Signs and Instructions

Image result for why israel matters

Pull up a chair and get your Bible ready, study friends!  We’re diving into it today.

We have spent almost 11 weeks studying Israel, the covenants, end times and Jesus’ return.  But I want to make one thing clear before we make practical application today.  Roughly 25-35% of the Bible is prophetic (depending upon what Bible expert you ask!)  But we must not focus there while ignoring the rest.  All of God’s Word teaches us how to live, and that is critical.  If Israel and/or prophecy become the only focus, we will be lop-sided Christians!  Know and understand the place of Israel and prophecy in the context of all of Scripture.

Now, let’s make our way toward practical application of that idea!  We’ll consider the signs of the end, then look to “non-prophetic” passages to help us understand how to live.

Here are some signs of the times:

  • Re-birth of Israel.  (Ezekiel 36-37)  Israel cannot invite their King home if there is no home to invite Him to! This is the key prophecy of Jesus’ return, and it occurred May 14, 1948.
  • Godlessness around the world.  (2 Timothy 3:1-5)  In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul provided a very long list of moral failures that would occur in the last days.  Take a look at that list and decide for yourself whether or not those verses describe today’s culture.
  • Related imageTremendous increase in natural disasters. (Matthew 24:7)  Worldwide natural disasters have more than doubled since 1980.  Moreover, the intensity of storms and the resulting damage has increased far more.
  • Wars and rumors of war.  (Matthew 24:6)  War has been constant in our world for decades, but nuclear capabilities have risen to a level making those threats of war much more apocalyptic.
  • Russia, Iran, Turkey in coalition.  (Ezekiel 38)  The stage is set for the war of Gog and Magog as described by Ezekiel.  Russia, Iran and Turkey are undeniably identified as the primary players (along with other minor players) in the northern invasion.  Each of those nations now hold military positions on Israel’s border with Syria.
  • Signs of the rise of the false prophet and Antichrist are all over.  Though we (Christians) will be raptured prior to the Antichrist being revealed, we see false prophet and Antichrist-like figures in the world today.

The signs are everywhere! So, what instructions are we given?  Now is the time to open God’s Word, so crack open the Book and let’s take a look!

  • 1 John 2:15-18.  We are not to love this world or the things of it.  Those who please God will live forever.  The last hour is here and the Antichrist is coming.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  We are all running a race, and we must run to win.  To compete, we must persevere and not give up.  We discipline ourselves so we will not be disqualified.
  • Hebrews 12:1-2.  We must lay aside every encumbrance (sin) that entangles us and keeps us from running the race to win.  When we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we are guided rightly.

Finally, let’s consider Luke 19:11-13:

While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’”

Friends, the kingdom of God is about to appear.  Jesus told a parable that mirrored Himself when He described a nobleman going to a distant country.  He has gone to the heavenly kingdom to prepare a place for us!  But, just as the nobleman in the parable, Jesus left us here, with His resources, to do His business until He returns!

Again, I say: We must be about our Father’s business in these days until He returns.  The time is now…we have no time to delay.  Are you doing business with the resources He left you?

That is my prayer for all of us (myself included!)  As we do His business, let’s be faithful watchmen who shout the warnings to those around us!

We’re nearing the end of the study, but we’re not there yet!  So, I’ll see you tomorrow!

The King Awaits His Invitation

Image result for why israel matters

Hold on to your hats, study friends, as we’re taking a whirlwind ride today!

Recall that after Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, He proclaimed they will not see Him again until He hears “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (Matthew 23:39)  Jesus, a gentleman, is not going to barge on to the scene, but rather will wait for that special invitation, signaling His people are ready to receive Him.

But, before we get there, let’s talk briefly about the immanency of His return.  This week’s study is focused on the return of Jesus to His people.  That occurs after the tribulation, which means at least 7 years after believers in Jesus are taken out by rapture.  Thus, while we see signs pointing to that, we must be reminded that our departure via the rapture is indeed very imminent.

Here are some signs of the times, some of which will happen before the rapture, some of which will happen later.  All of which we see lining up right now!

  • Prophetic signs of Jesus.  Example: Matthew 24 warns of false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters, all of which have greater prevalence now than ever before.
  • Prophetic signs of Paul.  Try reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul leaves a laundry list of moral failures that characterize the last days.  We’re living in that time!
  • Prophetic signs of Isaiah.  There are many, but perhaps none making today’s headlines more than Isaiah 17:1, indicating the destruction of Damascus.  How much longer can Damascus stand?  Almost the entire city is destroyed right now.
  • Prophetic signs of Ezekiel.  It is likely no one needs to remind you that the Ezekiel 38 coalition of forces that will attack Israel is now firmly in place on Israel’s northern border.  The stage is set.

Luke 21:28 says:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

The King is coming, and He is awaiting the Matthew 23:39 invitation.  However, I believe there is another invitation that pleases Him also.  It is found in Revelation 22:17:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

This is a wedding scene where the Spirit of God and His bride (believers!) join together in a chorus of “Come!”  Can you even imagine what heaven will sound like when God brings His family together as one to wed His Son!

It doesn’t hold a candle to it, but perhaps the imagery in your mind is kindled with this:

 

Indeed, the grandest wedding celebration of all time will occur when God establishes His family and brings us all together in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant…the Millennial Kingdom!

Meanwhile, we keep looking for the Blessed Hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)!  (That is the topic of our last week of study together, so be sure to stick with us!)

Why the Calm? Why the Storm?

Related image

What faithful students you are!  Welcome back!

Today we’ll finish the summary of the live class I’m teaching at 11:00 am each Sunday morning at Calvary PHX in Phoenix AZ.  If you like what you’re reading and are in the Phoenix area, come join the live class.  We’re in Room 209 at the Central campus and there is a seat ready for you!

We are living in the calm before the storm.  Indeed, Israel is as calm and peaceful as she has ever been since rebirth in 1948.  (If you are wondering how I can say that when rockets fired from Gaza recently, see yesterday’s post.)  We know, also, that there is a huge storm on the horizon.  Ezekiel 38 describes that storm and we’ll spend some more time talking about it in the next live lesson.

So, why the calm…and why the storm?  Does God really have a purpose in all this?  Absolutely!

First, let’s talk about what happened in America.  Understand, though, that America is NOT God’s timepiece.  Israel is.  But something significant happened in America over the past few years.  From a spiritual perspective, many believe we were teetering on the brink of the abyss.  For years, our country has been spiraling out of control morally.  We have thrown God out of schools, government buildings and city parks.  Abortions are killing over 600,000 babies a year.  Religious freedom has been trampled while gay rights have sky rocketed to levels unimaginable.  Marriage has taken on new definitions and the dignity of aging adults has been striped away.

But someone (LOTS of someones!) took 2 Chronicles 7:14 to heart:

…[if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Christians began to pray and began to stand up for what is right…and miracles happened.  (If you prayed, you had a part in the miracles!)  One miracle (there were many) was the election of Donald Trump as President.  Many (including myself) were skeptical that a man with such a sordid background would actually stand for things such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom…and Israel.  Furthermore, he was not supposed to win!  Behind in all the polls and lambasted by the liberal media, it took a miracle of God (despite skepticism!) to put Donald Trump in the White House.  Praise God for that!

Our nation is far from perfect and still has the same issues it had before.  But I truly believe God heard the faithful, effective prayers of the righteous (James 5:16), He honored them, and He gave America a short reprieve.  American friends, this is our season!  Time is short and the reprieve won’t last forever.  We must NOT be complacent.

Now the whys.

Why the calm?

  1. God honored the prayers of the righteous!
  2. God is preparing the region for what comes next.  Ezekiel 38 says Israel MUST be living in safety, security and prosperity.  Meanwhile, Russia, Iran and Turkey are all struggling economically.  That will bring about motivation for attack.
  3. God is establishing Jerusalem’s status.  Jerusalem is to be the heavy stone that others will try to lift, only to be injured.  Establishing Jerusalem as the capital, moving embassies there and destroying Iran’s presence on the Israeli border helps establish Jerusalem’s status!

Those things are happening right before our very eyes, and this is the calm before the storm!  Also, as a side note: talk among Jews in Israel is turning to “days of Messiah!”  They are looking for that someone who will bring lasting peace and allow them to rebuild the third temple!  Interesting!

Why the coming storm?

  1. To expose the intentions of man’s heart, and that of the nations.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 provides a laundry list of wickedness that will characterize the last days.  Joel 3:2 warns the nations that God will judge them according to how they treat Israel!
  2. To glorify God and destroy Satan’s plans.  (Read Ezekiel 38.  That’s your homework for next week!)
  3. Set the stage for the hour of trial.  Though believers will be saved from it (Revelation 3:10 and many places in 1 Thessalonians), the Jews will face the hour of trial after God defeats the enemies of Ezekiel 38-39.  They will look for their Messiah, only to find he is the Antichrist.

Despite their own blindness, Israel is the flagship that leads the world to salvation.  So, why does Israel matter?  Because Israel is our insurance policy!  If God is not faithful to the Jewish people, why would we expect Him to be faithful to us?

As we close out this week, why not pray for the eyes of Jewish people to be open to see and recognize the One True Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some are seeing…let’s pray for a larger harvest!

Thanks for following this week, and I look forward to sharing more in Week 2, as we get into Signs of the Times: Storm Clouds Rising.

Israeli Air Force: Taking Care of Business in Syria

Western intelligence sources said there was an attack on an Iranian military compound, located about 10 miles south of Damascus.

Reported Israeli attack on Iranian base in Syria (SANA via AP)

Following detection of “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria,” the Israeli Air Force wasted little time taking care of business.  About one hour after President Trump’s announcement that America will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the IAF attacked a Syrian military facility occupied by Iran.

The military compound is believed to have housed a stockpile of Iranian missiles.  Additionally, at least nine military personnel, including perhaps a high-ranking Iranian general, were killed in the attack.

So, what are we to think of these developments?  Here are some thoughts:

  • First and foremost, God is in control!  Things are not falling apart, they are falling into place.  As Christians, we have read the book…we know how it ends!  The prophets of old told us what to expect in the last days and we are seeing the pieces fall exactly into place.  No need to fear…our God is on the throne, and we can trust Him.
  • Secondly, Iran has been dealt severe blow after severe blow and is not likely capable of launching a full-on offensive against Israel on its own.  Though we don’t hear much of it in the news, the Iranian economy is crumbling and the people of Iran have been protesting in the streets of most Iranian cities for weeks.  Furthermore, since the Iranian drone incident (an armed Iranian drone shot down in Israeli territory), Iran has suffered major attacks in Syria, including destruction of the significant T4 base, as well as others.  To add insult to injury, the Mossad sent a “we know your every move” message when they waltzed out of Tehran with Iran’s “secret” (though not really secret!) nuclear plans.  Iran is currently beat down and in need of assistance to mount any kind of game-changing challenge to Israel.
  • Yes, the action in Syria may heat up once again, but Israel is serious about its “red lines,” and has vowed not to allow Iran to establish military presence in Syria in an effort to destroy Israel.

Believers, we must continue to put current events into the context of Scripture.  We must not live in fear, but in expectation of our redemption drawing near.  (Luke 21:28) As we look for the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13), we can be certain of the crown of righteousness that awaits those of us who love His appearing! (2 Timothy 4:8)

Meanwhile, we have work to do!  It is time to:

Rather than get caught up in the hype, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith!  (Hebrews 12:2)