The Hidden Doctrine Of The Rapture

By Jack Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 2

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

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

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

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

                   Here, There, Or In The Air

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

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

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

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

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

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Should Christians Wear Tattoos?

By Lynette Schaefer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hell – Sheol

By Ron Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(IsraelNationalNews.com)

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

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

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

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

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

(IsraelNationalNews.com)
 

 

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There Is No Seven Year Tribulation

By Jack Kelly

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

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

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

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

                   What Does That Mean?

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

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

                   A Different Matter

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

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

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

                   Where Did That Come From?

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

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

                   So What's The Problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   After We're Gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

09-04-10   

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

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Is the Antichrist a Jew, Gentile, or Supernatural?

By Bill Salus

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

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

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


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

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

Is the Antichrist a Jew?

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

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

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

The Gentile Antichrist Arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Antichrist Seeks Jewish Genocide Making Him a Gentile

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

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

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

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

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

The Jewish Antichrist Arguments

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

The Supernatural Alien (Nephilim) Antichrist Argument

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

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

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

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Women Pastors

By Ron Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV

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

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The Case for Pre-Trib Rapture in Luke 17

By Gene Lawley

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

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

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

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

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

1.   Activities of mankind when God intercedes.

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

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

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

A Population Primed for Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Twinkling of An Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Judgments Came

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

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

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

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

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

By Nathan E. Jones

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

Taking It to the Bedrock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Rapture — believers meet Christ in the air

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

  2. Rapture — Mount of Olives is unchanged

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

  3. Rapture — living believers obtain glorified bodies

    Second Coming — living believers remain in same bodies

  4. Rapture — believers go to heaven

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

  5. Rapture — world left unjudged and living in sin

    Second Coming — world is judged and righteousness is established

  6. Rapture — depicts deliverance of the Church from wrath

    Second Coming — depicts deliverance of believers who endured wrath

  7. Rapture — no signs precede it

    Second Coming — many signs precede it

  8. Rapture — revealed only in New Testament

    Second Coming — revealed in both Old and New Testaments

  9. Rapture — deals with only the saved

    Second Coming — deals with both the saved and unsaved

  10. Rapture — Satan remains free

    Second Coming — Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) The Tribulation is for Israel's redemption.

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

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

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

5) The Tribulation is not for the Church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8) The Church is busy elsewhere during the Tribulation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid's Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.

Closing Thoughts

I thank you for coming down this mental journey with me concerning why I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Hopefully it has confirmed or challenged some of your eschatological ideas. Bear in mind, though, that one's end-time views have no bearing on the doctrine of salvation. What is to be celebrated is that our salvation will one day lead us upwards to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever.

Nathan E. Jones
Evangelist & Web Minister, Lamb & Lion Ministries

Source: http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_rapture7.php

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When is the Rapture going to occur?

By Nathan E. Jones

Dr. David Reagan and I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ron Rhodes on a Christ in Prophecy TV program concerning this tough Bible question. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.

Dr. Rhodes: I'm a firm believer that the Rapture of the Church is going to happen before the upcoming 7-year Tribulation, and there's a number of reasons why I say that.

I'd say the most important reason is that the Church has no purpose for being in the Tribulation. The Scriptures clearly define the purpose of the Tribulation and I believe it's two-fold: there's going to be a judgment on unbelieving nations and there's also going to be a purging of Israel.

Now, that's aside from the fact that there's not a single verse dealing with the Tribulation in the Old Testament that mentions the Church. There's not a single verse in the New Testament dealing with the Tribulation that mentions the Church.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that the Church is not appointed to wrath. That leads me to believe that God is going to take the Church out of the world prior to the time of wrath which is coming upon the world. I also think this is related to Revelation 3:10 where the Church has promised deliverance from the actual time period of testing that is going to come upon the earth.

One of my favorite verses is John 14:1-3, which I don't think fits a Post-Tribulation scenario at all. Jesus says, "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." In other words, Jesus is going to take Christians back to Heaven. That doesn't fit the Post-Tribulation scenario which says that they all stay on the earth.

Imminence is absolute. That's the assumption that is always present. There's nothing that needs to take place before the Rapture of the Church. It could happen at any moment.

But, there are many events that must take place before the Second Coming. If you had a nice little calendar you could pretty much tell when Christ was going to come again. You could watch, for example, when the Antichrist signs the peace pact with Israel in Daniel 9:27 and do a countdown of seven years, which is also called the Seventieth Week of Daniel.

When we're talking about the Rapture, we don't see signs that are prophesied prior to that event. So you see, it is an imminent event. It's something that could happen at any moment.

Nathan's IMHO

The Bible teaches about the Rapture of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Isa. 26:19-21; Mal. 3:17; Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

There will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture because the Church isn't destined to endure God's judgment on the world, as promised in 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; and Rev. 3:10.

A great explanation that points to the timing of the Rapture comes from Jesus in the Parable of the 10 Virgins in Matthew 25. This story is about the Bride of Christ (the Church of 2 Cor. 11:2) being prepared for the Rapture and Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Jesus). This parable goes with what Jesus stressed in His teachings concerning end times. Over and over He told His disciples to be ready for His return at any moment (Matt. 24:44). Jesus used the Parable of the Ten Virgins to illustrate this point.

Five virgins were not ready when the bridegroom came and were thus left behind. "Be on the alert, then," Jesus warned, "for you do not know the day nor the hour" (Matt. 25:1-13). On another occasion, Jesus put it this way, "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight… for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" (Lk. 12:35, 40). And, while the virgins left behind may have a form of godliness, they are not saved and so are not qualified to be members of the Church, and are therefore not ready to be included in the Rapture.

Evidences of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture also come from Paul who comforted the Church of Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 when he wrote, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come." The church there was concerned that they had missed the Rapture and were living in the Tribulation. Paul assures them in verse 3 to "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." In other words, they'd know if they were living in the Tribulation.

The only hope that comforts someone staring into the face of the horrors of the Tribulation is that they would not have to endure it. These words from the Apostle Paul provide that very encouragement and hope of the Lord rapturing the Church beforehand.

Nathan E. Jones
Evangelist & Web Minister, Lamb & Lion Ministries

Source: http://www.lamblion.us/2010/08/quick-q-when-will-rapture-occur.html

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McCain, Obama, & Rick Warren

Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media.  This week’s item is from The New York Times, July 21, 2008, with a headline:  “McCain and Obama Agree to Attend Mega-Church Forum”  The following are excerpts:  It has taken a man of God, perhaps, to do what nobody else has been able to do since the general election season began: get Barack Obama and John McCain together on the same stage before their party conventions later this summer.  Rick Warren, the author of the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life said he had called each man personally to invite him to his event, which will focus on how they make decisions, and on some of Mr. Warren’s main areas of focus, like AIDS, poverty and the environment.  Mr. Warren’s event will have as a co-sponsor, Faith in Public Life, the multi-denominational religious group that held a compassion forum at MessiahCollegein April, featuring Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Mr. Warren said he would devise his questions with input from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders associated with the group.

            Tom:

Dave, what could be wrong with that?  I mean, you have a pastor who certainly no other pastor, probably in the country, in the world could have two presidential candidates comes to their church to speak to their congregation.  But what might be wrong with that?

            Dave:

Well, Tom, what could be wrong with it?  This is the…I don’t know…is this the proper event for a church, is it to show people which side to vote on?  But we’ve got a sponsor here, Tom that this is disturbing to me, but you know more about them than I do.

            Tom:

Well, Dave, you know, it was a leading question for you, but there are some great concerns that we have, which is why we are addressing this story.  First of all, as people know, Rick Warren’s agenda is what he calls his P.E.A.C.E. plan.

            Dave:

Right.

            Tom:

And he’s been involved for almost 4 years now in trying to solve many of the world’s problems, poverty, disease, climate; he’s now a part of the Christian group that’s trying to deal with global warming.

            Dave:

Can I just interject here, Tom?  All winter long I was trying to get friends to organize and plead with Al Gore:  Please call off this global warming, it is freezing us to death!  We’ve had the coldest winter, and now we’ve got the coolest summer.  I’m thankful for his global warming now!

            Tom:

Yeah.  Well, Dave, that’s one small part of it, and we know that Mr. Warren is sincere about the issues of solving the world’s problems.  And of course he learned from Peter Druker, who he calls his mentor, who Druker, a social scientist, said that the world’s problems can’t be solved by governments, it can’t be solved by corporations, but it can be solved by churches because there is a church on every corner—there’s a place of worship in every village.  And if we can bring all the religions of the world to cooperate, then we can solve these issues.  Dave, that’s the social gospel, it’s not new to Christianity.    In this country, the 1800’s, the turn of the century, early 1900’s, this was a promotion by Christians to show that we are involved, that we want to get involved, and so on.  But what’s the problem with that?

            Dave:

Well, now we’re back to, “…hath God said?” Because how do you get all these different religions?  It’s not just denomination actually, but Rick will work with anybody, he’ll work with the Muslims, because they’re part of people of faith, you see, they have a faith.  Anybody that has a so-called faith, we’ll get them all together, but they have different ideas of this.  But we can kind of scrap those and set those aside, and now we will all work together on this very important project.

            Tom:

Well, Faith in Public Life, that’s the name of the organization that is co-sponsoring Obama and McCain at SaddlebackChurch.

            Dave:

Tell me about their faith.

            Tom:

Well, the board president, a woman named Meg Riley; she’s a Unitarian Universalist minister.  Now prior to taking this position, she headed up the Denominations Advocacy Office of Gay, Lesbian and Bi-sexual Concerns.  Now if you go down the list of the board of directors you find mainly women, certainly the men you won’t find a biblical Christian among them.  Their ideas, their concepts, their theology is anti-biblical to the max.  So this is a co-sponsor now at SaddlebackChurchwith Rick Warren presenting this social gospel.

            Dave:

So how does Rick justify this?  Why would he have this co-sponsored, does he not know who they are? 

            Tom:

Well, you’ve said before that you believe that Rick is sincere, but Dave, I believe there’s a simple problem here.  The social gospe–the best it can do is deal with symptoms, right?  The symptoms, I mean, poverty, disease and all these things are symptoms of what?  The sinful nature of man.

            Dave:

Well, Tom, the problem is the symptoms are about this earth, they are mainly physical, these are all physical things.  There is no truth in this, and there’s no way that you’re going to solve the problems of the world without changing the heart of man.

            Tom:

Right.  Now see, Rick claims that this is his first priority, I can quote you.  He says, “It’s to proclaim the gospel truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.”  Now how does that work when he’s got this follow-up inner-faith meeting with 30 Christians, Jewish and Muslim leaders?  Is he going to present Christ as the way, the truth and the life?

            Dave:

Absolutely not.

            Tom:

It would torpedo his agenda, the program.

            Dave:

Right, so you cannot possibly carry on his P.E.A.C.E. program to solve poverty and disease, and so forth all over the world, bringing all of these people together who have different beliefs.  Oh they are people of faith, they have some kind of a faith, but you cannot possibly do it, it’s doomed from the very beginning.

            Tom:

Dave, it reminds me of the words of Jesus.  Now I want to paraphrase this, so I am paraphrasing, but look at it this way.  What shall it profit people of faith if they solve all the problems of the world, yet lose their own souls!

            Dave:

Very well put Tom.

Source: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7016

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A Chronology Of End Times Events

By Jack Kelly

More and more as we get closer to the end, people want to see a time line of coming events.  Questions about the order in which events will take place, the span of time between them and the likelihood of there being enough time for everything to happen in the time we have left are becoming more numerous with each passing week.

As you know the Bible doesn't provide this level of specificity.  But neither are we left to make unfounded predictions. There are a number of clues scattered throughout the New Testament that take much of the guess work out of things.  With diligent study, we can put them together and make some pretty reasonable assumptions. 

                   Romans 11:25

For example Romans 11:25 says Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. I've shown several times how the phrases "full number"  and "come in" point to the Rapture of the Church. In Paul's day they were often used in a nautical context.  The “full number” was the number of crew members a ship needed before it was authorized to set sail. As soon as the full number of crewmen had been contracted the ship immediately left the harbor to begin its journey.      

The phrase “come in” means to arrive at the ship's scheduled destination.  It's still in use today.  People talk about how different life will be for them when their ship “comes in”.

From Romans 11:25 we get the notion that the Church has a full number, too.  That's the number of believers necessary for the rapture. Reaching that number frees us from the constraints of this world and we'll immediately “come in” to our scheduled destination, Heaven.

Jesus told the disciples He was going to His father's house to prepare a place for us, and then He'd come back for us to take us there (John 14:2-3).  He didn't say He'd come back here where we are to be with us here, as in the 2nd Coming.  He said He'd come back to take us there to be with Him where He is.  This has to be a reference to the Rapture.  Once He's done that, Israel's time of hardening will come to an end and the time of their reconciliation will begin. 

                   Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, And Ezekiel 38-39

Ezekiel said that one outcome of the battle he described in chapters 38-39 is that Israel will be awakened to His presence (Ezekiel 39:22).  Since Paul said Israel's  awakening will follow the rapture and Ezekiel said it will be an outcome of his battle, we can assume the rapture will likely precede Ezekiel 38.

None of Israel's current next door neighbors are mentioned by Ezekiel, even though they're all antagonists, but  the prophecies of Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 feature them prominently.  From this we can conclude these prophecies will be fulfilled ahead of Ezekiel 38 but there's no way to tell if they will also take place before the rapture. 

                   Acts 15:13-18

A set of parallel clues can bring us to the same conclusion about the relationship between Ezekiel 38 and the rapture. In Acts 15:13-18 James said that Israel was being set aside so the Lord could take out of the Gentiles a people for himself, after which David's fallen Tabernacle would be rebuilt. The phrase "take out" comes from a Greek word that means to take hold of something for the purpose of carrying it away.  It refers to the rapture of the Church.  

David's fallen Tabernacle is the Temple which was destroyed in 70 AD and will be restored.  But there won't be any need for a Temple until Israel is back in an Old Covenant relationship with God. And this will only happen after the Battle of Ezekiel 38.  Being back in an Old Covenant relationship means Daniel's 70th Week will have begun (Daniel 9:27).  That means the Age of Grace will have come to an end and the Church will be gone.  

                    Matt. 24:34, Psalm 90:10 and Isaiah 23:15

Based on these verses I believe Jesus said His 2nd Coming would take place about 70 years from the time Israel became a nation again in 1948.  (As I demonstrated in “Why The Re-Birth Of Israel Is A Sign Of The End”, it doesn't make sense to tie Matt. 24:34 to specific signs that happen just a few years before the 2nd coming.)  Adding 70 years to 1948 brings us to the end of 2018.  When Daniel's 70th Week begins, there will only be seven years left until the 2nd coming. That means Daniel's 70th Week will have to begin 7 years prior to 2018, in 2011.  Other clues indicate the 2nd Coming will likely happen on Rosh Hashanna, also known as the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish New Year. Because it takes place at the time of the new moon rather than on a full moon, it's often difficult to determine the exact time of its arrival.  For this reason it was sometimes referred to in the past as the feast where no man knows the day or hour.  Jesus used a form of this phrase 4 times in the span of 23 verses while referring to the time of the 2nd Coming (Matt. 24:42, 44, 50, Matt 25:13).  Computer projections tell us that in 2018 Rosh Hashanna will occur on Sept. 9-10. But it takes a confirmed visual sighting to make it official and Matt. 24:29 says the moon will not give its light following the end of the Great Tribulation, so no one will know the day or hour of His return until they see Him coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.  (Matt. 24:30)

 

                   That's All Folks

That's as much of a hint as to timing the Bibles gives us.  But remember Psalm 83, Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38 are all called battles, not wars. If Israel acted without restraint Psalm 83 would likely require only a week or so to fulfill.  Isaiah 17 involves only the firing of a missile or the dropping of a bomb.  The Rapture of the Church will happen in the twinkling of an eye.  God could annihilate the forces of Ezekiel 38 in an afternoon. My point is, this is not too much for Him to accomplish in the time that's left.

The way the Middle East keeps heating up it's possible the fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 could happen very soon.  When the Gaza Blockade issue threatened to ignite into a full blown confrontation recently, I thought we were seeing its beginning.  But sad to say it's not if these two prophecies will be fulfilled but when.  And from Scripture you can't tell if they'll happen before or after the Rapture.  They could all happen at once.

But after they do, the Battle of Ezekiel 38 will follow, Israel's awakening being necessary for Daniel's 70th Week to begin.  This will bring the anti-Christ to the forefront to confirm the treaty that allows for a Temple to be built.  In the middle of the 70th Week he'll claim to be God, kicking off the Great Tribulation, after which the Lord will return to establish His Kingdom. Over the past few weeks we've taken a fresh look at Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38-39.  We've also shown why the re-birth of Israel has to be the premier sign of the End of the Age. Hopefully, this perspective on how all these prophecies are related will provide the overview we need to understand how very close we are to the End of the Age.  Even angels have longed to look into these things (1 Peter 1:12) but you and I are blessed to experience them firsthand.  You can almost hear the foot steps of the Messiah. 07-03-10

 Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack126.html

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Electronic Armageddon?

http://www.foxnews.com

High-energy electric pulses from the sun could surge to Earth and cripple our electrical grid for years, causing billions in damages, government officials and scientists worry.

The House is so concerned that the Energy and Commerce committee voted unanimously 47 to 0 to approve a bill allocating $100 million to protect the energy grid from this rare but potentially devastating occurrence.

The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act, or H.R. 5026, aims "to amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense of the United States against cybersecurity and other threats and vulnerabilities."


It cites electromagnetic pulses from geomagnetic or solar storms as the big threat to our energy distribution grid, and demands "an order directing the Electric Reliability Organization to submit … reliability standards adequate to protect the bulk-power system from any reasonably foreseeable geomagnetic storm event."

Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems. The sun's activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, and it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period.

"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity," said Richard Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms."

Fisher and other experts met Tuesday at the Space Weather Enterprise Forum to discuss the intersection of these two issues, and ways to protect society from nature's wrath.

A major solar storm could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina, the National Academy of Sciences warned in a 2008 report, "Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts."

And the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, while pointing out that "these risks are rare, and in some cases have never occurred," is nonetheless very concerned about the reality of geomagnetic events.

It a recently released report, NERC cited recent analysis by Metatech and Storm Analysis Consultants that suggests "the potential extremes of the geomagnetic threat environment may be much greater than previously anticipated. Geomagnetically induced currents on system infrastructure have the potential to result in widespread tripping of key transmission lines and irreversible physical damage to large transformers."

It's the fear of an EMP, specifically a high-altitude pulse caused by a solar event, that has Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) worried.

“It would cost about $100 million to protect the grid from EMP," he said in a speech at the House. "The consequences of inaction are dire. If our grid is destroyed by EMP, the National Academies warn it would cost us between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in damages and take four to 10 years to recover.”

Next week National Geographic Explorer will air a special on the topic, which warns that the risk also comes from terrorists. In "Electronic Armageddon," Explorer asks the viewer to "picture an instantaneous deathblow to the vital engines that power our society — delivered by a weapon specifically designed NOT to kill humans, but to kill electronics."

While predicting the odds of a nuclear HEMP attack from terrorist groups are less certain, most experts agree that another source of an EMP, the sun, is imminent,” the show warns.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/06/10/electronic-armageddon-solar-flares-disaster/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: foxnews/latest (Text – Latest Headlines)&utm_content=Google Reader

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Pride Comes Before A Fall

Paul Proctor

President Obama has officially declared June to be "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” here in America – essentially a repeat of last year’s proclamation. In fact, both are published on the whitehouse.gov website.

This year’s declaration in part, reads as follows:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.”

OK – that takes care of June, meaning we still have 11 other months in the year that have yet to be designated in the ongoing fight against “prejudice and discrimination.”

Click here to read more

Here is the proclamation:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                     June 1, 2009

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
- – - – - – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA
 

Click here to download PDF

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Proclamation-LGBT-Pride-Month/

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Signs from above

Edward Wood

I'll begin this article a little differently than the others I've submitted for your consideration by making an observation that some truly genuine believers in Jesus seem to regard science as incompatible to faith. If you are of such a notion, then the following exploration may not be for you since there is a good deal of science involved in its content. But before you dismiss it out of hand, let me tell you that for me personally science has helped me in my faith walk by letting me begin to appreciate more and more this marvelous universe. And since that which has been created is always less than the one who created it, then how much greater must God therefore be!

Science in and of itself is neither good nor evil. It is more a matter of how it is used that determines that. For example, I can pick up a hammer to repair a section of flooring or I can toss it through someone's picture window. We humans can in the same manner use science to discover a cure for a dreaded disease or to synthesize one that is even worse, to save lives or blast them out of existence. The biggest mistake is to make science our "god" and to look to it for all our answers. Sorry, but that job is already filled!

God has given us rational minds and has never called us to blind faith. In the words of the Bible he has given us over and over again the evidence we need to use these minds to acknowledge his existence, culminating in his coming to live among us some 2000 years ago. If even after all this we still remain unconvinced, it is, in my opinion, just a matter of willful stubbornness on our part.

Likewise God has revealed to us the things that are to come upon our world as history as we have known it winds down. In this essay, rather than trying to look at them all, we will primarily examine those which are to appear right over our heads. And what better place to start than in his Word:
 
Luke 21:10-13 Then said he [Jesus] unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers[e] places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to they synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for
a testimony [Bracketed sections added for clarification, here and throughout this article.]
 
Luke 21:25-28 [Jesus said] And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars,; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up,
and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Matthew 24:29-30 [Jesus said] Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Mark 13:24 [Jesus said] But in those days after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

That there will be signs in the heavens at the very end of this age is certain. They are followed immediately with the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Luke actually mentions it twice, once at the beginning of his account of the Olivet Discourse, and then with greater detail near its conclusion, the latter paralleling the accounts of Matthew and Mark.

But what about these days in which we live now? Can we expect to see any early indications of the great celestial turmoil that is to come? Let's take another look the the first passage. Here Luke tells us that we will have nations and kingdoms rising against each other, great and widespread earthquakes, famines, pestilence (disease), and "great signs" from heaven. However before these things take place, there will be great persecution of Christians and that they will stand
before "kings and rulers" for the sake of the gospel.

The best way to see when a particular prophecy is about to be fulfilled is to see if any of the others mentioned are already
happening. Just considering the verses just mentioned, it is difficult not to see their relevance to current events. Today in the Twenty-first Century the persecution of Christians (which has never really ended since Jesus walked among us) now continues at an increasing rate not only in authoritarian, Communist, and Muslim regimes, but on a more insidious and subtle level even within the world's democracies. The practical elimination of God from U.S. schools in 1963, removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses, Christmas creches from public parks, the continuing alienation of Bible-believing clergy and laypeople by our society and even by much of the church in the past decade are well known
examples of this very thing. Concurrently, large earthquake activity which ramped up in 2002 has increased dramatically with 2010 already surpassing the total count for 2009 of Magnitude six or greater quakes as of early May. Hunger is likewise increasing with the degradation of the environment and rise in population and diseases both new and old are
arising across the world.

Notice that Luke recorded Jesus as saying, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." From this verse, we learn that when these things BEGIN, it is at that point that our redemption draws near, not at the conclusion of them which will occur at the end of the Tribulation, the return of Jesus, and initiation of the Millennial Kingdom. I believe  that this argues strongly for a Pretribulation Rapture.

What we have NOT seen to an equal degree as the others are those Jesus said would be "fearful sights and great signs" from heaven. Notice that this is a more general statement that his later one which specify signs in the moon, sun, and stars, but could certainly include them as well. Naturally, it is impossible to say for certain what they will be, but we can say what they MIGHT be. We'll being with taking a look at the most prominent object in our sky, and then proceed from there.

THE SUN

In the vast realm of space our sun is just one of perhaps countless trillions of stars, but according to the best scientific knowledge at this time it is the only one hosting a water-covered world containing the only sentient life in this unimaginably huge universe. It is a class G2 star with a surface temperature of about 10,500 degrees Fahrenheit, a diameter of about 850,000 miles, and is stable enough to have provided a source of dependable light and heat in which life in its multitude of forms can thrive. That's pretty remarkable since all the rest of the planets in our own solar system and those currently found residing around other stars have shown no conclusive evidence of even simple life and
certainly none of the intelligent variety living on them. For reasons known to God alone, he has created but one oasis in this entire cosmos on which grace with the breath of life. It looks more and more that he created and maintained our little Earth just for us and the creatures with which we share it.
 
Think about it. Most living things, even the hardiest of them, would not survive very long away from the benign shores of our home world. And even down here, a slight change in any number of factors could easily deny us this refuge. Since our sun is such a major player, let us look at signs that might appear regarding it.

Science has known for a long time about the approximately eleven year solar cycle characterized by cyclic sunspot activity and related phenomena. The active times are generally the most immediately noticeable from the increase of charged particles emanating from the sun due to solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). In 1859 there was such a huge CME that auroral displays far from their usual high latitudes were dawn-bright and strange magnetically-induced electrical currents appeared in telegraph lines. Imagine the effect of such a solar outburst today on our ever more technological society with the resulting interruptions on our communications, power grids, and satellite systems.

We are now (in 2010) presently in an unusually quiescent Solar Minimum, where for the better part of 2008 no visible sunspots at all were detected. In the past, the Maunder Minimum which lasted from 1645 through 1715, along with he Sporer (1415-1510) and Dalton (1795-1829) Minimums helped to produce a "Little Ice Age" with noticeably colder worldwide temperatures (though airborne volcanic ash may have contributed). An extreme Solar Minimum today might be considered a sign in itself, however an unusually active Solar Maximum because of its more profound and immediate impact is probably a better candidate. We are now heading toward the next Maximum and it will be interesting to see what it will bring forth.

Before I leave this topic, I feel it important to point out that during the Tribulation we are guaranteed a time when the sun will become a merciless enemy:

Revelation 16:8-9 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which had power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him the glory.

Though we have so far looked primarily at the sun's activities from a scientific viewpoint, we must always remember that God can at any time directly and dramatically intervene in his creation in a manner beyond our capability to comprehend. This is something we should always bear in mind.
 
THE MOON

Our closest natural companion in space is the moon. For as long as life has been on this planet, the moon had been there, not only providing us with its night time illumination (except during the new moon) but also, along with the sun, controlling our ocean tides. For thousands of years our seafarers have had to incorporate them into their calculations for sailing themselves and their cargoes across the waves. Our seaports and coastline developments have also had to take them into account. The cyclic regularity of the tides as our world rotates and our moon revolves around it in its nearly month-long orbit year after year has made this possible in the first place.

It is actually an easier matter to speculate about the ways our dynamic sun might affect us than it is to do so our virtually
unchanging moon. It is very much a big rock in space lacking the active geological processes, atmosphere, and liquid water which we take for granted on our own world. Other than a constant rain of micrometeorites with the occasional and rare impact by a larger object, not much happens up there. I've heard it said that the most boring job of all would be that of a lunar meteorologist. His or her forecast would be something like this: "Fair, very hot, and dry during the day, fair, very cold, and dry during the night. Zero precipitation, zero windspeed. Our long term forecast calls for more of the same for the next million years at least."

But in Luke 21:25 Jesus said that the even the moon would exhibit signs immediately preceding his return, so perhaps there will be something of a prefigurement of them before the Tribulation even begins. There is always the possibility, albeit remote, of it being struck by a truly massive object capable of altering its appearance, or, under the right circumstances being struck by something of sufficient size to perturb its orbit and in doing so affect tides down here on
earth, such an event creating no small amount of chaos, I'm sure.

Or, as we've noted before, God might cause a lunar sign of such a nature that we just can't predict.

THE STARS

We live in such a vast cosmos that any number of things night fit the category of signs from the stars. In 1054 a great
supernova was seen even in the daytime, the remnants now visible as the Crab Nebula and the core of the exploded star now left spinning at an incredible rate in the constellation of Taurus. In 1572 and 1604 there were two more visible in our sky also within our own galaxy. Most recently was one in 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a mini-galaxy which orbits our own. Fortunately for us they were distant enough not to cause us harm. But should one explode even within a few hundred light years of us, the effects on our atmosphere might be pronounced, not to mention the damage radiation could cause to our satellites or possibly ourselves.

Another lethal blast of radiation might come from an object called a gamma ray burster. These are yet not fully understood and may come from several different causes but can produce in split seconds busts of radiation equivalent to the energy of our sun over its entire life! Can you imagine the earth being subjected to such a beam? The results would be no less than catastrophic.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

We should also consider other signs from the heavens. An asteroid or large meteor strike to the earth itself is certainly a
possibility and, in fact, has happened many times over the duration of the earth's existence. There is ample evidence of this past battering on our airless moon which lacks the weathering processes which continually reshape the surface of Earth. In more recent times, a blast from an exploding meteor or small comet leveled vast areas of the Tunguska forest in Russia, and our astronomers watched in fascination as fragments of the Shoemaker-Levy Comet plunged into Jupiter leaving marks visible even to small telescopes, something I managed to see myself.

It is even possible that the Apostle John saw such an impact which will occur on Earth during the Tribulation:
 
Revelation 8:8-9 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

We should also consider the possibility that among the terrors coming from the skies might be ones of our own invention. With the growing tension in the Middle East escalated in no small way by Iran's bellicose declarations against Israel and their desire to become a nuclear power, one can easily imagine the horror of a population beneath an imminent  missile strike. As before, John might have witnessed this very thing occurring during the Tribulation:

Revelation 8;10-12 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; And the name of the star is Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the
stars; so s a third part of them was darkened, and the day shone for not a third part of it, and the night likewise.

A hydrogen bomb, which operates on the same fusion principles as most stars, would easily contaminate sources of fresh water making it lethal and kick up vast amounts of smoke and dust which would obscure the light from the moon, sun and stars. By an eerie but perhaps not at all coincidental turn of fate, the word for Wormwood in Russian is  "chernobyl," something Terry James from Rapture Ready brought to my attention some time ago (Thank you, Terry!)

There is yet one last possibility I'd like to consider which seems to be more from the realm of science fiction than of
science, but one we should not dismiss out of hand. Lately there has been a curious revival of interest in so-called "ancient astronauts" who were purported to have come here in the distant past and were instrumental in the creation of such structures such as the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in Great Britain, and other megalithic structures that we would be hard-pressed to duplicate even today.

But is there really a need to invoke extraterrestrials from deep space as the source of these and other such mysteries or could the answer be a lot closer than we might imagine? In Genesis 6:1-5 we read of the offspring of the "sons of God" (a term also used sometimes for angels -see Job 1:6) mating with human women. The indication is that this was certainly not done with God's approval (Jude 1:6) and was possibly the work of those angels which had accompanied Satan in his rebellion against God in some dim age even before the creation of the universe.

Though these "giants" (or "nephilim" which means "fallen ones") were referred to as "mighty men" of "renown," the fact
that not very long after their appearance the Bible tells us that the world had become so evil indicates that they might have been influential in making it that way. I do not find it beyond reason that these beings possessed superior physical and mental attributes which may have allowed them provide the technical means to explain some if not all of those old
mysteries attributed to ET's we find so enigmatic today. The question then becomes, could there be a new race of nephilim about to reveal themselves posing as aliens from another world?

Yes, I admit this is pure speculation on my part, but as we find in the Bible no mention of sentient life coming from other
worlds, we have plenty of references to intelligences other than human beings, beginning with God who is the ultimate expression of such, and the angelic hosts, of which Satan and his allies are fallen members. Knowing that the devil's biggest and most effective weapon is that of deceit, fabricating a visit from aliens from another planet, which would
no doubt present one of the biggest challenges to the true faith that the world has ever seen, would certainly be consistent with his character and modus operandi throughout the history of humankind

CONCLUSION

It is easy enough to become overwhelmed with concern as we consider all the signs in our modern world that indicate that we are headed for a particularly pivotal and dark time for our world. But if you take nothing else away from this essay, know that God takes care of his own. He is there for the long haul. But perhaps I'll just end by letting someone named Luke recount once again Jesus' own words:

"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/wood7.html

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Mideast Matters May Meltdown in 2010!

Bill Salus

Major Mideast wars are coming according to the Bible prophecies in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39. It would be prudent for people to prepare now, in 2010, for their soon and sequential arrivals.

It is public knowledge that as of December 2009 Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas became allied together by bonafide war pacts against Israel. Iran is a member of Ezekiel 38-39 and Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas appear to be identified in Psalm 83. These war pacts reportedly commit them to fight alongside each other should any of them come under attack by Israel. Had these war pacts been in place during the 22 day conflict between Israel and Hamas that ended in January 2009, the outcome could have been dramatically different.

Back then the Israeli Defense Forces (I.D.F.) seemingly ambushed Hamas with their retaliatory show of force and caught these others off guard. None of them were able to lift a finger to rescue Hamas from the pounding inflicted by the I.D.F. Iran’s nuclear program was incomplete, Hezbollah was in the process of restocking their rocket arsenals, and Syrian war scars from 1948, 1967, and 1973 made them reluctant to join alongside Hamas. Thus, these vowed enemies of Israel were reduced to sideline saber-rattling at the time.

However, matters have deteriorated and are quite different today. A brief review of Mideast events occurring since the Israel – Hamas war suggests the Fertile Crescent is presently a ticking end time’s bomb set to explode. In addition to the war pacts described above, here are a few more troublesome interim occurrences:

1. Israelis are being fitted for gas masks.
2. Israelis are preparing for a multi-front chemical war with Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas.
3. Israel is constructing new and renovating thousands of old bomb shelters.
4. Israel is threatening a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
5. Iran could have a nuclear bomb within eighteen months.
6. Syria is now thought to have the most powerful scud missiles in the world.
7. Syria has reportedly shipped scud missiles to Hezbollah.
8. Syria has threatened to attack major Israeli cities in the event of war.
9. Hezbollah has declared that it can wipe out one-half of Israel’s army.
10. Hezbollah has been training for hand to hand combat inside Israeli cities.
11. Hezbollah and Syria reportedly have chemical weapons.
12. Hezbollah has stockpiled over 50,000 rockets.
13. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are within rocket reach of Israel’s enemies.
14. Hamas reportedly has rockets that can reach Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.

These are just a few of the numerous events that point toward war soon in the Middle East. The Israel – Hamas war created a heightened degree of animosity amongst Israel’s Arab and Persian enemies against Israel. As a result of the conflict, Turkey restricted relations with Israel and the Arab League voted unanimously again not to normalize relations with Israel.

Warranting additional concerns, King Abdullah of Jordan recently voiced serious dissatisfaction about his country's fragile peace treaty with Israel. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he warned that "Jerusalem could blow up into another war" and declared "Jordan was better off economically before it made peace with Israel in 1994." Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab States presently at peace with Israel making Abdullah's statements extremely disconcerting.

Odds are strong that war is about to break out soon in the Middle East. Diplomatic solutions to resolve the conflict have continually failed. Relations between Iran and Israel, the Arab League and Israel, and even America and Israel are desperately tense and in a seeming state of disrepair.

At no time in Israel’s history has it ever faced an existential threat of the magnitude it faces presently. Israel’s ancient enemies possessed bows and arrows, but today the Jewish State faces arsenals that can wipe it off the map.

Humanity ought to now heed the war prophecies of the Bible and prepare for war rather than peace in the Middle East! These prophecies are scheduled to occur soon and sequentially each building upon the other. According to scripture the aftermath of these wars will lead to a one world order, construction of a third Jewish Temple, and the arrival of Antichrist.

Time is of the essence evidenced by events stage setting in the Holy Land. Christians, not knowing if they will experience these prophetic wars or be Raptured prior, should consider living each day on earth as though it were their last. In so doing, they will improve their Christian witness. These are the days when Evangelists and Eschatologists should work together in order to bring more people to Christ.

Source: http://prophecynewsstand.blogspot.com/2010/04/mideast-matters-may-meltdown-in-2010.html

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Israel’s new gas fields will do little for peace

Robin Mills

Middle Eastern country finds large gas reserves. In our hydrocarbon-rich region, this would hardly be news, were it not for the identity of the country: Israel.

Golda Meir, the former Israeli prime minister, used to joke that Israel was the only place in the Middle East without oil. But in January last year, the US company Noble Energy found gas in the Mediterranean: not as good as oil, but a valuable second prize. More recent drilling confirms it is a giant discovery, probably just the first of several.

Suddenly, Israel can look forward to independence from energy imports, a cleaner environment, maybe even earnings from gas exports. But in this troubled region, such a bonanza is not likely to bring benefits to the Palestinians, nor peace. It may even contribute to further conflict.

Ninety kilometres offshore from the northern Israeli port of Haifa, in waters 1,700 metres deep, through a thick layer of salt, the exploration well was tough to drill and cost US$140 million (Dh514.2m). Yet the discovery, named Tamar, was the second largest in the world in the past two years, and was immediately followed by another find nearby.

With this record, it is likely that much more gas remains to be found in the deep waters of the eastern Mediterranean. The excitement has led to a boom in the shares of Noble’s Israeli partners, and gas deliveries could start as early as 2012.

Noble has been producing gas in shallow waters on the border with Gaza since 2003, while Israel has also been buying Egyptian gas. Previously, Israel had planned, like Dubai and Kuwait, to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) to ease its dependence on expensive oil and polluting coal for power generation.

Now, the LNG terminal will probably not be needed. Tamar assures a 20-year supply for electricity, and the country could, like the Gulf states, build up gas-based industries such as aluminium or petrochemicals.

In a happier situation, these discoveries would be a driver for regional economic integration. Some gas could go to energy-poor neighbours and Israel could join the Arab Gas Pipeline that runs from Egypt up to Syria, and ultimately on to Turkey and Europe.

In such an unstable area, of course, these initiatives are impossible. In reality, any significant exports would be as LNG to Europe, bringing no benefits to neighbouring states.

Tamar has ramifications far beyond business and economics. Earnings from gas would make Israel more able to resist international pressure or boycotts over human rights and peace negotiations, and to weather any reduction in US aid. A secure domestic energy source avoids the need to look to Egypt, where recent legal action has sought to block gas exports to Israel.

Palestinians will feel they have some claim on this gas, but they are unlikely to gain anything from it. The people of Gaza can feel particularly aggrieved. In 1999, the British company BG found a large field offshore Gaza, enough to provide power to all Palestinians for a decade and more, but this gas has never been developed. Indeed, the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon stated that Israel would never buy gas from the Palestinians because it had no intention of giving Hamas a source of revenues.

For the Israelis to exploit this gas themselves would be illegal under international law, and forbidden by the Oslo Agreement. They might have chosen to ignore the diplomatic consequences, but with the discovery at Tamar they can afford to leave Gaza’s gas lying idle indefinitely. In the meantime, Gazans face daily eight-hour electricity blackouts.

Tamar itself appears to lie within Israeli waters. However, with no peace agreement and hence border demarcation between Israel and Lebanon, there is always the possibility of new fields being uncovered in disputed areas, at a time of increasing speculation about an Israeli attempt to settle scores with Hezbollah.

Further north, Cyprus may share in this exciting new gas province, and Noble has rights to drill here, too. For Lebanon, with no indigenous energy sources, and Syria, a modest oil producer now in decline, exploration of their Mediterranean offshore should be a priority.

Syria held a bid round in 2007 but attracted no interest, while Lebanon has not moved beyond data-gathering. So Lebanon and Syria, distracted by other issues, have fallen behind their neighbours in the race. Both these countries need to offer attractive terms to invite foreign companies with the skills and big wallets to explore these deep waters.

This episode is a reminder that, in themselves, oil and gas are neither a blessing nor a curse. Everything depends on what is done with them. In this troubled region, Tamar brings benefits only to Israel, and it has the tragic potential to encourage Israeli intransigence.

In the absence of real progress towards peace, gas discoveries cannot be a force for regional prosperity. In the current circumstances, the best that Israel’s neighbours can do is to try to emulate its success.


Robin M Mills is a Dubai-based energy economist and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis

Source: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100312/BUSINESS/703119913/1050

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Israel destroys Damascus, then Russia invades

Bill Salus

These days it doesn't require much dusting to see Russia is conspicuously etching its indelible fingerprints upon the Middle East. In a bid to regain superpower status, the ancient Muscovites are forming unprecedented alliances with Iran and Syria, the two primary enemies of modern day Israel.

These strengthening ties, coupled with a 2,600-year-old Ezekiel prophecy, has end time eschatologists racing against the clock to publish their next cutting edge books.

For those unfamiliar with the Old Testament prophet, he foretells in Chapters 38 and 39 the coming of a Russian – Iranian-led, nuclear-equipped coalition that invades Israel in the last days. For a litany of recent newsworthy reasons, all indicators point to this enormous episode occurring in the very near future.

Although volumes of Ezekiel invasion best-sellers should soon justifiably line world bookshelves, these authors must be cautious not to put the colloquial cart before the proverbial horse.

Indeed Russia and Iran are ready to make their moves, but what about Syria? Oddly Syria, who today panders alongside Iran for Russian affections, is not included among the elite nine members of the Ezekiel 38 and 39 consortium of attacking nations. Why not? What knocks their quiver of missiles out of the Ezekiel military equation?

As I have documented in my recently released book, "Isralestine, The Ancient Blueprints of the Future Middle East," the Bible makes quite clear that in a distinctly separate Psalm 83 episode Damascus, the capital of Syria, soon ceases to be a city, and subsequently shortly thereafter Russia and Iran advance against Israel.

Furthermore "Isralestine" explains how the destruction of Damascus followed by the Ezekiel invasion sets the stage for the final tribulation period, whereby the Antichrist rallies his Armageddonites together in one last days ditch effort to destroy the Jewish race.

Thus there are three scheduled end time advances against Israel, not just Ezekiel's. First comes Psalm 83, the Arab-Israeli war, followed promptly by the Ezekiel 38 and 39 Russian – Iranian invasion, and lastly the campaign of Armageddon by the Antichrist.

While the world watches to see who will be the next American president, and if Tzipi Livni will have a longer-lasting run than Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert as Israel's new prime minister, these three powerful prophetic events destined to have a profound geopolitical worldwide affect, are staging like dominos to fall in their specific chronological order.

One event superimposes itself upon another, and before humanity realizes, no one "small and great, rich and poor, free and slave," will be able to buy or sell apart from placing the Antichrist's computer chip in his or her hand or forehead, a technology already existing today! (Revelation 13:16-17)

The damnation of Damascus sets all the above events into accelerated motion! This ancient city that presently allows every known terrorist agency inside its city limits, and holds the world record for being continuously inhabited, will one day soon bite the divine dust, according to the prophets Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

The destruction of Damascus will be such a powerful world event that Isaiah was instructed to boldly and succinctly state, the burden against Damascus. "Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap." (Isaiah 17:1, NKJV) Isaiah further announces that the fortified cities of Syria will be forfeited into Israeli sovereignty. (Isaiah 17:9) This suggests that the dooming of Damascus and conquest of Syria results from of an Israeli Defense Forces campaign.

Amos and Jeremiah echo this 2,800-year-old Isaiah prophecy by prophetically uttering some additional details they were given. Amos declares that the capitol building of Syria will go up in smoke, and that the nation as a whole, will go into captivity. (Amos 1:3-5) Jeremiah concurs and furthermore declares the Syrian military will be decisively defeated, and in addition many young men will die in the blood-stained streets of Damascus. (Jeremiah 49:23-27)

Contrary to the recent nonsensical rhetoric that "Greater Israel no longer exists," according to former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, and that "lesser Israel has expired," according to Iran's apocalyptic president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel is about to blast Damascus to smithereens! This is what inevitably prevents Syria's arrows from making their way into Russia's arsenal.

So in conclusion, if you are thinking about traveling to Damascus, or have prime Syrian real estate or even a timeshare there you may want to dispose of, now is the time to implement your plan. The writing is indeed on the wall, on the recent headlines and in the holy scripture, that the Psalm 83 Arab – Israeli war is about to occur, and the byproduct of that conflict will find Damascus entirely eradicated from forthcoming Middle East maps.

Source: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=76484

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Obama’s Healthcare Microchip: The “Mark?”

Joseph Chambers

The United States of America has taken the giant step towards universal control of every American citizen and anyone receiving any form of medical treatment and/or supplies. This is not the Mark of the Antichrist, but it is the precursor to that Mark. The amazing fact of this action is that it puts the United States in the driver’s seat of the One World Order. Congressman Ron Paul’s website has these exact words, “‘In real world speak,’ according to this report, this new law, when fully implemented, provides the framework for making the United States the first Nation in the World to require each and every one of its citizens to have implanted in them a radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchip for the purpose of controlling who is, or isn’t, allowed medical care in their country.” (http://www.dailypaul.com/node/105079).

By nature, I am a doubter when it comes to fear-mongering or conspiracy theories that have little or no supportive information. When this idea was first mentioned on our Open Bible Dialogue radio talk show, I doubted it openly. But, after a little help from others and a lot of digging myself, I knew something was very scary. Here is a little of the information from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ website. This information was slated as “Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff.” This kind of information cannot be accidental.

“This guidance document was developed as a special control guidance to support the classification of the implantable radiofrequency transponder system for patient identification and health information into class II (special controls). The device is intended to enable access to secure patient identification and corresponding health information in humans. This guidance is issued in conjunction with a Federal Register notice announcing the classification of implantable radiofrequency transponder system for patient identification and health information.

“This guidance document describes a means by which implantable radiofrequency transponder systems for patient identification and health information may comply with the requirement of class II special controls. Designation of this guidance document as a special control means that manufacturers of implantable radiofrequency transponder systems for patient identification and health information who follow the recommendations listed in this document, before introducing their device into commercial distribution in the United States, will also be able to market their device without being subject to the premarket notification requirements of section 510(k) of the Act.” (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ucm072141.htm).

As massive as Obama’s Healthcare bill is, there is no way it can function without a complete system of control. The present cost of the health-related programs is draining our nation and it is only minute in comparison. This new law — already signed by the president — also requires every citizen and anyone else receiving health care to purchase insurance. This certainly suggests that every person living within our borders will eventually be assigned this radioactive chip. You can probably be assured that this chip will now or eventually have a GPS responder to locate you in case you get lost. Isn’t that nice of this crowd of liberals?

Is this idea just a fancy way to take care of our health needs? Or is it Big Government that is determined to control our lives? The Holy Bible is absolutely plain that this is the future of our world. The Antichrist will only have seven years to form his plan, implement it, and rule the world. He needs surrogates like President Obama to prepare the way. It is only reasonable to understand that almost every aspect of world control must be in place before he appears. With over six billion souls alive and dramatically growing, the stage must be set and in order.

We can see our world headed towards the One World Order from every direction. There are almost no national economies in the world. The world court is already conducting business and a great effort is underway to pressure every government to comply. A world religion is in place. The only religions not at the table are Orthodox Judaism and Fundamental Christianity. We are hated for such narrow-mindedness.

Let’s remember that the Biblical Prophecy writers and ministers have been warning us about this for decades. There are some writers that have set dates, made wild predictions, and missed the mark by wide margins. But, the mainstream writers and ministers have been right on target. Years ago I said, “If Jesus tarries a few more years, we will begin to think that we are already in the Great Tribulation.” Every day I feel a little more like that, while at the same time I know that the Great Tribulation cannot begin until the Rapture occurs.

The Bible predicted this future “Mark of the Beast.” “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:15-17).

Again, I remind you that Obama’s microchip is not the Mark of the Beast. This future Mark must be identified with the Antichrist and is in essence a form of devil-worship. Taking that Mark will be a choice between the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ and the devil, along with his false trinity. The present push for world control is certainly satanic. The entire Obama agenda has been evil from his first day in office. Remember that while he was being sworn into office, the website at the White House was programmed with his homosexual agenda, plus many other liberal directives.

It’s time to stand tall on every issue of life. Absolutely no one should take his chip. You will probably not even be able to buy your prescriptions without the druggist putting the cash register scanner on your right hand. The Rapture-ready crowd will be out of here shortly.

Joseph R. Chambers
jrc@pawcreek.org

 

Source:

http://www.pawcreek.org/salty-saints/obama

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Close Encounter or Just Shock

Ron Graham

“And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.Acts 7:56. Stephen saw a vision of Jesus just before he was stoned to death. There are many occurrences within the pages of God’s word where some have seen either an angel or a Christophony. In Stephen’s case he saw the Christ, the living Son of God the Father, in all His glory.

Many books have been written throughout the years which tell stories of those who’ve gone through a near death experience. Some of these folks claim to have seen God and some say they have even spoken with Him. In some cases these people have been declared clinically dead for a few minutes before returning to this human dimension. During that time they claim to have experienced something supernatural. Some have made rather hard to reconcile claims about having seen Heaven in all its glory and others claim to have been transported to the deepest dungeons of Hell itself, by Jesus Christ no less. Some of these stories have been so cleverly portrayed that many believe they must be true.

I’ve read many of these experiences, especially when I was a fairly new believer. I read as many books as I could get my hands on in those days, and all were written by Christians. Over the years I’ve seen the error of such books and now I understand much more about why people write books such as these. Some write about near death experiences because they know this subject is popular with the masses and they are very creative writers who can completely overwhelm the imagination of the readers. Many of these writers are only seeking after monetary gain or some other form of popularity.

But some of these authors surely believe they actually visited Heaven and Hell, or that they’ve seen Jesus in all His glory as they laid waiting for help in the middle of some automobile wreck or other catastrophe. I’m not here to argue or dismiss anyone’s near death explanation as false, only that I have doubts about some of them.

Many people use 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 as a Biblical proof text for believing in near-death experiences. However, this would be taking a lot of liberty with interpretation. They believe Paul had actually died and he found himself in heaven. But the passage does not state that Paul had died. God gave Paul a vision of heaven, so Paul did not have a near-death experience. Certainly Stephen had a near death experience since he was near death when he saw Jesus.

Other than Stephens experience the Bible is somewhat silent regarding near-death experiences, and there is no reliable scientific research to confirm such experiences, we probably shouldn’t simply accept the legitimacy of these claims on their face value. But I also believe it to be too strong to state that all near-death experiences are faked, imagined, or Satanic, but there are still serious concerns, Biblically, about the validity of many of these reported experiences.

Now that I’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, I would like to convey an event in my life that was a very strange occurrence to say the least. I’m not saying my story falls into the category of near death experiences, only that one fateful day I was supernaturally protected from harm. Close encounter with death, or was it something else? You be the judge.

In 1995 I went to work for a refuse company as a truck driver. Over the first few weeks I was going through some very intense training, learning to operate their equipment while being taught the route I was soon to be assigned. This particular day as my instructor and I were about halfway through my new route we had to make a quick detour to a transfer station. A transfer station is a place where trucks filled with refuse were unloaded and then other larger trucks would pick up those dumped loads and deliver them to a land fill area many miles away.

On this particular day my route trainer was driving the truck. As he brought the truck to a stop in front of one of the dumping bays he jumped out to move a backhoe that was parked in front of the bay. After moving the backhoe over to the side he climbed back into the cab of the truck and proceeded to back it into the bay. When he brought the truck to a stop again we both jumped out and went to the back of the truck to open our respective doors.

The driver opened his door first, swung it around and clamped it to the side of the truck and headed back to the cab, leaving me to do the same with my door. The problem arose when I opened my door. As soon as I had released the bar clamp which held the door shut it sprung open and hit me in the chest with a force I felt was equal to someone hitting me with a sledgehammer at full swing. My instructor had neglected to take the pressure off the load (similar to a large trash compactor), consequently all the pressure of that load was up against my door.

When the door hit me I was thrown backwards onto the top of the pile of garbage that was already lying there from a previous dump. The driver hadn’t realized I was injured and proceeded to raise the bed to dump the full load. As I was laying there in intense pain, and with all the air knocked out of me, I was unable to call for help. I watched as the front end of the dump unit rose high in the air and the back was lowered just above me. The door I had opened was swinging back and forth and that whole load of garbage was now hovering above my motionless body.

Now it’s important to understand that gravity alone should have created an unavoidable set of circumstances. I should have been buried at the bottom of a huge refuse pile. But that was not the case. As I lay there in excruciating pain fully expecting to be crushed to death, I was faced with an impossible situation. It was impossible for me to move out of harm’s way and it was impossible for that load to remain in the truck. As far as the driver was concerned, all that refuse should have been lying in a huge pile there in that bay.

Finally, after what seem like an eternity, the driver came back to the rear of the truck to ascertain the problem with the load not dumping out. When he saw me laying there under the back of that truck he picked me up and carried me out of the area where that load would eventually be dumped; that feat of strength alone coming from a man half my size can only be described as supernatural. When he laid me down again he placed me right next to the backhoe he had moved earlier and which was still running.

I was laying there in incredible pain as my instructor hurried off to call an ambulance and my wife. My wife tells me that the sound of his voice over the phone was one of extreme anxiety; he didn’t want to tell her everything. He must have thought that the spark of life which keeps us all alive was about to leave my body.

While I was laying there next to that backhoe in all that pain and with all the noise of the backhoe and the truck filling up that dump bay, I fell into what I can only suppose was a different realm of existence. Suddenly there was no pain and all the noise that had surrounded me earlier was gone. My eyes were open and I could see with perfect clarity a bright shining light before me. I didn’t hear a voice; I didn’t see a manifestation of Christ. And I’m still not saying that this experience was near death.

All I knew was I felt great with no pain at all; I was once again able to breath and felt I could even speak. I didn’t speak though, at least I don’t remember speaking, but I felt I had all my faculties. The day that this happened was very cold on the Oregon coast and yet I was now in total comfort – warm and without any pain in my chest. I didn’t have a clue as to where I was but I knew I was not lying next to that backhoe any more. The weirdest thing in my mind was that I was no longer laying down but standing. This comfort I felt was short lived.

Suddenly, quicker than a blink of the eye, I was back lying next to that backhoe, once again in extreme pain. All my senses were returned to the urgency of the moment. All the warmth I had felt was gone and I was freezing. All the noise that I had escaped from for that short period of time came back with a tremendous blast in my ears. And even though I was painfully back and in Oregon again, the only difference was I was breathing again.

The ambulance came and whisked me away to the nearest hospital. My wife met me there and she could see that I was in a lot of pain, but she was somewhat shocked when she saw me climb out of the ambulance instead of being carried on a gurney. The EMT’s took me into the emergency room where the attending physician ordered x-rays of my chest. When he got the x-rays back he was very surprised that there were no broken ribs. No internal injuries. No visible external injuries. The doctor determined I had only bruised some ribs. Surprisingly I was only laid up for a couple of weeks before returning to my job.

The garbage company fired me within a month of my return. They told me I would never learn how to operate their equipment efficiently, even though I had operated many different types of equipment for many years. I had to assume they were upset that they had to pay for an on the job injury.

Everything works out in God’s plan, and just after that accident my wife decided she needed to get back to Church; she had stopped attending church a few years before we met and was miserable during that time. Soon after that incident we began attending church together with our little girl.

It wasn’t long after that that I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit; I prayed for Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I became a born again believer in Christ after what I suppose some might consider a near death experience. I think about that incident a lot these days as well as other incidences in my life when I came dangerously close to death. Where would I have been spending eternity if I had died that day? Thank God He kept me from severe injury and death. I thank Him daily that He has saved my soul from Hell.

Just a few years later I began to diligently read and study God’s word. Now here I am fifteen years later writing Christian apologetic commentaries. Those commentaries are read by literally thousands worldwide on a weekly basis. Could that be the reason God kept me alive through that ordeal? Is there any other reason I should be alive today other than to do God’s will and to be a light to the lost? Was my life saved that day supernaturally? Why didn’t all that garbage tumble out and bury yours truly?

A month after the accident I was in my doctor’s office for a follow up visit and I related this strange story to him. My doctor was not a believer at the time of hearing my story, and even if he was I might still have received the same response. His response was that I was probably in shock.

I’ll let you decide. God has placed us all here for a reason. He has a plan for every human being on this planet. Whether or not we ever follow His plan for our life is a decision we must all make. Was I given a special little boost on that fateful day? I must let the Bible be my guide, thus the truth of most near death experiences, in my view, will always be somewhat elusive. But God’s plan for our lives becomes clearer as we continue our walk with Him.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV

Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/graham/g119.html

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Strategic nuclear warheads around the world

All numbers are estimates because exact numbers are top secret.
Strategic nuclear warheads are designed to target cities, missile locations and military headquarters as part of a strategic plan.
Israel
Israeli authorities have never confirmed or denied the country has nuclear weapons.
North Korea
The highly secretive state claims it has nuclear weapons, but there is no information in the public domain that proves this.
Iran
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in 2003 there had been covert nuclear activity to make fissile material and continues to monitor Tehran's nuclear programme.
Syria
US officials have claimed it is covertly seeking nuclear weapons.
 

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Receive The Holy Spirit

Jack Kelly

I've gotten a raft of comments on  my comparison of John 20:22 with Acts 2:1-4 in a recent question.  Some were more diplomatic than others in suggesting my understanding of these verses leaves something to be desired.   So let's take another look and see how these two passages are alike and how they're different.  We'll take John 20:22 first, in the context of the passage. 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:19-23

Some have suggested that Jesus was only pretending here, his breath meant to imitate the sound the Holy Spirit would make when He really came 50 days later, and not investing the disciples with the Holy Spirit.  But Acts 2:2 says the sound of the Holy Spirit was much different.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. It's like comparing the sound of blowing out birthday candles to the sound of a hurricane.

And the Greek word for receive in John 20:22 is lambano and means to take or lay hold of something in order to use it, or carry it away.  It denotes permanence and possession.  The same word is used in Acts 8:17 referring to the believers in Samaria when they finally realized they  had received the Holy Spirit after Peter and John arrived.  I don't believe Jesus was pretending, any more than Peter and John were.  I think the  disciples who were present were receiving the Holy Spirit just like it says. 

Jesus met with the disciples several times after that night, speaking with them about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5)

The Greek word for baptize literally means to be temporarily immersed, usually in water.  Jesus explained that while that was the case with John's baptism, soon the disciples would be temporarily immersed in the Holy Spirit, giving them miraculous power.

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8)

This gift was not the receipt of the Holy Spirit, which had already happened, but the power to do miraculous works.  Remember, He had previously told them the Holy Spirit had been with them and would be in them (John 14:17).  This had been accomplished.  Now He was saying the Holy spirit  would come upon them.

This is seen in the use of the Greek word “eperchomai” which is translated to come upon or come on. It means to over power someone, or take them over.  The same Greek word described the 2 instances recorded in Acts of Gentiles speaking in tongues.  In Acts 10:44 the Holy spirit came upon the Gentiles listening to Peter at Cornelius' house.  In Acts 19:6 the Holy Spirit came upon a group of Gentiles when Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus.  I believe both of these events were temporary situations intended to show the Jewish leadership that the Holy Spirit could come upon Gentiles as well as Jews.

The Holy Spirit had also come upon men in Old Testament times, as with Balaam (Numbers 24:2), Saul (1 Sam. 11:6), Amasai (1 Chron. 12:18), Azariah (2 Chron. 15:1) and Zechariah (2 Chron 24:20).

Understanding the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit (lambano) and having Him come upon you (eperchomai) helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding these verses.

                   And Now For Acts 2

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

The word for filled also means to be temporarily taken over.  And men had been filled with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament as well. Examples are Joseph (Genesis 41:38) when he interpreted Pharaoh's dream, and Bezalel of the tribe of Judah who was given supernatural skill in designing and working the gold, silver, and bronze ornamentation for the tabernacle (Exodus 31:2-4). 

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41, 1:67) over 30 years before Pentecost.  In addition people are also said to be filled with wrath (Luke 4:28), fear (Luke 5:26), wonder (Acts 3:28), etc.  In every case the same Greek word is used.  And in every case it describes a temporary condition. 

So being filled with the Holy Spirit did not originate with Pentecost, nor did having Him come upon us.  But don't get the idea that temporary means it only happens once for a little while and then it's gone for good.  Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.  But then he was filled again in Acts 4:8 and once more in Acts 4:31.  Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 9:37 and again Acts 13:9. It can happen every time there's a need.

Here's the point I made in my answer.  When we first come to faith the Holy Spirit is sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephes. 1:13-14)  and will remain there as long as we live on this Earth.  The disciples experienced this on the evening of the Lord's resurrection and ever since then every believer has had the same experience.  But from time to time the Holy Spirit will come upon us and we will be temporarily filled with His power to perform a miracle on His behalf.  Every believer can also experience this. It doesn't require a special ceremony, and it doesn't only happen in some churches. It can happen at any time to any believer who makes himself or herself available in faith.  It has happened to me and it can happen to you. Selah 03-27-10

Source: http://raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack113.html

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Jerusalem, Israel’s Forever

Bill Keller

Each day, this nation gets further away from God and closer to seeing His wrath and judgment unleashed on our once great land.  On top of legally slaughtering over 4,000 innocent babies each day, making a mockery of God's Holy Institution of Marriage, embracing every type of sexual perversion man has thought up in his depraved mind, worshipping the false gods and idols of the world, and literally living in all-out rebellion to our Creator and His Truth, the United States is now standing with the ENEMIES OF ISRAEL!  My friend, if we ever wanted to experience the wrath of God, we are doing everything we possibly can to see that it happens.  

Memo to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton:  Jerusalem belongs to Israel, ALL of it!  If Israel wants to build settlements in Jerusalem, they can.  The enemies of Israel have NO CLAIM to this land.  We are on the verge of seeing God's judgment poured out on this wicked nation, and now we are siding with the enemies of Israel?  We are out of our mind!   This is like going up to the biggest guy you can find on the street and spitting in his face.  We are literally putting our middle finger in the air and screaming profanities at the top of our lungs to God!!!

Please, do yourself a favor right now and get your Bible and sit down and spend the next 10 minutes reading the anchor verses for today, Genesis 12:1-7, 13:14-16, 15:18; Deuteronomy 9:4-6; Joshua 1:1-11; 21:43-45. You could spend hours reading all the passages in God's Word that confirm that modern-day Israel is the land God promised to Abraham and gave to His children. You do not have to be a Bible scholar to quickly realize in just the few key passages I have given you today that the land of Israel is indeed the exact land God Himself promised to His children 4,000 years ago, and fulfilled that promise in 1385 B.C. when Joshua took possession of that land.

Having laid the Biblical case to support that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, now you can see why giving away even one inch of that land to anyone else is going against God Himself. No person, no nation, has the right to give away what God promised and gave to the Jewish people. Those who do make themselves an enemy of God! Over and over throughout the Bible and human history, nations have invaded this land, taken it over, only to be defeated in the end. The land of Israel is only 20,330 sq km, slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Out of the billions of square miles that exist on this earth, this is the only place on the planet God literally promised and gave to His children. For anyone to go in and try to give a piece of that land away is foolish.

That is why the current "peace plan" the United States has had such a large role in working out will never work and has actually put our nation on the opposite side of God again! Let me be clear. The Gaza Strip belongs to ISRAEL! The West Bank belongs to ISRAEL! Jerusalem, all of it, belongs to ISRAEL! For this nation to be involved in any deals, even under the guise of "peace," that involves giving away the land God gave to the children of Israel is taking on God Himself! Not to mention that this land is being given away to the ENEMIES OF ISRAEL!!!

My friend, one of the problems many have with the Bible is that they can't understand why a God of love would command His children to go to war and "Kill every man, woman, child, and living thing" as He did many times in the Old Testament. The reason was this. God in His omniscience knew that the enemies of Israel, those who came to possess their land, had no desire for peace but the complete destruction and annihilation of the Jewish people. The complete obliteration of the Jewish people was their ONLY goal, not peace. Sadly, there are some people who have no desire for peace, only death and destruction and you either destroy them or they destroy you. That is one of the sad realties of living in this fallen and evil world.

For those who oppose the war in Iraq, they either don't understand or are completely blind to the fact that there are people on this planet whose only goal is the complete destruction of the United States and every person who lives here. That means you and your family too! I am thankful that this current administration understands this fact and that the peace-nuts we see on TV constantly don't have the power to impose their Pollyanna views of life on the defense policies of this nation or we would all be in grave danger. The sad reality is that there are very real people alive this very moment whose very real goal is the complete destruction of the United States. We will either kill them or they will kill us. We are blessed that our forefathers understood the evil that exits in this world or we would not be here today, enjoying the wonderful freedoms and life we do.

Israel also clearly understands the reality that there are people who desire their death and destruction. They don't have the luxury of great oceans on either side as we do and their enemies literally live all around them. That is what makes this current "peace plan" so silly. To actually take some of the small amount of land that belongs to Israel and literally give it to their enemies is absurd and ridiculous. It will only embolden and empower those who seek the destruction of Israel. Again, make no mistake about it. While we and others seek "peace," it takes TWO to make peace. Despite the claims by the Palestinian leadership, their goal is NOT peace but the destruction of Israel.

I have always been amused at why anyone thinks it is necessary to give the little strip of land God gave to Israel away to her enemies, when Israel is surrounded by Arab nations with VAST AMOUNTS of land who could easily assimilate their Arab brothers into their countries. Why do the Palestinians have to live on the land God gave to Israel when there is plenty of land in neighboring Arab countries they could live on? What is wrong with a "peace plan" that gave some of the land in surrounding Arab countries to the Palestinians?

I want to close today with a powerful promise God made to Abraham 4,000 years ago in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." This one verse of Scripture is why what is happening in Israel right now is so critical to THIS NATION! In being part of a plan to give away the land God gave to Israel to anyone, especially her enemies who seek her destruction, puts us on the wrong side of God. We should be seeking the BLESSINGS of God, not His CURSES!

Know that I am praying for you today. Even though most Jewish people have rejected Christ as their Savior, blinded to the reality that He is the Messiah they were promised in the Old Testament, they were, are, and always will be God's chosen people. The promise God gave Abraham in Genesis 12:3 is still in effect today. Our Christian faith is traced back through the children of Israel. The last events of this world will be played out in Israel. That is why we need to pray for and support the Jewish people and God's plan for the land of Israel. Our blessings in life come from following God not being in opposition to God!

Also, be praying for this special group of people God chose to reveal Himself to and carry His message to the world. It was through the Jewish people God brought His Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Wonderful groups like Jews for Jesus have done a great work in bringing the fact the Messiah prophesied throughout the Old Testament, is Jesus! Jesus is the fulfillment of all of those Old Testament prophecies, and despite the fact He was rejected by his own people, today millions of Jewish people have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior by faith. In Heaven there will be no Jew or Gentile, only those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

If I can help you in any way you can contact me through my personal email at:
bkeller@liveprayer.com


Source: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/keller13.html

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Congressman to Introduce Resolution Supporting Israeli Strike on Iran

Washington, DC – A draft resolution is circulating among members of the House of Representatives that endorses an Israeli military attack on Iran "if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time."  

The resolution, written by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and currently being circulated for cosponsors prior to its introduction, does not clarify what is meant by a "reasonable time."

"The United States does not want or seek war with Iran" the resolution states in its introductory section, "but it will continue to keep all options open to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."  It goes on to express support for "Israel's right to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by Iran…including the use of military force."  

Most elected officials and military experts often characterize a potential military attack on Iran as an "option of last resort;" this resolution is the first in the current Congress that appears to set a lower standard for taking military action against Iran.  

Regardless of whether Israel were to obtain formal approval by the United States to carry out an attack, most experts agree that the US would likely be held responsible by countries in the region, which could draw American troops into a third military confrontation in the Middle East.  

The Obama Administration began a process of diplomatic negotiations last October, designed to gain greater cooperation from Iran on its nuclear program.  Many in Congress pressed the Administration to impose a tight deadline of no more than twelve weeks on those diplomatic overtures, which did not produce an agreement.  Calls for "crippling" sanctions followed, and both houses quickly passed legislation imposing a gasoline embargo on Iran.    

The timing of the resolution coincides with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference in Washington, DC.


Source: http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1695&Itemid=2

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The Biblical Truth about the healthcare debate

Bill Keller

I have been asked almost daily, to comment on the current debate over the pending healthcare legislation.  While this is mostly a political issue, there is a spiritual component to this controversial topic that I would like to address today.  What would Jesus do about the current healthcare debate?

A few months ago, President Obama held a conference call with "religious leaders," trying to illicit their support in his desire to socialize the healthcare industry. Obviously, I was not invited on this call, only those "religious leaders" who don't have the guts to hold him accountable for opposing God on every single social issue of our day.

In reading the transcripts, it was almost laughable as he tried to make the case that Jesus would support his plan for the government to take over the healthcare industry, giving several Biblical quotes to support his claim. I'm sure Jesus would be all for this plan that will also include using tax dollars to slaughter innocent babies!

First, even satan quoted scripture when he tempted Jesus. Most who reject the Bible and faith in Christ can quote certain verses, usually out of context, to try and make their case when they speak to a Believer. It makes me sick that "religious leaders" let this man get away with such tactics. How about the passages that calls killing babies murder? Or the passages that call homosexuality a sin and an abomination to God? Or the passages that state marriage is between a man and a woman? Or the passages that speak about blessing Israel?

It is the height of audacity for this man who lives his life in complete rebellion to God and His Word on every spiritual issue of our day to quote Scripture in hopes of fulfilling his political goals.

Let's deal with the argument President Obama and many are trying to make. They say that Jesus would support their efforts to socialize the healthcare industry, since the Lord would want every person to have medical insurance. I have never heard a more tortured use of our Lord than by those who are making this case. Of course, it falls right into line with the church of 2010 being dominated by the religious left that has embraced a liberal theology, fueled by the seeker/purpose-driven/ emerging church marketing strategies that don't seek to bring converts to the faith into the church, only warm bodies.

To do that they must abandon the absolutes of the Bible and focus on issues like world hunger, AIDS in Africa, and other social issues like HEALTHCARE!

Did you know that it was in 1890 when the first "sickness coverage" was offered in the United States? It wasn't until the 1920s that the health insurance business became mainstream and it has continued to evolve over the years. The fact is, until the last 60 years when the government and private business took an active role in providing social services, it was the CHURCH where people went in their time of need.

The church fed the hungry. The church cared for widows and orphans. The church cared for the homeless and downtrodden. The church reached out to the alcoholic and those in bondage. THE CHURCH CARED FOR THE SICK…

While the church is still involved in these social issues today, it now plays a very minor role. Instead of investing in the lives and eternal souls of men and providing a shining light of Christ's love to the world, the church now invests in property and buildings and entertaining people for an hour a week.

 Missing from the church today is much of the love and compassion for others and the bold preaching of the Gospel. That has been replaced with the anonymity found in the mega churches of today and watered down, feel-good, motivational messages designed not to offend anyone.

I can assure you that Jesus would NOT be entering the current debate about the government taking over the healthcare industry. He would pray for President Obama's salvation as I encourage everyone in the Liveprayer family to do each day. He would pray for the sick. But Jesus would not be entering into political debates between the government and private businesses over medical insurance.

 While Jesus did minister to the practical needs of people and encouraged His followers to do the same, it was their eternal souls He cared most about. The fact is, we will ALL die one day. To have access to the best medical treatment possible during this brief journey is wonderful, but it is our soul that will live on for eternity, while our physical body returns to the dust it came from.

Would it be nice if everyone had health insurance? Certainly. However, all you have to do is look at other countries who have socialized the healthcare industry and it becomes apparent that while it sounds good in theory, to cover everyone, it is simply not practical. To cover the small percentage of people who currently don't have health insurance would mean the vast majority who do have coverage would not enjoy all of the benefits they currently have. It opens up the door to the government deciding who gets treatment, who doesn't, and ultimately who lives and who dies.

 While there may need to be some overhaul of the current system, having the government involved in the healthcare industry is clearly NOT the answer. Look at the mess Medicare and Medicaid are in today.

As followers of Christ we need to care about people. We need to pray for the sick and do all we can to help people in their time of need. However, to invoke the name of Jesus and try to make the case the Lord would support the government take-over of the healthcare industry is not only ridiculous, it is blasphemous.

 While Jesus would not enter into the healthcare debate, I can assure you without any hesitation he would be lambasting this current President for his support of killing babies, helping to further the radical homosexual agenda, the perversion of God's Holy Institution of Marriage, and siding with the enemies of Israel.

 Ready for one of my best lines ever?  You can quote this.  From Bill Keller:  "This is a nation being led by the President in all-out rebellion to God and His Word. Instead of trying to force Jesus to follow him, President Obama should start following Jesus!"

Bill Keller can be contacted  by email  at: bkeller@livep
 


Source: http://www.raptureready.com/soap/keller12.html

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The Outer Darkness

Jack Kelly

I've received several emails lately asking for clarification of the term “Outer Darkness.” It's  mentioned a total of 4 times in the New Testament,  three by name and one by implication, and always by Jesus. The term is not used any where else, Old Testament or New, by any other writer.  Those who ask want to know if it's another name for the place of eternal punishment, or if it's someplace different.  And they want to know who's going there.

The problem I've had in researching this is there's no general agreement among scholars as to what it is, where it is, or for whom it's intended either.  There's also no agreement as to whether it's a physical location or a state of being.  The phrase Outer Darkness literally means, “outside, where there's no light”.  The Greek word for darkness can be used metaphorically to mean obscurity, which is the condition of being unknown.  And there's also a sense in which spiritual ignorance or blindness can apply.  An accompanying phrase describes it as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, which denotes extreme anguish and utter despair.  No matter what else you think about it, the Outer Darkness is definitely not a nice place to be.


For many generations it was simply thought to be another name for Hell.  But Hell, or more accurately Hades, is not a permanent destination.   It's a temporary one that will be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:14).  To me, the concept of utter despair denotes permanence.

So let's take another look at its four appearances to see if we can answer some of the lingering questions about the Outer Darkness.

Matt. 8:12

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:5-12)

In His first reference to the Outer Darkness, Jesus was clearly speaking to and about Israel. He was criticizing the Jews for letting a Gentile Roman soldier demonstrate a stronger faith in Him than they had. He said that their lack of faith would result in people from all over the world (Gentiles) inheriting the Kingdom, while the Jews, who were the Kingdom's subjects, would be thrown into the Outer Darkness, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Israel was then (and will be again) God's Kingdom on Earth. The Lord repeated His warning to them  in Matt. 21:43 when He said, "Therefore I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." It's obvious that the Lord believed they were the subjects of the Kingdom or else why would He threaten to take it away from them?

So in His first mention of the Outer Darkness the Lord warned the Jewish people that at the End of the Age Gentile believers, like the Centurion, would join their patriarchs at the Wedding Feast while they themselves sat outside in the darkness for failing to recognize their Messiah.

Matt 22:13

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

"For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matt. 22:1-14)

This is the parable of the Wedding Banquet, and there are three things to keep in mind here. First, the bride is never mentioned in this parable.  Second, a bride is not considered a guest and could never be thrown out of her own wedding. And third, the banquet follows the wedding, so in the context of the parable the wedding has already taken place.  

To accept the view that this parable is about the Church you have to start with the belief that some in the Church will become the Bride of Christ while others will not. But the Bible never even hints of that.  It's a man made conclusion without any Biblical support. If we're saved, we're in the church and are the Bride of Christ.  If we're not, we're not.

In parables everything is symbolic of something else, and the Bible always explains what they stand for.  Isaiah 61:10 explains that the wedding clothes represent righteousness;

I delight greatly in the LORD;  my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation  and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,  as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,  and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Here's how I see it. In Rev. 16:15, just after the 6th Bowl judgment and long after the church has departed, the Lord said, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

He was alluding to the fact that the Doctrine of Eternal Security expires with the Rapture, a fact that Jesus taught in the Parable of the 10 Virgins. Tribulation believers will be saved by faith, just like everyone else, but will be responsible for keeping themselves saved, or as John said, keeping their clothes with them.  Rev. 14:12 says they will do this by obeying God's commandments and remaining faithful to Jesus.  

The man ejected from the banquet was a last minute guest.  He represents tribulation survivors who are not part of the Church. He was trying to receive the blessing of those invited to the wedding feast  that occurs at the time of the 2nd Coming (Rev. 19:9).  But He either hadn't remained faithful and had lost his salvation, or never was saved at all.  Remember the servants invited both the “good” and the “bad” and it isn't clear whether this man had wedding clothes and lost them, or never had them in the first place. When he tried to gain entrance into the banquet, he was discovered and ejected.  

So the 2nd reference applies to unbelieving survivors from the Great Tribulation who will be denied a place in the Kingdom for lack of the righteousness that comes by faith, and banished to the Outer Darkness instead.

Matt. 24:51

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51)

The Parable of the Servants has only an  implied reference to the Outer Darkness, calling it a place for hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Since that phrase accompanies every other mention of the Outer Darkness, I think it's safe to include it in our study.  The timing of this parable was established as early as Matt. 24:29-30 which makes every thing that follows pertain to those on Earth at the time of the 2nd Coming.  As a matter of fact, all the Olivet Discourse parables describe the destinies of Tribulation Survivors.  You can easily confirm this by also looking at Matt. 24:36-37, Matt. 25:1, and Matt. 25:14.

This parable is about those who will have held positions of spiritual leadership during the Great Tribulation. In the Millennial Kingdom, the Lord will elevate to a place of authority leaders who have kept the word of God through the intense hardship and persecution of the times, and have taught sound doctrine to the flocks entrusted to them. (Remember, no Tribulation survivor will enter the New Jerusalem, but will dwell on Earth during the Lord's Millennial reign.)

But having forsaken the truth, the wicked servants no will longer be watching for the Lord's return, ignoring the obvious fulfillment of prophecy all around them and ridiculing those whose child-like faith sustains them. They are the worst of all enemies because they'll look and sound like friends. They're like the one John describes as appearing to have the authority of the Lamb but who speaks the words of the Dragon (Rev. 13:11).  The Greek word translated hypocrite was often used to describe an actor or pretender, someone who appears to be something he's not. So for the third time we see the Outer Darkness as a place for unbelievers. In this case it's those who have betrayed the trust placed in them.

Matt. 25:30

The Lord's final reference to the Outer Darkness appears at the end of the Parable of the Talents.

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. 25:14-30)

For a more complete treatment of the Parable of the Talents click here. The relevant points for this study are that like the other Olivet Discourse parables, the timing is after the 2nd coming, the judgment is on Earth, and the man who had his only talent confiscated demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of and faith in his master.  He thought of Him as a hard man who accepted credit He didn't deserve and he was afraid the master would treat him unfairly.  No believer feels that way about Jesus.  His punishment was to be consigned to the outer darkness.  

So in all four cases, the ones being judged are unbelievers and their punishment is to live in a state of total obscurity where they will experience extreme anguish and utter despair.  The fact that there's no expanded teaching on the Outer Darkness elsewhere in the Bible leads me to believe the Lord was speaking of a place we're already familiar with, but describing it in a way that helps us understand how it will feel to be there.

Remember, the words obscurity, extreme anguish and utter despair are associated with the phrase outer darkness. To be there is to be cut off from the presence of the Lord and everyone else, existing in total obscurity.  The dictionary defines anguish as excruciating or acute distress, suffering, or pain, and despair as a state of utter hopelessness.  

That, my friends, is the consequence of unbelief. Whether you call it Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, or the Outer Darkness, it's all the same and you wouldn't want your worst enemy to spend even an hour there.  03-13-10  


Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/kelley/jack111.html

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