Israel’s Controversial Nation-State Law

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Israel in the World Spotlight … Again

Contrary to the natural order of contractions preceding the miracle of birth, yet precisely as God foretold: the nation of Israel would be born (in a single day). Then her birth pains would follow.

This was the central theme of Eye of Prophecy article posted on 7-14-18 entitled: The Remarkable Rebirth of a Nation; based primarily on Isaiah Chapter 66.

Israel’s reverse birth is the most significant Biblical prediction that has come to pass in this generation (past 70 years), proving even more conclusively that the Bible is the Word of the true and living God. Also, demonstrating that the Day of the Lord prophecies (Rapture, Tribulation, Return and Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus) are imminent in their fulfillment.

Since the United Nations Resolution of November 1947 extended statehood rights to the Jews, and Israel’s First Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s declared on May 14, 1948 that Israel was now a sovereign state, this tiny country has been in the international spotlight like no other nation on earth. Although Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967 followed by her more difficult triumph in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 garnered world headlines, global attention on Israel has increased dramatically in the last quarter century, beginning primarily with the Oslo Accords of 1993.

(Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat during signing of the Oslo Accord Agreement of 1993; the Palestinians have kept virtually none of the agreements)

This focus has intensified even more in just the past 3-4 years. Not the least of which is the startling (bordering on unbelievable) alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey who were enemies of each other not that long ago—the three most prominent nations of the soon to come Gog/Magog attack against Israel.

Also because of a United States President who, despite his impulsive idiosyncrasies, has expressed support of Israel through action. President Trump’s official recognition (December 6, 2017) that Jerusalem always has been and always will be the eternal capital of Israel was a bold and long overdue (from previous administrations) implementation of the Jewish Embassy Act of 1995, which both houses of the United States Congress had passed by an overwhelming majority. Then a lightning-fast move (way ahead of the projected schedule) of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14th, 2018—to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary as a nation.

Now it was Israel’s turn to pass a (national) law validating their historical God-given right to possess and govern the land promised as a perpetual inheritance to their patriarchal ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

On July 19, 2018, Israel’s Knesset approved legislation officially completing what unofficially had been accepted by Israeli Jews since the United Nations recognized the Jewish right to a sovereign state. In summary fashion, that law declares: Israel Is a Jewish Nation.

Was the Jewish Nation-State Law Necessary?

Why was this bill even introduced in the Knesset? If Israel is a Jewish State, then why make this obvious fact a law?

Answer: It is a fact, but it wasn’t a law. And the fact is: It needed to be a law. Which is defined (Webster’s) as: “a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.”

Also, because it wasn’t obvious. Meaning that it (a Jewish Nation) wasn’t acknowledged by Israel’s enemies, by several Western nations, and even by some liberal Jews. And now it is … a law and obvious.

Israel doesn’t have a Constitution as such. However, like the United States, the nation of Israel began with a Declaration of Independence, which proclaims:

“The State of Israel will foster the development of the country for all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

As with other democratic countries, inhabitants include all residents of that nation; however, a few rights such as voting and holding office are restricted to (legal) citizens. Yet there’s no doubt whatsoever that Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 extended to all Arabs—later called Palestinians—of Israel, in terms of basic human rights.

In 1992, Israel passed the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Among other things it states: “The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” (italics for emphasis).

Thus, the newly enacted Jewish Nation-State law is partially duplicative of that Basic Law. But not entirely. In my view, which matches the Israeli majority (58% for … 34% against, the rest undecided), the new law was necessary because the persistent premise of most Palestinians and many Israeli Arabs (citizens of Israel), is that Israel must be exclusively a democratic state … which it is. But not a Jewish State.

That is no different than telling an Italian that Italy is indeed, democratic; however, Italy is not an Italian nation because there are minorities in Italy who don’t think it should be (identified as Italian). If in Rome you wouldn’t want to say that, because the delicious pizza you just ordered may get thrown in your face, toppings and all!

Israel is first and foremost a Jewish nation with national rights no more or less than any country in the world whose greater majority of citizens make that nation distinctive from other nations. Hence, Germans in Germany, the French in France, the English (British) of England, and Americans in America. Granted, the United States of America is unique in that it is the only true melting pot in the world; to which most of our ancestors immigrated from European countries. Thus, our minorities are considered to be non-European ethnic groups.

Israel is the ONLY country in the entire Middle East that affords (across the board) equal rights to its citizens, regardless of race, religion, culture, and gender. This includes 1.8 million Israeli Arabs (citizens) of Israel. Also, 130,000 Druze; the next largest ethnic minority in Israel who trace their heritage back to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro—whom they revere as a prophet. Even though their main language is Arabic, most Druze identify more with the Jews than with the Arabs.

Israel is often accused by Muslims and even by some non-Islamic nations whose accusers are either uninformed or who deliberately distort facts on the ground, of being an apartheid state. That is absolute nonsense. Israel is nothing like South Africa was for a long time, with 10% of the population (Caucasian) segregating themselves from and curbing the rights of black South Africans (the greater majority). That was true apartheid.

Before we examine the Jewish Nation-State Law up close and personal, let’s first look at:

What Makes a Nation, a Nation?

What are the ingredients that nations are made of; features that distinguish one nation from another?

Webster’s Dictionary tells us that the word nation originates from the Latin word, natio, which means: birth, race, nation. And from natus, “to be born.” Nation is then defined as: “a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government … characterized by a relatively large size and independent status.”

Nationality is even more important to grasp, because a nation is first and foremost recognized by the preponderant (greater majority) characteristics of its people.

Nationality is defined as: “national character … national status … a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of the individual and usu. (usually) protection on the part of the state … membership (citizenship) in a particular nation. Political independence or existence as a separate nation … a people having a common origin, tradition, and language” (italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

From the concepts found in these definitions, we can break down the typical features of a nation into seven basic categories.

Race: Although the post-Flood earth was repopulated by Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (and their wives!), it’s nonetheless evident that there are four distinctive races on Planet Earth. With Japheth’s descendants splitting into two races. By and large, physical qualities constitute the clearest reference to and understanding of race.

Webster’s defines race as: “a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type.”

The four races are: Asian, Black, Caucasian, Semitic … the ABC’(S) of race.

With, however, the four racial groupings divided into more specific identities based on the remaining six categories that have contributed to the formation or realignment of nations particularly after World War I and WWII. Two older examples of each race and its nationality subdivisions would be: Asian (Chinese/Japanese); Black (African/Caribbean); Caucasian (British/French); Semitic (Arab/Jew).

Boundaries/Borders: Although a few nations dispute the borders of neighboring countries, boundaries of nations have been delineated and charted across the globe.

With the perceived exception of Israel.

Perceived in the sense that virtually every Muslim nation, both Arab and non-Arab, refutes the British Mandate of Palestine (League of Nations July 1922 affirmation of the Balfour Declaration) and the subsequent November 1947 UN resolution declaring Israel’s right to statehood, both of which were and still are a matter of international law.

Moreover, they do not acknowledge that the Arabs forfeited their right to a (Palestinian) state; because they not only refused to accept those resolutions, five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq) attacked the newborn Jewish Nation the day after Israel’s statehood with the sworn objective of annihilating it. Nor, do they (concerning Israel) acknowledge international law that says: If a “disputed territory” is seized by a nation that is defending itself from unprovoked and/or illegitimate aggression, that territory belongs to the defender.

This indifferent ignorance or deliberate denial of international law is the reason why the Palestinians, all Muslim nations, and even some Western nations have demanded that Israel must “return” (relinquish sovereign control of) to pre-1967 Six-Day War internal boundaries. Which were nothing more than hastily negotiated armistice lines to begin with.

With Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, she reclaimed the Golan Heights, (all) Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), and the Gaza Strip. Israel kept exclusive control of only the Golan Heights, handing over functional control of the other territories back to Jordan and Egypt, who have given the Palestinians administrative supervision. But the fact remains: Israel’s legal (national) borders are with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt—not with the so-called “Palestinian territories.”

Flag/National Anthem: Every member country recognized by the United Nations has a national flag and most likely a national anthem. Both are proud symbols that visibly and audibly identify that nation as unique among the family of nations.

(Of the 193 member countries of the United Nations, a few of those flags are shown here)

Political: There are several forms of government, yet there are far more countries on Planet Earth than types of government. Which means that some nations have the same style of administration, e.g. parliamentary coalition or dictatorship. Nevertheless, the levels and operation of each government is unique, in some way or another.

Religion: In today’s post-modern society, most nations (especially their governments) do not want to be identified by or with a religion. Except, of course, the Muslim nations in which Islam is, by far, the dominating and distinguishing mark of those countries. Most are Arab (nationality, race) countries, but not all—such as Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia. These non-Arab Muslim nations along with almost all the predominately Arab populated countries have become or are becoming an Islamic State Religion, to some degree or another.

However, practically every nation on earth was originally influenced and identified by, and/or founded on (at least in principle), and/or composed of a population majority which followed one of the world’s most recognized religions or offshoots of those religions. Such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, or simply Polytheism (paganism). Israel is the only nation that espouses Judaism on a national level, which is reflected in its’ Declaration of Independence as previously quoted … based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.

Even so, Israel’s government is essentially secular; albeit with two smaller parties of the Knesset composed of Orthodox Jews.

Population Majority: Almost without exception, every country on earth is composed of a racial and/or religious entity that constitutes most of the population. Normally, as the majority goes, so goes the government and its political dynamics. Regarding Israel proper, Jews comprise about 77% of Israeli citizens, with Arab Israelis (the largest minority group) and other smaller minorities 23% of the citizenry. Even if the approximate 3.7 million Arabs (a more accurate count as opposed to the inflated census of the Palestinians) in the West Bank and Gaza combined wanted to become Israeli citizens, the Jews would still be in the majority.

Language: I believe most would agree: The single-most distinguishing feature of a nation or nationality is that of language.

Every nation has a major language, with many countries having enacted that language into law as the recognized (primary) speech of the land. We identify the (majority of) citizens in any given country by the language they speak. In France there are the French. In England (Britain) the English. In Spain, they speak Spanish. In Italy we find Italians who converse in … Italian, what else! In Israel, the Jews speak Hebrew; the same language spoken (with modern words added) thousands of years ago.

These seven components that define and distinguish a nation is what Israel’s Nation-State Law is all about and why it was passed.

Israel is a Jewish Nation-State / Or If Preferred as a Question: Is Israel a Jewish State?

The law contains eleven clauses; the first of which covers the three basic principles written into this Jewish Nation-State law, which also goes by the name of the Nationality Law:

  • “The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established”
  • “The state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to self-determination”
  • “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”

The other ten (nationality) clauses reaffirmed such things as Israel’s national flag—the Star of David; Hatikvah, the national anthem; Jewish holidays and days of remembrance; Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital; Hebrew calendar as the national calendar; Hebrew as the official language with Arabic a language of “special status.” Incidentally, most nations don’t have a special status for any of their minority languages.

(Jewish Calendar months have 30 days–360 days a year; with the civil New Year beginning on the 1st of the month of Tishrei (Sept., Oct. of Gregorian calendar)

As with any country in which laws are enacted by whatever legislative margin of approval (vote count) is required, there are always legislators and their constituents who oppose all or part of the bill, usually along party lines. Among Jews, the main opposition came from the liberal left-wing … as expected.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the law’s enactment as a “defining moment” of Israel’s history. He explained:

“We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state—the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to undermine this, to undercut our very existence. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language, anthem, and flag.”

Netanyahu also said: “Israeli citizens’ individual rights have been cemented in a number of laws, including Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. These laws guarantee full equality before the law, from the right to vote and be elected to the Knesset to any other individual right in the State of Israel.”

Continuing: “On the other hand, we have never enshrined the national rights of the Jewish people in our land in a basic law until now… What do ‘national rights’ mean? They define the nature of the flag, the anthem, the language and, of course, the fact one of the fundamental objectives of the state is the ingathering of the exiles here, in the land of Israel, which is the essence of the Zionist vision.”

Toward the end of his speech, Benjamin stated:

“Does the determination that our flag bears the Star of David somehow invalidates the individual rights of any Israeli citizen? Nonsense. This statement does, however, ensure that there will be no other flag…. There is already a proposal to replace the flag and the anthem in the name of so-called equality. Many countries are dealing with defiance against the concept of nationality (here, he is commenting on globalism vs. populism or national sovereignty), but in Israel, this undermines our very existence…” (parenthesis mine).

In direct response to criticism from Israel’s Druze community (some of whom serve in the IDF and different levels of government) who felt the law would discriminate against them, Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev poignantly responded:

“You, of all people—you who have been deeply loyal to the State of Israel for decades—should not be fooled by the radical Left. Don’t buy their media spin. Read the actual law. This law doesn’t discriminate against you. You remain equal citizens in the Jewish state, which, as you well know, has nothing but respect for its citizens and especially for its loyal Druze minority.”

She went on to write on her Facebook post that the Nation-State Law, “…doesn’t violate your civil rights or anyone else’s rights—Christian, Muslim, Bedouin or Circassian…. All this basic law seeks to do is complement other basic laws and clarify—to us and to the judiciary (referring to Israel’s Supreme Court which has struck down several Knesset laws), which seems to have forgotten, and to the entire world—that from a national level there is no equality. Israel has and always will be a Jewish state, whose flag bears the Star of David, whose language is Hebrew, and whose capital is and will forever be the united city of Jerusalem. You are equal and respected citizens in this country” (italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

(Israeli Sport/Culture Minister, Miri Regev)

In that context, two prominent Druze (Israeli citizens) disagreed with others of their community who felt the law was discriminatory. Said Chairman of the Druze Zionist Council for Israel, Atta Farhat:

“No other Druze community has it better that the Druze community in Israel. I implore all of my brethren in the Druze community to avoid the trap of the Left and back the nation-state law as it is…. Since the state’s founding, we have raised our children on Zionism. The silent majority of the Druze population in Israel loves this country. We have been partners with the people of Israel from the days of Moses … and we will continue to be partners in the future.”

Said Druze Israeli Captain (IDF Reserves) Shadi Halouf, head of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association: “As soon as Israel stops being the state of the Jewish people, as some in the radical Left and in the Arab parties want—we will no longer be able to enjoy the freedoms and security level Israel provides us…. I support the nation-state law and I am proud to be a citizen of Israel and a member of the Aramean Christian community, like tens of thousands of others.”

Time and space don’t allow for several scathing Palestinian reactions to this law. Except as quoted by one of the Palestinian Authority’s spokesperson, who said: the law is “racist.” That was to be expected, as the Palestinians often say this and other derogatory things about (Jewish) Israel without needing a specific flash point.

The law is not racist; rather, it is racial. The very existence of Israel is that of a Jewish State—race, religion, government, majority population, flag/anthem, boundaries, language—all the distinctive characteristics of a nation …any nation. Racial is synonymous to national.

In fact, concerning the potential creation of a Palestinian State, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn on more than occasion that (a very close paraphrase): “Not one single Jew will be permitted to live in a Palestinian State.”

Those words are as racist as anything could be.

A photo of Abbas would fit comfortably alongside the words racist, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing … the very concepts of which he (falsely) accuses Israel. See Eye of Prophecy article: Ethnic Cleansing of the Jews … The Real Palestinian Agenda (Posted 9-17-16).

The real Arab narrative has not changed since 1948 … make that since the Balfour Declaration of 1917. They do not want a state of their own unless the (Jewish) Nation of Israel ceases to exist.

Examples & Comparisons

Based on the law itself as well as responses to it, I’ll present just three examples (there could be many more) regarding the rationale and results of this Jewish Nation-state law.

Jewish National Self-Determination: National rights include the authority of a Jewish State to decline (for any reason, but especially impossible non-negotiable demands from the Palestinians or those who support the Palestinian agenda) the creation of a Palestinian State within the established borders of Israel.

The fact remains: The West Bank is nothing more than a 20th century invented term for the region of Israel known as Judea/Samaria. Except for some Israeli housing districts in this beautiful hill country, it is occupied predominantly by Palestinian Arabs (non-citizens of Israel). For Israel to allow this territory (and/or the Gaza Strip) to become a state would be a decision of disastrous consequences to Israel’s security and survival. A few prior Eye of Prophecy articles have addressed this in detail. In fact, the repercussions of a Palestinian state would be (literally) of Biblical proportions. If for no other reason that God himself has declared that the Promised Land must not be divided into any other nation or nations.

The creation of a Palestinian State would be like the confederate states forming a separate nation within the federal geographical boundaries of the United States of America. Whereas, the trigger-point issue between the north and the south was that of slavery, the real underlying problem was that of a few states succeeding from the Union—in direct defiance of the Constitution of the United States. Israel passed the Jewish Nation-State Law because it resembles a Constitution in form and substance.

Hebrew Language: Under this new law, Hebrew is the only official language of Israel.

Arabic has “special status” but no longer can the Palestinians or Islamic nations surrounding Israel demand that Arabic be given equal status, with the residual implication that the Palestinians could lay claim to Israel (or any part thereof) as exclusively their own, for that reason alone. This would be akin to German or Italian communities in the United States demanding that their language on a national level be equal to English. Or Spanish, because the Hispanic minority in America constitutes 17% of the population. To date, the one and only official language of the United States continues to be English.

On a functional level, I don’t see Israel replacing highway and street signs throughout Israel that currently are marked in three languages … Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Rather, it’s the principle of the matter. If Israel wanted all their signs only in Hebrew, they have the sovereign right to do so.

Except for possible exceptions at our border with Mexico, have you seen road signs in America displaying any other language than English? *Note: It’s one thing for private businesses or public entities to accommodate a relatively large minority group with bilingual options. It’s quite another (illegal) matter for them to insist that it be a co-official language of the land.

National Flag/Anthem: Again, we’ll use the United States for comparison. Because we began as a nation of immigrants—continuing to this day (both legal and illegal!)—wouldn’t it be more equitable to have multiple national anthems? For instance: To play the anthem of Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, and Mexico on say an annual rotation basis. After all, a good portion of our population hails from those countries.

I’m thinking your answer would be the same as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Nonsense!

The lyrics of Israel’s National Anthem, Hatikvah are:

As long as deep in the heart,

The soul of a Jew yearns,

And onward to the East

To Zion, an eye looks

Our hope will not be lost,

The hope of two thousand years,

To be a free nation in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem

And then there’s Israel’s national flag—the Star of David. Though the flag and the anthem and other features of Israel’s Nation-State Law are largely symbolic, many of us appreciate the significance of symbolism. In the United States, most of us stand with our right hand over our heart when pledging allegiance to Old Glory—the Stars and Stripes. Or when singing our national anthem.

The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart.

Though Scripture records two grievous sins (Bathsheba/Uriah & the Census) to show just how human he was, David’s life’s passion was to seek the Lord God constantly and consistently, despite his failures (Psalm 34, 51, & 63). To trust the Lord for his salvation, no less than Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (Psalm 18 & 32). To announce the coming Messiah (a descendent of David’s lineage) who would bring salvation to both Jew and Gentile through his suffering and substitutionary sacrifice (Psalm 22). The Messiah who was the Son of God; who would return to Jerusalem as God’s chosen King to rule and reign over the entire earth in righteousness, justice, and peace (Psalm 2, 110, & 118).

Wrote King David: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

David adeptly balanced what we call today, church and state. He skillfully merged the twelve Jewish tribes into the unified nation of Israel. All the while recognizing and relying on God’s divine sovereignty … personally and nationally.

His relationship with the Lord prophetically portrayed what would be the essence and experience of Israel upon her rebirth and upon the (imminent) final redemptive restoration of the Jews to Messiah, the prophesied descendant of David. Many of the Psalms intrinsically reflect this correlation. Such as one of the most contemporarily quoted passages in Scripture, written by King David:

Summary

Who better than King David to symbolize (Star of David) the modern reborn nation of Israel which is destined to complete God’s covenants with Abraham and David; that of the whole world blessed through the Promised Child, the eternal King of Israel—Messiah Jesus.

“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it…. For since their (the people of Israel) rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead” (Romans 11:12 & 15, parenthesis mine).

That’s what Israel is all about, even though many Jews haven’t yet grasped the full significance of their own flag and corresponding destiny. As a nation, they haven’t yet believed and received their Messiah (Jesus) as Lord and Savior. Israel hasn’t been acknowledged by the entire world, including some of the Jews themselves, as a distinctive national Jewish inheritance. But one day soon, all that will change … permanently.

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

That change is underway before our 20th and 21st century eyes. Beginning with the return of God’s people to Israel in great numbers in just the past 70 years.

“…I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel… Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God … They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived … forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever” (Ezekiel 37:21-25).

With the most recent development that of Israel declaring what the Bible has announced from the beginning: Israel is a Jewish Nation.

The nation from which Messiah Jesus—”the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)—has come. And to which he will return to rule and reign from Jerusalem on the throne of David, as the King of all kings (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 17:14).

Things to Ponder

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

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

The Lord knew and approved the residency of foreigners in Israel and told his people: “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

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

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

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

Exactly what encompasses the land of Israel? Modern-day Israel is a good start in the right direction, but the Biblical Promised Land was much greater in scope. Those parameters are delineated in several Old Testament passages; I’m selecting the book of Obadiah, which is less familiar than the others.

Midway through Obadiah, God warns those who seek to harm Israel:

“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads” (Obadiah 1:15).

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

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

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

(Depicts the ancient and also future borders of Israel during the Millennium)

Guess what (who) comes next?

“And the Lord himself will be king!” (Obadiah 1:21b).

**Two stunning videos of Israel’s National Anthem, Hatikvah. The first one is short–celebrating Israel’s 68th national anniversary at the time. The second video (composed of two renditions, each with beautiful visual scenes of Israel) is longer than the first. Pick one or both.

The Remarkable Rebirth of a Nation

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Another Unusual Introduction

Beginning with an excerpt from an article posted on 5-26-18, entitled: Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17), which began with: An Unusual Introduction to This Week’s Article. Followed by:

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

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

I went on to say (in quotation marks below):

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

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

“The first repost referenced above was: Why the Rapture? (A Revisit), posted 11-5-16. Of the 253 Eye of Prophecy articles to date (one each Saturday), those are the only two published a second time, albeit with some modifications.

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

“Reasons for reopening this six-article set: Visitors during the first year or so of Eye of Prophecy were significantly fewer than those of subsequent articles (to be expected for any new website). However, readership was disproportionately low, for that very reason—six parts … too many!

A Third Emergency (thus a reposted article this week, but with a modified title)

“Another day in paradise,” is a saying often heard in what we call, The Valley—Phoenix, Arizona area. Maybe, but not entirely. We, too, have our bad days along with good days.

Good News: It’s (comfortably) warm in the winter.

Bad News: It’s (uncomfortably … make that brutally) hot in the summer.

Good News: No volcanic eruptions, blizzards, avalanches, hurricanes, typhoons, or even destructive tornadoes as such.

Bad News: Monsoon storms that fully get your attention. With split power poles, downed power lines, loss of life-sustaining air conditioning (!), uprooted trees, detached roofs, and flash flooding. Plus, (flat, not funnel-like) surges of air that slam straight down to the ground wreaking havoc … called microbursts.

(Usually Beginning as a Huge Dust Cloud, Monsoon Storms Can Bring Strong Winds and Sheets of Rain)

Our first summer Monsoon storm struck this past Monday. Unlike previous tempests over the past 23 years of my Valley residence, this time my house was not spared. Sparing you all the dramatic details, suffice to say that between the emergency restoration crew, the insurance adjuster, temporary clean-up, water extraction and drying machines, on-going repairs, and numerous phone calls, there were too many interruptions to compose, edit, and post an entirely new article this week.

(Photo From the July 9, 2018 Monsoon Storm in the Greater Phoenix Area … Fortunately, this Tree Fell on the Street, Not the House!)

Back to some Good News … As Further Introduction to This Week’s Article

An Eye of Prophecy article written over four years ago is a perfect replacement.

Reason: This past May 14th marked the 70th anniversary of Israel’s remarkable rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948. Delegates from the United States attended this joyous occasion with a bonus to the celebration: opening of the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, having been moved from Tel Aviv. And, just a few days ago, Israel welcomed national leaders from 32 countries to the inaugural “Thank You,” conference at the Knesset—Israel’s Parliamentary Seat of Government in Jerusalem.

Despite the insidious reemergence of Anti-Semitism (especially in some western European countries) among certain global population groups, many national governments are warming up to Israel. With recognition of Israel’s democracy that has facilitated remarkable progress in such areas as agriculture, conservation, medicine, computer/cell phone technology, new business start-up. And the fact that, despite it’s tiny size and population compared to most nations, Israel’s military is ranked 8th most powerful in the world.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article posted in the online news source, United with Israel concerning this conference: “The guests are meeting with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and members of Knesset and are focusing on: promoting Israel’s status in the international arena, the joint fight against the anti-Israel BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the war on global terrorism, Israel’s image in the world, environment and sustainability, and the hi-tech industry, among other issues.”

Some of the participating countries were: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. (Note: It was unnecessary for a U.S. delegate to be there, as the United States is, by far, the strongest ally/friend of Israel, and vice versa.

(Israel’s Knesset, Displaying Some of the Flags of the 32 Countries Attending the First “Thank You” Conference in Jerusalem)

On another personal note: this week’s article is number 260—one posted each Saturday since this labor of love began in July 2013. Which marks the five-year anniversary (52 articles for five years) of the birth of Eye of Prophecy website. If there was to be a third (republished article) emergency, I suppose it couldn’t have come at a better time than to do so with a previous post entitled: The Birth of a Nation.

The core content of that article will remain intact, with some modifications, e.g. photos added, paragraph or headings restructured, and minor changes in semantics. New commentary will be identified as such by italics, preceded by an asterisk. Also, these changes and the fresh material merited a revised title for this week’s article.

Here it is; along with some additional content.

The Birth of a Nation (Originally posted 2-22-14):

I don’t suppose too many of us have ever watched D.W. Griffith’s blockbuster silent film, The Birth of a Nation. Every now and then you might catch it on TCM or some other golden oldies television station. Upon its release in 1915 and for several years thereafter, it was considered one of the greatest movies ever made, even though its portrayal of African-Americans was considered derogatory … at the very least, controversial.

The movie depicted pre-civil and post-civil war America; with an underlying implication that the real birth of our nation took place after the Union defeated the Confederacy and abolished slavery. Some believe that’s when the United States truly became united, via a birth or rebirth of a Union that all states eventually recognized and supported. American history up to that point was more of a gestation period that consisted of two wars with England, the granting of statehood to more territories, and the westward pioneer pilgrimages.

*During America’s Civil War, there were 20 Union States and 11 Confederate States. Three were neutral border states. The other 16 states subsequently added to the Union were part of designated “territories” until the United States Federal Government approved their statehood. For example, my state of Arizona became the 48th Continental state on February 14, 1912 (Valentine’s Day; Despite all the Wild West ruffians at the time, Arizona must have had some sweethearts!). Alaska and Hawaii came on board January 3, 1959 and August 21st, 1959, respectively.

Whether the United States was born at the signing of the Declaration of Independence or reborn when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox is a matter for the historians to debate. Either way, the formation of the United States of America was by all accounts an extraordinarily rapid phenomenon in contrast to the much-more gradual development of virtually all other nations up to that point in history.

But there is the dawn of another country that, beyond debate, beyond speculation, beyond doubt, constitutes the swiftest and most significant national birth in the annals of human history. It was truly a nation born in one-day: the nation of Israel. Even more astounding … this birth was predicted some 2,700 years before it took place! Not just the fact that it would happen, but exactly HOW it would occur. It would be unlike any ever experienced: (1) the national birth would take place in one day, and (2) the birth would precede the labor pains!

Isn’t that exactly backwards? Regarding point #2 for you men: If you missed it or have forgotten how much to appreciate it, just ask your wife who gave birth to that beautiful daughter or handsome son. Or, ask your mother who brought you into this world. First came the contractions. Then, “Hello, I’m here. Give me a name and give me something to eat!”

Let’s read this phenomenal prophetic proclamation from God himself:

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

Normal Birth of a Nation

Nations do not typically arrive on the scene of history through a birth process, analogous to a woman giving birth. Rather, they gradually develop into a political, social, and national identity through decades of homogenized language, geography, culture, government, and interactive economy. Examples that come to mind are the four superpowers prophetically identified in the book of Daniel, subsequently confirmed by both Biblical and secular records … Babylon, Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire.

For other nations who were seemingly birthed into existence, the pattern does reflect the metaphor of a woman giving birth. Beginning with conception, then birth pains, then deliverance into a brave new world of freedom and autonomy. The United States of America comes to mind.

This great country began with a concept (conception) of individual and corporate freedom from tyranny (such as taxation without representation), then painful contractions through resistance to oppression, and finally a liberating birth as a self-governing, self-determining republic of the people, by the people and for the people. Albeit one that acknowledged Creator God as America’s sovereign benefactor and source of moral and spiritual excellence.

Which makes the birth of Israel all the more unique and miraculous.

*The Lord also likens the rebirth of Israel and return of his people to their Promised Land to a resurrection from the dead. Which perfectly parallels the extraordinary modern-day State of Israel.

*Listen to this amazing announcement of the Lord to Ezekiel as the prophet was staring at a vast valley of dry, lifeless bones—a prophecy that came to pass on May 14th, 1948:

*Said the Lord to Ezekiel: “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).

*Then a few verses later, we read: “…This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again” (Verse 9; Note: Jews have come to Israel from the four corners of the earth, from over 100 nations).

*Ezekiel’s response: “So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel… I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:10 & 12).

The Reverse Birth of Israel

For those who have read Eye of Prophecy on a somewhat regular basis, you have seen several articles that, in varying degrees, touch on the intriguing introduction of Israel to the family of nations that took place in 1948. This birth of a nation; the stunning triumphs over enemies far superior in number and weapons; the striking agricultural, technological, cultural, political, and military growth of a people who turned swampland into gardens, desert into oasis, hamlets into hubs of commerce, diversity into unity, and defeat into victories; has been nothing short of astonishing … a miracle that only the true and living God could supernaturally perform.

It is one thing to predict the rebirth or revival of a nation from the dead (Valley of Dry Bones). I suppose an argument could be made that this kind of prophecy has a 50% chance of coming to pass. Either the nation will return, or it won’t. Considering, however, the Roman Empire’s utter destruction of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple in 70 AD, followed by exiled eviction of all but a few Jews from Israel—with centuries of subjugation in/by nations all over the world—I think the odds might take a nosedive to a miniscule probability of less than 1%.

*Since it’s never occurred with any other people or nation on earth, we can reduce those odds to nil, nada, zero—it just doesn’t happen naturally.

But it’s quite another thing to predict the sequential details concerning the resurrected birth of a nation, particularly one that suffered a violent, seemingly irreversible, demise some 2000 years ago.

*Which was still hundreds of years in the future, as Israel was a vibrant, powerful nation (albeit divided into two kingdoms) during Isaiah’s time.

Our passage in Isaiah does both. It tells us that this would happen and then tells us how it would take place; that it would be unimaginable, inconceivable, unheard of … unlike anything experienced in the annals of human history. No matter where you rank the likelihood of the Jews ever returning to their land, let alone the improbability that they could restore and speak their ancient, near-extinct Hebrew language; what makes the rebirth of Israel so unfathomable is HOW it happened. Moreover, it catapults the prophecy of Isaiah Chapter 66 into a stratosphere that is breath-taking and mind-boggling. What am I referring to?

Looking again at the text: “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son” (Isaiah 66:7).

Do you know of any woman who gave birth to a child, then went into labor after her child was born? Of course, not … it doesn’t work that way. Unless, that is: you were a Jew born in, or through (because of) Israel.

On May 14, 1948, seemingly out of nowhere Israel became a nation literally overnight. By the end of World War II, some two-thirds of the Jews in Europe had been murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich.

*(See Eye of Prophecy article, Two-Thirds of the Jews Killed … Past or Future? Posted 9-19-15).

The Jewish survivors continued to be dispossessed, without any semblance of community or identity, let alone the hope of national unity. Yet, in less than three years after WWII, the earth gave birth to Israel! Her children were born as naturally birthed Israeli citizens (Sabra) or through the exponential increase of Jewish emigrants from many nations of the world to Israel. Only after the birth of the State of Israel did the labor pains really begin. Strange? Unusual? Exceptional? I would think so.

This was also part of the amazing prophecy. “Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? By the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born” (Isaiah 66:8).

This is precisely what happened when Israel was birthed as a nation in 1948.

First, the Jews had no more to say about the matter than does a baby whose delivery is completely dependent on others. Although a handful of Jewish visionaries and Gentile supporters of Zionism had conceived the improbable birth of a new Israel, they had no idea how or when this would happen. They had no real say in the manipulation of nations to achieve this seemingly unattainable goal. Instead, it took the absolute sovereignty of God to deliver the Jews from the birth canal of Gentile oppression and horror which reached its ugly zenith during the Holocaust.

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

Second, cruel contractions did follow the birth of Israel—in the form of an immediate assault by five Arab nations against the tiny, virtually helpless and defenseless infant nation called Israel. And what happened then? Not only did God bring forth a newfound nation from the womb of exile, but he delivered the newborn children from total annihilation at the hands of ancient enemies.

Decades later, these birth pains would continue to strike Israel time and again: the Suez Canal Conflict (1956); the Six-Day War (1967); the Yom Kippur War (1973); three intifadas, deadly lone-wolf attacks, incessant launching of missiles from the Gaza Strip; perfidious anti-Semitic boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. The labor pains go on and on and on.

(Photo of Israeli Soldiers in Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence. With Many More Tanks, Airplanes, and Heavy Artillery, the Five Arab Armies Far Outgunned the Israelis, But Israel Still Won the War!)

In my generation, we are witnesses to the spectacular fulfillment of a 2,700-year-old prophecy: The nation of Israel would be literally born in a single day, in a mere moment (of history). This new creation of national life would be unlike any known to mankind. One that is not ordinary, but extraordinary; one that is not expected, but unexpected; one that is not natural, but supernatural. Children would be (immediately) born, then the excruciating pain (inflicted by Israel’s enemies) of delivery would follow the birth, not precede it. But like the arrival of any newborn baby, the family rejoices; not because of the pain that goes with childbirth, but because of the miracle of life itself.

In fact, that’s what comes next in our text: “Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts” (Isaiah 66:10-11).

Once again, we see the astounding accuracy of Biblical prophecy. Once again, we are reminded that we are living in the last days. We are very likely part of the generation that will experience the glorious return of our beloved Jewish Messiah.

Again, our vision is renewed, “…while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:13).

Summary

At one time or another, we marvel at God’s perfect timing regarding events or developments in our lives … individually, as a family, and as a nation. Although the United Nations is essentially a coalition of many ungodly countries the world over, God used this organization to approve a resolution that granted Israel statehood rights. Without the UN resolution of November 1947, it’s highly unlikely that Prime Minister David ben Gurion would have announced the Birth of a Nation (Israel) in 1948.

The Holocaust was NOT indicative or representative of labor pains. In fact, it cannot be analogous to childbirth (life) at all, as it was a horrendous time of persecution and death. The painful contractions of a woman about to give birth are not persecutory, nor are they a signal that something or someone is about to die. Rather it is a necessary time of struggle that yields to the miracle of birth, then rejoicing and celebration over a new life given to us by an awesome God.

A God who gives us life, then gives us life (eternal) again, through His Son.

*Note: In the original post of today’s article, the content under the above heading of Summary was in the final portion of that article, Things to Ponder … which is the final heading of every Eye of Prophecy article.

*As with today’s introduction, the finale of this week’s article will be one of a personal nature.

Things to Ponder

Like the United Nations, the Lord also has used mass media including the Internet (despite all its undesirable features) to accomplish what Jesus said would be the final sign of his return … precipitated by the Rapture seven years before: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Though a relatively small ministry, Eye of Prophecy website has been visited by people from 178 nations. I am grateful that this website can contribute even a little to global proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Word of God. As is said: Real History is His Story.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15).

As found on the Home Page where each new article is posted, the predominant purpose of this website is: “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus…” (Revelation 19:10). In fact, Messiah Jesus IS the essence of prophecy. And on the About page, that of: “defending and confirming the truth of the Good News” (Philippians 1:7).

The four main Eye of Prophecy categories of Current Events, Prophecy in General, The Antichrist, and The Rapture contain a variety of sub-topics. Each with a Biblical world view, designed to provide counsel, correlation, clarification, and (when necessary) correction toward understanding of some of the more difficult, least understood, or misapplied passages of Scripture—particularly prophecy.

As well as sharing more insight on some of the most well-known portions of Scripture. Such as the article, The Incomparable Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. Posted 5-28-16.

It has been and, the Lord willing, will continue to be my privilege and joy to research, write, edit, and post Eye of Prophecy articles—despite the sometimes-laborious contractions that precede the final creation. No complaints! The hard work and creative concentration are worth it. Each article is a new birth for that week. Often, the articles begin in a cocoon, with a caterpillar-like progression; yet the Lord somehow turns them into a butterfly!

This is certainly not a self-serving boast as to the finished product; rather, a comparison between the stages of labor and the delivery of a new article. Were it not for the Lord’s sovereign supervision and providential purview, there’s no way an article could have been posted consecutively every week for five years; without missing a few weeks for all the unforeseen reasons that our agendas, activities, and even health are interrupted.

It’s called, LIFE!

However, for more than one reason, there will be a couple of adjustments to future Eye of Prophecy postings.

For the next (last) two Saturdays this month, I’ll be on a posting vacation from the website!

Beginning in August (2018) and every month thereafter, my goal is to publish at least two articles each month, perhaps more. When published, they will continue to be on Saturdays.

If it happens to be a week with no article, there’s still 260 (at the current time … the number will increase) articles to choose from, in case you missed a few!

In closing, I want to so very sincerely extend my deep appreciation for all those who visit Eye of Prophecy website, whether occasionally or frequently.

Repeating the admonition of the Apostle Peter:

Echoing the Apostle Paul’s closing words in his first letter to the church at Corinth: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus” (I Corinthians 15:23-24).

Old & New Testament Saints … Is There a Difference?

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Amazing Things Jesus Said and Did

The Old Testament is replete with prophecies about the coming Messiah; the one, “…whose origins are from the distant past” (Micah 5:2). But did you know that the Hebrew Scriptures also contain direct quotes from Messiah himself, before he was even born?

Such as: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives 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 61:1-2).

Then, the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are full of the marvelous miracles and tremendous teachings of Messiah Jesus. With all four gospels providing the life-changing, eternal-destiny altering account of his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Early in his ministry while preaching at one of the Jewish synagogues, Jesus quoted the passage from Isaiah identified above. It’s what Jesus himself had said long before he was the “child born to us, a son given to us … And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Right after repeating his own Pre-Incarnate words as recorded in Isaiah 61, Jesus announced in no uncertain terms: “…The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21).

The implication and impact of his stirring words during that Shabbat service, in none other than his hometown of Nazareth, did not escape those who were listening. Do you remember their reaction?

“When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious” (Luke 4:28).

In fact, they tried to kill him, but it was not yet the time for Jesus to fulfill another prophecy in Isaiah (Chapter 53) as the suffering servant to take away the sins of his people and of the entire world. Thus, Jesus mysteriously “passed right through the crowd and went on his way” (Verse 30).

Although plentiful, not all the wonderful things that Messiah Jesus said and did were recorded in the gospels. Said the Apostle John: “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:30-31).

Then the very last verse in John’s Gospel:

One of the Stunning Statements of Jesus That Was Written Down

The scene is John the Baptist’s (an Old Testament saint/believer) disciples asking Jesus if he was, in fact, the Messiah. With the inference that John had some concern, despite his prior pronouncement of Jesus as:

“…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me’” (John 1:29-30).

John’s disciples said to Jesus: “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” (Luke 7:20).

Jesus didn’t reprimand the two disciples directly or John the Baptist indirectly for their doubt. Instead, he tenderly told them: “…Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22).

Which was a summary fulfillment of the passage quoted earlier (Isaiah 61:1-2) and other Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

Next, Jesus asks those in the onlooking crowd who or what they had expected John the Baptist to be, concluding with, “Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’” (Luke 7:26-27, quoting Malachi 3:1).

Then Jesus makes this astonishing announcement to the crowd: “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!” (Luke 7:28).

Scripture is unequivocal: Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son—2nd Person of the Triune God. He is the Living Word of God (John 1:1). Thus, when Messiah Jesus spoke, he spoke the very words of God, his Father.

But the Bible also declares that, “…God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34, NASB). The Lord doesn’t favor any person over another, certainly not in terms of their intrinsic worth. His desire is that all should be saved, no matter how great or small (by human standards) they are.

Why, then, would Jesus say that no one who had ever lived was greater than John the Baptist?

However, Jesus didn’t say John the Baptist was the greatest of all. Only that no one else was greater. Still, it appears that Jesus is making a value comparison. Is Jesus doing that? Yes, he is, but not based on the world’s criteria used to gauge people, i.e. how we measure greatness and weakness, success and failure, good and bad….

The contextual answer to this conundrum of Jesus comparing John to the greatest people of all time is found in his very next observation, which is more of a contrast. “Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is.”

Although, there will be different levels of rewards for believers, each believer has the same awesome and equal privilege of simply being in the Kingdom of God forever with our Lord. Personally, I’ve said many times (to the Lord in prayer), “You are my reward.” I believe that with my whole heart, no matter the size of any reward he might graciously give me in heaven. I’m sure many believers feel the same way.

Jesus used these comparative terms (greater … the least person) between an Old Testament Saint and all New Testament Saints so we would/could comprehend the dramatic difference and immense impact that his arrival as Messiah would have on the world, when he put into effect the New Covenant promised by God through Jeremiah (Chapter 31).

The distinction that Jesus made between John the Baptist and the least person in the Kingdom of God was exclusively based on and revolved around Jesus, himself.

Jesus is saying that, because he is (as John the Baptist had publicly proclaimed) “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” all those who believe in him would exceed beneficially even the greatest of Old Testament saints, not the least of whom was John the Baptist. None of the Old Testament prophets—even the most notable such as Moses, King David, Elijah, and Daniel—was given the entire scope of God’s majestic plan for humanity.

By contrast, ALL New Testament saints right down to this present day have the noticeable advantage of knowing at least the essentials (as God knew from the beginning) of the end from the beginning. In the Bible, we have the complete Word of God from beginning to end, including what will (soon) take place as recorded in the powerful book of Revelation. That is the context of and reason for the comparison that Jesus is making between one of the greatest (if not the greatest) Old Testament prophets—John the Baptist—and even the least person in the Kingdom of God.

Which is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the hearts of every born-again believer until Messiah Jesus returns to establish the physical Kingdom of God on earth.

Thus, all who believe and receive Messiah Jesus as their personal Savior would participate in and be immediate bona fide beneficiaries of ALL Old Testament prophecies (promises) concerning the Messiah.

Similarity of Old Testament and New Testament Saints

(Note: You may want to refer to Eye of Prophecy article, What Is A Saint? Posted 10-11-14)

Essentially, there is only one precise parallel between Old & New Testament believers.

However, it is one that constitutes the very foundation of redemption, which both Testaments express as “getting right with God.” The only foundation of such righteousness is found in one Word: FAITH. Which is simply trusting God for who he is (Creator of all things) and what he says he will do if we believe in him and His Son—the Messiah Savior.

This matter of right standing with God is essential to every person who has ever lived. It’s imperative because our Creator makes it crystal clear throughout Scripture that there is no other way to inherit eternal life than to acknowledge and accept God’s solution to the very reason why we are not right with God in the first place. The one thing that everyone inherits the moment we’re born is a death sentence. Physical death because we’re born sinners … transmitted from our original parents, Adam and Eve. Spiritual death because our spirits are born dead (separated from God) by that same innate sinful nature. The only remedy is a spiritual rebirth (our spirits made alive) and eternal life in a completely transformed body given to all believers at the Rapture.

The Apostle Paul summarizes this only universal way of being made right with God (redemption) by going all the way back to Abraham, long before the Law was given to Moses.

“Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith’” (Roman 4:1-3, Paul quoted Genesis 15:6).

Paul continues: “When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: ‘Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin’” (Romans 4:4-8, quoting Psalm 32:1-2).

Paul goes on to explain that it’s this same faith that enables New Testament believers to inherit all of God’s promises, beginning with and made possible by salvation itself.

“So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the (spiritual) father of all who believe” (Romans 4:16, parenthesis mine).

Paul concludes this all-important truth (need) of redemption by once again stating: “And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God” (Romans 4:22-25).

In another epistle, Paul affirms this vital fact: “…I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).

Differences Between Old & New Testament Saints

First, let’s not forget that the reason for these differences is because Messiah Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the Mosaic Law by living a completely sinless life. The law could never save anyone, because no one other than Jesus has ever perfectly kept every requirement of the law … not even close. Yet, to be accepted by God, we must be perfectly holy as He is holy. We’ll get to that shortly.

Therefore, the only one who could save us was the person who was fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ; who kept both the letter and spirit of the law. All we need do is to believe and receive him as personal Savior. Although both Old & New Testament saints are saved by faith in the Promised Messiah, believers who came after Messiah’s redemptive sacrifice inherited some promissory benefits not yet available to those under the Old Covenant.

The Differences Are:

(1) Means of Forgiveness: Repeated Old Testament Animal Sacrifices vs. Messiah’s Once for All Sacrifice

Before we look at some key passages, we must keep in mind that it was not the ritual sacrifices per se that led to permanent redemption from sin. Rather, it was trust (FAITH) in the Lord that he would keep his promise to forgive and to give them right standing with himself, if remorse for their sins came from a sincere heart. It was entirely a matter of the heart. The offerings served as the required expression of that repentance, one that included shedding of innocent (animal) blood as a foreshadow of the once for all sacrifice of the Promised Messiah.

“…For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Unfortunately, the rituals eventually became a rote exercise for most Jews, who after their offerings went right back to sinning as much or more than before. Not the least (damming) of which was to worship other gods alongside of or in place of the only true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshippers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared” (Hebrews 10:1-2).

“But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Hebrews 10:12).

That is the ultimate contrast between the Old and New Covenant, with the author of Hebrews identifying Jesus Christ as both our High Priest and the ultimate sacrifice himself.

This first difference dovetails with the next one.

(2) Sins Forgiven: All at Once—Past, Present, and Future for New Testament Saints

“For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, ‘This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds … I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.’ And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices” (Hebrews 10:14-18, italics for emphasis).

Explaining the last sentence of the above passage with the same meaning but in a different way: If all our sins (past, present, and future) were not forgiven when we believed in Messiah Jesus’s substitutionary death on the cross, then Christ would need to die again, and again, and…. (See Hebrews 9:24-28).

“Forever made perfect” means fully justified (forgiven and pardoned) in God’s eyes, because he now sees believers through the once for all PERFECT finished work (sacrifice) of Jesus Christ on the cross—accepted and validated by God the Father through the resurrection of Messiah Jesus from the dead.

In contrast, God, through the author of Hebrews, tells us: “Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).

Those sacrifices temporarily “covered” sins but didn’t remove them. Only faith in God and the coming Messiah would make the Israelites and even Old Testament Gentiles perpetually right with God.

(3) Holy Spirit Permanently Indwelling New Testament Saints

In the Old Testament there are numerous times in which the Holy Spirit would “come upon” some people to enable them to complete a specific task for the Lord or to announce something special. Whatever the situation, it’s quite evident that without the Holy Spirit’s extraordinary enablement, the individual would not have been able to accomplish a goal or powerfully proclaim God’s plan—whether the purpose was for the immediate situation or for the near and even distant future (many of these Spirit inspired messages were prophecies).

In one of the earliest accounts of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment (if not the first), we read about God’s choice of a particular man to build the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:1-3).

However, with rare exceptions (even those are more implied than stated) such as King David or some of the prophets, once the assignment was completed or message delivered, the Holy Spirit would no longer fill or come upon the person. An illustrative example is Ezekiel. Although the Holy Spirit came upon or into or lifted him to witness some exceptional visions, by the very fact that Ezekiel mentions the Spirit only in those unique situations tells us that the Holy Spirit wasn’t in or upon Ezekiel at other (all) times. In fact, for most of his ministry, Ezekiel wasn’t even allowed to speak at all, unless he was prophesying.

Not so with New Testament believers. At Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was given to 120 believers who were waiting for that very moment. Thereafter, every person who accepts Messiah Jesus as personal Savior is given the awesome privilege of the indwelling Holy Spirit, never to be taken away from us. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of the permanency of our salvation.

Moreover, the New Testament details many things the Holy Spirit does for born-again believers in Messiah Jesus, including but not limited to: Comfort; Counsel; Correction; Confidence; Comprehension of Biblical truths; Supernatural ability to live the Christian life; Producing spiritual fruit—love, joy, peace…; Unity with fellow believers.

Perhaps the most profound privilege and blessed benefit of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in every believer is that we have continual access to the presence of God … anytime, anywhere. As opposed to the Old Covenant restrictions in which only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies (God’s very presence) once a year.

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come (through the New Covenant). He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:11-12, parenthesis mine).

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

(This literally happened on the Cross the moment that, “Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.” Matthew 24:50).

(4) The Difference Between Old & New Testaments Saints at Death

Another precious privilege given to New Testament believers after Jesus arose from the dead is that our spirit goes directly to heaven when we die.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself, and not by human hands” (II Corinthians 5:1, parenthesis in the text).

Paul goes on to say: “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (Verses 6-8).

This passage is often summarily condensed as: Absent from the body, (immediately) present with the Lord.

Not so, with Old Testament Saints. There are many Old Testament references to the place of the dead, called Sheol. Though not specifically stated, it’s implicitly evident that those whom God had declared righteous because of their faith in his promises were not in the same part of Sheol as the unrighteous who died in their sins. Which is also Scriptural common sense, e.g. King David would not be in the same place as King Ahab or Queen Jezebel.

Not until Jesus told the true story (not a parable, which was a story to illustrate a specific truth) of Lazarus and the rich man, would believers fully understand that both the Old Testament righteous (saved) and unrighteous (unsaved) went to the same underworld upon death; however, a place with regions separated by a “great chasm” (Luke 16:26). On one side was Hades (Greek word for hell, a place of anguish); the other side was, as described in some Bible translations, “Abraham’s bosom.”

“Finally, the poor man (Lazarus) died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:22-23).

See Eye of Prophecy article, Lazarus and Lazarus & the Sign of Jonah (posted 1-14-17) for a detailed account of this remarkable story that was more than just an illustration. It was a factual account of what happened to Old Covenant believers and unbelievers when they died before Messiah Jesus arose from the dead.

The Remarkable Results of Messiah’s Resurrection

  • Jesus proved beyond any doubt whatsoever, that he was who he said he was: God’s Son, the Messiah.
  • Through the bodily resurrection of Jesus, all Old & New Testament believers will be given the same kind of glorified body as our Lord’s—which will take place at the Rapture.
  • This is possible because Jesus conquered death (both physical and spiritual) and the grave.
  • Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, his sacrificial death on the cross would have been fatefully futile … accomplishing nothing. Why? Because God would not have accepted even the death of His (innocent) Son as a permanent propitiation for sin—just like the Old Testament sacrifices had to be repeated over and over. Said the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!” (I Corinthians 15:17-18).
  • In keeping with the main emphasis of this week’s article, when Jesus arose from the dead, he also bridged the gap between Old Testament and New Testament Saints. He eliminated the primary difference between the two—where the spirits (souls) of both groups of believers reside until all believers are given everlasting heavenly bodies.

Let’s examine this fascinating feature of Messiah’s resurrection in more detail.

It’s movingly described in the last two verses of one of the most well-known chapters in the Bible … Hebrews 11. What many call, the Hall of Faith.

Hebrews Chapter 11 names well over a dozen Old Testament believers whose faith had saved them, whose faith the Lord honored by doing mighty things through them. Whose trust in the Lord included belief in a resurrection from the dead. “…They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (Verse 35).

Then the last two verses of the chapter alluded to earlier:

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us” (Hebrews 11:39-40, italics for emphasis).

In the next chapter: “…You (New Testament Saints) have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people…” (Hebrews 12:23-24, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

In the Old Testament, we find only two men who were taken (directly) to heaven, both without dying—Enoch and Elijah. (*Note: Although not strictly stated in Scripture; so, too, was Moses taken bodily to heaven (but after dying) based on a correlation of Old Testament and New Testament passages. See Eye of Prophecy trilogy of articles, The Two Witnesses, posted 6-7, 6-14, 6-21-14.

As we have seen, the soul/spirit of all the others (whose faith had been credited to them as righteousness) went to be with Abraham in a special protected place of Sheol.

Hebrews is telling us that Old Testament believers who had already died and New Testament believers (when they died) would equally (no more differences) “reach perfection” in the same manner … when Jesus arose from the dead. This perfection means culmination of salvation and rest in heaven (free from what makes us imperfect) until our spirit is reunited with our new everlasting body equipped to live as a spiritual body, but a body nonetheless (I Corinthians 15).

Which is exactly what happened when Jesus died on the cross and then arose from the dead!

Leading the Captives Out

This spectacular scene (Old Testament saints being led out of Sheol) was even predicted by King David: “When you (the Messiah) ascended to the heights (of heaven … resurrection followed by ascension of Jesus), you led a crowd of captives…” (Psalm 68:18, parenthesis mine).

This astounding prophecy is quoted and expounded by the Apostle Paul: “That is why the Scriptures say, ‘When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people” (Ephesians 4:8).

*Note: The immediate context of this passage is the administrative (role) gifts that the Lord gives to the body of Christ. As follows:

However, Paul takes the opportunity to further explain what happened when Jesus died and rose again.

Continuing the passage from the New American Standard Bible: “(Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:9-10, parenthesis in the text)

What is the lower parts of the earth? The Apostle Peter partially answers that by conveying one of the two things Jesus did after he died and descended to the underworld … Sheol (Hades). Said Peter, “So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat…” (I Peter 3:19-20).

The prison referenced is both the Abyss (where especially wicked angels were incarcerated; see Genesis 6; II Peter 2; and the book of Jude) as well as the other region of Sheol where the spirits of the unsaved were kept … across the great chasm from Abraham’s sanctuary.

The second purpose for Jesus descending to the lower parts of the earth was to lead the captives out. Who are the captives?

A better question would be: Who else could the captives be?

They are none other than all Old Testament departed saints whose spirits were with Abraham, including Abraham himself.

Don’t equate captives or captivity to prisoners of war or imprisoned criminals serving their sentence. Think in terms of protective custody. The same kind that Paul references to illustrate the purpose of the Old Covenant Law of Moses compared to the New Covenant of Grace—through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul uses that very term:

“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed” (Galatians 3:23).

In the same way, departed Old Testament saints were held captive (in protective custody) until the appointed time for their spectacular change-of-residence release. That time was none other than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Either when Jesus arose from the dead or when he ascended back to heaven 40 days later, the soul/spirit of Old Testament saints were taken to heaven. This to provide the same prized privilege (one in Messiah) afforded to all subsequent New Testament believers who died after Jesus arose from the dead.

Which gives even more meaning to the words of Jesus, spoken both before and after he came to earth as the Messiah: “He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners (of sin) will be freed” (Isaiah 61:1, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

In fact, some of these Old Testament believers were raised bodily as a pre-Rapture preview of the efficacy of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice to all to believe in Him and of the awesome power of his resurrection.

“…The bodies of many godly men and woman who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-53).

Things to Ponder

Such a great crowd of witnesses who came before us—godly prophets, priests, scribes, kings, and ordinary people who paved the way for the greatest hope of mankind … Messiah Jesus.

Although they knew about the coming Messiah, not all understood that he would be the Son of God, or from where he would come, or how (Virgin Birth) and where he would be born, or all the things he would do.

But as great as many Old Testament saints were, the very least of New Testament saints are greater.

Not greatness as defined by the world. Rather, greater because at the moment of our redemptive rebirth in Jesus, we have privileges not fully realized by our Old Testament founding mothers and fathers in the faith.

Concerning what Jesus said about John the Baptist in contrast to New Testament believers, he also said:

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17).

Jesus was speaking to his disciples who saw, heard, and believed (in) him. Although after Jesus was crucified, it took awhile before they fully realized that Jesus had risen from the dead … especially Thomas.

Exclaimed Thomas when he first saw the risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me'” (Verse 29).

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord: Are you looking and listening? Do you see? Do you hear? Do you believe?

God loves you. He wants you to be with him in heaven forever.

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

The Jewish Dichotomy In & Outside Israel

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Webster’s Dictionary defines Dichotomy as: “mutually exclusive or contradictory groups; a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches.”

And the verb form, dichotomize: “to divide into two parts, classes, or groups.”

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

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

Nevertheless, differences between Jews themselves can be troublesome, especially when the Jews as a people and Israel as a nation have so many adversaries. Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism are still rearing their ugly global heads.

Though every society contains multiple groups of political, cultural, economic, and religious persuasions, invariably they can be narrowed into factions of two (one ideology or world view against its opposite). For example, the United States is more of a political dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats. Whereas nations like Russia are more defined by an economic schism such as socialism (including communism) versus capitalism. With Israel, the delineation is more along the religious scale.

(The Dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats Requires Two Totally Different Animals and Colors!)

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.

First Jewish Dichotomy: Between Secular and Observant Jews

The following is an excerpt from my first book, a novel entitled: O Israel … the end is the beginning for those left behind, published in 2007; reflecting this dichotomy as seen through the eyes of one of the main characters—a Jewish scribe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s parliamentary Knesset consists of 120 members … a fixed number. Although the current 20th Knesset is composed of 10 main parties (each with its own political platform) including 2 religious parties—Shas and United Torah with a combined 13 members—there is still a substantial separation between the religious and secular. This variance is evident throughout Israeli society; for example, whether all Jewish business should be closed on the Sabbath.

Or the even more divisive issue: whether thousands of young orthodox Jews (those who pursue a career as rabbis or just full-time students of the Torah) should be exempted from mandatory military service for all men and women at age 18. Based on the Jewish population of Israel, this is proportionally far more than just the occasional “conscientious objector” found in the United States or other democratic nations.

(There Are Those Observant Jews Who Gladly Serve in the IDF)

Before we examine the second and third of these dichotomies, let’s look at:

An Astonishing Statement by U.S. President Trump

In a recent interview with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the TBN Christian network, President Trump said in direct reference to his decision of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“I tell you what, I get more calls of thank you from evangelicals, and I see it in the audiences and everything else, than I do from the Jewish people. And the Jewish people appreciate it, but the evangelicals appreciate it more than the Jews.”

He went on to say: “It was a campaign promise; I was going to keep it.”

It’s no secret: Were it not for the hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians voting for Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, it’s unlikely he would have been elected. Although following through on his campaign promise was the main motivation for President Trump’s decision this past December to move the U.S. Embassy, an equally compelling reason was on behalf of Israel and the Jews. As Trump stated when he made the choice not to sign the waiver that would keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, “It was the right thing to do.”

It was a decision that finally enforced the Jewish Embassy Act of 1995 passed almost unanimously by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate; Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. For that reason, our embassy in Israel should rest in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.

Trump was referring almost exclusively to Jews in America. Not to Israelis as it’s obvious they were ecstatic about the U.S. Embassy move. President Trump clearly said that (American) Jews were appreciative, but not as much as Christian evangelicals. Yet, it’s a foregone conclusion that most evangelicals do (or should) adamantly support the existence of Israel as the Promised Land given by God himself to the Jews. The people chosen by God to bring the light of his salvation through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus—the scepter from the tribe of Judah and descendant of King David, who established Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 3000 years ago.

I and many Christian supporters of Israel have no problem with the appellation of Christian Zionists. Simply defined, Zionism is the movement that began principally in the late 19th century for the return of exiled Jews to their ancient homeland. This global exile is called the Diaspora, which we’ll look at in more detail during discussion of the second Jewish dichotomy.

Why, then, wouldn’t American Jews be equally or more appreciative of the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem than are Gentile born-again believers?

We’ll answer that question as the article progresses. First, a brief review of the stunning prophetic fulfillment or developments of the 20th & 21st centuries, as originally itemized in the two-part Eye of Prophecy series, Look Up, Redemption is Near (Posted 7-11 & 7-18-15).

Twelve Flash-Point Signs of the Last Days

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

In terms of the sheer quantity of Biblical prophecies and emphasis, most significant of these signs are the first two on this list: (1) The rebirth of Israel as a sovereign independent self-governed nation followed by the enormous return of Jews to the Promised Land, even exceeding their Exodus from Egypt under Moses. (2) The reunification (liberation) of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital 2,000 years after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and demolished the second Temple (70 AD).

Although the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem doesn’t (in and of itself) qualify as one of the Biblical prophetic mileposts, it certainly fits into the third item on the above list: Jerusalem, A Heavy Burden to the Nations.

This unprecedented global angst over Israel and Jerusalem was conspicuous in President Trump’s interview with Mike Huckabee. According to Trump, he didn’t fully comprehend why previous U.S. presidents had repeatedly (every six months) disallowed the U.S. Embassy to be moved. That is, not until he received numerous calls from world leaders pressuring him to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Then he better understood the staggering scale of international anxiety over Israel, especially Jerusalem.

Hardly a week goes by without world-wide media coverage of the Middle-East, particularly Israel or Jerusalem or both. The move of the U.S. Embassy has been an incessant global issue, with most nations of the earth opposing President Trump’s decision. With, however, a reluctant acknowledgment that their fear of increased overt Muslim hostility (most notably Palestinian) never materialized.

Even the Palestinian “Right of Return” march on Israel’s border with Gaza that began in late March and designed to climax on May 14th (date when U.S. Embassy was officially moved to coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday celebration as a nation) was not about the embassy move.

Rather it was what the designation said: the so-called right of return of Palestinian 2nd, 3rd & 4th generation refugees from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, which would amount to some 5 million Palestinians. That would effectively (by sheer numbers that would uproot many Jewish communities) spell the functional end of the Jewish State of Israel. Which is exactly what the Palestinians and most Muslim nations want. When, in fact, no other indigenous group on earth except the Palestinians have been given United Nations refugee status beyond the original (first) generation, i.e. those who fled their countries as refugees at that time.

Please see Eye of Prophecy articles: What is a Palestine & Who Is a Palestinian? (Posted 12-2-17). Also, The “Right of Return” … For Palestinians or Jews? (4-7-18).

For that matter, the entire world has mostly forgotten, doesn’t know, or doesn’t care to know that when Israel declared statehood in 1948, several Arab nations evicted nearly all their Jewish citizens. By United Nations definition, these Jews became refugees; however, very few claimed refugee status. Instead, many moved to Israel and some to the United States and other non-Muslim countries.

As opposed to most Arabs (before they began calling themselves Palestinians in 1964) who were NOT forced out of Israel in 1948 by the Israelis. But rather by the five Arab armies that attacked Israel the day after statehood, insisting that the Arabs in Israel vacate their homes to make room for the invading Muslim armies, then return after Israel was “annihilated.”

The return of Jews to their homeland began primarily after the Balfour Declaration of 1917. However, by far, the greater number came home following Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948, continuing to this very day. Since 1948, some 3.2 million Jews have made Alijah (literally … going up or home to Israel from more than 100 countries). With the greatest number immigrating to Israel from Russia … well over a million.

Those are astonishing numbers, if for no other reason than many of these Jews didn’t need to leave their homes due to persecution, other than the Jews in Arab countries in 1947-1948. And Jews from Iran following the 1979 Iranian coup when it became a completely Islamic state ruled by the Ayatollah. Rather, most Jews who have made Alijah to Israel did so because they wanted to reunite with the heritage of their ancestors, to fulfill the centuries old Jewish dream of “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Even the secular among them knew deep in their heart that this return was a divine providential fulfillment of Biblical prophecy found in hundreds of passages proclaimed directly by God through Jewish prophets. Such as:

It would be (still going on) an Exodus even greater than the one from Egypt.

Read this phenomenal prophecy with me:

“In that day, says the Lord, when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

Because the zenith of Jews returning to Israel has not yet been reached, only a relatively small number of Jews in Israel and a smaller number outside of Israel have verbalized the massive return of Jews to Israel to match what the Lord said they would say. But at the beginning of the soon-to-come (after the Rapture and the seven-year Great Tribulation) Millennial Reign of Messiah Jesus, all or nearly all the (surviving) Jews will be gathered back to Israel.

Jesus, himself said that he (the Messiah) would, “…send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones (meaning God’s chosen people, the Jews) from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” (Matthew 24:31, parenthesis mine).

Already, the number of Jews who have immigrated to Israel since 1948 (3.2 million) has substantially surpassed the estimated 1.5 to 2 million Jews who were freed from slavery during the original Exodus, resulting in the stunning fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Notice also that the Lord specifically identifies “a land from the north” (in addition to all the countries to which he had exiled them) from which his exiled people would return. This is the same land (country) from the north that will lead the invasion against Israel during the early phase of the Great Tribulation—none other than Russia … Gog. (Ezekiel 38 & 39). Russia is due north of Israel. The fact that about 1/3 of the 3.2 million Jews who have made Aliyah to Israel are from Russia, further validates this prophecy. Not that Biblical prophecies need validation, because they all have come or will come to pass.

There’s more: In this same chapter of Jeremiah, immediately preceding the prophecy of “in that day” (the returning Jews will far exceed in number the Jews during the Exodus from Egypt), we read:

“For the time is coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The Lord is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Note: the phrase, for the time is coming (verse 5) matches up precisely with verses 7-8 quoted earlier which begins with in that day.

Which is even more confirmation that during “that day” (generational time frame) of the Second Exodus (which has already exceeded the original Exodus, but still in progress), the return of the King—Messiah, The Lord who is our Righteousness—will be so very near.

Second Jewish Dichotomy: Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews

Let’s return to the paradox posed by President Trump’s statement that evangelical Christians exhibited more support for the US Embassy move than did American Jews. Along with Jews throughout the world who have not yet returned to Israel, they are still called Diaspora Jews or Jews of the Diaspora. The Diaspora (meaning dispersion or scattered) is the term coined after the Romans demolished the 2nd Temple, destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtered over a million Jews, conquered Israel, and exiled most of the remaining Jews to the four corners of the earth.

With the term exile used frequently in the Old Testament, applied to the first destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BC. An exiled captivity that God through Jeremiah said would end in 70 years. Which is exactly how long it lasted. The second Temple was finished in 516 BC. Which fulfilled yet another prophecy when the Jews were commissioned by the Persian King Cyrus in 539 BC to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

The contemporary situation of Diaspora Jews is remarkably like the Jews exiled to Babylon—specifically those who chose not to return to Israel from the Babylonian or Persian Empires of which there were more than those who did return. First with Zerubbabel, the governor and Jeshua, the High Priest … then later with Ezra, the scribe. And finally, with Nehemiah from the Persian empire.

Yet, Israel never regained sovereign status as a nation for two main reasons: (1) Some of those who returned and particularly the next generation failed to learn the heavy lesson of their Babylonian captivity and, thus, failed to return to the Lord, which was the purpose for God’s discipline of Israel. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but especially the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, demonstrate this in dramatic, but distressing detail. (2) Only a minority of Jews returned to Israel, with the greater numbers remaining in the land of their captors. The Lord did not honor this less than half-hearted return (spiritual and literal … in numbers) of his people to once again trust, obey, and serve Him in the Promised Land of Israel.

All that began to change with the modern-day rebirth of Israel and the return of the Jews in larger numbers even than the Exodus. And in exceedingly greater numbers (proportionally) than the Babylonian/Persian exile.

Referring to Wikipedia (the statistics were up to-date through April 2018), the global Jewish population is 14,511,000. With 83% of Jews living in either Israel or the United States. The five countries with the greatest concentration of Jews:

Israel: 6.5 million

United States: 5.7 million

France: 465,000

Canada: 385,000

United Kingdom: 270,000

And in Russia: (Only) 186,000 left! Just as Scripture said would happen: many Jews of Israel would come from Russia, where several million resided at the outset of World War II.

Thus, for the first time (just in the past couple of decades) since the Diaspora of 70 AD more Jews live in Israel than in any other country on earth. This is a HUGE fulfillment of prophecy. One that tracks closely with end-times prophecies in which the return of Messiah will dovetail with not only the rebirth of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem, but also with (from Jeremiah’s prophecy) the Second Exodus. And, of course, all the other prophetic signs listed earlier in this article.

In the context of President’s Trump reference to (Diaspora) Jews in America, it’s easy to understand why they wouldn’t have the same level of appreciation as Israeli Jews or even of Christians who ardently support Israel because we value the awesome truths (including prophecy) of the Bible. That these prophecies have unfolded before our 20th & 21st century eyes, and because we love and want to bless Israel however and whenever possible. We want to share in Israel’s joy of sovereign statehood and marvel at her amazing technological and agricultural accomplishments. We will speak against those who would seek to denigrate and even destroy Israel.

Undoubtedly the most common universal distinction (polarized dichotomy) between political, social, or religious ideologies is summed up as: Conservatives versus Liberals.

Most liberals are globalists. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Globalism or Populism … Which Will Antichrist Prefer? Posted 9-16-17).

Liberals are found in every society, including those whose agenda is even left of liberalism.

Some of these ultra-liberal Jews live in Israel; even more are American citizens, such as former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. Such as those on what is called “J Street.”

(Sounds Great, Who Doesn’t Want Middle East Peace? It’s Just That the J Street Organization Promotes the Palestinian Cause at the Literal Expense of Israeli Security)

By and large, they are those who do not support Israel’s government nor champion the sovereign existence of the State of Israel. They often accuse the Israeli government of (non-existent) oppression of the Palestinians. Contrary to the greater majority of Israeli Jews, many liberal Diaspora Jews disparage Zionism. Most Jews of the Diaspora (both liberal and conservative) prefer to remain apathetically neutral, if it means defending their Jewish brethren in Israel. With only marginal backing of Israel’s government, particularly when Israeli conservatives like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Party) lead the nation.

There is a growing gap (albeit one that is tempered by the fundamental appreciation that the Jews now have their own land where they can not only live and prosper, but also defend themselves from their enemies) between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. For example: Not that long ago, several members of the Knesset and other high-ranking Israeli officials scolded the Diaspora Jews for meddling in Israeli politics. Of being armchair quarterbacks.

Still, there is some solidarity, as seen by the continued economic support of Diaspora Jewry for their brothers and sisters in Israel.

I’m convinced that many American & European (and of course Israeli) Jews have descended from the so-called “ten lost tribes of Israel.” It’s just that most won’t know their ancestral tribe until Messiah returns. But 144,000 Jews will know beyond any doubt (Revelation 7).

See Eye of Prophecy articles One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand Messianic Jews Part I & Part II (Posted 4-23 & 4-30-16). Which leads us to the third dichotomy in Israel and with Jews world-wide:

Third Jewish Dichotomy: Messianic Jews and Non-Messianic Jews

Both in and outside Israel, there remains a meaningful measure of unity between secular and religious, between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews. Although the differences between these seemingly polar opposites is not debilitating, it is, nevertheless, disruptive. To the extent that Israel’s enemies gloat over these divisions and are elated when (for example) liberal Jews promote the Palestinian cause no matter the Biblical, historical, and international mandated existence of the State of Israel.

But the greatest distinction among Jews is those who are Messianic and those who are not.

Although few compared to the 14+ million Jews world-wide, there are tens of thousands of Jews who have accepted the New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah (Chapter 31) by believing and receiving Jesus of Nazareth as God’s anointed Messiah—the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles.

(See Eye of Prophecy article, Messianic Jews … Who Are They? Published 4-25-15)

This dichotomy is deep. With many non-Messianic observant Jews (especially the orthodox) denouncing Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus as traitors and outcasts to Judaism. Conversely, with Messianic Jews sharing the compassion of the most recognized Messianic Jew ever (the Apostle Paul—formerly an ultra-orthodox Pharisee who persecuted 1st century believers).

Said Paul: “…the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal” (Romans 10:1-2).

Messianic Jews know beyond all doubt that God has kept his everlasting covenant with Abraham through the rebirth of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem; the Jews will forever possess the Promised Land. They also fully understand that it is they (and Gentile believers) who will rule and reign with Messiah Jesus during the Millennium, in fulfillment of God’s Covenant with King David. Accordingly, it is they who have fulfilled God’s two-part destiny (individual salvation through Messiah Jesus to be followed by national redemption when Jesus returns) for his chosen people.

They are Jewish through and through. It is their ancient ancestors—the twelve sons (tribes) of Jacob whose names will be written on the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem. And the names of Messiah’s twelve Jewish apostles will be written on the twelve foundations stones of this glorious city built by God himself (Revelation 21:10-14).

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.

Please see Eye of Prophecy trilogy: Where is the Temple? Posted 11-29, 12-6, & 12-13-14.

The following excerpt from Part III is the rolling premise throughout these articles to (with love and respect for God’s chosen people) challenge them to think about the loss of the Temple and the cessation of animal sacrifices, the very existence and essence of which meant redemption. That the exclusive reason is because the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when their Messiah Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose on the third day.

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

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 Israelis 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. The One who said:

Then validated that astonishing announcement by rising from the dead! Which is a historical fact.

Things to Ponder

To anyone with a truly open mind and heart, there should be no doubt that God has a Son; the Second Person of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Hebrew scriptures unequivocally declare this (Psalm 2 and Psalm 110).

God affirmed the divinity of the Messiah (Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man) through this magnificent proclamation:

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

Anyone with that same open mind and heart will search the Scriptures and see that Jesus fulfilled every one of the dozens of prophecies regarding the first coming of Messiah. All one needs to do is to match up the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Hebrew Scriptures, such as found in Psalm 22, Isaiah 52 & 53, Zechariah 9, and other passages.

Anyone who is willing to examine all of God’s Word (both Old and New Testament) will better understand the reason for the world’s ills, including the split within the Jewish race itself (secular—observant; Israeli—Diaspora; Messianic—non-Messianic). As well as the universal dichotomy between light and darkness, good and evil, life and death.

Then to fully realize that the only bridge between moral, spiritual, ethnic, and geopolitical opposites on this planet is none other than the Prince of Peace.

“…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).

That one day soon there will be no more rival religions, no polarized politics, no fighting factions, with an end to irreconcilable differences between peoples.

From Jerusalem, “The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away (anyone who can settle differences between nations can certainly resolve dichotomies within nations). They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear” (Micah 4:3-4, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).

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

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

Timeless Truths in the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death Penalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concerning the saved:

Now for the central passage of today’s article:

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

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

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

Trying to Find Contradictions in the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essentially, that’s the definition of a miracle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise known as The Rapture!

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

Is there an answer to this paradox?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tree of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solving the Puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay with me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see(d) that?!

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

OUR REDEEMER LIVES!

Hallelujah!

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

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Amazing 20th & 21st Century Developments

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

Part 1: Global Impact of Last Day’s Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, strange bedfellows are seldom compatible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Still and Watch God Fight for Israel!

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

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

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

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

King Jehoshaphat

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

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

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

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

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

King Hezekiah

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

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

Let’s go directly to the shocking finale.

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

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

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

Gog/Magog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Is the Messiah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humiliating End of the Great City (Revelation 17)

Words of Warning / Also of Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unholy Union

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

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

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

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

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

The Holy See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Portrait of Charlemagne)

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

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

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

Third Example: Confrontation … Monarchy Triumphing Over the Papacy

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

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

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

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

The Woman Identified by Her Clothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Woman Identified by Her Coat of Arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Woman Identified by Her (lack of) Morality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Inglorious Future of the Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

With both events summarized as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

Hallelujah and Amen!

Cunning Makeover of the Great City (Revelation 17)

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

Or reading The Good Book anytime, anywhere?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constantine the Great

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

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

(Sculpture of Constantine the Great)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Said the Apostle Paul:

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

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

Theology & Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, the New Testament is very clear: All who accept Christ as personal Savior become priests. “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (I Peter 2: 5).

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

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

From Triumph to Tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how are we saved?

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

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

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

Transformation of the Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am referring to: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (I Timothy 2:5-6).

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

Shameful Saga of the Great City (Revelation 17)

An Unusual Introduction to This Week’s Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation Chapter 17 … Where It All Began

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the Beast?

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

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

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

Who, Then, is the Woman?

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

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

Babylon

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

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

(Hussein fancied himself as the reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROME (Roma)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rise & Fall of the Mighty Roman Empire

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

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

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

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

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

Satan’s Tactics

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

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

Conquest by Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internal Conquest by Infiltration and Subversion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

Jerusalem / City Above All Cities

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Great Cities of the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third place: Shanghai, China, 23.740,778.

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

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

(Seoul, South Korea … population nearly 10 million)

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

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

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

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

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

I went on to say:

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

An Intriguing Correlation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such a peaceful “Right of Return” march!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Heart of Israel Has Been Transplanted Back to Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Providential Plan for Jerusalem’s Destiny

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

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

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

The Personification of Jerusalem

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

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

Then later in that chapter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose for Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Protection of Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prosperity of Jerusalem (all Israel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A Terraced Vineyard in Israel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Ponder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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