Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). No one can possibly fail to see the lawlessness that pervades our society today. On Tuesday, the nation watched as FBI Director James Comey laid out the case against Hillary Clinton for her total disregard for Federal Law and common sense over her handling of classified information. I don’t know about you but I sat in stunned disbelief as he announced there would be no recommendation for an indictment. As one who holds a TOP SECRET National Security Clearance, I am sure I would already be in jail had I been found to have mishandled only a fraction of the classified information Mrs. Clinton and her staff mishandled. One thing is for sure, there is no longer such a thing as the rule of law. Lawlessness is now firmly entrenched in our society and world.
Jesus foretold this lawlessness in Matthew as one of the signs leading up to His return to this world. I do not believe He is referring to lawlessness in a purely civil sense. I am sure He has in mind lawlessness as it relates to God’s law, as well. Consider how far we have come as a society in just a few short years. That which the Bible clearly calls evil society now calls good. Religious freedom, something not necessarily promised to us in Scripture, is now a thing of the past. Anyone who disagrees or takes a stand on purely religious conviction is shunned, ostracized, and destroyed. To me, it is like a giant whirlpool sucking everything and everyone towards the center of the vortex. I witnessed one such whirlpool as I sailed from Alaska to Washington a few years ago. As the outgoing tide increased in velocity it caused the waters of the intercostal waterway to begin to rotate until it looked something like the picture above. I am thankful the ferryboat captain chose to steer clear of this whirling vortex rather than sail through it. Such a picture is an excellent illustration of how lawlessness works. Society moves further and further away from God and morality at a faster and ever tightening pace.
Lawlessness, according to Scripture, will abound in the last days. Lawlessness, properly understood, is a life of disobedience to the law of God—a deliberate trampling upon His law. It is mankind’s contempt for God and his decision to do as he pleases. The Psalmist writes, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’” (Psalm 2:2-3). Such is the irony of man’s rebellion—devising, conspiring, and scheming against God and His ways. The Bible, however, reveals God’s response to such foolishness. “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6).
I can almost hear the Lord saying, “Scorn My law all you want to but there is a payday coming and it is coming very soon for My Son will soon return and establish His Kingdom which He will rule with a rod of iron and destroy all those who do evil.” Perhaps this is why the Psalmist writes a few verses later, “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12) I do not know about you but as the tide of lawlessness rolls over the world and the rotating vortex of destruction sucks in anything and everything it can, I am taking refuge in Jesus. I would encourage you to do the same. The world is on a collision course to meet the God of the universe face-to-face. It will not be pretty. John writes, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). How will you fare when you meet God face-to-face? Will you perish in the way, as the Psalmist writes, or will you join Christ upon Zion—His holy mountain?
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).
“If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen?” (Ecclesiastes 8:7). It is not unusual for people in legal proceedings or other official venues to execute what is known as an affidavit, a formal written statement that is signed by the author under oath or affirmation before an authorized official. So what does this have to do with Bible Prophecy?
The Bible makes numerous claims about itself. For example, it claims to be the Word of God and therefore perfect. David wrote, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). He goes on to describe God’s word as being right, pure, clean, true, and righteous.
In the New Testament we are told, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Inspired means God-breathed, and since God, by His very nature is perfection, we know that He cannot breathe imperfection. Sounds simple enough right?
It may sound simple but there is one problem. Other books, or so called sacred writings, make similar claims. I remember visiting a temple in India once and looking at a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, the most revered sacred writings of Hinduism. I shared with the attendant how I believe only the Bible is God’s word to us and he quickly responded, “This is the same thing.”
On this week's addition of the Hal Lindsey Report, Hal honors his and my dear friend, Jack Kinsella. Jack went to be with the Lord on Thursday, 14 March 2013. The show is divided into three segments and Jack is featured in the last segment, at 13:15, just before Hal presents the Gospel. You can watch the video of the program below and also read my blog entry in memory of Jack by clicking here: Run Like Jack Ran. You can visit Hal's website here: Hal Lindsey.
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints”(Jude 3). I just returned from another outstanding annual meeting of the Pre-Trib Study Group (www.pre-trib.org). The meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This was my fourth opportunity to attend, having also attended in 2007, 2008, and 2011. The conference did not disappoint, proving once again to be Christ exalting, biblically focused, and academically stimulating.
Several papers were presented by various scholars around a common theme: Contending for the Faith in the Last Days. Dr. Thomas Ice began the conference with a paper on, “What Does the New Testament Teach about End-Time Apostasy?” Mike Gendron (www.proclaimingthegospel.org) presented a paper giving an overview of “Roman Catholicism’s Drift into Apostasy.” Tom McMahon (www.thebereancall.org) presented a paper on, “Psychology in the Church,” which to me, was the best paper presented at the conference. The so called church growth movement was discussed by the Monday evening banquet speaker, Paul Smith, where he discussed the church growth movement and how it was used to change the church’s focus from theology to sociology. Several other papers were presented, all focusing on end-time apostasy in the church.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It has been my custom for several years to write an article at the end of the year summarizing events from a prophetic angle. Normally, this article finds its way to the blog, email subscribers, and the newspaper around the first of the year. However, I see no point in putting off what I surmise to be the biggest end-times stage-setting event of 2012. And this despite the fact terrorist are this very moment reigning rockets down on Israel from Gaza with Israel poised to respond with overwhelming force any moment. So what is this stage-setting event of which I speak? Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries (www.olivetreeviews.org) refers to it as, “A birth pang of biblical proportions!” The rest of us refer to it as the 2012 U.S. election.
“Do not forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near”(Hebrews 10:25). Another year has come to an end and with it comes my annual prophetic year in review. My conclusion: The clock ticks ever closer to midnight. Unless the Lord tarries, one wonders just how much longer things can continue as they are. Clearly, the prophecy clock is racing. I had dinner recently with Jack Kinsella of The Omega Letter (http://www.omegaletter.org/) who observed when world events can go in one or more directions they always go in the direction prophesied in the Bible. I couldn’t agree more. Politically, militarily, and financially, this world is staging itself for an appointment with its Creator. And those with an eternal perspective know this means one thing—Jesus is coming soon for His church, perhaps today.
Politically speaking, the political map of the Arab world was totally reshaped in 2011. This is significant considering it is that part of the world—the Middle East—with which the biblical prophets were primarily concerned. The so called “Arab spring,” which is quickly becoming an “Arab winter,” has seen the end-time alignment of nations come into sharper focus. With the collapse of the Mubarak regime in Egypt—the anchor of stability in the Middle East—and the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical elements, a united effort to annihilate Israel is clearly underway. Add to that the fact Iran may be only months away from developing a nuclear weapon. Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad’s continues his ruthless grip on power. All of this brings the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 11, and Isaiah 17 into sharper focus. War is on the way in the Middle East and it could literally break out any moment. Former Assistant Defense Secretary under Ronald Reagan—Frank Gaffney—warns that, “A cataclysmic regional war [is coming] and it will be over the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of her neighbors, as they want to drive the Jews into the sea. It may include the use of nuclear weapons.” In the end, I’m not worried too much about Israel, as “He who keeps watch over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4). But it is interesting to note that of all the directions things could have gone in the Middle East in 2011, everything has moved in the direction prophesied by the Bible.
Along with the political reshaping of the Middle East one must also consider significant events militarily. The United States has pulled out of Iraq with Afghanistan not too far behind. It will be interesting to see what happens in that part of the world once the U.S. completely withdraws. Russia continues to strengthen its military ties with Iran, Syria and other Middle Eastern regimes. In fact, Russia has confirmed plans to send a flotilla of naval ships led by Russia's only aircraft carrier to a little-utilized base in Tartus, Syria, by spring 2012. Furthermore, Russia continues to provide military assistance and weapons to Iran and Syria. One can only wonder if the groundwork is being laid for the Ezekiel 38-39 war: “Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them” (Ezek. 38:7). Additionally, things are happening in the East. China continues to pursue a global military presence and its President, Hu Jinto, recently told China’s military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare.” Interestingly, China is the only country in the world that could field an Army of 200 million (Rev. 9:17; 16:12). Again, of all the directions the world could go militarily it is moving quickly in the direction spelled out in Bible prophecy.
Finally, as 2011 draws to a close one should also consider world events from a financial perspective. The world has only gone deeper into debt. The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 continues to affect the entire world. One area of the world that has witnessed the affects of this global financial crisis is the European Union which is currently fighting for its own survival. This union—now 27 nations strong—has been described by many experts as being simply too big to survive. I am neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet but if I had to guess I would say the worldwide financial crisis will ultimately work out in the direction the Bible says things are going to go in the last days. What is 27 nations strong today may very well collapse and regroup with a smaller number of much stronger nations—say ten? Daniel wrote, “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns” (Dan. 7:7). Furthermore, this global financial crisis may very well lead to the rise of a global leader—a man-with-a-plan kind of a guy—to solve the world’s financial problems as well as the problem of an elusive peace in the Middle East. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them…” (Dan. 7:8). 2011 was an interesting year from the perspective of Bible prophecy. 2012 promises to be even more interesting. But my focus is not so much on world events as it is on the promise of Jesus, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). As the world struggles to overcome insurmountable problems and seeks after a super-man who can seemingly solve it all, I am looking for Jesus and 2012 may very well be the year we see Him face to face—“Even so. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). I just returned from the twentieth annual meeting of the Pre-Trib Study Group Conference (www.pre-trib.org). The meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This was my third trip, having also attended in 2007 and 2008. The conference was academically stimulating with several papers presented by various scholars on the Rapture and Pre-Tribulationism. Perhaps the most challenging paper for me personally was Dr. Paul Wilkinson’s paper on "The Rapture and Evangelism." Dr. Wilkinson is a British scholar from England who challenged everyone attending to be about the task of evangelism in light of the any moment return of Christ for His church. The banquet on Monday evening featured Dr. Ed Hindson from Liberty University. Afterwards I was privileged to enjoy a brief visit with Bill Koenig, a White House correspondent and director of World Watch International news agency (www.watch.org). Tuesday evening included the traditional current events presentations dealing with current events in light of Bible prophecy. Although this is perhaps the highlight of the whole conference for me, this year I slipped out after the first speaker in order to have dinner with Jack Kinsella of the Omega Letter (www.omegaletter.org) and other Omega Letter friends. When all was said and done my mind kept coming back to Paul’s words to young Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:8, which I think is summed up with this question: Do you love His appearing?
Of all the reasons we might long for and love Jesus’ return for His church, three remain in the forefront of my thinking. First of all, I want to be where Jesus is. He said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). As believers, we should long to be with Christ above all else. I think our longing to be with Him is a sure sign we treasure Him more than anyone or anything this world has to offer. Do you long to be with Christ? Do you love His appearing? Secondly, although Christ’s death has set me free from the power of sin, I long to be free from the presence of sin. Paul wrote, "For in hope we have been saved" (Rom. 8:24). This hope includes not only the redemption of our bodies but also freedom from the very presence of sin. Personally, I cannot even begin to fathom being free from the presence of sin. But such freedom is coming and it is coming at "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13)! Finally, God has promised a great reunion in the sky for those who love His appearing. The Bible says, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:14). Imagine that—our loved ones who are "asleep in Jesus" will come with Him when He appears. Asleep here simply means those who have died in the Lord. They are now with Jesus—where we long to be—and one day they are coming with Him when He comes for His church.
So what’s the bottom line? Simply put, it is this: Do you love His appearing? Do you long for and pray for the return of Jesus for His church? Or, are you busy with and focused on the cares of this world? I am amazed at the focus of Christianity today, particularly in our own country. It seems the church is more interested in the things of this world rather than Christ. We see it in so-called Christian programming where the focus is on health, wealth, and prosperity. We see it in books where the authors seem more interested in our best life now and becoming a better you. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in holy living and longing for Christ’s return. It is no wonder. Even Paul promised, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Here’s the test. Are you accumulating for yourself teachers in accordance with your own desires who promulgate what may on the surface sound and feel good but in reality is nothing more than myths? Or, do you treasure Christ above all and love His appearing? "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:7-8). I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the unusually strong earthquake that struck the East Coast of the United States. The earthquake’s epicenter was located in central Virginia in an area known for seismic activity although it seldom produces a quake with such large magnitude. This quake comes a day after a similar magnitude earthquake struck in Colorado. All this shaken going on brings to mind Jesus words in Matthew 24: “In various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” Colorado and the East Coast definitely qualify as various places.
Even a casual observer would rightly observe strong earthquakes seem to be on the increase. Some prophecy teachers even point to this as evidence we are living in the last days very near the return of Christ. But the question remains: Does today’s earthquake, along with the many newsworthy earthquakes of recent days (Japan, Chili, Haiti) indicate we are nearing the terminus of the present age? When seeking to answer this question we must keep in mind the signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 are specific to a very narrow window of time—seven years to be exact. This time period is known in Scripture as Daniel’s Seventieth Week. It is also referred to as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble and also as the Great Tribulation. It is the last half of this seven-year period where the earth will experience the severe outpouring of God’s wrath. So by themselves, earthquakes probably don’t mean too much. In fact, the Scoffer says, “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). But reality leads us to a different conclusion—something is definitely up. When taken together with other global happenings such as the global economic unease, the wave of Islamic nationalism in the Middle East, and the growing threat of wars and rumors of wars, we must conclude things are not continuing the way they always have been. It seems the events of The Tribulation are beginning to cast their shadows into our present time. Perhaps we really are nearing that time when God will once again directly intervene in the affairs of man. The Bible reminds us He has done it before and He’ll do it again.
He will do it again. We got His Word on that! Therefore, the question we need to answer is one posed by the Apostle Peter: “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:11-12)? In the words of a modern-day theologian: “How shall we then live?” Peter answers that question for us. We should seek to live lives characterized by “holy conduct and godliness.” In 2 Peter 3:14, he admonishes us to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” The world isn’t getting any better. In fact, it’s getting worse. We aren’t headed for some cosmic leap in global consciousness but an appointment with the Creator. Therefore, the wise will recognize the days in which we are living and prepare to meet God. That meeting may very well occur today. “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 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
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