…and the Shofar Blows!

 

This evening at sundown the shofar will blow, signaling the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish civil New Year.  Jewish people around the world will celebrate one of the most joyful days of the year.

Biblically speaking, though, it is the Feast of Trumpets…also a most joyful time!  If you follow this blog, or have heard Biblical teaching regarding the seven major feasts of Israel, you know that each feast points to Jesus, the Messiah…and Jesus fulfills each one.

But consider this: the four spring feasts…Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost…have already been fulfilled.

  • Jesus was the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for our sins.
  • Jesus was striped, bruised and pierced for our transgression, symbolized by unleavened bread.
  • Jesus was the First Fruit, raised from the dead to redeem us from the curse of death.  We will follow Him in resurrection.  (Keep reading to understand!)
  • Jesus ascended to heaven, leaving us the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Yes, Jesus has fulfilled those feasts!  However, the feasts of Israel are God’s calendar, so we need to examine what comes next.

The Feast of Trumpets, the celebration of which begins at sundown, is highly significant.  The Bible tells us:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 15:51-57  (Emphasis mine)

Dear friends, when that trumpet sounds, we (believers) will be snatched out of this world to meet Jesus in the air. (That is called the rapture.)  Death has no reign.  Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we who die before the rapture will be resurrected to eternal life.

God’s calendar is 100% accurate.  Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb, He was pierced and bruised for our transgressions, He was the first to raise from the dead (preparing the way for us), and He left the promised Holy Spirit to guide us.  We are awaiting the next event…the trumpet, signaling the rapture!

If you are reading this and do not know Jesus as your savior, today is the day.  We don’t know when the rapture will occur, but it could literally be any moment.  It is the next thing on God’s calendar, and those who miss it will be left to endure the tribulation…hell on earth, followed by eternal hell in a place beyond what can even be imagined.  Don’t miss your opportunity.

The Bible says:

There is someone reading this RIGHT NOW who is struggling to find meaning in life.  If that is YOU, stop what you are doing and read each of the verses linked above.  Then, pray this simple prayer, inviting Jesus to be your Savior:

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Amen

Those words are not magic, but if you prayed sincerely, asking Jesus to do those very things, you ARE now a child of God!  Welcome to the family….and keep your ears open for that trumpet sound!

PS: The best thing you can do now is tell a Christian friend, or go to a Bible-teaching church and let them know that you prayed that prayer.  We all need help to grow in our new lives and that’s where you will find it!

Be blessed my friend!

The King Awaits His Invitation

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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!)

4 Biblical Principles Regarding Israel

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We’re into week 7 of Why Israel Matters, and I hope you are enjoying our study together.  Our focus this week has been on the parting of ways between Jews and Christians.  What a sad history has passed, but what tremendous hope if we abide by the apostle Paul’s instructions to us in Romans 11!  (We studied that chapter earlier.  If you missed it, catch Has God Rejected His People? and Life from the Dead.)

Now, we move our focus back to Israel and consider 4 principles regarding Israel and the nations.

Principle of Domicile

Yesterday, we established that some of God’s promises are unconditional, but others are conditional.  Deuteronomy 29-30 provide clear evidence that Israel’s privilege of living in the land is conditional upon their reverence and obedience to God.  However, though they may lose the privilege of living in the land, it doesn’t mean they lose ownership of the land!

Even while in exile, the land belongs to Israel.

Principle of Righteousness

When faithful to God, Israel has a right to live in the land.  God desires righteousness, and He illustrated it to Joshua after leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Take a look at Joshua 5:13-15.

There, Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army, who told him to take off his sandals, for he was standing on holy ground.  In Hebrew minds, taking off one’s sandals was a sign of humility, respect and honor.  God desires righteousness and humility.  If the Israelites were to stand on holy ground, they must do so with sandals off.

Principle of Discipline

Our key passage is Jeremiah 25:6-11.  Here, Jeremiah prophesies of Israel’s exile to Babylon because of their disobedience to God’s command not to pursue other gods.  When they did, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take them into exile.

God will discipline His people when they disobey.  But we must remember: the root word of “discipline” is “disciple.”  He might use even Israel’s enemies to discipline His people, but He disciplines for their ultimate good.

Principle of Retribution

Though God may use Israel’s enemies to discipline her, those who desire Israel’s total destruction will face retribution.  God spoke this plainly through the prophet Isaiah.  Quick glances at Isaiah 49:25-26 and Isaiah 51:21-23 reveal that God Himself will contend with those who contend with Israel.

But Joel 3:1-2 serves as perhaps the clearest warning to those who would scatter His people and divide their land.  God promises to bring all nations to the valley of Jehoshaphat for the ultimate “Israel Test.”  (Click here to take the test yourself!)

So, in light of current events, Israel is in the land, but is primarily secular and, in many ways, not living righteously.  In times past, God has exiled them for lack of obedience.  Isaiah 11:11-12 indicates God exiling them, then bringing them back a second time…but not a third.  Could God exile and bring them back a third time, though it is not prophesied in Scripture?  Perhaps.

But I believe God’s plan is different now.  God’s correction will ultimately culminate in the tribulation, during which national revival will take place and all Israel will be saved!  God is intent on saving His people!

We are approaching the meat of the study, so stick with us!

Week 4: Beyond the Horizon

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Welcome to week 4, friends!  We’re engaged in a study called Why Israel Matters, and this week we will focus “Beyond the Horizon.”  What happens here on earth once the rapture occurs and Christians are beyond the horizon?  God will turn His attention back to His plan for the Jewish people, but difficult times are in store.

To recap God’s plan of the end, we’ll turn to a diagram I’ve used before.  Take a look:

Plan of the End

A full explanation of the diagram is found here, but for today’s discussion, suffice it to say that we are living in the Church Age and the next event is the rapture!  What follows, however, is the tribulation…the final 7 years of God’s plan for the Jews.  Based on Scripture, what should we expect during that time?

In regard to the tribulation, Revelation 17-18 describe the rise of the false prophet and the Antichrist to lead what we call today One World Religion and One World Government (or One World Order).  In fact, while THE false prophet and Antichrist have not yet been revealed, the spirit of the two are at work (and have been at work) in our world.  But take heart!  God says:

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”
~Isaiah 46:9-10

Though God will always occupy His throne, this world will be given over to evil for a season.  Revelation 17-18 (in the thick of the description of the tribulation) identify “Mystery Babylon” as the “mother of all harlotry,” and we know the domain of the false prophet (One World Religion) and the Antichrist (One World Government) will ultimately be destroyed.  But not before wrecking havoc!

One World Religion will be a catalyst to bring about One World Government.  So, how close are we, and what does it take to bring about One World Religion?

Great question…and we’ll dive into that tomorrow!  Meanwhile, never lose sight of the fact that there is no one like our God and He will, indeed, accomplish His purposes!

See you tomorrow!