Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder…” (Ezekiel 38:10-12). The Iranian president said on Friday there would be no room for Israel in the region after the formation of a Palestinian state, and that once the state is established; the liberation of all Palestinian lands should follow. He is quoted as saying to Israel, “There is no room for you in the region.” Such diatribes are nothing new from Mr. Ahmadinejad. In 2005 he stated Israel would soon be, “wiped off the map.” In 2006 he said, “The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.” Interestingly enough, Ezekiel prophesied, “You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land” (Ezek. 38:9). When one considers Ezekiel’s prophecy speaks of an Iranian led, Russian equipped coalition of nations that come against Israel in the last days all of Ahmadinejad’s statements take on a whole new meaning. Add to that Iran’s feverous pursuit of nuclear weapons and the situation becomes dire, indeed—or so it would seem. But remember, appearances can be deceiving.
When considering Ezekiel’s prophecy in light of current world events there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, when it comes to predicting the future, Ezekiel bats one thousand—in other words, one hundred percent accuracy one hundred percent of the time. His prophecies concerning Israel’s return to its ancient homeland (Ezek. 36-37) have largely been fulfilled. The Palestinians are attempting to take all the land of Israel just as Ezekiel prophesied: “Because you have said, ‘these two nations and these two lands will be mine, and we will possess them’” (Ezek. 35:10). And now we see Persia—Iran of today—rising to prominence in the Middle East. Furthermore, Russia has entered into economic and military alliances with Iran and other nations mentioned in the Ezekiel 38-39 coalition. Furthermore, Ezekiel tells us Russia’s purpose for equipping and supporting this coalition—although reluctantly—will be to take spoil (Ezek. 38:12). What spoil has Israel that Russia and other nations might desire? In recent years huge natural gas fields have been discovered in Israel’s territorial waters. Furthermore, explorers suggest it’s only a matter of time before huge quantities of oil are discovered in Israel. Imagine how a massive Israeli oil discovery might upset the petroleum economies of the Middle East and the world. But that’s not all. We must also consider other biblical prophecies concerning the last days—the alignment of nations, apostasy in the church, the rise of the European super-state and Mediterranean Union, worldwide economic turmoil, preparation for the third Jewish Temple, arguments over Jerusalem, and the push for an elusive Middle East peace. To see all these things transpiring together suggests only one thing. Daniel’s Seventieth Week—also known as The Great Tribulation—is closer than most are willing to believe. And closer than that is the Rapture of the Church.
Clearly the hour is late. The return of Christ for His Church is closer than it’s ever been before. The amazing thing to me are those who claim to belong to Christ yet whose actions, lifestyle choices, and decisions in general give evidence they are not coming into the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, they are nowhere near prepared for the return of Christ. What about you? Are you prepared? Jesus said, “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect” (Luke 12:39-40). The evidence is all around us. Jesus is coming soon. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Are you ready to meet the Lord in the Air?
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone”(Matthew 24:36). As of this writing it’s nearly an hour and twenty minutes past doomsday and the Church is still here. I am referring to the second doomsday prediction of Harold Camping—his first doomsday prediction came in 1994. He’s now 0 for 2. Maybe the third time—if there is a third time—will be a charm. I doubt it very seriously. The Bible is crystal clear on this point. Although we may be able to discern the general time of the end (Matt. 16:3) we will never be able to pinpoint the day and hour. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Camping joins a long line of date setters, all of whom have seen their predictions fall flat. By the way, Camping says his predictions are based on taking direct quotes and stories from the Bible and applying them to numerological formulas. I guess he missed this one: “But of that day and hour no one knows.” Or maybe he just didn’t include himself in “no one.” After all, he is someone, right? The sad part is his gullible followers who expended their life savings spreading a misguided and thoroughly false prediction.
That being said, what can we know about the time of the end, specifically the return of Christ? First of all, we know He is coming again. We’ve got His word on that: “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3). Even the angels present at His ascension confirmed the promise of His return to earth. Luke writes, “They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:11). Jesus is coming again. Secondly, we know that when He comes it will be business as usual for the world. Jesus said, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37-39). In other words, most of the world won’t even be looking for or otherwise expecting His return. But just as judgment came suddenly and without warning in Noah’s day so it shall be when Christ returns for His own. Then the Day of the Lord—doomsday—will come. This is why Jesus stressed, “For this reason you also must be ready” (Matt. 24:44). Finally, although His return will come upon an unsuspecting world it should not take Christians by surprise. Paul wrote, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4). In other words, if we are discerning, we will know His return is near.
Personally, I believe we are living in the last of the last days. I think the prophetic evidence is overwhelmingly clear. But I dare not set any dates other than to say I’m surprised the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is still here. I’ve been expecting the return of Christ for His Church any day now—and it may very well be today. Only God knows. That is why He stresses readiness. In the military we train to go to war. We work hard to maintain a constant state of readiness so that when duty calls all we have to do is respond based on weeks, months, and years of training. The same thing should be true in the life of believers. We must be ready at all times for at any given time Christ may call us home. “We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thess. 5:5-6). Well, it’s now nearly two hours past the doomsday deadline and the Church is still here. But she could very well be out of here at any moment. Therefore, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) before it is too late.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:13-16). We are one year closer to the return of Christ! With each passing year it becomes more and more evident we are living in the last days. So many things occurred in 2010 that it is difficult for me to summarize them all in one Thoughts to Ponder. It is clear to me that the United States is quickly going the way of the world. In fact, I am convinced America has crossed the line with God and our being given over to judgment is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, rather than follow my previous pattern of summarizing where I think we are in Bible prophecy I have decided to offer a few insights on living faithfully in a pagan and hostile society.
Peter begins his letter with a greeting to Christians “scattered” throughout the world. These were Christians who, like Israel of old, were scattered throughout the world. Their situation was one of suffering and trial. The sufferings and trials to which Peter refers are those that often come to Christians as they live faithfully in a pagan and hostile society. Such trials take the form of slander, riots, police action, and social ostracism. It is clear to me that America has become just such a society. The Christianity that once was part of the fabric of our nation that created some cultural props to hold us up and to give us a biblical morality and some divine standard in which to judge behavior is now gone. Moral freedom reigns as god. What was once done in secret has now emerged as outright open rebellion against the Lord God before whom we will all one day stand and give an account. This open hostility is clearly evident as the enemy seeks to marginalize those who truly belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider these words uttered by a military leader concerning those who might oppose certain lifestyle choices based on religious conviction: "But these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they can't, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you're always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today." Did you get that? He subtly tied biblical Christianity to racism. This is the kind of slander and social ostracism about which Peter wrote and we now experience. So the question is how do we live faithfully in this pagan and hostile society?
Peter offers three principles we must faithfully apply. These principles are captured with three words: (1) Prepare, (2) Keep, and (3) Fix. First of all, we are to “prepare your minds for action.” This is military imagery meaning we are to pull in all the loose ends that might otherwise hinder our walk with Christ. The image is one of gathering and fastening up a long garment so that it would not interfere with one’s activity. This gathering up would include dealing with sin, and that which is wasteful and useless. Secondly, we are directed to “keep sober in spirit.” This means to think soberly or to get your thoughts right. Will I think the way the world thinks or will I have the mind of Christ? Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we are to have the mind of Christ. The world says one thing but God says something altogether different. Finally, we are to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In other words, everything we think, say, and do is to be thought, said, and done with a view to the return of Christ—our blessed hope—and the reward He will bring with Him for those of us who truly follow Him. Paul wrote, “We have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:9-10). How are we to apply these principles? Practically, we are to obey God by living a holy (separated) life: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” We are to live faithfully in whatever pagan and hostile society we find ourselves. Regardless of what form our trials and sufferings take—slander, riots, police action, social ostracism—we are to live holy and faithful lives. As 2010 draws to a close it is clear the world is headed to an appointment with God—judgment is imminent. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
“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).
“I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth wondered after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, „Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?‟ (Revelation 13:3-4). 2009 has proven to be another exciting year so far as current events and Bible prophecy are concerned. I believe we are witnessing end-time events in the Middle East and around the world playing out with ever increasing speed. Think about it. Jewish people the world over continue to make Aliyah to the land of their forefathers. The prophesied alignment of nations for the last days continues to fall rapidly into place. The anticipation for a comprehensive Middle East peace has reached a fevered pitch. Apostate Christianity, seen primarily in the Emerging Church, seems to know no theological bounds. The argument over the city of Jerusalem—who will own and control it—has taken center stage in Middle East politics. But perhaps the one thing 2009 will be remembered for among prophecy teachers is the world’s continued march towards global governance and a messianic fervor not seen since the time of Christ.
The worldwide financial chaos witness early on in 2009 brought many major world leaders together to try and solve the problem. What resulted was an acceleration of interdependence on a worldwide scale. The Bible seems to indicate economics and religion as the unifying factors that bring the world together under the leadership of one man in the last days. The Bible further predicts a near future in which a man of superior intelligence, wit, charm, and diplomacy will emerge on the world scene as savior. Speaking of this coming individual, Thomas Horn writes, “He will seemingly possess a transcendent wisdom that enables him to solve problems and offer solutions for many of today’s most perplexing issues. His popularity will be widespread, and his fans will include young and old, religious and non-religious, male and female. He will have the uncanny ability to resolve what has escaped the rest of us, and the poor will bow down at his table.” This individual will appear to be a man of distinguished character, but will ultimately become “a king of fierce countenance” (Dan. 8:23). There is no doubt in my mind that this individual is alive and well on planet Earth today. Of course, I realize I could be wrong. But when one considers the rapid change that has taken place in the world financial arena, and the call for some sort of world governance, the conclusion is clear. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated, “It is time for all countries of the world to renounce protectionism and to participate in a new international system of banking and regulations to shape the twenty-first century as the first century of a truly global society.” Other world leaders have echoed this same call. Ultimately, all countries of the world will come together as a “truly global society.” The Bible predicts the entire world will come together under one man, known as the Antichrist, about whom the Bible says “the whole earth wondered after.” The Greek word for “wonder” is “thaumazo,” which means “to wonder at” or “to marvel at.” Perhaps you are wondering how in the world any intelligent person could ever “wonder at” or “marvel at” another individual. I used to wonder the same thing. However, the past 18 months have clearly demonstrated the very real possibility of such an event taking place. Just think long and hard about it!
As 2009 draws to a close and a new year begins, the one question that is on my mind is this—will 2010 be the year believers the world over hear the trumpet blast? Only God knows. Therefore, it is imperative that we all ready ourselves for this coming momentous event. When it occurs, a change will take place—the dead in Christ will rise and those of us who are alive will be “caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). But that’s not the only change that will take place. Imagine the utter shock and chaos that will follow on planet Earth. I believe the Rapture of the Church will be the final event that pushes the world into position for the last days and the rise of Antichrist. This event will change everything and it will occur at any moment. If the trumpet sounded today would you be “caught up” with all the saints of all the ages, or would you be left behind? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“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).
“Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”(Matthew 16:3) We use the phrase down to the wire for any situation which is tense because its outcome may not be decided until the very last moment. However, when it comes to end-times Bible prophecy, the outcome is clear. The question is simply when? Personally, I believe when is a whole lot closer than most people are willing to believe. Few of us realize the lateness of the hour. Many in the Church have ignored the Bible’s warning concerning the end-times and, as a result, have no idea how to “discern the signs of the times.” I believe, based on Scripture and current events, that it is overwhelmingly clear we are nearing the end of the Church Age. The birth-pains Jesus described in Matthew 24 indicate that Daniel’s Seventieth Week will soon begin (see Daniel 9:24-27). However, before this prophesied seven year period can start, the Church must be removed. Therefore, if Daniel’s Seventieth Week is on the near horizon, how much closer then is the Rapture of the Church? It is mind-bogglingly close!
If the return of Christ for His Church is as close as many prophecy teachers believe it is, me included, what should we as believers do? I believe we must raise the bar in our walk with Christ. This is not the time to get lazy, max out your credit cards, and cruise on into heaven. No, now is the time to get more serious than ever about your walk with Christ. One reason I believe this is because I also believe that persecution against followers of Christ will increase as the time of our departure nears. We are already seeing this. Satan will stop at nothing to suppress God’s truth. One of his primary ways of doing this is through silencing Christians. One example of this clever deception is the recently signed hate-crimes law. Regardless of what its supporters want you to believe, its ultimate purpose will be to silence anyone who opposes the abhorrent lifestyles it claims to protect. Therefore, in order to prepare for the coming increase in persecution it is imperative we raise the bar in our walk with Christ. To begin with, we must pursue holiness with a passion. 1 John 3:2 says, “It has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” Since we are going to be like Him, which includes both physical changes of the resurrection body and spiritual changes of purity, no sin, and righteousness, let’s be as much like Him now as we can. In fact, John goes on to write, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). This raises another very important issue—that of false hope. I know far too many people who think they are right with God because they walked a church aisle but whose lives today give little evidence they belong to Christ. Paul said, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Secondly, we need to go to our knees in prayer. We should be praying for His will to “be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Thirdly, we must raise the bar on personal and corporate Bible study. By this, I mean the verse-by-verse study of God’s Word. Our goal in life ought to be to know God as intimately as possible this side of glory. The only way that is going to happen is through careful Bible study and concerted prayer. Finally, we must preach Jesus. By preach Jesus, I mean share the gospel one on one and corporately. Jesus said, “You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). If the Rapture occurred today, how many of your family, friends, and loved ones would be left behind? What are you doing about it? Hopefully, you are going to your knees in concerted prayer and preaching the Gospel of our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ!
Our duty and calling in these last days, as we recognize the signs of the times in which we live, is to stand firm on behalf of the Lord. Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). He repeated this in the next chapter, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). I can think of no better advice for those of us so fortunate to live during the most exciting time in history—the time leading up to the return of Christ for His Church. There is no better time to raise the bar in our walk with Christ. There is no better time to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). When it comes to the end-times, we are coming down to the wire. Therefore, make sure you are ready to meet the Lord in the air! “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
“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).
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