The Grand Canyon Formation – Alternate Theories

The Grand Canyon is a geological wonder, a vast chasm stretching 277 miles west to east through northern Arizona. The canyon offers one of the best geological cross sections in the world, with nearly 30 distinct layers found from the bottom to the top; its mesas, buttes, colorful slopes and spires illustrate the geological story of the great American southwest. School children are fed a simple tale about how the canyon was formed, but as any honest geologist will admit, nobody knows exactly how it got there.

The true cause of the Grand Canyon is still hotly debated among geologists, and all recognize there's no solid answer. There are too many missing pieces. The basic park ranger explanation is that the Colorado Plateau – 130,000 square miles covering northern Arizona, southern and eastern Utah, western Colorado and northwestern New Mexico – began to rise up 50-70 million years ago, causing the existing Colorado River to downcut. After millions of years of steady uplift, the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon. The higher the plateau rose, pushed upward by magma from deep in the earth, the more powerful the erosional forces of the river proved to be.

The Colorado River was tamed a great deal when the Glen Canyon Dam was finished in 1966. The dam controls the flow of the river now. The Colorado's flashfloods once carried boulders the size of VW Buses, and it transported an estimated 160 million tons of sediment every year, scouring the canyon bottom. Still, many people consider the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon and despise the Colorado as an underfit river, one that could not have possibly hauled out all the necessary sediment.

A Few Puzzles:
The simple explanation does have serious geological issues. The Colorado River flows into the Gulf of California – the Sea of Cortez – which contains sediments from geologically young Pliocene layers - not older layers.  It appears that the eastern part of the Grand Canyon is much older than the western part of the Grand Canyon, but nobody knows exactly what happened.

The western end of the canyon is fairly young. Local sediments come from the Basin and Range area to the west of the Canyon and are from Miocene layers. No river could have carved through there until after the Miocene. There's also no evidence that an older Colorado River ran through the Grand Wash Cliffs at the western end of the canyon. There is therefore an upper Colorado River system to the east that did not originally continue west of the Colorado Plateau.

Alternate Theories:
The first thought, of course, is that the deposits were carried away by a different route. Perhaps the canyon was carved by a river that flowed down through Marble Canyon through what is now the Little Colorado River, draining into the Rio Grande. According to the theory, another small but steep and vigorous river rushed westward across the Basin and Range. It moved eastward by headward erosion until it ran into the upper Colorado. It "captured" the Colorado , caveman style, and the two married and carved the Grand Canyon in 4-6 million years, dumping into the Sea of Cortez like today.

There's a problem there, though. The Continental Divide would have prevented the Little Colorado River from reaching the Rio Grande, and the sediment evidence is not there.

Some argue that the old river flowed south at Peach Springs Canyon, until the river burst through whatever blocked the way to the western part of the Grand Canyon. Some argue that the Colorado Plateau tipped one way and then the other as it rose so that the Colorado River flowed in the opposite direction. Some argue the river flowed underground, or flowed northwest, draining into lakes in Nevada and Utah.

The deposits to prove these drainage systems haven't been found.  That's part of the problem; there is a lot of data that is just plain missing.

A Breached Dam:
According to one theory, two major lakes formed in the so-called Bidahochi Formation to the east of the current day Grand Canyon. The Colorado River overflowed the basins of the Colorado Rockies, filling the vast Hopi Lake and Grand Lake to the east. When the natural dam holding back the lakes broke, they gushed down, tearing out the soft limestone and sandstone layers of the Grand Canyon. With a rupture in the Kaibab Upwarp, the Colorado River changed course and followed the fissure down through what is now the western end of the canyon and south into the Gulf of California. In other words, the Colorado did not really cause the Grand Canyon at all, it merely followed the easiest path down to the Sea of Cortez after the Canyon had been formed.;

The breached dam theory has an interesting bit of support from the legends of the local tribes. More than 500 Native American sites in the Grand Canyon park indicate that significant populations lived in the vicinity throughout history.  In his video Grand Canyon, part of the Great National Parks series, Dan Goldblatt refers to a Navajo legend about the formation of Grand Canyon. In the full story, it rained in the land for many days. It rained so much that waters rose high over the tops of the mountains. After the rain stopped, whatever was holding back the waters broke, and the waters rushed down and carved out the canyon.

Young Earth geologists like Steve Austin believe that these great lakes were leftover from the Flood of Noah.  When the natural dam that held them broke, the waters ripped through the Kaibab Plateau with a fury. If the lakes were quite large – three times the size of Lake Michigan, by some estimates - the erosion would not have had to take the millions of years that geologists would have expected.

In the end, the scientists will keep battling it out. Only God knows exactly how that fantastic crevasse in the earth was formed, but every bit of information adds to the tremendous fun of figuring out the mystery.

Source: http://www.khouse.org/enews/2011-06-14/#1

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What happens to the unsaved when they die?

By Nathan Jones

In sharing the Gospel with the world, I would be remiss if I didn't share what happens to those people who die without having accepted Jesus as their Savior and so continue onwards down the path to judgment. What's going to happen to them?

Those people who have died never having accepting Jesus' lifeline of salvation have an entirely different destination from Heaven. They are going to die in their rebellion, and they have no hope whatsoever. As Jesus in John 3:36 warned, "God's wrath remains on him." The following is what's going to happen to them after they die.

1) Hades
After an unsaved person dies, they go to a place called Hades. The Bible also calls it Sheol or Torments. You can read all about it in Luke 16. Hades is a holding place for the dead, a prison. It at one time had two compartments, a place called Paradise and a place called Torments. The Old Testament Saints used to go to the Paradise part as they couldn't go to Heaven yet because Jesus' blood hadn't yet been shed to cover their sins. By faith they were there as Hebrews explains, but Jesus' blood finally allowed their freedom and Paradise was taken up to Heaven with Jesus after His crucifixion. What we have in Hades now is just what is left — Torments — a place of torment.

2) Judgment
At the end of Jesus' Millennial Kingdom, there will be the Great White Throne Judgment. That's a special name basically for the Resurrection of the Unjust. We can read about this final judgment in Revelation 20:11-13:

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it and earth and sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead great and small standing before the throne and the books were opened. And another book was opened which is the book of life, the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in them and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them and each person was judged according to what he had done."

Those from Hades are going to be judged based on their works, but without the saving work of Jesus Christ — the only work that matters, they will be found wanting. God's the perfect litmus test, and so no matter how good our works have been, they just cannot add up to God's standard of perfection. Everyone who tells you that you have to work your way to Heaven is lying to you, because the Bible says otherwise in Ephesians 2:8-9. Jesus' work on the cross is the only work that matters, and our response in faith.

3) Hell
When they are all found guilty, their next and final destination is a place called Hell. Revelation 20:14-15 explains that awful sentence of condemnation, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire." The Lake of Fire is called the Second Death. If anyone's name was not found written in the books of Life, they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Misconceptions About Hell

A lot of people have some really false ideas about what Hell is like. One misconception about Hell for instance is that Satan is down there stoking the fires and that he's already there waiting to punish and torment people with pitchforks. No, Satan doesn't rule Hell. There are no demons waiting to torment us in Hell.

Actually, believe or not, there is not a single person in Hell right now. Hell is the punishment created for Satan and his demons. Matthew 25:41 says Hell was created for them when they rebelled against God. When we rebelled in sin, that same punishment fell upon us. Hell was never meant for us, but when we sinned, we fell under the same judgment as Satan and his followers.

Hell Described

What is Hell actually like? We can read all about it in the Bible.

Is Hell a place where we party down? Is it a place where it is just a little too warm, but where we hang out with our old friends? No, Matthew 25:46 tells us it is a place of punishment for rebellion. Punishment is not good, and so Hell is not a good place.

Hell is where the wrath of God is finally fulfilled. In John 3:36, we read about the wrath of God. The wrath of God is whenever God judges the earth in its entirety. We saw it with the Flood. We will see it poured out at the Tribulation. God will judge all who have rejected Him at the Second Death. These are demonstrations of God's wrath.

Hell is called the Second Death in Revelation 21:8. It is also called Eternal Destruction in 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Look at the word "eternal." Eternal means just that — forever destroyed.

With Hell, there is just no escape. Luke 16 says there is no way out of it. It's not like there can be some fancy Star Trek episode escape where they hitch a few wires and the doors open and they always escape. No, it's not like that in Hell. There is absolutely no way to escape from Hell.

What is Hell physically like? Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:15 describe it as a Lake of Fire. Some people speculate that maybe it is located in the underworld of our planet, as we see lava flows from a volcano like a lake. I tend to think Hell is a star. If you ever get a good close picture of a star, you will see superheated energy plasma boiling and rolling like lakes. It could be in a star, but the Bible doesn't tell us. But, it is described as a place of flames. It's a place of burning.

With all that fire, one would think it would be a very bright place, but Matthew 8:12 tells us it is a place of utter darkness. There is no light. No one will get to see in Hell.

And, the stench of it! Luke 16 tells us that Hell stinks. It has a bad smell to it.

The people who are sentenced there will be conscious. They will not be knocked out. They won't be driven so mad that they won't think about the horrible reality crushing them. They will have to exist with a conscious existence as Deuteronomy 18:11 demonstrates, and what they are consciously aware of is that they chose to separate themselves from the Father, as Luke 16 relays. God says to us all with no exception, "I love you. Come to me." You can choose to respond to that, or you can reply with, "No, way!" Those who rejected God's love will spend eternity regretting that decision.

Being separated from God has other consequences, for God is life, and without Him the universe doesn't hold together. You may hear about physicists trying to find the God particle or the String Theory. Well, in part they are correct. The underlining force that holds everything together is God. Jesus says it is Him. He is the bread and the life. He's what's holding us together.

Without God there is only loneliness and separation. There's just you being convicted by your memories filled with regret and despair.

Luke 16 says in Hell you thirst. In Hell there is nothing to quench one's awful, mind-burning thirst.

Because of all the agony and destruction that you feel in Hell, it says in Matthew 8:12 that there is gnashing of teeth. There will be nothing from you but weeping and crying with no comfort and no water to supply your tears.

Hell is truly a place of torment, as Revelation 14 describes. It's an awful place of torment where you are alone with yourself forever. You wanted God to leave you along and so you didn't accept Jesus' salvation, and well, you got what you wanted.

Living With an Eternal Perspective

Our forever destination is why we need to think about something bigger than just our life here on earth. Where the road ends is why we need to have an eternal perspective, because our life on this earth is really very short, isn't it? It's just like a breath. And so, it makes sense that we need to look at the bigger picture in life. You need to know where you are going.

You can't just live for the now, because if you die this very minute without preparing for the next minute, then where will that get you?

A friend of mine had this happen to him. While his mother was making him dinner she slipped on some water on the floor. While she was making something as innocent as dinner, she fell and banged her head against the cabinet. The fall snapped her neck and she died instantly. One minute she is making the meatballs, the next minute she is dead with her son standing over his dead mother.

Life happens that way. We don't think it can happen to us, especially the younger we are. We think life doesn't end so suddenly, but it will. Death will catch up to us usually when we are unaware.

Death is inevitable, unless you are raptured, so live with an eternal perspective. If you live with an eternal perspective, then everything else in life will make sense. Life will have purpose.

Your Eternal Decision

Have you made the choice for Jesus? Have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and be your Savior? Have you cried, "Jesus, forgive me of my sins and be my savior!"

An amazing, wonderful, awesome future lays ahead of us with Jesus Christ! So, what on earth are you doing that's just so important that you won't grab hold of that future? What sins are you committing that are so temporarily enjoyable that you wish to stay here, when you've got so much better ahead of you in Heaven? Turn to Jesus right now and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and be your Savior.

Think of the future that you have. Don't write Hell off as not a real place. The God of the Universe who is outside of time and who knows what is beyond here has told us in the Bible exactly what our afterlife will be like. In the Bible we can know our future.

You have a decision to make today. Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior, or have you not? Will you be rescued from judgment and Hell, or will you be saved for Heaven by placing your trust in Jesus Christ?

Source: www.lamblion.com

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Is the President’s Plan to Divide Jerusalem God’s Plan?

By John Claeys

The N.Y. Times reports that President Obama has created his own diplomatic plan to rival the plan of Israeli P.M. Netanyahu. Obama's plan would split Jerusalem, giving the Eastern half to the Palestinians.

But herein lies the problem. The Eastern side of Jerusalem contains the Temple Mount, the area which has contained the two Jewish temples. In addition, the Bible tells us that another temple will be constructed. In fact, it will be built as a key component of the end-times treaty, the seven-year covenant with Israel that starts the clock ticking on the final seven years before the return of Christ.

When Daniel 9:27 announces this treaty, it also reveals that the breaking of the treaty—in the exact mid-point of this seven-year period—will bring "an end to offering and sacrifice". Because the breaking of the treaty brings an end to "offering and sacrifice," that can only mean that they are intricately tied to the treaty. Moreover, the Jews cannot make offerings and sacrifices without a temple (which is why Jews have not been able to have sacrifices since A.D. 70, the year the last temple was destroyed), which tells us that the rebuilding of the temple is a necessary part of the confirmation of the treaty.

Most likely, this temple will be built on the same spot where the first two were constructed—the temple mount. Certainly, any orthodox, or ultra-orthodox, Jew who backs the building of the temple would not give a thought of constructing it anywhere else. Furthermore, since the rebuilt temple is called "the temple of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4), it, obviously means it will be built where the first (and the second) resided—with the holy of holies upon the very rock where the Jewish forefather, Abraham, offered up his son, Isaac, to be sacrificed. (This offering was directed by God; however, God stopped the sacrifice just before Abraham could follow through on it and provided a substitute—a ram—allowing his son to live. This substitute served as a precursor of the "Lamb of God," the Lord Jesus Christ, who became our substitute so that we could live [forever].) Since the significance of this place cannot be overstated, it is beyond belief to suggest the temple would be rebuilt on another spot.

Understanding this is key to understanding if the Obama plan will be realized. Since the Temple Mount is located in East Jerusalem, and since the Jews will be granted permission (as part of the end-times bible prophecy treaty) to rebuild the temple there, we can see from the Bible that East Jerusalem will never belong to the Palestinians. Thus, Israel will not relinquish that part of the city (nor any other) prior to the end-times treaty.

Because East Jerusalem as the capital city for the Palestinians is an indispensible part of the peace process to the Palestinian Authority, not getting it means the Palestinian leadership will not sign a treaty with Israel. But there are other reasons, as well. The PA will not even accept the right of Israel to exist, so how could a treaty be confirmed with a nation that has no right to exist? Furthermore, as a result of indoctrinating Palestinians from the crib that Jews have no right to live in the Middle East, the PA leadership has no backing for a treaty with Israel. In addition, to effect such a treaty, Hamas, the ruling party over the Palestinians in the Gaza strip, would have to be in agreement with a treaty with Israel; however, the Hamas charter calls for the elimination of the Jewish nation. Finally, the Palestinian leadership has announced they are not interested in negotiating a treaty with the Israeli leadership by forsaking negotiations and going to the U.N. Security Council with the hope the Council will make a resolution for a Palestinian state—without Israeli consent.

The importance of this is that it is another demonstration that East Jerusalem will remain in Israeli hands. After all, the only reason for giving away that part of the city would be for the purpose of completing a treaty with the PA. Thus, no treaty with the Palestinians, no giving up any part of Jerusalem.

Thus, it appears that God's plan for Jerusalem is different than that of the president.

Source: http://blogs.christianpost.com/endtimes/2011/04/is-the-presidents-plan-to-divide-jerusalem-gods-plan-24/

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Biblical Scholar: Life in Heaven Similar to Earth, but Better

By Michelle A. Vu

In heaven, people will have a similar body, voice and vocation as they did on earth, but everything will be much better, said a respected biblical scholar.

Dr. Paul Enns, professor and director of the Tampa extension of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, explores what heaven will be like based on biblical descriptions in his latest book Heaven Revealed.

Enns, who researched and wrote the book in memory of his late wife, Helen, answers questions such as “Where is heaven?” “What kind of body will we have?” “What will life be like in heaven?” “And will we remember people we met on earth in heaven?”


“We will continue to be the people that we are,” stated Enns in an interview with The Christian Post.

Enns pointed to Matthew 26:29, when Jesus says he will not drink this wine until he meets his disciples in heaven, and highlighted that Jesus uses the pronouns “I” and “you,” which means there is a “continuity of the person.”

“God has given us natural abilities and also given us spiritual gifts when we became believers in Christ, and so we will continue, which means our spiritual giftedness continues,” said Enns. “We will continue in heaven to do things we did here.”

The biblical scholar, who also wrote the book The Moody Handbook of Theology, said heaven is not just a state but a real place where God dwells. There is the intermediate heaven (Luke 23), a paradise for believers between death and the Second Coming, and the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1, Isaiah 65, 66), which is the final destination of believers on a restored earth, according to Enns. He said he thinks the “the third heaven,” although he admitted he is unsure, is the same as the intermediate heaven.

Bodies in Heaven

In the intermediate heaven, believers will have an intermediate body, which is different from the resurrected body that all followers of Jesus will have at the rapture. Enns, however, said the Bible is unclear about how our intermediate body is different from the resurrected body.

But believers can be assured they will have an intermediate body because during the transfiguration scene in Matthew 17, he pointed out, Moses and Elijah appeared in their intermediate bodies and the disciples were able to recognize them in their physical form.

Only Jesus, so far in history, has a resurrected body, which is of higher form than the intermediate body. A believer’s final body, the resurrected body, will be like Jesus’, the scholar said. The Bible, through the stories of Jesus after the resurrection, provides many clues on what our resurrected body will be like. In many ways, the resurrected body will be similar to our earthly bodies based on the fact that the disciples were able to recognize Jesus in his resurrected body and Mary was even able to immediately recognize Jesus’ voice when he called “Mary” (John 20:16).

But unlike our earthly bodies, our intermediate and resurrected bodies will never perish or be vulnerable to disease or disabilities. The heavenly bodies will be youthful and be controlled by the Spirit the way God intended us to live originally, writes Enns.

“There is a continuity of who we were here to who we will be in our resurrected bodies. There is a continuity in our appearance, a continuity in our voice, so we will recognize one another even in the intonation of our voice,” said Enns to CP. “So that is quite exciting.”

Memory in the Afterlife

Believers will remember their life on earth and will continue their relationships with family and friends in heaven, according to Enns. But the relationships will all be much better, even if they were already good on earth.

“Should we think that God would give us a wonderful, loving relationship with family and friends for forty or fifty years, only to be terminated, never to be enjoyed again? Impossible!” writes Enns, who pointed to the recurring phrase “he was gathered to his people” in the Old Testament as meaning believers will be reunited with their loved ones.

“Death is not cessation of existence; death is separation of the body from the soul and spirit (James 2:26),” writes Enns. “The body temporarily goes into the grave, awaiting the resurrection, but the person – complete with all thoughts, memory, and personality – continues.”

For biblical support, the scholar pointed to the famous story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man retained memory of his father and five brothers while in hell.

“If the people in hell will remember their past lives on this earth, surely believers in heaven will remember their lives on earth. Abilities in heaven will not be inferior to abilities in hell,” writes the Southern Baptist theologian.

“We will know everything we know now, but much clearer and much more.”

God’s Kingdom on Earth Will Last Forever

Some Christians believe that the millennial rule means that Jesus will restore peace on earth for only 1,000 years and then the earth will be destroyed, said Enns. But he believes that Jesus will bring heaven’s rule on earth forever and not just for a millennium.

He calls the ultimate Kingdom of God on earth the new heaven, new earth, which is when the earth will be peaceful (natural disasters cease to exist), when deserts become “lush gardens,” and when aggressive animals will be gentle and co-exist peacefully together.

“God did not create the earth to be very good only to have Satan lead man in rebellion against God, causing God to destroy the world. Were that the case, Satan could claim a victory,” writes Enns. “As in Noah’s day, the earth was cleansed but not annihilated, so the earth will be cleansed but not annihilated in the conflagration that is to come. It will still exist as earth – but it will be the ‘new earth.’”

He quotes theologian Wayne Grudem who wrote in Systematic Theology: “It is difficult to think that God would entirely annihilate his original creation, thereby seeming to give the devil the last word and scrapping the creation that was originally ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31).”

Enns then makes the connection that since God dwells with man on the new earth and since God’s home is heaven, then the new earth is part of heaven.

“Christ, the Last Adam, will restore this earth to its perfect, pre-fall condition,” the biblical scholar writes, describing the new earth as Eden-like.

What Will We Do in Heaven?

In heaven, believers will worship God, judge and rule (I Corinthians 6:2-3), rebuild cities (Amos 9:14, Isaiah 61:4), compose music (Revelation 14:13), farm, raise livestock, and continue using their God-given talents they had on earth to honor God, according to Enns. But medical doctors and dentists will need to find new vocations, he noted, since the heavenly bodies will be perfect.

“Heaven is always better than earth – in every dimension. There is no realm in which earth is better. In no way will we ever be poorer in heaven than on earth,” writes Enns. “Everything will be better in heaven. That is an underlying principle that we must continually bear in mind.”

Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/biblical-scholar-life-in-heaven-similar-to-earth-but-better-50073/

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Church Touts Homosexuality as a Gift, Not a Sin

By Eryn Sun

Being gay is a gift from God, asserts one church in Ohio.

That’s the message that Central United Methodist Church is spreading throughout their community via a digital billboard, launched on Monday.

This “simple statement,” the church announced, is “intended to be a gift to those who have experienced hurt and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

“The Church seeks nothing less than the healing of the world, and Central UMC wants to offer words and acts of healing to those hurt and marginalized,” the website states.


Jeff Buchanan, the director of Exodus Church Equipping & Student Ministries, agrees that the Church must display love and compassion for those in the LGBT community. But he opposes the message that CUMC is sending through their “Being Gay is a Gift from God” campaign.

“Why would God bestow this ‘gift’ only to condemn it throughout the Bible? This would seemingly contradict His character as a God who is loving and just.”

The Toledo church’s controversial billboard ad is directly connected to a long month-long sermon series by its new pastor, Bill Barnard. The church is hoping that the ad will move the public towards tolerance, reported ABC 13, and not perpetuate anti-gay attitudes and behaviors, which were harming the LGBT community.

The purposes of their recently launched campaign are threefold: to offer welcome to all persons who are gay; to challenge the larger Church to fully accept persons who are gay into the life of the Church; and to call on all people to bring all the gifts of who they are to God.

“By welcoming and living in community with faithful Christians who happen to be gay, we have come to understand that being gay is part of who God made them to be,” CUMC proclaims on their site. “And by gay Christians bringing all that they are to God, the body of Christ has been strengthened.”

“In fact, we would experience the body of Christ as incomplete without LGBT persons.”

Barnard told ABC, “We really believe that being gay is a gift from God, and it’s not anything that anyone has to apologize for or be ashamed about. So that’s how [the campaign] came to be.”

Believing sexuality to be a “good gift from God” – or as they declared yet another way in God’s infinite diversity – CUMC defines sin as denying who God created them to be.

While deeming the marginalization of LGBT persons as “unjustified” – mentioning that Jesus did not speak directly regarding homosexuality – the Toledo church recognizes that the Church today continues to be divided over interpretation of Scripture related to homosexuality.

Just two months ago, 33 retired United Methodist bishops urged the denomination to remove its ban on homosexual clergy, prolonging the undying debate within the church body.

CUMC hopes to unify believers by focusing more on “things that [they] agree on, such as kindness, justice, and humility,” instead of contributing to hate and discrimination, which they believe leads not to reconciliation, but to self-destructive practices within the LGBT community.

“Holding people responsible for matters in which they have no control is irrational and immoral,” the church declares. “We believe that both those within and without the Church are hungry for dialogue about homosexuality that reflects compassion and humility rather than intolerance and strife.”

Buchanan contends that CUMC’s message “tells people that the only option they have is a gay identity.”

But “people need to understand that thousands of men and women have found there is another way and have found freedom from homosexuality through the power of Christ,” he says.

Even if there was conclusive evidence supporting the theory that people were “born this way,” Buchanan stresses that Christians were called to be “born again.”

“While we may not choose our desires, we do have the ability and responsibility to choose whether or not we act on those desires. Our goal should be living a life that is congruent with Scripture,” he says.

“Genesis describes the fall of man and the permanent effects that sin has on us spiritually, mentally, and physically. Just because something may be inherent does not mean it was intended.”

Despite the outcry of many from the Christian community against CUMC’s campaign, Barnard continues to proclaim that homosexuality is a “gift” and has people come and remain just “as they are.”

Working to accept persons who are gay into the full life of the Church, CUMC is a founding member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which is the United Methodist movement for gay equality in the denomination.

Two of the volunteer staff members at their church, including the music director and lead team chair, live with their partners and have served the church for over seven years.

Grieved over the misinterpretation of Scripture and false teaching that is being promoted by CUMC and many other churches like them, Buchanan encourages churches to deliver the message of Christ with love and grace, but also with accuracy and uncompromised truth.

“We must always remember that authentic love is built upon a foundation of grace and truth.”

Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/church-touts-homosexuality-as-a-gift-not-a-sin-50010/

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Harold Camping The Madness of Date-Setting

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Harold Camping (age 88) is at it again! Back in 1992 he published a book titled 1994? in which he set the date for the Lord's return for September 6, 1994.1 Now, in his latest book, Time Has An End, he has set a new "absolute" date of May 21, 2011.2

Unfortunately, Camping has a lot of influence within Christendom because he owns the Family Radio Network which broadcasts his messages over 150 radio stations within the United States. His message is also being broadcast via satellites to most of the nations of the world.

Unfortunately, also, his message has been featured widely in the secular press, as is always the case with date-setters. That's because the press loves to play them up to the hilt in preparation for making fun of them when their date proves false. The result, of course, is that Bible prophecy is subjected to ridicule.

Despite the fact that he was proved to be a false prophet in 1994, Camping has convinced many people of the validity of his new date. His followers have erected billboards all over the nation. Some have emblazoned their cars with the message. Others are handing out T-shirts and bumper stickers. A website has been created at www.WeCanKnow.com. And mission groups are carrying the message to the four corners of the earth.

Camping Follower

An Historical Precedent

It is all reminiscent of a Vermont farmer by the name of William Miller who developed a theory in the 1820's, based on Daniel 8:14, that Jesus would return to the earth on March 21, 1844.3

In the King James Version that passage reads: "And he [a saint or holy one] said unto me, 'Unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'" This is a prophecy about the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes and its ultimate cleansing. But Miller applied it to the end times and converted the days into years. Assuming the prophecy was given in 457 BC, he calculated that Jesus would return 2,300 years later, on March 21, 1844. Incredibly, he interpreted the "cleansing of the sanctuary" to refer to the purging of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus!

When Miller's date came and passed without any sign of the Lord's return, he proceeded to set a new date for October 22, 1844. When nothing happened on this second date, most of Miller's followers became totally disillusioned. The whole experience was dubbed "The Great Disappointment." Miller died in disgrace four years later in 1849.

But that did not prove to be the end of the matter. One small group of Miller's followers in New England decided that he had not been wrong after all. Led by a young so-called prophetess named Ellen G. White, they began to teach that on October 22, 1844, Jesus had entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven to begin an "investigative judgment" of the works of every person who has ever lived in order to determine their fitness for Heaven.4 They further taught that the reason Jesus did not return to the earth on the October date was because of the Church's failure to observe the Jewish Sabbath. And thus was founded the modern day cult known as The Seventh Day Adventists.5

Harold Camping's date-setting parallels that of the Millerite Movement in several ways. First, like Miller, his cornerstone scripture is Daniel 8:14, but he applies the 2,300 days differently. In his first book, 1994?, Camping argued that the Tribulation began on May 21, 1988 and that Jesus would return 2,300 days later, after He had cleansed the Church, resulting in a date of September 6, 1994.

And just as was the case with the Millerite Movement, when Jesus did not arrive, Camping declared that the day he had selected was spiritually very significant. The only problem was that he had misinterpreted its meaning. Instead of it being the day of the Lord's return, it was the day that the end-time pouring out of God's Spirit began, ushering in a period when there would be a great harvest of souls, after which the Lord would return.

Having justified his first error in date-setting, Camping then proceeded to set his second date for May 21, 2011. Before we consider how he arrived at his new date, let's take a look at Camping's method of biblical interpretation.

Camping's Interpretive Errors

The way Harold Camping approaches biblical interpretation could be summarized as reckless. First, as demonstrated above, he often takes prophecies that apply to a specific historical period and relates them instead to the end times. The context of Daniel 8:14 makes it clear that the prophecy of 2,300 days applies to the time when a tyrant by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem. It was 2,300 days later, after the Maccabean Revolt, that the Temple was cleansed and rededicated. The prophecy has nothing to do with the end times or with a cleansing of the Church.

Camping's greatest error of interpretation is rooted in his insistence that the Bible is a parable from beginning to end and thus must be interpreted allegorically.6 He insists that the real meaning of any passage is to be found in its hidden spiritual meaning that can only be decoded by true believers. Such an approach to Scripture makes it possible for Camping to interpret passages in any way he pleases, and that is exactly what he does.

As an example, he argues that the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11 represent the Church, and that when the time for the Church's witness comes to an end, God will kill (or destroy) the Church. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in Revelation 11 that even hints that the Two Witnesses are anything other than two persons who will be anointed by God to call the world to repentance during the first half of the Tribulation.

Another trick Camping constantly resorts to is re-translating Scriptures in unorthodox ways to give them the meaning he desires. An example of this can be found in his effort to prove that God is revealing new truths today. He quotes Hebrews 8:8 which declares that God "will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." This, of course, is speaking of the New Testament, but Camping says, no, it is talking about providing new revelations in the end times and should therefore be translated to say that "God will finish a new covenant" rather than make one!7

Often times he will simply quote only part of a verse, giving it a meaning it never was intended to have. An example of this will be provided later.

Since Camping was trained as an engineer, he loves numbers, and he plays with them constantly, giving them any meaning that he happens to need to support his off-the-wall interpretations. Thus, when he needs a number to be literal (as with the 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14), he interprets it literally. But if he needs it to be symbolic, then so be it, regardless of the context. Accordingly, he interprets the one thousand years of the Millennium to be 1,955 years! That's because he equates the Millennium with the Church Age.

Camping's End-Time Scenario

The result is an end-time scenario that is right out of Alice in Wonderland because it is based on twisted scriptures, allegorical imaginings, and number tricks. Below is a summary of it.8 Let me warn you that before you read it, you'd better sit down and take a deep breath!

  1. The Church Age ended on May 21, 1988 and the Tribulation began that day.
     
  2. Between May 21, 1988 and September 6, 1994, the first six years of the Tribulation, almost no one was saved.
     
  3. On September 6, 1994, God began to pour out His Spirit. This will result in a great end time harvest of souls during the last years of the Tribulation.
     
  4. Since the Tribulation will last 8,400 days or 23 years, dating from May 21, 1988, the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011.
     
  5. Those left behind will be judged by Jesus for a period of five months, until October 21, 2011, at which time the world will come to an end.

Problems with Camping's End Time Scenario

Okay, I gave you fair warning. Now, this scenario raises a lot of questions. One of the most important is, "How did he arrive at the date of May 21, 1988 as the end of the Church Age?" The answer is enthralling:

  1. He begins his explanation by asserting that the first Jubilee Year after the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 was 1994.
     
  2. Then he says that because the last part of the Tribulation is identified with a great multitude to be saved (Revelation 7), the last part of the Tribulation must have begun in 1994, since it was the first Jubilee Year since the re-establishment of Israel in 1948.
     
  3. He then explains that because the first part of the Tribulation must be identified with the 2,300 days of Daniel, the Tribulation must have begun 2,300 days earlier, which would place it in 1988.
     
  4. And since the Church was established on the Day of Pentecost, the end of the Church Age must have occurred on the day before Pentecost, which in 1988 was May 21.

Thus, the Church Age ended and the Tribulation began on May 21, 1988. Absolutely mind-boggling! All this "explanation" succeeds in doing is raising a whole host of other questions:

  1. Who says the first Jubilee Year in Israel after the re-establishment of the state was 1994? The Jews make no such claim. According to Jewish traditions, the very first Jubilee Year was celebrated 50 years after the Jewish people entered the land of Canaan.9 Accordingly, it would seem logical to assume that a resumption of the Jubilee Years in modern times would start with the year 1998, 50 years after Israel was re-established in 1948. But the fact is that the Jubilee Year today is neither calculated nor celebrated because the Jews believe there can be no celebration of the Jubilee until a majority of all Jews, representing all tribes, are back in the land. So, Camping's very first step in his calculations is totally invalid.
     
  2. Who says that the last part of the Tribulation is to be identified with the great host of saved people who are pictured in Revelation 7 as Tribulation martyrs? The chronology of Revelation puts these people in the first half of the Tribulation, not the latter part.
     
  3. Where does he get the idea that the last part of the Tribulation is going to be a great time of world wide evangelism and soul-saving? The book of Revelation pictures the last half of the Tribulation as a time of absolute chaos on earth.
     
  4. Who says the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 must be identified with the first part of the Tribulation? This is not even an end time prophecy!
     
  5. Who says the Church Age must end on the day before Pentecost? The Church Age will end when the Church is raptured out of this world, and that is an event that can occur at any time.

Another question Camping's end time scenario raises is, "How did he come up with the date of May 21, 2011 for the Rapture?"

Camping Billboard

The answer is simple. He just asserts that since the Tribulation lasts 23 years, the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011, because that is 23 years after the Tribulation began on May 21, 1988. I was never able to figure out how he arrived at 23 years for the length of the Tribulation when both Daniel and Revelation make it clear that the Tribulation will last 7 years. I'm sure his answer is there somewhere, based on allegorical interpretation, but I couldn't find it.

All of which reveals another trick this master magician uses. His writings are so obtuse as to be indecipherable, a technique that convinces many people that he must be a profound thinker who has received revelations from God that are beyond the comprehension of the average person.

Another question which he does answer is, "Where does he get the idea of a five month period of judgment following the Rapture?" You're not going to believe this, but he points first to Revelation 9:5 where it states that one of the Tribulation judgments of God will be locusts who sting like scorpions, a judgment that will last for five months. The passage is, of course, talking about one of the seven Trumpet judgments that will take place on the earth during the first half of the Tribulation.

The second passage he points to is just downright surreal. He cites John 21:11 where it says the disciples caught 153 fish! He interprets this allegorically to mean that there will be 153 days of judgment after the Rapture (or five months). Do you see how allegorical interpretation results in the interpreter becoming God? It's because he can make the scriptures say and mean whatever he pleases.

To compound the idiocy, Camping then claims that he can prove that the number 153 has great theological significance. After all, he points out, 3x3x17=153. So, what's the significance of that equation? He asserts, without proof, that the number 17 stands for Heaven, and the number 3 represents God's purpose. So, the equation means, "God's purpose (3) is to take people to Heaven (17)." And the number 3 is doubled to signify that God really means what He says! He then fails to explain how this has anything to do with 153 days of judging the lost.

Of course, another question I would like to ask Camping is, "How can we be in the Tribulation when the book of Revelation teaches that one-half of humanity will die during the first 3 1/2 years when the Antichrist is conducting wars that will enable him to conquer all the earth?" Where are those wars? Where is such a death count? Where is the Antichrist?

Playing With Numbers

As I pointed out earlier, Camping is a former engineer, and as such, he loves to play with numbers. They are an obsession with him.

The best example is a mathematical formula he discovered that absolutely convinced him that he is correct in dating the end of the Church Age to May 21, 1988. He treats this formula in his writings as if it has eclipsed the world's previously most important equation — namely, E=MC2. Once again, you had better sit down. Here's how it goes:

  1. From the time of the crucifixion on April 11, 33 AD (a date that is not agreed upon by scholars) to May 21, 2011 is a total of 722,500 days.
     
  2. The number 722,500 is made up of two sets of an identical series of numbers: 5x10x17 x 5x10x17 = 722,500.
     
  3. Now, since the number 5 stands for atonement (Says who?) and 10 stands for perfection (Since when?) and 17 stands for Heaven (Give me a break!), this formula means, "Atonement has been completed for Heaven," and it is repeated twice for emphasis.

And if that silliness is not enough, Camping points to another calculation of his that he says validates his date for the Rapture. He states that the Noahic Flood occurred in 4990 BC (most Evangelical scholars place it from 2500 to 2300 BC!). He then points out that the time span from 4990 BC to 2011 is exactly 7,000 years.

Even if this were true, what would it prove? Well, Camping says that when Noah preached that Mankind had 7 days to escape the destruction (Genesis 7:4), he was really saying that Mankind had 7,000 years of existence left, since to God a thousand years is as a day. Once again, we find allegorical interpretation running amok!

The Ultimate Challenge

All date-setters have to deal with Matthew 24:36 where Jesus, speaking of His return, said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

Camping dismisses this statement as being no longer true. He says it all changed in September of 1994 when the Holy Spirit began to be poured out and new revelations concerning the end times began to be given to true believers. He argues this is in fulfillment of a promise given in Ecclesiastes 8:5 where it states that "a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure."

Once again, Camping just fishes around for some words to substantiate an unrelated point. Ecclesiastes 8:5 is specifically talking about being obedient to political leaders. It says that a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure to obey a royal command. The fact that it is so specific is the reason that Camping only quotes the last half of the verse.

Camping also quotes Daniel 12:4 & 9. These verses state that certain end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for them to be fulfilled. This is certainly true with regard to prophecies that depend upon historical developments (like the re-establishment of Israel). The verses also relate to prophecies that rely on modern technology (like the whole world looking upon the dead bodies of the two witnesses in Jerusalem). But these verses certainly do not apply to Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:36 where He stated without reservation that no one can know the date of His return.

Camping also points to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 which says that the Lord will return "like a thief in the night," but not as such for "brethren" who are "sons of light and sons of day." Camping argues that these verses mean that true believers can know the date of the Lord's return. But that is not the meaning of this passage. Instead, it simply means that believers can know the season of the Lord's return (and not the date) because we have been given signs to watch for.

The Emergence of a New Cult

One final observation about Harold Camping — he is not only just a false prophet, he is also a cult leader. This has not always been true of him, but it has become increasingly apparent over the past 20 years.10 It was confirmed in 2002 with the publication of his book entitled, The End of the Church Age… And After.11

Time Has an End

In that book he proclaimed once again that God had washed His hands of the Church on May 21, 1988 when the Church Age came to an end. But this time he went even further. He declared that all churches in existence today are apostate and therefore are incapable of saving anyone. This conclusion prompted him to issue a call for all Bible-believing Christians to leave their churches. The clear implication was for them to affiliate with his group, since they are the only truly enlightened ones. The book brims with heretical statements from beginning to end, the most blasphemous being his assertion that "the Angel Michael is the Lord Jesus Christ."12

Camping's teaching about the Church is as wrong as it can be. The Church is inseparable from Jesus, for the Bible teaches that the Church is the Body of Christ, with Christ as its head (Ephesians 1:22, 4:15 and 5:23. See also: Colossians 1:18 and 2:19). Further, Jesus promised that the gates of Hades would never be able to prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18).

Further evidence of his drift toward the cults is to be found in recent reports that he is now teaching that there is no such thing as a literal Hell.13 He argues it was doctrine devised by man to intimidate people. According to Camping, when an unbeliever dies, he will be judged by God and then be annihilated.

What has happened to Harold Camping is what always happens when a person starts playing with the Word of God, arguing that it does not mean what it says, but, rather, it means what that person wants it to mean.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is only one thing I know for certain about the date of May 21, 2011, and that is that Jesus will not return on that day. He may appear in the Rapture the day before or the day after, but it will not be on May 21. The Rapture is an event that can occur any moment. We cannot know the date, but we can know the season, for we have been given signs to watch for, and those signs are all around us today.

We are definitely in the season, and the crucial question is, "Are you ready?" You can answer that question positively and with certainty only if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you have done that, then you can cry out, "Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Notes

1. Harold Camping, 1994? (New York, NY:Vantage Press, 1992).

2. Harold Camping, Time Has An End (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 2003).

3. For more information about William Miller see "William Miller: The Sincerely Deceived Prophet" by Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, November-December 2003, pages 10-12.

4. Ibid.

5. For a detailed discussion of the founding of the Seventh Day Adventists, see "The Seventh Day Adventists: Christian or Cultic?" by Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, July-August, 2006, pages 3-11.

6. GotQuestions.org, "Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?" www.gotquestions.org/Harold-Camping-family-radio.html.

7. Harold Camping, We Are Almost There! (Oakland, CA: Family Stations, Inc., 2008), page 3.

8. Ibid., pages 47-48.

9. Rabbi Shraga Simmons, "What is the Jubilee Year in Judaism?" http://judaism.about.com/od/prayersworshiprituals/f/jubilee.htm.

10. Robert Gianserra, "The Madness of Harold Camping," www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2305427/posts.

11. Harold Camping, The End of the Church Age… And After (Oakland, CA: Family Stations, Inc., 2002).

12. Ibid, page 56.

13. Gianserra, "The Madness of Harold Camping."

 

Source: http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_cults16.php

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Are the uprisings in the Middle East prophetic?

By Nathan Jones

The Middle East is tearing itself apart politically as nation after nation topples its own government. In just three short months the world has watched in awe as street protestors have sent their oppressive dictators fleeing for their lives.

The match that lit the inferno was literal, as Tunisian vegetable cart vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze over his inability to be allowed to make a living. The riots that followed forced Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali just 28 days later to run for Saudi Arabia after 23 years of absolute power.

>From there the fire spread to Egypt as emboldened rioters took to the streets, forcing a military coupe to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from 30 years of crushing rule. Other nations followed like Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, and Yemen, all experiencing major protests. Lebanon's terrorist party Hezbollah had already dissolved their government. And now, Libya is in the middle of a blood bath as their rebels attempt to end madman Muammar Gaddafi's entrenched 42-year rule.


The world is watching this chaotic phenomenon in both fear of the future and in rejoicing over oppressive regimes falling. Hope is in the air that democracy and freedom will replace the old order. Fear is also tangible, as the specter of Islamic Sharia Law rises to choke the Middle East into submission to Allah.

Delving below the politics, students of Bible prophecy are pondering if these strange events can be found within Bible prophecy. With some trepidation, they also wonder how this could affect the timing of the Rapture.

Focus on Egypt

The biggest discussion right now among many students of Bible prophecy is over whether Egypt in particular is presently entering into some kind of prophetic fulfillment.

A February 2011 "Christ in Prophecy Journal" blog poll of 354 people looked to see where people believed Egypt stood in the prophetic light. As expected, 170 respondents (48%) wisely chose that it was too early to tell. Still, 71 respondents (20%) believe Egypt is experiencing Isaiah 19, 63 respondents (17%) believe we are witnessing the beginning of the Psalm 83 prophecy, and to a lesser degree some believe Ezekiel 38-39 or Daniel 11:40-45 are in order. Some even, after the close of the poll, suggested Ezekiel 29:12 is beginning.

Egypt Poll

What do each of those prophecies mean, and are they truly being fulfilled today? Let's take a look.

Isaiah 19

"I [God] will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian… I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord…" – Isaiah 19:2a,4

While Isaiah's oracle against Egypt certainly sounds relevant for today with Egyptian rising up against Egyptian for or against Mubarak or the interim government, it is still up in the air whether they will be given a new tyrant to rule over them. It is indeed possible that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain power among the turmoil and place the people under strict Islamic law. Or, this could ultimately be talking about the coming Antichrist.

Clearly other parts of this oracle haven't occurred yet. Verse 5 tells of the Nile drying up and the canals (Suez?) stinking. Verse 18 tells of five of Egypt's cities being taken over so they "will speak the language of Canaan." Even more amazingly, the people will turn from their idols and "swear allegiance to the LORD Almighty" and "he will respond to their pleas and heal them" (verse 21-22). God will even go as far as building a road from Assyria (modern day Iraq) through Israel to Egypt and proclaim "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance" (verses 23-25).

Prophetically, it could be that Egypt has started on the path of Isaiah 19's prophecy which starts with Egypt's fall, but without a shadow of a doubt Isaiah 19 describes Egypt's final future in Christ's Millennial Kingdom. Along with Jeremiah 12:14-17, it is revealed that Egypt will make it into Jesus' Millennial Kingdom, populated by believers, and not living under any judgment.

So, is Isaiah 19 happening today? No, most likely not. This prophecy has all the markings of a yet future fulfillment happening during the Tribulation with its blessings ending up in Christ's Millennial Kingdom.

Ezekiel 29:12

"I [God] will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries." – Ezekiel 29:12

Are the Egyptians facing a desolation and scattering of its people for 40 long years? One would think so until they read on to Ezekiel 29:19 and 30:10 which shows that the Lord promised that He would "put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon." Historically then, although there's no archaeological record of this happening, we can take the Bible at its word that this event happened over 2500 years ago.

A slim possibility exists that there may be a future fulfillment of Ezekiel 29 as well. During the coming Millennial Kingdom, if any nation doesn't send representatives to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, they will then suffer drought (Zech. 12:16-19). The Egyptians are singled out in this warning, which suggests they could also see a 40-year exile during that period if they persist in their stubbornness, making Ezekiel 29:12 also yet future. I give this only a very slight nod of the head, though, because God's praise for Egypt during the Millennium recorded in Isaiah 19:23-25 would seem to rule out the harshness of exile.

That this prophecy isn't for today should be a huge comfort to those who have begun unnecessarily fearing an Egyptian 40-year exile possibly putting off the Rapture for another 40 years.

Psalm 83/Ezekiel 38-39

"With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you… the Hagrites [Egyptians]." – Psalm 83:5-6

Psalm 83 is a prayer calling down judgment and justice upon Israel's neighboring enemies. In Psalm 83, all the nations that are listed have modern equivalents to the nations that today surround Israel: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Gaza and Egypt. Israel has never fully subjugated those lands as the prayer calls, especially since they became a nation once again in 1948.

Ezekiel 38-39, called the Gog-Magog prophecy, foretells a coalition of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, the Sudan and a number of other Islamic nations uniting together to try to destroy Israel and carry off her wealth. God stepping in to defeat this overwhelming army is nothing short of miraculous and would change the face of world politics as we know it. The Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog Battle creates three main results: 1) The world knows God exists and protects Israel, 2) all of Israel's hostile Muslim enemy countries are defeated, and 3) Israel leaves its secular humanism to accept God (though not His Son until the end of the Tribulation).

Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 are bundled together here because noticeably absent from the Gog-Magog coalition are the countries that directly border Israel. It would appear Israel would have to deal with their hostile neighbors, possibly subjugating them, for the requirements of Ezekiel 38-39 to fall into place.

If anything happening in the Middle East today is fulfilling Bible prophecy, it is that we are witnessing this very day the formation of these coalitions. Iran has set up proxy states through Hamas and Hezbollah and whomever will come to power in Egypt and Jordan that are seething to wipe Israel off the map. Israel has the world's fourth largest army which could easily subjugate those neighbors. Israel could not defeat Russia along with Iran and Turkey coming from multiple fronts, and so God will have to step in just as He told Ezekiel He would.

The fall of these Middle Eastern governments today is removing any peace treaties made with Israel and solidifying the relationships between these Islamic nations against Israel. The danger level towards Israel is being kicked up to maximum and it's possible that any day soon could see a Psalm 83 scenario unfold.

Daniel 11:40-45

"He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt." – Daniel 11:42-43a

Earlier in Daniel 11 we get a stunning play-by-play of the ongoing battle between the dynasties of Alexander the Great's generals. These kings are consecutively labeled the "King of the North" (Syrian Seleucids) and the "King of the South" (Egyptian Ptolemies). This portion of prophecy was fulfilled in such jaw dropping accuracy in the decades following Alexander the Great that it's lead some to claim that Daniel was written after the fulfillments.

Starting with Daniel 11:36, the picture clearly becomes a prophecy about the future and describes the military campaign of the Antichrist in the Middle East that occurs at the end of the Tribulation. The Antichrist's preoccupation with persecuting the Jews and Tribulation Saints emboldens some of the nations under his control to rebel, and he's forced to deal with the King of the North (possibly Syria or one of the regions controlled by one of his 10 Kings) and the King of the South (possibly Egypt or another of his 10 Kings).

Egypt is certainly wrapped up in this prophecy, but it is very much a Tribulation-centric prophecy and not something we are seeing in today's headlines.

Summary

While it's still too early to fully tell what the outcomes of the riots in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries will produce, all prophetic indications pave the way for radical Islamic regimes to take over and end any peace treaties these nations have had with Israel. Unbounded by treaties, armed by Iran, and united by Islamic hatred of all things Jewish, all prophetic indications reveal that the nations surrounding Israel will attack in a Psalm 83 scenario, followed some time soon after by an outer ring of Muslim nations which will attempt to destroy Israel based on Ezekiel 38-39's Gog-Magog Battle.

Most importantly to believers in Christ, the historic upheaval going on in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations has no prophetic significance preventing or delaying Jesus Christ returning to Rapture the Church (Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Lk. 21:36; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58). Nothing has to occur for Jesus' imminent return for those He loves. Believers in Christ may see Psalm 83 come to pass, but if so we can praise God that according to the Bible we are not destined to be here to witness the escalating world conflicts (1 Thes. 1:10 & 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; Rev. 3:10).

Are you under God's salvation, secure in the knowledge that though the world seems to be spinning out of control that God is still sovereign and is returning for you? Or, are you still rejecting God's love for you through His Son Jesus' gift of salvation, awaiting the horrors of these prophetic world events to unfold before your eyes (Jn. 3:36)?

If the latter, then don't live in fear. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today!

Source: http://www.lamblion.us/2011/03/are-uprisings-in-middle-east-prophetic.html

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What’s To Become Of Egypt?

By Jack Kelly

For most of the past two weeks my in box has been clogged with questions about Egypt. During that time several articles have appeared on various web sites. In most cases writers have observed current events as if they are the fulfillment of end times prophecy and then searched through the Bible to find something that fits. But in my opinion it’s really too soon to do that. We don’t know what the ultimate outcome of the current situation will be so we really don’t know what if any prophecy is being fulfilled.

So let’s take a deep breath and back up a step to see if we can arrive at a reasonable answer to the real question, which is “What’s to become of Egypt?”

Like I said it’s still too early to determine the outcome of the current unrest in Egypt.  But we can tell from Scripture that eventually Egypt will become part of the End Times Roman (Islamic) Empire, also being called The Caliphate. According to Daniel 11:40-42(where it’s referred to as the King of the South) Egypt will make an unsuccessful play for leadership during the Great Tribulation by attacking the forces of the anti-Christ, and will be defeated, but not destroyed. This will happen shortly before the anti-Christ moves his headquarters to Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45).

To me this is confirmation that Egypt is not likely to play a major part in the Psalm 83scenario, which I believe will precede Daniels 70th Week. Neither is Egypt included in the line up of Ezekiel 38 that will follow shortly afterward. Participation in one or both of these battles would be expected if Egypt becomes a radical Islamic nation in the days ahead and disavows the Camp David treaty with Israel, but would probably render them incapable of challenging the anti-Christ a few years later. I think this tells us Egypt will not succumb to radical Islam immediately but will do so more gradually instead.

However, the situation is still volatile so only time will tell. As of this writing, the Egyptian military has taken direct control of the country, as opposed to being the power behind the throne as they’ve been since 1952, and has promised to leave international treaties like the one with Israel in place.

Back To The Future

Of all the nations who either are now or have been significant in the Middle East in the past, only Israel, Egypt and Assyria are mentioned at the outset of the Millennium, and all three are held in high esteem by the Lord.

The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:25)

This will be the result of Egypt’s national conversion to the Lord, following their second defeat of the Great Tribulation, this time by Israel.

In that day the Egyptians will be like women. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the LORD Almighty raises against them. And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what the LORD Almighty is planning against them. (Isaiah 19:16-17)

Zechariah explained it this way. At the time when all the nations of the Earth will be gathered against Judah and Jerusalem to besiege them, the Lord will infuse the leaders of Judah with “break out” strength and courage. (Zech. 12:1-5)

“On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.” (Zech 12:6)

Although similar in appearance, this is not the Battle of Armageddon but a prelude to it. We know this because although all the nations of the world are gathered against Jerusalem, (Zech 12:3) only the surrounding peoples will be destroyed (Zech 12:6). Following this battle the Lord will set out to destroy all the other nations (Zech. 12:9) and that will be the Battle of Armageddon.

Also in Zech 12:6 we’re told Jerusalem will be left in place at that time. In the Battle of Armageddon the city will be captured and half will go into exile (Zech. 14:2). And finally, Zechariah 12:10-14 speaks of Israel’s national conversion to the Messiah which is placed between the battle spoken of in Zech 12:1-9 and Armageddon which comes in Zech 14.

The Great Pyramid?

In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them. (Isaiah 19:19-22)

Only Egypt has a location that’s both on the border and in the heart of the country. That’s possible because in Hebrew, Egypt’s name is Mizraim, a plural word that means “two Egypts.” In ancient times they were two countries, Upper (southern) Egypt and Lower (northern) Egypt but they were joined to become one.

The name of this central / border location is Giza. It’s on the border between the two Egypts and is in the heart of the combined country. And there’s already a one-of-a-kind ancient monument there, called the Great Pyramid.

The Great Pyramid is thought to have been built in the 22nd Century BC on a 13-acre base made level to within less than 1.   900 million cubic feet of granite blocks were used in its construction. To this day engineers can’t explain how the workers managed to fit those huge blocks together so carefully in building a monument nearly 500 feet high. Some of the larger ones weigh nearly 80 tons.

It originally had a face of polished white limestone consisting of 115,000 stones finished on all six sides to within .01 inch of being perfectly straight. Cut on a bevel, they fit together with seams of less than 1/50th of an inch. They were then cemented together and polished to a high sheen. It’s said that the pyramid shone as if made of light itself and could be seen from over a hundred miles away. Over time the face has been stolen and carried away.

Unlike the 80 or so other pyramids in Egypt, which are vastly inferior copies, the Great Pyramid was not built as a tomb but as a monument, one that has architectural and astronomical features experts would be hard pressed to duplicate today. There are those who believe it was built as a unique tribute to God by beings with supernatural abilities. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that this amazing structure could again become an altar and a monument, restored by the Egyptian people as an expression of gratitude for the Lord’s mercy upon them.

Due to the fact that Egypt’s conversion will take place near the end of the Great Tribulation, Isaiah 19:19-22 will likely be fulfilled in the Millennium. If so the reference to being stricken with a plague and healed could be leading us to Zechariah 14:16-19which says,

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

This could also be the fulfillment of Ezekiel 29:8-16 which records an outstanding judgment against Egypt consisting of a 40 year period of desolation. Biblical records indicate the Lord has never executed this judgment, and it’s not likely to happen before the 2nd Coming. (Can you imagine the Lord dispersing 82 million Egyptians and making the country desolate for 40 years before the 2nd Coming? What would prompt Him to do this?) That leaves the Millennium as the most likely time of fulfillment. Zechariah 14:16-19 is clearly Millennial in its focus and Isaiah 19:22 appears to be as well.

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:23-25)

In Summary

So it appears that early in the Millennium after Egypt has been brought securely into the fold of the Lord’s people on Earth, Egypt and Assyria will join Israel as God’s favored people. By the way, don’t confuse Assyria with modern day Syria. Assyria was much larger, encompassing nearly all of the Fertile Crescent from the Persian Gulf in the East around the Arabian Desert and down the Mediterranean coast to the Nile region in the West.

And so like Lebanon, where the government toppled just a few weeks ago, Egypt is in for a rough time over the next few years. But unlike Lebanon, which will return to its original status as part of Israel, Egypt will remain independent. Having come to the Lord in the final days of the Great Tribulation, Egypt will struggle and be disciplined at the outset of the Millennium, but will survive to be known as God’s people, alongside Assyria His handiwork, and Israel His inheritance. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 02-12-11

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack160.html

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The Gate to Prophecy

Why is the Eastern Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem closed, and what does it have to do with Bible prophecy?

By Dr. David R. Reagan

 

The Eastern Gate in the old walled city of Jerusalem has a very special place in my heart, for it was that gate which God used to open my eyes to His Prophetic Word.

The year was 1967. The occasion was the Six Day War. As the fate of the new state of Israel hung in the balance, I searched the newspapers daily for any information I could find about the war. The turning point came on June 7 when the Israeli army broke through the Lion's Gate and returned control of the ancient city of Jerusalem to the Jewish people for the first time in 1,897 years.

A Mysterious Remark

The next day I read a fascinating news account about one of the Jewish commando groups that had been involved in the assault on the city. The article stated that some members of the group had suggested catching the Jordanian defenders of the city off guard by blowing open the sealed Eastern Gate. But the leader of the group, an Orthodox Jew, had vehemently protested the idea, stating that "the Eastern Gate can be opened only when the Messiah comes."

That statement caught my eye. I wondered what the fellow was talking about. I knew nothing about the Eastern Gate except that it was the only gate of the city that led directly onto the Temple Mount. I was not aware that it was sealed, nor did I know that its opening was in any way Biblically linked to the return of the Messiah.

A Remarkable Prophecy

I decided to do some research on the matter, and that decision initiated my study of Bible prophecy. I had been attending church for 30 years, but like most Christians, I knew nothing about Bible prophecy. The topic was generally ignored by the preachers in the church I grew up in.

My concordance quickly directed me to the passage that the Orthodox Jew had alluded to. I found it in Ezekiel 44. The context is a supernatural tour the Lord is giving Ezekiel of the future Millennial Temple (40:1-3).

In chapter 43 the Lord gives Ezekiel a vision of God's glory entering the Millennial Temple from the east, through the Eastern Gate. The Lord then says to Ezekiel: "Son of Man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever" (43:7).

The Lord then reveals to Ezekiel that the Eastern Gate will be closed for public use and will be available only to a person who is described as "the prince" (44:3).

The identity of this prince is one of the mysteries of Bible prophecy. He certainly is not the Messiah, for he offers a sin offering for himself (45:22), and he has sons (46:16). Some have speculated he might be King David, but David will have a glorified, sinless body during the Millennium and thus would not need a sin offering. Most likely, he is a regent of King David, a prince in the flesh who is a descendant of David.

A Pre-fillment in Type

Bible prophecies often have a pre-fillment in symbolic type before their actual fulfillment in history. A good example is Antiochus Epiphanes who was a symbolic type of the Antichrist. Another example would be the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which was a symbolic type of the destruction Jerusalem will experience during the Great Tribulation.

In like manner, I believe the prophecy of Ezekiel 44:1 was pre-filled symbolically almost 500 years ago in 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded that the city's ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones.

Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control.

Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.

Another Prophecy

The Jews believe the Eastern Gate will remain shut until the Messiah returns. I think they are correct.

Psalm 24:7-10 contains a prophecy about the Lord's return. It reads as follows:

"Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!

Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory."

This is clearly Second Coming imagery. The Lord is returning as a King ready for battle. And when He returns, the doors of one of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem will open to receive Him. I believe this is speaking of the Eastern Gate which is now closed, for the Messiah is always pictured in Second Coming prophecies as returning from the east. For example, in the Second Coming passage in Isaiah 63:1-6 the Messiah is portrayed as coming to Jerusalem from the direction of Edom and Bozrah — areas to the east.

A Prophetic Symbol

The Eastern Gate has remained sealed now for almost 500 years, and the Muslim cemetery still blocks the entrance. The old walled city has eight gates, and the Eastern Gate, and it alone, is sealed — just as prophesied in Ezekiel 44. The world would call that an "amazing coincidence." I call it a "God-incidence."

I believe the Eastern Gate is proof positive that the Bible is the Word of God. Its sealing is clear evidence that we are living in the end times. The Gate awaits the return of the Messiah. Then and only then, will it be opened.

An Exciting Vision

I have a vision of what that glorious day will be like. It is related to the Lord's First Coming. I believe Jesus is going to replay His triumphal entry into Jerusalem when He returns.

When He came the first time, Jesus rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley and up to the Eastern Gate where He entered the Temple Mount for His last days of teaching. As He made that ride, the Valley of Kidron was filled with thousands of admirers who had heard about the resurrection of Lazarus. They waved palm branches and chanted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Within a few days that same fickle crowd was shouting, "Crucify Him!"

We are told in Revelation 19 that when Jesus returns He will come as a victorious military conqueror, riding through the air on a supernatural white horse. In Isaiah 61 we are told that He will come from the east, and in Zechariah 14 we are told that he will touch ground on the Mount of Olives.

Revelation 19:14 says that all the Redeemed will come with the Lord. Think of it! You and I will be there to witness the Lord's return. Zechariah 14 says He will speak a word that will supernaturally destroy the Anti-Christ and his forces.

Then, I believe we will witness a replay of the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. With angels hovering above and millions of the Redeemed filling the Kidron Valley, Jesus will ride up to the Eastern Gate on His white horse, and as He approaches the Gate, it will blow open. He will then enter the City of David, and to the triumphant shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David," He will be crowned the Kings of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Gate in Waiting

by Terry Gibson

Note: In 1987 Terry Gibson and his wife, Virginia accompanied Dr. Reagan on a pilgrimage to Israel to attend the International Christian Embassy's celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day of the celebration, 4,000 pilgrims from all over the world paraded around the city of Jerusalem and then marched to the top of the Mount of Olives where they sang hymns as the sun set behind the city. This poem was written out of that experience. Terry Gibson pastors a church today in Santa Fe, Texas.

There is a gate in waiting
In the City of the King
It waits above the valley
And adorns a tranquil scene

Jerusalem is churning
On the north, south and west
Yet the Eastern Gate waits quietly
Above multitudes at rest

On Olive Mount, I stood one day
And viewed this Golden Gate
Amid singing saints and setting sun
In the spirit was my state

Looking o'er this glorious Gate
From atop that blessed mount
Two scenes of great events
I saw, and now recount

One scene took place in ages past
The other is soon to be
In both there was the Son of God
And this Gate of Destiny

The First Coming

The first scene was triumphant
They hailed Him as a King
There were thousands in the valley
And "Hosannas" loud did ring

Many miracles of greatness
Had He done before their eyes
Giving sight to the blind
Calling forth the dead to rise

His disciples were elated
As they joined this happy throng
But little did they know
That their hopes would soon be gone

So long ago the prophet told
That lowly, He would come
Riding on a donkey's colt
Unbefitting the Righteous One

Yet thousands upon thousands
Stood in the valley on that day
And up the path to the eastern Gate
With palm branches did array

"Save us Son of David"
The multitude did cry
When suddenly, the crowd did change —
They shouted "Crucify!"

Oh! What price our God did pay
While sinners yet were we
The mocking ones — The crown of thorns
Pierced hands — what agony!

And so the only Son of God
Was hung upon a cross
He'd come to earth in Godly love
To save those that were lost

The Second Coming

Then the scene did fade away
And another took its place
For Jesus had said He would return
To redeem mankind's disgrace

On Olive Mount I stood again
And viewed the Eastern Gate
Yet it was closed, sealed with stone
Awaiting a King to coronate

Ezekiel long ago had said
The Gate would thus be so
Until the Prince returned to earth
Then all the world would know

Around the city armies stood
From nations of the world
As smoke and fire were everywhere
The armaments were hurled!

Yet the Golden Gate still quietly stood
While looking upward it seemed
Suddenly the trump did sound
It was the coming of the King!

And then I saw the Lord of Lords
Descending from on high
With multitudes of Heavenly Hosts
Behind Him in the sky

He came and stood on Olive Mount
And then the earth did shake
He spoke and all the armies fell
And the evil power did break

Upon a white and valiant steed
Down Olive Mount did ride
Through Kidron Valley up to the Gate
While the Jewish remnant cried

They looked on Him
whom they had pierced
And grieved as for a son
So bitterly they wept in shame
Yet with grace He did respond

And all the while the numbers grew
Of Angels and the Saints
Millions upon millions
Joined Him in the ranks

They sang "Hosanna to the Son of David"
"Hosanna to the King"
Throughout all heaven and the earth
The loud Hosannas ring

The Gate in waiting trembled
And the stones then blew apart
As the Holy One did enter
His eternal reign to start

Oh! What sweetness in that Day
The redeemed of God shall know
From Mount Zion in Jerusalem
The living waters flow

Are you yearning for that day
When the Lord of Hosts shall come?
Or do you flee in fear
Before the Holy One?

Call upon His name!
Before that coming day
Flee into His loving arms
He will wipe all tears away.

Source: http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_general6.php

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How a Worship Format is Destroying the Evangelical Church

By Ed Vasicek

During my lifetime, many evangelical churches in American have moved from Bible-oriented gatherings to music-dominated meetings. Interestingly, both sets of religious gatherings typically bore the title, “Worship Service.”

When the evangelical church was Bible-oriented, this “worship” paradigm was in place:

(1) Not all elements of the service were considered equally important; the exposition of Scripture was clearly the first and foremost priority. All other competitors vied for a distant second place.

(2) When the term “worship” was used, it was the equivalent of our modern casual expression, “doing church.” It is important to note that the preaching of the Word was considered part of worship, as were announcements, testimonies, communion, prayer, singing, the offering, and special music. This was the typical structure of a “worship service” before 1980.

(3) Many evangelicals viewed music as a “warm up for the sermon.” In this regard, many leaders did not seem to often respect music ministry as actual ministry but many others did.


The Change

But the paradigm has changed in many churches. The most important change was what the word “worship” communicates. The word “worship” is now used by clergy and laity alike to refer to the religious feelings aroused by music.

(1) The change in paradigms began with the addition on an article: “the” worship. As trivial as this seems, this was the beginning of emphasizing music and separating preaching and announcements from worship. We now have “the worship” and “the sermon.”

Here is just one possible scenario resulting from this change in definition. John Member has schedule a meeting with Pastor Jones. Let’s eavesdrop.

“Pastor, I think we need to cut down the time you preach. Fifteen minutes is plenty, I think.”

“I don’t agree,” replies Pastor Jones, “studying the Bible is crucial for every Christian.”

“Oh, I agree that the Bible is important, Pastor,” responds John Member, “but our morning service is billed as the morning worship service, so it should be mainly about worship, not preaching.”

In the above hypothetical conversation, you can see how the two meanings of the word “worship” are colliding with one another. In the pastor’s mind, Bible study is an important part of worship, but not in the mind of John Member. He views only music as “worship.”

(2) Other terminology changed. Schools that offered a major in church music (or “sacred music” for the hoi polloi) changed the major to “Worship Arts” (about the same time shades and curtains became “window treatments”). The song leader became known as the “worship leader.”

(3) Music became more emotionally intense, and a confusion between the emotional and the spiritual helped set music on an untouchable pedestal. Worship had become something one felt, not something one did. Worship was judged as good or bad based upon how it made worshippers feel. The Scriptures no longer defined good worship; the individual had become the discerner of truth based upon how he felt.

(4) In mega-churches, elitism and an attitude oriented toward musicians performing to the standards of other musicians (rather than aiming to bless the congregation) seems to be the norm. In some cases, musicians have become a special religious caste (like a priest, they lead the sacrifice of praise into the holy place).

(5) Even though Colossians 3:16 implies we should aim our hymns and songs both vertically and horizontally (we sing to one another and in our hearts to the Lord), the entire concept of worshiping God in the third person is gone, despite the fact that many Psalms speak of God as “He” rather than “You.”

(6) The goal of worship is creating a religious atmosphere and its attendant feelings. Often times worship leaders are weak in biblical and theological matters, but because more Christians value “worship” above theology, some of these leaders are carving out a pattern for church with little regard for biblical teaching about what the church is supposed to do when gathered.

(7) Here is the pattern: eventually worship (music and that religious feeling) is considered almost on a par with Scripture, then equal to Scripture, and eventually superior to it.* The Scriptures become subservient to the music and are used more as transitions between songs than holy word to be expounded. Biblical sermons have given way to self-help lectures or emotionally charged sermons with lots of illustrations—replacing the previous Psalm 1 mentality. The idea of worshiping God through deep Bible study and meditation in the Word is unknown; worship now means music and feelings.

The consequences & dangers of the new “worship format”

Religion is back in vogue. We used to hear “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord,” or “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship.” Because of the new emphasis on religious feeling, it is fair to say that we have moved back into the domain of religion. 

Worship has become a religious experience dependent upon something else than the gathering of Christians to study the Word, pray, celebrate communion, and sing a few hymns. Based upon modern viewpoints, the early church must have done a poor job of worshipping God. 

If the church is about worship, and if worship is a religious feeling induced from a church gathering, then, if I get a stronger version of that feeling somewhere else, that is where I need to be. Rather than the Bible, a passionate feeling of worship becomes the canon by which I measure truth. 

As a result, Christians not only move from evangelical church to evangelical church, but they also desert evangelicalism. Our heritage is based upon the centrality of Scripture; we are really novices at the religion game. But even if we competed well on a religious level, are we right to trash the primacy of Scripture? What about the convictions of the Reformation?

The problem is not contemporary music, seeking to have meaningful worship through songs of praise, etc. The problem is displacement. When we displace the knowledge of the Word and solid doctrine with music (whether we call music worship or not), we are no longer under the lordship of Christ. The Christian life includes public worship, but the highest form of worship is hearing and doing the Word of God. That is why the ultimate “worship book” in the Bible, the book of Psalms, begins with emphasizing constant meditation on the Word. The longest Psalm (119) makes the point even more emphatically. God seeks those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It is hard to worship God in truth if you don’t know the truth and if you do not make the truth a priority.

Source: http://www.sharperiron.org/article/how-worship-format-destroying-evangelical-church

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Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming

By J. E. Becker

 

Remember the childhood game hide and seek. Remember how the person who was it called out at the end of his count to one hundred, “Ready or not, you shall be caught. Here I come.” Jesus voiced a similar warning when he said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day that your Lord will come . . . So you must be ready, because the Son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt. 24:42, 44 NIV emphasis mine). In Luke’s account Jesus says, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectantly like trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that ye may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:34-36 NIV).

An article in the October 2006 issue of Christianity Today posted what 114 Evangelical leaders thought the focus of the Church would be for the next fifty years. Not one of them mentioned the possibility that Jesus could return and that we should be ready. Is this a trend throughout the whole Church? Are we to assume that they think we have at least fifty years left before he comes? Do we? Or are we just repeating what happened to the Jews at Christ’s first coming when he wept over Jerusalem because they didn’t know the time of their visitation (Luke 19:41-44)? He told the people they could discern the signs of the weather and accurately predict them but he said, “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye discern not this time?” (Luke 12:56).

Understandably, we have all been disgusted by over zealous “watchers” who set dates and caused many to do foolish things while awaiting the Lord’s return a la the prophet. But that can only happen if God’s people are so appallingly ignorant of prophecy, and the signs given, that they blindly follow those who prophesy from their own understanding.

Nevertheless, the Lord did command us to watch. Sadly, many in the Church today see this commandment as having less value than the command to preach the gospel or the commandments given in the Sermon on the Mount on how to live. All are important, but each addresses a different facet of Christianity. Setting eyes upon Jesus’ coming keeps the Church from deviating from God’s set course if we know it. Paul set forth this important principle in his letter to the Colossians (1:22, 23). He said that we could be presented, presumably at the judgment seat of Christ, as “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation NIV),

If [conditional] we continued in the faith, [rooted and] grounded [because we believed the preaching of the gospel and received the Lord’s righteousness, by which we are set apart, thus holy] and settled [making us steadfast, unmoveable, because we have lived out our sanctification according to Jesus’ commandments making us unblameable (KJV)] and be not moved away from the hope held out in the gospel [the part that makes us ready to serve him at his coming]: unreproveable (KJV) [because we were watching]. Watching implies that we know what to expect. The hope of the gospel, often referred to as the Christian’s Blessed Hope, is none other than his coming for his saints and their glorious future, a prophetic word.

To move away from it, is to replace it with our own hope. Setting aside his hope brings reproof because our focus is on other things. We are not watching. Jesus reproved the church in Sardis for their attitude of not watching (Rev. 3:3 NIV). He says “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” To be caught unaware apparently brings shame. The unfaithful and evil servant in Matthew 24:48 KJV said: “My lord delayeth his coming,” consequently his life was far off the mark. On the other hand the faithful servant was feeding the lord’s household in due season, that is, appropriate to the time.

He tells us to watch but he never says why. Why is it important to watch? Won’t we all go up when Jesus comes whether we are watching or not? Or is there another purpose why Jesus wants us to know these future things? In another parable concerning his coming he delights in those who are waiting, ready to serve him when he returns.

Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning,

Like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, and will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. [Again, why is he disposed to serve them? Does this have anything to do with Rev. 3:20 where his servants open the door to his knock?]

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. Luke 12:35-40 NIV

 [Again why? Does he have some special purpose for them after the rapture?]

Jesus promises a similar blessing to all those who read, hear and keep the sayings of the book of Revelation. The Greek word for “keep” is tyereo, which means to watch, to guard by keeping an eye upon, in other words watching for signs that these prophetic events are near.

We strive in every way to serve him now, but what if there is a service to be performed after the resurrection, which those who are not ready cannot perform? Perhaps like the unfaithful priests of Ezekiel’s day whose service in the temple will be denied a position close to the Lord’s presence because of unfaithfulness (See Ezekiel 44:10-14). Will a similar blessing be denied the Church who fails to watch because of misplaced priorities? Seeing that it is important for the Church to know prophecy, why aren’t we in the main stream preaching it along with the other commandments, so that the Church may be alert?

Last year I attended a prophecy conference where one of the speakers brought forth 40 reasons why we are the generation Jesus is coming for. Do we know what we are supposed to know? According to prophecy his coming is forever linked to God’s promises to the Jews, which have already begun to happen. You might be surprised, however, by some of the signs. Some are obvious such as the return of the Jews to their land, their sovereignty being restored over it, and the city of Jerusalem back in their hands. But did you know that the Jewish priesthood has been identified by DNA? This could not have happened before 1953. It seems there is a particular strain in the Y chromosome that comes from Aaron and even though the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic Jews were separated over a thousand years ago, the DNA of the priesthood is the same in both groups.

Not only have they discovered the priesthood, but they have also built the furniture for their new temple, except the Ark of the Covenant that they expect to find. All the vessels of gold and silver are already made and waiting to be used in a future temple. (I saw thefurnishings myself in 1998 and again in 2010.) Three different theories have narrowed the actual site of Herod’s temple down to three possible sites on the temple mount. All they really need is the land to build on.

The Jews are actively looking for their Maschiach (Messiah). Orthodox Jews must have a Sanhedrin, a body of 71 Sages and Rabbis chosen according to Maimonides, in order to authenticate the Messiah when he comes. On October 13, 2004 their Sanhedrin was reestablished for the first time since 425 C.E. They met on February 9, 2005 to consider rebuilding the temple including a discussion on which site is the right one.

With the priesthood recognized, the next step is to consecrate them for service. For this they need the anointing oil, and the priest’s garments including the robe for the high priest. The ancient vessel, containing the anointing oil, was found in an Archeological dig in April 1988. They have the regular priest’s garments but to make the robe of the high priest they must have the precious blue and the purple dye. This comes from the Mediterranean Sea Snail, which disappeared in AD70. It’s returned in great numbers now makes it possible to procure the dye.

One thing still hinders their establishment. No one in the priestly line today is ceremonially clean because of their contact with death. Thus they can not be cleansed with out the sprinkling water of separation made from the ashes of a perfectly red heifer under four years old that has never carried a burden (Numbers 19). They search for a red cow, not having one hair of any other color, to sacrifice then burn. The Jews have imported Red Angus cows from the US to increase their chances of finding one.

But besides the problem of finding the cow, they have to produce a priest who is ceremonially clean to sacrifice it. Since none already exist, he will have to be born and raised in the same manner that they produced a clean priesthood when they returned from Babylon. That requires raising children in an environment that prevents any contact with the earth―a house raised up on stilts. Priests’ children would be raised and taught the ways of the priesthood up to the age of thirteen. Male children, being esteemed ceremonially clean, are able to sacrifice the red heifer to produce the water of separation, which can cleanse the rest of the priest hood. According to Randall Price in his book The Temple in Prophecy, a special compound has been donated by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Idea Yeshiva and four priestly families donated their unborn children to the purification project sometime before 2005.

The most blatantly obvious sign concerning Israel is the fulfillment of Zachariah’s prediction that Jerusalem would become a burdensome stone to all peoples (because of the Palestinian and Arab situation? Zech. 12:3).

Turning now to signs brought about by modern technology, Daniel said men shall go to and fro on the earth (meaning the whole earth, fulfilled today by people flying in airplanes everywhere) and knowledge would increase before the end came. Actually knowledge now doubles every two years because of our fantastic communication systems. TV makes it possible for the whole world to watch the two witnesses (Rev. 11) killed and lie dead in the street on the world news via satellite transmission. The gospel is preached 24/7 to the whole world by the same system. With nuclear power in the hands of rogue nations, nuclear war is a very real possibility. The war of the first four seals uses a weapon whose power kills 1/4th of the world’s population directly or by its after affects.

Religiously, some of the Church apostatizes. Some Church leaders compromise the gospel with Catholic dogma, who in turn seek compromise with Islam, believing that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Homosexual leaders demand tolerance for the sake of political correctness.

Socially, our world has reverted to the days of Noah. Greedy corporate leaders cheat stockholders, crime increases and our prisons overflow. We worship pleasure, sex and our own bodies (seeking younger looks and to live longer using anti-aging supplements, etc.), and we have thrown off all restrictions of God’s laws concerning marriage and morality―murdering the unborn. We are experimenting with human embryos. Some English scientists have applied for a license to cross a human embryo with a cow, for medical research of course.

Politically, Jesus said we would hear of wars and rumors of wars—Ethic group rises against ethnic group (“nations” translated from ethnos) giving rise to terrorists all around the world. Kingdom rising against kingdom happens in countries where tribal groups abound with many kings. Look at Africa, wars on top of wars; look at Afghanistan’s war lords and Iraq’s ethnic religious battles.

Natural events―recent weather breaks all records since men began keeping them. Fires rage, floods sweep away in one country; while droughts consume the land in others. Tornadoes and hurricanes increase each year in frequency and ferocity. Volcanoes ring the earth, old ones coming back while more and more erupt, even under water in the Pacific Ocean. Is man causing global warming? I doubt it, scientists know that all the planets are heating up. Earthquakes increase. Something is afoot on the earth.

Jesus said there would be great signs in the heavens. Scientists had dismissed any thing drastic happening to the earth via space until the Shoemaker-Levy comet slammed into Jupiter in 1994. That was a wakeup call to the scientists that objects and orbits in space are not as stable as they once thought. In 2002 an asteroid had a close encounter with the earth and we did not even know it until it passed by. In one of the nearest passes ever recorded, a rock the size of a football field passed extraordinarily close to our planet on June 14 and went undetected until June 17. The asteroid — speeding along at 6.2 miles per second — missed us by only 75,000 miles. That's only one-third the distance to the Moon. In Revelation chapter 8 a “star” plunges all the way through the earth’s crust to the soft bottomless interior. It’s beginning to sound plausible.

The Giant Red Spot on Jupiter (a possible source of the sign of the great red dragon of Revelation chapter 12) has been observed by astronomers for 300 – 340 years with little to no change. In 1998-2000 it underwent a drastic change, it shrunk by half. Then three white spots in a nearby belt collided to form what scientists are calling Red Spot Jr., which is approximately the same size as the earth. It was white in color for five years, turned brown in December 2005, now it has turned red. The two spots pass each other every two years.  Since then another rapidly growing red spot has joined them. So far nothing has happened. What will happen in the future? Nobody knows. Something is afoot in the heavens.

These are but a few of the signs that Jesus told us to look for. Do we dare to stand before him and say, “I did not know?” By knowing we also keep our faith sharp and our life clean as John says, that “every one who has this hope in him purifies himself . . . ” (1 John 3:3). Today, of all times in the entire history of the Church, we need to hear this message. The world needs to hear this message. What a vibrant way to preach the gospel!

 I saw a sign on a marquee in front of a church that read: “Jesus is coming soon and this time he won’t be nice.” Is any message more relevant today? Wake up Church! It’s time to watch. Jesus is coming. Ready or not, you shall be caught . . . up!

            (Facts herein gathered from the Internet and The Temple in Prophecy, by Randall Price, who has an archeological dig in Qumran and keeps abreast of Jewish things. Also From Frieda M. Porter author of On the Brink of the Rapture.

J. E. Becker is the author of the book Rightly Dividing the Book of Revelation ,and a fiction series on the time of the end, The Armageddon Trilogy: Book 1, The Beginning of the End and Book 2, The Sign of the End, which are now available.

 Terry James, partner in raptureready.com with Todd Strandberg, says of J.E. Becker: "The author has uncanny ability  to boil the massive overall geopolitical realities of these end times into stories that I honestly can say are written as powerfully as those international spy-thrillers by Clancy, Grisham, and the rest.

 We will hear more from this budding master storyteller!"      

Source: http://raptureready.com/soap/becker1.html


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The Fig Tree Has Budded

By Douglas Hamp

As a boy I remember feeling the rush of the wind strike my face, the sky grow dark as ominous clouds rolled in and covered the sun. Then the sounds of the thunder could be heard in the distance and the sky flashed. It was a time of great anticipation and excitement. Even though the storm was several miles away, it was clear to all that it was coming. The end times can be likened a great deal to a coming storm. We can see the storm coming and feel its effect even though it has not yet arrived fully. So it is with the Lord’s return, the signs are evident even though the event itself has not yet arrived.

Concerning the time of the Lord’s return, Jesus’ disciples asked him: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24:3b ESV). Jesus then began to describe the many things that would precede His second coming – many of which are being fulfilled before our eyes. Jesus said “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many,” (Matt 24:5). Since 1900 there have been many dozens who have either claimed to be Jesus or the Christ in one form or another. Some of the most notable are Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church and David Koresh of the Branch Davidian religious sect, Ariffin Mohamed from Malaysia and Sergei Torop from Russia.

He then spoke of wars, rumors of war and nation against nation.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows, (Matthew 24:6-8).

Only in the twentieth century have we seen the entire world at war not just once but twice. The projected death toll for the Second World War alone is upwards of fifty million people – a number unheard of before in human history. The past century could easily be classified as wars, rumors of wars, nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom.

There are many signs of the Lord’s second coming just as there were for his first coming and the Lord rebuked the leaders of his day for not picking up on the revealed signs that were evident of his first coming.

When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:54-56, emphasis mine). 

Just as the signs of the coming storm were obvious to me as a boy, so should those leaders have known that their Messiah was coming. Jesus noted that they could easily and successfully forecast the weather by simply looking at the sky yet failed to see (or at least to accept) the Messiah in front of them. We too see the last days’ signs that Jesus spoke about are either happening or about to happen in our day.

Knowing the Times and Seasons

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians wrote that believers could and should know the times and seasons of the Lord’s (second) coming since they were not in the darkness like others.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness,” (I Thessalonians 5:1-5, emphasis mine).

Birth Contractions 

Jesus likened all of the events mentioned above to birth pains by saying: “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains,” (Matthew 24:8). Just like for a woman in labor, the contractions will get closer and closer until finally the child is born, so it is if we were to consider today’s events in terms of giving birth, we might say that prophetically all that is left is to push the baby out. All that the Lord had said so far (discussed above) was a response to the disciples’ question “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

The Fig Tree is the Sign of His Coming

Jesus then gave an important sign to look for concerning his coming: the fig tree. The sign of his coming and the end of the age is the fig tree:

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place, (Matthew 24:32-34, emphasis mine).

The Fig Tree Is Israel

There are two obvious questions concerning this parable: who or what is the fig tree and how long is a generation? The answer to the first question is unmistakably Israel. God clearly compares Israel with a fig tree. The following verses are given in chronological order.

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season, (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine). 

Here God compares Israel to grapes and the fathers to fruits of the fig tree. Then in Joel He speaks of “my land” as being comparable to “my fig tree” again showing that Israel (both ethnically/nationally and geographically) is symbolized as a fig tree.

For a nation has come up against My land, strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white, (Joel 1:6-7, emphasis mine).

Next God shows Jeremiah a vision of baskets of good figs and bad figs. Note that both the good and the bad are representative of Israel (Judah). The “good” are taken out of the land, that is, out of danger, and the “bad” are left to be judged.[1]

One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.” “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. “And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad’–surely thus says the LORD–”so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt, (Jer 24:2, 3, 5, 8 emphasis mine).

Jesus continues the correlation of Israel with a fig tree during the final stage of His ministry. Keep in mind that Jesus had been ministering in Israel for about three years when He gave this parable. Just like the illustration of God seeking good fruit from His vineyard and finding none in Isaiah 5:1-7, so too Jesus, had come in person expecting to find some good fruit and found little or none.

He also spoke this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down,’ (Luke 13:6-9, emphasis mine).

That Jesus had Israel in mind is confirmed at the end of the chapter when Jesus laments over Jerusalem because of their unwillingness to receive their Messiah and declares that their house is left desolate. Furthermore, the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem could in no way say “blessed is He…” so long as they were not living in the land of Israel (during the time of their exile).

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ (Luke 13:34-35). 

The Cursed Tree

Jewish men were to present themselves before the Lord three times a year. Jesus came up to Jerusalem via Jericho on a number of occasions during the three plus years of His ministry in order to celebrate the feasts. There was a fig tree by the road (Matt 21:19) that He invariably must have seen on a number of occasions as He went up to Jerusalem. The day of the triumphal entry, when He came up from Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus must have seen the tree noting that there was not any fruit on it – just as the land owner in the parable found none. Coming into Jerusalem, He was hailed as the Messiah by the masses. He then drove out the money changers from the temple foreshadowing his coming pronouncement that Israel, like the fig tree, was barren. In the evening He set out for Bethany to spend the night with His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus (Bethany was on the same road which came up from Jericho). Returning to Jerusalem in the morning, Jesus passed by the fig tree, noted that there was no fruit on it when there should have been at least some early fruit. Seeing that the tree was unfruitful, He then cursed it.

And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. (Matt 21:19)

Thus, just like His parable of the fig tree, He had come looking for fruit from the Jewish leadership for over three years finding none. They were like the barren fig tree with no fruit was to be found and so He then pronounced judgment on the worthless tree causing it to die immediately which symbolized the nation. With all of that as our backdrop, we then come to the time markers that He gave us during the Olivet discourse, this time reading Luke’s account:

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near, (Luke 21:29- 30).

When Jesus commanded them to learn a parable from the fig tree, they must have had swirling in their minds the recent events of the parable and the cursed fig tree. The Hebrew Bible (OT) background makes it clear that Jesus is likening Israel to the fig tree and just as the fig tree withered, so too would Israel soon be destroyed by the Romans.

Israel was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and then again in 135 AD. After the second Jewish revolt they were warned not to return to Jerusalem upon the pain of death. They were then dispersed to the four corners of the earth – without a home land for nearly 1900 years. Furthermore, the curse appears to apply to the land itself as well. Rabbi Menachem Kohen of Brooklyn discovered that the land of Israel “suffered an unprecedented, severe and inexplicable (by anything other than supernatural explanations) drought that lasted from the first century until the 20th – a period of 1,800 years coinciding with the forced dispersion of the Jews.” [2] Journalist Joseph Farah, prompted by the research of Rabbi Kohen, later discovered that only after the Jews returned did the rain begin to come:

For 1,800 years, it hardly ever rained in Israel. This was the barren land discovered by Mark Twain. So-called “Palestine” was a wasteland – nobody lived there. There was no indigenous Arab population to speak of. It only came after the Jews came back. Beginning in A.D. 70 and lasting until the early 1900s – about 660,000 days – no rain.

I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967.[3]

Then after those many years and just as Isaiah had foretold, Israel was born in one day:

Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth[4] be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children, (Isaiah 66:8). 

On May 14, 1948 Israel (the fig tree) declared independence and then was ratified as a nation by edict of the United Nations and literally was born in one day. 1948[5] becomes the year by which a generation can be measured against.

Early Christian Commentary Confirms Israel is the Fig Tree

Getting a “second opinion” is always advisable when there is a lot riding on a decision or when contemplating a new perspective. Thus investigating what early Christians thought about the fig tree parable would seem prudent. An early Christian writing, the Apocalypse of Peter, clearly identifies the fig tree as Israel and the time of its budding as the time of the end.[6] While we do not consider extra-biblical sources to be Scripture, they can occasionally serve as a type of commentary from early Christians. Scholars generally accept a date of composition[7] around A.D. 135. This is a significant date because the early Christians had seen Israel destroyed once in AD 70 under Titus who destroyed the Temple, killed upwards of a million Jews and took the rest as slaves. However, not all of the Jews were taken away and those that remained made a comeback.

Caesar Hadrian visited the city in AD 130 and had intimated that he might rebuild the city as a gift to the Jews. When he changed his mind and also outlawed circumcision, the Jews found themselves once again in a deadly conflict with the Romans a mere 62 years after the destruction of the temple. The Jews rallied behind a man named Simon Bar Koseba. Rabbi Akiva would later declare him to be the messiah at which point the Christians who had been helping in the battle left the non-believing Jews to fight for themselves. Hadrian squashed the rebellion in AD 135. He was so angry that he changed the name of the land from Judea to Syria Palestina and salted the land so that nothing would grow. Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and a temple to Zeus would eventually be built on the ruins of the Temple mount. Hadrian also banished all Jews from the city on pain of death. With this in mind, to find a text that declares that Israel, which had been utterly decimated, would one day flourish again is truly incredible.

This text, which again, we are treating like a commentary on the Scripture (and not equal to Scripture), clearly states that when the fig tree has budded, the end of the world would come. The text has interpreted Jesus’ parable of the fig tree to be speaking of Israel. When Israel comes back as a nation, then the last days would come:

(learn a parable) from the fig-tree: so soon as the shoot thereof is come forth and the twigs grown, the end of the world shall come. […] Hast thou not understood that the fig-tree is the house of Israel? […] when the twigs thereof have sprouted forth in the last days, then shall feigned Christs come and awake expectation saying: I am the Christ, that am now come into the world. […] But this deceiver is not the Christ. And when they [Israel] reject him [the deceiver] he shall slay with the sword, and there shall be many martyrs. Then shall the twigs of the fig-tree, that is, the house of Israel, shoot forth: […] Enoch and Elias shall be sent to teach them that this is the deceiver which must come into the world and do signs and wonders to deceive.[8] 

The correlation of the fig tree being Israel in the text is unequivocal. According to this text, Israel, likened to a fig tree, was cut down (twice in fact) and exiled (in agreement with the parable of the land owner in Luke 13:6-9). Thus the author clearly saw Israel removed from her land and the people no more. But the author firmly believed that they would come back as a nation: “when the twigs thereof have sprouted forth in the last days” and then the end will come in the days of their sprouting. Notice also that the two witnesses (Enoch and Elias) will come back in the days of their shooting forth and be killed by the false Christ (Antichrist). This text certainly proves that some in the ancient church interpreted the end times in a very literal fashion. However, it also demonstrates that Israel was considered to be the fig tree and that the shooting forth of its branches would happen in the time of the end and more specifically, at the time of the Lord’s coming. Thus we have ancient testimony that Jesus’ mention of the fig tree was a reference to Israel. Her putting forth branches and becoming tender was a reference to her rebirth in the last days which would also be the time of the two witnesses and the Antichrist.

All the Trees

We have seen that the fig tree represents Israel in the parable that Jesus told His disciples. No less than three prophets clearly used the fig tree as a representation of Israel. Jesus also did so in the parable of the land owner and the fig tree, He then cursed a fig tree and told the parable of the fig tree concerning the last days. However, when we read in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus also mentioned “all the trees” – just what are we to make of this? Jesus said to learn the parable of the fig tree and all the trees. We learned what is the Scriptural meaning of the fig tree, but what do “all the trees” represent? Sometimes when Jesus would tell a parable He would then give its interpretation. For example in Matthew 13:18, Jesus interpreted the meaning of the parable of the sower in which each ground represented a type of person and their particular spiritual condition. So it is with our parable and for the answer, we need to go to God’s Word.

Since the fig tree represents Israel as a nation, then we should expect that “all the trees” would represent nations as well. Looking in the pages of God’s Word we find this to indeed be the case. In fact, we find that trees are often used to represent people and especially nations in at least eight passages of the Tanakh (Old Testament) alone. We first encounter a parable of trees in Judges 9:7-16 where Jotham, a son of Gideon, addresses the men of Shechem who had just killed seventy of his brothers in order to follow his other brother Abimelech.

The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them. And they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I cease giving my oil, With which they honor God and men, And go to sway over trees?’ “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come [and] reign over us!’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit, And go to sway over trees?’ “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come [and] reign over us!’ But the vine said to them, ‘Should I cease my new wine, Which cheers [both] God and men, And go to sway over trees?’ “Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come [and] reign over us!’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, [Then] come [and] take shelter in my shade; But if not, let fire come out of the bramble And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’ Now therefore, if you have acted in truth and sincerity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him as he deserves, (Judges 9:8-16).

In Isaiah 10:33 God refers to chopping off “the tops of trees” as to those who are arrogant and will be “hewn down”. Similar imagery is used in the book of Ezekiel. God in Ezekiel 15:2-6 likens the wood of the vine to the inhabitants of Jerusalem which will be burned in the fire because they are useless (that is idolatrous). God uses the tree motif to speak of Judah being taken into captivity in chapter 17 as well. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, Full of feathers of various colors, Came to Lebanon And took from the cedar the highest branch. He cropped off its topmost young twig And carried it to a land of trade; He set it in a city of merchants,’” (Ezekiel 17:3-4). In 606/5 BC Nebuchadnezzar took some of the leadership of Judah into captivity – thus Judah is likened to the cedar of Lebanon and the highest branch represents the leadership, which probably included Daniel. We know this to be the case because God gives the interpretation “Say now to the rebellious house: ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Tell them, ‘Indeed the king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and took its king and princes, and led them with him to Babylon,’” (Ezekiel 17:12).

God later in the chapter tells what He is going to do with the highest branches in contrast to what King Nebuchadnezzar had done. Whereas King Nebuchadnezzar made it a “spreading vine of low stature” (Ezekiel 17:6) God would set up a king and a kingdom that would be great among the nations. “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell.“ (Ezekiel 17:23). God then makes reference to all the trees of the field, which represent the nations. Whether all the trees represent all the nations of the world or just the nations of the area is not clear. “And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it,” (Ezekiel 17:24).

Ezekiel 20:46-48 contains another example of nations represented as trees. However, perhaps the most telling of all is Ezekiel 31:3-15. There Assyria is likened to a cedar of Lebanon that was greater than all the other trees (which is to say nations). “Therefore its height was exalted above all the trees of the field […] and in its shadow all great nations made their home,” (Ezekiel 31:5, 6). God describes how Assyria, the cedar of Lebanon was greater than other kinds of trees though God would send another to cut it down.

‘The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir trees were not like its boughs, And the chestnut trees were not like its branches; No tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, So that all the trees of Eden envied it, That were in the garden of God’. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have increased in height, and it set its top among the thick boughs, and its heart was lifted up in its height, therefore I will deliver it into the hand of the mighty one of the nations, and he shall surely deal with it; I have driven it out for its wickedness,’ (Ezekiel 31:8-11).

Daniel 4:10-11 and Zechariah 11:2 also offer more examples of rulers and nations represented as trees. With the background of the Old Testament, we can now turn back to the New Testament and find Jesus’ use of seed (Matthew 13:6, 40), vine branches (John 15:6) and trees (Luke 3:9; 21:29) to represent people or nations not surprising but very much in keeping with the Scriptures. Therefore, let’s look again at Luke 21:29 “Then He spoke to them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.’” The fig tree is Israel and therefore all the trees are other nations. The question then becomes which nations was He referring to?

The answer comes from the comparison with the fig tree; it was dried and then sprouted again. Israel was dried for many years and then came back to be a nation. It would appear therefore that Jesus was referring to other nations close to Israel which would also be reborn. What is astounding to discover is that all of the countries that border Israel came back to be independent nation states around the same time as Israel. The CIA World Fact Book discusses how Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt gained their independence all between the years 1943 and 1952 – all within five years of the birth of Israel.

Lebanon

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French separated out the region of Lebanon in 1920, and granted this area independence in 1943.

Jordan

Following World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the UK received a mandate to govern much of the Middle East. Britain separated out a semi-autonomous region of Transjordan from Palestine in the early 1920s, and the area gained its independence in 1946; it adopted the name of Jordan in 1950.

Syria

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946.

Egypt

Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt’s government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952, (CIA World Fact Book, emphases mine).[9]

These countries, like Israel, did not exist as independent countries until 1943 and after. They were simply parts of the Ottoman Empire and then parts of the British Empire or a colony of the French. Their birth around the birth of Israel strengthens the significance of 1948.

What is a Generation?

We have determined what the fig tree represents and now what we must determine is just what is a generation. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation [genea γενεά] will by no means pass away till all these things take place,” (Matthew 24:34). When considering this question we might first of all do well to remember that Jesus was not speaking Greek to His disciples but Hebrew, which is documented in my book Discovering the Language of Jesus. Not only was Jesus speaking Hebrew to the Jews of His day, which most certainly included His disciples, but according to what are known as the fragments of Papias, the book of Matthew was first written in Hebrew and then later translated to Greek.

Papias was one of the early Church Fathers who lived from 70 to 155 AD. The early church historian Eusebius notes that he “had the privilege of association with Polycarp, in the friendship of St. John himself, and of ‘others who had seen the Lord.’” (Eusebius 3.39.15) […] He says about Matthew (fragment VI) “Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.” (Eusebius, III, 39, 1) (Hamp, 2005 Discovering the Language of Jesus).

Given that Jesus was speaking Hebrew, the word that we ought to be truly considering is the Hebrew word dor (דּוֹר), which underlies the Greek word genea (γενεά) (the Greek Septuagint translates dor as genea). Dor is defined by Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon as “(1) an age, generation of men, as if the period and circuit of the years of life.” Brown Driver Briggs defines it primarily as “1. period, age, generation, mostly poet.: a. of duration in the past, former age(s)” and also as “2. of men living at a particular time (period, age).” Based on my own research where I examined the 79 times that word is used in the Hebrew Bible, the word should be defined as the period of a person’s life. In other word, generation is defined both as period of time and a group of people which cannot be separated. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) explains the meaning of generation as it relates to the entirety of a person’s life:

Occasionally there is a Hebrew word wherein etymology, as a route to discovery of ancient thought patterns, is all-important in discovering the true life-situation in which the word must be understood. Such is the case here. Authorities all agree that dor, the noun, is derived from dur, the verb. The simple primitive sense, not expressly found in any biblical text, is to move in a circle, surround. […] In this manner an original meaning of “go in a circle” […] provide[s] the basis for a word of important theological meaning. […] By a thoroughly understandable figure, a man’s lifetime beginning with the womb of earth and returning thereto (Gen 3:19) is a dor, (TWOT Dor).

While it is true that a new generation begins with the birth of one’s offspring, that still does not negate the fact that the length of a particular generation is the total lifespan. In reality, the Hebrew or Greek word is not that different from their English equivalent. If we talk about my parents’ generation it is the people group born around the similar time as them. I am not in my parents’ generation – I am the second generation. In fact, I was born some thirty years into my parents’ life. However, we should not define the length of a generation as the interval between the two but rather as the lifetime of a given person. After all, my mother is still alive and many people in her generation are too. Some people in her generation, like my father, have already passed on. However, there will be some that will live into their eighties and even a few into their nineties.

Let’s consider the following verses that show that the people group of a certain period of time all died: “And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation,” (Exodus 1:6 emphasis mine). The verse clearly was not talking about people in Abraham’s day or people in Moses’ day. It was the people group of a particular time that died – that is a generation. The Psalmist demonstrates a similar usage wherein he is exhorting those living at his time to not be like the generation (time of) their fathers: “And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalms 78:8). Notice that generation is being used as both a people group (fathers) and also a time period (since fathers necessarily come before their progeny). Therefore, when the psalmist says “a generation that did not set its heart aright” he is talking about a specific group of people who lived at a specific time. 

This is reinforced by Deuteronomy 2:14 where Moses discusses the time that was spent in the desert as punishment against the generation that rebelled against the Lord. “And the time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war was consumed from the midst of the camp, just as the LORD had sworn to them,” (Deuteronomy 2:14). The generation was the lifetime (forty years plus twenty) of a group of men as derived from the book of Numbers in which God gives the minimum time of a generation [Hebrew: dor דּוֹר Greek: genea γενεά] as sixty years (twenty and above plus wandering forty years):

Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me… So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation [LXX reads: genea γενεά] that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone, (Numbers 32:11, 13 emphasis mine). 

Thus the minimum age of a generation is sixty years (forty years is never a generation in Scripture contrary to what many have claimed). However, there is another verse that provides a more average lifespan of a human being which is also the key to see approximately when the Lord will return for the second time, (a fact pointed out to me by Dr. Kenton Beshore, Sr.). 

The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away, (Psalms 90:10). 

The fullness of a generation being 70 or 80 years is striking when one considers that Moses, the author of this Psalm, lived to be 120 years old. Bible commentator Thomas Constable points out:

It is interesting that he said the normal human life span was 70 years. He lived to be 120, Aaron was 123 when he died, and Joshua died at 110. Their long lives testify to God’s faithfulness in providing long lives to the godly as He promised under the Mosaic Covenant, (Constable, Psalm 90)

It would seem that the Holy Spirit guided Moses to write of what a typical lifetime is, versus his (and other ancients’) lifetime.[10] We find further biblical evidence that a generation is a lifetime which is equivalent to 70 (or 80) years in Isaiah 23:15 which correlates: “seventy years like the days of one king.” 

Modern Research Confirms Psalm 90:10

According to the CIA World Fact Book[11] the longest average life expectancy (by country) for 2009 was 84.36 years in the country of Macau. The Swiss had the 10th longest life expectancy of 80.85. Israelis ranked 12th in the world and on average lived to be 80.73 years old, Americans ranked 49th with an expectancy of 78.11 years and Guatemalans ranked 143rd with an expectancy of 70.29. People in only 38 countries (out of 224) live less than 60 years on average.

Psalm 90:10 therefore provides a very realistic picture of how long a generation is. The vast majority of people (by nationality) on the planet live until they are sixty (185/224 or 82.5%). Fewer, though a majority still, live into their seventies (144/224 or 64.2%). However, only a fraction live on average into their eighties (22/224 or 9.8%).

Matthew provides our last clue in the beginning of his Gospel when discussing the number of generations from Abraham until Christ thereby demonstrating that generation (genea γενεά – the same word used in Matthew 24:34) signifies the lifetime of a person:

So all the generations [genea γενεά] from Abraham to David are fourteen generations [genea γενεά], from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations [genea γενεά], and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations [genea γενεά], (Matthew 1:17, emphasis mine). 

Here we see that a generation was the lifetime of a person and not the specific amount of years though we have learned that the duration of a generation is anywhere from sixty years to eighty. We need to understand that generations overlap one another. When a father and mother have children a new generation is born, but so long as all the people born around their birthdates are living, their generation has not passed away. Think of it this way: the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has not yet passed away. In fact, the oldest members would just now be reaching their mid 60’s. Certainly some of its members have passed away already, but the majority can expect to make it well into their 70’s and some into their 80’s. In the same way, the generation spoken of by Jesus will not pass away until all the things he mentioned take place. The following diagram depicts how generations overlap one another. The 1st generation could be likened to the Baby Boomer generation. Generation X (2nd Generation) was born toward the beginning of a Baby Boomers life (generation) but they are not of the Baby Boomer generation. Considering all the evidence we explored, I’d like to propose that the Baby Boomer generation is the generation that will not pass away until the Lord comes back.

1st Generation (Total lifespan) 
2nd Generation (Total lifespan) overlaps 1st 
3rd Generation (Total lifespan) overlaps 1st and 2nd 

Which Generation?

So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place, (Matthew 24:33-34, emphasis mine).

The generation spoken of here must be the generation that would see all of the things that Jesus spoke of when the disciples questioned Him and specifically it would be the generation that would see the “fig tree budding”. Since we have seen that the fig tree was Israel in both the prophets and according to Jesus, then “this generation” must be the one that began at the commencement of the new state of Israel.[12]

The Fig Tree Has Budded

Thus we see Israel was a dried tree for about 1900 years and then miraculously the branch put forth leaves in one day on May 14, 1948. Jesus told us that when this happens His return is at the doors. He said that the generation that saw this would by no means pass away. A generation is the lifetime of a person and that is on average between seventy or eighty years. Thus, according to the above considerations we could write out our equation in the following manner:

1948 70 ≈ 2018

OR if by reason of strength

1948 80 ≈ 2028

The parable of the fig tree was the answer to the disciples’ original question at the beginning of the chapter:

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matthew 24: 3).

The observant student of the Word has noted that this reference to when the end of the age will be is in seeming contradiction to Jesus’ own words in Acts 1:6-8.

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,’ (Acts 1:6-8).

This apparent contradiction is resolved however, when we consider just who Jesus was talking to – the disciples that He was speaking to in Acts were the same men who, only some forty days earlier, He had told what to look for at the end of the age. And the sign that He told them would definitively mark the beginning of the generation that would see the end was nothing less than the fig tree putting forth its branch and becoming tender. Thus, the solution is the fig tree. They asked a question which he had already answered for them – look for the revival of the fig tree (which Jesus had pronounced cursed). In other words, there was no point in looking for the end of the age so long as Israel was a dried tree! There was no point in looking for the second coming so long as the fig tree remained cursed (that is: not a nation). Only when it would become tender could the restoration of the kingdom occur. That is why Jesus told the disciples of what they would receive in the meantime (“but you shall receive power”) and what their task was to be (“and you shall be witnesses to Me”) until the revival of the fig tree and ultimately His coming. Therefore, until the fig tree (Israel) was revived, there would be no restoration of the kingdom to Israel – which is of course only logical: Israel cannot have the kingdom if they do not exist as a national entity (a dried tree). But within a generation (lifetime of a person) of the revival of the fig tree (Israel) the kingdom will be restored in the millennial/messianic era.

Occupy Until He Comes

We have seen that the biblical interpretation of the fig tree is clearly Israel. We have also seen that a generation is the lifetime of a person which according to Psalm 90:10 is generally 70 or 80 years. Whether or not the Lord is required to return within 80 years exactly we obviously cannot be dogmatic. Nevertheless, in light of the incredible accuracy of His first coming, we ought to be persuaded that the above dates are both reasonable and likely. The Lord’s second coming, therefore, appears to be between 2018 – 2028.[13] The beginning of the Great Tribulation (subtract seven years) then would most likely commence between 2011 – 2021.[14] Remember we are to know the times and the seasons yet Jesus said very literally that the day and the hour no one can know. The Lord’s second coming between 2018 and 2028 is seemingly the time and the season, but is not predictive of the day or the hour. In light of the events that are happening in numerous categories (economics, natural disasters, etc.) on a global scale, the Lord’s return within the 80 years from the reestablishment of Israel in 1948 appears almost certain. Nevertheless, no matter when the Lord returns, occupy until He does and tell others the good news of the gospel. Heed Jesus’ warning:

“Constantly be on your guard so that your hearts may not be loaded down with self-indulgence, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, or that day will take you by surprise like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the earth. So be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to take your stand in the presence of the Son of Man.” 

(Luke 21:34-36 ISV). 

Footnotes: An interesting circumstantial confirmation of the 1948 date is found concerning the birth of Abraham. According to biblical chronology (reading from the Massoretic text) he was born 1,948 years after creation (Anno Mundi). While that calculation is based on the year of creation and not the Gregorian calendar, the same number is striking. Furthermore, the date of Abraham receiving the covenant in Genesis 15 was given 2,018 years anno mundi. Given that the birth of Abraham, the father of the nation, and the rebirth of the nation both occurred in the same year (on their respective calendars), is it possible that AD 2,018 (on the Gregorian calendar) will also be significant?

These dates seem to be confirmed extra-biblically by virtue of several discoveries: a massive Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun is expected between 2012-2014; there will be a series of four total lunar eclipses (tetrad) between 2014-2015 all of which fall on biblical feast days (as discovered by Mark Biltz) which potentially spells trouble for Israel.

Source: http://www.douglashamp.com/the-fig-tree-has-budded/

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The Bible

By Grant Phillips

I will confine my comments within the boundaries of the continental United States. In this country, there is no excuse for anyone to not own a Bible. Many do. Even though the courts have tried to extinguish it, especially via the school system, it flourishes. This precious book can be purchased in several translations, with different helps, various sizes (even in font), and the list goes on. It can also be obtained absolutely free of charge, no strings attached.

Even though the list of families is growing where a Bible is not to be found, its popularity does not diminish. The result however is that thousands of children are growing up today who are totally foreign to the Bible, and we are reaping the whirlwind from the crop we have sown. God help us.

My point though is directed to those who claim the name of Christ and thereby call themselves Christians. There are four concerns I see; (1) a Christian without a Bible, (2) a Christian with a Bible, but who does not read it, (3) a Christian who reads the Bible, but does not study it, and finally (4) a Christian who studies the Bible, but will not forsake his/her preconceived opinions.

(1) Christians Without Bibles

When I see a Christian without a Bible, I am either (a) saddened or (b) perplexed.

(a) I am saddened when a child of God does not have the means to hear what their Lord says. Is it really possible in this country for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to not have the wherewithal to obtain a Bible? Not much, but yes. There are a few who just cannot afford a Bible, and do not realize that there are sources who will give them a free Bible. Then again, maybe sometimes pride stands in the way, so they do not ask. The Gideons for example, are well known for distributing Bibles without charge. Many churches would be more than happy to give anyone who wants a Bible a free one. Maybe we need to be more aware of our brothers and sisters in the Lord who need help in this area, and simply provide them, personally, a free Bible. 

(b) It puzzles me when I see those, who I know own one, not bother to have one with them when the church assembles in worship. In their defense I do need to point out that considering some of the humanistic dribble that comes from the pulpit these days, I cannot blame them. However, this is when I would be looking for another church family to worship with. Sometimes though you have some “meat and potatoes” coming from the pulpit, and it is discouraging to the speaker when he looks out over the congregation and sees so many sitting there on their hands with that far off look in their eyes. That would be like going to class at school and leaving your text books home. How do you think that would fly?

(2) A Christian With A Bible, But Who Will Not Read It

Oddly enough, these good folks sometimes have all the answers, based on their preconceived opinions of course. This is the crowd that so often will quote a line, and then tell you that it is in the Bible, when it is not. Such as:

1.     The eyes are the window to the soul.

2.     The family that prays together stays together.

3.     Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

4.     A fool and his money are soon parted.

5.     Cleanliness is next to godliness.

6.     God helps those who help themselves.

7.     Money is the root of all evil.

8.     To thine own self be true.

The first five are good quotes, but that is all they are, just quotes from other sources, not the Bible. The last threed are not true, and are not from the Bible. There are many others. Look them up. Here is another one, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Is it from the Bible? No, it actually goes back to an essay written in 1709 called “An Essay On Criticism” and was written by Alexander Pope. Albert Einstein expanded on this quote by saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.”

Need I say more about Christians with a Bible, but who will not read them?

(3) Christians Who Read The Bible, But Will Not Study The Bible.

There is a difference?! Absolutely!

Now some of these dear saints are “kissing cousins” with “Christians With A Bible, But Who Will Not Read Them”, if they are just casual readers of the Bible, the once in a great while crowd. These are the good folks who let their ignorance show like a lady’s slip hanging below her dress. How do they do this? It usually happens when they open their mouth. They perch on the edge of their seats just waiting to straighten you out when you err, or at least, when they think you do.

Others in this group do read their Bible as often as possible, possibly at least a little every day, but sadly they do not take the extra time to really study what they are reading. They are on the right track, and are to be admired. They obviously do love our Lord, and want to hear, via His Word the Bible, what He is saying to them. They short-change themselves however by not digging deeper into the rich soil of God’s Word. Oh the treasurers He has for us, as the Holy Spirit guides our paths to the deeper things He reveals.

The big, big difference between reading the Bible and truly studying the Bible (guided by the Holy Spirit) is “work”. It takes a lot of hard work to study the Bible. No one can obtain salvation through working for it, but work must be applied as a Christian, when studying God’s Word. God is not going to funnel it in our ears. He expects us to dig for His nuggets. We dig. He guides. I suppose God looks at it this way, “If they are not interested enough in Me to apply themselves, then I am not going to reward them for laziness.”

It is understood that some people are just not able to do more than read the Scriptures. Their reasons are many, and they are legitimate. I applaud them. The Lord will reward them mightily.

Others though could go beyond reading, if they would, but they won’t. What we actually do and don’t do is a strong indication of our real priorities. We make time for what we want to do. Right? Why can’t we make time to study God’s Word? Obviously, we don’t want to.

(4) Christians Who Study The Bible, But Will Not Forsake Their Preconceived Opinions

I discovered almost 50 years ago that the Holy Spirit works much better with a mind that is open to His leadership, than one that is closed to instruction. In other words, to learn, keep an open mind, and let the Holy Spirit lead you. I have tried to follow this procedure, and still do so. I have changed my mind on some things because I allowed God to direct me to the Truth. I have not changed my mind on other things for the same reason. I remain neutral on a couple of issues for now.

More often than not, people’s preconceived opinions are from some of these sources:

o       Their own denomination (or the like)

o       Family opinions

o       Things heard from others over the years

o       False teaching from the pulpit (a big one)

o       Their own reasoning (what they think is fair or the way it should be, etc.)

We all should be more like the Bereans who, “… were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Could it be that these upstarts from Berea actually double-checked the Apostle Paul and his associate Silas, by searching the Scriptures? Any Bible teacher worth his salt would encourage people to do so. I am sure Paul did.

Look folks, God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”. (Isaiah 55:8) So what gives us the right to say to God, “I think it should be this way or that way”? Just who do we think we are?

I will never forget noticing as a child of about twelve or fourteen that respected religious leaders may have totally different views on the same subject. About that same time, a friend told me that I “belonged” to a certain demonization because of my parents. He was right. He concluded that I was heavily influenced by my parents and my local church and denomination. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it was then that I determined not to be influenced by the thinking of others to the point of being “herd bound”. (Herd Bound Definition: when all in the herd follow each other in the stampede over the cliff to their doom) Therefore, I determined to be my own man, so to speak, not shaped by the opinions of others or the error of my own thought, but by the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Why should I get my Biblical training second-hand from opinions, when I could get it straight from the Source? Is that to say I would always be right? Absolutely not! (No fault of God’s though.) But at least, I would be better off than letting others determine what I believe.

For those in this category, if you would just allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your study, even away from what you may have once held dearly, you just might relax and enjoy life. Otherwise, you will continue to be like a pond with no flowing water … stagnated and stinky.

Those with stubborn opinions are not the same as those with beliefs that are Holy Spirit led conclusions. Just make sure that they are Holy Spirit led conclusions though, and not stubborn opinions.

Concluding

The intent with Bible study, for all Christians, should be to grow as close as possible to the one and only God who saved us. Secondly, to learn His will for us. The intent is never to just obtain knowledge, but to obtain knowledge that makes us more like Jesus in the lives we live every day.

Some just want to argue about what they know or think they know. Knowledge is not something you flaunt. One who is Christ like does not throw knowledge in the face of others and then try to induce an argument. We share what Jesus wants us to pass on to others, and then leave it there. The rest is between the person or persons we shared it with and the Lord.

May we always recall that the Bible isn’t just a book. It is a book that contains the holy words of God Almighty, written down for our benefit. It is the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) Don’t demean it by arguing over it. When we learn it and apply it as He intends, we will honor it and share the Good News within, without trying to cram it down someone’s throat, because we think we are smarter than everyone else. When we honor it, we will grow. When we argue over it, our immaturity shows.

So, (1) read a translation you can understand, (2) pray each time for the Holy Spirit’s guidance (not my opinion Lord, but Thine), (3) let it speak to you personally, (4) obey what it says, and (5) learn of Him and share Him.

Source: http://raptureready.com/soap/phillips5.html

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Nations of Prophecy

By Matt Leasher

When one examines the geographical scope of Bible prophecy one can’t help but easily observe the divine prominence of the nation of Israel and rightfully so as God has undoubtedly chosen Israel to be the centerpiece for fulfilling His purpose for all of history.  Upon further examination of Old Testament Scriptures we also see a repeated mention of the nations that surround Israel that are her adversaries.  The prophetic books of Scripture, particularly those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all tell of the fate of Israel’s enemy nations some of which seem to have already come to pass while some are still at hand.  The fate of these enemy nations of Israel is God’s wrath.  In fact to be quite precise, Ezekiel 32 mentions several nations that are consigned to the Pit …and we all know what the Pit is!  What I find especially significant about the nations listed in Ezekiel 32 that are consigned to the Pit is that they are all the exact same muslim nations that are persistently threatening Israel today.  They are Egypt (vs. 18), Assryia, which is today’s Syria, (vs. 22), Elam, which is today’s Iran, (vs. 24), Meshach and Tubal, which are today’s Turkey, (vs. 26), Edom, which is today’s Jordan, (vs. 29), and the Sidonians which is today’s Lebanon, (vs. 30).  This is by no means a coincidence.  In fact the word coincidence doesn’t even belong in Bible prophecy and isn’t found anywhere in the Bible.  Lets further examine these prophetical nations that surround Israel and what the Bible has to say about them and how they relate to today’s headlines.

For starters, it is only in this day and age that we can even do an examination such as this for if it were a mere 100 years ago a map of the Middle East wouldn’t show the boundaries of the nations that are there today nor was Israel back in existence, but in the 20th century all of that has changed.  We know that we are in the last days because Israel is back in the land, as of 1948 when she became a nation again, and the prophecies concerning the Lord returning to Israel can now be fulfilled but what tends to get overlooked are the enemy nations around Israel that have returned to their same approximate Biblical borders but with different names.  Almost all of them have done this in the 20th century, as if the 20th century was a “stage setting” era for the end time events that are soon to take place.

There is the old saying that history repeats itself.  Looking back upon history we see many examples of that.  The most current one being the uncanny similarity between today’s Iranian regime and the 1930’s Nazi regime.  Both were led by a maniac bent on eradicating the existence of the Jewish people while threatening the rest of the West by parading extravagant media displays of all of their latest weaponries.  The only difference is that Iran is on the brink of obtaining weapons of mass destruction.  One can only imagine what would have came if Hitler had possession of such weapons.  You would think that the world should had learned their lesson that they should not have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs all those years watching Hitler build a military arsenal of evil.  But as King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun”.  It is with that notion that we can come to understand that Israel’s enemy nations have re-emerged back into history just as Israel has.  With this in mind lets take a look at the nations that are listed in the prophetical books of the Bible as being Israel’s direct enemies and who they are now.  I will list them by their Biblical references and where they are now. Take special note of the dates that they re-emerged into their current territories.

Egypt – has been an enemy of Israel since the days of Moses when they enslaved the Israelites and have been an adversary of Israel ever since.  Although the great empires and dynasties of Egypt are long gone, today they are a prominent muslim nation with ties to many of Israel’s other enemies.  Egypt became independent from the United Kingdom in 1922 and then a Republic in 1953.  God’s anger and wrath against Egypt is declared in Psalm 78:43-51, Isaiah 19, Jeremiah 46 and Ezekiel 29, 30, and 31.

Lebanon – was once an ally to Israel during the days of King Solomon but quickly became an enemy after Solomon died.  They remained in opposition to Israel throughout the years of the Kings of Israel and Judah. God’s anger and wrath towards Lebanon is declared in Isaiah 23 (Phoenicia being Lebanon), Ezekiel 26, 27, and 28 (specifically Tyre and Sidon which are capital cities still present in Lebanon today).  Lebanon declared their independence from France in 1941 and was recognized in 1943.  Today Lebanon is a major muslim nation that firmly opposes Israel and is home of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. 

Syria – is a remnant of the Biblical Assyria that was always a major enemy of Israel throughout the entire Old Testament.  The capital city of Damascus is the oldest inhabited city in the world. Isaiah 17:1 declares a prophecy of the destruction of Damascus that is still yet to be fulfilled!  “The burden against Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap”.  If a nuclear exchange were to occur between Israel and Iran, Damascus is just in between those two nations.  God’s anger and wrath against Syria is declared in Isaiah 10:5-19, Isaiah 14:24-27, Jeremiah 49:23-27, Zephaniah 2:13-15 and the whole book of Nahum prophecies judgment on Nineveh the ancient capital city of Assyria.  Modern Syria became independent from France in1946.  Syria is currently in coalition with Lebanon and Iran plotting against Israel under radical president Bashar al-Assad.

Ammon, Moab, Edom – all make up today’s nation of Jordan.  All three were descents of Israel. The Ammonites and Moabites were related to Israel through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Ammon and Moab were the two sons born out of the incestuous relation of Lot and his two daughters, (Genesis 19:29-38).  Edom is another name for Jacob’s twin brother Esau.  Throughout the Old Testament the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites are constantly at war with Israel and often would ally with other empires such as Babylon against Israel.  God’s anger and wrath towards Ammon, Moab and Edom is declared in Isaiah 15, Isaiah 21, Jeremiah 48 and 49, Ezekiel 25 and 35 (Mount Seir being Edom). The book of Obadiah is about the judgment and destruction of Edom.  The prophecy declares that Edom would be forever desolate. Even though the area where Edom once existed is currently controlled by Jordan, it still remains a barren desolate land.  The boundaries that these three nations used to inhabit are together the same boundaries that today’s nation of Jordan resides. Jordan became an independent nation in 1946 and is the base of the Palestine Authority and has been in opposition and conflict with Israel for decades, particularly the West Bank section of Israel.

Philistia – was approximately in the same area as today’s Gaza Strip which has been a thorn in Israel’s side since it was organized in 1993.  Ancient Philistia was an enemy of Israel since the days of Joshua and especially in the days of King David.  Goliath the giant was a Philistine.  The name of Palestine was derived from the word Philistine.  God’s anger and wrath towards Philistia is declared in Isaiah 14:28-32, Jeremiah 47, Ezekiel 25:15-17.  The Gaza Strip acquired its current boundaries after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and was organized in 1993 out of the Oslo accords. Israel gave it over to full control of the Palestinians in 2005.  Today the Gaza Strip is the home of the terrorist organization of Hamas and a constant exchange of rocket missiles goes on between them and Israel to this day.

Elam – is the ancient name of the area that became Persia, which became Iran in 1935.  Elam was the oldest son of Shem, the son of Noah through which the ancient country was named after.  The Elamites later became the Medes and then came the Median-Persian Empire infamous for conquering the Babylon Empire. The Persians were both friend and foe to Israel.  King Cyrus was the Persian king that allowed the Jewish captives to return to Israel and rebuild their temple and city after they conquered Babylon but later King Xerxes decreed to wipe out the Jewish people by the request of his adviser Haman in the book of Esther.  (But of course we know that Esther saved the day).  Persia remained Persia for centuries even after the Persian Empire fell to the Grecian Empire. In 1935 it became Iran and then the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.  God’s anger and wrath against Elam is declared in Isaiah 11:11, Jeremiah 25:25, and Jeremiah 49:34-39 which is an apocalyptic oracle against Elam!  Today Iran is undoubtedly the most ominous threat to Israel headed by its maniacal leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has openly declared his intention for the elimination of Israel as a nation echoing verse 4 from Psalm 83 whether he knows it or not.  Iran’s ever increasing military strength and alliances are beyond any other threat that Israel faces today.  Ezekiel 38 & 39 foretell Persia, (Iran), as being one of the coalition of nations that attempt to invade Israel in the last days provoking divine interaction from the Lord Himself.

The other nations that are listed in Ezekiel 38 & 39 are many of Israel’s current muslim enemies as well.  There is Put which is today’s Libya, a muslim dominant nation led by longtime radical leader and Israel hater Muammar al-Gaddafi, then there is Cush which is today’s Ethiopia and/or Sudan. Sudan is a muslim country but Ethiopia is still a country of mixed religions.  There is Meshech, Tubal and Lydia which are areas located in today’s Turkey which is the newest nation to become a muslim dominant enemy to Israel. Turkey was a long time ally of Israel and a secular nation until just recently when Abdullah Gul became the first Islamic president since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 and Turkey has recently turned their backs on Israel. Turkey also has a very large and powerful military.  Then there is Rosh and Magog, areas that are determined to be in today’s Russia.  Russia has recently become a vastly large muslim populace but is still an independent federal republic of its own, however, within the last 7 or so years they have become very strong allies with Iran and have assisted them greatly in their nuclear program.  So looking at these nations from the Ezekiel 38 & 39 prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled we can certainly see that the prophet Ezekiel clearly was seeing into the current day that we are living in.  The names of the nations may have changed but the circumstance is exactly as Ezekiel predicted it would be… in the last days!

Aside from all of the nations that I have listed above there are few short mentions from the Old Testament prophets of some other areas that are significant to today’s headlines. Such as Kedar and Hazor whose judgment is declared in Jeremiah 49:28-33.  They are areas in today’s Saudi Arabia. The prophecy says that Hazor will be a desolation forever, a dwelling place for jackals and that no one will reside there, (vs. 33).  Today’s Saudi Arabia is full of desert wilderness where no one dwells.  There is also the mention of Teman several times which is in the area of today’s nation of Yemen.  Prophecies concerning Teman are found in Jeremiah 49:7, Ezekiel 25:13, Amos 1:12 and Obadiah 1:9.  Yemen is yet another muslim country that has recently been in the news headlines several times in regards to various terrorist plots.

Then there is Babylon.  God used the Babylonian Empire to chastise His people in Judah by allowing them to conquer Jerusalem, destroy the first temple and take His people captive for 70 years but Babylon was then conquered themselves by the Media-Persian Empire and went out of existence. God’s anger and wrath against Babylon are declared in Isaiah 13, Jeremiah 50 & 51, and Revelation 17 & 18. The capital city of Babylon itself is located in today’s Iraq and Saddam Hussein began to reconstruct the ancient ruins of Babylon with intentions of making it a palace and headquarters for his own regime. Several prophecies in Zechariah and Revelation declare that Babylon will be the headquarters and religious fortress for the anti-christ in the last days.  Currently the future of the nation of Iraq seems to be almost in limbo as the government is still in a state of repair and the US military is in the process of pulling out.  If there is anywhere in the Middle East that would be up for grabs for a world dictator to use as a headquarters in the near future, it would be Iraq… which is where Babylon is.  On a side note, Babylon is also the location of where the tower of Babel was constructed in Genesis 11, which was known as the land of Shinar in those times.  The tower of Babel was the last time the entire world tried to come together as one entity in opposition to God and that same geographical area just may very well be the center of a coming New World Order that we see rapidly forming before our very eyes today. 

So looking back at all of the nations listed above and their scenarios what does all of this mean?  It means that Bible prophecy is as relevant today as it was when it was written.  It means that the geographical aspect of Bible prophecy is one of the most visible and tangible evidences to the truth and accuracy of the prophetic Scriptures.  You can literally hold the world news section of your newspaper and your Bible side by side and see the stunning accuracy. It means that we should take all of the yet unfulfilled prophecies literally since history shows us that the fulfilled prophecies have come true just as they were written.  It means that the Lord has warned us of things to come so that we may know when His return is near and it means that the nations that go against Israel, (God’s land), are going to be subjected to His divine wrath, (see Genesis 12:2-3).  We can be sure of this because we have His Word on it!  Bible prophecy is not meant to scare us but to prepare us. 

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.    (2 Peter 1:19-21).

 

Source: http://raptureready.com/soap/leasher5.html


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The Rapture, Aliens & The Great Lie

By Carl Worline

On November 12, 2010, Universal Pictures will release a new movie entitled Skyline, which deals with alien spacecraft that suck up the humans who look into the bright blue light these spacecraft project, and then vanish. I believe this movie is more than just the product of the wild imaginations of some cleaver science fiction writers who seek nothing more than to entertain the public and win an academy award for themselves for best picture. I believe this movie may very well play an important role in end time prophecy.

Click here to watch the trailer of the Skyline movies

Whether or not intelligent life exists on other worlds is irrelevant in this article and I will not debate the issue here. What is significant is that reports of unidentified flying objects has been around since the beginning of history with literally millions of people reporting to have seen them, yet official contact with their occupants has (supposedly) never been established. Our government, as well as governments around the world, have vehemently denied the existence of alien spacecraft. In fact, the vehemence in which governments have denied their existence builds a strong case for an official worldwide cover-up conspiracy, which makes the possibility of the existence of extra terrestrial life even more believable. 

The Rapture of the Church is certain to cause a worldwide panic as an unbelieving public scrambles to explain the disappearance of hundreds of millions of people in an instant. We also know that the anti-Christ will be revealed and empowered shortly after the Rapture. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 tells us that the end times antiChrist will tell a lie and that God will send a strong delusion so that all of the unbelievers who are left on the Earth after the Rapture will believe this lie:

"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all the powers and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. That they might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness".

What is this lie? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can certainly make an educated guess. On September 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made what I consider to be a very prophetic statement when he told the Forty Second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations “How quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” Is it possible this great lie will be that alien beings from another world abducted the millions of people who just vanished. 

Chapter 13 of Revelation also tells us that the anti-Christ will tell a lie that will cause the entire world to willingly follow him. I am at a loss to think of any other lie which the anti-Christ could use that would cause the remaining population of the Earth to forget their differences so quickly and unite with him.

On March 16, 1979, a movie about a nuclear accident and related cover-up was released by Columbia Pictures entitled The China Syndrome. That was just 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania. Many dozens of nuclear scientists have since lined up to say that despite the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power is still safe. Nevertheless, the public has chosen to believe Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas over the legion of scientists who all have the title “PhD after their name. As a result, the development of nuclear power has all but ceased in the United States as well as many other countries around the world. The power of Hollywood to influence the masses cannot be underestimated and can easily trump the logic and reason of science.

Before I start to sound too condescending I need to confess that many years ago I attended some Star Trek conventions. I know there is no such thing as the Star Ship Enterprise, the Federation of Planets does not exist, and most of the technology that I witnessed on the show was Hollywood illusion and trickery. But still, I saw the characters in real life and even shook hands with some them. For a brief moment the line between reality and fiction seemed to get a bit fuzzy.

The release of a new movie from Hollywood does not, in itself, mean the end of the world is upon us. However, I cannot help but wonder if it is just me, or is there a lot going on in the UFO community all of a sudden that somehow suspiciously suggests that something big is about to happen. For example:

Almost 400 years after it imprisoned Galileo under threat of torture for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican announced that the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life may be possible.

The Popes’ astronomer said that he would baptize an alien from another world if it asked him to.

After many decades of silence a group of retired nuclear officers have recently come forward to announce that alien spacecraft visited military installations and disarmed nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On September 11, 2010 a UFO forced the closure of an airport in Baotau, Mongolia, for approximately 1 hour while other air traffic was diverted to prevent commercial airliners from crashing into it. On July 7, 2010 the Xiaoshan airport in Hangzhou , China, was closed for approximately 1 hour due to a UFO hovering above it. There have been a total of 8 reports of major UFO sightings in China during a 4 month period.

Astronomers recently announced that they are “100 percent certain” that alien life exists on Earth-like planets.

Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, presumably one of the smartest men on the planet, recently felt compelled to declare to the world that he is almost certain that alien life exists in other parts of the universe and that we should avoid contact with such species because it might be devastating to humanity.

The United Nations has an Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Recent articles in the media both confirm and deny the existence of an ambassador at this office to be the designated representative who makes first contact with intelligent alien life from another planet.

Maybe all of the events which are now occurring are merely a coincidence and my feeling of being bombarded by a preponderance of suggestions about the potential existence of evil alien life as the cause of the impending Rapture of the Church are unfounded. In less than a month the movie Skyline will be released and millions of moviegoers will witness everyday people being snatched up into alien spacecraft in high definition living color on a wide screen with the most realistic surround sound that our technology can produce. Will this sow the seeds of suggestion in the minds of millions of people around the world? I think so. Is the Rapture closer than most people think? I am absolutely convinced of that.

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/worline.html

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Who is the Antichrist?

By Britt Gillette

Who is the Antichrist?

From the days of the first Christians to today’s believers, this question has fascinated millions through the centuries.

And rightly so, the Antichrist is an intriguing figure.

Some say he doesn’t exist, that there’s no scriptural evidence.  While others describe him as the human incarnation of Satan.

So who is the Antichrist?  Is he a real figure?  Is he alive today?  And if so, how will the world recognize him?

Fortunately, the Bible provides us with answers to all these questions and more.

The Antichrist in the Bible

Who is the Antichrist according to the Bible?

While some people claim the Bible never refers to an individual as the “Antichrist,” but rather the existence of “a spirit of Antichrist,” a complete picture of this infamous man emerges from a thorough reading of the scriptures.

In fact, the Antichrist is referenced throughout the Bible as a man of many names…

·         The Seed of Satan – Genesis 3:15 (NLT)

·         The Little Horn – Daniel 7:8 (NLT)

·         The Fierce King, a Master of Intrigue – Daniel 8:23 (NLT)

·         The Prince Who is to Come – Daniel 9:26 (NLT)

·         The Defiler – Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

·         The King Who Does as He Pleases – Daniel 11:36 (NLT)

·         The King of Assyria – Isaiah 10:12 (NLT)

·         The Worthless Shepherd – Zechariah 11:17 (NLT)

·         The One Who Brings Destruction – 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT)

·         The Man of Lawlessness – 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (NLT)

·         The Antichrist – 1 John 2:18 (NLT)

·         The Beast – Revelation 13:11 (NLT)

As the above verses and many others attest, the Antichrist is a very real person.

During the final seven year period before the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, the Antichrist will achieve unprecedented global power:

"And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation." Revelation 13:7 (NLT)

The reach and power of the Antichrist will extend to the farthest corners of the earth.  In fact, his dominion will be so extensive, not a single person will be able to buy or sell without his permission:

"He required everyone – great and small, rich and poor, slave and free – to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead.  And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name." Revelation 13:16-17 (NLT)

The Antichrist will use his position of authority to persecute Christians and Jews:

"And the beast was allowed to wage war against God's holy people and overcome them." Revelation 13:7 (NLT)

Not only will the Antichrist assault God’s holy people, but he’ll even dare to raise his hand against Jesus Christ:

"He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard. Without warning he will destroy them. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power." Daniel 8:24-25 (NLT)

This final act of rebellion will be the Antichrist’s ultimate undoing.

Characteristics of the Antichrist

Any attempt to answer the question, “Who is the Antichrist?” requires an in-depth examination of the man’s characteristics as outlined in the bible.  By studying these characteristics, those who are alive on earth during the end times will be able to recognize the Antichrist.

Here are just a few of his characteristics:

Nationality / Race

According to the bible, the Antichrist will come from among a distinct race of people:

"A ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple." Daniel 9:26 (NLT)

The armies that destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were Roman armies.  This means the Antichrist will arise from among the Roman and/or Italian people.

Whether or not he’s of Italian ethnicity is a subject of ongoing debate.  But regardless, the bible is clear.  The Antichrist will come from among the people who destroyed the Temple.

Arrogance / Hubris

The Antichrist will also be a man of unrivaled arrogance:

"This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly." Daniel 7:8 (NLT)

He will believe his great boasts, thinking himself to be greater than God Himself:

"The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god there is, even blaspheming the God of gods." Daniel 11:36 (NLT)

Powered by Satan

In addition, the Antichrist will be a man of unprecedented power, not of his own accord, but because he is backed by Satan:

"He will become very strong, but not by his own power." Daniel 8:24 (NLT)

Because of the power given to him by Satan, the Antichrist will be able to deceive many people with false signs and miracles:

"This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NLT)

Unfortunately, these deceived people will follow the Antichrist, believing his power to be that of God and not Satan.  Nevertheless, the bible reveals that the Antichrist derives his power from Lucifer:

"And the dragon gave him his own power and throne and great authority." Revelation 13:2 (NLT)

Worships a God of Fortresses

The Antichrist will also worship a god his forefathers never knew – a brand new god of fortresses:

"He will have no regard for the god of his ancestors, or for the god beloved of women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses – a god his ancestors never knew – and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts." Daniel 11:37-38 (NLT)

To understand who the Antichrist is, we need to understand that he’s a man of unrivaled arrogance and inflated self-worth, who believes himself to be greater than anyone else who has ever lived.

He’s also an idolater who worships “a god of fortresses,” which in all likelihood represents his enormous military power.

Speculations About Who is the Antichrist

So now that we know who the Antichrist is, can we identify him today?

According to Paul, the Antichrist will not be known until there is a great rebellion in which the Antichrist enters the Temple of God in Jerusalem and exalts himself above every object of worship:

"For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed – the one who brings destruction.  He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God." 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT)

Since that event (the abomination of desolation) has yet to happen, we can say with confidence that the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed, and we can not identify the Antichrist today.

Nevertheless, that’s never stopped people from speculating about the Antichrist’s identity.

Here’s a list, by no means exhaustive, of people throughout history who have been rumored to be the Antichrist:

·         Antiochus Epiphanes

·         Nero

·         Charlemagne

·         Napoleon

·         Kaiser Wilhelm

·         Franklin Roosevelt (FDR)

·         Adolph Hitler

·         Benito Mussolini

·         Joseph Stalin

·         Francisco Franco

·         John Kennedy (JFK)

·         Henry Kissinger

·         Ronald Reagan

·         Pope John Paul II

·         Ayatollah Khomeini

·         Mikhail Gorbachev

·         Saddam Hussein

·         Bill Clinton

·         Bill Gates

·         George W. Bush

·         Osama Bin Laden

·         Javier Solana

·         Vladamir Putin

·         Mahmoud Amadinejad

·         Barack Obama

·         Pope Pius XVI

Most of these people can be definitely be ruled out as the Antichrist since they lived long ago and have since died.  The remaining candidates are all but certain to prove undeserving of the ominous title given Paul’s statement in regard to when the man of lawlessness will be revealed.

However, this list does serve a valuable purpose.  It vividly illustrates the pitfalls associated with singling someone out as the Antichrist before the appointed time.

Is the Antichrist Alive Today?

When studying the biblical prophecies of the Antichrist, many inevitably ask the question, “Is the Antichrist alive today”?

The best answer is, “we don’t know for sure.”

However, given the lateness of the hour, it’s highly probable the Antichrist is alive today.

As Paul stated, we will only know for sure when the Antichrist enters the Temple and commits the abomination of desolation:

"He will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler." Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

This can not happen until the Jewish Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, and in all probability, this will happen soon.

Less than a century ago, Israel did not exist.

Then, one day in 1948, Israel became a nation.

Less than twenty years later, Israel regained control over Jerusalem.

In due time, Israel will rebuild the Temple in that same City.

How can I be so sure?  Because God’s Word demands it.

And since Jesus stated that the generation which witnesses these things will not pass before His Glorious Appearing, in all likelihood, the Antichrist is alive today.

"Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near. Just so, when you see the events I've described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever." Matthew 24:32-35 (NLT)

Why Does It Matter?

Why bother asking “who is the Antichrist?”

One reason is because the appearance of the Antichrist precedes the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s Millennial Kingdom.  And the rapture precedes all of these events.

Being watchful in regard to these events lends an element of urgency to God’s Word.

If we live each day as though Christ can return at any moment, then we are inspired to live Godly lives:

"For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed." Titus 2:11-13 (NLT)

"Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." Romans 13:11 (NLT)

"So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are his children. Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God – who chose you to be his children – is holy." 1 Peter 1:13-15 (NLT)

While a Christian’s primary focus should always be Jesus Christ, the study of the Antichrist and end times bible prophecy in general serves a valuable purpose.  Those who believe Christ can come for His church at any moment remain alert and prepared, prompting them to holy living on a daily basis.

As Paul reveals, a special crown awaits those who eagerly await Christ’s return:

"And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

Conclusion

So who is the Antichrist?

The Antichrist is a man of unrivaled arrogance who will ascend to the pinnacle of wordly power in the end times.  He will boast of his greatness, place himself above God, and persecute God’s people.

Ultimately, he will rally a godless world to wage war against Jesus Christ Himself:

"And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:13-14 (NLT)

"And they gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place called Armageddon in Hebrew." Revelation 16:16 (NLT)

However, the gathering at Armageddon marks the end for the Antichrist and his allies:

"He will halt between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents there, but while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and there will be no one to help him." Daniel 11:45 (NLT)

When the Antichrist comes to Armageddon, he will face the wrath of Jesus Christ.  Christ will strip the Antichrist of all power and completely destroy his godless world government:

"But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed." Daniel 7:26 (NLT)

In the end, despite his acquisition of power undreamed of by dictators past, the destiny of the Antichrist is the eternal lake of fire:

"Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur." Revelation 19:20 (NLT)

Ultimately, it’s nowhere near as important to ask “Who is the Antichrist?” as it is to ask “Who is Jesus Christ?”

Because it doesn’t do any good to know the answer to the former if you don’t know the answer to the latter.  If you want to avoid sharing in the Antichrist’s eternal punishment, make sure you develop and cultivate your relationship with the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.

"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life." 1 John 5:12 (NLT)

Source: http://www.end-times-bible-prophecy.com

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The Hidden Doctrine Of The Rapture

By Jack Kelly

Over time I've received several questions along the line of the following one.   “Why do you think that such an important occurrence as the rapture is spoken of so few times and why is it so "hidden" in scripture?”

It's true the rapture is not mentioned very often, at least not directly.  In fact, the Greek word from which we get the whole rapture idea appears only 13 times in the New Testament and and even then it comes to us in a roundabout way.   The Greek word is harpazo and means to catch up or take by force.  In  most English translations of 1 Thes.4:17 it's rendered “caught up”. The root from which it comes is haireo which means “to take for oneself.” 1 Thes. 4:17 is the only place the word harpazo refers to the rapture of the Church.

On top of that rapture is an English word that comes from the Latin translation of harpazo which is why you can't find it in your  Bible.  You would have to read 1 Thes. 4:17 in Latin to see it there. (It appears as rapiemur.)  Many people don't realize that for the thousand years preceding the Reformation, the Latin Vulgate was the primary translation of the original Greek texts.  It was the standard text longer than any other translation before or since.    

Although the concept of the rapture appears through out the Bible  it wasn't until about 20 years after the cross that it was described in any detail.  This is how Paul could say he was revealing a secret (Listen, I tell you a mystery) when he described it in 1 Cor. 15: 51-53. Together with 1 Thes. 4:15-17 it was the first clear teaching of the rapture in the history of mankind. Only with the benefit of Paul's disclosure can you look back through the Bible and see the many hints of the rapture. (See Rapture References)

There was a good strategic reason to keep all this secret before the cross.  Paul spoke of it in 1 Cor 2:7-8. Explaining that his message of wisdom was not taken from the wisdom of the world, he said,

No,we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Remember,  Jesus called Satan the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11).  Paul thought of  him as the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and John said the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19), so Paul's reference to rulers of this age is not to the High Priest in Jerusalem or Caesar in Rome.  He was saying that had Satan and his lackeys understood the extent of the blessings God had in mind for the Church, they would have done everything possible to prevent the crucifixion. 

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 1

There are two facets to God's Secret wisdom where the Church is concerned.  And as you'll see both  require absolute secrecy. The first is the manner in which the Church was brought into the world.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)

A quarter of a century after becoming a believer, I still can not adequately describe my initial reaction to hearing these verses.  I had been in church all my life and had never been told such a thing. The bill of indictment for all the sins of my life, past, present, and future, was cancelled at the cross.  This rendered null and void any claim Satan ever had or ever would have against me.  At the cross he thought he had won by defeating God's only hope for the salvation of mankind.  Instead, whoever chooses it can now receive a lifelong pardon for their sins that no one can ever revoke.

Let me explain here that this knowledge did not inspire me to go out and  sin to my heart's content with out any fear of consequences.  Nor does it do so in any other true believer.  Those who base their opposition to eternal security on the assumption that only the fear of loss will make us behave are missing the point. Besides, while it was our behavior that caused our sin problem, it's the Lord's behavior that cured us. All that's left for us is to believe and receive it.  

No, what this did for me was to produce a knee buckling realization that I could never be worthy of such a gift and created a determination in me to spend the rest of my life trying to live up to what I had already attained (Phil 3:20).  In God's eyes I was now perfect (Hebr. 10:14), a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  I had been adopted into His own family (Gal 4:4-5) and guaranteed a place in His Kingdom (Ephes. 1:13-14).  I wanted to make sure He didn't regret doing all that.

This guarantee of salvation is based totally on our belief that Colossians 2:13-15 is true, and was such a radical departure from what God's enemies had come to expect of Him that they were caught totally flat footed.  Before the cross forgiveness only covered past sins.  As soon as a person sinned again after the Day of  Atonement he was right back in debt and Satan had a brand new claim on him.  To  set aside the penalty for his sins, innocent animals had to die in his place, but that didn't free him. It only gave him a temporary stay of execution (Hebr. 10:3).

 But when Satan saw the lifelong lists of our sins being nailed to the cross right before his eyes, and heard Jesus say “Paid in full!” (John 19:30) he knew that what he thought was going to be his final victory had become his ultimate defeat.

Although with 20-20 hindsight we can look back into the Old Testament and see hints of what God was going to do in the Church, no one before the cross saw this.  Not the Jews, certainly not the Gentiles, not even Satan. And instead a nice orderly transition from Law to Grace, the clock for the Age of Law abruptly stopped seven years short of its previously announced duration.  Religious ceremonies the Jews had viewed as mandatory suddenly became meaningless. A culture steeped in religious law and practice was made obsolete, and would soon be dispersed. For the first and only time in history the gates of heaven had been flung open to whosoever would enter, conditioned only on their belief that Jesus died for their sins and rose again (Romans 10:9)

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 2

The second facet of God's secret wisdom will be the way the Church is taken out of the world. At a time no one will be able to determine in advance and without any prior warning, the Church will simply disappear off the face of the Earth forever, leaving the unbelieving world in utter chaos.  Because the birth of the Church took Satan by surprise, the details surrounding the Church's departure have to be even more obscure.  He's a quick study, after all, and has had 2000 years to review what little the Bible has to say about the Rapture. He wouldn't be so easily taken by surprise a second time.

Being a student of prophecy He knows at least as much as we do about the End Times. (Please remember this.  It isn't that Satan doesn't know God's plan, it's that he believes he can defeat God's plan.)  He knows the rapture will precede the End Times judgments, will take place when the church reaches its full number, and that only God knows the number.  But that's about it, so his only hope is to prevent the Church from reaching that number for as long as possible.  Because he doesn't know what the number is, he's effectively kept off balance.  If he knew when the church was leaving he could plan some kind of  counter attack.  But since he doesn't, he's forced to remain reactive, unable to relax, never knowing when the whistle will blow and the game will be over. I think that's God's real purpose in keeping the rapture secret.   

When God does take the Church out of the world, there will be another abrupt change as the  Age of Law returns for its last seven years.  Once again the focus will be on Israel.  There will be a Temple with sacrifices and all the other associated ceremonies.  Except for all the missing people, it will be like the Church Age never existed.  And please understand that even when the New Covenant comes to Israel it won't be like it is in the Church.  A Temple, animal sacrifice, required Holy days, and a Levitical Priesthood  will continue into and through out the Kingdom Age, or Millennium.

You see, it's clear that the Church Age was not intended to be the next step in the progression of God's plan, to supersede that which came before, and perhaps to be superseded by what comes after.  It was a complete and radical departure from the norm and once completed it will never be repeated. Having known nothing but the Church Age we don't appreciate how unique we are.  But as Paul wrote, people in ages yet to come will study the Church to learn the extent of the incomparable riches of God's grace (Ephes. 2:7).

                   Here, There, Or In The Air

To underscore the Church's uniqueness, its departure will have to be even more dramatic, even more cloaked in mystery than its arrival was.  Soon and very soon,  on a day that no one could have predicted in advance, believers will hear a loud command, “Come up here!” (Rev. 4:1), accompanied by the trumpet of God.  Immediately the spirits of dead believers will receive new resurrection bodies and the living will be transformed from mortal to immortal.  Together we will meet the Lord “in the air” having disappeared from Earth in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thes. 4:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:51-53) and then we'll proceed to His Father's house (John 14:2-3).

This has always intrigued me.  The Greek word for air refers to that space between Heaven and Earth   called its atmosphere.  So we're not immediately going to Heaven, nor is the Lord coming all the way to Earth, as He will in the 2nd Coming.  Instead the meeting will take place in the atmosphere.

The atmosphere was created on the 2nd day when God made an expanse to separate the water under it (the sea) from the water above it (the water vapor canopy that surrounded the Earth until the flood.) He called it the sky or firmament (Genesis 1:8).  Unlike all other creation days, the 2nd day was not pronounced good.  Some scholars speculate this is because demonic spirits immediately inhabited it.  This may be why Paul also referred to Satan as the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2). 

If this is the case, then it means the Lord is going to shock Satan again, this time by suddenly assembling the raptured Church in his front yard without any warning.  Each list of sins that Satan saw nailed to the cross 2000 years ago will be represented by one deliriously happy redeemed believer in a final grand display of victory before we fly off to our mansions in the sky.  Talk about a dramatic ending for the Age of the Church.  What a day that will be.  Now do you see why its exact timing has to be kept secret?  We wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.  10-02-10

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack140.html

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Should Christians Wear Tattoos?

By Lynette Schaefer

It is clear that we are living in the end times, right before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to rapture home His blood-bought bride, the Church.  It is also clear that these are perilous times. (2Tim 3:1)   The current trend that more and more Christians seem to be picking up is tattooing.  There are even “Christian” tattoo shops opening up, and deceived Christians are flocking to them more and more.  They justify this activity by saying they are “tattooing for Jesus” and it’s fun to sport their new, colorful images or statements.  Therefore, tattooing is no more an activity that the Bible expressly forbids, but it’s become the latest, cool, fun thing to do; and tattooing is popularly regarded as simply “body art”.  Well, let’s explore what tattooing really is and what God has to say about it. 

1.      The Mark of Blood.  The tattooing procedure involves cutting the flesh with a sharp needle or instrument in order to carve out or make designs.  The result is something called “blood-letting”.  Blood-letting has both occultic and demonic origins as it is considered a power source that is supernaturally unleashed.  Many pro-tattoo sources describe tattooing as having a magical, occultic connection with blood and blood-letting as being normal.  Several pro-tattoo historians indicate the connection with scarification and blood-letting associated with religious practices.  Another source indicates “the importance of licking the blood that was released during tattoo operations” (Steve Gilbert, “Tattoo History: A Source Book”, pg. 181). We read in 1Kings 18:25-28 the account of the prophets of Baal who met with Elijah to find out who was the true God.  These were satanists who were attempting to unleash supernatural power by cutting themselves (vs. 28).  In the New Testament, there was a man named Legion who was possessed by demons in Mark 5:1-9 who went about cutting himself with stones. (vs. 5)  Leviticus 19:28 says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”  (emphasis mine)

2.      The Cup of Devils.  Historically, the origin of the tattoo is associated with paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and many other pagan beliefs.  The tattoo has NEVER been connected with Bible believing Christians.  But today in the 21st century, the trends are reverting from paganism practices to include the modern Christian and the new “Christian” tattoo shop.  Satan is the god of this world and his agenda is to deceive many Christians, especially in the last days.  But the fact remains that the tattoo has its roots in beliefs and practices that are demonic and pagan.  Many pro-tattoo books indicate that tattooing is a magical rite and the tattooist is respected as a priest or shaman; it is connected to a religious ceremony and performed by priests or priestesses; it is intended to put the human soul in harmony with supernatural forces; at other times dancing accompanies the tattooing ritual to exorcise demons.  In other words, it is connected with the spirit world and a tattoo is really much more than simply a body decoration.   Today’s popular tattooing craze is “tribal tattoos”, which are pure paganism.  These designs bear serious symbolic mystical and occult meanings.  They are strongly connected with channels into spiritual and demonic possession.  Many pro-tattoo artists and historians can attest to this by saying things like, “tattoos have a power and magic all their own”, “there is in addition to the opening of numerous inlets for evil to enter”, “allowing his clients’ demons to help guide the needle”.  Ronald Scutt, in his exhaustive book, Art, Sex and Symbol, covers a lot about the history and culture of tattoos.  He documents that most of the time tattoos are associated with spiritual, religious and mystical purposes; linking it to mystical significance, sun-worship, serpent worship, and the sun-god Baal.  Author Steve Gilbert, of Tattoo History: A Source Book, p. 99, records, “The Spaniards, who had never heard of tattooing, recognized it at once as the work of Satan.”  Yet today’s gullible Christians are out there in droves “marking themselves for Jesus”!  Pagan tattooing is not just from the dark ages: many body artists perform ritual tattoos today as the quotes from tattoo authors above bear witness.  Some will burn incense or light candles.  1Cor. 10:21 says, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

3.      The Mark of Death.  Lev. 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”  Yet DEATH is the number one theme of tattoos!  References from tattoo books again reveal this as a fact: “Death and darkness have always been a classic tattoo theme – skulls, snakes, demons” (The Body Art Book, pg. 56); Henry Ferguson in The Art of the Tattoo, states “probably the most popular tattooed image of today, the all-pervasive grinning skull!”; “Skulls imprinted on skin abound, and depictions of the Grim Reaper are commonly seen”; “Possibly, at the same time, to wear a death’s figure on one’s body may be an invocation of whatever indefinable forces of nature….in an attempt to protect the wearer from such a fate”.  Tattoo shops mostly display morbid scenes of death, demons, serpents, and hell.  Grim reapers, flaming skulls, snakes crawling through skulls, demons, Satan, pornography, blasphemy, naked flames of hell – every satanic scene of hell is glorified.  Who really is the Master Tattooist?  Satan, of course!  (Rev. 6:8; Heb. 2:14).  He is the author of Death; and the representative of Hell (Rev. 6:8; Matt. 25:41); also of the Serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9; Rev. 20:1-2); whereas Jesus is Life (John 1:3; John 6:48; John 11:25; John 14:6; Acts 3:15; Ro. 6:23; 1John 1:1-2; 1John 5:12).

Many tattoo artists embody satanic symbols of death and hell while they display demonic scenes in their shops, calling it “art”.  They are often people who demonstrate their allegiance to Satan with vile and filthy depictions of the underworld.

4.      The Mark of Rebellion.  The Bible condemns all rebellion throughout its pages and declares that rebellion is as bad as witchcraft. (1Sam. 15:23) It is clear that the tattoo has always been an indication of a spirit of rebellion and deviancy on its wearers.  All the tattoo books make comments about tattooing being rebellious.  In addition, the tattoo is considered a mark of disgrace or reproach by the same tattoo books.  Throughout history, the tattoo was used to mark the criminal, adulterers, traitors, deserters, the deviant and outcast.  Thirdly, it has been the mark of the sideshow freak throughout history.  Also, it is the mark of indecency.  They were associated with barbarians in barbaric, immoral Greece and Rome.  One tattoo book, “Art, Sex and Symbol”, 1974, by Ronald Scutt, pg. 179, says “In a society that considers nudity as dirty, indecent, and subversive or morality … – it is not surprising that decorations to the body are allocated to the same category.”   The tattoo is also considered the mark of depravity by many tattoo books.  Studies have been done that indicate a high percentage of deviant behaviors and troubled persons that were tattooed.  Studies have also been done that link tattoos to homosexuality, lesbianism, and gross sexual perversion.  Statements made in many of the tattoo books bear this out.  Recent studies on today’s tattooed young people indicate 1) they are nearly four times more likely to engage in sexual intercourse; 2) Over two times more likely to experience alcohol related problems; 3) Nearly two times more likely to use illegal drugs; 4) Over two times more likely to express violent behavior; and 5) Over two times more likely to drop out of high school. 

What about Jesus?  Wasn’t He a rebel?  NO WAY!  To the contrary: Jesus was 100 percent OBEDIENT unto death – even the death of the Cross! (Phil. 2:8)  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42-44)  If there was the slightest chance that Jesus was a rebel, then He would have sinned against God, and we would all be lost!

5.      Tattoo’s Deadly Little Secret.  It is a well-known fact that tattooing runs a risk of acquiring any number of deadly diseases, including Hepatitis C and AIDS.  The reason is because the needle that is used to tattoo punctures the skin 3,000 times a minute.  In an hour, that would be 180,000 times that puncture wounds provide a potential path to a deadly disease.  Not only that, but it is also well documented that tattoo shops are not regulated by the government to uphold medical standards.  Also, many tattoo artists do not inform their clients of possible infection from the needle or the ink.  The Mayo Clinic sounds a warning about commercial tattooing: “Few states have hygienic regulations to ensure safe tattooing practices in commercial tattoo parlors, and even fewer monitor and enforce standards”. (Body Piercing and Tattoos: More than Skin Deep, Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com).  Tattoos can cause many chronic skin disorders such as sarcoid, keloid scarring, allergic dermatitis, photosensitivity reactions, psoriasis, and tumors.  Finally, the Bible gives a real warning about this sort of procedure (Psm.38:5-8)

6.      Tattoos and the Bible.  We know already what Lev. 19:28 says.  But people use that to say, “But that’s in the OLD Testament!  What about the New?”  Well, do you know that Lev. 19:29 says not to prostitute your daughter; yet it says nothing in the New Testament about that, making it okay to prostitute your child?  I think not!  These moral laws are timeless and are as applicable now as then.  Lev. 19:28 indicates that we are to not print ANY marks on us.  Period.  Lev. 19:26-28 is a condemnation of assorted pagan, witchcraft and heathen practices, of which tattooing is clearly one of them.  Every commentary written on Lev. 19:28 says that tattooing comes from pagan origins.  Isaiah 44:5 & Ezekiel 9:4 indicates “he will write with his hand to the Lord.”  Some go as far as to say that Jesus Christ is tattooed!  (Rev. 19:16)  If that is literally true, then Jesus is a sinner who disobeyed Lev. 19:28.  Finally, because our bodies are the Temple of the Living God (1Cor. 6:19-20), God wants them pure for His glory.  Defiling the temple of God, him will God destroy (1Cor. 3:16-17).  God meant what He said!  (Num. 23:19; Gal. 6:7-8) 2Cor. 6:16 says, in part, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God.”

7.      Tattoo: The Mark of Regret.  Those who get tattoos while in a backslidden state will forever have to live with them.  Even those who flock to get laser surgery in an attempt to remove the tattoos will have to go through a lot of expensive and painful procedures, and yet the tattoo will never be totally removed and will just look ugly.  Many who are foolish enough to get tattoos later regret them and hate looking at them.  There are many consequences of getting “marked”: spiritual, health, social.  Once a person has that mark put on them, they are then in a different category: one of the gang, cool, and spiritually defiled against God who shakes their fist at His law.  Not to mention that after getting the tattoo, some serious medical problems could start to germinate.  Getting a tattoo can also damage relationships with friends, family, teachers or employers.  According to Bonnie B. Graves, Tattooing and Body Piercing, p. 43, many jobs are not available to those who have visible body art.  So, then, is getting a tattoo really worth all the consequences?

If you have tattoos and are still unconvinced that any of the above applies to you, then consider this: tattooing, in addition to being disobedient, is idolatrous because it displays an image.  If someone is “tattooing for Jesus” and thinks that’s acceptable, it isn’t because the “Jesus” (or any symbol) you are marking yourself with is an image.   God says very clearly and explicitly that we are to have no other gods before Him, and that it is He and He alone who is supreme. (Ex. 20:3; Is. 45:5)

The Bible expressly tells us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27), to abstain from the appearance of evil (1Thess. 5:22), and that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (Jas. 4:4).   We are instructed to come out from among them and be separate from the world. (2Cor. 6:17)  Christians therefore have the responsibility to obey God’s commands and abstain from worldly associations, pastimes, or habits; not just out of duty but because we love God and have a living relationship with Him. (John 14:15).  Please beware that ALL tattooing is wrong, not just the graphic stuff described above.  It all has the same origin in paganism and is expressly commanded by the Lord that we are to avoid this practice at all costs!

If you received tattoos before conversion to Christ, then you have already been forgiven for that.  On the other hand, if you have received tattoos after giving your life to Christ, you need to repent of this sin and not repeat it, under any circumstances, because it is considered abominable. 

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/schaefer/tattoo.html

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Hell – Sheol

By Ron Graham

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”Psalm 9:17.

It’s true, there really is a Hell. I know because I’m standing in the midst of the most horrible place anyone could imagine. Truth be told, no human being could ever come close to imagining what I am seeing and experiencing without experiencing it personally for themselves. Hollywood could not do justice to the immense hideousness of this place. What I am seeing cannot be described in human terms. Why am I here? I rejected God’s free gift of salvation, and if you keep reading you might just avoid spending eternity with me. 

You see, I died and instantaneously there I was in Hell.  I knew immediately where I was and that I was surrounded by others who I perceived knew exactly where they were also. “Hell and destruction are never full;” Proverbs 27:20. There is no denying the truth any longer. All of us standing in this most unholy realm of godlessness were instantly confronted with the overwhelming truth of our failure to acknowledge the one true and living God of all Creation.

I see a huge cave-like chamber so immense it’s beyond my ability to describe it in size. It seems as vast as the universe itself but without stars, it is pitch black like a huge black hole, and yet I can see through the blackness into a deeper blackness. From a human standpoint this place defies explanation, yet I see it. I feel the presence of multitudes all around me but no one speaks, and as I reach out to touch another person there is nothing but blackness. I also feel that each person, including myself, knows that enduring this chamber of horrors is only temporary. I can feel that there is something else coming something that will be even more horrible and impossible to endure, something which will ultimately be our self-imposed punishment for eternity.

As I stand here I’m weighed down with fear and sorrow. My very first thought is that I had been given every opportunity, while I lived on earth, to avoid such a place. Before I died I was an intelligent man. Not given to believing in fables and myths, and I had a good grasp on what I thought was reality. There is no denying the fact of the matter that I had allowed the world to deceive me and convince me that there was no God. The evolution of pond scum into living beings keeps coming to mind as a major satanic deception.

Interestingly, as I stand here silent in all this blackness I understand fully why I had allowed myself to be so completely deceived. A life of denying God is laid before me. Everything I had ever done on earth is vividly playing back across the recesses of my memory. All the evil I was responsible for torments me, even all the good deeds I had ever accomplished are laid before me as a proof that all the good deeds one can perform mean nothing to God unless they are done through the born again experience of believing and trusting in His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. These scenes are exploding out from all the blackness as though being played on a huge theater screen that only I can see. Excluded from all this playback is any semblance of happiness. There is to be no further joy for me for eternity now that I am in this Hell, and I know it.

Horrible, horrible misery and wretchedness is all I can sense as I stand here. It is not just my own wretchedness but that of those who occupy space with me. It is as though all the unhappiness in the universe is now easily sensed as it floods the caverns of my mind. Remorse and guilt also inundate my being. The permanence of Hell is relentlessly affecting my mind. The unshakable and overwhelming obstinacy of the reality of my situation is now extreme. And the more I linger and try to somehow deal with my new surroundings, the more severe become my anguish and sorrow. I realize that this place which was created by God as a future eternal dimension of torment for Satan and his angels is, along with all its awful horribleness, now mine also. “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure:” Isaiah 5:14.

I realize that my torment is never to depart but is only going to get worse as more and more join us in our new eternity. I have no clue as to just how long I’ve been here because time is not a factor in this particular dimension, but that awful playback continues for what seems like millennia. One thing I know for sure, eternity has no end. Dread and sorrow fill every fiber of my being as I stand here remembering the opportunities I had been given as they are piled one upon another to remind me of what I had rejected while I was alive on earth. Over and over again it plays in my mind that people – friends and family – brought the truth to me explaining about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on that cross. Each time the scene plays, further and further into the depths of Hell I slide. The deeper I slide the stronger my dread grows while I anticipate the next flash of memories depicting my refusal to accept the truth of the Gospel of Christ. The misery, sorrow, and grief is unbearable. I know I cannot deal with this horrible place for very much longer, yet this undeniably torturous eternity remains steadfast staring me in the face.

My new existence is just as real and vivid as all the time I had lived and ignored the plight of my fellow man while I enjoyed all the pleasures I could on earth. Only now there will never be happiness and joy again. My worldly depravity comes screaming back at me while I stand here in all this seemingly empty blackness. It is alive and overwhelming as it sinks deep into the recesses of my eternal consciousness. All the evilness I had dabbled in throughout all those years as a living being, along with all the sorrow I had effectively dealt out to my fellow man, is now mine to endure for eternity. The tables have been everlastingly turned and as all this continually rolls across the screen of my thoughts, the clarity of extreme sorrow fills me to a point that I think I will explode. Even as much as I long to explode, to disintegrate into a billion specks of nothing, I know I will never escape Hell, never.

It seems as though tears are falling down my cheeks, but not really. It’s more like flames of fire licking at my face. And then fear of more visions of my life on earth coupled with the full sinking awareness of where I am and how long I will be here gives way to the most bewildering sense of failure I would ever know. But the worst thing about being in Hell is knowledge. All the knowledge of who God is and what He had done for me is perfectly and completely apparent. I now fully understand that it was He who sustained me through all my joyous yet very selfish years on earth. Just knowing that while I was on earth I was in God’s hands, and that I was never completely apart from Him, makes my current sorrow even worse. And now I know there is never to be another chance to be with Him. Spending eternity without God is like experiencing death over and over again – never to stop. Realizing God will never be present with me again gives way to the most fearful concept that could ever attack my consciousness. Lonesomeness that is indescribable in human terms is now gripping me as I stand in my eternal isolation.

Even though God was responsible for my very existence and for all the good things that entered my life while I was alive, I never once gave Him what He wanted from me, acknowledgement of God and love for Jesus Christ was the farthest thing from my mind. The simple yet totally obvious fact that relates to my current situation is that all I had to do was believe in the One who God sent to earth to save mankind from their sins. That all sounds so simple now and yet impossible for all those who, like myself, have crossed the plane into this new dimension called Hell.

Senses and perceptions are all still in place. Although from your humanistic view point I’m dead, I’m actually very much alive, more so than I had ever been on earth. I did not understand anything relevant to eternity while on earth, but now standing in this vast horrible darkness I understand with crystal clarity. I will never have another chance to believe and confess the truth and be saved. This Hell is now to be my present and this present never ceases. Explaining this existence further could never sufficiently give a true view of Hell. Hell cannot be explained in human terms, it has to be experienced to fully grasp. For anyone who thinks they are currently living a life of Hell on earth, and who’ve rejected Christ their whole life – let me conclude with – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The above scenario is a fictional presentation of Hell. The supernatural cannot be explained in human terms, and certainly not with our limited cranial abilities. No one who places themselves in Hell for eternity will ever return to give testimony to the rest of humanity as to just what transpires there, so I contrived a plausible, yet fictional, adaptation of Hell, one that most readers should be able to grasp.

Jesus gives a great example of what hell is all about in Luke chapter 16 beginning in verse 19. Jesus is not speaking in parables in this situation, He’s giving us a factual set of circumstances, in other words the conversation between Abraham and the rich man really happened.

Jesus tells us that it really wouldn’t matter if He were to send one back from the grave to explain what Hell was all about. Just like the fictional example given above, people who are deceived into believing the lies of the enemy will not be persuaded even if someone was to rise from the grave, show up on the world stage, and proclaim what was truly going on down there. “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31.

Jesus was nailed to a cross some 2,000 years ago, and He, just a few hours later gave up the ghost. He was then buried in a tomb with a huge rock rolled across the entrance. Yet in just three days Jesus arose from that grave and was seen by His disciples and the women that followed Him, even to 500 others. He remained on this earth for some 40 more days. All of this is recorded in the most historical book of all time, the Holy Bible, yet most refuse to believe this truth. Thus the above fictional scenario will become factual for all those who continue to reject Christ as Savior and Lord.

Hell is a real place and the Bible speaks of it often, which of course tells us the opposite is also a real place. Heaven is equally shrouded in the scriptures whenever we seek a clear and full explanation about that awesome place. But be assured both are accessible and both are eternal. Hell, being a place God created to house His rebellious angels, is also available for anyone who so chooses to spend their eternal existence there.

To avoid that horrible place for eternity is quite simple. God made it simple for His Creation because of His great love for us. Although He had to watch while evil men put His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, through the most horrible of punishments He still gives us every opportunity to come to the realization that we must believe in what He did so we can avoid that eternal punishment of Hell. We humans can either believe the truth and live, or we can say no to that truth and reject His free gift of pardon. Those who say no to God’s offer of salvation are telling Him they would much rather endure eternal punishment themselves instead of relying on Jesus Christ as the propitiation of all sin.

Given the above scenario and the possibility that that just might be at least somewhat similar to what Hell is actually like, wouldn’t it be better to try and avoid that place? Here’s all you have to do to avoid Hell: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Admit you’re a sinner and that you believe Jesus Christ died for your sins. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that God raised Him from the dead. Believing and understanding go hand in hand. Once you believe this simple truth, studying your Bible becomes a walk through the most awesome experiences life will allow. Once you have God given biblical discernment the Bible becomes the most exciting book of all time and you will never get tired of reading and studying God’s truth.

Hell, or Sheol, is real and if you’re a believer in Christ you’ll never know what that horrible place actually consists of. Everyone who rejects Christ will end up in Sheol where they will await the White Throne Judgment of God and from there all those Christ rejecters will be cast into the Lake of Fire which burns forever. Not a very pleasant thought for your eternal existence. Ultimately, it’s your choice. So, which of the two ultimate and eternal destinations have you chosen? Heaven or Hell.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed 

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/g146.html

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“The Three Terrors: Jihad is Sweet, Jihad is Fun”

Latma, the satirical group that brought you the wildly-popular “We Con the World” until Youtube attempted to remove it from its sites, has struck again. It has produced another shoe-string budget musical video entitled, “The Three Terrors: Jihad is Sweet, Jihad is Fun” – based on a famous musical production of the The Three Tenors  (Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras) singing “Funiculi, Funicula.”

The clip has already garnered 400,000 hits, in its various versions, in 48 hours.  

Excerpts from the lyrics, sung by characters depicting Iranian dictator Ahmedinajad, Syrian dictator Assad, and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan: 

I [Ahmedinajad] wish to thank Obama for his patience, for playing dumb, so now I have the peace of mind to build me the nuclear bomb… Terror, terror, that’s my cup of tea; terror gives us  love and sympathy – to beat the West…”

The clip has been uploaded in several versions, including one with an Arabic translation, so that if one is removed, the others will still remain. 

One of the versions includes the full weekly Latma “TV news broadcast” satire, in which a European Union representative is quoted giving the “real” reason why terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was allowed to walk freely in Dubai before being apparently assassinated by the Mossad, and why the EU has come down hard on Israel for apparently forging passports to this end.

As in the “We Con the World” clip, the voice of comedian, singer, and impersonator Noam Yaakovson stars in the latest video.

Yaakovson said that he and the crew of the Latma production house, headed by columnist Caroline Glick, worked very quickly to produce the latest video: “We got together in the studio at 1:30 in the morning, recorded quickly, and then found that we were locked inside… We don’t think it was a terror act, although we have received email threats of late. But we will not give in and we will not fold – especially me, because I’m planning to soon release a CD with my own music.”


(IsraelNationalNews.com)

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Latma’s Latest: Shlomit’s Sukkah Destroys Chance for Peace

 The satirical group Latma, which created the wildly popular hits We Con the World and The Three Terrors, has released a new parody. The video, posted shortly before the Sukkot holiday began, is a spoof on the traditional children's song “Shlomit Bona Sukkat Shalom” (Shlomit is building a sukkah of peace).

In the Latma version, young Shlomit's sukkah is greeted with international outrage as Arab leaders claim her hut has destroyed the chance for peace.

“Shlomit built a sukkah, filled with light of grace, but the building will soon have to cease. Because everyone knows a freeze has been imposed. Shlomit has destroyed the peace,” the song begins.

The original version was written by the famed Israeli composer Naomi Shemer, who is also known for songs such as Jerusalem of Gold.

(IsraelNationalNews.com)
 

 

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There Is No Seven Year Tribulation

By Jack Kelly

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21 NKJV)

Every now and then I get a question from someone who says even though the pre-trib position seems to make sense scripturally, they can't accept it because Jesus said we would have tribulation in this world, and that must mean the church will go through at least the first part of the Tribulation. When they say this they're thinking of the first 3 ½ years.  

Let's get this straight.  There is no mention anywhere in the Bible of a seven year tribulation. According to Strong's Concordance the Greek word translated tribulation in these two passages appears 45 times in the New Testament and tribulation is the English word of choice in  21 of them, including the two above.  It comes from a root meaning “to press” as grapes are pressed.  When used metaphorically it can mean oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, hardship, or trouble.  But while tribulation is the word that appears in both these verses, their intent is completely different.     

                   What Does That Mean?

In John 16:33 Jesus said, in effect, that becoming a believer doesn't mean your troubles are over. Troubles are characteristic of this world and as long as you're in it you'll have them.  But He has overcome this world and through faith in Him you will over come it too. 

He was referring to the fact that because of our faith we can have peace even in times of trouble (Phil 4:4-7).  First because we know he's working everything in our lives together for our good (Romans 8:28) and second because one day this will all be over and we'll live in a state of eternal peace and happiness with Him. Therefore we should focus on that world not this one (2 Cor. 4:16-18). When you read the passage in context you can see that John 16:33 is meant for the entire Church Age and addresses individuals and our individual lives.

                   A Different Matter

But  Matt. 24:21 is a different matter altogether.  First of all it applies to a specific period of time, commencing on the heels of the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15) and ending just before the 2nd Coming (Matt. 24:29).  And Jesus prefaced the word tribulation with “great” saying nothing like it has ever happened in the history of the world, or ever will happen again.  From other references we know the Great Tribulation will last for 3 ½ years and will be far more severe than anyone can imagine. So much so that if the Lord doesn't return to put an end to it, not a single human will survive (Matt. 24:22)

So as far as the Bible is concerned, there are two kinds of tribulation.   The first is the general condition of our fallen creation.  Hardship, illness, persecution and other kinds of unfair treatment, and a general state of uncertainty characterize our world.  These are facts of human life that to a greater or lesser extent have impacted all human beings throughout the Age of Man.  This is the tribulation Jesus spoke of in John 16:33.  Of the 21 times the word tribulation appears in the New Testament (KJV) 16 of them are in this context.  

Then, there's the Great Tribulation.  Three and one half years of extreme judgments that will fall upon just one generation, the one alive just before the second coming.  This is the focus of Matt. 24:21 and just four other verses (Matt. 24:29, Mark 13:24, Rev. 2:22, Rev. 7:14)  . You can see that the conditions of the two kinds of tribulation are very different. Whenever the word tribulation appears it's referring to one of these two kinds and you know which one the Bible has in view by looking at context in which the word is being used.  But you'll never see it used to describe the seven years just prior to the 2nd Coming. 

                   Where Did That Come From?

So how did the idea of a seven year tribulation originate? Well if it didn't come from God, it had to have come from man.   In researching this, I was not able to discover who first taught this, but I believe it started in the days when even the most learned scholars didn't realize that Israel would be reborn.  Neither did they understand that the Age of Grace didn't follow the Age of Law but rather interrupted it seven years short of its completion.  So calling the last seven years by their Old Testament name, Daniel's 70th Week, didn't make sense because doing so implied that Israel would come back from the dead and play a part in the End Times.  This is something most scholars believed would not happen.

Even so there were seven years that had to be  accounted for.  The last three and a half were easy, Jesus  had already named them the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).  That just left the first three and a half. These have been variously called the beginning of sorrows or the false peace or the tribulation period, but eventually scholars incorrectly began calling the entire seven year period the tribulation with the last half being the Great Tribulation.  Since the rapture takes place before the seven years begin, it has also been incorrectly named.  Instead of being pre-trib, it's really pre 70th Week.  

                   So What's The Problem?

Other questions I've received concern the effect of this incorrect interpretation.  “Why does it matter?” they ask.  It matters because it isn't Biblical.  And what's more it's confusing, as questions I get on the End Times demonstrate.   Many people don't distinguish between the two uses of the word tribulation and incorrectly use  John 16:33 and similar passages to deny the pre-trib rapture. 

For example, Acts 14:21-22 (KJV) is another passage some times used to question the pre-trib rapture.

AnchorAnd when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

AnchorConfirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Paul and Barnabas were encouraging new gentile converts to keep the faith in spite of the hardship and persecution they were facing, in effect saying it was something that should be expected as a result of their profession of faith.  Reading about the current plight of Christians in places like India, Indonesia and China shows us these things are still going on in the world. Even in America we're becoming used to seeing two things our constitution forbids. Persecution of Christians and promotion of other religions.  But like it was in Paul's day this has nothing to do with the Great Tribulation, and everything to do with religious persecution.

Also, referring to Daniel's 70th Week (which concerns Israel) as the tribulation (which is world wide) hides the fact that Israel and the Church can't co-exist during that time.  Because of this, many Christians don't realize that during Daniel's 70th Week God's focus will be on Israel, with its Old Covenant Temple, animal sacrifice, keeping the commandments and all things Jewish.  How can the dispensation of Law and the Dispensation of Grace exist in the same place at the same time when the two are theologically incompatible?  Truth be told this is perhaps the most compelling reason for a pre 70th Week rapture.

                   After We're Gone

In Romans 11:25-27 Paul said that Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in, but after that Israel will be saved. The Greek word for hardening also means blinded.  This is a clear indication that God's unfinished business with Israel won't be concluded until he's finished with the Church.  We know He won't be finished with us until the rapture.  Until  then Israel will remain at least partly blinded to the truth, just as Jesus warned would happen in Luke 19:41-44.  

This sentiment was echoed at the Council of Jerusalem when James disclosed that God would first take from the Gentiles a people for Himself (the Church) and after that would turn again to Israel (Acts 15:13-18).  In Greek the phrase translated take from literally means “to take in order to carry away from” and is another reference to the rapture.

These two passages of Scripture are not widely used in defense of the pre-trib rapture because they speak to the theology behind the Church's disappearance rather than the event itself.  But they're extremely helpful in putting the missing week of Daniel 9:24-27 in its proper perspective.  It's the remaining 7 years of God's assignment for Israel to complete 6 tasks in preparation for the coming Kingdom, as outlined in Daniel 9:24,

“Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy (place).

The phrase seventy sevens means seventy weeks of years, or 490 years. Some of these tasks were at least partially completed in the 483rd year at the time of the Crucifixion.  But Israel's rejection of the Messiah stopped the clock 7 years short of the total leaving the rest undone.  These 7 years are yet to be completed, but as Paul and James both specified, the clock will not start running again until the Church disappears. This is what makes knowing all about Daniel's 70th Week so important to the Church. It helps us understand why the rapture can't happen during any part of it. 

The Bible is not a book of generalities, it's a book of specifics.  Those last 7 years are missing and must be completed.  When you read the Bible literally, as was intended, there's no sense in which they can be placed in the past.  They're part of the future and they're not called the tribulation, they're called Daniel's 70th Week. 

09-04-10   

Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack136.html

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Is the Antichrist a Jew, Gentile, or Supernatural?

By Bill Salus

When determining the true content of the false covenant of Daniel 9:27 it proves helpful to determine the origin of the Antichrist. Will he be a Jew, Gentile, or a Supernatural being like an Alien or Nephilim as some have recently proposed?

Up until the time of Abraham there were no Jews, all of mankind was Gentile. Abraham, the ancient Hebrew patriarch, fathered the Jewish race through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and great grandsons Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.

According to Deuteronomy 7:6 the Lord formed this unique ethnicity from Abraham’s loins for His exclusive divine purposes. One of which, we are informed in Ezekiel 38:8 and 39:7, is to uphold His holy name through; for the watchful eyes of the international community in the latter years. Many eschatologists believe the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 & 39 are about to find final fulfillment, making current events involving Israel and the Jewish people extremely important.


If the Antichrist is Jewish, the content of the false covenant might favor Israeli covenantal claims made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These claims include Promised Land extending into Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia according to Genesis 15:18.

Additionally, the pages of the false covenant might grant Israel the ability to build their third Jewish Temple upon its former site in the world’s most controversial holy city of Jerusalem. Presently, the preponderance of Muslims vehemently opposes this prospect, claiming Jerusalem is Islam’s third holiest city behind Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. However, blueprints, Levite priests, and ceremonial religious instruments for the construction and operation of this prophesied coming Temple are already being assembled by several religious Jewish organizations.

Is the Antichrist a Jew?

One of the best research works addressing the subject of the origin of the Antichrist was performed by Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries. He questioned eleven end time’s experts in a series of interviews, which aired on his Christ in Prophecy TV show in May of 2009, regarding this topic. The manuscript for the segment addressing whether or not the Antichrist is a Jew or Gentile can be obtained here:

In a nutshell the Reagan study concluded with seven no’s to the Antichrist being a Jew, one yes, one could be, one maybe, and one he will be a Jewish – Muslim. In Reagan’s closing summary, he concurred with the seven who suggested the Antichrist will be a Gentile rather than a Jew. Thus, there were eight out of twelve experts agreed upon the Gentile descent of the coming apocalyptic world leader called the Antichrist.

Had I been among those interviewed, I would have concurred with the eight favoring the Gentile Antichrist. Additionally I would have added an argument to theirs given below:

The Gentile Antichrist Arguments

1. Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum brought this argument forward by quoting Daniel 9:26-27. Similarly, I wrote an article called, “Does Daniel Debunk the Assyrian Antichrist,” that agrees with his conclusion.

2. Antichrist will command worldwide attention. Don McGee states, “For a Jew to be in that position (commanding worldwide attention) would be a very, very long shot.” Don also suggests the Antichrist will not be associated with Judaism, Islam, or any other religion apart from the one he “institutes for himself.” This is determined by Daniel 11:37.

3. A Jew won’t make treaties with Jews. Ed Hindson points this out and goes on to remind us that the Antichrist will be an unbeliever according to Daniel 11:37.

4. Antichrist will lead the final great Gentile world empire. Dr. Mark Hitchcock firmly points this out. He declares this would be “inconsistent for a Jew.” Hitchcock argues this keeps in stride with “the other empires in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, the leaders of those were all Gentiles.”

5. The Antichrist prototype was Antiochus Epiphanes, a Gentile. Dr. Mark Hitchcock aptly points this commonly taught fact out. Epiphanes was the ruler of the Greek – Seleucid Empire that oppressed the Jews between 171-164 BC.

6. The Antichrist rises out of the Gentile world. Several of the experts interviewed, including Hitchcock, brought forward the Revelation 13:1 argument, which identifies the Antichrist as the “Beast” rising out of the “Sea.” The scholarly consensus is the Sea in Revelation 13:1 represents the Gentile world.

7. The Jews will never accept the Antichrist as their Messiah. Dr. Reagan makes this statement in his closing arguments. He qualifies this by stating “In fact we are specifically told that when the Antichrist reveals himself in the middle of the Tribulation and claims to be god the Jews will be horrified and will totally reject him causing him to turn on them in fury and launch an attempt to annihilate them.” He goes on to distinguish between the possibility that the Antichrist may become the ‘Political Savior” of the Jews, but never their “Spiritual Savior.”

8. The Jews will never be offered the “Mark of the Beast.” This point was not brought up in the Reagan interviews; however, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum makes this important point elsewhere in his teachings available though Ariel Ministries. This fact also identifies the Antichrist as a Gentile. One can safely conclude that if the Antichrist was a Jew, the Jews would be among the recipients of the benefits of his cashless Mark of the Beast program alluded to in Revelation 13:14-18.

The Antichrist Seeks Jewish Genocide Making Him a Gentile

Although the arguments above strongly suggest the Antichrist will be a Gentile, the one not listed that I believe most compelling is that he orchestrates the final genocidal campaign against the Jewish Race. Zechariah 13:8 points out the Antichrist will be responsible for the deaths of two-thirds of the Jewish population in the land of Israel during the Tribulation period. Many scholars suggest that totals several million more than were killed by Hitler during the Holocaust.

The repeated Gentile genocidal attempts targeted at the Jews remain atop the list of humanities worst historical crimes against the will of God. The Egyptians, Persians, Romans, and Germans all attempted to destroy the Jewish Race. Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8 identify the Jews as the “apple of God’s eye.” The destruction of the Jews is the scheming of Satan and the Antichrist is his seed according to Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 13:4.

The plan of Satan is to prove God is a promise breaker, a liar, with a flawed covenant making character. If Satan can accomplish this he justifies his and his fallen angelic cohorts' rebellious campaign against God and His perfect divine will. Satan has clearly evidenced throughout human history that his modus operandi is to discredit God by killing Abraham’s Jewish descendants.

In Genesis 13:15, 22:17 and elsewhere God promised Abraham descendants forever. If there are no more Jews, then God is in breach of His covenant with Abraham. Furthermore, the promise of eternal security for all believers, justified by the similar faith of Abraham can be questioned. (Romans 4 and Galatians 3)

Therefore the Antichrist will be a Gentile; otherwise Satan must also execute him alongside his Jewish brethren. I’ve often wondered why Satan, supposedly so cunning, decided to even have a “seed.” Had he not, he could have discredited God right out the Genesis 3:15 garden gate. The Lord prophesied the coming of Satan’s seed and the bruising of Messiah’s heel by that seed. Should no satanic seed come, then the God of the Bible would be an obvious liar for prophesying such a future fictitious event. To the contrary, the satanic seed is coming and may be birthed already.

The Jewish Antichrist Arguments

The arguments for the Antichrist being a Jew can be found in the Reagan project referenced above. There are a few who believe that John 5:43 and Daniel 11:37 point to the Antichrist being a Jew. However, the Reagan study evidences that the arguments for a Gentile Antichrist far outweigh those of a Jewish Antichrist.

The Supernatural Alien (Nephilim) Antichrist Argument

Interestingly, there are some scholars suggesting since the Antichrist is the “seed of Satan,” who according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 rises to power supernaturally, that he might not be human at all. They, suggest Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24:37 and Luke 17:26 comparing the end time’s to the “days of Noah,” should be taken literally.

Genesis 6:4 informs us that there were unnatural offspring called the Nephilim, inhabiting the earth during the days of Noah. If this relatively new argument has merit it adds an interesting twist to what the true content of the false covenant may be.

Source: http://raptureready.com/soap/salus10.html

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Women Pastors

By Ron Graham

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”1 Timothy 2:12-14.These Bible verses have certainly seen their fair share of controversy over the years. Battles rage over just exactly what Paul meant here and was he just speaking culturally to those folks at that particular time in history? For the answer to that question the Apostle Paul takes us clear back to the book of Genesis.

Many people don’t really have a clue about the deception that took place in the Garden of Eden. “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. First of all we must ask the question “Why did the serpent (Satan) seek out the women to confront with his lies instead of Adam?” Satan brought his temptation against the woman because he perceived she was more vulnerable to attack. This is because she did not receive the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil directly from God, but through Adam. 

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”Genesis 2:15-17. God gave the clear command to Adam. Then, when God created Eve, Adam made God’s prohibition of that particular tree and fruit clear to her. But Eve probably didn’t really pay all that much attention to Adam when he passed on God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when the serpent (Satan) questioned Eve as to whether or not God said they couldn’t eat of the fruit of that tree, she responded with “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:2-3.

We must take notice of the fact that Eve’s knowledge seems to be lacking. She doesn’t name the tree of whose fruit she and Adam were to abstain from eating.

Actually, Eve’s first mistake was in carrying on a discussion with Satan. “The Lord rebuke you” should be our only words as we address Satan. As we can see, Eve’s apparent lack of knowledge makes her all the more vulnerable to deception. She then went from bad to worse as she misquoted the command God gave to Adam. Her words, “Ye shall not eat of it” and “lest ye die” are close enough, but she added to the command and put words in God’s mouth when she said, “neither shall ye touch it.” The major consequence we see that arises from putting words in God’s mouth is we begin to teach the doctrines of men as if they are the commandments of God. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9. It’s interesting just how many of mans idiosyncrasies have become doctrinal mandates in our Churches today.

Secondly, Eve was deceived but her husband was not deceived “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” 1 Timothy 2:14. Satan perceived Eve to be the weaker link in the chain and so he approached her with his lies, sure enough she fell into transgression.

By taking us back to the beginning, Paul precludes any arguments that might arise concerning women teaching or usurping the authority of men as being a cultural issue of that society. Paul’s admonition was not a cultural issue then, nor is it now; it’s God speaking through Paul.  

God knew what would happen if women were allowed to teach men and to usurp authority over them. Sure enough, the majority of the cults today were begun by women who have manipulated the scriptures so that they could, without fear of condemnation, rise to positions of authority over men.

Over the past few decades women have become pastors of churches because of a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the Church, not to mention men’s ignorance of scriptures. So what do we see happening today? The completely erroneous rendering of the truth of the scriptures by those who wish to supplant God’s word. “But I suffer not a woman to teach:“ The word “suffer” used by Paul is from the Greek word “epitrepō” and it actually means “permit”. Paul says he does not permit a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man. Women are not free to usurp authority over men nor are they at liberty to become pastors of Churches.

I know that I’ll receive a massive amount of letters disputing Paul’s stance on women in a pastoral position. Many will attack me for even suggesting there’s a problem with women being in a position of authority over men. They’ll march out Debra, Esther, Lydia, and Priscilla. None of whom were priests or pastors of Christian Churches. And knowingly or not they will be attacking God.

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”1 Timothy 3:1-2. A bishop must be the husband of one wife. Bishop, Elder, Pastor is what the text refers to. The Greek word for husband is “anēr”, a masculine noun with the following description: of a male, of a husband, of a betrothed or future husband, any male. And the Greek word of wife is “gynē”, a feminine noun. A description of the word “gynē” is: a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow, a wife, a betrothed woman. There can be no doubt as to what Paul was saying: no to women pastors, no to women teaching men. The text is clear.

We are all called to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, men and women alike. This means we explain the Gospel of Christ to anyone who will listen. Jesus Himself told us to do this simple thing. Speaking the truth of the Gospel is witnessing and possibly sharing your testimony with others. This is a far cry from where we see women have advanced to in today’s Christian Churches. Senior pastors, presidents of Christian seminaries and universities usurping authority over men.

“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”1 Timothy 3:4-5. So we can see plainly that Paul only wants men who are capable of rearing their children in the admonition of the Lord. Not once does Paul include women in the mix of Bishop/Elder/Pastor, or Deacons for that matter. There are probably many well meaning women in leadership roles in churches who only wish to serve God with all their heart. But God’s word is firm and to the point, no women pastor, elders, bishops, or deacons in My Church.

“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”1 Timothy 3:8-11. Women who bypass the clear exegetical rendering of scriptures to pursue and obtain the office of Pastor/Elder/Deacon are in full contradiction to God’s word, and so are the men who’ve allowed this error to escalate.  

Here’s a little side note: In this same verse “the husband of one wife” has also been quite controversial in regards to men who’ve been divorced being excluded from holding the position of pastor of a Church or even that of Elder or Deacon. Paul was keenly aware of the pervasiveness of the cultural acceptance of taking in marriage multiple wives. But Paul in no way excluded men who were biblically divorced from entering the ministry or holding the office of elder or deacon. After all it was Jesus Christ (God Almighty) Himself who said that in the case of adultery divorce was acceptable. Who was it acceptable to? To God. Jesus put no restrictions on a man who divorces his wife for infidelity on her part, especially by excluding him from the ministry of preaching, or holding the office of elder, deacon or even a Bible teacher. This exclusion by many denominations has left many capable men who were called by God Himself into the ministry out in the cold. God says go and preach my word, and the Church says no. Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

Interestingly too, if the whole counsel of Scripture is bypassed, should we not also exclude Paul (who wasn’t married) and Jesus Christ Himself from being leaders of the Church or teaching? Of course not, what we must do is work within the boundaries of scripture instead of the boundaries of men.

Certainly by now the majority of the readers should see that Paul is quite adamant about the exclusion of women in the preaching ministry. Remember this verse? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16. In other words, these verses I’ve included in this commentary are not just written by Paul the Apostle, but they were God breathed. If Paul says he does not allow women to teach or usurp authority over men, then we can be assured those words came from the Creator of the Universe. 

If you are in a Church where your pastor is a woman then you are fundamentally standing with her, thus you’re standing against God. Ignoring the scriptures placed above even after looking into the Greek only makes your case weaker. Corrupting and manipulating those same scriptures, twisting them to say what you want them to say, or interpreting them contrarily to the exegetical norm won’t cut any ice with God when you try to explain your disobedience to Him concerning His word.

Lastly, I feel I must address the idea of homosexual pastors. A homosexual bishop/pastor/elder/deacon cannot possibly fulfill the requirement set down by God Almighty in which a man must be the husband of one wife. God sets the parameters, not man. God created male and female for a reason. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. The word used here in the Hebrew for man is “'iysh” and means male, man, opposite of female. And the Hebrew word for wife is “'ishshah” and the description in the concordance is – woman, female, opposite of male. Absolutely no confusion here.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…”Genesis 1:27-28. Homosexuals cannot multiply, they cannot replenish the earth, and they are actually a deterrent to replenishing the earth. Thus they stand diametrically opposed to God Almighty.

The Homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God and His inerrant word, and He would never condone the ordination of a women pastor, let alone a lesbian, to pastor a church. How in the world does a lesbian fulfill the requirement of “the husband of one wife?” It’s impossible. Again, it’s a case of people thinking that the Bible is not to be taken literally. God knew what would happen to His Church if these abominations were allowed to spread, and He tells us of the apostasy in the last days. People, we are there. Now women pastors and even homosexuals are taking over many of the mainstream denominations all because they either misinterpret the scriptures or they dismiss the word of God as simply metaphors and allegories and mostly irrelevant to society today.

Do you really want to be taught the scriptures by someone who avoids those verses that are clearly contrary to their position? Does “be ye not deceived” come to mind? Where’s all this headed? God knows.

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV

Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/graham/g137.html

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The Case for Pre-Trib Rapture in Luke 17

By Gene Lawley

In Luke 17:26-35 Jesus links the incidents of Noah and Lot with the coming Day of the Lord, the coming of the Son of Man.  Those passages recording the judgments of Noah’s day and that of Lot are at Genesis 6-8, and Genesis 18-19, respectively.

The passage in Luke reads as follows (NKJV):   “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man; they ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.  In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away  And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.  Remember Lot’s wife.

“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; the one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding together; the one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; the one will be taken and the other left.”

To analyze the statements of Jesus under the umbrella of the time-line of events in the last days, I have thought to take them in segments of activities described, as this:

1.   Activities of mankind when God intercedes.

2.   The day “Noah entered the ark and Lot went out of Sodom”.

3.    What happens to individuals “on that day”.

4.  (On that day) judgments came upon those left behind.

A Population Primed for Surprise

The activities of people around the world are the normal, daily activities of people in the normal course of life.  They are eating, drinking, sleeping, buying, selling, building, marrying and giving in marriage.  There is no evidence seen of the judgments of Revelation 6-19, when, if one thinks clearly on it, people will be concentrating on only one main thing—mere survival of life.

For example, Revelation 16:4 tells us that the  waters will be turned to blood, and elsewhere, so will the seas.  Things inhabiting the seas will die.  It is surely reasonable to think that there will be no fishing industry, no market for fishing boats or gear and tackle.

 The same situation will occur in all industries and activities around the earth. That should raise a bright flag of warning to those who hold to the deception that the rapture will not happen until the end of the seven-year tribulation period. 

Don’t count on being able to put off a commitment to Christ until you can see the end approaching.  It will not delay, but will come upon us “as a thief at night”.  That deception of delay is a tool of the enemy.

But, then, some say that it does not get that bad until half-way through the tribulation, or, at least, until the wrath of God kicks in, as we have been told, between the fifth and sixth seals of Revelation 6 (where the word “wrath” is first used).

Just take another look at the accompanying devastation and despair that will be associated with the advent of the four horsemen of Revelation 6.  Will the ship of state be sailing through smooth and still waters during those days?  Natural disasters in our present experiences, alone, have shown that life as normally experienced will not be happening.  Add to that the economic demise we are already enduring, and it will certainly challenge any claim that the coming of our Lord will delay until after the tribulation begins.  Remember?  Jesus did not include “turmoil and despair” as any dominating concern in the activities of those days just before the coming of the Lord’s judgments.

Also notice that it is Jesus who is the one opening the seals of judgment, the only one worthy to do so. Whose wrath, then, is it, which propels these four horsemen forth to do their dirty work?  In God’s eyes it is wrathful judgment; in Satan’s eyes it is the progress of his purpose to conquer the earth. This is the beginning of sorrows.

A parallel passage in I Thessalonians 5:2-3 seems to lay out the same pattern, and describes it as a time that will come as a thief in the night:  “for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night, for when they say ‘Peace and safety!’, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape.” 

The element of sudden surprise is couched in a backdrop of apparent unreadiness and lack of alertness.

In the Twinkling of An Eye

The sudden transformation of believers from mortal to immortal, and “corruption to incorruption”, as described in I Corinthians 15:50-54 will have no prior notice issued.  There will be no time to clean up the mess we are leaving behind, or even say “goodbye” to those around us.  The things of this world that are a part of us—our clothing, eyeglasses, wedding rings, wrist watch, pocket change—these will be left, right where we will have been seated or standing.  What a surprise, too, will it be for those nearby, when believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air!

God actually put Noah and his family in the ark and closed the door on them, then waited seven days before the rains came.  Perhaps this was to bring the magnitude of sinfulness of those outside to a greater awareness and conviction.  It is unclear, yet judgment came just as surely as proclaimed.

The angels had a struggle with Lot, however; he was reluctant to leave, and the angel said, “Hurry.  Escape there [to a nearby city], for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”  Genesis 19:22.  God would not bring destruction until the believers were out of danger!

Jesus brought this forward as an illustration of how things will fall into place in that day of His coming.  It is a clear validation of the promise in Revelation 3:10, “…I also will keep you from the hour of trial to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” 

The somewhat controversial passage in II Thessalonians 2:6-7, where Paul writes of the role of the “restrainer” in the time frame of the last days, clearly parallels the accounts of the rapture of believers in I Corinthians 15:50-54 and  I Thessalonians 4:16-17, as well as the illustrations of that event in the accounts of Noah and Lot. 

Identitifying the restrainer is not difficult when we realize that entity’s removal is the main point of comment in connection with God’s allowance of the free reign of lawlessness in the world, in preparation for His final judgment. 

The only entity that has ever stood in the way of the progress of evil is the church whose head is the Lord Jesus Christ.  He promised His Spirit to the disciples in a special new way in John 14:17, “…for He dwells with you and will be in you”.  That restrainer is the Holy Spirit indwelt body of Christ, the church, and its removal from the path of evil opens up the next step in the plan of God.

Then Judgments Came

The earlier passage in I Thessalonians 5:3 describes the judgments as “a sudden destruction, as birth pangs upon a pregnant woman”, which actually come without reservation, gradually increasing in intensity until the event is culminated.  Just in this way are the judgments of Revelation 6-19 laid out, increasing in intensity until that final great battle when the Lord takes out the enemy by the power of His might.  Those days will not be days of normal life as we have known it.  It will be terrible, for there will not be any tolerance for righteousness.  The evilness of man will rise to great heights, beyond all imagination.  Evil will reign supreme…until Jesus comes.

However, the whole of scripture bears out the time-line of events that pinpoints the rapture’s occurrence before the beginning of the seven years of tribulation, the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, (Jeremiah 30:7), not that of the church.

The harvest time of the Great Commission is over.  The church is gone.  God has another plan for the 70th week.

Source: http://raptureready.com/soap/lawley2.html

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Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture 11 reasons why Jesus will come back before the Tribulation

By Nathan E. Jones

Frequently I am asked to explain or defend the end-time view of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. For that topic, lots of Bible verses, readings and references rattle around in my skull. I can extract each like a Powerball out of an air machine and present it to the inquiring mind, but never in a linear, comprehensive manner in which I particularly appreciate. And so, this article is my attempt to organize my brain on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view. You're welcome to come along on the journey!

Taking It to the Bedrock

My belief that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church stands on the bedrock of the following foundational tenets:

A) The Bible is the Word of God
The 66-book canon called the Bible is God's inerrant, infallible message to mankind, explaining His purposes and plans for the ages (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). No other document can be reliably trusted, nor remotely reach the bar for the requirements of authentication that the Bible attains to so easily.

B) The Bible is to be Interpreted Literally
God means what He says and says what He means. God wants His creations to know His will plainly. While God does indulge in picturesque descriptions and parables, an explanation almost always follows or context is provided for explanation. Spiritualization of text, therefore, has no proper place in interpreting Scriptures. Any eschatological viewpoint must then be thrown out if it is based on the reader's desire to spiritualize the Bible into whatever ethereal meaning they desire. Take the Bible for its plain sense meaning.

C) The Church and Israel Are Separate Entities
Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel. A believer in Christ becomes a member of the Church, whether Jew or Gentile (Rom. 1:16), but a member of the Church does not become a form of spiritual Israel. God's promises to Israel as a people and nation (see next tenet) are not the same as for the Bride of Christ, the Church.

D) A Literal 1000-Year Millennium
The Bible describes a future, literal 1000-year time period. The Greek word "chilias" for "one thousand" appears six times in Revelation 20, clearly marking the time period as having 1000 literal years. The purpose of this time period is for Jesus Christ to have an earthly kingdom from which to base His rule and to fulfill His promises (Gen. 13:14-17; 15:5,18-21; 2 Sam. 7:16-19; Isa. 10:21-22; 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5-8; 30:22; 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:18-20; 34:24; 36:24-28; Mic. 7:19-20; Hos. 3:5; Rom. 11:26-29).

E) A Literal 7-Year Tribulation
An upcoming time period has been set aside for God to pour out His wrath upon the evil of the world, to regather Israel back into its land, to force Israel to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, and for the Messiah to return and fight for His believing remnant (Deut. 4:26-31; Isa. 13:6-13; 17:4-11; Jer. 30:4-11; Ezek. 20:33-38; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; Zech. 14:1-4; Matt. 24:9-31). This time period begins with a covenant between Israel and the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27). The length of the Tribulation is seven years long, described in a variety of ways as "one seven" year block (Dan. 9:27), "times, time and half a time" (Rev. 12:14), consisting of two "1260 days" periods (Rev. 11:3), or two "42 month" periods (Rev. 11:2; 13:5).

F) Jesus Will Return Again to Earth
The Bible says Jesus will physically return again to earth (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19). Jesus returns is to defeat His enemies, set up His throne, restore Israel, rule with "a rod of iron" and share His authority with those who overcame in Him (Mat. 19:28; 25:31; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21).

G) The Bible Teaches About a Rapture
1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

These bedrock statements about the Bible and its interpretation provide the foundation in which to analyze the followig reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.

1) The Bible describes the Rapture and Second Coming as different events.

The Bible must see the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) and the Second Coming (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) as separate events, because when the verses are compared they describe two very different scenarios:

  1. Rapture — believers meet Christ in the air

    Second Coming — Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the believers on earth

  2. Rapture — Mount of Olives is unchanged

    Second Coming — Mount of Olives is divided, forming a valley east of Jerusalem

  3. Rapture — living believers obtain glorified bodies

    Second Coming — living believers remain in same bodies

  4. Rapture — believers go to heaven

    Second Coming — glorified believers come from heaven, earthly believers stay on earth

  5. Rapture — world left unjudged and living in sin

    Second Coming — world is judged and righteousness is established

  6. Rapture — depicts deliverance of the Church from wrath

    Second Coming — depicts deliverance of believers who endured wrath

  7. Rapture — no signs precede it

    Second Coming — many signs precede it

  8. Rapture — revealed only in New Testament

    Second Coming — revealed in both Old and New Testaments

  9. Rapture — deals with only the saved

    Second Coming — deals with both the saved and unsaved

  10. Rapture — Satan remains free

    Second Coming — Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss

Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.

2) The Rapture is described as occurring at any time without warning.

Jesus stated in Matthew 24:42,44 to "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Not only do believers in Christ not know when to expect Him, but the Father Himself seems to have left Jesus out on the exact time His Son is to return. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." These and other verses (Mat. 24:36,42,44,50; 25:13; 1 Thes. 4:18; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:28; 3:2-3) indicate that Jesus' arrival will come when nobody expects it.

The Second Coming, on the other hand, is preceded by many events, such as the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 12:13-17; Zech; 13:7-9), a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:1-2), as well as plagues and judgments and persecutions destroying most of the world's population (Rev. 6-18). The Book of Revelation reports these events as occurring during the 7-year Tribulation, which Revelation reveals precede the Second Coming.

Because the Rapture could happen at any moment and without warning and the Second Coming is preceded by so many signs, then the Rapture and Second Coming must be different events. The Rapture has to occur before the seven years' worth of signs, because Christians are called to look for the Lord's return rather than signs such as the Antichrist's arrival. Once the signs begin, then the seven year countdown begins towards its end with Christ's return at the Second Coming.

Jesus' imminent return dismisses any of the other viewpoints related to a rapture that occur within or at the end of the Tribulation.

3) The Rapture and the removal of the "Restrainer" occur at the same time.

In 2 Thessalonians, the church at Thessalonica was afraid due to a false report that they had entered the Day of the Lord (Tribulation) and had somehow missed the Rapture. The Apostle Paul assured them that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force would be taken away so that the Man of Lawlessness could be revealed.

Because the revealing of the Antichrist coincides with the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation starting with his peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), then the Restrainer has to be removed before the Tribulation. As the Holy Spirit also works in salvation (Jn. 16:8-11; 1 Jn. 5:7) during the Tribulation, then it is the Church that must be the Restrainer that is removed. Therefore, the Rapture and the removal of the Church must coincide, and at the beginning of the seven years.

4) The Tribulation is for Israel's redemption.

Jeremiah 30:7 describes the Tribulation as the "time of Jacob's trouble" — "How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it."

In the Book of Matthew, whose primary audience is the Jews, Jesus explains to his Jewish followers what life will be like during the Tribulation. Also, Revelation 12 describes picturesquely a woman who gives birth and has to flee due to persecution during the Tribulation. The context shows the woman is Israel. And again, the Battle of Armageddon is the world against Israel. Two-thirds of the Jewish people will be killed from these battles. These texts and others show that the Tribulation is meant for the redemption of the Jewish people.

Why are the Jews the object of persecution during the Tribulation? For one, Satan hates the Jewish people for giving the world the Scriptures and the Messiah, as well as he wishes to thwart God's promises to the Jews (see Bedrock #4). Secondly, the Jews have to be so desperately brought low that they finally call out to their Messiah "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35). The Tribulation, then, is used for Israel's redemption which also results in the punishment of the wicked. The Church does not fit into this scenario, and are left out of the purposes of the Tribulation. They would need to be removed — caught up — before the Tribulation begins.

5) The Tribulation is not for the Church.

The Tribulation is God's wrath upon the unbelieving world, and not for those who are saved from Christ's resurrection to the Rapture — called the Church. Yes believers have suffered all throughout human history, but there is a special time (just like the Flood) set apart called the Day of the Lord for God's wrath. Christians suffering and the Tribulation/Day of the Lord are different.

True believers in Christ during the Church Age, represented by the Church of Philadelphia, are promised in Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." He also states in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:9 states, "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Ephesians 5:6 states, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." Colossians 3:4 states, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Again and again, Scripture states the Church is not meant to endure God's wrath.

6) God's wrath involves the whole 7-Year Tribulation.

The view that the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation is based upon 1 Corinthians 15:52 which states that the Rapture will occur at the blowing of "the last trumpet." This Mid-Tribulation Rapture view then declares this trumpet to be the last of the seven trumpets in Revelation 11 that is blown at the mid-point of the Tribulation. Why of the 114 references to trumpets in the Bible these two are identified as one and the same only defies sound Bible study. The context clearly shows the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown for believers whereas the seven trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 and 11 are sounded for unbelievers. The Revelation trumpets therefore can have no relevance for the Church.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture view has the Church raptured just before the bowl judgments (Revelation 16) that occur during the last quarter of the Tribulation. The bowl judgments are the only judgments this view considers to be the wrath of God, leaving the Seal and Trumpet judgments as wrath from man and Satan. But, isn't it Jesus Himself who breaks the seals that launch each of the Revelation 6 seal judgments which occur at the beginning of the Tribulation? Also, the seven angels who blow the trumpets that initiate each of the trumpet judgments are given their trumpets at the throne of God (Revelation 8:2). And, Revelation 15:1 states that the bowl judgments at the end of the Tribulation finish the wrath of God, not begin His wrath.

Because these judgments are initiated by Jesus Himself at the beginning of the Tribulation, the whole Tribulation must be God's wrath, which the Church is exempt from.

7) The Old Testament and Revelation leave the Church out of the Tribulation.

The focus of the Tribulation — to pour out God's wrath on the earth just like the Flood (Isa. 24:22; Zeph. 3:8; 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 2:12) and to bring the Jewish people to accept Jesus as Messiah (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35) — is addressed by the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation to the unbelievers and the Jewish people. In any biblical content concerning the Tribulation/Day of the Lord, the Church cannot be found.

The whole concept of the Church was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets. They focused on the nation of Israel. The Book of Matthew is written to the Jewish people, whom Jesus is addressing in Matthew 24. In the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 cover the Church Age, but then there is no mention of the Church until after the Tribulation/Day of the Lord chapters 6-18. In Chapter 19, the Church returns to the texts and can be found, not suffering, but celebrating with Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and preparing to return with Jesus to earth.

8) The Church is busy elsewhere during the Tribulation.

While the 7-year Tribulation is occurring, the Bible records the Church will be busy with three events. None of the three have to do with suffering on a world being destroyed.

The first event the raptured Church will participate in is a judgment by God — the Judgment of the Just. This judgment on works is not to determine eternal destiny, but to determine degrees of reward (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:6-9).

The second event is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This feast celebrates the spiritual marriage of Christ's Bride — the Church — to her Savior. Revelation 19:7-9 shares this wonderful celebration, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, 'Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.'"

The third event follows the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and is the Church's preparation to follow the King of Kings into the Battle of Armageddon at the conclusion of the Tribulation. This event is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19:11-21). Revelation 19:14 identifies the Church in their "fine linen, white and clean," which was given to them during the first event — the Judgment of the Just. The Church and angelic forces follow the King of Kings into His Second Coming to the earth, but only Jesus Himself will engage in battle and with mere words defeats the nations in siege against Jerusalem.

9) There needs to be sheep to separate from the goats.

If the Church is raptured at the end of the Tribulation, receives their glorified bodies, and then immediately u-turns back with Christ for the Second Coming as the Post-Tribulation Rapture view holds, then what believer in Christ will be available for the Sheep and Goats Judgment of Matthew 25? The only people left on earth would be unbelievers, called goats. No believer — sheep — would be available for God to put into the sheep category.

Since those who are in glorified bodies will be like the angels in that they aren't given in marriage or reproduce (Matt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25), then a believing, unglorified, human remnant must make it into the sheep category and go on to produce the nations during the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 43:13-27; Isa. 19:21; Isa. 65:20-22; Rev. 20:7-10). This would mean that people would need to come to Christ during the Tribulation yet after the Rapture to produce this Millennial population.

10) The Bible shows God rescues the righteous from His wrath.

Being a Christian means having to endure suffering and trials at the hand of man (Jn. 16:33; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). But, the Bible has many examples of those who put their faith in God are exempt from God's wrath. Noah and his family were removed from the Flood waters that in God's wrath were used to judge and cleanse the earth. Lot and his wife and two daughters were made to leave Sodom and Gomorrah before God burned the towns up with fire and sulfur. Rahab's family was set apart when Joshua's army invaded Jericho.

Could believers be miraculously protected during the Tribulation, like the Israelites were during the plagues on Egypt? Yes, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists from Revelation 7 and 14, for instance, will be divinely protected. But, the slaughter of believers during the Tribulation will be so massive that they are certainly not under any special protection (Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4).

11) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is not too new to discount.

Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid's Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.

Closing Thoughts

I thank you for coming down this mental journey with me concerning why I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Hopefully it has confirmed or challenged some of your eschatological ideas. Bear in mind, though, that one's end-time views have no bearing on the doctrine of salvation. What is to be celebrated is that our salvation will one day lead us upwards to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever.

Nathan E. Jones
Evangelist & Web Minister, Lamb & Lion Ministries

Source: http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_rapture7.php

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When is the Rapture going to occur?

By Nathan E. Jones

Dr. David Reagan and I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ron Rhodes on a Christ in Prophecy TV program concerning this tough Bible question. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.

Dr. Rhodes: I'm a firm believer that the Rapture of the Church is going to happen before the upcoming 7-year Tribulation, and there's a number of reasons why I say that.

I'd say the most important reason is that the Church has no purpose for being in the Tribulation. The Scriptures clearly define the purpose of the Tribulation and I believe it's two-fold: there's going to be a judgment on unbelieving nations and there's also going to be a purging of Israel.

Now, that's aside from the fact that there's not a single verse dealing with the Tribulation in the Old Testament that mentions the Church. There's not a single verse in the New Testament dealing with the Tribulation that mentions the Church.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that the Church is not appointed to wrath. That leads me to believe that God is going to take the Church out of the world prior to the time of wrath which is coming upon the world. I also think this is related to Revelation 3:10 where the Church has promised deliverance from the actual time period of testing that is going to come upon the earth.

One of my favorite verses is John 14:1-3, which I don't think fits a Post-Tribulation scenario at all. Jesus says, "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." In other words, Jesus is going to take Christians back to Heaven. That doesn't fit the Post-Tribulation scenario which says that they all stay on the earth.

Imminence is absolute. That's the assumption that is always present. There's nothing that needs to take place before the Rapture of the Church. It could happen at any moment.

But, there are many events that must take place before the Second Coming. If you had a nice little calendar you could pretty much tell when Christ was going to come again. You could watch, for example, when the Antichrist signs the peace pact with Israel in Daniel 9:27 and do a countdown of seven years, which is also called the Seventieth Week of Daniel.

When we're talking about the Rapture, we don't see signs that are prophesied prior to that event. So you see, it is an imminent event. It's something that could happen at any moment.

Nathan's IMHO

The Bible teaches about the Rapture of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

There will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture because the Church isn't destined to endure God's judgment on the world, as promised in 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; and Rev. 3:10.

A great explanation that points to the timing of the Rapture comes from Jesus in the Parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25. This story is about the Bride of Christ (the Church of 2 Cor. 11:2) being prepared for the Rapture and Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Jesus). This parable goes with what Jesus stressed in His teachings concerning end times. Over and over He told His disciples to be ready for His return at any moment (Matt. 24:44). Jesus used the Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate this point.

Five virgins were not ready when the bridegroom came and were thus left behind. "Be on the alert, then," Jesus warned, "for you do not know the day nor the hour" (Matt. 25:1-13). On another occasion, Jesus put it this way, "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight… for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" (Lk. 12:35, 40). And, while the virgins left behind may have a form of godliness, they are not saved and so are not qualified to be members of the Church, and are therefore not ready to be included in the Rapture.

Evidences of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture also come from Paul who comforted the Church of Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 when he wrote, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come." The church there was concerned that they had missed the Rapture and were living in the Tribulation. Paul assures them in verse 3 to "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." In other words, they'd know if they were living in the Tribulation.

The only hope that comforts someone staring into the face of the horrors of the Tribulation is that they would not have to endure it. These words from the Apostle Paul provide that very encouragement and hope of the Lord rapturing the Church beforehand.

Nathan E. Jones
Evangelist & Web Minister, Lamb & Lion Ministries

Source: http://www.lamblion.us/2010/08/quick-q-when-will-rapture-occur.html

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McCain, Obama, & Rick Warren

Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media.  This week’s item is from The New York Times, July 21, 2008, with a headline:  “McCain and Obama Agree to Attend Mega-Church Forum”  The following are excerpts:  It has taken a man of God, perhaps, to do what nobody else has been able to do since the general election season began: get Barack Obama and John McCain together on the same stage before their party conventions later this summer.  Rick Warren, the author of the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life said he had called each man personally to invite him to his event, which will focus on how they make decisions, and on some of Mr. Warren’s main areas of focus, like AIDS, poverty and the environment.  Mr. Warren’s event will have as a co-sponsor, Faith in Public Life, the multi-denominational religious group that held a compassion forum at MessiahCollegein April, featuring Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Mr. Warren said he would devise his questions with input from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders associated with the group.

            Tom:

Dave, what could be wrong with that?  I mean, you have a pastor who certainly no other pastor, probably in the country, in the world could have two presidential candidates comes to their church to speak to their congregation.  But what might be wrong with that?

            Dave:

Well, Tom, what could be wrong with it?  This is the…I don’t know…is this the proper event for a church, is it to show people which side to vote on?  But we’ve got a sponsor here, Tom that this is disturbing to me, but you know more about them than I do.

            Tom:

Well, Dave, you know, it was a leading question for you, but there are some great concerns that we have, which is why we are addressing this story.  First of all, as people know, Rick Warren’s agenda is what he calls his P.E.A.C.E. plan.

            Dave:

Right.

            Tom:

And he’s been involved for almost 4 years now in trying to solve many of the world’s problems, poverty, disease, climate; he’s now a part of the Christian group that’s trying to deal with global warming.

            Dave:

Can I just interject here, Tom?  All winter long I was trying to get friends to organize and plead with Al Gore:  Please call off this global warming, it is freezing us to death!  We’ve had the coldest winter, and now we’ve got the coolest summer.  I’m thankful for his global warming now!

            Tom:

Yeah.  Well, Dave, that’s one small part of it, and we know that Mr. Warren is sincere about the issues of solving the world’s problems.  And of course he learned from Peter Druker, who he calls his mentor, who Druker, a social scientist, said that the world’s problems can’t be solved by governments, it can’t be solved by corporations, but it can be solved by churches because there is a church on every corner—there’s a place of worship in every village.  And if we can bring all the religions of the world to cooperate, then we can solve these issues.  Dave, that’s the social gospel, it’s not new to Christianity.    In this country, the 1800’s, the turn of the century, early 1900’s, this was a promotion by Christians to show that we are involved, that we want to get involved, and so on.  But what’s the problem with that?

            Dave:

Well, now we’re back to, “…hath God said?” Because how do you get all these different religions?  It’s not just denomination actually, but Rick will work with anybody, he’ll work with the Muslims, because they’re part of people of faith, you see, they have a faith.  Anybody that has a so-called faith, we’ll get them all together, but they have different ideas of this.  But we can kind of scrap those and set those aside, and now we will all work together on this very important project.

            Tom:

Well, Faith in Public Life, that’s the name of the organization that is co-sponsoring Obama and McCain at SaddlebackChurch.

            Dave:

Tell me about their faith.

            Tom:

Well, the board president, a woman named Meg Riley; she’s a Unitarian Universalist minister.  Now prior to taking this position, she headed up the Denominations Advocacy Office of Gay, Lesbian and Bi-sexual Concerns.  Now if you go down the list of the board of directors you find mainly women, certainly the men you won’t find a biblical Christian among them.  Their ideas, their concepts, their theology is anti-biblical to the max.  So this is a co-sponsor now at SaddlebackChurchwith Rick Warren presenting this social gospel.

            Dave:

So how does Rick justify this?  Why would he have this co-sponsored, does he not know who they are? 

            Tom:

Well, you’ve said before that you believe that Rick is sincere, but Dave, I believe there’s a simple problem here.  The social gospe–the best it can do is deal with symptoms, right?  The symptoms, I mean, poverty, disease and all these things are symptoms of what?  The sinful nature of man.

            Dave:

Well, Tom, the problem is the symptoms are about this earth, they are mainly physical, these are all physical things.  There is no truth in this, and there’s no way that you’re going to solve the problems of the world without changing the heart of man.

            Tom:

Right.  Now see, Rick claims that this is his first priority, I can quote you.  He says, “It’s to proclaim the gospel truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.”  Now how does that work when he’s got this follow-up inner-faith meeting with 30 Christians, Jewish and Muslim leaders?  Is he going to present Christ as the way, the truth and the life?

            Dave:

Absolutely not.

            Tom:

It would torpedo his agenda, the program.

            Dave:

Right, so you cannot possibly carry on his P.E.A.C.E. program to solve poverty and disease, and so forth all over the world, bringing all of these people together who have different beliefs.  Oh they are people of faith, they have some kind of a faith, but you cannot possibly do it, it’s doomed from the very beginning.

            Tom:

Dave, it reminds me of the words of Jesus.  Now I want to paraphrase this, so I am paraphrasing, but look at it this way.  What shall it profit people of faith if they solve all the problems of the world, yet lose their own souls!

            Dave:

Very well put Tom.

Source: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7016

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A Chronology Of End Times Events

By Jack Kelly

More and more as we get closer to the end, people want to see a time line of coming events.  Questions about the order in which events will take place, the span of time between them and the likelihood of there being enough time for everything to happen in the time we have left are becoming more numerous with each passing week.

As you know the Bible doesn't provide this level of specificity.  But neither are we left to make unfounded predictions. There are a number of clues scattered throughout the New Testament that take much of the guess work out of things.  With diligent study, we can put them together and make some pretty reasonable assumptions. 

                   Romans 11:25

For example Romans 11:25 says Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. I've shown several times how the phrases "full number"  and "come in" point to the Rapture of the Church. In Paul's day they were often used in a nautical context.  The “full number” was the number of crew members a ship needed before it was authorized to set sail. As soon as the full number of crewmen had been contracted the ship immediately left the harbor to begin its journey.      

The phrase “come in” means to arrive at the ship's scheduled destination.  It's still in use today.  People talk about how different life will be for them when their ship “comes in”.

From Romans 11:25 we get the notion that the Church has a full number, too.  That's the number of believers necessary for the rapture. Reaching that number frees us from the constraints of this world and we'll immediately “come in” to our scheduled destination, Heaven.

Jesus told the disciples He was going to His father's house to prepare a place for us, and then He'd come back for us to take us there (John 14:2-3).  He didn't say He'd come back here where we are to be with us here, as in the 2nd Coming.  He said He'd come back to take us there to be with Him where He is.  This has to be a reference to the Rapture.  Once He's done that, Israel's time of hardening will come to an end and the time of their reconciliation will begin. 

                   Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, And Ezekiel 38-39

Ezekiel said that one outcome of the battle he described in chapters 38-39 is that Israel will be awakened to His presence (Ezekiel 39:22).  Since Paul said Israel's  awakening will follow the rapture and Ezekiel said it will be an outcome of his battle, we can assume the rapture will likely precede Ezekiel 38.

None of Israel's current next door neighbors are mentioned by Ezekiel, even though they're all antagonists, but  the prophecies of Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 feature them prominently.  From this we can conclude these prophecies will be fulfilled ahead of Ezekiel 38 but there's no way to tell if they will also take place before the rapture. 

                   Acts 15:13-18

A set of parallel clues can bring us to the same conclusion about the relationship between Ezekiel 38 and the rapture. In Acts 15:13-18 James said that Israel was being set aside so the Lord could take out of the Gentiles a people for himself, after which David's fallen Tabernacle would be rebuilt. The phrase "take out" comes from a Greek word that means to take hold of something for the purpose of carrying it away.  It refers to the rapture of the Church.  

David's fallen Tabernacle is the Temple which was destroyed in 70 AD and will be restored.  But there won't be any need for a Temple until Israel is back in an Old Covenant relationship with God. And this will only happen after the Battle of Ezekiel 38.  Being back in an Old Covenant relationship means Daniel's 70th Week will have begun (Daniel 9:27).  That means the Age of Grace will have come to an end and the Church will be gone.  

                    Matt. 24:34, Psalm 90:10 and Isaiah 23:15

Based on these verses I believe Jesus said His 2nd Coming would take place about 70 years from the time Israel became a nation again in 1948.  (As I demonstrated in “Why The Re-Birth Of Israel Is A Sign Of The End”, it doesn't make sense to tie Matt. 24:34 to specific signs that happen just a few years before the 2nd coming.)  Adding 70 years to 1948 brings us to the end of 2018.  When Daniel's 70th Week begins, there will only be seven years left until the 2nd coming. That means Daniel's 70th Week will have to begin 7 years prior to 2018, in 2011.  Other clues indicate the 2nd Coming will likely happen on Rosh Hashanna, also known as the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish New Year. Because it takes place at the time of the new moon rather than on a full moon, it's often difficult to determine the exact time of its arrival.  For this reason it was sometimes referred to in the past as the feast where no man knows the day or hour.  Jesus used a form of this phrase 4 times in the span of 23 verses while referring to the time of the 2nd Coming (Matt. 24:42, 44, 50, Matt 25:13).  Computer projections tell us that in 2018 Rosh Hashanna will occur on Sept. 9-10. But it takes a confirmed visual sighting to make it official and Matt. 24:29 says the moon will not give its light following the end of the Great Tribulation, so no one will know the day or hour of His return until they see Him coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  (Matt. 24:30)

 

                   That's All Folks

That's as much of a hint as to timing the Bibles gives us.  But remember Psalm 83, Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38 are all called battles, not wars. If Israel acted without restraint Psalm 83 would likely require only a week or so to fulfill.  Isaiah 17 involves only the firing of a missile or the dropping of a bomb.  The Rapture of the Church will happen in the twinkling of an eye.  God could annihilate the forces of Ezekiel 38 in an afternoon. My point is, this is not too much for Him to accomplish in the time that's left.

The way the Middle East keeps heating up it's possible the fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 could happen very soon.  When the Gaza Blockade issue threatened to ignite into a full blown confrontation recently, I thought we were seeing its beginning.  But sad to say it's not if these two prophecies will be fulfilled but when.  And from Scripture you can't tell if they'll happen before or after the Rapture.  They could all happen at once.

But after they do, the Battle of Ezekiel 38 will follow, Israel's awakening being necessary for Daniel's 70th Week to begin.  This will bring the anti-Christ to the forefront to confirm the treaty that allows for a Temple to be built.  In the middle of the 70th Week he'll claim to be God, kicking off the Great Tribulation, after which the Lord will return to establish His Kingdom. Over the past few weeks we've taken a fresh look at Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38-39.  We've also shown why the re-birth of Israel has to be the premier sign of the End of the Age. Hopefully, this perspective on how all these prophecies are related will provide the overview we need to understand how very close we are to the End of the Age.  Even angels have longed to look into these things (1 Peter 1:12) but you and I are blessed to experience them firsthand.  You can almost hear the foot steps of the Messiah. 07-03-10

 Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack126.html

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