Bible Predicted Date Of Israel’s Return

Source: http://www.wnd.com

The author of “Covenant: G-d’s Plan for Israel in the Last Days,” a book by Baruch Battlestein published in Italy, cites prophecies by Ezekiel and Moses that pinpoint with precision the date of Israel’s return to the land in May 1948.

“Was May 14, 1948, chosen by G-d as the exact day in time to resurrect the nation of Israel, or was it just some random date in human history?” Battlestein asks. “Could it be possible that this exact date was prophesied thousands of years before in Scripture?”

Battlestein cites three verses to reach his conclusion that the date of Israel’s return to the land after 1,900 years was indeed prophesied accurately.

The first is Ezekiel 37:21-22: “And say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.’”

This verse, Battlestein points out, shows “that it was the will of the Lord to bring them back to their own land and make them one nation in the land.”

The second citation of interest is Leviticus 26:23-24: “And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.”

“As a stand-alone verse this is very strange, and when applying it to the history of Israel it seems impossible to fully understand,” writes the author. “However, when we read the Book of Ezekiel we find another strange prophecy that leads us back to G-d’s prophecy in Leviticus. It is through these prophecies that we come to an understanding that May 14, 1948, was the exact date chosen by G-d for the resurrection of Israel thousands of years before it took place.”

That second Ezekiel citation is Ezekiel 4:4-6: “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”

“In this strange prophecy, Ezekiel is commanded to first lay on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for 40 days, for a total of 430 days, as punishment for the iniquities of the house of Israel,” explains Battlestein. 

“We are told that this punishment represents one day for each year. Taken alone, the prophecies in Leviticus and Ezekiel do not take on any specific significance. However, when we combine them, the results are astonishing.”

He continues: “G-d decreed to Israel a total of 430 years of punishment for her sins against Him. That punishment consisted of physical removal from the land G-d had promised His people. Israel’s captivity in Babylon was exactly 70 years as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10). Therefore, the first 70 years of Israel’s punishment was completed when the Babylonian captivity ended. 

By the decree of King Cyrus, conquerer or Babylon, the Jews were set free from their captivity in the year 538 B.C.E. The year 538 B.C.E, therefore becomes the base year with which we begin our calculations: 430 years minus 70 year captivity equals 360 years of remaining punishment to come.”

That’s where the Leviticus prophecy kicks in, says Battlestein. The 360 years needed to be multiplied by seven, for a total of 2,520 years.

Using the 360-day Hebrew calendar, that totals 907,200 days. When converted to the 365-day calendar, the 2,520 years or 907,200 days becomes 2,485 years and five months or 2,485.5 years and months. If you subtract 538 years B.C.E, you get 1,947 years and five months.

Battlestein reminds that there was no year zero.

“Therefore, the year 1,947.5 we call the year 1948.5,” he explains. “So exactly 1,947.5 years after 538 B.C.E., we come to the year 1948.5,” he writes. “May is the fifth month of the modern calendar, and on May 14, 1948, Israel arose from the ashes of extinction to become a nation!”

Battlestein is a messianic Jew who lived in Israel until moving to the U.S. He is the author of several books.

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Video: Prophecies from Africa & Signs in the Heavens

South Sudan has only existed as a country for a little over two months. But already in that time the fledgling nation has found itself embroiled in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

And South Sudan has clearly marked itself as a friend of the Jewish state.

During a visit to South Sudan last month by Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said that he was recently approached by Hamas and told he must sever all ties to Israel because Sudan is an Arab state.

After reminding the Hamas leaders that South Sudan, unlike its northern neighbor, is not an Arab state, Kiir noted that there are Israeli embassies in Arab countries like Egypt and Jordan.

Rather than cut ties with Israel, Kiir said South Sudan intends to strengthen its relations with the Jewish state.

Demonstrating that his friendship for Israel goes beyond just words, Kiir reportedly agreed to Danon's request that South Sudan buck the international trend and build its embassy in Jerusalem. Every other nation in the world that has diplomatic relations with Israel refuses to accept Jerusalem as its capital, and instead those nations maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

South Sudan's affinity for Israel goes beyond the diplomatic considerations of the current government.

The young country's deputy parliament speaker, Daniel Akot, declared that "Israel is like a big brother to South Sudan," and recalled seeing more than one person waving an Israeli flag when South Sudan declared independence on July 9.

Danon and Kiir also discussed the many black Sudanese refugees currently living in Israel after fleeing oppression by Arab militias allied with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

Kiir asked Danon to help facilitate vocational training for the refugees so they can return home and become productive and successful members of their new nation.

Both Danon and Kiir said that Israel and South Sudan have a bright future as partners in combining the former's vast technological abilities and the latter's enormous natural resources.

Source: http://israeltoday.co.il/tabid/178/nid/22933/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Video: Prophecies from Africa & Signs in the Heavens

Pastor Ray Bentley shares some interesting insights about recent and current events in the Middle East from a biblical prophetic perspective. Isaiah 18 &19. Pastor Ray also speaks about the Zodiac and the true biblical meaning of the 12 signs, what they mean and how the ancient viewed them as the gospel story.

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Iran in End Times Prophecy

By David Dollins

The nation of Iran was called Persia, its Biblical name, until 1935. Persia was one of the former great empires of the world, ruling from 539 B.C. to 331 B.C, until they were conquered by Alexander the Great. Kings such as Cyrus the Great, Darius, Ahasuerus (commonly known as Xerxes), and Artaxerxes ruled this once great empire. Persia was also the setting for the book in the Bible entitled Esther. Ironically, the book of Esther tells how a Jewish girl became the queen of Persia and how God used her to save her people from a plot to destroy them. The book also explains how a special festival, called Purim, was established to remember and celebrate the deliverance that the Jews had experienced. Purim is derived from the Persian word pur, meaning 'lot'. It recalls how Haman, the enemy of the Jews, cast lots to determine the best day to carry out his plan to exterminate them.

It would appear not much has changed in 2,500 years. A 'spirit of Haman' still influences the leaders of Iran in the present day. I quote now from The New York Times (October 27, 2005). "Iran's conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be 'wiped off the map'…Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said, 'As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map". Don't think it is just Iran's President who believes this. He is only a puppet of the Ayatollahs who actually run the government. Amazingly, Psalm 83:2, 4, is prophetic for our day. It says, "For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you (God) have raised their heads. They say, 'Come, LET US WIPE THEM OUT AS A NATION; let the name of Israel be remembered no more". Iran's leaders, in their hatred of Israel, have become a self-fulfilling prophecy by quoting Psalm 83:4. One day soon, according to the prophet Ezekiel, Iran will experience a 7-fold judgment from God. Its end has been decreed.

Unknown to many, Iran is an important player in the Bible's prophecies of the end of days. It was 2,600 years ago, prior to Persia even becoming a world empire, that the prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of the future that most every Biblical scholar agrees is speaking of the time period in which we are currently living. Specifically, in Ezekiel 38, there is a list of nations that will come together at the end of days for the express purpose of destroying the nation of Israel. This battle has been traditionally called the 'Gog and Magog' war. Among those nations listed is Turkey, who is identified by multiple ancient place names/locations that existed within that country's current borders (i.e., Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, Togarmah). Also, Libya is identified. Some Bible translations use the word 'Put', which is simply the Hebrew place name for the area currently occupied by present-day Libya. Finally, Iran has been singled out by its ancient name Persia (Ezekiel 38:5).

This coalition of nations, and the Bible implies many more nations with them, will make an all-out assault on Israel at the end of days with the intention of destroying her. God told Ezekiel that this event would occur in the "latter years" (Ezekiel 38:8). At the last moment it will look like Israel will be wiped out, but God will intervene and Iran and the other nations will suffer a 7-fold judgement from God – a great earthquake, pestilence, bloodshed, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:19-22). To be sure, God will not need Israeli airplanes and troops to get this accomplished. In fact, the context of the Scripture implies that this event occurs when Israel is isolated by the nations, as is happening now, and is vulnerable to attack precisely because they are unable to rely on friends and allies. This is also occurring with each passing day.

When God makes Iran and the other nations an example of His divine judgement, He also reveals His divine purpose. Seven times, God's perfect number, He makes similar statements as the one found in Ezekiel 39:7, "my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel…and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel." There you have the reason for God's intervention. God's coming judgement on Iran and the other nations with them will be to reveal Himself, to magnify Himself, to reveal His holiness, to glorify Himself, and to make Himself known in the eyes of many nations – all these phrases found in the Book of Ezekiel. God intervenes on behalf of Israel in order to reveal to the nations that He is God alone, that the prophecies of old that spoke of Him are true, and that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah who came to bring salvation to all of mankind.

Additionally, revival will come to Israel. At the end of Ezekiel 39 it says that God will pour out His Spirit upon the house of Israel. God says, "then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land (prophecy fulfilled May 1948), and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 39:28-29). According to the Apostle Peter in the New Testament, only Jesus Christ has been given this authority to pour out the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:33, Peter said, in referring to Jesus upon His resurrection, "…being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear". On that day, Jesus Christ will gloriously reveal Himself to Israel and an unbelieving world as the one true Savior, Lord, Messiah, and God!

As it regards the nation of Iran and the other participating nations, they may want to consider the Bible's graphic description of the aftermath of this judgement captured in Ezekiel 39. It says, "For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land" (v. 12). Then the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Ezekiel says, "Speak to the birds of every sort and to all the beasts of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth…" (Ezekiel 39:17-18). God says that one day He is going to make a feast out of these fallen armies for all kinds of scavengers. Iran's destiny and end has been decreed. The Persian people need Jesus Christ. They need their eyes to be opened, the same way that King Ahasuerus' eyes were opened because of a young Jewish girl named Esther.

Source: http://blogs.christianpost.com/bibleprophecy/2011/08/gods-decreed-end-of-iran-05/

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Harold Camping The Madness of Date-Setting

By Dr. David R. Reagan

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

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

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

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

Camping Follower

An Historical Precedent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping's Interpretive Errors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping's End-Time Scenario

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

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

Problems with Camping's End Time Scenario

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

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

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

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

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

Camping Billboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing With Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

The Emergence of a New Cult

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

Time Has an End

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

4. Ibid.

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

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

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

8. Ibid., pages 47-48.

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

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

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

12. Ibid, page 56.

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

 

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

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Are the uprisings in the Middle East prophetic?

By Nathan Jones

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

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

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


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

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

Focus on Egypt

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

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

Egypt Poll

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

Isaiah 19

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

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

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

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

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

Ezekiel 29:12

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

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

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

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

Psalm 83/Ezekiel 38-39

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 11:40-45

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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What’s To Become Of Egypt?

By Jack Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

Back To The Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Pyramid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Summary

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

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

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

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The Gate to Prophecy

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

By Dr. David R. Reagan

 

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

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

A Mysterious Remark

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

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

A Remarkable Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

A Pre-fillment in Type

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

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

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

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

Another Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Prophetic Symbol

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

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

An Exciting Vision

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

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

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

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

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

The Gate in Waiting

by Terry Gibson

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

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

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

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

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

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

The First Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Second Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming

By J. E. Becker

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 We will hear more from this budding master storyteller!"      

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


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The Fig Tree Has Budded

By Douglas Hamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing the Times and Seasons

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

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

Birth Contractions 

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

The Fig Tree is the Sign of His Coming

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

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

The Fig Tree Is Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Christian Commentary Confirms Israel is the Fig Tree

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

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

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

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

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

All the Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lebanon

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

Jordan

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

Syria

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

Egypt

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

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

What is a Generation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modern Research Confirms Psalm 90:10

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which Generation?

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

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

The Fig Tree Has Budded

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

1948 70 ≈ 2018

OR if by reason of strength

1948 80 ≈ 2028

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

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

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

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

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

Occupy Until He Comes

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

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

(Luke 21:34-36 ISV). 

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

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

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

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Nations of Prophecy

By Matt Leasher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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Who is the Antichrist?

By Britt Gillette

Who is the Antichrist?

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

And rightly so, the Antichrist is an intriguing figure.

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

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

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

The Antichrist in the Bible

Who is the Antichrist according to the Bible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         The Defiler – Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         The Beast – Revelation 13:11 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characteristics of the Antichrist

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

Here are just a few of his characteristics:

Nationality / Race

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

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

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

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

Arrogance / Hubris

The Antichrist will also be a man of unrivaled arrogance:

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

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

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

Powered by Satan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worships a God of Fortresses

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

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

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

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

Speculations About Who is the Antichrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

·         Antiochus Epiphanes

·         Nero

·         Charlemagne

·         Napoleon

·         Kaiser Wilhelm

·         Franklin Roosevelt (FDR)

·         Adolph Hitler

·         Benito Mussolini

·         Joseph Stalin

·         Francisco Franco

·         John Kennedy (JFK)

·         Henry Kissinger

·         Ronald Reagan

·         Pope John Paul II

·         Ayatollah Khomeini

·         Mikhail Gorbachev

·         Saddam Hussein

·         Bill Clinton

·         Bill Gates

·         George W. Bush

·         Osama Bin Laden

·         Javier Solana

·         Vladamir Putin

·         Mahmoud Amadinejad

·         Barack Obama

·         Pope Pius XVI

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

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

Is the Antichrist Alive Today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less than a century ago, Israel did not exist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Does It Matter?

Why bother asking “who is the Antichrist?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

So who is the Antichrist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hidden Doctrine Of The Rapture

By Jack Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   God's Secret Wisdom, Part 2

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

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

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

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

                   Here, There, Or In The Air

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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 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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Popular Prophecy: Checking Dogma Twice

Wilfred Hahn

Why are there sometimes such sharp differences in interpretations of Scripture? Two individuals, selflessly studying the Bible, desiring nothing more than to discover the truths of God, can arrive at very different perspectives.

We observe that God has allowed certain tensions and ambiguities to exist in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul saw a benefit of these interpretational differences between fellow believers, saying, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

Not only do apparent scriptural ambiguities have the beneficial sharpening effect mentioned by the Proverbs writer (“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17), but they also produce the never-resting imperative for deeper study of the Bible. Like the irritating effect of even a small grain of sand in an oyster’s mantle tissue, the chafing of differences can produce refined pearls of truth.

All of this is a somewhat laborious introduction to the topic of this article—popular prophecy dogma. Are we absolutely sure of our dogma? No doubt, this is sure to be a “flash point” subject, precisely because there are so many different opinions.

However, we will take care to heed the words of the Apostles in such matters. First, to examine other viewpoints “[…] with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), and not by way of personal attack. Secondly, to conduct our examination in a spirit of humility, recognizing that we all “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV).

And, while we are not to devote ourselves “to myths and endless genealogies,” or “to promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4), we also are counted to do well if we “pay attention to [the word of the prophets]” (2 Peter 1:19).

Dogma Defined

Just what is dogma, and is it good or bad?  Dogma is any religious belief that is held to be true and settled … perhaps considered an established tenet of a faith. It may be correct; or it may be wrong. However, more often than not, the word “dogma” these days carries a stigma, implying calcified beliefs that are no longer tested. It’s that type of dogma that we want to guard against.

That said, we all could be vulnerable to incorrect or “out-of-date” dogma. Things may be believed that we have never ourselves corroborated from Scripture, or for reasons that we cannot recall. Of course, we should “[…] be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). But, realistically, it requires continuous Bible study to work out our faith … an ongoing process of “sharpening” our dogma.

Wrong dogma most certainly also applies to interpretations of endtime prophecy. If anything, this field of beliefs may be most vulnerable of all. How so? Here we face additional challenges in our understandings. Not only does much prophecy deal with the future, a timeframe that will always remain dark to the viewer in some respects, we inevitably will be influenced by our sight … by what we already know to be familiar to us today. The reader will subconsciously tend to interpret future prophecy colored in the light of observed trends and world conditions of today and the past. As a result, we may exclude certain future scenarios simply because these do not fit the conditions of the world we observe today.

Prophecy misinterpretations can be of different types. For example, we might incorrectly assume that the Bible is using symbol rather than literal language. To illustrate, consider Ezekiel 38-39. It describes warfare—widely agreed still to be in the future—taking place on horseback (Ezekiel 38:4), mentioning horses three times (verses 4, 15, and 39:20). These horses are popularly interpreted as symbol because today we conduct mechanized warfare (fighter jets, tanks and helicopters), not from horseback. But is this view correct?

We are entitled to our opinions, but these must not ascribe zero probabilities to other scenarios if we cannot be 100% certain that these will not occur. The Bible does use the Hebrew word for horses in this instance, not once indicating that Ezekiel’s prophecy is only intending a symbolic likeness to horses.  Mankind’s age of mechanized warfare is a little more than a century old. Who is to know what will happen in the next 10, 20, or 50 years, let alone should apocalyptic events intervene?

Another misinterpretation can result because we do not yet have a complete understanding of future possibilities. For example, can Daniel’s prophecies be understood better today than 2500 years ago?  Very definitely. Not only has our understanding benefited through the collective study of many Bible students (both clergy and lay people) over the years—the action of iron sharpening iron—the times, eras and technologically possibilities have also changed. Daniel’s visions are therefore more understandable today. In this sense, previously adopted interpretations of prophecy, though having become dogma, can be proven to be incorrect.

If past dogma has been proven false, it should no longer be believed.  But this is not always the case.

Dogma in Prophecy Today

If all prophecy teachers were opposed to “sharpening” their interpretations, we would today still be teaching that Nero, the Roman emperor of the first century, was the Antichrist. For example, in the earliest existing commentary on Revelation, Victorinus, Bishop of Pettau, writing in the late 3rd century, mentions Nero as having been considered the Antichrist.[i] At times, many other incorrect theories abounded (and still do): for example, that the Herodian dynasty was the manifestation of the 7 heads on the scarlet beast shown in Revelation 17.

We can study how the passage of time sometimes influenced the interpretations of the early church fathers. For example, a brief review of the perspectives on the last-day “ten kings” will be illustrative. Irenaeus, writing later in the 2nd century, sees the 10 kings existing closer to his times. He theorizes that the development of the 10 kings results from a division of the then existing Roman Empire. He says,

[…] concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. […] It must be, therefore, that the kingdom, the city, and the house be divided into ten; and for this reason He has already foreshadowed the partition and division [which shall take place]. Daniel also says particularly, that the end of the fourth kingdom consists in the toes of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar. […] The ten toes, therefore, are these ten kings, among whom the kingdom shall be partitioned […].[ii]

While we are encouraged to see that Irenaeus linked the 10 kings with the 10 toes of Daniel 2, we clearly do observe a bias working in the theories of Irenaeus. Rather than seeing that the final formation of the 10 kings will be driven by a motive of “aggregating” power sufficient to dominate the world, allowing this beast (and later, the Antichrist himself) to continue “[…] crush[ing] and devour[ing] its victims and trampl[ing] underfoot whatever was left” (Daniel 7:7), his perspective is more influenced by the vista of his day. At that time, the Roman Empire was still powerful and a single entity. Therefore, to his mind, a division was required to bring about the 10-king empire.

How could he have accurately predicted in his day that the Roman Empire was yet to collapse, only to revive again much, much later, the 10 kings only appearing after that time? It can be deduced today that the 6th head on the beasts of Revelation 12, 13, and 17 is the Roman head. Today, we are more naturally inclined to see the 10-king arrangement as a collection of power … a coming together … as opposed to a division. After all, the 10 kings “have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:13 KJV).

An interpretation similar to that of Iranaeus carried through to later Fathers. Cyril of Jerusalem, probably writing in the middle of the 4th century, also believed that the 10 kings were to occur in his day, seeing the kings coming out of the Roman Empire. A few decades later, Jerome (living between 340 and 420 AD) saw things the same way, preserving the dogma established in earlier times. He says:

We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all the commentators of the Christian Church, that at the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten kings who will partition the Roman world amongst themselves.[iii]

What is interesting is that the Roman Empire of the late 4th and early 5th century was already a shell of its former grandeur. Rome was sacked by the Ostrogoths in 410 AD. The empire’s final demise is considered by most historians to be around 470 AD. Yet, even though the Roman Empire was clearly disintegrating, this idea of “partitioning” into ten kings still held, though there was not much left to be divided up. At no time during the first five centuries AD, was there ever any group of 10 nations or peoples that existed contemporaneously, nor even remotely representing an orderly partitioning of Rome into 10 following kingdoms.

Today, we see the same sort of bias at work. Previous theories of prophetic fulfillment can continue to be favored even when new developments have interceded that clearly prove them incorrect. Even in matters where no definitive answer may be possible, at least the recognition that alternate scenarios exist is an interpretational improvement.

Modern Prophecy Dogmas Still Exist

Olden-time dogmas need “sharpening” from time to time. Are there incorrect dogmas today in some circles in respect to prophetic interpretations? Most certainly there are. Are there many, and how influential are these? I am not knowledgeable enough to offer a credible opinion.  However, I can point to at least a few, and will mention just three that are related to one popular topic, the meanings of the scarlet beast shown in Revelation 17 … a theme already introduced earlier.

But before we continue, just why should we even care that dogmas may be false? Though many aspects of prophetic interpretation do not rank as doctrine, error is still likely to cause harm, even if only subtly. On the other hand, misinterpretations leading to Millennialism or Amillennialism can have a significant impact upon faith, possibly leading to other church corruptions. We will conclude on these results, as there is one impact that is sure to please the Enemy.

Just what are some examples of dulled dogmas? A few decades ago, many prophecy experts were absolutely sure that the endtime fulfillment of 10 kings was in place when Greece joined the European Common Market (ECM) in 1981 as the 10th member. Some had jumped to this conclusion even earlier, in 1967, when Norway, the UK, Denmark and Ireland were accepted for application to membership. The planned addition of the three would have brought the ECM to 10. As it turned out, Norway did not accede in 1973 due to a lost national referendum on membership. It would take another 10 years before the 10th member, Greece, was to accede. Alas, only five years later, both Portugal and Spain joined, pushing ECM membership to 12. Today the ECM has transitioned to a 27-member European Union.

Interestingly, even much earlier in the last century, it was thought that the Council of Ten nations who were the victors of World War I, may possibly be the manifestation of the final 10 kings.

Could the final 10 kings eventually come out of the European Union?  Definitely, yes. It is a very feasible theory. However, we still cannot prove without a doubt from Scripture that this must happen. There are other credible theories. As such, we cannot pronounce that the European Union (EU) that we see today is the sure forerunner of all 10 kings. If this cannot be proven conclusively from Scripture, or if other possibilities exist, then it must be treated as a theory and not dogma. Otherwise, we risk marring the veracity and interpretation of Scripture.

The prophecy community, which had promoted the “dogma” of a European 10-king coalition, with specific statements subject to many twists and permutations, lost some of its credibility.  Neither did it reflect favorably upon the Bible.

Other Vulnerable Dogmas Today

Keeping to the theme of the “scarlet beast,” there are surely other examples of incorrect interpretations that qualify as dogma in some circles. Some teaching distortions stem from overlooking the fact that the Antichrist appears only after the 10 kings are on the scene, and not before. Daniel 7:24 expressly proves this chronology, saying that “the ten horns […] are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first” (KJV). How much ink and paper has been wasted over the centuries on idle speculations of the identity of the Antichrist. The 10 kings arrive first.  If the 10 kings are not first clearly evident, then the Antichrist cannot yet have arrived in power.

Why would this clarification even matter? One reason is that it would quell the rampant speculation—hyped seemingly almost every day—about a peace treaty with Israel, among other prophesied Middle Eastern developments. How many times do we read that the very next peace negotiation with Israel will unveil the Antichrist’s identity, perhaps even today? Well, possibly yes. But not until after the 10 kings are on the scene. In the meantime, countless unnecessary speculations and sensationalizations are proven to be wind. Of course, this does not mean that we should be unconcerned with Middle East developments or should stop praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), but to do so grounded in Scripture.

Finally, we will address one more prophecy interpretation that is popularly received as dogma.  Seemingly every time a major world leader or prominent figure has suffered a near-death experience (perhaps surviving an assassination, as in the case of Pope John Paul II in 1981), the speculation mills point to their candidacy for the Antichrist. It is widely believed in some circles that it is the Antichrist (in human form) who suffers the wound to the head mentioned in Revelation 13:3, 12, & 14. No, the Antichrist is never shown as one of the heads on the beast, but rather as a horn that grows out of the 7th head on the beasts shown in Revelation 12, 13, and 17.  Revelation 17 expressly says he is of the 7 kings (which are shown as 7 heads) and becomes the 8th king.  Therefore, the actual physical Antichrist is not even presented in the picture of the scarlet beast of Revelation 17.

Thoughts to Ponder

There are more contestable prophecy interpretations that could be mentioned. However, our objective was simply to show that it is not unusual that there should be differences in interpretations … certainly not in matters of future prophecy fulfillment. Many of these do not qualify as reasons to break fellowship. What does matter is the reputational damage inflicted upon inerrant Bible prophecy due to unfounded, speculative statements … fears sometimes being hyped for profit.

There came the time that the boy “who cried wolf” was no longer believed.  When the wolf finally did arrive, no one cared to listen to the boy’s warnings.  Why? The boy had lost his credibility and reputation for sound witness.

For this and other reasons, it is compelling to remain vigilant and always open to new interpretations that will be more faithful to Scripture. Moreover, we should always strive to separate opinion and speculation from factual representations of what the Bible actually does and does not say. This writer has certainly made such errors in the past and hopes not to make too many more in the future.

God has chosen prophecy as one of the unique means of proving his existence. Therefore, a cunning enemy would not overlook the strategic importance of discrediting the Bible by way of sensationalist and fraudulent prophecy teachers, who are prone to jump to incorrect and speculative pronouncements.

The Bible says the whole world is overtaken by darkness during the last days—particularly so during the Tribulation period. A number of prophecies alert us to this characteristic of the end-time period. “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (Isaiah 60:2). “Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?” (Amos 5:20). Darkness and evil are a mark of these times.

Given such conditions, it would not be surprising if the course of geopolitical events is even being deliberately planned to deceive and to discredit Bible prophecy. After all, the father of lies and deception is in control of the world at this time. Bible prophecy works to his disadvantage, as it serves to us as a “light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).

As far as the “ten king” fulfillment theories are concerned today, even though Europe has unified itself in a remarkable fashion over the past 50 years, the final, 10-nation coalition is still not obvious …certainly not identifiable in exact detail. We may feel urged to declare answers to the many open questions of end-time prophecy, but who can know the exact course of events, even over the next few months.

What can we conclude? Without a doubt, some great geopolitical shifts and world-reverberating tumult still lie ahead. Yes, we do have the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 13:2) and know that the very “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Yet, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), believing that all prophecy will be fulfilled literally.  

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For resources on “endtime economics” and to subscribe to the free newsletter, Eternal Value Review, visit Wilfred’s website www.eternalvalue.com or contact him at: staff@eternalvalue.com

About the Author: Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada country’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. His newest book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the future.

Note:

[i] Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, Vol. XVIII, Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Published by T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1870.

[ii] Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 26) (A.D. 180/199).

[iii] Jerome, Commentary on Daniel, Chapter 7, Verse 8: (Source: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_daniel_02_text.htm).


Source: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/hahn/h35.html

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