BY EARL COX, JPOST
Maybe we should not be too surprised. Maybe we should have seen it coming. Incredible as it seems, it is now a shocking reality. What people would have thought impossible not so long ago is now coming to pass. While not actually new on the scene, it is relatively new to America. What is it? The answer is Chrislam!
Christian and Muslim leaders have been meeting together for months to work on mixing together Christianity and Islam into one religion. They are trying to form an ecumenical merger of these two opposing creeds into a new and strange partnership. And they are giving it the combination name of “Chrislam.”
It is incredibly true that some well-known Christian leaders are encouraging Christian pastors across America to embrace this ecumenical concept of combining Christianity and Islam. The conservative Christian Coalition newsletter reports that already some 130 Christian leaders in 22 states have revealed their involvement. They are falsely declaring that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and they are ridiculously claiming that Christianity and Islam are both peaceful, monotheistic religions with similar beliefs and values. This is a lie straight from the great deceiver himself. Islam and Christianity are exact opposites. Just as water and oil do not mix, it is impossible for Christianity and Islam to mix. The Bible calls on Christians to seek peace and love their neighbor. Islam calls on its followers to kill all who will not convert to Allah’s teachings. In other words, fundamental, Koran believing Muslims believe everyone must convert to Islam or die.
Informed Christians and Jews know that Allah was an Arab moon god whose name Mohammed elevated to be the name of Islam’s highest power. That is why the crescent moon and a star are on the Islamic flag and on Islamic houses of worship. Informed people know that fundamentalist Muslim clerics have loudly and clearly declared jihad, or holy war, against all infidels ― that is, all non-Muslims of the world. And informed people know that the Koran says that by killing an infidel, a Muslim is assured of a place in heaven. We must stand against the evil spirit of Islam which says all who love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must be eliminated. This is extremely problematic and a real stumbling block when it comes to forming friendships or cooperative relationships with those of the Islamic faith.
In an article dated January 22, 2011 written by Debra Rae in NewsWithViews.com, she reports that Memorial Drive Presbyterian church in Houston, Texas has joined with other Presbyterian churches in Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit to encourage ecumenical reconciliation between Christianity and Islam. In the article she said, “Theirs was a celebration of a worldview potpourri mixing together elements of Christianity and Islam.” In her article, part 6 of the “Lost Art of Critical Thinking,” Ms. Rae went on to reveal that these churches have declared the Bible and the Koran to be of equal authenticity as sacred texts and even placed copies of the Koran in the pews next to the Bibles. Ms. Rae points out that some Christian supporters of Chrislam believe that “if American tolerance of ‛Chrislam’ were rejected, then the ongoing conflict between East and West would escalate beyond repair. This slippery-slope fallacy presumes a sort of chain reaction, destined to end with dire consequences that otherwise might have been averted.” In other words, it would be purely the Christians’ fault for not joining hands with those of the Islamic faith.
The Bible clearly states that Christians are to be ‘in the world but not of the world.’ Furthermore, we are to be salt and light to the world. We are warned against losing our saltiness which means losing our flavor. If we seek to “blend” with society and the un-Christian practices of those around us, then we have lost our saltiness and our ability to shine. Christian leaders who are embracing “Chrislam” and encouraging others to do the same are literally playing with fire. Have they not studied their Bibles? Are they hearing and believing the voice of the serpent in the Garden of Eden when he enticed Eve to be disobedient by saying, “Surely thou shalt not die?”
What does any of this have to do with Israel? By now we all know that the heart and soul of Islam is to see all Christians and Jews removed from the face of the earth. If proponents of Chrislam are successful in recruiting numbers of people who call themselves Christians, then not only will the Muslims want to see Israel and all Jews annihilated, the Chrislamists will also become of part of this evil, anti-Semitic force. Chrislam is apostasy and anyone who buys into this false concept is on a very slippery slope. The Bible teaches that the Jews are God’s chosen people therefore we, as Christians, are to love the Jews. What does Islam, or Chrislam, say about this?
South Sudan has only existed as a country for a little over two months. But already in that time the fledgling nation has found itself embroiled in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
And South Sudan has clearly marked itself as a friend of the Jewish state.
During a visit to South Sudan last month by Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said that he was recently approached by Hamas and told he must sever all ties to Israel because Sudan is an Arab state.
After reminding the Hamas leaders that South Sudan, unlike its northern neighbor, is not an Arab state, Kiir noted that there are Israeli embassies in Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan.
Rather than cut ties with Israel, Kiir said South Sudan intends to strengthen its relations with the Jewish state.
Demonstrating that his friendship for Israel goes beyond just words, Kiir reportedly agreed to Danon's request that South Sudan buck the international trend and build its embassy in Jerusalem. Every other nation in the world that has diplomatic relations with Israel refuses to accept Jerusalem as its capital, and instead those nations maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
South Sudan's affinity for Israel goes beyond the diplomatic considerations of the current government.
The young country's deputy parliament speaker, Daniel Akot, declared that "Israel is like a big brother to South Sudan," and recalled seeing more than one person waving an Israeli flag when South Sudan declared independence on July 9.
Danon and Kiir also discussed the many black Sudanese refugees currently living in Israel after fleeing oppression by Arab militias allied with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.
Kiir asked Danon to help facilitate vocational training for the refugees so they can return home and become productive and successful members of their new nation.
Both Danon and Kiir said that Israel and South Sudan have a bright future as partners in combining the former's vast technological abilities and the latter's enormous natural resources.
Video: Prophecies from Africa & Signs in the Heavens
Pastor Ray Bentley shares some interesting insights about recent and current events in the Middle East from a biblical prophetic perspective. Isaiah 18 &19. Pastor Ray also speaks about the Zodiac and the true biblical meaning of the 12 signs, what they mean and how the ancient viewed them as the gospel story.
This 1 hr program presents geo-physical evidence
hat seems to firmly suggest that the Earth is not 4 billion years old.
Young Age of the Earth – Part 1 (38 minutes – English)
Young Age of the Earth – Part 2 (38:32 minutes – English)
By David Dollins
The nation of Iran was called Persia, its Biblical name, until 1935. Persia was one of the former great empires of the world, ruling from 539 B.C. to 331 B.C, until they were conquered by Alexander the Great. Kings such as Cyrus the Great, Darius, Ahasuerus (commonly known as Xerxes), and Artaxerxes ruled this once great empire. Persia was also the setting for the book in the Bible entitled Esther. Ironically, the book of Esther tells how a Jewish girl became the queen of Persia and how God used her to save her people from a plot to destroy them. The book also explains how a special festival, called Purim, was established to remember and celebrate the deliverance that the Jews had experienced. Purim is derived from the Persian word pur, meaning 'lot'. It recalls how Haman, the enemy of the Jews, cast lots to determine the best day to carry out his plan to exterminate them.
It would appear not much has changed in 2,500 years. A 'spirit of Haman' still influences the leaders of Iran in the present day. I quote now from The New York Times (October 27, 2005). "Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be 'wiped off the map'…Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said, 'As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map". Don't think it is just Iran's President who believes this. He is only a puppet of the Ayatollahs who actually run the government. Amazingly, Psalm 83:2, 4, is prophetic for our day. It says, "For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you (God) have raised their heads. They say, 'Come, LET US WIPE THEM OUT AS A NATION; let the name of Israel be remembered no more". Iran's leaders, in their hatred of Israel, have become a self-fulfilling prophecy by quoting Psalm 83:4. One day soon, according to the prophet Ezekiel, Iran will experience a 7-fold judgment from God. Its end has been decreed.
Unknown to many, Iran is an important player in the Bible's prophecies of the end of days. It was 2,600 years ago, prior to Persia even becoming a world empire, that the prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of the future that most every Biblical scholar agrees is speaking of the time period in which we are currently living. Specifically, in Ezekiel 38, there is a list of nations that will come together at the end of days for the express purpose of destroying the nation of Israel. This battle has been traditionally called the 'Gog and Magog' war. Among those nations listed is Turkey, who is identified by multiple ancient place names/locations that existed within that country's current borders (i.e., Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Togarmah). Also, Libya is identified. Some Bible translations use the word 'Put', which is simply the Hebrew place name for the area currently occupied by present-day Libya. Finally, Iran has been singled out by its ancient name Persia (Ezekiel 38:5).
This coalition of nations, and the Bible implies many more nations with them, will make an all-out assault on Israel at the end of days with the intention of destroying her. God told Ezekiel that this event would occur in the "latter years" (Ezekiel 38:8). At the last moment it will look like Israel will be wiped out, but God will intervene and Iran and the other nations will suffer a 7-fold judgement from God – a great earthquake, pestilence, bloodshed, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:19-22). To be sure, God will not need Israeli airplanes and troops to get this accomplished. In fact, the context of the Scripture implies that this event occurs when Israel is isolated by the nations, as is happening now, and is vulnerable to attack precisely because they are unable to rely on friends and allies. This is also occurring with each passing day.
When God makes Iran and the other nations an example of His divine judgement, He also reveals His divine purpose. Seven times, God's perfect number, He makes similar statements as the one found in Ezekiel 39:7, "my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel…and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel." There you have the reason for God's intervention. God's coming judgement on Iran and the other nations with them will be to reveal Himself, to magnify Himself, to reveal His holiness, to glorify Himself, and to make Himself known in the eyes of many nations – all these phrases found in the Book of Ezekiel. God intervenes on behalf of Israel in order to reveal to the nations that He is God alone, that the prophecies of old that spoke of Him are true, and that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah who came to bring salvation to all of mankind.
Additionally, revival will come to Israel. At the end of Ezekiel 39 it says that God will pour out His Spirit upon the house of Israel. God says, "then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land (prophecy fulfilled May 1948), and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 39:28-29). According to the Apostle Peter in the New Testament, only Jesus Christ has been given this authority to pour out the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:33, Peter said, in referring to Jesus upon His resurrection, "…being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear". On that day, Jesus Christ will gloriously reveal Himself to Israel and an unbelieving world as the one true Savior, Lord, Messiah, and God!
As it regards the nation of Iran and the other participating nations, they may want to consider the Bible's graphic description of the aftermath of this judgement captured in Ezekiel 39. It says, "For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land" (v. 12). Then the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Ezekiel says, "Speak to the birds of every sort and to all the beasts of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth…" (Ezekiel 39:17-18). God says that one day He is going to make a feast out of these fallen armies for all kinds of scavengers. Iran's destiny and end has been decreed. The Persian people need Jesus Christ. They need their eyes to be opened, the same way that King Ahasuerus' eyes were opened because of a young Jewish girl named Esther.
When Anders Behring Breivik shot and killed 68 people at a Labour Party summer youth camp on Norway's Utoeya island and killed another eight in a bombing in Oslo on July 22, the media immediately began bellowing that a right-wing Christian fundamentalist had just committed the most deadly attack in Norway since WWII. The slaughter of dozens of children under any banner is not simply tragic, but abhorrent. Media outlets spoke too quickly when they asserted that Breivik was a fundamentalist Christian, however. Regardless of what Breivik's Facebook page might have claimed, his actions and words demonstrate no relationship with fundamental Christianity, "right-wing" or otherwise. He in fact supports Darwinism and human logic, demonstrating a rationalist worldview rather than a Christian one.
As we consider the Norway shooting, we first and foremost must pray for the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones. We especially grieve for the families of the teenagers - unarmed kids – whom Breivik murdered in the name of freeing Europe. This man did not come upon armed enemies. He came to an island filled with children, dressed as a police officer to gain their trust. He called them to himself and then began to shoot them down at close range, following them to where they hid in tents and where they fled to the lake to escape. The grief felt in Norway right now is unimaginable, and our hearts and prayers go out to all the living victims of the rampage.
It is a horrific shame that the news outlets immediately began proclaiming that Anders Behring Breivik, the Norway Shooter, is a Christian fundamentalist. Breivik has willingly admitted that he has no personal relationship with God or Jesus, and his actions have nothing to do with what Jesus Christ taught.
What Breivik Believes:
On Friday, Breivik released a pdf file describing his beliefs and motivations for his attacks. His major complaint is against the Muslim invasion of Europe, along with the Marxists and multiculturalists he believes are letting it happen.
Breivik's stated goal was to, "cause maximum amount of damage to the Labour Party to stop its recruitment" and to stop "a deconstruction of Norwegian culture and mass-import of Muslims."
Breivik is not pro-Christianity. He is simply anti-Muslim. He possesses a desire to preserve the historical Christian culture of Europe, as though he were preserving apple pie and baseball in America or wieners and schnitzel in Germany. In fact, while the papers declared Breivik to be a Christian fundamentalist, he specifically placed himself against a government based on Christian fundamentalism.
He writes. "It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a 'Christian fundamentalist theocracy' (everything we do not want) and a secular European society based on our Christian cultural heritage (what we do want)."
Breivik's version of Europe's Christian culture has nothing to do with faith in God at all. It's all about the non-Islamic cultural legacy of Europe. He says:
"So no, you don't need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)). The PCCTS, Knights Templar is therefore not a religious organisation but rather a Christian 'culturalist' military order."
While seeking to preserve Europe's cultural heritage, Breivik envisions a perfect Europe coming about through 'Logic.' He states, "'Logic' and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies."
Ah. Rationalist thought. That's just it.
Breivik did not kill those kids because of any verse in the Bible or because he believed God told him to. He's a believer in the human mind. He killed those teenagers and set off a car bomb in Oslo because, according to his rationale, it was the first step in achieving his purposes. He used his perfectly decent, albeit twisted, reasoning ability to justify the slaughter of dozens of unarmed human beings.
Many will argue that Breivik is insane, but Breivik's writings are not the ravings of a lunatic. His writings are lucid and practical. He has simply taken the human ability to make logical choices and has removed from his equations all morality and the value of individual human life. Breivik, like the Nazis or Communists or any other group that justifies mass murder, demonstrates where human logic can lead in the absence of moral absolutes.
Islamic fundamentalists have been repeatedly guilty of using violence in their efforts to bring humanity into submission to Allah, and there is a general world assumption that religious fundamentalism always eventually leads to violence in God's name.
True Christian fundamentalism, however, would never lead to the shooting of teenagers. It couldn't, because true Christian fundamentalism bases itself on the teachings and person of Jesus Christ. The real problems we Christians sometimes cause do not come from obeying Jesus, but from not obeying Jesus. Joshua took over the Promised Land, and David killed Goliath, but Jesus Christ never told his disciples to go out and commit violence in his name.
"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise," (Luke 6:27-31).
That's what Jesus taught.
Jesus told his followers he would send them the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13), and the Holy Spirit truly sets those who love Jesus apart from the members of all of the world's religions. The Spirit of God does not promote evil and destruction. As Paul the apostle told the Galatians, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law," (Galatians 5:22-23).
The problem we Christians have is not that we are too filled with the Holy Spirit or too in love with God. If we were, we would obey God. We would be filled with the fruit of the Spirit, full of the wisdom and love of Christ. We Christians cause problems not when we stick to the fundamentals, but when we are not fundamentalist enough.
Norway shooter Anders Behring Breivik is definitely not a fundamentalist Christian, and his justifications for murdering 76 people on Friday should give pause to any who think that human rational thought will ultimately lead to utopia.
By Russ Jones
A group of Omaha pastors has issued a proclamation that states homosexuality is not a sin.
More than 100 ordained Christian ministers have signed the proclamation, including leaders from Lutheran, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.
David Bydalek is executive director of Family First, the family policy council for the state of Nebraska. He deems this effort troubling for many Nebraskans and contends the ministers involved are from liberal denominations that do not respect the orthodox biblical teaching on homosexuality.
"When they come out with this sort of statement, I think they really do not reflect the mainstream feeling in the state of Nebraska," Bydalek suggests. "When we passed our marriage amendment years ago, we had about 70 percent of those in Nebraska who opposed 'gay marriage.'"
But when Christians take a stand to support traditional biblical teaching on the issue, the Family First executive director laments that they are often perceived as "bigots" or "homophobes." He suggests, however, that the loving response to those trapped in homosexuality teaches that the lifestyle is indeed sinful, but that freedom can be found through Christ.
"It's going to be more difficult, the more these…activists [gain] inroads into our culture and the more common it becomes," Bydalek warns. "So we have a very difficult task ahead of us as those who stand for truth."
Meanwhile, creators of the proclamation argue the document displays full acceptance of lesbian, "gay," bisexual and transgender people.
By Bob Unruh
|Yousef Nadarkhani (Image from Christian Solidarity Worldwide|
The U.S. State Department has issued a statement condemning the "hypocrisy" of Iran, which while publicly proclaiming its tolerance for human rights, in practice has condemned to death a Christian pastor because of his faith.
In a statement from department spokesman Victoria Nuland, the U.S. said, "While Iran's leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing."
The statement said, "We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Yousef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy – a charge based on his religious beliefs. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990."
The department noted that Nadarkhani is "just one of the thousands who face persecution for their religious beliefs in Iran, including the seven leaders of the Baha'i community whose imprisonment was increased to 20 years for practicing their faith and hundreds of Sufis who have been flogged in public because of their beliefs."
Nuland said, "We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them."
The international Christian organization Christian SolidarityWorldwide had more details on the case.
Officials said the Iranian Supreme Court asked the lower court in Rasht to re-examine a few procedural flaws in the case, but gave local judges a free hand to determine whether Nadarkhani should be released, retried, or executed.
By Jack Kelly
The weather is in the news again and I've received a number of questions about it. With another 500 year flood along the Mississippi and the worst tornado season since the 50s people are once again wondering if God is judging us for our sins. So we can better understand what's going on here's some perspective on the issue.
Based on my study of the nature and power of God, I'm convinced the world was perfect when He finished creating it. After all He pronounced His work of creation good 7 times during the week in which He performed it and when He was finished He declared the whole project very good. I don't believe there was a single thing wrong with the way it worked. I think there was a world wide sub-tropical climate and every day was perfect. There were twelve thirty day months and a year was 360 days long. I think the leap years, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters we're all too familiar with were unknown to Earth's earliest residents.
But when sin was introduced into the world things began to work differently, the way a computer program works differently after a virus has been introduced into it. And life on Earth really changed when that sin had to be judged. The world has literally never been the same since.
Paul confirmed this when he wrote that we humans are not the only ones in bondage due to sin. He said the creation itself eagerly awaits to be liberated from its bondage and has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth ever since it was subjected to frustration. (Romans 8:18-22)
We need to understand that when sin entered the world it knocked the finely tuned creation out of balance, and when God judged the world in the Great Flood it caused both short and long term consequences. As subterranean water broke through the Earth's surface, God collapsed the giant water canopy He had placed above the sky (Genesis 1:6-8) providing enough water to completely cover the earth's surface (Genesis 7:11-12, 18-19).
How Old Are You?
One of the earliest consequences of the flood was the reduction in life spans. A quick comparison of pre and post flood life spans in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11:10-32 is all that's necessary to confirm this. Some believe it happened because the water canopy had prevented harmful rays from outer space from entering earth's atmosphere and damaging the regeneration process of human cells. They claim the loss of this protection caused the aging process to accelerate rapidly.
So while Adam lived 930 years and 9 generations later Noah lived to age 950, his son Shem, who was 98 years old when the flood came, lived only a total of 600 years. But even so he outlived 8 of the first 9 generations of his post flood descendants. Although Abraham wasn't born until 291 years after the flood came, he was already 59 years old when Noah finally died. Abraham died at the age of 175 years, 35 years before Shem. And Moses died at 120. ( Source: http://gracethrufaith.com/ikvot-hamashiach/from-adam-to-abraham/)
The collapse of the water canopy along with the increased size of the oceans also meant that weather would no longer be perfect and mankind would be subject to periodic storms. The first mention of wind blowing on earth is in Genesis 8:1 just after the flood, and storms are first noted in Exodus 9:24, but Job, who probably wrote about the time of Joseph, also spoke of storms several times.
The next change in the creation was when the single land mass was divided into the continents of today. In Genesis 1:9 we see that God caused the land to be separated from the water on the third day of creation. Scientists speculate that there was originally only one large land mass. (In the early 1900's the German scientist Alfred Wegener named this super continent Pangea, meaning all land, in connection with his theory on continental drift.) But Genesis 10:25 says that after the flood, the land was divided, eventually resulting in seven continents. This division may have caused the earth's outer crust to be fractured into giant pieces, called plates, on which the continents and oceans rest. It's the movement of these plates that causes earthquakes.
Baby It's Cold Outside
Then came the Ice Age. The huge increase in the surface area of Earth's water caused by the flood caused increased evaporation which led to the world becoming almost completely enclosed in dense cloud cover. The cloud cover brought lower temperatures which caused the supersaturated clouds to condense into precipitation. Outside the equatorial zones the precipitation fell as sleet and snow instead of just rain and as more of the earth's surface became covered in snow the temperatures fell even lower. When the clouds finally cleared the sun melted much of the snow and ice but the polar regions have never recovered from this and are still frozen even though undigested tropical vegetation has been found in frozen animal carcasses chipped out of the polar ice. The increased precipitation combined with snow melt caused ocean levels to rise submerging numerous coastal settlements. Remnants of these settlements can still be seen 100-300 feet below the surface at many points around the world. The land bridge that once connected the British Isles and Europe disappeared. (Source: Ice Age Civilizations, James Neinhuis)
About 701 BC what was apparently a close flyby between Earth and Mars knocked both planets off their orbits. Having taken 360 days for Earth to circumnavigate the Sun ever since the creation it thereafter began requiring 365.25 days. All the calendars of the world had to be changed. Somewhere along the way the Earth's axis began to tilt, a process that continues to this day. This has the effect of making summers hotter and winters colder in much of the world than they were before. And lately we've learned that the Earth's magnetic poles are adrift and are probably going to be reversing within the next year or so.
So, as soon as sin was introduced Earth's days were numbered and things were destined to get progressively worse. Natural disasters have been part of man's existence ever since the Flood and at many times have been much worse than they are today. In fact one could logically wonder how the earth has managed to survive this long. The answer is in Paul's letter to the Colossians. Speaking of Jesus he said:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
Because of all this, when people ask if the Lord is judging us for our sins, my response is not yet. We're still experiencing the consequences of the last judgment. Besides the Church has already been judged and the penalty paid for our sins. It happened at the cross. Unbelievers won't be judged until the Church is gone and when they are it will make what's happening now seem like small potatoes.
Therefore it's my opinion that for the most part the extreme weather the world is currently experiencing is part of the ongoing effect of the judgment the Lord visited upon Earth at the time of the Great Flood.
Times Of The Signs
But I think there are also two things happening that may be unique to our time and both are signs from the Lord. One is for the Church and the other is for America's leaders.
Both Jesus and Paul indicated that we would see signs in the creation that would alert us to the nearness of the End times. These signs would appear before the end times scenario actually unfolds, in other words before the 70th Week begins, but would hint at its closeness. He called them the beginning of birth pangs (Matt. 24:8) Paul used the same phrase in Romans 8:22 referring to the creation. Birth pangs begin mildly and are far apart, but as the time for the birth approaches they become more frequent and more intense. Jesus specifically mentioned earthquakes, so let's see if the trend in earthquakes meets the pattern of birth pangs. In the 1930s and 40s earthquakes measuring 5.0 or larger averaged around 17 per year. In the 1990s the average was just under 30 but for the last 4 years we've averaging about 50. (Source: National Geophysical Data Center) I believe this is the Lord alerting the Church to get ready for the rapture.
The other one is a warning to America's leaders to take their hands off His land. By selectively relaxing His hold on the now flawed creation to coincide with American led demands that Israel trade some of His land for the false hope of peace, He's trying to get their attention. While the disasters His relaxation permits are no where near the record setters of world history, some have been bigger than anything this generation of Americans is used to. (You can easily Google up a list of the 20th Century's worst disasters to verify this.) As you can see from the list below, these warnings have conspicuously followed on the heels of American decisions to pressure Israel into forfeiting part of the Promised Land for peace.
1. October 30, 1991: The Perfect Storm – As President George H. W. Bush is opening the Madrid (Spain) Conference to consider "land for peace" and Israel’s Middle East role, the "perfect storm" develops in the North Atlantic, creating the largest waves ever recorded in that region. The storm travels 1000 miles from "east to west" instead of the normal "west to east" pattern and crashes into the New England Coast. Thirty-five foot waves pound Kennebunkport,Maine, the summer home of the Bush family.
2. August 23, 1992: Hurricane Andrew – When the Madrid Conference moves to Washington DC and the peace talks resume, Hurricane Andrew, the worst natural disaster ever to hit America, comes ashore and produces an estimated $30 billion in damage and leaving 180,000 homeless in Florida.
3. January 16, 1994: Northridge Earthquake—President Bill Clinton meets with Syria's President Hafez el-Assad in Geneva. They talk about a peace agreement with Israel that includes giving up the Golan Heights. Within 24 hours, a powerful 6.9 earthquake rocks Southern California, This quake, centered in Northridge, becomes the second most destructive natural disaster to hit the United States, behind Hurricane Andrew.
4. January 21, 1998: Lewinsky Scandal – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Clinton at the White House and is coldly received. Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright refuse to have lunch with him. Shortly afterwards on that day, the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaks into the mass media and begins to occupy a major portion of Clinton's time.
5. September 28, 1998: Hurricane George – As Secretary of State Albright works on the final details of an agreement in which Israel would give up 13 percent of the West Bank, Hurricane George slams into the United States Gulf Coast with 110 mph winds and gusts up to 175 mph. The hurricane hits the coast and is stalled there. On September 28, Clinton meets with Yasser Arafat and Netanyahu at the White House to finalize this land deal. Later, Arafat addresses the United Nations about declaring an independent Palestinian state by May 1999, as Hurricane George pounds the Gulf Coast, causing $1 billion in damage. At the exact time that Arafat departs the country, the storm begins to dissipate.
6. October 15-22, 1998: Texas Flooded – On October 15, 1998, Arafat and Netanyahu meet at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland. The talks are scheduled to last five days with the focus on Israel giving up the aforementioned 13 percent of the West Bank. The talks are extended and conclude on October 23. On October 17, awesome rains and tornadoes hit southern Texas. The San Antonio area is deluged with rain. The rain and flooding in Texas continue until October 22 and then subside. The floods ravage 25 percent of Texas and leave over one billion dollars in damage. On October 21, Clinton declares this section of Texas a major disaster area.
7. November 30, 1998: Market Capitalization Evaporates – Arafat comes to Washington again to meet with President Clinton to raise money for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capitol. A total of 42 other nations were represented in Washington. All the nations agreed to give Arafat $3 billion in aid. Clinton promised $400 million, and the European nations $1.7 billion. On the same day, the Dow Jones average drops 216 points, and on December 1, the European Market had its third worst day in history. Hundreds of billions of market capitalization were wiped out in the U.S. and Europe.
8. December 12, 1998: Clinton is Impeached – As Clinton lands in the Palestinian-controlled section of Israel to discuss the "land for peace" process, the House of Representatives votes four articles of impeachment against him.
9. May 3, 1999: The Powerful Super Tornado – On the day that Yasser Arafat is scheduled to declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital, the most powerful tornado storm system ever to hit the United States sweeps across Oklahoma and Kansas. The winds are clocked at 316 mph the fastest wind speed ever recorded. The declaration is postponed to December 1999 at the request of President Clinton, whose letter to Arafat encourages him in his "aspirations for his own land." He also writes that the Palestinians have a right to "determine their own future on their own land" and that they deserve to "live free, today, tomorrow and forever."
10. Week of October 11, 1999: Hurricane, Earthquake and Dow Collapse – As Jewish settlers in 15 West Bank settlements are evicted from covenant land, the Dow-Jones financial averages lose 5.7 percent in the worst week since October 1989. On October 15 the Dow lost 266 points, and a hurricane slams into North Carolina. On the next morning, October 16, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocks the southwest in the fifth most powerful earthquake in 20th Century. The earthquake was centered in the California desert and did little damage but was felt in three states. (source: www.truthorfiction.com)
11. August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina. One week before Katrina made landfall, Israel carried out the evacuation of 9,500 residents from Gush Katif and four Samaria communities. Residents were forced from their homes by Israeli troops, some dragged away kicking and screaming and placed on buses that took them from the area. The Gaza evacuation had been supported and even urged upon Israel by the US. Estimated to have caused damages in excess of $100 billion Katrina was one of the most expensive natural disasters in US history (Source: www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46178)
12. Sept. 1, 2010 US Pres. Obama welcomed PM Netanyahu (Israel) Pres. Abbas (Palestinians) Pres. Mubarak (Egypt) and King Abdullah (Jordan) to the White House, having invited them all to dinner on the eve of the first direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians in nearly two years. As the talks began, Hurricane Earl (a category 3 storm) was headed for North Carolina where mandatory evacuation orders were issued in some coastal areas. Hurricane warnings were established all the way up the East coast to Cape Cod. Although many experts felt the timing was wrong, and in fact no tangible results came from the talks, over $40 million in damages were attributed to hurricane Earl.
The Law of Cause and Effect is clearly established in the incidents I've described above. Even those who deny the existence of God have seen the trend. More than one observer has commented that it takes a lot of effort to miss the point of these warnings. And that is, of all the places on Earth, God has claimed that land for Himself. There's no nation powerful enough to give even one inch of it to anyone else at any time for any reason without suffering the consequences.
So back to the original question. Is God judging us for our sins? Not yet. But is He warning us that His judgment is coming soon? You bet. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
By Jack Kelly
“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24)
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt. 25:41,46)
If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15)
For most of mankind’s existence the belief that punishment for unbelievers is eternal was taken for granted. The above verses were the basis for what’s become known as the traditional view of hell.
But recently an alternative, called the conditional view, has come on the scene. This view is based primarily on Rev. 20:12 which says the unsaved dead will be judged according to their works. Proponents of the conditional view interpret this verse to mean that while no unbeliever can go to heaven, their punishment in hell will be based on the quality of their lives while on Earth. They contend that those who’ve led meritorious lives on Earth but aren’t believers will receive less severe punishment for a shorter period of time than say a Hitler or Stalin before being destroyed altogether. They claim that this view makes more sense because it shows God to be fair, making the punishment fit the crime so to speak, before mercifully ending their existence altogether.
On the surface it seems to make sense and some people are more comfortable with this view than the traditional one that appears excessively harsh to them and serves no purpose other than making people suffer. But is the conditional view the result of greater enlightenment in our understanding of Scripture or just another in a long line of attempts to re-cast God’s word into a kinder gentler document as it pertains to those who’ve rejected Him?
My Ways Are Not Your Ways
A closer look reveals that the idea of a conditional hell is decidedly biased toward the world view of unbelievers. Conditional hell proponents say, “All they did is not believe that Jesus died for them. Other than that many unbelievers tried to live a good life and helped a fair amount of people along the way. What did they do to deserve eternal punishment?”
What these people don’t realize of course is that unbelievers will have failed to do the only thing God required of them. Since the cross, God has only asked one thing of us.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
If God is going to judge unbelievers by how they’ve done the work He requires of them, it’ll all be over pretty quickly because without belief in Jesus even the good they might have accomplished is considered evil in God’s sight. How do I know that? Read the Lord’s own words;
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:22-23)
So much for the value of a meritorious life!
Unbelievers don’t think rejecting the Lord is a big deal because they don’t realize that their rejection of His sacrifice for their sins has eternal consequences. Because of their unbelief they’re only thinking in terms of a 70-80 year lifespan, not an eternal existence. So let’s take a look at this from the eternal perspective and try to understand how different it is.
First let’s understand that the man who is executed or given life in prison for taking someone’s life is not being taught that murder is wrong. He’s suffering the consequence of his crime by forfeiting the balance of his physical life . It’s an adaptation of the Biblical injunction, a life for a life (Lev. 24:17). On Earth we’re in a physical environment so it’s a physical life for a physical life.
But a person who rejects the pardon God provided for him has in effect murdered his own soul and spirit. Both are eternal, so there has to be an eternal consequence to fit the crime. Our physical bodies are only intended to serve a temporary purpose, and that’s to house the eternal part of us for a little while. Compared to our eternal existence, putting our physical existence to death is a minor infraction. Refusing to accept the Lord’s completed work on the cross as payment in full for our sins is a crime against our eternal life and therefore the only just punishment is eternal punishment.
And That’s Not All
But there’s an even more powerful legal argument for eternal punishment that for centuries was modeled in human existence as well. Until the mid 19th Century it was common practice in many parts of the world to incarcerate a person for failure to pay his or her debts. Jail time was not an alternative method of repayment, it was the consequence they suffered for their inability to pay their debt. No matter how long they were locked up they still owed as much of their debt as they did on their first day behind bars. They could only be freed by repaying the money they owed. Jesus referred to this practice in His parable of the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:23-35).
It’s the same with our sins. Punishment is not an alternative method unbelievers can use to pay the penalty for their sins, it’s the consequence they’ll suffer for their inability to pay the penalty. No matter how long a person suffers in eternity, they will still owe the same penalty as they did on day one. The only acceptable payment for sin is the blood of an innocent person, and nothing else will suffice. Hebrews 9:22 explains that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore no one can “work off” his or her penalty through suffering.
This is the fatal flaw in the Catholic concept of purgatory. It calls for a person who dies with certain unconfessed sins to “work off” the penalty for those sins through their suffering and the intercessory prayers of living relatives in order to qualify for entry into heaven. But there’s only one way for humans to qualify for entry into heaven and that’s by accepting the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins (John 3:3). Once we do that all of our sins are covered (Colossians 2:13-14). But we have to do it before we die (Hebr. 9:27) or else it’s too late.
It’s also the flaw in the conditional view of hell. If the blood of Jesus is the only way to be released from the penalty for our sins, then there’s no escape for those who reject it. No matter how numerous or noteworthy, the “good works” unbelievers perform during their lifetime can’t be applied to reduce their sentence and neither can the “time served” after they die, so they’ll always owe the same penalty as they did on day one of their incarceration.
The bottom line is the only acceptable payment for our sins is the blood of a sinless man, and the only sinless man is Jesus. He died for all the sins of mankind (John 1:29) but only those who choose to accept His death as payment for their sins can be forgiven. The refusal to accept it leaves everyone else unable to pay and requires that they be incarcerated. Since they’re eternal beings and since they’ll never be able to pay, they’ll have to remain incarcerated forever. Selah 06-25-11
By Dr. David R. Reagan
The world's largest church is one that teaches a New Age theology that denies all the fundamental truths of the Bible. The church has over 20 million enthusiastic members in the United States who adore their pastor — Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah's life story is a rags-to-riches sensation that could happen only in America. She was born in 1954 to an unwed teenager in Mississippi. She was given the name of Orpah at birth, after the biblical character in the book of Ruth, but her family and friends always mispronounced it, calling her "Oprah" instead.
On September 8, 1986, the Oprah Winfrey Show began broadcasting nationally, and in short order it replaced Donahue as the number one day-time talk show in America. Since that time, the Oprah Show has set all sorts of records. It is the highest-rated and longest-running television talk show in American history. The show has 22 million viewers in the States and 49 million worldwide in the more than 120 countries in which it is broadcast. Her O Magazine readership is over 3 million. Her website is visited 1.3 million times each day.
All of this has propelled Oprah to immense wealth and popularity. Her net worth is estimated to be more than one billion dollars. A Gallup poll ranked her as the 4th most important woman in the entire history of the world! CNN and Time magazine have both referred to her as "arguably the world's most powerful woman." She has received similar laudatory rankings from Life, USA Today, and Ladies Home Journal. Forbes named her the world's most powerful celebrity in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010. And in 2010, Life magazine named her one of the 100 most important people who have changed the world — right up there with Jesus Christ and Elvis Presley!
An Incredible Danger
There is no doubt that Oprah Winfrey is the world's most popular and powerful woman. And there is also no doubt that she is the most dangerous.
I make that assertion without hesitation because she has emerged as a New Age High Priestess who is deceiving millions into rejecting God's Word and embracing, instead, a convoluted theology that is straight from the pit of Hell.
Her Role As A Spiritual Leader
She is widely recognized as a spiritual leader. In 2002 Christianity Today declared she "has become one of the most influential spiritual leaders in America." In 2006 USA Today pointed out that she has been referred to as "a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," "a symbolic figurehead of spirituality," "America's pastor," and "today's Billy Graham."
The spiritual pornography that Oprah is peddling is called The New Age Movement. The irony is that Oprah claims to be a Christian and denies being a New Ager! On one of her programs when a Christian in the audience challenged Oprah about being a "New Ager," Oprah responded:
I am not New Age anything, and I resent being called that. I am trying to open a door so that people can see themselves more clearly and perhaps be the light to get to God, whatever they may call that. I don't see spirits in the trees, and I don't sit in a room with crystals.
Unfortunately for Oprah, this very denial revealed her New Age mentality. Notice that she refers to God as "whatever" a person "may call that." And she asserts that human beings can be "the light" to get to God. This denial is either a lie about her New Age beliefs, or else she is totally deceived by them.
The essence of the New Age Movement is pantheism — the pagan belief that God is in everything and therefore everything is God. This belief stands in direct opposition to the biblical teaching that God exists separate and apart from His creation. A corollary of pantheism is the belief that Man is god and therefore the key to spiritual enlightenment and salvation is to recognize one's divinity and release it to achieve Christ-consciousness.
Oprah can deny all day long that she is a New Ager, but the truth is to be found in her writings and public statements and in the guests that she features on her programs.
For example, during a program when she was interviewing New Age guru Shirley MacLaine, Oprah said that being born again is the same as "being connected to the higher Self," and she added that when the Bible says, "ask and it shall be given," we are being prompted to seek answers from our "intuitive Self."
On a program featuring a panel of New Age authors, Oprah said she does not think God is "hung up" on what we believe about Him. "Whatever that force is, it doesn't care what you call it. He doesn't have an ego problem." She went on to say, "I believe in the FORCE. I call it God." On the contrary, the Bible reveals God as our Heavenly Father, as a person, and not as some impersonal force or "it."
On another program featuring a panel of New Age gurus, Oprah said, "…one of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe that there is only one way. Actually there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God." When one of her audience members disagreed, testifying that she believed Jesus is the only way to God, Oprah lost her temper and shouted, "There couldn't possibly be only one way!" She added that she felt like God cares more about our hearts than He does about what we believe about Jesus.
In her 2005 book, Live Your Best Life, Oprah described her theology as a belief that everything is one and Man is divine and Man can thus create his own reality. She encouraged people to meditate and pray (to any god!) and say, "My heart is open to find the flow, the flow, the flow, the flow that is my life…I am willing to surrender to the flow that is my life." Does that sound like a Christian prayer to you? The Bible teaches that we are to surrender our lives to Jesus.
Oprah claims that one of the most important books she has ever read is one by Eric Butterworth called Discover the Power Within You. In that book the author wrote, "Jesus did not come to teach us how divine he was but to teach that divinity was within us." Commenting on this totally unbiblical and blasphemous statement, Oprah said that for Jesus to claim exclusive divinity "would make Jesus the biggest egotist that ever lived."
One of Oprah's severest critics, David Cloud, says that "in a nutshell, Oprah's gospel is ME." As he further points out, she has said repeatedly, "God wants you to love yourself. It starts with you." Newsweek magazine quoted her in 1997 as saying that spiritual gurus are here "not to teach us about their divinity, but to teach us about our own."
Dozens of Christian churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, and First United Lutheran in San Francisco to St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send "a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam" with a time to read the Quran during worship this Sunday.
It's not just wrong, but dangerous, according to Christian trends analysts.
The aim of the program, which is promoted by social activists behind the Faith Shared website, is to counter the message from Islamic activists who say opposition to their religion is the product of what they call a cottage industry of hate.
So the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First is calling on Christian clergy to read portions of the Quran during their services Sunday.
The readings, supporters say, will "counter the anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes that have erupted throughout the country in the past year and led to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases, violence."
Not so fast, says apprising.org religious trends analyst Ken Silva.
"I would think they need to have their spiritual heads examined. It's foolish to think that we're going to read something that originates with demons and read that in a Christian church," Silva said.
The action amounts to "spiritual treason," he asserted.
Pastors of participating churches declined to discuss their programs with WND.
But Silva said, "Second Corinthians 6:14-18 (the verse warning against partnering light with darkness) says we're forbidden to do that kind of thing. It's one thing to be friendly with someone in Islam, but it's a whole other thing in a Christian community to be reading something that is antithetical to Christianity and is hostile to Jesus Christ himself."
Silva isn't the only analyst who has objections to the program. Worldview Weekend President Brannon Howse said he's not surprised with the development.
"I expect that of the mainline churches. Many of them have denied the essential Christian doctrines," Howse said. "They have denied the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. They have denied the inerrancy of Scripture; they've denied the inspiration of Scripture. So I'm not shocked that pagans would united with pagans."
His critique of what he sees as the failure of the mainline churches grew more severe.
"I'm not shocked that apostates would unite with apostates. I'm not shocked that people who practice the occult of Christian yoga or practice the occultism of contemplative prayer, which is another name for Transcendental Meditation," Howse said.
Howse said he believes Islam is also rooted in the occult.
"I am not shocked that an occultic religion of mainline liberal Christianity would lock arms with the occult of Islam. They're both steeped in the occult and paganism. So I'm not shocked by that at all," Howse said.
Howse also has a word of caution for evangelical Christians.
"If you're an evangelical, you better defend the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and the deity of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of Scripture and the inerrancy of Scripture. If you're not willing to defend that, then you really shouldn't be calling yourself a Christian," Howse said.
Neither the Interfaith Alliance nor Human Rights First responded to WND's repeated requests for interviews.
The Faith Shared website paints a different picture of the objectives. The site says that tensions between Islam and Christianity have grown in the past year.
"Tensions around Islam in America have erupted throughout the country in the past year, leading to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases violence. News stories on the rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry and violence abound, with graphic and often searing images of the antagonists, the protagonists and the battlegrounds where they meet," the site said.
"All too often, media coverage simplistically pits Muslims against would-be Quran burners, neglecting any substantive representation of where the majority of Americans actually stand: a shared commitment to tolerance and freedom," the site read.
"We are committed to ensuring that the storyline changes dramatically in 2011 by helping to create an environment of mutual understanding and respect for each other’s faith traditions," the site said.
The Human Rights First site said the group simply wants to fight what members believe is rampant anti-Islamic prejudice.
"Faith Shared seeks to counter the anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes that have erupted throughout the country in the past year and led to misconceptions, distrust and in some cases, violence," the statement said.
"This countrywide, day-long event will engage faith leaders on the national and community levels in a conversation with their houses of worship, highlighting respect among people of different faiths," the site said.
The sites make those claims despite reports that the actual number of anti-Muslim incidents has gone down in the United States in the past 10 years.
Culture and Media Institute analyst Alana Goodman reports that anti-Muslim actions as a percentage of all anti-religious acts never went above 13 percent of the total number of anti-religious hate crimes.
"Since 2001, hate crimes against Muslims have decreased significantly, according to FBI statistics. After 2002, hate crimes against Muslims have not risen above 13 percent of all anti-religious crimes, and the most recent data from 2008 calculates them at 7.8 percent," Goodman's report stated.
Silva believes the real reason for the Shared Faith event is spiritual emptiness in the country.
"So many Christians talk to each other and they read other Christians rather than read the Scriptures themselves. There's a real move inside our country right now for an ecumenism and a syncretism trying to bring everyone together and it's rooted in contemplative spirituality," Silva observed.
"There's a deception that comes. They're under the impression that God is trying to bring all people together, and bring in God's dream for the world to make the world a better place," Silva continued.
"The Gospel has been changed from repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name to God wants to make the world a better place, get involved with where He's working and bring about His dream," Silva added.
"It's what Walter Martin would say spiritually obtuse Christians are easy marks for the more militant of the Muslims who are presenting this as some big Islamophobia," Silva said.
"We are not hateful to Muslims, but we are hostile to Islam because it enslaves people. We want people to be free," Silva said.
Howse says his warning to Bible-believing Christians is simple.
"Be aware of these people who have crept in secretly, unnoticed, with destructive heresies. I want to warn the church to be a 'Watchman on the Wall' for the 'Religious Trojan Horse' who is trying to draw people away from the faith," Howse said.
"Some of this deception is going to be so deceitful, so camouflaged, that we're going to be shocked at the Christian leaders who will follow it," Howse said.
WND reported only days earlier on a clash over Islam in Christian ministries.
It happened when Jack Van Impe Ministries launched a campaign to expose what it views as false teachings in Christianity and named several major ministry leaders. Trinity Broadcasting Network halted broadcast of a Van Impe program over it, and Van Impe decided to take his broadcasting elsewhere.
"I Will Not Be Silenced! I will not allow anyone to tell me what I can and cannot preach," Van Impe said in a statement when TBN would not allow his program to air.
"When I see heretical teaching leading to apostasy, I will speak out," he said. "The Bible says 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:' (II Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Paul also gives instructions in Titus 1:9-11, 13 'Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers … Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake…Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.'"
Van Impe said he immediately called his media agents and told them, "I no longer wanted to air my program on Trinity Broadcasting Network; we will take the tremendous amount of money that we were spending there to obtain new stations that will allow us to continue to reach every square mile of America with the truths of the Bible without this network."
The dispute arose over the issue of advocating for "Chrislam" and other efforts that are designed to find "common ground" between Christians and Muslims. TBN declined to air one of Van Impe's programs that contained sharp criticisms of leaders such as Rick Warren of "The Purpose Driven Life" fame and Robert Schuller.
In a statement from Van Impe Ministries, Executive Director Ken Vancil said his organization rejected an effort by TBN to reinstate the programming and would work to develop alternative broadcast outlets where they were needed.
"We would not be able to minister effectively if we had to look over our shoulder wondering if a program was going to be censored because of mentioning a name," Vancil said. "While there is hurt over this incident, we hold no animosity towards TBN. Dr. Van Impe has often expressed his appreciation to Paul and Jan (Crouch, of TBN) and all that they have accomplished."
But he confirmed that Paul Crouch Sr. continued to "caution" him "regarding Dr. Van Impe's naming of names and publicly rebuking ministers and their teachings."
Other ministries have voiced criticism similar to Van Impe's.
Joe Schimmel, senior pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Southern California and chief of the Good Fight Ministries, openly has questioned whether church leaders are affirming Allah.
Schimmel, who is best known for "They Sold Their Souls for Rock n Roll," which exposes satanic influences behind much of yesterday and today's popular music and how it negatively influences youth, suggested in a WND column, "Could it be that we are witnessing the formation of the prophesied one-world religion under the Antichrist? (Revelation 13:1-18) "
He cited Brian McLaren of the emerging church movement, who planned for an Islamic Ramadan celebration. And he mentioned Warren's agreement to address the Islamic Society of North America, which "the Department of Justice categorized two years ago as a co-conspirator in financing a foreign terrorist group!"
Another church leader, Tony Campolo, "a proponent of the so-called 'evangelical left' claimed that 'even if' Muslims 'don't convert, they are God's people,'" Schimmel wrote.
"Even more chilling is the fact that over 300 prominent Christian leaders signed a letter issued by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture claiming that world peace is dependent on Muslims and Christians recognizing 'Allah' and 'Yahweh' as the same God. This letter, titled 'Loving God and Neighbor Together,' was written in response to a signed document by 138 Muslim leaders titled 'A Common Word Between Us and You.' McLaren, Warren, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels were just several of the signatories to this outright betrayal of Christ!" he said.
TBN previously had a conflict over its intolerance for criticism of Islam. It was in 2006 when Hal Lindsey, WND columnist and one of the world's most popular non-fiction authors, clashed with the network because TBN wanted him to soften his views on Muslims. Lindsey refused.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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!
The Church Age ended on May 21, 1988 and the Tribulation began that day.
Between May 21, 1988 and September 6, 1994, the first six years of the Tribulation, almost no one was saved.
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.
Since the Tribulation will last 8,400 days or 23 years, dating from May 21, 1988, the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011.
- 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:
He begins his explanation by asserting that the first Jubilee Year after the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 was 1994.
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.
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.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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?"
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:
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.
The number 722,500 is made up of two sets of an identical series of numbers: 5x10x17 x 5x10x17 = 722,500.
- 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
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.
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!"
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.
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."
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.
What do each of those prophecies mean, and are they truly being fulfilled today? Let's take a look.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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!
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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).
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.
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.”  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.
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 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 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. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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. 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 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
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.
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. The beginning of the Great Tribulation (subtract seven years) then would most likely commence between 2011 – 2021. 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
· 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)
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)