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!

Rise of the Revived Roman Empire

Welcome back, fellow Bible students!  We’ve just begun a mini-series on “Signs of the Times,” where we’re taking a look at a few world events that not only validate end time prophecies, but are also occurring in our lifetimes.  Yesterday’s thoughts focused on the first sign of the times:  the re-birth and re-gathering of the Jewish people to their homeland.  It is a very clear sign of the end times.

Another clear sign is the rise of the revived Roman Empire.  Now, what in the world does that mean?  Well, pull up a chair and join our circle as we discuss today’s world through a Scriptural lens.

Let’s begin with the prophet Daniel.  In Daniel 2 and 7 (as well as in Revelation 13 and 17), we are told that the Roman Empire will be revived, and that a leader will rise to rule with an iron fist (Daniel 7:7, 24-25).  We won’t take the time today to fully discuss Daniel’s dream that culminated with the vision of the revised Roman Empire, but you will find a study of it in God’s Plan for the Gentiles.

For now, though, suffice it to say that today’s European Union is taking on characteristics of the 10-nation confederation that will become the revised Roman Empire.  True, there are currently 28 nations in the European Union, but this group could very well consolidate to produce the group of ten referred to in Daniel’s vision.  We’re not “there” yet, but the signs are pointing in that direction!

From that revised Roman Empire will rise the antichrist…or as Revelation 17 puts it: the beast.  He will unite the world with his promises of peace, and will even strike a peace deal with Israel to allow them to build their Temple once again on Temple Mount.

Consolidating those nations and leaders will not be an easy task.  It will be like mixing iron and clay (as Daniel 2:42-43 describes it), representing the various strengths and weaknesses of the EU.  While possessing strong political clout, differences in economic theory, culture and language will present challenges.

Through Daniel the prophet, God provided yet another clear sign of end times!  My friends, God’s Word has never been proven wrong!  We can trust it.  And if we are seeking His wisdom and insight, we can know and understand the signs He makes known to us!

Blessings to all!  Come back tomorrow when we gaze upon another sign: globalization.

Signs of the Times

Greetings friends!  At times, signs are crystal clear, while at other times it seems impossible to navigate in this world!

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Today we’ll begin a mini-series I’m calling “Signs of the Times.”  Scripture often provides clear signs of the end times, and most are not difficult to understand if we are good students of the Word.  In fact, the Lord loves to reveal things to us!

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
~Deuteronomy 29:29

So, let’s examine some things God has revealed to us as His children.

Perhaps the most significant sign of all is the re-birth of Israel, and the re-gathering of the Jewish people to their own homeland.  Known by some as the “super sign,” Israel’s re-birth was essential to the fulfillment of several other end time prophecies, and is at the center of God’s plan for the last days.

Consider for a moment the soon-coming War of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-39.  Verse 14 of chapter 38 tells us that the invasion from the north will occur when Israel is “dwelling securely.”  Never did Israel dwell securely when they were banished to the four corners of the earth.  However, since returning to their land, Israel has become more and more secure.  It is now possible for that prophecy to occur.

Furthermore, the prophet Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation in Daniel 11-12.  The New Testament writer, Matthew, harkens back to it in Matthew 24:15.  These passages are clear reference to the Tribulation, when the antichrist will allow a third Jewish temple to be built, only to desecrate it, inhabit it, and demand that the world worship him.  How is building the Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount possible if the Jewish people are scattered throughout the earth, rather than gathered back in their land?

There are other examples throughout Scripture, but you see that end time prophecies such as the War of Gog and Magog and the Tribulation cannot happen without the Jewish people being re-gathered to their Jewish homeland, Israel!  When Israel declared statehood in 1948, the land once more was hers, and Jews have been returning to the land ever since.  (Read about recent plane-loads of French and Ethiopian Jews.)

Incredible signs of the times are falling into place in our lifetime.  Though even early Christ-followers (such as the disciples) were looking for signs of the end (Matthew 24:3), it was prophetically impossible for the end of the age to come between 70 AD and 1948!  Why?   Because Israel was not back in the land as required by Scripture!

We’re living in the season, fellow sojourners!  The Jews are back in their land, and we must be ready for what the Bible tells us will follow.  There are no other signs that must occur before Jesus returns.  Sure, it is possible that other prophetic events may happen prior to that, but none are required.  Jesus could return at any time, now that Israel is re-born and God’s people are being re-gathered!

This is only one clear sign in our day.  Hang out with us over the next few days as we examine other Biblical signs of the times.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at a second sign with current implications, the revived Roman Empire.  See you then!