Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
I've been enjoying day 1 of the 2013 Pre-Trib Study Group. As in previous years, the conference is occuring at the Sheraton DFW Hotel in Irving. So far, it has been outstanding. Although I will write a fuller report at a later time, suffice it to say the topic--the significance of the modern State of Israel--is spot on. You can read the papers for yourself at www.pre-trib.org/conference/papers.
“Now learn the parable of the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:32-35). The parable of the fig tree, appearing in what is known as the Olivet Discourse, is perhaps one of the most challenging passages of Scripture for Bible students. The challenge stems from the fact that Jesus appears to be predicting a particular period of time in which we can expect to witness His glorious and visible return to earth.
The argument goes something like this: The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. The branch that becomes tender and puts forth its leaves refers to the rebirth of the nation in 1948. Therefore, the generation born around the time of Israel’s return to the land will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ. But is this the correct interpretation of this particular passage of Scripture?
Many conclude this traditional interpretation cannot possibly be correct given Jesus’ words in verse 36: “But of that day and hour no one knows.” He said the same thing in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” Paul reiterated this in his first letter to the Thessalonian believers: “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you” (1 Thess. 5:1).
“Thus says the Lord God, „Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; […] They shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, forever; and David My servant shall be their prince forever” (Ezekiel 37:21, 25). Modern Israel is 62 years old today. It was on this date—May 14, 1948, when against all odds, the world witnessed the rebirth of a nation—a sovereign fulfillment of millennia old prophecy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that captures the essence of all that is Israel: “On this Independence Day we mark two of the Jewish nation's miracles: The miracle of revival and the miracle of building. The miracle of revival, because I am not familiar with any other nation in history that was scattered all over the world and lost control of its destiny but still managed to return to its homeland and rebuild its sovereignty there. The other miracle is building: What we have built in this land since the State of Israel's inception. Israel is quickly becoming a regional economic superpower and a global technological superpower. In this world of knowledge in the 21st century our possibilities are endless: In science, medicine, technology and art. In each and every field, the forces of genius within our nation break out and create a magnificent country. We are not here by chance. We are here because this is our land. We've returned to our land, to our city - Jerusalem - because this is our land, this is our city.” Israel is a nation whose history is like no other. And it is painfully clear God’s promises to her are eternal and irrevocable. Indeed, Israel is a thorn in the side of those who believe her to be an accident of modern history, particularly to those who hold to the heretical position known as Replacement Theology.
Replacement Theology originated early on in church history, shortly after Gentile leadership took over from Jewish leadership. It teaches that the Christian Church has replaced Israel in the purposes of God. In other words, Israel (the people and the land) forfeited their position as God’s chosen people because of their unbelief. Therefore, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. Furthermore, the promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, it has always amused me that those who hold this heretical position are quick to claim replacement of Israel as God’s chosen people, but insist the Jews are still subject to the curses found in the Bible. The hostility of the early Christians towards the Jews is reflected in the writings of the so called early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD 160) in speaking to a Jew said: "The Scriptures are not yours, but ours." Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: "Jews are disinherited from the grace of God." Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, "Against the Jews," announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians. Such statements reflect theological and spiritual arrogance. Paul wrote, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardness has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Clearly, God is not finished with Israel and the Jewish people!
There are 77 references to Israel in the New Testament and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, "the Church," where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly. Psalm 105 has a seven-fold affirmation of God's promises of the Land to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3. Last time I checked, “everlasting” meant everlasting! Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God's promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night. Last time I checked, the sun still shines and the moon and stars still appear at night. The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of Israel to the land and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Ezek. 37:1-14; Ezek. 36; Ezek. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23). It has always amazed me that one could turn a blind eye to the overwhelming scriptural evidence in support of Israel and God’s everlasting covenants with the Jewish people. Thankfully, Replacement Theology will not thwart God’s plan and purpose for Israel and the Jewish people! “From the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:28-29).
“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate”(Daniel 9:27). Will a third Jewish Temple be built on the most volatile 35 acres in the world—the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Many say no but the Bible says yes. Daniel wrote about it. Paul referred to it in his second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:4). John wrote about it in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 11). Even Jesus mentioned it in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24). With such a preponderancy of evidence from the Scriptures, it amazes me the number of so called scholars and other Christian leaders who flatly deny the Jewish Temple will ever be rebuilt. That aside, it is being reported that Jewish Sanhedrin rabbis have been meeting with a Turkish Muslim leader on this very subject. If these reports are true (and I have no reason to doubt their veracity), this is an astounding development, indeed, an unprecedented one. But it’s not surprising as this is what the Bible calls for in the last days just prior to the return of Christ.
I believe it is very possible and highly probable that the “firm covenant” that Daniel speaks of will include some type of guarantee and plan for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. The Muslim leader in question says, "The Palace of Solomon is a historically important palace and rebuilding it would be a very wonderful thing. It is something that any Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should welcome with enthusiasm. Every Muslim, every believer will want to return to those days, to experience those days again and, albeit partially, to bring the beauty of those days back to life." He goes on to say that the Temple of Solomon "will be rebuilt and all believers will worship there in tranquility." During his meeting with the Sanhedrin Rabbis, he expressed his belief that the Temple could be rebuilt in one year: "It could be done in a year at most. It could be built to the same perfection and beauty. The Torah says it was built in 13 years, if I remember correctly. It could be rebuilt in a year in its perfect form." Now you might rightly be wondering how in the world a third Jewish Temple could ever be erected on the Temple Mount today—a spot of land occupied and administered by Islamic militants who have said over and over again there was never a Jewish Temple located there—all evidence to the contrary. It may take many twists and turns but the Bible does seem to indicate a Jewish Temple existing side-by-side with the Dome of the Rock. John wrote, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, ‘Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:1-2). WorldNetDaily®, whose news article was my primary source for this article reports, “The Interfaith Encounter Association is working on a project called "God's Holy Mountain." It sees the day when the rebuilt Jewish Temple will exist side by side with the Dome of the Rock.” This is utterly amazing considering what the Bible prophesies for the last days. But it makes complete sense, particularly when you consider the call of certain world leaders for the internationalization of the city of Jerusalem and the overwhelming majority of Jews who want to see the Temple rebuilt.
The Bible says that a shrewd and calculating political leader will arise in the last days speaking flatteries who will “make a firm covenant” with Israel and her enemies. This covenant will surely include a provision for rebuilding the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. All indications are we are a lot closer to that reality than most Christians realize or are even willing to believe. The question is will its construction begin before or after the Rapture of the Church? Only God knows the answer to that question. Therefore, I suggest we all focus on another question—are you ready? If Christ returned for His Church today, would you be ready? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
“Though Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins’; thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the Territory of Wickedness, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever’” (Malachi 1:4). The Rapture of the Church is upon us! Surely the return of the Lord is near. At least that’s the way I feel every time I read or hear about another news report coming out of the Middle East. It seems every major event prophesied for the last days regarding the Seventieth Week of Daniel and the return of the Lord is converging so quickly, I can hardly keep up. Consider this recent news headline: The Palestinians are ready to declare the peace process a failure and name a Palestinian state unilaterally. Several news agencies are reporting, “The Palestinian Authority is mobilizing international support for declaring statehood. Palestinians will bring the issue to a vote before the United Nations Security Council, which would declare a Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 border with Israel.” This is utterly amazing as it fits quite nicely with the prophetic scenario for the last days.
The Prophet Daniel indicated the last days would see numerous Middle East peace proposals, none of which would be working (see Dan. 9:27). There have been several treaties, accords, and other proposals put forth in recent years to try and solve the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab problems. No plan has thus far succeeded in ending these conflicts. The recent announcement by the Palestinian Authority that the peace process is a failure and that they will ask the United Nations to recognize their unilateral declaration of a Palestinians State is, to quote Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, “a page out of Bible prophecy for the last days.” The Bible is very clear that the Palestinians will do this. They will, according to Malachi and Ezekiel, return to take God’s Covenant Land from the Jewish people, thus setting up their boarders which God calls, “the Territory of Wickedness.” Ezekiel 35:10-12 says the Palestinian people (the Edomites in Biblical times) will say, “These two nations and these two lands will be mine, and we will possess them.” As a result, God says, “Therefore as I live, I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you have showed because of your hatred against [the Jewish people]; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.” The Palestinians are doomed because of their scheme to snatch control of Israel and God’s Covenant Land. They have never been interested in peace or a “two state solution.” Their only interest and their primary goal is Israel’s destruction and a single State of Palestine. They may try to declare their fantasy state unilaterally. They may succeed for a time in building their “Territory of Wickedness.” But God will, according to Malachi, negate their efforts. Israel, on the other hand, will be fully and completely restored to their Covenant Land. This will ultimately take place when Christ returns to this earth. Until then, we can expect to see an ongoing struggle, on the part of the Palestinians and Arabs, to destroy Israel, either by direct conflict or through diplomatic negotiation and unilateral declaration. But do not be deceived. “They may build, but [God] will tear down.” This is the Word of the Lord!
This whole scenario is definitely setting the stage for the end-times. The prophetic scenario found in the Bible will be played out. In fact, it is being played out right before our eyes. This is a prophetic flash point that could descend the Middle East into war literally overnight. In fact, the Prophet Obadiah seems to indicate such a war between Israel and the Palestinians is on the near horizon. “Then the house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau” (Obad. 1:18). The house of Jacob and Joseph is, of course, Israel. The house of Esau is the Palestinians of today. Israel will be victorious and the Palestinians utterly destroyed. There is no way around this conclusion as this is what the Bible teaches for the last days. The question is when all this will take place. Only God knows but all indications point to a near fulfillment. Therefore, make sure you are ready to meet the Lord in the air. keep your focus on the Lord Jesus and His soon return for His Church. “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty… So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:16, 19-21). Many people believe that Bible prophecy is far too complicated to understand. Therefore, we should just leave it to the “experts.” Of course, these same people are often critical of the “experts,” insisting there’s plenty of work to be done for the Lord that one should not busy oneself with the study of prophecy. How stupid is that? Peter wrote, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention.” How can one “pay attention” to the “prophetic word made more sure,” if one refuses to consider it at all? It is sin and shortsightedness to neglect the study of prophecy! God has revealed His prophetic plan “to show His bondservants, the things which must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1). Furthermore, the Scripture declares, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). These are not “cleverly devised tales,” but the clear revelation of Jesus Christ given by God so that we may know “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God expects us to study and understand prophecy because He is the author of prophecy and Jesus Christ “is the spirit of prophecy.”
The false teachers of Peter’s day tried their best to oppose him and debunk the clear biblical teaching of the Second Coming of Christ. We see the same thing today from within the professing church. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). The world’s rejection of the coming Messiah should not surprise us. But when we see such foolish thinking from within the ranks of those who profess Christ, it is alarming. I was informed recently about some people who have been reading my blog. I was told these people, although they profess Christ, took offense at the idea that Jesus is coming again. I use the phrase, “profess Christ,” loosely, as I believe these people have been deceived into believing a false hope because they think their false religious system is the one true church on earth. They scoff at God’s future plans, pretending to know the truth while denying judgment will ever come. The fact that Jesus is coming again—a lot sooner than most are willing to believe—is not “cleverly devised tales,” but the “prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention.” As the last days draw to a close the darkness of sin and blindness to the truth of God’s Word will increase. It is the “prophetic word made more sure,” that acts as “a lamp shining in a dark place.” It provides us with a security and hope that can never be taken away because this security and hope is the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. This “prophetic word” refers to the entire Old Testament, all of which was written by prophets. They spoke the Word of the Lord and all looked forward to the coming Messiah. By referring back to the entirety of the Old Testament prophets, Peter is asserting the Word of God over experience. Our experience may lead us to conclude Jesus isn’t coming back anytime soon. After all, “all continues just as it was from the beginning,” or does it? You see, when one asserts such foolishness, “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water” (2 Pet. 3:5-6). In other words, God has already directly intervened in human history twice—once at the Creation and another in judgment at the Flood of Noah (and a third time at Christ’s first coming). The conclusion is He will intervene yet another time at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The fact that Israel is in existence today and increasing in stature indicates the last of the last days have begun. Daniel’s Seventieth Week is on the horizon, which means the Rapture of the Church is even closer! Furthermore, the alignment of nations, the anticipation for peace, the arrangements being made for the Jewish Temple, and the argument over Jerusalem are further evidences the Bible is God’s Word, its prophecies are true and literally coming to pass. “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” Therefore, it is crucial you be ready. Are you ready? If Jesus shouted from heaven today would you be caught up to meet Him in the air? Time is quickly running out. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
“I will turn you about and put hooks in your jaws, and will bring you out, and all your army…Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you…You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you…” (Ezekiel 38:4-6; 39:4). Is the Bible really the Word of God? As far as I am concerned, that is the question. For me, the answer is a resounding yes! There are several reasons I could give as to why we know the Bible is God’s Word, not the least of which is faith. However, the most compelling reason is the accuracy of fulfilled biblical prophecy. Unlike Nostradamus, Joseph Smith, Edgar Cayce, and other self-proclaimed prophets who seem to be able to get away with being wrong ninety-nine percent of the time, the Hebrew prophets had to meet a very stringent requirement—100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time—no exceptions. And when I say 100 percent accuracy, I mean accuracy down to the very smallest of details. One such small detail is found in Ezekiel’s prophecy of an alignment of nations that will come against Israel in the last days. In Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, the prophet predicts an Iranian led Russian equipped invasion force that includes several Middle Eastern and North African countries. Russia’s military and economic alliances with these nations have been in the news for the past few years. The lone holdout has been “Gomer and Beth-togarmah,” known today as Turkey. For the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39 to take place, Turkey must be aligned with Iran and Russia. Otherwise, the prophet Ezekiel misspoke and the Bible is not true.
Historically, Israel and Turkey have enjoyed close ties. However, current events indicate a shift is taking place. I believe it began when the European Union rebuffed Turkey’s desire to join the EU. Furthermore, it appears Turkey is developing closer ties with Syria. Last week, Turkey signed a civil and defense cooperation deal with Syria. Even more striking, Turkey appears to be taking a leading role in condemning Israel and recently cancelled a joint military exercise with Israel, choosing instead to hold joint exercises with the peace loving Syrians and Iranians. Israel’s loss of such a vital Middle East ally leaves it more isolated than ever. Of course, for students of Bible prophecy, such isolation is no surprise. The prophet Zechariah predicted a day when all the nations of the world would gather against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:3). We are witnessing Bible prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes. 2600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel looked down through the corridors of time and saw something that, until now, seemed like an utter impossibility. He saw nations not yet in existence and alliances not yet formed. He foretold the rise of a Russian military alliance with Iran, Turkey, and other Middle Eastern and North African countries. This alliance of nations would have but one purpose—to annihilate Israel in the last days. This alliance “will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel… [They] will go up…like a storm; [they] will be like a cloud covering the land” (Ez. 38:8-9). For Israel, all hope will appear to be lost. Notice I said, appear. Just when it appears Israel is about to be overrun, defeated, and utterly destroy, God says, “It will come about in that day, that My fury will mount up in My anger. In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel” (Ez. 38:18-19). Ezekiel goes on to say that God will supernaturally intervene on Israel’s behalf, utterly destroying this alliance of nations. Israel will become a super-power, Islam will come to an end, and God will reveal Himself to the world. Obviously, Turkey is making an unwise move. But their unwise move shows Ezekiel bats one thousand when it comes to Bible prophecy—100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time. Their move will also ensure that the Lord God of Israel will make Himself known “in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord” (Ez. 38:23). This is the Word of the Lord!
Ezekiel’s amazing prophecy seemingly coming to pass right before our eyes gives us yet another reason to believe the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus is coming soon for His Church. Surely the Rapture is nearer than it’s ever been. What if the end is closer than you think? Are you ready to meet the Lord in the air? If not, your time is quickly running out. “So you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matt. 24:33). “Behold, the judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9).
“So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). Every so often I receive a mass of emails in response to a particular Thoughts to Ponder. My recent one, There’s a Change Coming, is one such example. Many responded telling me how encouraging they found the article to be. Speaking of Christ’s return for His Church, some even asked, “Do you really think it’s that close?” Short answer—yes! Just a casual familiarity with Bible prophecy reveals we are mind-bogglingly close to this amazing, life-changing, earth shattering event. But of course, there are always mockers. Those who say, “Look, every generation of Christians believed Christ would return in their lifetime.” This is true. But the difference between those generations and this present generation is this—our generation has more reason to believe Christ will return in our generation than any previous generation ever imagined. And it all boils down to predictive prophecy—the Bible’s track record of 100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time!
The Bible predicts a number of events that will be in play just prior to Christ’s return for His Church. If we were witnessing just one or two of these events, we might have reason to believe Christ’s return was still far off. However, the fact that we are now, for the first time in history, witnessing all these events in play—setting the stage for Daniel’s prophesied Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:27)—gives us greater assurance that the Rapture of the Church is indeed close at hand. There is now a nation called Israel. No end-times prophecy could be fulfilled without an Israel. On May 14, 1948, against all odds, this tiny nation no bigger than the State of New Jersey, became a nation again. It occurred in less than 24 hours, sovereignly fulfilling numerous prophecies, particularly Isaiah 66:7-9. In verse 8 of that passage, Isaiah asks, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?” History has confirmed for us that yes, such a thing can and has happened. Israel’s return to the land is no accident of history but the sovereign fulfillment of God’s promise. The Bible also predicts Israel’s enemies, the Palestinians in particular (they are no peace partner), would try to steal Israel’s covenant land as their own (Ezek. 35; Psalm 83). The prophets also predicted, in the last days just prior to the Lord’s return, the whole world would come against Israel over the issue of Jerusalem. Zechariah writes, “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (12:3). We are witnessing this unfolding right before our eyes! Even the United States, Israel’s historic supporter, has now sided with the rest of the world in demanding that Israel cease settlement activity in its covenant land and divide Jerusalem. When you mess with Israel, especially Jerusalem, you mess with the apple of God’s eye (Zech. 2:8). That basically means that we as nation are now actively poking God in the eye. This is not a good position to be in as it invites catastrophic judgment. But it does show how close we really are to hearing Jesus shout from heaven! One more prophecy I would draw your attention too is that which Daniel mentions in chapters 2 and 7 of his prophecy. In both chapters, Daniel prophesied a revived form of the Roman Empire in the last days. We see the stage being set for this in the modern European and Mediterranean Unions. As of today, they are one vote away from a major step forward, and that vote will come soon. And just as Daniel prophesied, they are “partly strong and partly weak” (2:42). Out of this union, Daniel tells us ten kings (or nations) will arise. And from these ten kings, an eleventh king will arise who will, “make a firm covenant with the many for one week…” (Dan. 9:27). This is where we are today—the world is longing for someone—anyone—who can solve the Middle East problem. The only thing standing in his way right now, according to Scripture, is the true church. Once Christ removes His Church, this “man of lawlessness will be revealed” (2 Thess. 2:3).
I’ve only touched the surface. Space will not permit me to talk in detail about other prophecies in play this very moment—the march to globalism and the rise of global governance, economic upheaval, and the rise of an Iranian led, Russian equipped coalition that will attack Israel in the last days, apostasy, natural disasters, deception, calling evil good and good evil, and many, many more. The point is this: it is all coming to pass, exactly as the Bible predicts. Therefore, we can conclude God’s Word is true, its message of salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) is true, and Christ’s coming for His Church is very near (1 Thess. 4:13-18). So, my question to you is simply this: Are you ready? If Jesus came for His Church today, would you be caught up with all the saints of all the ages or would you be left behind? “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place…For this reason, you also must be ready”
“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14). Current events in our world point to the very real possibility that Jesus Christ will return for His Church at any moment. This truth is so spectacularly clear that I am amazed that most Christians have failed to take notice. This indicates a bigger problem—the Church is asleep! It is no wonder, as many churches, both mainline and conservative, have bought into Satan’s lie that the Church has replaced Israel and prophecy, as it relates to the end times, should not be taken literally, but rather spiritualized. However, the God of the Bible does not have a speech impediment. His Word is to be taken literally. Even if something within Scripture is symbolic, there is always a literal meaning behind the symbolism. So, the problem really is one of unbelief. Many in the Church today simply do not believe God when it comes to matters concerning the end of the age. A tragic result is that many in the Church are asleep—ignorant of the times in which we live and the things that are coming upon this world. They may as well be sleep walking!
There is so much going on today that indicates two things. First of all, God is setting the stage for the final fulfillment of all end times prophecy. Secondly, the return of Christ for His Church is very near. Consider the many things in play today that indicate the brevity of the hour. Israel is back in the land—the key to end times prophecy (Ezek. 36-37). The rise of the European super-state and Mediterranean Union is laying the foundation for the rise of a modern form of the ancient Roman Empire (Dan. 2, 7). The current worldwide economic troubles, as well as terrorism, have the nations of the world marching lock-step towards globalism (Dan. 2, 7; Rev. 17). The desire of the Palestinians to take God’s Covenant Land as their own, as well as, the whole Middle East Peace Process has key world leaders working day and night to forge a solution—a solution that seems to allude all who busy themselves with it (Ezek. 35; Dan. 9; Zech. 12). The rise of an Iranian led, Russian equipped coalition that will come against Israel in the near future is quickly taking shape (Ezek. 38, 39). In fact, there is so much going on concerning Iran right now that one can hardly keep up. It seems the whole thing is rushing quickly towards war. Could it be that the prophesied War of Gog and Magog (see Ezek. 38, 39) is on the near horizon? If so, what does this say about the nearness of Christ’s return for His Church? If war breaks out in the Middle East, as I suspect it soon will, the world as we know it will change. The world economy may very well collapse as oil surges to hundreds of dollars a barrel. Add to that the very real possibility of a nuclear exchange in the Middle East and the world will beg for a leader to put things in order—to guarantee peace between Israel and her enemies, thus protecting world access to oil. “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for [seven years]” (Dan. 9:27). Such a leader is coming. He will arise out of Western Europe. The Bible refers to this individual as “the beast” (Rev. 13), and the more commonly known title of Antichrist (1 John 2). He most likely is alive and well on planet Earth today. The hour is indeed late. It is time for the Church to wake up!
When Paul says to “awaken from sleep,” he means to awaken from spiritual apathy and lethargy, or to put it another way, unresponsiveness to the things of God. When we consider the nearness of Christ’s return for His Church and the judgments upon this world that will follow, we must wake up, lay aside and forsake our sins, live a life that is pleasing to God, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (the ongoing spiritual process of sanctification), and be about our Father’s business. Sadly, many in the Church are content to keep sleeping—oblivious to the hour in which we live and the nearness of Christ’s return and judgment. Furthermore, many are content to continue in their blindness and sin rather than repent and believe the true Gospel. They are content to mock God, either by word or deed saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4). It escapes their notice that God has directly intervened in human history in the past and He will do so again in the near future. Therefore, we must wake up and be firmly anchored in the Lord, as time is quickly running out, “for now salvation is nearer to us than when we [first] believed” (Rom. 13:11).
“Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence—As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—To make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down; the mountains quaked at Your presence. For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:1-4). The Scriptures are replete with examples of God acting in behalf of His people. In the Old Testament, we find Him intervening time and time again in behalf of His chosen people—the Jews. In the New Testament, we find Him acting in behalf of a new race of people—the Church. As I read the accounts of God acting in behalf of His people, the one thing that always strikes me is the experience of God’s presence as He acts. For His people, the experience is always one of awe and protection. For the enemies of His people, the experience is always one of dread.In Isaiah 64:1-4, we find God’s chosen people—the Jews—pleading with the Lord to demonstrate His power as He did in the earlier days of Israel’s history. Their plea is in response to their own assessment of themselves in the last verse of chapter 63: “We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name.” So they plea for the Lord to “rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence.”
I recently had the experience of living through a magnitude 6.4 earthquake. Everything under and around me was shaking. It was a truly amazing experience; one that I was glad quickly came to an end. It’s no wonder that such events strike fear in many who experience them. And perhaps this is why Israel pleaded for God to act in such a way in their behalf—that they might experience the awe and protection of His presence and that their enemies would experience the dread of His presence. In Psalm 18, David prayed for God to deliver him from the hand of his enemies. David records, “Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry” (18:7). God responded on David’s behalf in such a way that he was able to write, “He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me…He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:16, 19). God’s sheer power was displayed so dramatically that David experienced the protection of God’s presence while his enemies experienced utter dread and destruction. The manifestations of God’s presence are unique. According to Isaiah 64:4, no one has witnessed the likes of His awesome works on behalf of His own people: “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” We serve a mighty and awesome God who has promised to be with us and protect us, no matter what—even if such protection involves bringing us safely home to be with Him. In other words, He protects us against our enemies in both life and death. Death, after all, is our greatest enemy. But we need not fear. Christ has already triumphed over the grave!
Whether one is speaking of God’s chosen people—the Jews—or His new race of people—the Church—God acts in behalf of both. Our generation has witnessed Him acting in behalf of the Jews as He has begun bringing them from the four corners of the earth back into their covenant land. He has thwarted every attempt of Israel’s enemies to destroy the Jewish state, striking dread in them when necessary. This in and of itself is overwhelming evidence that the Messiah—the Lord Jesus Christ—will one day soon reign gloriously on David’s throne and over His Kingdom. Furthermore, the evidence is clear that He will one day soon rescue His new race of people—the Church—from His wrath that He is about to pour out on an unbelieving and rebellious world—an event that will surely strike dread in the hearts of those left behind. So the question you must answer is, “Am I ready?” Christ will return for His Church at any moment. That moment may very well be today. If you have not previously done so, receive God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life before it is too late. "For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land’” (Haggai 2:6).
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