Palm Sunday: The Day of His Visitation

Happy Palm Sunday!

As we set our sights on Resurrection weekend (next weekend), it is important to know and understand the significance of Palm Sunday…the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, setting the stage for the remainder of what we now know as Passion Week.  Later that week, Jesus would be crucified and then resurrected, marking the most profound moment in all of Christendom.

But today we celebrate Palm Sunday, so let’s examine its significance.

It was customary for Jews to gather in Jerusalem three times a year for major feasts.  Passover (and the accompanying Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of First Fruits) was the first major feast.  Being Jewish, Jesus and his family made those pilgrimages each year.  But at exactly the given time, this particular journey to Jerusalem became the most crucial feast season in all of history.  Jesus was coming as Messiah.

The prophet Zechariah proclaimed exactly how the Messiah would come:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
~Zechariah 9:9

Indeed, the Messiah arrived on the scene, mounted on a donkey. (Matthew 21:1-11)

The prophet Daniel even told us the exact day this would take place.  Careful study of  Daniel 9:24-26 indicates the Messiah would come exactly 173,880 days after the decree given to Artaxerxes in 465 BC to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  (Careful study of that passage is found in Week 2 of the study, Looking for the Blessed Hope; particularly in Prophetic Accuracy Proven in Daniel 9.)

Thus, Jesus the Messiah arrived that fateful Palm Sunday morning exactly as promised and exactly on time, perfectly fulfilling prophecy.

Yet, something happened.  Only a short time later, Jesus would be handed over to the Romans for crucifixion, but not before Jesus lamented over His people, the Jews:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
~Matthew 23:37-39

Why the lament?  Because, despite their beloved prophets’ consistent messages regarding the coming of the Messiah, they missed the day of His visitation.

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
~Luke 19:42-44

Today, there are some who have heard about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, but are like the Jews who saw Him, but didn’t believe.  All the prophecies concerning His arrival were proven true, yet they missed the day of His visitation.

If you do not know Jesus, today is YOUR day of visitation.  He has come to you right here and right now to say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)  Heaven is a real place, and so is hell…and everyone will spend eternity in one place or the other.  Don’t let Jesus lament over you.  He wants to spend eternity with you, and all you need to do is come to Him.  Here’s how:

 

Through the Lens of Scripture: Macron and the EU

When we gather at our virtual study table, we often talk about viewing today’s events through the lens of Scripture.  So, pull up a chair and let’s go back to a news piece from a few days ago and put it into Scriptural context.

Consider Emmanuel Macron: “France is back at the core of Europe.”  Read the article and you will discover Macron hyping a “stronger Europe,” and that France is perhaps the linchpin that brings it all together.

The EU is currently a coalition of 27 European countries, but Macron makes it clear that he does not intend “to wait for all the people around the table before moving forward.”

“If some people are ready to be more ambitious, to go further in terms of integration and ambition of what makes you sovereign as a power in this global environment, to defend your values and your interests, let’s move,” Macron said. “Those who don’t want to move forward should not block the most ambitious people in the room,” he said.

Global environment…the most ambitious people in the room.  Key phrases!  By the way, he gave his speech in English (as he often does on the world stage).  Do you ever wonder why?

Well, I don’t claim to be a prophet, but here are some thoughts:

 

  • Daniel 2 describes the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that the prophet Daniel interpreted.  The dream makes known a succession of kingdoms, including a fourth kingdom (revived Roman empire) described as feet and toes of iron and clay.  (Verses 40-45)  Iron and clay do not mix.  This is a divided kingdom.  The passage also indicates that iron will crush and shatter all things.  In other words, the iron portion of the kingdom will subdue the clay portion.  Could it be that Macron’s French empire and the other “most ambitious people in the room” become the kingdom of iron that crushes all others?
  • Daniel 7 provides another glimpse into a similar dream God gave to Daniel himself.  In it, the same succession of kingdoms was described, and when it came once more to the fourth, Daniel again describes a kingdom that devours and crushes others.  (Verses 23-25)  The kingdom is characterized as having 10 horns, which represent 10 kings.  Is it possible that the 27 nations in the European Union will be whittled down to the 10 “most ambitious,” who will ultimately make up this 10 king coalition?  We know this passage of Scripture to be indicative of the antichrist, and we have previously noted similarities between characteristics of Emmanuel Macron and the antichrist.  I am not saying he is or isn’t the antichrist…only questioning whether or not the stage is being set for fulfillment of Daniel’s vision.
  • Revelation 17:12-18 also describes the rise of the antichrist, called “the beast” in this passage.  It predicts that 10 kings (horns) will “give their power and authority to the beast,” who will then be destroyed by the Lamb of God!
  • When Macron speaks of “global environment,” it is no coincidence.  One World Government has been on the rise for ages, and Macron is among those pressing for it.  Revelation 17-18 talk specifically about the rise and fall of mystery Babylon…false religion and false government.

Finally, regarding Macron’s speech in English.  While we have to be careful not to make too much of it, I do find it interesting that Macron consistently speaks the most common language of the day.  If you want to lead multi-national coalitions, speaking different languages, it might behoove you to speak the language that is understood by the most people.  A vast number of Europeans speak (or at least understand) English as a second language.  Thus, is it any surprise that Macron would abandon use of his native tongue in favor of a common language?

Signs of the times?  It certainly looks like it!  Is Macron the antichrist?  It is too early to say for sure.  The point is not to identify who the antichrist is, but for each of us to determine for ourselves whether or not the stage is set for the last act.

As Christians, we likely won’t be here when the antichrist is revealed, so we don’t need to know who he is!  But we DO need to know and understand the season in which we live.  Jesus is coming…are you ready?

Jerusalem: A Cup of Reeling

Zech 12 2-3

We’re a week beyond President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Not since President Harry Truman became the first to recognize Israel as a newborn nation in 1948 has a President so solidly and profoundly declared America’s position regarding Israel.  Praise God for the stand taken by the American administration.

However, on Wednesday, Muslim leaders declared East Jerusalem the capital of “Palestine.”

Could it be that we have now stepped into a whole new dimension when it comes to God’s plan for the last days?  We are living in the time of the Gentiles…that time between the “cutting off of the Messiah” (Daniel 9:26), when God pressed the pause button on His plan for the Jewish people; and the rapture, when God will release that pause button to complete His plan for the Jews.  (See God’s Prophetic Pause, or check out Week 2 of the Bible Study, Looking for the Blessed Hope)

We are obviously talking about end times outlined in the Bible, and as we consider the ongoing battle over Jerusalem, particularly in light of announcements by President Trump, and then by Muslim leaders, we come face-to-face with Zechariah 12:2-3 (above).  The prophet Zechariah prophesied that, in the end:

  • Jerusalem will cause reeling (“stumbling” or “trembling” in other translations) to all the people around.
  • Jerusalem will become a heavy stone (“burdensome”) for all the people.
  • All who lift that heavy stone will be severely injured.
  • All the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.

The end-time battle over Jerusalem is just beginning, and people (nations) are going to get injured!

But I’m reminded of something else.  We (followers of Jesus) are called to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem.  Isaiah 62 commands that we not be silent, but rather take no rest for ourselves, and give Him no rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth!  Jerusalem WILL ultimately become a praise in the earth when every knee bows and every tongue confesses and gives praise to the Lord!  (Philippians 2:9-11Romans 14:11)

Surely, we are approaching the time when Jerusalem will become more and more a burdensome, heavy stone which causes injury to those who try to move her.  That battle will last into and throughout the Tribulation…after Christ followers have been taken in the rapture!  So, believers, as long as we are on planet Earth, our job is to give the Lord no rest in our prayers on Israel’s behalf!

Now, a final thought.  Ezekiel 36-37 describes God’s preparation of the land and the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.  That prophecy, highlighted by Israel’s new birth as a nation in 1948, is happening PHYSICALLY, as Jews continue to return to their land.

However, Ezekiel 36:27 and Ezekiel 37:14 describe a SPIRITUAL rebirth.  With the exception of relatively few Jews who have met Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, that spiritual new birth is still  to come.  It will come after God resumes His plan for the Jews…during the Tribulation.

So, we’re seeing prophecy fulfilled right before our very eyes!  Jerusalem will become a larger and more burdensome cup of reeling, and people and nations will injure themselves messing with God’s people and the Holy City He gave them.  Our job, Christian friends, is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Pray for the Prince of Peace to rule and reign in the hearts of those who will believe.  Our job is to take no rest, and give the Lord no rest, until He completes His work with His people and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Then, and only then, have we fulfilled the responsibility we have been given!  Pray on, dear friends!

Is the Eclipse a Sign of End Times?

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Solar Eclipse: sign of the times?

There is a popular theme racing through cyberspace right now: that the unusual celestial happenings have some supernatural message from God wrapped up in them, and that they somehow confirm the end of the age.  Today’s eclipse is said to be a precursor of the “grand” celestial event of September 23, when the greatest alignment of planets in the modern age takes place.  One of the “proof texts” (there are others) regarding these magnificent celestial events as signs is Acts 2:20:

…the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Is God really trying to tell us something?  Are these signs truly revealing the last days?  If so, does it make sense that some of these events (including today’s eclipse) are not seen in Israel (the land of the Bible)?

While I do believe that Israel is God’s timepiece in many ways, I have difficulty confirming celestial signs such as blood moons (which are lunar eclipses), solar eclipses, or aligned planets, in and of themselves, as Biblical signs of anything specific to what the Bible describes in this day and age.  (During the Tribulations, those things will accompany the shaking of the heavens, but we are not in the Tribulation at the moment!)

I’ll let a brilliant Christian astronomer, Dr Danny Faulkner, explain why I find it difficult to view those things as signs of the times today!  He has written at least two very well-done articles: Will Lunar Eclipses Cause 4 Blood Moons in 2015-2015? and Do Total Lunar Eclipses Qualify as Great Signs for Biblical Prophecy? True, they deal with lunar eclipses, not solar eclipses, but I think his points are pertinent.  (Skip to the Conclusion of each article if you lack the time to read the articles all the way through.)

What I do find in Scripture is that God has set forth a chronological course of events in the Jewish feasts.  (See Jewish Feasts: God’s Calendar of End Time Events)  Israel, not celestial events, seem to be God’s time table.

I find something else very interesting.  When the disciples sat with Jesus on the Mount of Olives and asked, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)  Jesus didn’t tell them about celestial signs or wonders in the skies.  He told them specifically what they would see:

  • Coming of false teachers
  • Wars and rumors of wars
  • Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom
  • Famines and earthquakes
  • Abomination of Desolation

By including the abomination of desolation, which happens during the Tribulation  (when the antichrist takes his seat in the Temple and demands to be worshipped), we can surmise that Jesus was referring not only to the time of the rapture, but also to His glorious appearing at the end of the Tribulation.  So, if we are to relate eclipses and celestial events of today to end times, do they refer to the time of the rapture…of which Jesus Himself said NO ONE knows, or to His glorious appearing?  (Only false prophets would dare to predict when the rapture will occur!)

So, let’s shift gears from the skies to God’s Word! God WANTS us to know and understand His plans, and He speaks to us through His Word.  He wants us to trust HIM for guidance…not the sun and the moon!  We have direct access to HIM, so we don’t need “signs” from Him.  I’m not saying signs have no place, but for the most part, signs are for unbelievers who don’t have direct access to Him, as we do!  In fact, the Bible is very clear that He desires to share secret things with those of us who know Him!  Need some evidence?  How about these passages:

  • Luke 8:17:  For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
  • Deuteronomy 29:29: The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
  • Jeremiah 33:3: Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
  • Daniel 2:22: It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things…
  • Amos 3:7: Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.
  • Epistles: many mentions of revealing mysteries…mystery of His will, mystery of salvation, mystery of Christ in us, etc
  • John 15:5: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

So, go out and enjoy today’s eclipse for what it is: sure evidence of God’s mighty power and creative design.  But look to Him to tell you the secret things He wants you to know about end times and His coming!  He longs to share His secrets with us!

Be blessed today, my friends!