthesis mine).

As precious as the family is to God and is (should be) to people, here is what Jesus said when told that, “…Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you. Jesus asked, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then he pointed to his disciples and said, ‘Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!’” (Matthew 12:47-50).

And what is God’s ultimate will for people? In another scene, we read:

“They replied, ‘We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?’ Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:28-29).

Thus, this new spiritual family of God is the New Covenant outcome of joining God’s original families (descendants of Abraham) with strangers and foreigners through the mediator (Jesus) of the New Covenant that the Lord promised through Jeremiah (Chapter 31). As a result, millions from virtually every race, language, and nation have been born (again) into the family of God.

“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations…. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Wrote the Apostle John to believers:

The beginning of this supernatural (born from above) new family of God began with the phenomenal birth of the promised child, Isaac. From whose lineage came the miraculous birth of the final Child of Promise—Messiah Jesus.

(4) “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)

This startling statement continues the progression of events that encompassed God’s plan of redemption, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile.

After Jacob’s family (twelve sons) became the nation of Israel, we read more about the problems of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament than any other topic. The main subject is that of the Jews turning from the Lord in favor of pagan man-made gods of wood, stone, and metal … gods that didn’t even exist, except in the minds of the Gentiles, and then the Jews. It was an agnostic abandonment of the Lord their God; who had rescued them from Egyptian slavery, gave them a land flowing with milk and honey, made them into a great nation, and prospered them physically and spiritually.

Was Jesus asking (wondering) why his Father had forsaken him … the reason for it? No, Jesus knew full well the reason. Yet, as the Son of Man (his human side), Jesus was expressing the unbearable thought that his Father God could or would do such a thing.

It was the same action that God took when he judged Israel by abruptly abandoning his people to their enemies (withdrawing his protection). However, after hundreds of years of rebellion, they deserved God’s justice through judgment. So, too, when God severely punished the Gentile nations which had crossed the divine line in their sadistic cold-hearted conquests of Israel.

Though Jesus understood what was happening to him and why, to fully grasp that God had totally abandoned him for that terrible moment in time was more than he could bear. It was worse even than the intense physical pain of the cross. The realty that his Father was judging him in the same fashion that he judged the people of Israel and in the same fashion that God will judge the sins of all those who reject Him and his perfect plan of redemption (through His Son) compelled Jesus to cry out, “Why….”

Why, my Father, must your judgment be so severe?

Though he was completing his mission and doing his Father’s will, it was a cry much like his agony in the Garden before he was arrested. “Abba, Father … everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36).

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Consequently, God will never leave or forsake those who have placed their eternal trust in what His Son did for us, in our place.

God totally abandoned his Son and poured out full judgment on him … punishment that we deserve. The extent of which I don’t think even Jesus (as a man) realized would be so enormous until it happened to him. The full extent of which we will never fathom.

(5) “I am thirsty” (John 19:28)

Commentators have rightly discerned that these distressing words of Jesus expressed his humanity as much or more than anything else he said or did, before or on the cross. Jesus, who is Immanuel (God with us) as foretold by the prophets, was incredibly thirsty. Not only from the agonizing trauma inflicted on him, but also because he probably had nothing to drink since the Last Supper, some 20 hours earlier.

Though not nearly as thirsty, we remember that early in his ministry, Jesus stopped at a well in Samaria and said to the woman who was drawing water, “…Please give me a drink” (John 4:7).

“She said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’

“Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water’…. ‘But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life’” (John 4:9-14).

At the conclusion of this stirring scene, Jesus plainly told her: “I AM the Messiah!” (Verse 26).

We drink water and we are thirsty again. We eat and are hungry again. Many fill themselves with possessions, pleasures, power, and prestige and are still empty inside.

In the same scene where Jesus told the crowd that the only thing God ultimately requires is that they believe in the one whom he sent, Jesus says:

“…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty … For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:35 & 40).

As the Son of Man, Jesus was terribly thirsty on the cross—part of his severe suffering for our sins. But because of his great love for you and me and his dying (and undying) concern for our eternal destiny, he was willing to bear this thirst and all the other terrible pain he suffered—body, soul, and spirit. As the Son of God, Jesus would satisfy the spiritual longing of all who acknowledge that only he can quench such thirst and hunger.

“…Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

(6) “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

It’s fitting that this was Jesus’s sixth utterance on the cross. Six is the number of mankind.

And, oh, what an announcement!

The Second Person of the Great Triune God (Three in One) spoke these three words, which means: The debt is paid in full.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

Sin comes with a heavy price. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a). Which separates what was created to be an eternal body from our still eternal soul and spirit. That’s a given.

But the price (debt) that we owe God to keep us from being separated (spiritual death) from Him forever is impossible to pay by anything we say, do, or are. That’s why Jesus paid the debt once and for all.

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

It is finished.

The only thing God requires of us to believe in Jesus and receive him and what he did for us as a gift.

“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).

(7) “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46)

Jesus’s final of seven announcements on the cross, uttered with his dying breath.

Jesus wasn’t hoping nor asking (making sure) that the Father would take care of his spirit. That was understood.

He was expressing the culmination of God’s magnificent plan of salvation, assuring those who have believed and received Jesus as Savior and Lord that our spirit is safe and secure with the Lord when we die. As the Son of Man, Jesus was effectively saying: My spirit belongs to you; thus, I belong to you. I trust you Father with my spirit.

When God created us in his image, it was the soul and spirit that is the essence of that image. Our soul is who we are, our persona. It’s what makes us unique, each person distinct from another. But the human spirit is common to all people; it is our spirit that connects us to God our Creator, because God is Spirit.

When Adam and Eve sinned, their spirit died; thereafter, all people were born spiritually dead.

When we are “born-again” the Holy Spirit indwells us and makes our dead spirit alive; restoring the Garden of Eden fellowship that our parents had in the beginning with the Lord our God.

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

Biblical salvation is the reconciliation and restoration of the soul and spirit (who we really are) back to God. Yet Jesus took this a step further. He arose from the dead … bodily! Which completes God’s marvelous plan of redemption—body, soul, and spirit. When the Rapture takes place, the spirit of every believer (those already dead and those still alive) will be united with our new eternal spiritual bodies that will live forever.

In summary: Each statement of Messiah Jesus while on the cross tracks with the Lord’s panoramic plan of redemption for humanity, as it has unfolded down through the ages.

With the best yet to come!

Things to Ponder

Every person on this earth—past, present, and future—will live forever. What makes all the difference in the world is WHERE and with whom.

For believers: Eternal life with God and the host of heaven. Paradise restored. Our spirit is in God’s hands.

For unbelievers: Eternal death in the Lake of Fire. Paradise still lost. Outside of God’s family.

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins (bears witness) with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory…” (Romans 8:15-17).

“…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” (Romans 8:23).

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Don’t Seal The Book of Revelation!

Why would anyone want to seal up the book of Revelation?

Unfortunately, that’s what some students of Scripture and even Bible teachers have done to varying degrees; even though keeping Revelation unsealed is a direct decree to the author, John.

Writes John in the last chapter of Revelation: “Then he instructed me, ‘Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near’” (Revelation 22:10).

Many believers to all intents and purposes have inadvertently sealed the book of Revelation by seldom reading it and rarely studying it. They consider much of it to be unknowable, to be sparingly discussed … compared to say, the Gospels or Epistles. When, in fact, Revelation is the only book that promises a special blessing to those who listen to and obey it … intently scrutinize, passionately pursue, long to learn (Revelation 1:3 & 22:7).

Proportionally, most pastors/teachers, commentators, and believers in general spend much more time and space on other books of the Bible. Fortunately, for the most part, prophecy pundits actively have sealed only portions of two chapters … Revelation 13 & 17.

Why would the angel even tell John not to seal up the words in this book? What does it mean to “seal up” (conversely, not to seal up)?

That question can best be answered by examining a similar instruction to another prophet some 600 years before Revelation was written. However, that directive was in reverse; one that believers are more familiar with than the one in Revelation.

“But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).

*Note: Whatever generation would experience the Day of the Lord (beginning with the Rapture) would be the one with the cutting-edge advancements in knowledge, transportation, and communication. That could have applied to virtually any period (age, generation) since Jesus ascended back to heaven.

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

For sure the rushing around and increase in knowledge has taken on a whole new meaning in our age of rapid transportation and computerized communication. But there was also a good deal of movement in the first century facilitated by the remarkable Roman highways. So, too, had knowledge dramatically increased hundreds of years after Daniel’s prophecy, precipitated by and attributed to Greek, Roman, and Jewish thinkers. Every generation could have made claim to this verse in Daniel regarding the “latest” technology, or the most contemporary possession and display of arts, science, literature, and knowledge in general (Page 277).

This same instruction is given again, with slightly different words:

Daniel and Revelation are the only books of Scripture in which the authors are told to: (1) seal up the book; (2) don’t seal the book.

Eye of Prophecy Post: The Seal of Approval

That former article was published 11-15-14 and was only the 14th in the category of Antichrist, with a total of 68 articles at that time posted in the five categories of Eye of Prophecy website (total of 281 articles to date). Because there have been an additional 40 articles in the category of Antichrist since then, today’s post is a revisit review of that significant statement to John and its relevance to the persuasive premise that the identity of Antichrist can be known. In fact, it was known by early (1st – 5th century) Christians!

Today’s post includes a few verbatim quotes from that previous article, but also substantial revisions (deletions, additions, modifications) to the content. Plus, pictorials not present in the original article. For that reason, only the first three paragraphs of Seal of Approval will be italicized, which is done if I include excerpts from prior Eye of Prophecy articles in the current post for that week. Any subsequent excerpts will not be italicized, to ensure continuity and to maintain a stand-alone status for this week’s post.

Let’s begin with that excerpt:

It’s time to once again declassify and decode the identity of Antichrist. To once again lift the veil of secrecy and mystery that modern-day students of prophecy have imposed on this infamous figure; called a ruler and king by the prophet Daniel, the man of lawlessness by the apostle Paul, Antichrist by the apostle John, and a beast by John, the author of Revelation.

Although volumes have been written about this notorious tyrant, the prevailing premise is that the identity of the man who would dare be anti-Christ cannot be known until after the Rapture, at the outset of the seven-year Great Tribulation… Some scholars have dismissed and even ridiculed the notion that the Antichrist’s identity was meant to be known before the Rapture with the statement: “If anyone thinks they know the identity of Antichrist, then they have missed the Rapture!”

But we can know … we should know! Why can I make such a bold assertion? Because Scripture not only encourages such a discovery, it challenges us to figure out who the prophets and apostles are referring to. That he was not just a future tense despot to the prophet Daniel, but a present tense ruler during the Apostle Paul’s lifetime and a past tense monarch shortly before the book of Revelation was penned.

One of the most well-known verses sometimes quoted in my past writings on the beast of Revelation (as well as by many students of prophecy), but one that bears repeating: “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Revelation 13:18).

In ancient Greek manuscripts the number 666 is written out … six hundred, sixty-six. Which is essential to accurately calculate the number (therefore, identity) of the Antichrist beast, i.e. through Hebrew Gematria—counting by the alphabet.

Are you thinking what John and 1st century believers were undoubtedly asking themselves? Is the angel suggesting that we can know (solve) the meaning of the beast’s number? He’s not only suggesting it; he’s saying that it could and should be done—with a good dose of wisdom and understanding. By whom? By the believers of that time! And, by believers (or even unbelievers) thereafter … to this very day!

A rhetorical question: Are there any restrictions identified or conditions imposed on the reader, whether someone reading it in the first century or in this current generation, that directly state or remotely imply that discernment of the meaning of the number applies only to those left behind at the Rapture? The verse unambiguously encourages the reader of that time to, “solve the meaning of the number of the beast.” And when that is unscrambled, the identity of the beast will be revealed; because, “It’s the number of a man.” Not man in general, but “a” man.

Think about it: There would be no reason whatsoever to decipher the number of this man after the Rapture. Early in the Tribulation his globally broadcasted name and physical appearance to the whole world will be enough to know who he is, especially after he orchestrates the seven-year treaty. Right?!

The only deliberation necessary for those left behind is whether to take his name or his number on their forehead or right hand.

(Many forget that the “mark of the beast” is not just the “number representing his name”; but also, “the name of the beast” … Revelation 13:17)

As further evidence and incentive that the identity of Antichrist was meant to be known by first century believers and all believers thereafter, an extraordinary command was given by one of the angels at the very end of the spectacular series of visions witnessed by John. We’ve already looked at the angel’s instruction to John:

Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near (Revelation 22:10).

Which is in direct contrast to:

The “Sealing” of Daniel’s Prophecies

Daniel was told to seal his book because some of his prophecies weren’t germane to his generation, nor to several generations afterward.

Obviously, the sealing of Daniel’s book wasn’t meant to be a literal fastening commonly used in those days, especially by kings and officials who wanted their documents to be tightly guarded for both privacy and safety until they were to be unsealed (opened) and read. For one thing, much of Daniel’s book was a journalistic record of past and present events that occurred during his decade’s long exile in Babylon.

Paraphrasing, Daniel was told to: Place his prophecies in storage.

Whereas, John was instructed to do just the opposite. First century Christians, especially Jewish Messianic believers who were well-versed in the writings of the Old Testament prophets, would have immediately made the connection of the angel’s caution to John as a striking contrast to the admonition given to Daniel.

Bible scholars have accurately explained that the instruction to Daniel was necessary because fulfillment of (many of) Daniel’s visions wouldn’t take place until the time of the end.

Likewise, several students of prophecy correctly place the beginning of the time of the end as the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Messiah Jesus, i.e. the New Covenant that birthed the Church. The Covenant of Grace, whose mediator (Messiah Jesus) fulfilled the Old Covenant of Law, hence the end of that Covenant. And the end times beginning with the New Covenant, which will culminate in the Day of the Lord commencing with the Rapture. Then the reappearance of Antichrist, the Tribulation, Second Coming of Christ, followed by the Millennium.

“The time of the end” phrase used by Daniel is often transposed by modern Bible scholars (including me) to the end-times. That would certainly and preeminently include the glorious return of Messiah Jesus which was ardently anticipated by 1st century believers, including the Apostles. Hence, the imminent return of Christ. Early believers fully expected that Jesus would rapture his church in their lifetime. And, he very well could have.

The full details of why he has delayed his return for 2,000 years is known only to our Lord. However, the Apostle Peter gives us the most important of those reasons:

Paraphrasing: The Lord wants more people (born) to be born again—saved.

In the context of the passing of 2,000 years as pertains to the book of Revelation, here is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss:

The passage of some 2000 years is essentially irrelevant to the prophecies of Revelation. If the lapse of time was relevant, then the angel would have told John the same thing Daniel had been told. “Seal up the book until the time of the end…” But the angel didn’t say that; he said just the opposite. The time of the end (last days) began with Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. We are now living in the last of the last days of the time of the end (Page 278).

Similarly, this delay has no bearing whatsoever on the mystery unveiled to John … that the Antichrist was born, lived, and died in the 1st century before Revelation was even written. We’ll see that soon in another passage concerning the Antichrist, one that I’ve quoted often—in my book Out of the Abyss and in several Eye of Prophecy articles … Revelation 17:7-8. It is the springboard passage more than any other (but one that must be combined will ALL other Biblical passages about the Antichrist, then compared to 1st century history) that catapults us to this incredible, but nevertheless cogent conclusion: The Antichrist will not be a man born in the last generation before the Rapture—our generation … the Omega Generation.

He was and will be upon his return: The Ruler of Daniel whose armies would destroy the rebuilt Temple, the Man of Lawlessness of the Apostle Paul’s time, and the Beast of Revelation who would reappear from the Abyss. He is the Antichrist … the Roman Emperor, NERO.

To emphasize that the entire book of Revelation was meant to be understood (unsealed) in terms of the players involved and the chronology of events in both the first century and immediately preceding, during, and following the Tribulation, we need to look at:

Prophetic Events in the Book of Daniel

Most have come to pass; some (Tribulation events) are still awaiting fulfillment. Of paramount significance: among those fulfilled are events that took place in the first century.

At the end of these itemized prophecies in Daniel, I’ll give you the number (count) of those already completed and those awaiting fulfillment. Except for the succession (number) of specific details in Daniel 11:5-20 (treated as a whole in the context of the Seleucid/Ptolemaic dynasties), the component parts of the prophetic passages will be included in this count.

Prophecy (Daniel Chapter 2): Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a colossal statue in four parts followed by Daniel’s God-given interpretation that these segments are four mighty kingdoms. The feet and toes (extension of the iron legs—Rome) of that statue represent the kingdoms in existence at the outset of the Tribulation. See Eye of Prophecy article, Brexit … What’s It All About? (Posted June 2016, providing a detailed analysis of this statue, in the context of England’s still-pending exit from the European Union).

Also, the Kingdom of God on earth (Millennial Reign of Messiah) is described in Chapter 2, then later in Chapter 7.

Fulfillment: Babylonian, Media/Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires. Dates of those kingdoms listed in the below pictorial.

Prophecy (Chapter 4): Another dream of Nebuchadnezzar; a tree, “…growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see” (Verse 20). The tree directly depicted Nebuchadnezzar and indirectly Babylon; however, the tree would be cut down with only the stump and roots left.

Fulfillment: During Nebuchadnezzar’s lifetime when, because of his pride in taking sole credit for Babylon’s rise to power, he became insane and lived among the animals for seven years. God restored him to the throne when the king acknowledged God as the one whose, “…rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him” (Daniel 4:34-35).

Prophecy (Chapter 5): The finger of God writing on the wall of King Belshazzar’s palace. Once again, only Daniel knew the meaning of this prophecy, i.e. the imminent destruction of Babylon.

Fulfilment: That very night, Babylon was conquered by the Persian Empire.

Prophecy (Chapter 7): Daniel’s dream of four beasts … another prophetic vision of the four Gentile kingdoms. With, however, the main emphasis that of the fourth empire (Rome) producing a ruler who would reign over ten kings and their kingdoms after suddenly appearing among those kings. The ruler would not arise from a Revived Roman Empire, because there is no such empire in Scripture, either in Daniel or Revelation. Rather, this ruler would come directly from the original Roman Empire and he would “…try to change their (the Jews) sacred festivals and laws…” (Verse 25).

Fulfillment: Same four kingdoms as in Daniel Chapter 2. However, Daniel 7:8, 11, 20-22, & 24-26 refer directly to the Tribulation period, thus still awaiting fulfillment.

Prophecy (Chapter 7): A short but spectacular interlude that describes the return of Messiah Jesus to heaven, found in verses 13 & 14.

Fulfillment: After Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives, 40 days after his resurrection. See Eye of Prophecy article: Messiah’s Ascension & Coronation … Seen Long Before It Happened! Posted 5-27-17.

Prophecy (Chapter 8): Daniel’s vision of the clash between the ram and goat. The large horn of the goat is a mighty king. When he passed from the scene, his kingdom would be split into four regions, “…but none as great as the first” (Verse 22). One of these four kingdoms would produce a king who would wreak havoc with God’s people. Chapter 11 then provides even more details about this ruler … which history clearly shows is Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Fulfillment: The angel who explains this vision to Daniel gets quite specific. He identifies the nations involved: Greece is the kingdom represented by the goat and Media/Persia the kingdom symbolized by the two-horned ram. History bears this out when Alexander the Great conquered Persia some 225 years after the prophecy. Chapter 8 also records the first instruction concerning the sealing of the book when Daniel is told: “…But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret” (Daniel 8:26).

Prophecy (Chapter 9): This is, arguably, the most stunning of Daniel’s prophecies. Like Chapter 7, it is a combination of what would transpire during the 1st century Roman Empire; plus, the Tribulation period. The prophecies are: The beginning of Israel’s atonement and final restoration; the exact time when Messiah would appear (483 years from the time the command would be given to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls—with this command also future tense—to the time of Messiah’s arrival); the death of Messiah; the rise of a ruler whose armies would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple (which hadn’t even been rebuilt yet!). Then fast forwarding to the Tribulation period—the subsequent treaty orchestrated by that same ruler to include breaking the treaty by canceling the Jewish sacrifices and offerings, as Daniel 7 said this ruler would do.

Fulfillment: The command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem issued by Persian King Artaxerxes in 445 B.C.; Messiah Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem in 32 A.D. exactly 173,880 days (483 Jewish calendar years) later; Jesus’s death on the cross providing individual atonement through his once for all substitutionary sacrifice; the Roman ruler (Nero) born shortly thereafter in 37 A.D., then ruling as Caesar 54-68 A.D.; Israel’s final redemptive restoration as a nation that began with the miraculous rebirth of Israel in 1948, but not complete until the Great Tribulation ends. See Eye of Prophecy articles: The Most Panoramic Prophecy in the Bible I & II (Published 1-13 & 1-20-18).

Prophecy (Chapter 11): Detailed prediction of the political intrigue and wars between two of the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom. Specifically, the Seleucid and Ptolemy dynasties, with primary focus on Antiochus IV and his deplorable exploits in Israel (Verses 1-32). Then beginning in verse 36 to the end of the chapter (with verses 33-35 a transition period), portrayal of an even greater tyrant who would do some of the same things as Antiochus but on a global scale and not until the very last days of the end times, i.e. Antichrist.

Fulfillment: Alliances and wars between Syria and Egypt, culminating in Antiochus IV’s invasion of Israel, desecration of the rebuilt Temple, then opposition from some of God’s people who would resist this megalomaniac (Verse 32). Those who resisted and went on to defeat Antiochus and his superior army in the 160s B.C. were the Maccabees and their faithful Jewish followers.

(Antichrist Nero will also, “set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration” … Daniel 9:27)

Prophecy (Chapter 12): Three more predictions, all related to the Tribulation. Time/space does not permit elaboration (as has been done in my book Out of the Abyss and a few Eye of Prophecy articles).

Final Tally for the Book of Daniel:

Prophecies fulfilled by 70 A.D (destruction of the Temple) … Ten.

Prophecies Remaining to be fulfilled during the Tribulation … Eight.

Recap: After the Roman destruction of the Temple, Daniel’s prophecies were effectively unsealed, because many of them (eight of the ten after Daniel’s time) had already taken place before or during the 1st century when Revelation was written. Even the predictions in Daniel that hadn’t yet occurred could now be understood by 1st century believers because the main focus of those still pending prophecies was on the ruler who would arise from the Roman Empire (the 1st century ruler who had already lived and died) would be the SAME ruler who would suddenly reappear from the Abyss, arrange a seven-year treaty, and take control of a ten-nation confederation, i.e. the ten Tribulation kings of Daniel 7, Revelation 13 & 17.

Plus, all the pending (Tribulation) prophecies of Daniel were revisited and then amplified in the book of Revelation.

Thus, the book of Revelation was also effectively unsealed and should be kept that way. Among other things, to seal Revelation would be to disregard and even discard the clear challenge to unravel the compelling clues given by the angel to John; thereby, identifying the Antichrist.

Why Seal Daniel’s Visions and Not John’s … More Verification

The striking significance for the need not to seal (withhold, keep to himself, temporarily set aside, or postpone for a later time) ANY PART of the book of Revelation is that all the revelations given to John were immediately relevant to the believers of that day. In fact, we can with a great deal of assurance and authority carry this a step further and state: The revelations were applicable first and foremost to believers of the first century. There’s more to that statement than just the obvious. The early Christians knew that if Jesus should imminently take his bride (the Church) to heaven, then the remaining end-time Biblical prophecies would begin to unfold immediately thereafter.

With, however, John’s encrypted references to the Antichrist intended to protect Christians from further persecution and death; hence, the encoding of the beast’s identity by a number through Hebrew Gematria … counting by the Hebrew alphabet. Likewise, to partially obscure the identity of the beast (by name … Nero) in Revelation 17, via the (then) present-day recent history and current events reference to the seven kings (Roman Emperors). Five of whom had already fallen, one reigning, one soon to rule (briefly), then an eighth king—the beast himself—who was one of the seven kings (Revelation 17:9-11). Which like Revelation 13:18 begins with: “This calls for a mind with understanding.”

A prophetic puzzle solved by any 1st century Christian who kept abreast of the first two Roman Dynasties … Claudian and Flavian.

(Caesars of the Claudian Dynasty, From Left to Right: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero)

(Please see Eye of Prophecy articles: Exposing Antichrist’s Identity … More Compelling Evidence Part I & II (Posted March 2017). Which provide extensive Biblical and secular evidence (even more so in my book, Out of the Abyss) to match the five kings fallen, one reigning, one soon to come, all the way through Emperor Domitian in the 90s A.D)

That is why the angel told John not to seal up the prophecies of Revelation. Unlike the prophecies of Daniel which were mostly for the distant future: (1) the centuries leading to and including the first advent of Messiah Jesus; (2) those exclusively for the Tribulation; that, however, could have begun in the 1st century.

Therefore, the disclosures to John of Patmos were applicable to his readers then and there.

Why?

Once again: because Jesus could rapture his Church at any moment! Which would be an instant catalyst to the Great Tribulation and reappearance of the beast.

Satan has no clue exactly when the Rapture would take place, any more than we (people) do.

Consequently, there’s no way that Satan would have time to select his man of sin on the spur of the moment. Nor would or did Satan try to prepare a tyrant from every generation since the first century, as some suggest. For several reasons, with time/space limited in today’s article to just one reason. However, it is the most obvious: Satan’s choices are extremely limited. He would have to choose a man who had already been confined to the Abyss!

Moreover, in all of Scripture, there’s only one man who has been banished to the Abyss, unlike all other unbelievers who end up in Hell after they die. The Abyss and Hell are two totally separate places in Scripture.

Satan will not have to choose someone, then groom that man to become the Antichrist immediately after the Rapture. Satan already knows who the Antichrist is. He has known since the first century, because it was Satan who energized Nero to be his anti-Christ.

The following is another excerpt from Out of the Abyss (after providing examples of how Satan throughout history has acted immediately concerning anything related to Israel, Messiah, and the Church. Such as his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness to turn the true Messiah into Satan’s messiah right then and there).

Satan wanted to crush Christianity as soon as he could. Why would he wait for an unknown, unspecified, interminable length of time for the Christian church to flourish? Revelation hadn’t been written yet, so Satan didn’t know the rest of the story. His arrogant ambition and pernicious pattern are 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 left the scene before all the terrible things Satan wanted to do could be completed! Satan must have been furious at Nero, at the Roman Empire, at the Church, and at Christ… (Page 226).

Messiah Jesus could have chosen to Rapture the believers at any moment after his ascension back to heaven, especially after Revelation had been written. If he had done so, then the prophetic events of the last days would have begun to unfold rapidly … within days or weeks. Thus, the Antichrist MUST HAVE ALREADY BEEN ON THE SCENE. Indeed, he has been waiting since the first century, albeit confined to the Abyss!

All the devil needs do is to wait for his man of lawlessness to be released from the Abyss and ascend from the sea (Abyss); which is exactly what Scripture tells us will happen (Revelation 12:18, 13:1, 17:8). And could have happened in the first century, or second, or third….

Ultimate Evidence That the Antichrist Will Not Be a Modern-Day Man

Now for the passage mentioned in the beginning of today’s article; the one that convincingly confirms that the Antichrist beast seen by John was already past tense! But would become future tense at the outset of the Tribulation.

Said the angel to John: “Why are you so amazed?… I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon 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 17:7-8, italics for emphasis). The Greek word for soon means momentarily, but more so it means abruptly or suddenly.

All of John’s visions, including this one, took place in the present (time) … on a Sunday from the Isle of Patmos in the 1st century A.D.

(Depiction of John on Patmos; Shows open scrolls … fitting for today’s article!)

In this second vision of the beast, the angel revealed the full “mystery” of the beast to John. It was another extraordinary disclosure of the beast’s identity to go along with his number presented earlier in Revelation Chapter 13. Both revelations would mesh perfectly with Daniel’s prophecies of a ruler who would arise (shortly) after Messiah was killed and whose armies would destroy the Temple (Daniel 9). As well as Paul’s reminder to the Thessalonians that this man of lawlessness and the secrecy of that lawlessness (plot to kill Nero’s step-father Claudius, making way for Nero to succeed Claudius as Caesar), was already being (temporarily) held in check. II Thessalonians was written 2-3 years before Nero lawlessly became Emperor.

The identity of the beast could and should be known by any generation. The Christians of the first century had the Biblical tools coupled with recent and current events to solve the clues and ascertain the identity of Antichrist BEFORE the Rapture, not afterward. As have all generations since, including ours!

Nowhere in Revelation does John state or even imply that the identity of the beast could not be known until after the Rapture. That is an assumption made by contemporary prophecy students (including me at one time) who cannot let go of the premise that the Antichrist must be a modern-day born man like all rulers before him in their time. One of several problems with that is the fact that the Antichrist beast will (re)appear from the Abyss, something no man has ever done before. Nor will he be killed during the Tribulation, because he had already lived and died before Revelation was even written.

Nero’s reappearance from the Abyss is just one of several supernatural (apocalyptic) events that will supersede the natural order of things during the Day of the Lord, including the otherwise normal birth of a modern-day Antichrist.

The words of Revelation 17 are unmistakable, and their meaning plain: “The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now.”

It will be Nero’s miraculous (in the eyes of the world) reappearance 2,000 years later that will stun those left behind at the Rapture (Revelation 17:8; Revelation 13:3-4).

Summary

In the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus told John to: “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen” (Revelation 1:19).

The “things that are now happening” when John saw his visions also included some recent events in his life and the lives of first century believers.

The Lord wanted John, all first century Christians, and those thereafter to understand beyond doubt that Revelation was not restricted just to future events. Other than the first three chapters of Revelation including the letters to the seven churches, most believers and even Bible scholars think in terms of the remainder of Revelation applying exclusively to future events. NOT SO.

There are several present and past tense occurrences in Revelation, such as the seven kings—five of whom had already fallen (died). The (Antichrist) beast was one of these seven kings; one of the five who had died.

Then in the last chapter of Revelation, the angel instructed John not to withhold or postpone the writing and distribution of Revelation (all part of “sealing” a book). In fact, ALL of Revelation was immediately relevant to believers.. Nothing in the book was hidden from meaning (with wisdom and understanding) and none of the mysteries were left unsolved.

Both secular and Church historians of the 1st through 5th centuries recorded that many Christians of their time believed that Nero would return as the beast of Revelation. Also, many Romans believed Nero either hadn’t died or would somehow return from “a distant region” and resume the throne as Caesar. This phenomenon was even given a name: Nero Redivivus Legend.

All I’m doing is refitting the prophetic puzzle that had been correctly assembled by the early Church but disassembled and inaccurately pieced together in our generation. I’m not reinventing the wheel. Rather it’s the same wheels of prophecy used by the early believers in their journey through the annals of Biblical events relating to the last days. We are currently in the last of the end-times last days.

“Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Revelation’s prophet is John.

The early Christians understood John’s prophecies were meant for them. They weren’t thinking about future generations any more than we would if we fully expected something to happen in our lifetime. Via Paul, they understood that Nero was the man of lawlessness. However, not until Revelation was penned would they match the man of lawlessness with the beast, realizing they were one and the same.

Nor could they conclusively correlate the ruler (book of Daniel) to Nero until he died, and his armies demolished Jerusalem and the Temple. While alive, Nero had personally dispatched Roman Generals Vespasian and Titus to crush the Jewish rebellion that began in 66 A.D. Once all those things happened, then the Christians knew!

Things to Ponder

When our great and glorious Messiah/Savior Jesus makes his final descent from heaven to vanquish Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and their massive armies, we believers will ride with him (Revelation 17:14 & 19:14)!

If you don’t know the Lord and are among those left behind at the Rapture, you’ll soon know who this man of sin is. My hope and prayer for you is that you will not be shocked at Antichrist’s identity when you see that it is Nero. That this, along with all the other prophetic events developing before your eyes, will instead direct your amazement toward God’s Word the Bible and to the Living Word of God—Messiah Jesus.

All these things were, indeed, foretold long ago.

But why wait for the greatest calamity of all time to unfold to choose the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth? A terrible time of tribulation in which believers will experience horrendous persecution … most will be killed. Or, you may die before the Rapture.

Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved. Today is the day of salvation. Choose Messiah Jesus now as your Savior and go up with other believers to heaven when Jesus takes us home at the Rapture. Then you can ride down with him from heaven and be part of the tremendous victory over Satan and his anti-Christ.

Some of us won’t be the least bit surprised when we see who the beast is, especially the early Christians! Even more so, the thousands of believers who were put to death by Nero in the first century. They will appreciate Jesus’s resounding Armageddon victory over and eternal destruction of this evil man as much or more than anyone.

The book of Daniel has been unsealed and Revelation remains unsealed. These open prophecies include EVERYTHING written in them—in all of Scripture. Don’t seal up a few by thinking they (the basics of them) cannot be known, including the identity of Antichrist.

There are only two passages in the New Testament in which the reader is issued a challenge to comprehend. Both pertain directly to Antichrist and his identity (Revelation 13:18 & Revelation 17:7-11).

The early Christians knew, and so can we.

Above all: We know that the true Messiah is Jesus–Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man.

He is: KING of all kings … LORD of all lords!

Two-State Solution & The Seven-Year Treaty … Impossible?

Prophetic: “relating to or characteristic of … prophecy” (Webster’s Dictionary).

Hold on to your prophetic hat; the winds of war are blowing stronger than ever. The conflict between Israel and Iran is heating up even more!

On January 20st, 2019, Israel launched a massive (daylight) airstrike on Iranian and Syrian military installations near the Damascus airport. At last count the death toll stood at 21, twelve of those fatalities Iranian. This barrage was in response to an Iranian missile fired at the Golan Heights, aimed directly at an Israeli ski-resort on Mount Hermon. Fortunately, this large missile was shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System.

Said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “We are acting against Iran and against the Syrian forces that abet the Iranian aggression. Whoever tries to hurt us—we hurt them. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear full responsibility.”

Which prompted Syrian envoy to the United Nations, Bashar Al Ja’afari to threaten a possible Syrian attack against Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel.

In reaction to Netanyahu’s statement, Iranian Air Force Commander Aziz Nasir-Zadeh made yet another threat—like many over the past few years from Iranian officials, military leaders, and the Ayatollah himself. Zadeh boasted that Iran is ready for, “the decisive war against Israel.” That Iranian forces, “are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth….”

Iran is resolutely committed to Israel’s destruction, the sooner the better … another ominous sign of the last days.

Which has little to do with the global outcry for a two-state solution or the soon to come seven-year treaty between Israel and Islam … for now. But will have a great deal of relevance after that treaty, because there will be a (remarkable, but temporary) cessation of overt hostility between Israel and Iran and between Israel and the Palestinians.

Anyone who knows just a little about Iran’s ongoing threats to annihilate Israel, understands that any peace agreement or even semblance of reconciliation between Iran’s radical Islamic regime and Israel’s democracy is more than just unlikely. It’s impossible in today’s world. But today will soon become tomorrow’s Day of the Lord; triggered by the Rapture, followed almost immediately by reappearance of the Antichrist beast and his seven-year treaty. And not long afterward by the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel led by Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

The Gog/Magog campaign will take place after and only because of this treaty between Israel and (mostly) Arab nations. A solution that the whole world deemed impossible. Turkey and Iran are Islamic countries, but they are not Arabic. However, both nations will at least tolerate this treaty because they won’t be able to do anything about it (at the time of the treaty).

Webster’s Dictionary defines impossible: “felt to be incapable of being done, attained, or fulfilled; insuperably difficult; hopeless.” In today’s vernacular: No way.

Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Diplomacy with Israel Despite Anti-Semitism … A Puzzling Paradox (posted 1-12-19), the most recent of several prior articles regarding both the seven-Year Treaty and the Gog/Magog invasion against an unprepared Israel as a result of “peace” guaranteed by the treaty.

…This treaty will be almost as astounding as Nero’s return from the grave (Abyss). It will be an agreement that the entire world sought after but couldn’t achieve just a short time before.

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

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

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

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

The Two-State Solution

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

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

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

Although my first book O Israel (published September 2007) is classified as a futuristic novel, as the setting is just before and after the Rapture, it is based on Biblical prophecy, history, and current events in the Middle East. Events that are as relevant today as twelve years ago.

One of the more captivating chapters (author’s opinion!) of that book concerns the seven-year treaty orchestrated by the Antichrist between Israel and Arab nations surrounding Israel as well as with the Palestinians within Israel. Here is a list of concessions made by both sides; that were “influenced greatly” by the Antichrist regarding the same issues which are paramount to this very day.

Muslim/Arab/Palestinian Concessions

  • Recognition of Israel as a Sovereign State (as of now, only two Arab nations recognize Israel’s sovereignty… Egypt and Jordan)
  • Israel granted a seat on the United Nations Security Council (more of an international concession)
  • An Israeli Embassy in all but two of the Muslim/Arab nations
  • Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital by all signatory nations to the treaty

Israeli Concessions

  • All Gaza and West Bank checkpoints turned over to the Palestinians, with minor conditions; resulting in free passage throughout Israel for all Palestinians
  • If no terrorist attacks or mortar launchings by the Palestinians for one year’s time, Israel would recognize a Palestinian State within the borders of Israel (italics to emphasis the “if” condition) Assuming, of course, that the two sides could agree on the boundaries
  • At all times, Arab citizens of Israel would have a minimum of sixteen Knesset members (currently there are 12 such members)
  • Except for convicted murderers, all Palestinian, Arab, and international prisoners would be released, with condition that they return to their homeland … not remain in Israel proper
  • An allotment of the (so-called) Palestinian refugees in various Arab/Muslim nations could return to Israel. Limited to 150,000 and to refugees 40-years old and older

As you can see, up to this point of the Israeli Prime Minister’s address to the nation—his fictional name is Ilan Rosen—there were four Arab/Palestinian concessions compared to five from the Israelis. However, Ilan deliberately (with the ploy to create suspense) saved the best for last … the fifth concession of the Palestinians and Arabs world-wide.

Here is the excerpt from O Israel describing that (impossible) agreement, with Ilan’s words in quotation marks and the entire closing scene in italics.

“Ladies and gentlemen… Both sides to a treaty can be stubborn, especially in the beginning negotiations and sometimes until the very end. This treaty would not have been possible without one additional miracle” (Note: the first miracle mentioned earlier in his speech was the rebirth of Israel as a nation).

With a classic pause for effect, he continued. “This one has also been two thousand years in the making. Effective the day after the treaty is signed, we will begin construction of Jerusalem’s third temple. The location of our temple will be none other than Temple Mount.”

Barak stood with Netanya near the back of the crowd, his arm around her waist. He had begun to withdraw his arm for another round of applause. Paralyzed by Ilan’s words, his body froze. With Netanya and the entire crowd, his jaw dropped. Religious or secular, for or against a rebuilt temple, it did not matter. Israel gasped as such a tremendous accomplishment, both real and symbolic.

The bewildered crowd exploded in jubilation. All of Israel joined them with shouting, laughing, weeping, and dancing. Loud cries of ‘Praise God’ erupted from the chief rabbi, who had leaped from his chair only a few feet from Ilan. Soldiers began to sing. Politicians praised their prime minister with a symphony of continuous adulation. An orthodox rabbi jumped in the air. He pointed in the direction of Temple Mount, fell to his hands and knees, and kissed the ground. Children screamed in delight. A young liberal rabbi did a backflip. Then another one.

Cars and busses screeched to a halt, doors flung open, and occupants pranced around their cars with outstretched arms. From every building in Israel, the celebration spilled into the streets. People held hands and danced in circles to the right. Circles within circles danced to the left. They struck beautiful chords of harmony as they sang, ‘Hava Nagila.’ Strangers hugged and kissed. The orchestra had become a concert ensemble, replete with singers and dancers. Like floodwaters from a breached dam, cascading chants filled the air.

‘Eelan—Isra’el! Eelan—Isra’el! Eelan—Isra’el!’

Such rejoicing had not been heard since Israel achieved statehood. Some would say not since the Exodus (O Israel, Chapter 19, pages 185-186).

(Jews celebrating passage of UN Resolution 181, which led to rebirth of Israel six months later)

Although the above listed issues between Israel and the Palestinians (as well as Muslim nations) have existed mostly since Israel’s rebirth in 1948, there are two that are the most contentious and most globally discussed as we near the third decade of the 21st century. They are Palestinian demands presented thus far as non-negotiable that:

(1) All Palestinian refugees remaining from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence (when Israel was attacked by five Arab nations and some 700,000 Arabs fled Israel—most at the demand of the Arab armies) PLUS their descendants, who are not officially refugees at all by United Nations’ definition of refugee, have the right of return to Israel. Please see Eye of Prophecy articles: Palestinian Refugees … Are They Really Refugees? (Posted 1-27-18). And, The ‘Right of Return’ … For Palestinians or Jews? (4-7-18).

(2) East portion of Jerusalem to be separated somehow (logistically … virtually impossible) from West Jerusalem with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State.

Which, as these demands now stand, are also off the table with the Israelis. Although Israel might allow the original Arab refugees still alive (estimates vary, but around 20,000) and a limited number of their children (2nd generation) to return, there’s no way that Israel will permit Jerusalem to be divided. Nor should they, despite pressure from virtually the entire world, possibly even the United States … if President’s Trump “deal of the century” calls for a Palestinian state capital in (so-called) east Jerusalem. When in fact the Palestinian capital could and should easily be placed in Ramallah—the current headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

The ONLY reason why the Palestinians want a capital in the eastern section of Jerusalem is because Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem. West Jerusalem according to the Palestinians and most of the uninformed world. But to Israeli Jews … Jerusalem. Period.

Is Then, A Two-State Solution Possible … Even Feasible?

Not now. Not until a 2,000-year old Roman Emperor reappears to a chaotic world after hundreds of millions are taken from this earth.

The irreconcilable differences between the Palestinians and Israelis—especially concerning refugees and capitals—are but the bottom half of the iceberg. The iceberg tip has begun to increase in size, one that would be as much of an obstacle to the two-state solution as the lower half. I’m referring to the widening ice-cold expanse between the Palestinians themselves.

How can there be a (one) Palestinian state when the Palestinian Authority wants it in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip? Even if they agree geographically, they’re not even close politically. Who will run the government? If the Palestinians returned to the negotiating table with Israel, which of these two groups would represent them?

What would it take for the Palestinians to agree on the boundaries (location) of their own state? That’s like asking what it would take for water to naturally flow uphill. The nearest that the Palestinians have come to identifying such boundaries are the cease-fire lines drawn after Israel soundly defeated the Arabs in the Six-Day War. As a reminder, Israel reclaimed all of Judea Samaria, all of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and most of the Golan Heights in that stunning victory. Then relinquished much of these areas back to Egypt, Jordan, and eventually the Palestinians, i.e. Gaza in 2005. Whatever boundaries both sides might agree to, the Palestinians still have sworn not to give up their “right of return” and East Jerusalem capital demands.

If Israel conceded the pre-1967 boundaries (essentially giving back everything won in the 1967 War, reaffirmed by the subsequent victory in the Yom Kippur War of 1973), then Israel’s security would be jeopardized beyond what the Israelis (any country or people) could or would accept. This is particularly true with the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In fact, a Palestinian state anywhere in Israel is not a solution at all. It would create a bigger problem than already exists in any number of areas.

For example (one that isn’t even as significant as other disastrous conditions that a two-state solution would cause): It’s a foregone conclusion that a Palestinian State would not preclude lone-wolf terrorists from infiltrating Israel and killing Israelis. As has been the case thus far: after attacking Israelis, some of these terrorists will manage to escape. If they made it back to the confines of a Palestinian State, Israel would no longer be allowed to enter that state to hunt down the murderers. That would be a “violation of a sovereign border.” The likelihood of the Palestinians extraditing the suspect back to Israel would be nil. This and other scenarios (like terrorist cells from other nations entering the Palestinian State borders) would much more likely lead to all-out war between Israel and a Palestinian State.

Nevertheless, virtually the entire world subscribes to the illogical premise that a two-state solution would solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. AND would alleviate, if not eliminate, nearly all other problems in the Middle East … an even more absurd presumption.

What does the civil war in Syria and all other Arab spring uprisings in other Muslim nations like Libya, Yemen, Algeria; or Muslims killing other Muslims have to do with Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or millions of Muslim refugees now in European countries? Or the emergence of one Islamic terrorist group after another? (Most Muslim terrorists’ ultimate objective is to eliminate Israel, but not to “resolve” the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma). Or dissolution discord between the PA and Hamas? About the only thing these two rival Palestinian groups have in common is the destruction of Israel. But they can’t even agree on the best way to accomplish this devious goal.

(If even half of over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” returned, they would flood Israel with a population imbalance that would, in and of itself, demographically spell the end of the democratic Jewish State of Israel)

The western and eastern countries of the world are preoccupied with the Middle East in general. However, they are obsessed with Israel and the preposterous perception that a Palestinian State would be the magic formula that would somehow make 1 + 1 = 3. (Another Arab state alongside the Jewish state would bring peace to everyone else, i.e. the 3rd parties of the Middle East).

More Insight About the Seven-Year Treaty Orchestrated by Antichrist Nero

Referencing again the earlier excerpt from my novel O Israel, regarding the amazing seven-year treaty in which all Israel (as expected) would praise their Prime Minister; before Ilan Rosen listed the terms of the treaty, he made these introductory remarks:

“I must acknowledge the splendid efforts made by all parties, especially by the European Union, and specifically by its president, Juan Iago Castilla. Mr. Castilla mediated the more difficult articles of this covenant. He proposed the most radical compromise—one that your own government did not think to introduce….” (Chapter 19, page 183).

That proposal would be the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, the crowning achievement of the treaty for Israelis. In my novel, Juan Castilla is the Antichrist. As indicated in my second book, Out of the Abyss, I had begun to write a sequel to O Israel, with further development of the character of Antichrist Castilla, when the Lord interrupted this project with a dramatic disclosure (insight) to me. This occurred in November 2008, based on the stunning but plain meaning of Revelation 17:7-8 … the Antichrist beast had already lived and died before John even wrote Revelation! In turn, this led to intensive study of every single passage about the Antichrist.

This refitting of the prophetic puzzle based on Scripture plus 1st century church and secular history, challenges the prevailing view that the Antichrist will be a modern-day born man.

Although the Eye of Prophecy website (280 articles to date) that I began in July 2013 is much more than just about the Antichrist, many of the 54 articles in the category of Antichrist provide amplified evidence that the Roman Emperor Nero is, in fact, this man; who will reappear from the Abyss to the utter amazement of those left behind at the Rapture.

Nero’s astonishing return, combined with the unprecedented (in just the past year or so) improvement of diplomatic relations between Israel and many nations of the world, will provide a climate of conciliation to accomplish the impossible—a treaty between Israel and Muslim nations.

As depicted in my novel, this treaty includes Israel’s concession to the creation of a Palestinian State; yet, with conditions. However, with the underlying reservation that creation of such a state wasn’t feasible or even possible; that, at best, it would only be a “paper state” without actual implementation. As indicated, that is true now and will be until the Rapture.

This week’s article is based on something that I had not fully grasped before. My emphasis had been on the seven-year treaty that will guarantee peace between the Jews and Arabs/Muslims throughout the entire Middle East. Which it will. However, just a few days ago I more fully realized that the formation of a Palestinian State (two-state solution) will be one of the two critical components of the treaty. An Arab state of their own with boundaries conceded by Israel not thought possible, will be to the Palestinians what the rebuilt Temple will be to the Jews!

(Depiction of Rebuilt Temple Superimposed on an actual picture of Temple Mount, just to the right of the Dome of the Rock)

Next, came the thought that there would (must) be a passage or two in Scripture that I had not considered in the immediate context of a Palestinian State. Obviously, there’s nothing in the Bible that speaks directly of such a state, nor would that be necessary if there were passages which would otherwise clearly make such a connection. In fact, that’s the essence of matching Biblical prophecies that don’t name or identify a specific last day’s development. Instead, we must accurately correlate such events with the prophetic description (language, terms) foretold long ago.

Lo and behold. There are such references!

Concerning the ten concessions, five by Arabs and five by Jews in this seven-year treaty as depicted in my novel O Israel, all but one was supposition.

However, the other nine were reality-based on the prevailing issues between the two sides that have arisen primarily in the past few decades (the end-time generation) and have intensified in just the past year or so. Now there are two that I’m convinced will be a sure thing: The rebuilt Temple and a Palestinian State! With the remaining eight treaty points most likely—to some degree or another—key ingredients of the seven-year treaty arranged by Antichrist Nero soon after the Rapture.

Concerning the rebuilt Jewish Temple:

“The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven (seven years), but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27).

The Temple can’t be desecrated unless it once again exists. The sacrifices and offerings can’t begin until the Temple is rebuilt, and they won’t cease until half-way through the treaty. Thus, the treaty will (must) include the rebuilt Temple.

Concerning Scriptural Evidence of a Post-Rapture Palestinian State

First Passage:

Daniel Chapter 11 foretells of Antichrist’s prototype Antiochus Epiphanes IV and rulers of the Seleucid and Ptolemaic Greek/Syrian dynasties created after Alexander the Great’s kingdom was divided into four parts. However, beginning with verse 36 to the end of the chapter, the prophecy switches to the final ruler (Antichrist).

We’ll begin with verse 37: “He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts. Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward” (Daniel 11:37-39, italics for emphasis).

Time/space doesn’t permit elaboration in today’s post; however, much documentation is provided in Out of the Abyss and a few prior articles. I’m referring to more proof that Nero is the Antichrist because he was the one Emperor of his time who placed absolutely no stock in the Roman gods of his immediate ancestors. Much like the agnostic Adolph Hitler, Nero was heavily into art—Hitler as a would-be architect/painter and admirer of classic paintings. Nero as a would-be playwright and poet. The god not known by his ancestors is the Arabic moon-god Allah—chosen by Mohammed in the 6th century A.D. to be the god of Islam. It will be Allah that Nero will (pretend to) worship, to gain the support of Islamic nations.

Returning to the italicized portion of the quoted passage, notice that Antichrist will not only dole out positions of authority to those who submit to him, but also parcel out land. And not just land in general, but first and foremost the land of Israel. Later in this passage, we read that Antichrist will “enter the glorious land of Israel” near the end of the tribulation when he and his coalition are threatened by a leader (of several nations) from the south. The entire chapter of Daniel 11 focuses on the land of Israel; as first invaded by Antiochus IV (2nd century B.C.), then by an even greater king (Antichrist) during the tribulation.

Other Biblical translations state that land (especially “the land” Israel) will be given by the ruler for “a price.” That price is not gold, silver, etc. Conversely, the passage says that it will be the ruler who distributes much of his treasure to this god of fortresses (Allah, Islam).

In the immediate context of the passage as applied to Israel, the price paid for a partition (division) of Israel into two states are Palestinian/Arab concessions indirectly to Antichrist and directly to Israel, not the least of which is a rebuilt Jewish Temple. That will have already taken place early in the Tribulation with the seven-year treaty.

Although most Israelis won’t “submit” (kowtowing with complete allegiance as do the Palestinians) to Nero, as a matter of expediency they will agree to the terms of the treaty. Otherwise, Israel wouldn’t be able to erect its Temple—something that will take precedence over every other item of negotiation in this treaty. If Israel can rebuild the Temple on Temple Mount and resume the long-lost sacrifices and offerings, they’ll certainly agree to a Palestinian State which will geographically and geopolitically divide Israel’s sovereignty into two-states.

Second Passage:

This passage concerns the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, which will take place in the early part of the Great Tribulation, not long after the seven-year treaty. It also further confirms the probability (what I’m now convinced is a certainty) that this treaty will include a Palestinian State. A state that won’t last more than a few months, because all of Gog’s allies will be destroyed. Those from without Israel and those from within! And, excepting the rebuilt Temple, the implementation (logistics) of other treaty points will barely be underway when Gog invades Israel.

“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’” (Ezekiel 38:19, emphasis added).

The Lord says much more in this chapter and the next about what he will do to the Magog coalition, as well as Gog’s allies “who live safely on the coasts” (Ezekiel 39:6). One of those allies currently occupies land along the Mediterranean coast … the Gaza Strip!

(Note Gaza’s prime location on the sea. The “West Bank” also contains some of Israel’s choicest land. “Territories” is a functional designation, i.e. where non-citizen Palestinians reside)

I’ve sometimes wondered why God will cause “a mighty shaking in the land of Israel.” When, in fact, he will sovereignly protect Israel and defeat this massive alliance without Israel needing to fight at all. This shaking of Israel may be partially symbolic, but it will obviously involve physical phenomena. Such as (the physical) “summon the sword against you (Gog) on all the hills of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:21). *Note: Many of Israel’s hills are in Judea Samaria, currently occupied by the Palestinians of the (misnomer) West Bank. And the all too real, “disease and bloodshed … torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur” (Verse 22) that God pours out on this arrogant Gog/Magog confederacy. There’s nothing metaphorical about those calamities!

Whatever form this shaking takes, I’m persuaded that the damage and casualties also will be directed at the Palestinian occupied territory, which by then will be a sovereign state. It very well could (and probably will be) a scenario like the ten plagues against Pharaoh and Egypt that did not affect the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived. Also akin to some of the trumpet and bowl judgments during the Tribulation that strike only the Antichrist and his regime.

Summary

There is a third passage to provide more confirmation of a Palestinian state after the Rapture.

“At the time of those events, says the Lord, when I restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem (that began with the rebirth of Israel in 1948), I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat (which means the Lord judges). There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land” (Joel 3:1-2, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

If the Lord doesn’t totally dismember a Palestinian State during his astounding defeat of Gog/Magog, he will finish the task during the battle for Jerusalem (Zechariah 12 & 14), which is soon followed (within weeks or days) by the greatest conflict of all time—Armageddon in the Valley of Megiddo.

The final “scattering my people among the nations” took place when Rome completely conquered Israel and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Although the Roman Empire (secular) was subsequently punished by the Lord for the devastation of Israel and exile of the Jews, God’s final judgment of this ungodly empire will be against the religious Rome of today’s world during the Tribulation. Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17); Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17); Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17). Posted 5-26, 6-2, & 6-9-18.

Joel also clearly states that the Lord will judge those, “for dividing up my land.”

Question: When was Israel divided? I’m guessing the immediate (but tentative) response by most would be: When the Jews were exiled by Rome? Or perhaps, I’m not sure but wasn’t Israel divided sometime in history?

Historically Correct Answer: Other than when Israel divided itself into the northern and southern kingdoms in the post-Solomon era, Israel has never actually been divided by other nations, rulers, armies, or international entities. Not officially, not into anything approaching sovereign states recognized globally. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the UN Resolution of 1947 that called for a partition of “Palestine” which led directly to Israel’s rebirth did not (has not yet) resulted in dividing Israel … into two sovereign states.

Reason: The Arabs rejected both proposals, which is why there never has been nor is to this day a Palestinian State.

Bigger reason: It wasn’t (isn’t) yet God’s time for that to happen!

When the Lord refers to Israel, particularly in the hundreds of Biblical end-times prophecies, it’s always as a nation. When he refers to Israel and Judah, it pertains to their end-times reunion.

(Division of Israel in the 1st century was only into regions governed by the Herodian dynasty, as appointed/approved by the Romans. It was still the nation of Israel)

Much of Joel’s prophecy is clearly that of the end-times. God, speaking in the first person, emphatically says that he will judge those armies (with their rulers … think Gog/Magog, Antichrist, and their coalitions) who have divided Israel.

This dividing of Israel early in the Tribulation will anger the Lord as much as Gog/Magog’s invasion shortly thereafter, and as much as Antichrist’s “entering the glorious land” a few years after that.

Things to Ponder

God and His Word are amazing! What he says he will do, he does. What he says will happen, always happens.

When God says he loves the whole world enough to give us His Son to pay the penalty of our sins, he means everyone—all inclusive. When God says that everyone must believe in His Son Messiah Jesus and personally receive his sacrificial atonement to be pardoned and inherit eternal life, there are no exceptions (John 3:16; Romans 9:9-10).

It’s so good to be even a small part of the effort to: “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! (Psalm 96:3-4a).

God Is Great & Yet He’s So Good!

If you have believed and received Messiah Jesus as your personal Savior, your first response would probably be: “Obviously, God is great. Of course, he’s so good. So, why does the title of this week’s article include the word yet (so good)?”

It’s clear that yet is used here as a conjunction, with the meaning of: “but, nevertheless” (Webster’s Dictionary).

However, an unbeliever’s reaction would more likely be: “If God is so great, then why does (a good) God allow bad things to happen? Particularly to good people?”

Life is hard, wouldn’t you agree. Bad things happen to us, even in the best of times. Thus, the last thing I want to do is minimize and certainly not trivialize the heartaches that everyone on this planet has experienced—some more than others (an enigma in and of itself). Such as the loss of loved ones, especially children or those who die before their time.

Messiah Jesus is the Son of God, proven by the amazing authority of what he said and how he said it. And even more by powerful miracles of all kinds that no one before or since has come close to doing. Most of all by his magnificent resurrection from the dead. Yet, as the Son of Man (completely human as well as divine), Jesus also agonized over the troubles that befall humanity.

“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down… But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” Isaiah 53:3-5).

Though he brought joy to thousands of people during his ministry on earth and millions more since then, his very purpose for coming to this earth in human form (Immanuel, God with us) was to suffer and die to bring God’s salvation to humanity. “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants…” (Isaiah 53:10, emphasis added).

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

On at least two occasions (the ones recorded), Jesus shed tears. The first time is when Lazarus fell ill and died.

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35, NASB).

Jesus cried, even though he knew that he would raise his friend from the dead. A miracle to prove the truth of what he said just before raising Lazarus:

Jesus not only wept but also became quite angry.

“When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (John 11:33). Not slightly, but deeply angered and troubled.

Even though it’s easy to understand why Jesus wept, what was it that made him so angry? No guessing is needed here. It’s the same thing that angered him on other occasions, i.e. the sorrowful state of humanity that not only led to physical death, but spiritual death (eternal separation from God) caused by sin. Coupled with so many who had already rejected him as the only hope for the human race’s abysmal condition. And many more people right up to the present day, who refuse to trust in Messiah Jesus—God’s only remedy for sin and death.

Which is also why he wept over his own people as he approached Jerusalem just a few days before the Jews (mainly the religious leaders) demanded his crucifixion and the Romans carried it out.

“But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

He went on to say that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed (which it was some 40 years later), providing the reason for that tragedy to come: “…because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation” (Verse 44). Also, see Matthew 23:37-39, for more poignant words that Jesus spoke as he approached Jerusalem that day.

Not long before that, he had vented his anger toward the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites and brood of vipers. Why? Because they were the blind leading the blind. They not only had rejected the clear evidence that Jesus was the Messiah but had flaunted and misused their position and power to persuade countless others to ignore what Jesus had said and done to prove that he was their Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 23:13-36).

Proof that God is not only great, but also so very good. So good that he would send his only Son to take our sins upon himself and pay the ultimate price to pardon the (our) penalty for those sins.

Totally Trusting God in Good Times and Bad Times

This side of eternity, we may never know the reasons for everything that goes wrong in our lives. Nevertheless, God provides a broader-life perspective and world-view principle for everything and everyone; for those who question and even challenge the premise of God’s greatness and goodness in the context of life’s troubles and tragedies. This perspective and principle can be summed up in two words: Trust Him.

That trust is generated directly from who He is and what he says and does—as contained in His Word. For example:

In a moment, we’ll look more closely at why (we can say) God is great, yet so good; by contrasting those two divine qualities to that of people—particularly those who are in positions of power and authority. First, let’s examine three things concerning this matter of God’s greatness and goodness in the context of bad things that happen.

(1) God’s Original Plan for Mankind: Creation of the universe for his own purpose and pleasure. And formation of a beautiful earth on which his special creation (in his image) of man and woman would live and prosper. With the ability to think, talk, and move about. With the pleasures of food, drink, spousal intimacy, family companionship, and the amazing privilege of fellowship with their Creator. All of which are affected (good or bad) by the most profound of God’s gifts:

(2) Free Will—The Freedom to Choose: For that God-given liberty to mean anything to mankind, there must be a choice between right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. Already, one of God’s highest angels (Satan) had exercised his free will and rebelled against God—along with one-third of the angels. As we know, Satan immediately set about to persuade Adam and Eve to join him in this rebellion.

The essence of humanity’s choice, one that would influence all other choices, was quite simple: Take (trust) God at his Word.

We point to Adam and Eve’s failure by often citing the word disobedience. Which is true and exactly what happened. But the reason they refused to comply is because they chose to trust in themselves for what they thought would be good for them. That, and wanting to somehow be greater than they were. As great as God … to know all about “good and evil.”

They decided not to trust God who KNEW what GOOD really was. Not just good, but what was totally best for them in order to live and thrive in the ready-made paradise where God placed them—in which everything they needed had been provided. Even the wild animals were tame. A world in which there was only one decree, not ten commandments (given through Moses after the fact of man’s fall). And certainly not the hundreds or thousands of laws that govern us in today’s world to deter everyone from doing what seems right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

All of humanity’s ills—disease, natural disasters, accidents, wrong doings of all kinds, and death are a direct (or indirect) result of man and woman’s original sin, a spiritual and physical defect inherited by all. And this sinful condition is simply because our parents chose not to trust (believe) God in what he said and what he would do. They chose death over life. That same choice of eternal life or eternal death remains for all people to this very day.

(3) God’s Remedy to Reconcile Humanity to Himself: The choice of life has been simplified even more, so much so that a child can understand it. Summed up in what is the most quoted and memorized verse in the New Testament. Jesus’s very words spoken for all people as given to one of the Jewish religious leaders, Nicodemus. I’ll reference the chapter/verse first, as many readers will immediately know the words. You may even be able to quote it, before you read it.

John 3:16:

In what is one of the most (if not the most) quoted/memorized passage in the Old Testament, we also find the way not only to eternal life but living life on this earth after salvation. It, too, is a matter of trust (in God) to know what’s good for us … the best.

Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight” (NASB; KJV says, he will direct your paths).

Concerning Unbelievers: The path of life for those who have not yet trusted God’s plan of salvation is found only in Messiah Jesus, as we read in John 3:16. (Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—John 14:6).

The crooked paths that will lead straight to hell are those carved out by the detour deceptions of man-made religions, humanistic philosophies, and self-righteousness of those who do not believe they need God’s righteousness imparted to them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Cor. 5:21).

Concerning Believers: Though we don’t always see our paths clearly, they are straight and true and the best way to travel with the Lord when we totally trust Him.

Which brings us back to our main theme today:

God Is So Great and Yet So Very Good

A full acceptance of and appreciation for the first part of the premise; but sometimes taken-for-granted second part of the equation.

Believers in Messiah Jesus are keenly aware of God’s greatness. We are in awe of his attributes, including, but not limited to: all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere he chooses. And believers proclaim along with the Psalmist: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1; emphasis added—His faithful love endures forever is repeated in all 26 verses of that chapter).

Why is the “yet” part of this paradigm so incredibly awesome?

Answer: Because people, especially those with great power and authority, are not always (some never) good … to or for us. Human greatness and goodness rarely go together. When they do, it’s, at best, temporary. If for no other reason than whatever kindness people in authority may display or impart fades away when they’re replaced or die. Whereas, our Great God and Savior is from everlasting to everlasting!

Of course, God is great. This greatness is manifested in his creation of all things. One of his names is El Shaddai … Almighty God.

Yet, he is so good. The extraordinary gift of His Son’s sacrificial death on the Cross to purchase our redemption and grant us eternal life in heaven is God’s goodness (grace) in action. Thus, he is also called Adonai (Yahweh) Tsidqenu … The LORD Is Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16, capitalization in the text).

And that’s just the beginning. For example: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh (are new) each morning… The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him” (Lamentations 3:22-23 & 25).

As the song goes, “God is good, all the time.”

God’s greatness and goodness are absolute Biblical stand-alone truths. However, about two years ago while praying one day, I spontaneously said aloud, “Lord, you are so great, yet so good.” I had often said the Lord is great and the Lord is good, and sometimes combined them. But never had I inserted “yet” between the two.

Realizing what I had said not long afterward, I exclaimed (again aloud), “Lord, of course you are so great and so good.”

Why would I add “yet” to the expression? What was I thinking?

Then it came to me.

Despite God’s infinite power and sovereignty over the heavens, the earth, rulers, and nations (his greatness), he loves each of us, individually. For those who have placed their trust in Messiah Jesus: “And we know that God causes everything (including wrong things we do or are done to us) to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, emphasis added, parenthesis mine).

God’s goodness begins with his heart’s desire that everyone ever born would believe and receive His great plan of redemption through the once-for-all sacrifice of His Son; to forever forgive our sins and restore us back to himself—as it was in the beginning.

This, in stark contrast to even the best ruler or government or religious and idealistic systems on this earth—past or present—that aren’t consistently capable or able at all to show that kind of concern for people. Yet, billions down through the ages have yielded their allegiance and even staked their lives and destiny on those who claim they know what’s good and best for them.

Defining Greatness & Goodness

Though it’s impossible to adequately define (put in a box) the Lord’s infinite greatness and goodness, we can see God’s preeminence by experiencing his love, grace, mercy, and blessings.

We also can try to objectify these concepts on a more horizontal level with at least a working definition, so as not to reduce greatness and goodness to the subjective level of (say, for example) beauty—which as said: is in the eye of the beholder.

Some meanings found in Webster’s Dictionary for, great: “remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness.” Also, “larger than life.” Some synonyms are: predominate, distinguished, eminent.

As expected, there is a plethora of meanings for good. With those definitions (as an adjective) specifically related to the following synonyms: Attractive, profitable, wholesome, agreeable, pleasant, virtuous, just, right, true, satisfactory, commendable, kind, benevolent. And others.

It’s probably one of the top ten words that aren’t personal pronouns used in the English language (any language) especially when used as a modifier.

Good is such an all-inclusive term that we use it frequently in everyday life—far more than its’ synonyms. How many times have you said or heard, “that’s good.” We often use it in place of bad by saying, “That’s not good.” We use it to summarize pleasant experiences with people, places, things, and events in our life. And to express a virtual likeness to something, both negative and positive. Such as “good as dead,” or “good as gold.”

When (used as) a noun, good is: “something conforming to the moral order of the universe.” *Note: It’s good that the Webster folks recognize a “moral order of the universe!”

Also, “praiseworthy character; goodness (of or pertaining to that which is good, parenthesis mine); beneficial; or something that has economic utility or satisfies economic want.” This commercial meaning is applied to such things as produce and products. We call them, “goods.”

Listen to the words of Jesus speaking directly to his twelve disciples and indirectly to all who want to follow him. The context was James’ and John’s impetuous (through their mother!) request that they be given the highest position of honor in the Kingdom of God; one at Jesus’s left hand, the other at his right.

“…You know that the rulers of this world lord it over their people and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).

Jesus was referring to leaders in all walks of life—political, social, economic. More specifically, he was identifying those “of this world.” Meaning people in authority who do not (infrequently or never) acknowledge God in their personal, community, or national lives. Also, “religious” leaders who misuse their positions for personal gain and glory. Whose greatness doesn’t translate into goodness.

The exceptions are few and far between. Those in authority whom we consider to be good lead (for the most part) by persuasion rather than by power. They do not abuse and misuse their status just for a personal agenda. But whoever they were (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill … pick some of your own) none of them were deemed “good” by all the people all the time.

History and daily experience teach us that, as a rule, the greater a person’s position and power the more selfishly despotic and greedily autocratic they are or become.

I would guess that many people in positions of authority may begin with good intentions. But we also know that: Hell is paved with….

Deferring once again to Webster’s Dictionary, corrupt is defined: “to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; morally degenerate and perverted.” Corruption is defined as: “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.”

Perverse (perverted) is one who has: “turned away from what is right or good.”

Though we often apply another meaning of great to those who are, “superior in character or quality,” the idea of great or greatness can also relate to rulers who are flat-out tyrants. At some point in time and through most of their reign, these dictators were revered to the point of worship, especially by their own people. Until their evil actions were too obvious to be missed or dismissed, their followers believed them to be the very embodiment of good.

In fact, whether great or small (with all the connotations of that contrast), no one is innately good (by God’s measurement). And it is God’s absolute standards that ultimately determine goodness, morality, and righteousness. Otherwise what’s good to or for me may not be good to or for you. Thus, Adolph Hitler was a messiah-like savior to most Germans; for some, even to the bitter end. To others, especially European Jews, he was evil incarnate. Which was the truth as exemplified by his actions and those who yielded their loyalty to him.

Thus, if we want to see and experience the very essence of integrity, we need to look to the universal source of such (great) goodness: The God of the Bible.

All people, both bad and good need the Lord. Really … good people, too? Why?

Because: “As the Scriptures say, ‘No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless (in God’s eyes). No one does good, not a single one’” (Romans 3:10-12, parenthesis mine).

Wow! Such an indictment of humanity.

How, then, can anyone be or do good, no matter how great they are … or aren’t?

Answer: We can’t, because innately we won’t. That’s why God took the initiative. He fully understands that it takes a supernatural change of heart, possible only by God imparting his righteousness and goodness to us when we believe and receive Messiah Jesus to pardon us from the sin that separates us from God. Just one sin makes it impossible for anyone to be enough or do enough to earn salvation. Just one sin (let alone the innumerable sins each one of us commits) makes us a sinner in need of God’s salvation. In fact, we sin because we are born sinners.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).

Tributes to God’s Greatness & Goodness

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (Psalm 147:3-5).

God’s immeasurable blend of greatness and (yet) goodness is replete throughout Scripture. Mostly in one or two verses at a time, especially in the Psalms like the one just quoted. There are also lengthy Biblical passages of individuals who praise the Lord for his greatness (who he is) and goodness (what he does). A combination that is both rare and temporary with people.

Such as Mary when told she would conceive the Savior (Messiah) by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:46-55); Zechariah after the birth of his son, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way of Messiah Jesus (Luke 1:67-79); Daniel when praising God for keeping his promises (Daniel 9:4-19); King Solomon after the splendid Temple was built (II Chronicles 6:14-42).

Even pagan rulers including one of the greatest kings of all time; who acknowledged the true and living God after God had humbled him and stripped him of his crown for seven years, then restored him to the throne. Said this mighty king about the God of Israel: “…His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him…. Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud” (Daniel 4:34 & 37).

These anthems of praise for God’s greatness and goodness are astounding. My personal favorite is King David’s accolade to the Lord after David led a joyful procession to (successfully, the second time) bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. It’s found in I Chronicles 16:7-36.

Here are a few excerpts from that magnificent tribute:

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (Verse 8).

“Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given…” (Verse 12).

“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (Verses 23-24).

“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens!” (Verses 25-26).

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’” (Verse 31).

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he his good! His faithful love endures forever” (Verse 34).

Summary

Regarding God’s sovereignty that will ultimately accomplish his great purpose and good plans; whose absolute power is combined with compassion not corruption, here is an excerpt from my book, Out of the Abyss (in italics):

We don’t know what’s going to happen next hour, let alone next month or year. Yet, by our decisions and actions, by our good choices, bad choices or indifferent choices, we can change things that otherwise would or would not have occurred. We can also be changed by the decisions and behavior of others, by events beyond our control.

How then, does God still achieve his plan? How can he make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love him and who are called according to his purpose? Okay, I’ll give you a hint: Because he is God!

…But that still doesn’t explain how he does it. So, we are left begging the question because it is simply beyond our natural, finite comprehension; which is why God doesn’t demand or even ask that we completely grasp his providential sovereignty. If we could wrap our finite minds around his infinite omnipotence and omniscience, I suppose that we would be God.

Ironically, that’s exactly what most of mankind, including natural scientists, human secularists, occult spiritualists, God-less governments and agnostic academia in general try to do. They inevitably ascribe to themselves the controlled capacity, the distinctive domain, and the potent position of determining their destiny. And if you will but afford them the privilege and opportunity; if you will “give them an ear,” they will gladly assist you in discovering your origin and purpose for life. Ultimately, if you yield complete attention and allegiance, they will be delighted to direct your future.

…Every man and woman must choose what they believe and to whom or what they will listen and follow.

Make no mistake; we all believe in something and we all follow someone or an ideal, even if it’s ourselves (Pages 22-23).

Next is an excerpt from an Eye of Prophecy article, entitled Kingdom of God (posted January 2015). In italics:

From the dawn of human existence virtually every kind of government has been in place at one time or another. A country’s government is often a reflection of its people … their race, beliefs (religious or secular), moral values, ethnic upbringing, and tribal territory. But sometimes government can be an ill-conceived and unwanted bureaucracy with leaders vying for power and supremacy. All too often, innocent people are victimized by such power struggles, both citizens of the country and residents of neighboring nations that take exception to such Machiavelli type systems.

…Moreover, the destiny of nations (both good and bad) has often been determined by the benevolence or malevolence of rulers … the laws they make and enforce, the decrees they issue, decisions they make, benefits they provide, and goals they aspire to. As the leaders go, so go the people. A ruler with integrity, compassion, and wisdom can be, and often is, a moral compass to the entire nation. Conversely, a selfish, deceitful, evil ruler can bring an entire nation down.

…The rise and fall of great leaders, noble and ignoble; of great nations, moral and immoral, is the stuff that legends are made of. And many of these individual and national epitaphs can be found in the Bible as well as secular history. For example, the glorious rise and inglorious fall of Babylon.

Concluding with:

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

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

Things to Ponder

What do you believe in? In whom do you place your trust? Who can you turn to when you truly need help? Who will listen? Who will care enough? If they do listen and they do care, can they help you? If so, how much? How often? All the time? Are they great enough and/or good enough to trust them with your life, both now and forever? Can they guarantee what the Lord does for those who love and know him as their personal Savior?

“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you’” (Psalm 16:1-2).

Said the Apostle Paul: “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

That is pure greatness and goodness.

“The (Holy) Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him” (Ephesians 1:14).

When we praise and glorify God, his blessings exceed our expectations.

God is so great and so good that he (alone) can and will listen to an unbeliever’s prayer for salvation and all believer’s prayers—anytime, anywhere on earth. We don’t need an appointment with the Lord, as would be required with any person of power—good or bad. We don’t even need to “dress up” or “get our act together” for such a meeting.

Imagine every believer on earth (hundreds of millions) beginning to talk to God at the same time. Unlike with earthly rulers (who would never allow such a thing in the first place), they wouldn’t need to stop and take turns. The Lord can do anything and everything all at once if he chooses. He places no time and space restrictions for his people when he extends his invitation:

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12).

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).

Lord, you are so great! And yet so very good!

I trust you with my life, such as it is!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dragon—Satan … Garden of Eden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Depiction of Michael in his battle with Satan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Bible’s last reference to Satan, we read: “Then, the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

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

More Evidence of Satan’s Bodily Reappearance on Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Antichrist Beast … Born 37 A.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Two Prophets (Witnesses) of Revelation 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elijah … Born Some 2,900 Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moses … Born About 3,400 Years Ago

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

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

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

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

Satan and the Body of Moses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

Pure fiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:7).

Hallelujah to the King of kings!

Diplomacy With Israel Despite Anti-Semitism / A Puzzling Paradox

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

As follows (in italics):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stepping on the Israeli Flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s Diplomatic Advances

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

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

(Benjamin Netanyahu With Jair Bolsonaro–to the right)

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

Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so with today’s Persia … Iran!

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

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

Iran and most of its people detest the Jews and hate the very existence of Israel. Iranian military leaders and government officials (all the way up to the Ayatollah Khomeini) have sworn to destroy Israel … the sooner the better. On several occasions, Khomeini has issued threats like the one he made public a few months ago, saying: “Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the west Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated. It is possible, and it will happen.”

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

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

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

Israel’s Peace Treaty That Will Imperil Her Survival

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

“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them… In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:7-8).

We are the generation of that distant future!

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

Continuing in Ezekiel:

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

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

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

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

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

A Recent Iranian Boast

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

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

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

(Typical signs displayed in Iran)

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

Might he be right about that prediction?

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

Why?

Because the Lord says so.

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

There’s more. And its graphic!

“You and your army and your allies will all die on the mountains. I will feed you to the vultures and wild animals. You will fall in the open fields … And I will rain down fire on Magog and on all your allies who live safely on the coasts…” (Ezekiel 39:4-6).

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

Reading on:

“And I will make a vast graveyard for Gog and his hordes … east of the Dead Sea…. It will take seven months for the people of Israel to bury the bodies and cleanse the land. Everyone in Israel will help, for it will be a glorious victory for Israel when I demonstrate my glory on that day, says the Sovereign Lord. After seven months, teams of men will be appointed to search the land for skeletons to bury….” (Ezekiel 39:11-14).

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Depiction of Angel Slaying the Assyrians)

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is our Prince of peace!

Palestinian Terrorism & UN Resolutions … Neither Will Defeat Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor (spiritually and physically). He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives (within themselves by sin and from without by their enemies) will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…” (Isaiah 61:1-2a, parenthesis mine).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) United Nations Reprehensible Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bassam Tawil concluded his column by stating:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance Fighters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) God Himself Gave Israel to the Jews

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

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

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

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

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

Regarding Isaac:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(4) International Law & Precedent Regarding Land Rights

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the Holocaust, the Jews vowed: NEVER AGAIN.

God will see to it.

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

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

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

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

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

Hanukkah & Christmas / Do They Have Anything in Common?

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Tis the season for Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And not only people sing these songs.

Hark … the Herald Angels Sing!

A Connection Between Hanukkah and Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Clear Correlations between Christmas and Hanukkah

(1) Physical Parallel

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

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

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

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

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

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

(2) Spiritual Parallel

Summed up in one word: LIGHT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And verse 14 says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lights of Hanukkah

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

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

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

Messiah Jesus … Light of the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is who said he is. Because:

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

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

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

After this period of 483 years, “…the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple…” (Daniel 9:26)

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

The Severe Consequences of Israel’s Missed Opportunity

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

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

“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share then they finally accept it” (Romans 11:11-12).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

None other than Jesus of Nazareth.

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

‘What? Crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Royal Son, born on Christmas Day.

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

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

Christmas is just three days away.

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

Peace Between Israel and Judah … Then World Peace!

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Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace Will Come Only Through Israel and The Messiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

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

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

Referring to Christ Jesus, John writes:

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

Continuing with Zechariah: “I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10, italics for emphasis).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kingdoms (plural)? Divided?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another excerpt from that article:

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

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

I then summarized by saying:

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

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

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

(Actually, its Verses 19 & 20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Crisis in Israel’s Government

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

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

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

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

Despite the sometimes-debilitating disputes among themselves, Jews in Israel (and all over the world) passionately exhibit one unifying trait and defend one ultimate purpose: the survival of Israel as a people, as a sovereign democratic state, as a nation reborn from the floods of dispersion and from the fires of Nazi death camps.

Jewish citizens of Israel synthesize over one common denominator: an enemy who wants to reduce them to ashes, to drown them in the sea, to erase Israel from memory, from all maps of the civilized world.

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

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

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

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

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

(Naftali Bennett with Benjamin Netanyahu–on the right)

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

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu summed up that speech with these words:

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

Truth That Leads to Freedom and Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, Jesus also made this startling statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors… They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31-32, italics for emphasis).

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

“In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives (undivided Israel, to also include Gentile citizens) will be a glorious place… He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah (once and for all … see Matthew 24:31) from the ends of the earth. Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end. They will not be rivals anymore” (Isaiah 11:10, 12-13, parenthesis mine).

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

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

“…But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me … I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:10-14).

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

The time is short.

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

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